The rumpus over showing the wrong flag at the North Korean women’s opening Olympic football match (above is the one that should have been used) reminds us that 59 years after an armistice, there is no peace between North and South Korea. Today is the anniversary of that armistice.
The Korean War is seen as the first Cold War conflict. At the end of World War Two, the Americans occupied the southern half of the peninsula and the Soviet Union the northern end, where they established a Communist regime. War broke out in 1950.
A United Nations force dominated by the Americans, but including also troops from the UK and 20 other countries, fought against the Chinese and North Koreans. The US had nearly 40,000 of its servicemen killed, and South Korean military losses were around 46,000, while perhaps 200,000 North Koreans and 400,000 Chinese troops were killed.
Both sides committed atrocities against civilians. In areas it occupied, the North Korean army executed all the educated people it could find, while the South Korean regime killed left-wing and communist sympathisers. Total civilian deaths are estimated at up to 3 million.