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What an End to the 71-Year Korean War Would Mean

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The Cold War may have ended, but one of its greatest conflicts still lives on -- at least on paper. There has been no formal treaty ending the 1950-53 Korean War, meaning North Korea and its ally China have technically been at war with U.S.-led forces and South Korea for more than seven decades. While the two Koreas have again revived calls for a peace deal, well-entrenched political forces could keep prospects of a resolution at bay. 

The parties involved in talks to end the war -- North Korea and China on one side and the U.S.-led United Nations Forces on the other -- were never able to reach a peace treaty. What was signed in 1953 was only an armistice agreement, or truce, and only among three of the four parties. South Korea held out, looking to keep the fighting going in the hope that the entire peninsula could fall under its government’s control. That’s why Seoul today has little power on its own to change the status of the armistice. The border between North and South Korea has remained one of the world’s most militarized divides, with more than a million troops in total deployed nearby.