After a few years of border skirmishes, the North Korean army poured over the border on June 25, 1950, and routed the ill-prepared South Korean forces. The United Nations intervened, with the overwhelming majority of its fighting forces coming from the United States. But the North Korean army had swept all before it, and by the time UN troops arrived in force they were left with just a tiny perimeter in the southeast corner of the peninsula.
It was Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s daring amphibious assault on Inchon, far behind enemy lines, that turned the tide. Now, it was the North Korean army retreating in disarray. UN forces pushed them back into the North, to within sight of the Yalu River. Chinese forces then poured across the border, joining the fight in support of the North Koreans and pushing the allied forces back to the vicinity of the 38th parallel, where the war essentially remained a stalemate for the next two years.
In all, 1.7 million Americans fought in Korea and 36,574 lost their lives. Their legacy is a free, independent and prosperous South Korea while the North remains a hermit kingdom, ruled by a succession of eccentric lunatics slowly starving their citizens to death while building monuments to their own vanity.