© 2021 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Past and Present

Past & Present: America's 'Forgotten War'


Situated between World War II and Vietnam, the Korean War is often referred to as America’s “forgotten war.” Despite its relative murkiness in the context of public consciousness, the Korean War and its aftermath is arguably America’s most fascinating recent military endeavor.

For instance, unlike World War II and Vietnam where former combatants now have amicable relations, tensions between the U.S. and North Korea remain as high as ever. The principle reason for this dichotomy is that, while World War II and the Vietnam War culminated in signed peace treaties, the Korean War did not.

An armistice signed on July 27, 1953 provided for a cease fire between North Korea (and its Chinese allies) and the United States–led United Nations forces. Unfortunately, an attempt to arrive at a permanent peace agreement failed in 1954.

While the Korean War is obscure to many contemporary Americans, in North Korea it remains at the forefront of thought. Especially, since that war, technically, is not over. Sadly, grassroots North Koreans have suffered severe deprivations in recent decades as its government has engaged in a massive military buildup, including the development of nuclear weapons.

Developing circumstances suggest that the long-standing Korean stalemate will be settled one way or another in the near future. One can only pray that it will end with a long-elusive peace treaty, rather than the shedding of more blood and a potential nuclear holocaust.