What are the major differences between WWII and the Korean War?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There were many differences between World War II (1939–1945) and the Korean War (1950–1953).

First, WWII was a total war, while the Korean conflict was a limited one. In WWII, the Allies would accept nothing less than the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. They used all means—even nuclear weapons—to...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

There were many differences between World War II (1939–1945) and the Korean War (1950–1953).

First, WWII was a total war, while the Korean conflict was a limited one. In WWII, the Allies would accept nothing less than the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. They used all means—even nuclear weapons—to accomplish this.

Second, the war in Korea was part of the Cold War. The Cold War was the conflict between Communism and the West after 1945. The Korean War was just one chapter—albeit an important one—in a long struggle that lasted until 1990.

Third, the United Nations backed South Korea in the Korean War, and its member nations sent troops to fight the Communists. The UN's predecessor, the League of Nations, played no role in WWII.

And finally, WWII ended with treaties of surrender and a clear winner. The Korean War ended with an armistice and no clear winner.

In these ways, WWII differed from the Korean War.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Let us look at three major differences between these two wars.

First, the Korean War was not a total war.  Instead, it was very limited as the two sides were willing to come to a negotiated settlement that returned essentially to the way things had been before the war.  This was not like WWII where the Allies would only accept unconditional surrender.

Second, the Korean War was not a war between great powers.  China was not yet a great power and the Soviet Union did not officially get involved in the war.  

Finally, the Korean War was part of the Cold War.  It was a war about communism and the spread of communism.  WWII was not.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team