Why US Is Still (Sorta) at War With North Korea

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2009 4:30 PM CDT
South Korean soldiers look at the North Korean side through binoculars at Dora Observation Post in the demilitarized zone.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The US says North Korea’s recent nuclear test is an obstacle to a “peace treaty formally ending the Korean War,” which gives pause to Juliet Lapidos, writing for Slate. “Wait, we’re still at war with North Korea?” The armistice that ended hostilities in 1953 was supposed to lead to talks on a unified government, but those broke down in 1954. So, we’re still at war.

But not really. “Technically, we weren't at war to begin with,” Lapidos writes. “The 1950-53 conflict was conducted under the aegis of the United Nations and was dubbed a ‘police action’ by President Harry Truman. Congress never actually declared war, nor did it authorize a military engagement.” For 50 years we’ve had “a cessation of hostilities between militaries, as opposed to a cessation of the disagreement between governments.”