Some 50,000 American and UN troops died in the Korean War, along with almost 150,000 Chinese and untold numbers of civilians. It was a big war. Yet it's still not a popular war, not like World War II. One of the reasons is probably that it ended after several years just about where it had started.
One keeps hearing that the closest the world has ever come to a nuclear exchange was during the Cuban missile crisis of October, 1963, but if President Truman had not reined in General Douglas MacArthur's ambitions in Korea the world would almost certainly have been involved in another global war.
MacArthur was in command of all UN forces in Korea, and when the Chinese army forced them to retreat, the general argued for the use of about 50 atomic bombs in China to sterilize the border and prevent the deployment of more Chinese troops. We will recall that the population of China, including men of combatant age, far outnumbered that of the US, and that the Soviet Union and China, despite their differences, were ideological brothers.
The combat was horrible, the weather at times insufferable for both sides, the enemy brutal, and the entire experience from beginning to end was exhausting. The Chinese troops returned home as heroes but there were no massed parades of returning American troops, all of whom were all too happy to get home alive anyway.
It's a decent and fairly honest documentary. There are other around that are equally good, perhaps better. A four-disc DVD set is available on Amazon.com and elsewhere and that's probably the most dispassionate and detailed documentary I've seen. In the end, it was North Korea that lost the war. It's easy to Google a night-time view of the Korean peninsula. It's all lighted up south of the 38th parallel. North of that it's dark, with only a few dim blobs of light marking the larger cities.
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