->''"If you should get kicked in the teeth, I shall not lift a finger. You have to ask [[UsefulNotes/MaoZedong Mao]] for all the help."''
-->--'''UsefulNotes/JosephStalin''', in conversation to Kim Il-Sung, April 1950 [[note]] printed in Kim Chullbaum's ''The Truth about the Korean War'' p.106 [[/note]]

The closest the USA ever came to using several hundred nuclear weapons upon the People's Republic of China, the Korean War of 1950-53 is known as "the 6.25 War" (the war began on the 25th of June) or just "6.25" in UsefulNotes/{{South Korea}}, the "Fatherland Liberation War" in UsefulNotes/{{North Korea}}, and 'the ''[[Series/{{Mash}} M*A*S*H]]'' war' in the English-speaking world. The two Koreas are still ''de jure'' at war, as they only ever agreed to a ceasefire, but ''de facto'' at peace, as no serious fighting has ensued in the decades since the ceasefire was concluded. This could change at any time.

->''"There is not a single unit in the United Democratic Forces now driving the Kuomintang from Manchuria that does not have my troops in it [...] at the end of the Manchurian campaign these roops will be seasoned, trained veterans. When the Americans and the Russians withdraw, we will be able to liberate [southern] Korea immediately."''
-->--'''Ch'oe Yonggon''', DPRK Defence Minister (translated by Bruce Cummings) [[note]] printed in Bruce Cummings' ''The Origins of the Korean War: The Roaring of the Cataract 1947-1950 (Princeton, 1990), p.359 [[/note]]

At least 100,000 Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, 'North' Korea) served in at least the final three years (1948-50) of the Chinese Civil War on the side of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). After most of the Chinese-majority provinces of the Mainland had been conquered, on the 1st of October 1949 Chairman Mao of the CCP declared the foundation of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Roughly 1.5 million troops whose warlords were allied with or who answered directly to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMG) continued to hold out along the Chinese-Burman border, Chinese Central Asia, and on Hainan Island (and Taiwan) but the war was effectively over by then. The PRC's People's Liberation Army (PLA) was simply unable to deploy most of its troops in these remote and inaccessible areas, so it demobilised most of its forces and allowed most DPRK units to return to North Korea with their equipment and weapons - and experience in battle. The final 30,000 were repatriated within three months of the outbreak of the Korean War.

Within Korea itself, tensions had grown as the Republic of Korea (ROK, 'South' Korea) began to descend into internicine strife and let groups within its society instigate border incidents with the North which were soon reciprocated. In a curious inversion of present-day affairs, where the south is the (relatively) orderly and prosperous of the two and the north is the semi-anarchic basketcase, in the period 1945-50 the north achieved a high degree of popular contentment due to state investment in education, basic healthcare, workers' rights, etc where as the south had begun a backslide into kleptocratic mayhem. The US occupation authorities had somewhat unwisely decided to innoculate south Korean society against Socialism by defunding the school system and encouraging the clique of oligarchs led by President Park to deny unemployment subsidies, safe working conditions, limited working hours etc. to South Korean workers.

Some historians such as Allan R. Millet have contested that the Korean (Civil) War began as early as the Jeju Island Uprising of Spring 1948, and terrorist attacks and rioting by the (Communist) Korean Labor Party on the peninsula proper. Korean Christian and Pro-Capitalist paramilitary groups were strengthened and in many cases led by 'landlords' and 'capitalists' (rich rentier-farmers who had lost most of their land in the DPRK Land Reforms, factory/mine/shop owners whose assets had been nationalised) whose assets had been seized but had been allowed to flee to the South. These paramilitary groups instituted repression within the south and launched raids into the north, which were combated by regular DPRK forces.

In March 1950, Stalin responded to DPRK leader Kim Il-Sung's latest request for permission to invade South Korea in the affirmative. There were a number of reasons for this. First and foremost was that Stalin knew that the PRC would someday become the most powerful country in the Communist Bloc by virtue of its sheer economic potential (with c.500 million citizens to the USSR's post-WWII 180 million). Secondly, Stalin knew that the realities of geopolitics meant that aside from a common ideology, the USSR and PRC had no common interests or enemies. Thirdly, Stalin knew that the reconstruction and development aid which the USA could offer the PRC was an order of magnitude larger than what the USSR could give it.

