I am trying to get information on international agreements on Korean conflict. I can find only documents on the current border status, DMZ, but not on valid international contracts for example guarantees of help in case of renewal of the conflict.
Let's assume if conflict escalates to war, who would be involved? I know USA supports South Korea as well as most of UN countries. Also a factor is that China is somewhat ideological partner of North Korea, but let's be realistic, China (fortunately) drifted far from Korean stalinistic view.

So the question: which countries would be involved if North Korea invades South Korean territories? USA? Russia? China? Maybe Japan? Who else? Are there international level guarantees of supports?

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    Which of the 2 questions are you asking? Which countries have mutual defense pacts with NK/SK? Or which are "likely" to get involve legalities aside?
    – user4012
    Mar 11, 2013 at 15:27
  • @DVK These all would be really good information. I would be happy to know which countries are involved by living defense pact. Many things changed since the 50's internationally. And of course if there is a non-official interest in conflict which makes sense would be appreciated. Mar 11, 2013 at 15:55
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    Sadly the question becomes more and more actual :( Mar 12, 2013 at 8:25

1 Answer 1


Technically, the United Nations is already at war with North Korea, and has been since 1950. There was an armistice- meaning a cessation of hostility- in 1953- but there has never been a formal treaty to conclude the war.

In 2009, Kim Jong Il threatened to undo the armistice, but only engaged in minor provocations. (Okay, sinking one ship wasn't so minor, but it wasn't an all out strike either)

If hostilities resume, technically it is the UN - not the US that intervenes. In practice, this means a "coalition of the willing" would need to occur. The "obligation" to send troops is primarily based on commitments to the UN.

The US and South Korea have an Armed Forces Agreement, and forward deployed men. As such, they are pretty likely. Japan is constrained by treaty not to deploy forces outside of Japan. Parts of Europe may fulfill their UN commitments, but Russia would be unlikely to "intervene in the internal affairs" of another country.

The real wild card, as you say, is China. Even in the 1950s, China disagreed with the idea that the UN should declare war, and came to the help of their ally. That they agreed to a censure of their ally truly was a new thing and a shocking development (& most likely exceedingly worrying one for NK).

Even if China simply sits on the sidelines, the outcome of any action would be clear. Remember that the Korean Conflict in the 1950s was a massive invasion by the North which was quickly repulsed once the UN intervened. It was not until China entered that the war became anything other than a lopsided affair.

  • Thanks for answer, I like it, so far this is my view as well, your answer contained some new information for UN for me, so +1. Anyways I think the cards are suffled since China gained power in UN, but let's be fair: a lot changed since Mao. I am not sure about everything is as clear as it should be around this subject. Mar 12, 2013 at 12:45
  • If we do go back to war with NK I predict that 98% of their functioning equipment is on the border currently in a bluff. Feb 13, 2014 at 22:03

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