On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War. By July, American troops had entered the war on South Korea’s behalf. As far as American officials were concerned, it was a war against the forces of international communism itself. After some early back-and-forth across the 38th parallel, the fighting stalled and casualties mounted with nothing to show for them. Meanwhile, American officials worked anxiously to fashion some sort of armistice with the North Koreans. The alternative, they feared, would be a wider war with Russia and China–or even, as some warned, World War III. Finally, in July 1953, the Korean War came to an end. In all, some 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives during the war.
The Korean peninsula remains divided today along the 38th parallel. And with the division between North and South Korea, the world has been given a powerful symbol of the difference between free market capitalism and socialism; democracy and statism; free speech and group-think; liberty and the inevitable totalitarianism that results whenever a people cede their freedoms to bureaucrats who promise to take care of their needs.
These two videos document the struggle – and the price that was paid – to preserve and eventually encourage freedom in the southern half of the Korean peninsula.
The Forgotten War: Running time is 48 minutes
The 38th Parallel: Running time is 45 minutes