Year
1950
Month Day
June 25

Korean War begins

Armed forces from communist North Korea smash into South Korea, setting off the Korean War. The United States, acting under the auspices of the United Nations, quickly sprang to the defense of South Korea and fought a bloody and frustrating war for the next three years.

Korea, a former Japanese possession, had been divided into zones of occupation following World War II. U.S. forces accepted the surrender of Japanese forces in southern Korea, while Soviet forces did the same in northern Korea. Like in Germany, however, the “temporary” division soon became permanent. The Soviets assisted in the establishment of a communist regime in North Korea, while the United States became the main source of financial and military support for South Korea.

READ MORE: The Most Harrowing Battle of the Korean War

On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces surprised the South Korean army (and the small U.S. force stationed in the country), and quickly headed toward the capital city of Seoul. The United States responded by pushing a resolution through the U.N.’s Security Council calling for military assistance to South Korea. (Russia was not present to veto the action as it was boycotting the Security Council at the time.) 

With this resolution in hand, President Harry S. Truman rapidly dispatched U.S. land, air, and sea forces to Korea to engage in what he termed a “police action.” The American intervention turned the tide, and U.S. and South Korean forces marched into North Korea. This action, however, prompted the massive intervention of communist Chinese forces in late 1950. The war in Korea subsequently bogged down into a bloody stalemate. In 1953, the United States and North Korea signed a cease-fire that ended the conflict. The cease-fire agreement also resulted in the continued division of North and South Korea at just about the same geographical point as before the conflict.

READ MORE: The Korean War Hasn't Officially Ended. One Reason: POWs

The Korean War was the first “hot” war of the Cold War. Over 55,000 American troops were killed in the conflict. Korea was the first “limited war,” one in which the U.S. aim was not the complete and total defeat of the enemy, but rather the “limited” goal of protecting South Korea. For the U.S. government, such an approach was the only rational option in order to avoid a third world war and to keep from stretching finite American resources too thinly around the globe. It proved to be a frustrating experience for the American people, who were used to the kind of total victory that had been achieved in World War II. The public found the concept of limited war difficult to understand or support and the Korean War never really gained popular support.

WATCH: The Korean War: Fire & Ice on HISTORY Vault

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia kills 19 U.S. airmen

On June 25, 1996, a tanker truck loaded with 25,000 pounds of explosives rips through the U.S. Air Force military housing complex Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. airmen and wounding nearly 500 others. The terrorist attack that blew off much of the ...read more

Union begins tunneling toward Rebels at Petersburg

Pennsylvania troops begin digging a tunnel toward the Rebels at Petersburg, Virginia, in order to blow a hole in the Confederate lines and break the stalemate. The great campaign between Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of ...read more

U.S. World Cup team wins unlikely victory over England

On June 25, 1950, an American team composed largely of amateurs defeated its more polished English opponents at the World Cup, held in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Dubbed the “Miracle on Green,” the game is considered one of the greatest soccer upsets of all time. The English team at ...read more

Teenager Debbie Gibson earns a #1 hit with “Foolish Beat”

Contrary to what some critics of teen pop might imagine, pop sensation Debbie Gibson saw herself not as the next Madonna, but as the next Carole King. And when her single “Foolish Beat” reached the top of the Biilboard Hot 100 on this day in 1988, she achieved something very much ...read more

Kim Campbell becomes Canada’s first female prime minister

In Ottawa, Kim Campbell is sworn in as Canada’s 19th prime minister, becoming the first woman to hold the country’s highest office. Born in Port Alberni, British Columbia, in 1947, Campbell studied law and political science before entering Canadian politics during the 1980s. In ...read more

Eisenhower takes command

Following his arrival in London, Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower takes command of U.S. forces in Europe. Although Eisenhower had never seen combat during his 27 years as an army officer, his knowledge of military strategy and talent for organization were such that Army Chief ...read more

Battle of Little Bighorn

On June 25, 1876, Native American forces led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull defeat the U.S. Army troops of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn near southern Montana’s Little Bighorn River. Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, Lakota Sioux leaders, ...read more

Viet Cong blow up a floating restaurant

Two Viet Cong terrorist bombs rip through a floating restaurant on the Saigon River. Thirty-one people, including nine Americans, were killed in the explosions. Dozens of other diners were wounded, including 11 Americans. ...read more

Eisenhower assumes command of U.S. troops in Europe

On June 25, 1942, General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes commander of all U.S. troops in the European theater of World War II, continuing the steady ascent in military rank that would culminate in his appointment as supreme Allied commander of all forces in Europe in 1943. As U.S. ...read more

“King of Pop” Michael Jackson dies at age 50

On June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson, one of the most commercially successful entertainers in history, dies at the age of 50 at his home in Los Angeles, California, after suffering from cardiac arrest caused by a fatal combination of drugs given to him by his personal doctor. ...read more

Congress passes Mann Act, aimed at curbing sex trafficking

Congress passes the Mann Act, which was ostensibly aimed at keeping young women from being lured into prostitution, but really offered a way to make a crime out of many kinds of consensual sexual activity. The outrage over sex work began with a commission appointed in 1907 to ...read more

Last Packard—the classic American luxury car—produced

The last Packard—the classic American luxury car with the famously enigmatic slogan “Ask the Man Who Owns One”—rolls off the production line at Packard’s plant in Detroit, Michigan on June 25, 1956. Mechanical engineer James Ward Packard and his brother, William Dowd Packard, ...read more

Germans release statement on use of poison gas at Ypres

On June 25, 1915, the German press publishes an official statement from the country’s war command addressing the German use of poison gas at the start of the Second Battle of Ypres two months earlier. The German firing of more than 150 tons of lethal chlorine gas against two ...read more