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American and North Korean Generals Sign the Korean Armistice, July 23, 1953

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Three tables are seen in a plain looking room with military personnel seen through the background windows.  General Harrison is seated at the table on the left, General Nam is seated at the table on the right.  Both Generals are attended by other staff as they sign the armistice that ended the three year Korean conflict.
Courtesy of National Archives, "General W. K. Harrison, Jr., signs armistice ending 3-year Korean conflict. General Harrison, left table, and North Korean General Nam Il, right table, sign documents.," 23 July 1953

Description

General W. K. Harrison, Jr., is shown in this photograph signing armistice ending the three-year Korean conflict. Harrison is at the left table, while North Korean General Nam Il is at the right table. According to the National Archives, 158 meetings happened over a two-year period to reach this point. The armistice agreement ended open hostilities, created the "demilitarized zone" at the 38th parallel to be a 4,000-meter-wide zone between North and South Korea, arranged for release and exchange of prisoners of war and set up a committee to discuss any violations of the agreement that arise. This military agreement remains in effect today. In the end though, no treaty was ever signed.

Source-Dependent Questions

  • Look closely at the photo and describe the surroundings. What national symbols do you see in this photo?
  • The armistice agreement ended open hostilities, created the "demilitarized zone" at the 38th parallel to be a 4,000-meter-wide zone between North and South Korea, arranged for release and exchange of prisoners of war and set up a committee to discuss any violations of the agreement that arise. Why would the armistice highlight these points as part of the agreement?
  • How might the lives of North and South Koreans have been different if the Korean War had ended with a treaty to which all countries agreed?

Citation Information 

"General W. K. Harrison, Jr., signs armistice ending 3-year Korean conflict. General Harrison, left table, and North Korean General Nam Il, right table, sign documents.," 23 July 1953. Courtesy of National Archives