June 25, 1950-July 27, 1953 – Communist North Korea invades the democratic South, sparking a war that would ultimately cost the lives of four million people and which still hasn’t been satisfactorily resolved today.
In response to the invasion, the United Nations sends a multinational force to Korea, which includes a large Australian contingent. Early in the war the North is dominant, pushing the weaker South Korean forces back to a tiny corner of the South known as the Pusan Perimeter. But a UN landing orchestrated by General Douglas Macarthur in 1950 completely reverses the situation, liberating the South and driving the North back across its own territory as far as the Chinese border.
Macarthur overplays his hand, however, and China commits a huge force to the war to bolster their North Korean allies. The frontline eventually stabilises along the 38th Parallel – the latitude line that marks the border between the two countries – and the war becomes a stalemate. An armistice ends the fighting in 1953, but a peace treaty was never signed. Technically both Koreas are still at war. More than 17,000 Australians served in Korea, and 339 of them were killed.
Visit the battlefields of Korea on a customised tour