Korean War - 1953 - Ike Goes to Korea
Fighting during the remainder of 1951 tapered off to patrol clashes, raids, and small battles for possession of outposts in no-man's-land. The front lines, except for periodic and bloody fights over particularly strategic terrain in what was called the "Hill War," stayed fairly constant. The war settled into a pattern oddly reminiscent of World War I. Both sides operated from heavily-fortified positions on the Korean mountainsides, sending out patrols, often at night, for reconnaissance and ambush. The Chinese mounted enough of their terrifying "human wave" attacks to vary the "routine." Action at the front continued as artillery duels, ambushes, and bitter contests for position, though these furious and costly small-scale battles left the lines substantially unchanged at the end of 1952.
In November 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President on the campaign pledge to "go to Korea." Action at the front continued as a series of artillery duels, patrols, ambushes, raids, and bitter contests for outpost positions. Pork Chop Hill, situated in a no-man's land between the opposing forces, was the site of four separate engagements. It became famous in story and film just before the end of the war, in early July 1953, when the Chinese tried to dislodge elements of the 17th Infantry from the crest. Friendly forces withstood a series of assaults before withdrawing in the face of the enemy's disregard for casualties.
The truce talks remained stalemated and hostilities continued until an armistice was finally concluded on 27 July 1953. On that date at Panmunjom, the military commanders of the North Korean Army, the Chinese People's Volunteers, and the United Nations Command signed an armistice agreement. The war lasted three years and one month and devastated almost the entire Korean Peninsula. Neither the United States nor South Korea is a signatory of the armistice per se, though both adhere to it through the UNC. No comprehensive peace agreement has replaced the 1953 armistice pact; thus, a condition of belligerency still technically exists on the divided peninsula.
A political conference was held in Geneva in April 1954 to resolve the Korean question pursuant to the Armistice Agreement. But the meeting broke off in two months. The 38th parallel has simply been replaced by the truce line and Korea remains divided. The chances for peaceful unification had been remote even before 1950, but the war dashed all such hopes. Sizable numbers of South Koreans who either had been sympathetic or indifferent to communism before the war became avowed anticommunists afterwards. The war also intensified hostilities between the communist and noncommunist camps in the accelerating East-West arms race. Moreover, a large number of Chinese volunteer troops remained in North Korea until October 1958, and China began to play an increasingly important role in Korean affairs.
Because tension on the Korean Peninsula remained high, the United States continued to station troops in South Korea, over the strenuous objections of North Korean leaders. The war also spurred Japan's industrial recovery and the United States' decision to rearm Japan.
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