The obvious solution was to turn the PRC's ideological opposition to the USA into a very real, very concrete struggle which would force them to turn to the Soviets for aid. Since neither the USA, nor Britain, nor France would sell armaments to nor trade with the PRC while they were at war with it this would enable the USSR to profit very handsomely from selling arms to, trading with, and developing the PRC. And naturally, just as the USA was refusing to share nuclear weapons technology with Britain and France (under the ''[=McMahon=] Act'' preserving Nuclear Secrets), so the USSR should refuse to share it with China.

All Stalin had to do was, when the Americans inevitably intervened and, under the ambitious General [=MacArthur=] inevitably sought to conquer northern Korea, promise Mao that the Soviet Union would provide the PRC with 'air cover' and 'air defenses' and 'artillery'. When the Chinese intervened Stalin then revealed that Soviet 'air cover' and 'air defenses' were only going to be in place over Chinese territory and that the 'artillery' was not going to be freely given: it was going to be sold. And it was not going to be sold cheaply.

On 25 June (6.25) 1950, North Korea took the initiative, crossed the 38th parallel and launched an invasion of South Korea.

Geographically at least, the war played out much like a football game in which both teams make it to the final 10-yard line only to fumble. In June 1950 the American forces occupying South Korea were in the process of closing up shop, and the remaining soldiers had grown complacent and were unprepared for a war. When the North Korean army crossed the 38th parallel, it met ineffective resistance and quickly pushed the American and South Korean forces to the southern part of the peninsula. Even US reinforcements flown in from Japan did little to stop the North Korean advance, but the US & SK forces finally established a solid defensive line around the port-city of Busan (which became the temporary capital of the South after UsefulNotes/{{Seoul}} was taken).

The USA's General UsefulNotes/DouglasMacArthur led UN coalition forces in a daring invasion at Inchon, on the Western coast of the peninsula. The expedition forced the North Korean army northward, back across the 38th Parallel and all the way to the Yalu River on the PRC's border. At this point the PRC, concerned as much by the Capitalist Imperialist Armies on their doorstep as the fate of their fellow communists, rushed in a formidable force of Chinese Civil War veterans which once again sent the UN forces reeling - [[XanatosGambit playing direct into Stalin's hands]]. For a start, Communist China waging war against virtually the entire world was not particularly conducive to improving her diplomatic and trade relations with said world (from their already virtually non-existent state). Totally isolated and in dire need of military and economic assistance, she was totally dependent upon the USSR. This helped Stalin drive a hard bargain in Sino-Soviet negotiations, with Soviet materials and advisors being paid for by Chinese raw materials and economic development in Manchuria and Xinjiang being pioneered by Sino-Soviet joint-stock companies.

[=MacArthur=] promptly advocates the nuclear carpet-bombing of PRC cities to disrupt their supply lines (making him every bit as much of a GeneralRipper as the later [[DrStrangelove movie version]]) and [[UsefulNotes/HarryTruman President Truman]] has no choice but to fire him after he does so in public[[note]]Like most historical events, it was far more complicated than that. Essentially, [=MacArthur=] wanted to follow up the carpet-bombing with an invasion of northern China. Truman, being possessed of a brain and an ounce of humanity, didn't. However, [=MacArthur=] was dead-set in his plan, and ultimately made it clear that he was going to ignore the orders issued by the President (who is, after all, Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces), and Truman had no choice but to ask for his resignation. However, [=MacArthur=] essentially walked into the meeting with the President ''knowing that would happen'', and baited Truman into doing so. They actually parted amicably, agreeing that both sides had done what they needed to do: Truman would get to run the war the sane way, and [=MacArthur=] would get out of the war with his integrity intact[[/note]]. Breathing a sigh of relief, the PRC's leadership goes ahead with urban education and bomb-shelter programmes anyway just in case the USA changes its mind about nuking them. This makes the first generation of Chinese kids to fear nuclear holocaust from America. How nice.

The new coalition commander, General Matthew Ridgway, managed to stabilize the situation and soon the UN forces were pushing the enemy northwards again. This time they decided to stop at the 38th Parallel and hold the line until a peace treaty could be signed.

