June 23, 1951
The successful Eighth Army counter-attack was causing terrible
casualties among the Chinese and North Koreans and
demonstrated that our army was finally reaching full
combat effectiveness. On June 23, Jacob Malik, Russian
U.N. representative hinted that truce negotiations
might be acceptable to the communist powers.
General Ridgway, U.N. Commander-in-Chief, indicated
that he would be prepared to suggest a date for the
beginning of the talks.
Negotiations opened at Kaesong on the tenth. On the
26th an agenda was agreed on: to fix a military
demarcation line so as to establish a demilitarized
zone; to make concrete arrangements for a cease-fire
and an armistice.
Following a provocative pattern which characterized the
entire armistice talks for two years, North Korea
suspended negotiations on the 23rd.
Negotiations resumed at a new site, Panmunjom.
Armistice negotiators agreed to recommend that, within
three months after an armistice, a political conference
at higher level be held for settling the withdrawal of
all foreign forces and the Korean political situation
as a whole.
General Mark W. Clark succeeded General Ridgway as
commanding general of the Unified Command.
U.N. Command recessed talks on the 8th because of
continued disagreement over repatriation of prisoners.
At issue was: Should all POWs be repatriated, by force
if necessary? The U.N. was willing to return all not
violently opposed; the Communists demanded that all
prisoners, willing or unwilling, be returned. Many
Communist prisoners detested the red regime and refused
The CCF initiated savage attacks in the
Chorwon area, and Eighth Army counter-attacked in the
Triangle Hill complex. Both assaults were large in
scale, very bloody, and generally unsuccessful.
November 15-27, 1952
The Communists held an Inter-camp athletic meet, called
the "1952 POW Olympics", at
India proposed repatriation of POWs by releasing them
to a Repatriation Commission not under military
The U.N. General Assembly adopted the Indian
resolution, with amendments. The Communists rejected
the proposals within 12 days.
On the 22nd, General Mark Clark asked for immediate
repatriation of sick and wounded prisoners, a
repetition of a long-standing proposal first made by
U.N. negotiators in accordance with the Geneva
Convention, in December, 1951.
On the 28th, the Communists responded favorably to
General Clark's proposal. They did not explain why
this decision had taken 15 months.
On the 11th, agreement was made to exchange sick and
wounded prisoners beginning April 20, in "Little
Switch." By the 26th, some 5,800 communist
prisoners and 684 allies were exchanged. The same day
saw negotiations resumed at Panmunjom after the 6 1/2
Spent largely in discussions of modifications to a
communist proposal that all prisoners desiring
repatriation would be returned within 2 months after an
armistice, with the remainder being sent to a neutral
state for six months during which representatives of
their home countries could attempt to get their assent
Negotiators signed an agreement for the exchange of
POWs, thus further clearing obstacles to an armistice.
The agreement provided that, within two months of an
armistice, all POWs of both sides who were desirous of
repatriation would be exchanged without hindrance. A
Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission would then be
established in the demilitarized zone to take custody
of all other prisoners, guarded by Indian soldiers,
while representatives of their home countries would try
to persuade them to accept repatriation. On June 18,
ROK guards permitted some 25,000 militantly
anti-communist POWs to escape. This unilateral action
threatened negotiations and doubtless directly led to
the savage battles the CCF waged against ROK, USMC and
Commonwealth divisions in the last few days of the
After several preliminary meetings, the Armistice was
signed on Monday July 27, 1953.
This was a terrible, futile war, never
really declared and never positively ending, even 50
years later. Nevertheless, both China and the United
Nations can take pride in their efforts. China for its
dramatic and powerful emergence as a world power, and
the U.N. for its strong demonstration of a willingness
to oppose aggression, anywhere. For its selfless,
costly and bloody leadership throughout this struggle,
the United States and everyone who fought in its armed
forces can justly feel proud. North Korea remains an
enigma into the 21st Century. South Korea stands today
a free and prosperous nation, and a valuable member of
the congress of nations in the world.
On July 27,
1953, the butchery finally stopped