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August 31, 2011

20 Vintage Photographs of the Korean War

“If the best minds in the world had set out to find us the worst possible location in the world to fight this damnable war,” U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson (1893-1971) once said, “the unanimous choice would have been Korea.”

On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War. By July, American troops had entered the war on South Korea’s behalf. As far as American officials were concerned, it was a war against the forces of international communism itself.

After some early back-and-forth across the 38th parallel, the fighting stalled and casualties mounted with nothing to show for them. Meanwhile, American officials worked anxiously to fashion some sort of armistice with the North Koreans. The alternative, they feared, would be a wider war with Russia and China–or even, as some warned, World War III. Finally, in July 1953, the Korean War came to an end. In all, some 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives during the war. The Korean peninsula is still divided today.

Below is a collection of 20 vintage photographs of the war:

Korean civilians pass an M-46 tank

A US howitzer position near the Kum River

A GI comforts a grieving infantryman

The U.S. Air Force attacking railroads south of Wonsan on the eastern coast of North Korea

General Douglas MacArthur, UN Command CiC (seated), observes the naval shelling of Incheon from the USS Mt. McKinley, 15 September 1950

Combat in the streets of Seoul

Chinese forces cross the Yalu River

Soldiers from the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division in action near the Ch'ongch'on River, 20 November 1950

B-26 Invaders bomb logistics depots in Wonsan, North Korea, 1951

American flame thrower units advancing toward a tunnel entrance

ROK soldiers dump spent artillery casings

Supporting the 8th ROK Army Division, a Sherman tank fires its 76 mm gun at KPA bunkers at "Napalm Ridge", Korea, 11 May 1952

MiG Alley: A MiG-15 shot down by an F-86 Sabre

The KPAF shot down some 16 B-29 Superfortress bombers in the war

A US Navy Sikorsky HO4S flying near the USS Sicily

To disrupt North Korean communications, the USS Missouri fires a salvo from its 16-inch guns at shore targets near Chongjin, North Korea, 21 October 1950

Atom bomb test, 1951. This was the Operation Buster-Jangle Dog shot, on 1 November

Two Hill 303 survivors after being rescued by American units, 17 August 1950

An executed U.S. Army POW of the U.S. 21st Infantry Regiment killed 9 July 1950. Picture taken 10 July 1950

National Defense Corps soldiers in January, 1951


  1. These are really amazing photographs. i was in the army and am always interested in these. thanks so much for sharing them!

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