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Korean War Time Table

With the United States’ communist rivals presenting an ideological threat to American foreign affairs and the spread of capitalism, the invasion by communist North Korea of American-governed South Korea on June 25, 1950 quickly sparked action by President Harry S. Truman. Truman urged a swift response from Congress, arguing that defending South Korea from a communist invasion was crucial to stopping the spread of communism around the world. In his autobiography, Truman likened North Korean leader Kim Il-sung’s military offensive to those of Hitler and other Axis leaders from World War II.

“Communism was acting in Korea, just as Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese had ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier. I felt certain that if South Korea was allowed to fall, Communist leaders would be emboldened to override nations closer to our own shores. If the Communists were permitted to force their way into the Republic of Korea without opposition from the free world, no small nation would have the courage to resist threat and aggression by stronger Communist neighbors.”

Important Events in Korean War
1945: August 15
Japan loses claims to Korean peninsula upon losing World War II
1950: June 25
Kim Il-sung invades South Korea, beginning the Korean War. U.N. Security Council calls for stop to North Korean offensive
June 27
President Truman orders deployment of U.S. naval and air forces to South Korea
June 28
North Korean (KPA) forces quickly capture Seoul, capital of South Korea
July 5
Battle of Osan; first time American troops go into battle since WWII
July 14 - July 21
Battle of Taejon; KPA advance further south but are delayed
July 26 - July 29
American soldiers murder Korean civilians under a bridge in the No Gun Ri massacre
Congress grants $12 billion in funding for Korean deployment
August 4 - September 16
Battle of Pusan Perimeter
August 20
U.S. General MacArthur warns Kim Il-sung that the war crimes of the KPA will not be ignored
September 16 - September 27
Naktong Breakout
September 25
UN forces capture Seoul from KPA
September 29
Syngman Rhee restored to power in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) by General MacArthur
October 1 - October 7
South Korean and United Nations Command forces, made up mostly of U.S. soldiers, push north into North Korea
November 1 - November 2
November 17
General MacArthur tells American ambassador to Korea that the Korean peninsula “will be left a desert” after more than a year of extensive bombing campaigns
November 27 - December 9
Chosin Reservoir
November 29 - December 1
1951: February 11 - February 13
International coalition with members from China, Germany, and the Netherlands release report detailing widespread destruction of Korean towns and villages
May 17 - May 20
Soyang River
June 23
Soviet delegate to the United Nations, Jacob Malik, puts forth idea of a cease-fire
June 25
U.S. Air Force General O’Donnell testifies that “the entire Korean Peninsula is just a terrible mess. Everything is destroyed”
July 10
Warring sides sit down for first truce talks in Kaesong, North Korea
Hungarian journalist Tibor Meráy states that “there are no more cities in North Korea”
August 10
Filmmaker John Ford releases This Is Korea documentary showcasing use of napalm in full color
September 13 - October 15
Heartbreak Ridge
October 25
Truce talks move to Panmunjom, North Korea, 10 kilometers east of Kaesong
November 27
North and South Korea form an agreement that if they are to reach a treaty within a month, the current frontline between their armies would serve as the nations’ dividing border
1952: April
Peace talks stall
August 22
Winston Churchill condemns American use of napalm as “cruel” and that they were “splashing it all over the civilian population”
October 8
Temporary hold placed on discussions of a truce
1953: April 26
Truce talks resume
U.S. forces bomb five dams (Toksan, Chasan, Kuwonga, Namsi, and Taechon), threatening millions of civilians with starvation from destructive floods
July 27
Korean Armistice Agreement is signed, forming a cease-fire to end armed conflict and create the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
1955: January 31
Official end date dictated by U.S. Congress, although no officially treaty or order ending war was ever signed by any side
2013: March 11
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declares the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 invalid
2018: April 27
Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in cross the DMZ to meet, agreeing to work towards officially ending the war

Sources & Further Reading

15th Field Artillery Regiment. Korean War History: Korean War Timeline. www.15thfar.org/kortime.html

Armed Forces History Museum. Interesting Facts About the Korean War. www.armedforcesmuseum.com/interesting-facts-about-the-korean-war

Truman, Harry S.; Ferrell, Robert H. (1980). The Autobiography of Harry S. Truman. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.