New Korean War documentary explores past, present stakes

More than 70 years later, the Korean War still shapes global policies and national relationships.

“Korea: The Never-Ending War” airs Monday, April 28, at 8 p.m. on Arizona PBS. This new documentary by John Maggio shines a light on a geopolitical hot spot, narrated by actor John Cho. Often considered a “forgotten war,” the Korean War was an important turning point in world history that still reverberates today.

The documentary encompasses the present and past of the war, from today’s leaders and events to historic personalities and moments of the past. The film provides multiple views and interviews — on the ground and in the trenches — from ordinary citizens and soldiers caught in the crossfire, to political and military leaders who pulled the strings and controlled the war’s fate from afar.

The Korean War (1950-1953) forced the U.S. into becoming the world’s policeman, with a large standing army, huge defense budget, military bases around the world and routine interventions in far-off conflicts. The film documents how the conflict on the Korean peninsula continued after 1953 with a brazen attack by the North on South Korea’s Presidential Blue House in 1968; the North’s seizure of the U.S.S. Pueblo which held the crew hostage for 11 months; the downing of Flight 858 in 1987, right before the first Olympics held in South Korea; and the events that triggered North Korea’s nuclear program and South Korea’s economic expansion.

The film demonstrates how the consequences of the war’s stalemate have led to today, where Kim Jong Un is developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. American war ships have been deployed near the Korean peninsula, a controversial anti-missile system was installed in South Korea and tense relations continue for all parties, despite recent diplomatic efforts.

Through extensive archival materials and interviews with those who speak from personal experience, including American and South Korean veterans who fought in the war along with civilians caught in the conflict, the film tells the story of how the world we live in today was shaped by this conflict.

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