And in a sane world, that's where the war would've ended, after only a single bloody year. But negotiations dragged on for two more years, and men continued to die by the thousands with no territorial gains for either side (much like UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne a generation earlier, only this time with jets). The Soviet Union snuck in some pilots, partly as a show of solidarity with the PRC but also to gain experience in modern air-air combat. The UN forces knew they were there, but weren't keen on starting a war with the [[Main/{{RedsWithRockets}} Reds With Rockets]].[[note]] American and British fighter pilots had standing orders to kill any enemy fighter pilot suspected of being a Russian. Not shoot him down, ''kill him''. This was to send a message to the Soviets, who insisted that [[BlatantLies every Mig-15 was being flown by a "brave Chinese volunteer."]] [[/note]]

In Spring 1953, the US Far East Command endorsed OPLAN (Operations Plan) 8-52 in the event of DPRK non-acceptance of their final ceasefire proposal. This called for a final offensive to occupy DPRK territory, which depending upon results was to end with more favourable ceasefire terms or ''debellatio'' (destruction of the opposing state). If resistance was too difficult, the offensive was to be enabled through the employment of an initial bombardment of 480 tactical nuclear weapons upon the towns and cities of the DPRK and Chinese Manchuria which possessed railway stations to annihilate stockpiles of food, ammunition, and concentrations of reserve troops as well as forestalling the movement of these to the front. If this proved insufficient, the use of a further 120 weapons was authorised to maintain the disuse of the DPRK-Manchurian road-rail networks.

Finally, in 1953 both sides agreed to a cease-fire that set up a demilitarized zone between the two countries, and remains in effect today.[[note]]Technically, though, as there never was an actual peace treaty between the two sides, the two nations are still at war with one another. There's even been a few incidents along the DMZ, as well as attacks on vessels in waters both nations claim as theirs.[[/note]]

Although the US and her allies technically won the war -- their main goal, maintaining South Korean independence, was achieved -- the long bloody stalemate has ensured that the war is remembered as a draw. Another, much more paradoxical, but, ironically, ''official'' point of view was that the war didn't technically happen ''at all''. Y'see, both halves of Korea consider themselves the only legitimate government, with their jurisdiction covering the entire peninsula[[note]]North officially considered Seoul its capital till 1972, and South still appoints governors for the northern provinces[[/note]], and the other contender as rebels and bandits. Thus, in their books, the whole war only counted as a police operation to bring the rebel provinces back, and Southern representatives weren't even present at the signing of the armistice.[[note]]President Rhee's interference with the peace negotiations and his demand that the UN forces fight on, until the whole country was unified (under his leadership, natch) became so annoying that Eisenhower called Rhee's bluff (a demand that, if they didn't fight on, UN forces should leave the country) and threatened to leave him to get stomped by the Chinese if he didn't stop being such a {{Jerkass}}[[/note]] Even stranger, in this perspective, is that no official "country" participated in this war. US and its allies participated as the UN force, not as armed forces of the respective countries. The Chinese were all technically and legally "volunteers." The Soviet pilots [[IWasNeverHere were officially never in Korea]]. And both Koreas denied that the other was a legitimate "country" at all.

The Korean War was largely fought by the same commanders and with the same doctrines, weapons, and equipment as the Second World War. The USA and its allies had counted upon their superiority in nuclear weapons to make up for their lack of conventional armament, and the Soviets only sold obsolescent WWII-vintage armaments to the PRC and DPRK - they kept all armaments designed and produced since 1945 for themselves. However, the war did see the real start of jet-based air combat (jets had been used in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, but only in the very late stages of the war and in no case did jet fight jet). On the plus side, this war took advantage of major advances in antibiotics (penicillin had become as common as sulfa antibiotics), surgery, and transportation (including by helicopter) to create very effective care for the wounded. If you were a UN soldier wounded in combat and arrived at a MASH unit alive in that war, your chances of survival there were a whopping 97%. Amongst the Chinese forces, or European forces just a generation earlier, the average wounded soldier's chances could well have been a mere 50-50.

