On 25 Jun in 1950, North Korea unleashed an attack southward across the 38th parallel, launching the Korean War. Though the guns have been silent for decades, the war has not ended. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung marked the 50th anniversary with an historic reconciliation gesture, but Pyongyang used the 59th anniversary to step up its threats. The 60th anniversary, in 2010, sees North-South tensions at a high point because of the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.
A team of international investigators led by South Korea's military said in May that a North Korean submarine torpedoed the South Korean Cheonan,snapping the vessel in half in a blast and killing 46 sailors. North Korea has sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council rejecting the accusations, saying it was the victim of a United States-led conspiracy. At least 2.5 million people lost their lives in the Korean conflict, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Each side was supported by foreign powers and the conflict became a proxy conflict for the Cold War adversaries. In May 2009 North Korea withdrew unilaterally from the armistice signed on 27 Jul 1953. Pyongyang's state-run media accused the United States in Jun 2009 of provoking the Korean war and of looking for an excuse to launch another attack. The United Nations toughened its sanctions against Pyongyang for launching a long-range missile and detonating a second atomic bomb in May. The sanctions ban all weapons exports from North Korea and most arms imports. UN member states are also authorized to inspect North Korean sea, air and land cargo and destroy any goods that violate the sanctions. The United States is in the country's cross hairs because the US Navy is tracking a North Korean vessel off the Chinese coast that is suspected of carrying weapons. North Korea today threatened to retaliate with a nuclear "fire shower" if it is attacked by the United States and warned it would expand its nuclear arsenal, a month after it carried out a controlled nuclear explosion in defiance of the United Nations Security Council. UPDATED Jun 2010
Date written/update: 2010-06-25