->''"In war there is no substitute for victory."''
-->-- '''UsefulNotes/DouglasMacArthur'''

The closest the [[UsefulNotes/HistoryOfTheColdWar Cold War]] ever got to going 'hot', 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 South Korea, the "Fatherland Liberation War" in North Korea, and 'the war ''[[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 as no serious fighting has ensued in the decades since the Ceasefire was concluded. In fact their relationship has been more or less amicable, especially after 1998.

Both Korean states had been harassing each other along the border, and both had aspirations of placing the whole peninsula under their own style of government. 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 Pusan.

In the meantime the United States appealed to the United Nations for intervention. Normally this might've been a waste of time, as Stalin [[SlaveToPR would have been compelled to use the USSR's veto power to stop the Capitalist Imperial Powers from waging war on a communist country under the U.N. banner]]. Fortunately for Stalin, South Korea, and the USA the North Korean invasion had come while the Soviets were still boycotting the U.N. security council in protest at the [[PeoplesRepublicOfTyranny People's Republic of China]] (est.1949) not being given [[NoMoreEmperors the Republic of China's]] (est.1911)'s seat on the Security Council [[NoMoreEmperors despite the former having conquered virtually all of the latter]]. This is good for South Korea and the USA because South Korea will continue to exist as U.S. puppet, and good for the USSR because it could use a distraction from the 'reorganisation' of eastern Europe (from heavily-bullied allies into outright satellite states).

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 kids to fear nuclear holocaust Chinese. 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 hundreds with no territorial gains for either side (much like WorldWarOne a generation earlier). 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]]. 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. 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 were officially never in Korea. And both Koreas denied that the other was a legitimate "country" at all.

The war saw 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), 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. "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. That said, North Korea's raison d'etre is to continue the war, and they may eventually feel the pressure to try again, so the scenario isn't impossible.[[/note]].

%%!!Tropes as portrayed in fiction:

!!Media featuring the historical war:

* ''Fixed Bayonets!'', 1951 American film
* ''The Steel Helmet'', 1951 American film
* ''Retreat, Hell!'', 1952 American film
* ''Battle Circus'', a 1953 American film starring Humphrey Bogart and set at a MASH hospital in Korea
* ''Men of the Fighting Lady'', 1954 American film
* ''Men in War'', 1957 American film
* ''Sayonara'', 1957 American film
* ''Film/PorkChopHill'', 1959 American film
* 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 American film
* '''[[Film/{{MASH}} M*A*S*H]]''' (1970) Of course
* ''Welcome to Dongmakgol'', 2005 South Korean film
* ''[[Film/{{Taegukgi}} Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War]]'' (AKA: ''Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo'', ''Brotherhood: Taegukgi''), a 2007 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'', 2007 Chinese film which also takes place during the Chinese Civil War
* ''Silmido'' is about the Second Korean War, a period of tension and armed skirmishes between 1966 and 1976.
* ''Inchon'', a 1981 American film funded by Sun Myung Moon. Famously considered one of the worst movies of all time, it "won" four [[UsefulNotes/GoldenRaspberryAward Razzies]]. As a box office failure, it's often mentioned in the same breath as ''Film/HeavensGate''. [=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 VietnamWar vet) is a walking symbol of the "new generation".

* 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
* ''Series/{{Mash}}'', a [[Literature/{{Mash}} novel]] (1968), [[Film/{{Mash}} film]] (1970), and TV series (1972-83)
* ''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 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}} M*A*S*H]]''', 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.
* 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".
* ''ColdCase'': "Shore Leave" centres around the murder of a marine preparing to ship out to Korea.
* On ''TheGreatestAmericanHero'', Bill Maxwell is a veteran of the war.
* Martin Crane, {{Frasier}}'s father, served in Korea.
* George Jefferson on ''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 ''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/{{Quincy}}'', 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.
* 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 ''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 ''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-agression pact lasting several campaign turns (that you can break early, also for a DEFCON level fall).

!!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 DaleBrown novel ''Battle Born''
* Larry Bond's ''Red Phoenix''.

[[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'' plays with this. One level has [[TheHero Sam]] sneaking his way through a war-torn Seoul.
** This caused it to be [[BannedInChina Banned In South Korea]] for a while.
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerGenerals: Zero Hour'' makes mention of a Second Korean War, which American general Alexis Alexander is a veteran of.
* The top tiers of ''VideoGame/WorldOfTanks'' and ''WorldOfWarplanes'' involve vehicles from this era.
* ''Steel Panthers'', again.