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North vs South: The Simplified History between North and South Korea

Jacob Houston

In the aftermath of the First Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese Empire took over the entire Korean Peninsula and several trading posts and islands belonging to China. The Japanese Imperial forces unmercifully forced the assimilation of the Korean people, forced them to change their traditional names to those sounding more Japanese, and to form their own culture around Japanese traditions and ideals, and annexed Korea on August 11th, 1910.

However, several resistance groups formed with the help of their northern allies in China, in which one such resistance group was headed by Kim Il Sung, future leader of North Korea. The Japanese Empire, overwhelmed with their war in the Pacific against the United States, futile invasion of China, and problems in their colonies, collapsed on itself and unconditionally surrendered on September 2nd, 1945, marking the official end of World War II.

With this being said, the Soviet Union, who had promised to declare war on Japan after the war in Europe came to a close, declared war on Japan before its surrender; taking over the puppet state of Manchukuo that was under control by Puyi, the last Chinese emperor, and much of what is now North Korea. With Soviet support, Kim Il Sung quickly amassed power in North Korea under the North Korean communist party. In the south, the United States backed Lee Beom Seok, a former independence activist, who took over power and became the first prime minister of South Korea.

Kim Il Sung sparked the invasion of South Korea on June 25th, 1950, prompting the United States led UN coalition to put troops on the Korean peninsula, thus beginning what is now known as the Korean War. Under World War 1 and World War ll veteran, General Douglas Macarthur, the UN coalition took over most of North Korea, but was pushed back to what is known as the 36th parallel by Chinese and North Korean armies that began gaining ground very quickly on the battlefield. The Korean War came to a close on July 23rd, 1953 with an armistice being signed to officially separate the two Koreas at the 38th parallel.

In the years following the armistice, each respective government in the North and South increasingly became more and more isolated from each other, with North Korea separating itself off from most of the known world. South Korea recovered from the war and developed quickly under its government, becoming an extremely prosperous nation in the late 1980s and the 2000s. However, North Korea dedicated its efforts to its nuclear weapons program, which has heightened tensions between it and South Korea and its allies.

With the dawn of the 21st century, South Korea has sought for increased partnership with North Korea, prompting former South Korean president Moon Jae In and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet in 2018 to discuss cooperation and easing of tensions. However, with the recent North Korean ICBM missile tests, tensions have once again risen between the two countries in which current South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol has sought to reach out to North Korea to extend an olive branch to the isolated country in an attempt to assist it in its fight against COVID-19, was brutally turned down, and told to “shut his mouth” by Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong. The issues between North Korea and South Korea have had a long history, even before the two nations were created or even thought of, but each country has made its own impact on the world, negative and positive, but one must hope that some type of communion can come between the two where they can finally sort out their differences and cooperate.


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