Did not the Korean War end in 1953? The short answer is no

Others may know that it was only a ceasefire that brought the hostilities to an end in 1953 – but there has never been a treaty to end the conflict between North Korea (and its main ally China) and South Korea and its allies, especially the United States.

The war broke out on June 25, 1950, when the first of what the U.S. military estimated at 135,000 North Korean forces stormed across the 38th parallel that divided North and South Korea in an attempt to take total control of the Korean Peninsula.

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The United States, under President Harry Truman, responded with what was called a “police operation”, assembling a group of international allies under the auspices of the “United Nations Command” to come to South Korea’s aid. Twenty-two nations contributed combat troops or medical aid units to the U.S.-led effort.

Communist-controlled North Korea had the support of both the Soviet Union and China, with Beijing actively intervening on the military front in October 1950, sending nearly a quarter of a million troops into the Korean Peninsula as U.S.-led forces advanced toward China’s border with North Korea.

Chinese support for the Nordic region pushed the UN’s advance back down the peninsula and in 1951 a stalemate arose along the 38th parallel, where the border between the two Koreans lies today.

How did the fighting stop?

Armistice negotiations began in 1951 and took place at intervals until a final agreement to end the fighting was reached at Panmunjom on the 38th parallel on July 27, 1953. Within three days, both sides withdrew their troops to be at least 2 kilometers (1) , 2 miles) from the ceasefire line.

A US M-4A3 Sherman tank convoy travels along the Funchilin Pass in North Korea in 1950.

Why did the ceasefire not end the war?

The signatories of the July 27, 1953 agreement to end the hostilities were the commanders of the UN Command, the North Korean Army, and Chinese troops on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea is not a signatory and the agreement specifically states that it is not a peace agreement.

According to the preamble to the ceasefire, it is made “in the interest of stopping the Korean conflict, with its great wear and tear of suffering and bloodshed on both sides, and with the aim of establishing a ceasefire that will ensure a complete cessation of hostilities and all acts of force in Korea until a final peaceful solution is reached. “

Canadian officers under UN command read about the 1953 ceasefire on the Korean Peninsula.

What has happened since 1953?

There was no official contact between the North and South Korean governments before 1971, according to the U.S. State Department.

In 1991, however, tensions eased enough for Pyongyang and Seoul to sign the North-South Basic Agreement, which said reunification was the goal of both parties. But a story from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the Nordic budding weapons programs and its longtime leader Kim Il-Sung’s death in 1994, combined with political unrest in the South, led to new tensions.

The first inter-Korean summit was held in June 2000, but the thaw it caused ended with North Korea admitting in 2002 that it was pursuing nuclear weapons.

That concession led to a series of negotiations on the Nordic nuclear program among North Korea, China, Russia, South Korea, the United States and Japan, known as the Six-Party Negotiations. North Korea withdrew from this effort in 2009 after restarting its Yongbon nuclear reactor and launching a series of missile tests.

In 2007, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il met in Pyongyang and agreed to try to bring peace to and reunite the peninsula without outside interference. But the conservative Lee Myung-bak was elected president of South Korea a few months later and switched to a hard line in the Nordic weapons program, which cooled the peace efforts.

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Tensions thawed again in 2018 when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Panmunjom. The two said they would work to make the 1953 ceasefire a peace deal.

Later that year, the two met again in Pyongyang and signed a joint declaration to pursue nuclear disarmament while working for peace on the peninsula.

Three meetings between US President Donald Trump and Kim – the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader – also failed to make any progress towards the atomization of the Nordic region, despite their historical character. The effort has since stalled.

So what does the announcement of a possible draft peace treaty mean?

Basically not much – for now. No matter what agreement the US and South Korean diplomats enter into in draft language, it would still require approval in their respective governments. Of course, North Korea had to agree, and as a party to the ceasefire, China wanted it too.

But there is room for optimism.

South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said on Wednesday that North Korea has responded quickly and positively to South Korea’s movement to declare an end to the Korean War.

And Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the North Korean leader, in September called the South Korean president’s proposal to declare an end to the war “interesting” and “an admirable idea”, but questioned the timing and demanded a hostile policy towards the North. withdrawn first.

North Korea has not yet responded in detail to the statement, even through China, Chung said.

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