Korea, Summer 1953, 1 May - 27 July 1953. There was little activity anywhere along the front as 1953 began. Then, as spring approached, the enemy renewed his attacks against the Eighth Army 's outpost line. By July these attacks had increased in frequency and intensity until they were nearly as heavy as those of May 1951.
In January 1953 Van Fleet had twelve South Korean and eight U.N. divisions to defend the army front. Total strength of combat, service, and security troops was nearly 768,000. Opposing the U.N. forces were seven Chinese armies and two North Korean corps, totaling about 270, 000 troops. Another 531,000 Chinese and North Korean troops remained in reserve. With service and security forces, total enemy strength in Korea was estimated at more than a million men.
Other than a few patrol clashes, little fighting occurred during January and February 1953. On 11 February Lt. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor took command of the Eighth Army as Van Fleet returned to the United States for retirement. The enemy increased his attacks during March, striking at outposts of the 2d and 7th Divisions and the 1st Marine Regiment. During the period 9-10 March the Chinese were successful in ambushing several U.N. patrols, inflicting heavy casualties in each instance. After these flare-ups the front quieted down until late May, when the enemy struck at the outposts of the U.S. 25th Division that were guarding the approaches to the Eighth Army's western positions. Although the enemy was successful in occupying three of the division outposts, he suffered nearly 3,200 casualties.
On the night of 10 June three Chinese divisions struck the ROK II Corps in the vicinity of Kumsong, attacking down both sides of the Pukhan River. Several attacks forced these units to withdraw about two miles. Both sides lost heavily; the Chinese suffered about 6,000 casualties and the ROK units about 7,400. By 18 June the attacks had subsided. By the end of the month, action along the entire front had returned to routine patrolling and light attacks.
Operation LITTLE SWITCH, an exchange of Allied and Communist sick and wounded prisoners, began on 20 April. When it was completed in the latter part of the month, 684 Allied prisoners had been exchanged for more than 6,000 Communists.
Armistice negotiations were resumed in April. The prisoner-of-war question was settled by providing each side an opportunity to persuade those captives who refused repatriation to their homeland to change their minds. By 18 June the terms of the armistice were all but complete; but on this date President Syngman Rhee ordered the release of 27,000 anti-Communist North Korean prisoners of war unilaterally, in protest against armistice terms which left Korea divided. U.N. officials disclaimed any responsibility for this action; but the enemy delegates denounced it as a serious breach of faith and delayed the final armistice agreement for another month. Enemy forces took advantage of this delay. On 13 July the Chinese launched a three-division attack against the left flank of the ROK II Corps and a one-division attack against the right flank of the U.S. IX Corps, forcing U.N. forces to withdraw about eight miles to positions below the Kumsong River. By 20 July, however, U.N. forces had counterattacked, retaken the high ground along the Kumsong River, and established a new main line of resistance. No attempt was made to restore the original line, as it was believed that the armistice would be signed at any time. Enemy casualties in July totaled about 72,000 men. Out of the five Chinese armies that had been identified in the attacks, the enemy had lost the equivalent of seven divisions.
By 19 July the negotiators at Panmunjom had reached an accord on all points. Details were worked out within a week and the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed at 1000 hours 27 July 1953.