The Korean War Was So Brutal That America's Most Hardened Soldiers Were Shaken

Darien Cavanaugh

Key point: Massacres of civilians were committed on both sides.

It’s difficult to try to keep up with developments in the latest round of saber rattling between the United States and North Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump and Korean “supreme leader” Kim Jong-un have repeatedly traded verbal barbs via Twitter and more formal avenues amid news of naval redeployments, massive live-fire artillery exercises, United Nations condemnations and rumors of troop movements by regional powers.

The United States would have an obvious and distinct advantage over North Korea in a direct military engagement. That doesn’t mean that a war wouldn’t be a grueling and costly endeavor. North Korea’s military is dilapidated and antiquated, but it’s still one of the largest militaries in the world. When the two countries clashed before, from 1950 to 1953, the conflict ended in a virtual draw along the 38th parallel.

Of course, the hundreds of thousands of soldiers China sent to save its North Korean ally played a decisive role in that outcome, but the Korean People’s Army itself put up a formidable fight against the much more powerful United States and its allies. The KPA inflicted considerable casualties in a blitzkrieg-like assault through the south and quickly seized huge swaths of territory, compelling the United States to implement a scorched-earth policy that inflicted a tremendous death toll.

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