The Korean War

  • Japan Annexes Korea

    Japan formally annexes Korea as a colony. Japanese investments begin to flow into the new colony, turning it into a source of industrial and agricultural wealth for Japan.
  • Potsdam and Korea meeting

    Upon mutual agreement at the Potsdam Conference, the United States and Soviet Union—allies in World War II—make plans to jointly occupy Korea following the defeat of Japan. Soviet troops will occupy the northern portion of the country and the United States will take the southern half, with the 38th parallel serving as the dividing line between the two zones of occupation.
  • North and South Korea Divide

    North and South Korea divide known as the 38 parallel. This was agreed upon in the Potsdam Conference. The US troops were in South Korea were at the time of the divide
  • U.S. in Seoul

    American forces finally reach Seoul, where they accept the Japanese surrender of southern Korea.
  • US to Leave Korea

    American forces begin to prepare to withdraw from Korea, hoping to leave the South as an independent state under the leadership of the pro-American conservative Dr. Syngman Rhee.
  • Syngman Rhee Elected

    South Korea holds its first elections. With the Communists and other anti-Rhee factions boycotting the vote and challenging its legitimacy, Dr. Syngman Rhee wins easily, positioning himself to become South Korea's first president.
  • Truman Desegregates Military

    President Truman desegregates the US Armed Forces by signing Executive Order 9981. The order states, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin." In order to implement this policy, the order also establishes the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services.
  • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

    Communist North Korea, led by Kim Il Sung, proclaims itself the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, denying the legitimacy of South Korea and claiming sovereignty over the entire Korean Peninsula.
  • Stalin Approves Korean Invasion

    North Korean leader Kim Il Sung goes to Moscow to ask Soviet leader Josef Stalin's permission to invade South Korea and begin the Korean War. Stalin gives the green light because he believes the United States has little interest in Korea.
  • North Korea Invades

    Communist North Korean troops launch a full-scale invasion of the South, beginning the open military phase of the Korean War. North Korean tanks and infantry surge across the 38th parallel into South Korean territory, quickly overrunning the defensive positions of overmatched South Korean forces. The Communists continue their southward advance, meeting little resistance in the countryside.
  • US and UN Condemn North Korea

    In the morning, President Truman issues a statement announcing to the American public the decision made at Blair House on 25 and 26 June: "I have ordered United States air and sea forces to give the Korean Government troops cover and support." In the afternoon, the United Nations Security Council—temporarily being boycotted by the Soviet Union—passes an American-drafted resolution condemning North Korea as the aggressor in the conflict and calling on all members states to "furnish assistance to
  • US Reaches Pyongyang

    The US First Cavalry Division enters Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. The jubilant American soldiers are convinced that victory in the broader war is near, taking bets on exactly when they will be able to ship out for home.
  • US Reaches Pyongyang

    The US First Cavalry Division enters Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. The jubilant American soldiers are convinced that victory in the broader war is near, taking bets on exactly when they will be able to ship out for home.
  • China Enters Korean War

    Chinese leader Mao Zedong, fearful of the consequences of hostile American forces taking up positions along his country's border at the Yalu River, orders hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers into battle in Korea. The massive Chinese intervention into the Korean conflict catches American military leaders completely off guard, leading to a series of crushing defeats. American prospects in the Korean War deteriorate rapidly, as hopes of imminent victory give way to a desperate struggle to avo
  • Eisenhower Elected

    In the American presidential election, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower receives more votes—almost 34 million—than any previous candidate in American history. Eisenhower, a retired general and World War II hero, has built his campaign largely around a promise to pursue an honorable truce in the Korean War to allow the withdrawal of American combat forces as soon as possible.
  • Korean War Armistice

    After nearly two years of negotiations, diplomats from the United States, North Korea, and China reach agreement on an armistice to end the "UN peace action" in Korea without a formal peace treaty. Both sides claim victory; Korea remains divided at the 38th parallel.