Sparked by a North Korean invasion across the 38th parallel, the Korean War would be the first war sanctioned by the United Nations. There were 15 nations beyond the US and South Korea with combat forces attempting to defend South Korean independence. MacArthur’s campaign to the Yalu River provoked a Chinese response that reset the war to its starting positions on the 38th parallel.
Time: Early War
Removed after event: Yes
This is one of those cards that is more effective as a threat than if actually played. Korean War only gets worse for you as time goes on. So although you do want to hold the threat of it over the US’s head, unlike Blockade, you can’t afford to punt it away on Turn 3 and hope for a late-game Korea flip, since by that time Japan and Taiwan will almost certainly have been filled up.
Given the importance of South Korea, try to take it without needing to chance the Korean War event — ideally with a 4Ops directly. If you can’t spare a 4Ops card, you can just stick in 2 Ops to bring it to 1/2. If the US counters to the point where you can’t win an Ops war, you can trigger Korean War for a decent chance at stealing the country. Usually, though, the US player is sufficiently scared of Korean War that it won’t contest South Korea, and then you can just go ahead and use the 2 Ops of the War to take South Korea outright.
You usually want to play Korean War as fast as you can. South Korea is critical to your chances in Asia, and you can’t keep the threat of the card looming around forever. Sooner or later, the Korean War is going to happen, and you’re better off triggering it earlier than later; when played at 1/0, if you win, you get South Korea to 3/0, and if you lose, you can bring it to 2/1.
Unlike Arab-Israeli War or Indo-Pakistani War, it is not worth it to build up South Korea’s neighbors before risking Korean War. Building up Japan and Taiwan is a huge waste of Early War Ops, and in the case of Japan, might be totally wasted (given US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact).
If you don’t draw Korean War, you’re in a difficult position. Typically, I’ll drop at least 1 influence into South Korea so that the USSR can’t take it with a 4 Ops card, and then after US/Japan comes out or the USSR is tempted into using Korean War for Ops elsewhere, I’ll take over South Korea.