It's somewhat of a forgotten war in the United States despite seeing just over half as many American deaths as UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar (36,516 vs. 58,209 respectively, and over a far shorter period of time in much higher-intensity combat), 1,109 British deaths and a total body count that must be heading towards 3 million. In North Korea, however, the war has been used ever since as an excuse to villainize the United States and its "puppet government" in South Korea. Most of the population is led from birth to believe that the US is just waiting for the right moment to come in and "finish the job". Technically, the war is still ongoing as both sides have only ever agreed to a ceasefire, not any peace treaty. This is in large part because a peace treaty would require the two Koreas to officially recognize each other as existing[[note]]Only the legitimate governments of sovereign nations can be signatories of treaties. Each of the Koreas considers the other to be its own territory and the government thereof to be an illegal rebellion.[[/note]], which they refuse to do. "Restarting" the war is a fairly common plot[[note]] This is probably less likely to occur now than at any other time since the actual war. Know that big Chinese brother whose assistance to North Korea is all over this page? Word is that they've totally turned their back on North Korea and are at the point that they would welcome Korean unification...''under Seoul's auspices''. At any rate, [[EagleLand the other giant that was involved in the war?]] Is now their no. 1 economic partner, and they ''definitely'' won't risk that for the Kims. Seoul being it's largest import partner doesn't help, either. The entire reason China still provides economic and sometimes political support to North Korea at all is to avoid having to deal with the inevitable flood of North Korean refugees should the Kim regime collapse suddenly. Another reason is that China cannot want the US Army to stand directly at its border. They might want some sort of "demilitarized Korea" deal, but Russia tried to get that after the Cold War and now former Soviet Republic are in NATO. That said, North Korea's raison d'etre is to continue the war, and they may eventually feel the pressure to try again, plus the First Family of Pyongyang aren't known for being especially stable, so the scenario isn't impossible.[[/note]].

%%!!Tropes as portrayed in fiction:

!!Media featuring the historical war:

* ''Fixed Bayonets!'' (1951)
* ''Film/TheSteelHelmet'' (1951)
* ''Retreat, Hell!'' (1952)
* ''Battle Circus'', (1953), which stars Creator/HumphreyBogart and is set at a MASH hospital in Korea
* ''The Bridges at Toko-Ri'' (1954)
* ''Men of the Fighting Lady'' (1954)
* ''Men in War'' (1957)
* ''Film/{{Sayonara}}'' (1957)
* ''Film/PorkChopHill'' (1959)
* The opening scene of ''Film/TheManchurianCandidate'' (1962) takes place in Korea, and most of the film deals with the aftereffects of one infantry unit's capture and subsequent brainwashing by Communists there.
* ''The Hook'' (1963)
* ''[[Film/{{MASH}} M*A*S*H]]'' (1970), of course
* ''Film/WelcomeToDongmakgol'' (2005), a South Korean film
* ''[[Film/{{Taegukgi}} Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War]]'' (AKA: ''Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo'', ''Brotherhood: Taegukgi''), a 2004 South Korean film. "Taegukgi" is a name for the flag of South Korea. The movie is about two brothers who get caught up in the war: the older brother does everything he can to get medals so he can request for his younger brother to be sent home; when he believes his brother has died in a fire he does a FaceHeelTurn to North Korea out of despair.
* ''Assembly'', a 2007 Chinese film which also takes place during the Chinese Civil War.
* ''Film/TheFrontLine'', a South Korean-made war film takes place in the closing days of the war, where an investigation officer goes to the titular front line to investigate the murder of an officer.
* ''Silmido'' is about the Second Korean War, a period of tension and armed skirmishes between 1966 and 1976.
* ''Film/{{Inchon}}'', a 1981 American film funded by Sun Myung Moon. Famously considered one of the worst movies of all time when it originally came out, it "won" four [[UsefulNotes/GoldenRaspberryAward Razzies]]. As a box office failure, it's often mentioned in the same breath as ''Film/HeavensGate'', though like that film, it does have it's share of fans today, some of which think it got way more hate then it deserved. [=MacArthur=] was played by Creator/LaurenceOlivier, who [[TropeNamer provided the name for]] MoneyDearBoy when describing why he took the part.
* ''[=MacArthur=]'', a 1977 film, made in much the same vein as Patton, (shows us the titular General's story from the man's own perspective) shows the glorious career of General Douglas [=MacArthur=] during World War II up until the Korean War. The film showcases [=MacArthur=]'s brilliant successes in Korea and his unexpected failures, but the story maintains that [=MacArthur=]'s tactics are working and that he is quite capable of winning if President Truman will only allow him to utilize the full military might of the United States. The President refuses and [=MacArthur=] becomes disgusted at the politics game that Truman is playing, namely not wanting to start a Total War with Communist China and the Soviets (which would be mind-bogglingly expensive and could kill [tens of] millions) and to avoid possible nuclear war, and claims that there is no substitute for victory in a war and one should either fight with everything one has or not fight at all. [=MacArthur=] is relieved of his command over the war and fades into obscurity until his eventual retirement from the Army and in his last moments as a General and as a soldier he addresses many young and aspiring soldiers/cadets at West Point about what his career in the Military has meant to him.
* Sheriff Will Teasle of the first ''Franchise/{{Rambo}}'' film is a Korean War veteran. It is implied on the movie (and explicit on the novel) that his IrrationalHatred for Rambo is because Korea (and his own sacrifices by proxy) has been all but swept under the rug by the American people while Rambo (a UsefulNotes/VietnamWar vet) is a walking symbol of the "new generation".
* ''Operation Chromite'', a South Korean film from 2016 about the Battle of Inchon starring Creator/LiamNeeson as General [=MacArthur=].

