North and South Korean Relations
The living conditions in North Korea
The Korean War
In 1945, Post World War II, Korea was divided in half as North Korea and South Korea along the 38th Parallel. Since then, the relationship between the two countries has remained hostile. Syngman Rhee became the president of South Korean in 1948 and Kim Il Sung was the leader of communist North Korea. With the help of the USSR, North Korea became a large threat when they crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded South Korea. This marked the start of the Korean War which lasted from 1950-1953. An armistice agreement was drawn up between the United Nations, China, and North Korea to cease fire end the Korean War, but this agreement was never officially signed. In this agreement a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was established along the 38th Parallel with North Korean forces on one side and the United States Military on the other.
Living conditions in North Korea
U.S. bombing on North Korea:
- 3.3 million casualties
- 600,000 homes destroyed
- 5,000 schools destroyed
- 1,000 hospitals destroyed
After the Korean War, North Korea had a brief moment where their economy was somewhat stable. But, as of today, a country which calls for socialism and equality for all is in extreme poverty. North Korea has been abusing the human rights of their own people and disregarding their health.
North and South Korea after the war?
After the Korean War, the armistice agreement was short lived when North Korea violated the terms in 1957. According to Syngman Rhee, North Korea had been building military bases and strengthening their military. South Korea responded to this action by also expanding their military and arms. In 1960, Syngman Rhee was overthrown and Major General Park Chung Hee seizes power.
On December 11, 1969, KAL flight YS-11 was hijacked by a North Korean. Two months later, 49 passengers were returned to South Korea leaving 7 passengers and 4 crew members behind in North Korea. After this incident, peace talks were initiated again in 1971 by the Red Cross with the UN Commission for the Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea (UNCURK), North Korea and South Korea. The peace talks issued the Three Principles of National Reunification which was agreed upon by both North and South Korea.
Following the peace talks, North Korea again takes a stab at the South with the 1976 Axe Murder in Panmunjom. Along the DMZ in the Joint Security Area, two American soldiers were trimming a tree that was apparently planted by Kim Il Sung. The two men ignored the North Korean soldiers who told them to stop trimming the tree. In turn, the North Korean soldiers attacked and killed them with axes. Days later, the United States and South Korea decided to cut down the tree as a show of power and force against North Korea.
In 1979, Park Chung Hee was assassinated, and Chun Doo-Hwan rises to power after leading a military coup against South Korea. As a result of the change in political power, the Gwangju Uprising occurred in 1980. University students were protesting Chun’s rise to power and were beaten and killed. The local citizens of Gwangju rose up to protest the killings but the uprising was dissolved within a few days. A few years later, Rangoon, Burma was bombed by North Korea when President Chun Doo-Hwan was visiting. This was an assassination attempt by North Korea who opposes Chun and his very anti-communist views and government.
North Korea continues its’ terrorrism towards South Korea with the bombing of KAL flight #858 on November 29, 1987. The flight exploded midair killing everyone on board. The act was done by two North Koreans disguised as father and daughter who planted the bomb in the airplane. It was said that Kim Il Sung wanted to intimidate the other nations from participating in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
A Unified Korean team was formed where they debuted for the first time in 1991 at the Table Tennis Competition. The Unified Team would hopefully pave a way for North and South Korea to start to reconcile again.
The Unification Flag
At the end of 1991, the Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonagression and Exchanges and Cooperation was signed to start the process of trying to reunify Korea once again. In 1994, Kim Il Sung dies, and his son Kim Jong-il becomes the next leader of North Korea. South Korea also had a change in political leadership with Kim Dae Jung becoming president.
In the early 2000’s, Kim Dae Jung and Kim Jong-il meet at the First Inter-Korea Summit and family reunions were held for the second time. North Korea continues its’ provocation towards South Korea and withdrew from the Six Party Talks. Following this withdrawal, North Korea tests a nuclear bomb in 2006. Kim Jong-il stepped down and his son Kim Jong-Un becomes the leader of North Korea in 2011.
Park Geun Hye, the first woman pressedent of South Korea was impeached in 2016 due to scandals and criticism. Moon Jae-in is currently the president of South Korea as of May 10, 2017.
KAL flight #858
Kim Jong-il with Kim Jong-Un