The Korean War(1950-1953) has been known as a local-limited war in the total-war age. It was local and limited in terms of the location of battle-ground, the selection of military targets, the weapons systems employed, and the way to end the fighting. The war-zone was limited in the Korean Peninsula, Pyeongyang and Rajin were excluded from the UN bombing list until the Communist side became intransigent on the rule of Prisoners of War(POW) exchange at the truce talks, the nuclear devices were not used in spite of some demonstration through the military exercise of dropping a moke atomic bomb. Furthermore, the Korean War was not ended in a traditional way to distinguish the victor from the loser. Rather, it produced the two victors by terminating the fighting in a way of not unlimited but limited way, that is, an honorable armistice. In this regard, the Korean War could be defined as a local-limited war in the nuclear age.
However, the Korean War was not limited for the Koreans themselves. The Koreans, either of North or South, were not able to recover the status-quo ante-bellum by themselves. Without the intervention of the United States through the UN, the South could not defend their country and recover the 38th Parallel, too. The North Koreans could not regain their own territory should the Chinese troops not intervene. For this reason the Korean War was not a limited but rather a super-total war for the Koreans, because the Koreans, either of North or South, despite they spent all their expendable efforts and available resources, could not restore their own government and territories anti-bellum by themselves.
Also, the Korean War was not limited in an ideological terms, because it was a proxy war, in a sense, between the East and West blocs, championed by the Soviet Union and the United States. As a result, almost all countries, even Sweden and Switzerland, of the world took part in the fighting in one way or another from sending fighting soldiers, supplying weapons and equipments, medical services, assuming a role of facilitating or supervising the Armistice Agreement to even expressing verbal supports or oppositions. Even after the UN and Communist sides agreed to a demarcation line on November 27, 1951, the two sides could not accept the other side insistence on the rule of POWs exchange, that is, “forced" of the Communists and “voluntary" of the UN side. For this reason the two sides had to fight the war for another 20 months, more than half of the war period. Because of the ideological nature of the Korean War, the two sides, especially, Stalin(Joseph V. Stalin, 1879-1953), the head of Social Communism, and Truman(Harry S. Truman, 1884-1972), the champion of Free Capitalism, did not budge an inch on the issue of principle. Only after the death of Stalin(March 1953), the Communist side accepted the principle of free exchange of POWs, and both sides finish the fighting on July 27, 1953. In fact, the Korean War was an ideological war as much as military one.
The Korean War has left several important propositions to remember on the military and political matters, especially, the issues relating to war and peace. The exclusive nature of ideological coherence of communism transcend over the identity of the same race, which made the Korean War as a fratricidal war, no less cruel than a traditional war among nations. And this very nature also prolonged the war and contributed to ending the fighting with no end, a temporary truce, that was an unstable peace. Again, the Korean War proved the vitality of an old Latin proverb, “if you wish for peace, prepare for war," and one British military historian's advice, “if you want peace, understand war." Shrewd enough, North Koreans employed a camouflaged peace as a means of conducting war so that they could achieve strategic and tactical surprise from the very beginning of the fighting. On the other hand, South Koreans believed this camouflaged peace as a real one, especially, the South Korean military did not perceive the danger of this disguised peace. Another proposition was the importance of alliance and unified military operations to conduct and win the battles and campaigns between the indigenous troops and the allied forces, because, without the helps of the UN championed by the United States and of the Chinese troops manipulated by the Soviet Union, both Koreans of the North and South could not reestablish their own governments and territories. In this way, the Korean War has refurbished important propositions well known before.
In many senses, the Korean War fixed the division of the Korean Peninsula, first imposed for political reasons, in military way. But the North Koreans have conducted another nature of war, that is, a subversive war against the Republic of Korea(ROK) since the end of the fighting, employing all kinds of means from extremely peaceful to violent. Fortunately, the Republic of Korea, with the help of security guarantee from the US-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty relationship, has prevented the escalation of this war and achieved a great economic success, though the North Korean Government is still blackmailing the south employing nuclear and missile devices. Being faced these facts and strategic environments, nevertheless, the ROK Government and people should find the ways and means to keep peace in and outside the Korean Peninsula and to reunify the Koreans in a peaceful way through strengthening the self-defense and self-sustaining capabilities of their nation and regime. Maintaining peace in and outside the Korean Peninsula and finding the ways and means to reunify the Korean people in a peaceful way are the proposals to be solved and achieved that the Korean War has bestowed on, especially, the ROK.