* Richard Hooker's ''Literature/{{MASH}}'', which spawned the hit film and TV series.
* James Salter's ''The Hunters'' is a novel set in the Korean air war which features an OfficerAndAGentleman and a particularly nasty GloryHound.
* ''The Bridges at Toko-Ri'', a James Michener novel subsequently made into a film
* ''This Kind of War'', by T. R. Fehrenbach (1960). This is considered by many historians to be THE definitive history of the Korean War, and an excellent read on its own literary merits. It is also required reading for all US officer candidate cadets at West Point and all candidates for promotion to the rank of General or Admiral in the US military.
* In Creator/ManlyWadeWellman's ''Literature/SilverJohn'' stories, John is a Korean War veteran, though the reader only gets a [[NoodleIncident few hints]] about what exactly he did in the conflict.
* [[Creator/HarryTurtledove Harry Turtledove's]] upcoming AlternateHistory series ''The Hot War'' has history change due to a more successful PLA counterattack in the winter of 1950-51 nearly wiping out UN forces instead of just defeating them. UsefulNotes/HarryTruman follows General [=MacArthur's=] advice to use atomic weapons in Manchuria to cut off PLA forces; in return, UsefulNotes/JosefStalin attacks US allies in Europe, and WorldWarIII begins.

* ''Series/{{MASH}}'', which ran three times longer than the 'hot' part of the war.
* In ''Series/MadMen'', Dick Whitman is a soldier in Korea when his commanding officer--in a two-man camp!--is killed. As Whitman isn't doing too well for himself, he takes the dead man's identity- Don Draper.
* ''Series/FawltyTowers'': Basil Fawlty appearently served in the Catering Corps. He also claims to have a shrapnel wound on his leg when he needs an excuse.
* Jim Rockford on ''Series/TheRockfordFiles'' fought in Korea. So did James Garner, who played Jim Rockford.
* In ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'', George's father, Frank was a cook in the Korean War, and has traumatic flashbacks about the time he sickened his fellow troops by using bad meat.
* Red Forman from ''Series/That70sShow'' fought in the war.
* ''Series/{{JAG}}'':
** Harm and Mac travel to South Korea along with an Army General to investigate an alleged massacre that took place at the time of the war in the fifth season episode "The Bridge at Kang So Ri".
** Gunnery Sergeant Galindez helps an old Hispanic Marine veteran of the Korean War who fought at the Chosin reservoir in the sixth season episode "Retreat, Hell".
* ''Series/ColdCase'': "Shore Leave" centres around the murder of a marine preparing to ship out to Korea.
* On ''Series/TheGreatestAmericanHero'', Bill Maxwell is a veteran of the war.
* Martin Crane, Series/{{Frasier}}'s father, served in Korea.
* George Jefferson on ''Series/TheJeffersons'' served in Korea as a cook aboard an aircraft carrier in the Navy.
* GySgt Carter on ''Series/GomerPyleUSMC'' fought in Korea.
* Both Blanche's late husband and Dorothy's ex-husband were mentioned to have been Korean War veterans on ''Series/TheGoldenGirls''.
* Trevor Ochmonek, the wacky neighbor on ''Series/{{Alf}}'', was a Korean War veteran.
* Jack Arnold, the father in ''Series/TheWonderYears'', was a veteran of the Korean War; a first lieutenant in the USMC to judge from his photographs.
* Phillip Drummond on ''Series/DiffrentStrokes'' is a Korean War veteran.
* Dr. Quincy on ''Series/QuincyME'', is a Korean War veteran and he served as a Navy doctor.

