Korea, a former Japanese possession, had been divided into zones of occupation following WW II. US forces accepted the surrender of Japanese forces in southern Korea, while Soviet forces did the same in the north. Like in Germany, however, the “temporary” division soon became permanent. The Soviets established a communist regime in North Korea, while the US became the main source of financial and military support for South Korea.
On 25 June 1950, North Korean forces surprised the South Korean army (and the small US force stationed in the country), and quickly headed toward the capital of Seoul. The US responded by pushing a resolution through the UN 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 Truman rapidly dispatched US land, air, and sea forces to Korea to engage in what he termed a “police action.” The American intervention turned the tide, and US 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 US 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.