How Did The Conflict Between North Korea & South Korea Originate? | roxana_ac

How Did The Conflict Between North Korea & South Korea Originate?

The division of the Korean peninsula has caused the existence of two countries with very different realities

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea seems like a strange country isolated from the rest of the world, but why? Let's take a look at the most recent history of the region to understand how North Korea came to be the country we know today.

The Separation Of Korea (1945-1950)

At the end of World War II in 1945, the Korean peninsula was liberated from Japanese occupation. The north came under the communist influence of the Soviet Union (USSR), while the south was dominated by the United States.

For years, attempts were made to unify the two regions to form a single country, but the tension between the USSR and the United States during the Cold War made this impossible.

In 1948, the Republic of Korea was created in the south and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north. The border between the two Koreas was established at Parallel 38, which divided the peninsula in half.

At that time, the Kim family began to rule in the north, with Kim Il-sung as the supreme leader.


The Korean War (1950-1953)

North Korea wanted to gain control of the entire peninsula and free the south from US rule. In 1950, North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel border to invade South Korea, sparking the Korean War.

The United States sent its troops to fight North Korea. Finally, they managed to drive the Pyongyang army back to the 38th Parallel, where the border was re-marked with a fortified line.

Postwar and Isolation (1953-1994)

The two Koreas signed an armistice, which means that they gave up fighting but did not stop being at war.

The costs of the conflict were very high: in addition to the victims, many families were forcibly separated and an atmosphere of permanent tension was created.

After the war, South Korea began to grow and modernize thanks to the capitalist influence of the United States. However, North Korea was left economically stagnant. Kim Il-sung decided to close the country's borders and isolate itself from the rest of the world so that its inhabitants could not be compared to South Korea.

The isolation continued throughout his tenure, more than 40 years until he died in 1994.

Crisis and Signs Of Opening (1994 -2002)

After the death of the "Great Leader", his son Kim Jong-Il came to power and found himself in a critical situation: the economy had worsened and the lack of food caused a famine that killed between 600,000 and one million lives. 

The seriousness of the situation made Kim Jong-Il react. Also, by this time relations between North Korea and the United States had improved, so North Korea began to show signs of opening up.

In 2000, a historic summit was held in Pyongyang, where a reconciliation agreement was reached between the two Koreas. But that rapprochement did not materialize nor did it prevent the confrontation from continuing.



Strain and Challenge (2002-2013)

North Korea had been in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which bans the production and use of nuclear weapons, for many years. However, in 2003 the Pyongyang government broke the pact and reopened its nuclear facilities.

In 2008 there was another attempt at an agreement. US President George W. Bush called for the disarmament of North Korea and the suspension of the nuclear program, while the North Koreans demanded that their country be removed from the list of terrorist governments in order to receive international aid. The agreement broke down in 2009 when North Korea conducted a nuclear missile test.

Escalation Of Tension (2009-2013)

Kim Jong-il died on December 17, 2011. He was succeeded by his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, who took over as Head of State and decided to go ahead with nuclear tests.

The United Nations Organization, the main international organization, imposed sanctions on the North Korean government to try to dissuade it: these are prohibitions when it comes to trading or receiving aid. In response, Kim Jong-Un decided to break the non-aggression pact and on March 29, 2013, declared war on South Korea.

The tension between the two countries has continued to grow ever since.


From Communism To The ‘Juche’ Philosophy

North Korea is one of the last states of communist ideology along with other countries like China or Cuba. Its inhabitants do not have free access to the internet and venerate their supreme leader almost in a religious way. Opposition to the regime is punished very harshly.

Some of the information that is known about North Korea comes from defectors who have managed to escape the country, risking their lives. Following communist ideas, the North Korean regime ensures that the country is self-sufficient: it does not trade with other countries (if they are not communist), nor does it export food or materials.

According to this economic ideology, known as 'Juche', production companies and agriculture are controlled by the state. The 'Songun' policy of Kim Jong-Un, the last leader of the Kim dynasty, prioritizes military measures. That is why the Korean army is one of the largest in the world and has about a million soldiers.

Being such a secret country and so strict with information, it is unknown what its military potential is or what type of weapons it has. China is its great ally and its main source of food and energy. In addition, the Asian giant plays a fundamental role as a mediator between the United States and North Korea.

Not everyone can enter North Korea as a tourist, but those who have done it, have shared some of their experiences, all of which are negative, seeing a completely opposite reality to what its president, Kim Jong-un, says. 

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