* The aptly named 2003 title ''Korea: Forgotten Conflict''. Its style of gameplay is very similar to that of the ''VideoGame/{{Commandos}}'' series.
* ''VideoGame/WarThunder'' includes aircraft that were used in the Korean War. An achievement for advancing up the Soviet tier tree is called "Spain to Korea".
* The top tiers of ''VideoGame/WorldOfTanks'' and ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarplanes'' involve vehicles from this era.
* The ''VideoGame/SteelPanthers'' series has traditionally included a number of campaigns and scenarios focusing on the conflict. The third game in particular included a scenario based on the ill-fated [[HoldTheLine delaying action]] of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Osan#Task_Force_Smith Task Force Smith]].
* The Cold War campaign in the ''Thrones and Patriots'' expansion of ''VideoGame/RiseOfNations'' allows the player (as the US or Soviet Union) to get involved in the war. The US has the option to decide whether to simply hold on to South Korea's original cities or push into the North - the latter action spurs China into action against you and pushes the worldwide DEFCON level down. The Soviets, in addition to taking on a more active role, can also decide whether to accept Chinese help in exchange for a non-aggression pact lasting several campaign turns (that you can break early, also for a DEFCON level fall).
* ''VideoGame/SabreAceConflictOverKorea'' is an air combat simulator set during the war, with the USAF player starting in an F-51 Mustang and working their way up to an F-86 Sabre jet fighter. The North Korean campaign has you ahistorically[[note]]The Soviet Union didn't send its pilots into combat until April 1951.[[/note]] playing a Soviet pilot, starting in a Yak-9 and changing over to a [=MiG-15=] jet later.

!!Media that discusses restarting the war

* Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex: This happens in the background of the show and is an important event in the second season.

* ''Film/DieAnotherDay''
* ''Film/OlympusHasFallen''

* The Creator/DaleBrown novel ''Battle Born''
* Creator/TomClancy collaborator Creator/LarryBond published ''Red Phoenix'' in 1990 telling the story of a North Korean invasion of South Korea and the efforts of the USA and South Korea to defeat them.

[[AC:{{Live Action TV}}]]

* ''LiveActionTV/DeadliestWarrior'' had an episode featuring a squad-on-squad battle between the US Army Rangers and the NKSOF in this context.

[[AC:{{Video Games}}]]
* The video game ''VideoGame/{{Mercenaries}}: Playground of Destruction'' is a combination of this and events [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything highly similar to]] the invasion of Iraq. Banned in Korea.
* ''VideoGame/SplinterCell: Chaos Theory'' has the war restart halfway through the game as a result of the bad guys using weaponized computer algorithms to autonomously launch a North Korean missile at a US carrier, sinking it and pinning the blame on them. One level has [[TheHero Sam]] sneaking his way through a war-torn Seoul (which caused it to be [[BannedInChina Banned In South Korea]] for a while).
* ''VideoGame/GhostRecon 2'' is an interesting case, as the "First Contact" version for [=PS2=] and [=GameCube=] depicts the same conflict as in ''Chaos Theory'', showing more of the actual battles of it (whereas ''Chaos Theory'' focuses more on the truth behind the war)... and then the "Final Assault" version for Xbox concerns the war restarting '''again''' a couple years later.
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerGenerals: Zero Hour'' makes mention of a Second Korean War, which American general Alexis Alexander is a veteran of.
* ''Steel Panthers'', again.