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Ceasefire

North Korean Army officers and U.S. military representatives initial maps defining the future Demilitarized Zone or DMZ at Panmunjom, October 1951. (U.S. Air Force photo)

North Korean Army officers and U.S. military representatives initial maps defining the future Demilitarized Zone or DMZ at Panmunjom, October 1951. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Airmen with a souvenir of the former north-south Korean border that was replaced by the Demilitarized Zone. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Airmen with a souvenir of the former north-south Korean border that was replaced by the Demilitarized Zone. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Panmunjom, Korea, November 1951, the site of armistice negotiations. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Panmunjom, Korea, November 1951, the site of armistice negotiations. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The site of the Panmunjom Military Armistice Conference. This photo was taken in March 1952, and facilities were later improved. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The site of the Panmunjom Military Armistice Conference. This photo was taken in March 1952, and facilities were later improved. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. members of the UN delegation to the armistice conference attend a daily meeting at Panmunjom. Navy Vice Adm. C. Turner Joy, serving as chief delegate, is at the center left. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. members of the UN delegation to the armistice conference attend a daily meeting at Panmunjom. Navy Vice Adm. C. Turner Joy, serving as chief delegate, is at the center left. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Air Force provided high-level delegates to the armistice process. USAF Maj. Gen. Laurence Craigie (left) with his successor as Senior UN Command delegate to the armistice negotiations in Korea, Maj. Gen. Howard Turner. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Air Force provided high-level delegates to the armistice process. USAF Maj. Gen. Laurence Craigie (left) with his successor as Senior UN Command delegate to the armistice negotiations in Korea, Maj. Gen. Howard Turner. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In Kaesong, Korea, USAF Col. Andrew Kinney radios results of preliminary armistice negotiations to headquarters. With him are (l-r) USMC Col. J.C. Murray, ROK Army Lt. Col. Lee Soo Young, and U.S. Army Chinese translator WOJG Kenneth Wu. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In Kaesong, Korea, USAF Col. Andrew Kinney radios results of preliminary armistice negotiations to headquarters. With him are (l-r) USMC Col. J.C. Murray, ROK Army Lt. Col. Lee Soo Young, and U.S. Army Chinese translator WOJG Kenneth Wu. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The armistice is signed. U.S. Army Gen. W.K. Harrison (left table) and North Korean Gen. Nam Il (right table) sign documents, July 23, 1953. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The armistice is signed. U.S. Army Gen. W.K. Harrison (left table) and North Korean Gen. Nam Il (right table) sign documents, July 23, 1953. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Communist delegation at the armistice signing. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Communist delegation at the armistice signing. (U.S. Air Force photo)

"We are pretty sure now that the communists wanted peace, not because of a two-year stalemate on the ground, but to get airpower off their back."
- Gen. O.P. Weyland, Far East Air Forces Commander 

Facing increasing UN air power pressure, the communists finally signed a ceasefire on July 27, 1953, ending the fighting in Korea. The U.S. Air Force emerged from the Korean War as a proven force, ready to face future Cold War challenges. In the fight to resist communist aggression, 1,198 USAF Airmen gave their lives.

Peace negotiations began on July 10, 1951, in Kaesong, a city near the 38th parallel and now part of North Korea. For two years, negotiations stalled over the prisoner of war issue. Talks were deadlocked and troops faced a stalemate on the ground, but air power still gave the UN effective leverage. Air attacks made continuing the war too costly for the communists, and they signed an armistice on July 27, 1953.

The end of combat created the famous Demilitarized Zone or "DMZ" as a buffer zone between the two Koreas. This zone has become the world's most fortified international frontier, and has been the scene of several small-scale but violent North Korean incursions over the years. The zone completely divides the peninsula. It is 4 kilometers wide, or 2 kilometers on either side of the border.

While the armistice ended the fighting, there is still no peace treaty officially ending the war in Korea. Since 1953, U.S. forces have remained on guard in South Korea and Japan, ready to defend South Korea against aggression from the north.

Click here to learn more about the War in Context.

Click here to return to the Korean War Gallery.

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