The Korean War

Start Free Trial

Why did the Korean War end in a stalemate?

Expert Answers

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

The Korean War ended in a stalemate. When the Korean War began, the border between North and South Korea was the 38th parallel. North Korea was communist, and South Korea was non-communist. At the beginning of the war, North Korea nearly conquered all of South Korea. Due to a daring...

This Answer Now

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

Get 48 Hours Free Access

military action by the United Nations forces, North Korea was forced out of South Korea. South Korean and United Nations forces entered North Korea and nearly won the war. Then the Chinese entered and pushed the South Korean and United Nations forces back to the 38th parallel. The war bogged down here for the next two and a half years. Eventually, a ceasefire was reached. The terms of the ceasefire changed nothing. The border was still the 38th parallel. North Korea was Communist while South Korea was non-communist. Thus, the war was a stalemate with no clear winner.

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

There are two main reasons for this.

First, the war ended in a stalemate because of Chinese involvement.  The Chinese had a huge army that was able to balance out the UN forces and push them back down the peninsula after they had made it as far as the Yalu River which was the border with China.

A second possible reason is that the US did not want to pursue an all-out war against China.  Douglas MacArthur, for example, wanted to attack China directly, possibly using nuclear weapons.  President Truman, though, did not want to bring on a major war by doing this.  The US's desire to keep the war limited in scope is another reason why the war ended in a deadlock.

Approved by eNotes Editorial