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The Chinese counterattacked in April 1951, with the Fifth Phase Offensive (also known as the “Chinese Spring Offensive”) with three field armies (approximately 700,000 men).:131:132 The offensive’s first thrust fell upon I Corps, which fiercely resisted in the Battle of the Imjin River (22–25 April 1951) and the Battle of Kapyong (22–25 April 1951), blunting the impetus of the offensive, which was halted at the “No-name Line” north of Seoul.:133–134 On 15 May 1951, the Chinese commenced the second impulse of the Spring Offensive and attacked the ROK Army and the US X Corps in the east. After initial success, they were halted by 20 May.:136–137 At month’s end, the US Eighth Army counterattacked and regained “Line Kansas,” just north of the 38th parallel.:137–138 The UN’s “Line Kansas” halt and subsequent offensive action stand-down began the stalemate that lasted until the armistice of 1953.
Stalemate (July 1951 – July 1953)
Two soldiers armed with flame thrower are walking to the right with two soldiers armed with rifles. In the background a group of soldiers are resting over a desolate landscape.
American flame thrower units advancing toward a tunnel entrance.
ROK soldiers dump spent artillery casings.
For the remainder of the Korean War the UN Command and the PVA fought, but exchanged little territory; the stalemate held. Large-scale bombing of North Korea continued, and protracted armistice negotiations began 10 July 1951 at Kaesong.:175–7:145 On the Chinese side, Zhou Enlai directed peace talks, and Li Kenong and Qiao Guanghua headed the negotiation team. Combat continued while the belligerents negotiated; the UN Command forces’ goal was to recapture all of South Korea and to avoid losing territory.:159 The PVA and the KPA attempted similar operations, and later effected military and psychological operations in order to test the UN Command’s resolve to continue the war.
The principal battles of the stalemate include the Battle of Bloody Ridge (18 August – 15 September 1951),:160 the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge (13 September – 15 October 1951),:161–2 the Battle of Old Baldy (26 June – 4 August 1952), the Battle of White Horse (6–15 October 1952), the Battle of Triangle Hill (14 October – 25 November 1952), the Battle of Hill Eerie (21 March – 21 June 1952), the sieges of Outpost Harry (10–8 June 1953), the Battle of the Hook (28–9 May 1953) and the Battle of Pork Chop Hill (23 March – 16 July 1953).
Chinese troops suffered from deficient military equipment, serious logistical problems, overextended communication and supply lines, and the constant threat of UN bombers. All of these factors generally led to a rate of Chinese casualties that was far greater than the casualties suffered by UN troops. The situation became so serious that, on November 1951, Zhou Enlai called a conference in Shenyang to discuss the PVA’s logistical problems. At the meeting it was decided to accelerate the construction of railways and airfields in the area, to increase the number of trucks available the army, and to improve air defense by any means possible. These commitments did little to directly address the problems confronting PVA troops.
In the months after the Shanyang conference Peng Dehuai went to Beijing several times to brief Mao and Zhou about the heavy casualties suffered by Chinese troops and the increasing difficulty of keeping the front lines supplied with basic necessities. Peng was convinced that the war would be protracted, and that neither side would be able to achieve victory in the foreseeable future. On 24 February 1952, the Military Commission, presided over by Zhou, discussed the PVA’s logistical problems with members of various government agencies involved in the war effort. After the government representatives emphasized their inability to meet the demands of the war, Peng, in an angry outburst, shouted: “You have this and that problem… You should go to the front and see with your own eyes what food and clothing the soldiers have! Not to speak of the casualties! For what are they giving their lives? We have no aircraft. We have only a few guns. Transports are not protected. More and more soldiers are dying of starvation. Can’t you overcome some of your difficulties?” The atmosphere became so tense that Zhou was forced to adjourn the conference. Zhou subsequently called a series of meetings, where it was agreed that the PVA would be divided into three groups, to be dispatched to Korea in shifts; to accelerate the training of Chinese pilots, to provide more anti-aircraft guns to the front lines; to purchase more military equipment and ammunition from the Soviet Union; to provide the army with more food and clothing; and, to transfer the responsibility of logistics to the central government.
Armistice (July 1953 – November 1954)
The on again, off again armistice negotiations continued for two years,:144–53 first at Kaesong (southern North Korea), then relocated at Panmunjom (bordering the Koreas).:147 A major, problematic negotiation point was prisoner of war (POW) repatriation.:187–99 The PVA, KPA, and UN Command could not agree on a system of repatriation because many PVA and KPA soldiers refused to be repatriated back to the north, which was unacceptable to the Chinese and North Koreans.:189–90 In the final armistice agreement, a Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission was set up to handle the matter.:242–5
In 1952 the US elected a new president, and on 29 November 1952, the president-elect, Dwight D. Eisenhower, went to Korea to learn what might end the Korean War.:240 With the United Nations’ acceptance of India’s proposed Korean War armistice, the KPA, the PVA, and the UN Command ceased fire with the battle line approximately at the 38th parallel. Upon agreeing to the armistice, the belligerents established the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which has since been patrolled by the KPA and ROKA, US, and Joint UN Commands.
The Demilitarized Zone runs northeast of the 38th parallel; to the south, it travels west. The old Korean capital city of Kaesong, site of the armistice negotiations, originally lay in the pre-war ROK, but now is in the DPRK. The United Nations Command, supported by the United States, the North Korean Korean People’s Army, and the Chinese People’s Volunteers, signed the Armistice Agreement on 27 July 1953 to end the fighting. The Armistice also called upon the governments of South Korea, North Korea, China and the United States to participate in continued peace talks. For his part, ROK President Rhee attacked the peace proceedings. The war is considered to have ended at this point, even though there was no peace treaty. North Korea nevertheless cl