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The Division of Korea began at the end of World War II in 1945. With the defeat of Japan, the Soviet Union occupied the north of Korea, and the United States occupied the south, with the boundary between their zones being the 38th parallel.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
With the onset of the Cold War, negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union failed to lead to an independent and unified Korea. In 1948, UN-supervised elections were held in the US-occupied south only. Syngman Rhee won the election while Kim Il-sung was appointed as the leader of North Korea. This led to the establishment of the Republic of Korea in South Korea, which was promptly followed by the establishment of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in North Korea. The United States supported the South, the Soviet Union supported the North, and each government claimed sovereignty over the whole Korean peninsula.
The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. A common historiography of the conflict begins with 1946, the year U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow cemented a U.S. foreign policy of containment of Soviet expansionism threatening strategically vital regions, and ending between the Revolutions of 1989 and the 1991 collapse of the USSR, which ended communism in Eastern Europe. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars.
The United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK) was the official ruling body of the southern half of the Korean Peninsula from September 8, 1945 to August 15, 1948.
Syngman Rhee was a South Korean politician, the first and the last Head of State of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, and the first President of South Korea from 1948 to 1960. His three-term presidency of South Korea was strongly affected by Cold War tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
In 1950, North Korea invaded the South to try to reunify the peninsula under its communist rule. The subsequent Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, ended with a stalemate and has left the two Koreas separated by the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) up to the present day. Diplomatic initiatives have so far failed to end the division.
The Korean War was a war between North Korea and South Korea. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following a series of clashes along the border.
The Korean Armistice Agreement is the armistice which brought about a complete cessation of hostilities of the Korean War. It was signed by U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Harrison, Jr. representing the United Nations Command (UNC), North Korean General Nam Il representing the Korean People's Army (KPA), and the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA). The armistice was signed on 27 July 1953, and was designed to "ensure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved."
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula. It is established by the provisions of the Korean Armistice Agreement to serve as a buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea. The demilitarized zone (DMZ) is a border barrier that divides the Korean Peninsula roughly in half. It was created by agreement between North Korea, the People's Republic of China and the United Nations Command in 1953. The DMZ is 250 kilometres long, and about 4 kilometres wide.
When the Russo-Japanese War ended in 1905 Korea became a nominal protectorate of Japan, and was annexed by Japan in 1910. The Korean Emperor Gojong was removed. In the following decades, nationalist and radical groups emerged, mostly in exile, to struggle for independence. Divergent in their outlooks and approaches, these groups failed to unite in one national movement.The Korean Provisional Government in China failed to obtain widespread recognition.
The Russo-Japanese War was fought during 1904-1905 between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden in Southern Manchuria and the seas around Korea, Japan and the Yellow Sea.
A protectorate, in its inception adopted by modern international law, is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy and some independence while still retaining the suzerainty of a greater sovereign state. In exchange for this, the protectorate usually accepts specified obligations, which may vary greatly, depending on the real nature of their relationship. Therefore, a protectorate remains an autonomous part of a sovereign state. They are different from colonies as they have local rulers and people ruling over the territory and experience rare cases of immigration of settlers from the country it has suzerainty of. However, a state which remains under the protection of another state but still retains independence is known as a protected state and is different from protectorates.
Gojong, the Emperor Gwangmu, was the last king of Joseon and the first Emperor of Korea.
At the Cairo Conference in November 1943, in the middle of World War Two, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek agreed that Japan should lose all the territories it had conquered by force. At the end of the conference, the three powers declared that they were, "mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, ... determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent."Roosevelt floated the idea of a trusteeship over Korea, but did not obtain agreement from the other powers. Roosevelt raised the idea with Joseph Stalin at the Tehran Conference in November 1943 and the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Stalin did not disagree, but advocated that the period of trusteeship be short.
The Cairo Conference of November 22–26, 1943, held in Cairo, Egypt, outlined the Allied position against Japan during World War II and made decisions about postwar Asia.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, which realigned American politics into the Fifth Party System and defined American liberalism throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II. Roosevelt is widely considered to be one of the most important figures in American history, as well as among the most influential figures of the 20th century. Though he has also been subject to much criticism, he is generally rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was instead a member of the Liberal Party.
At the Tehran and Yalta Conferences, Stalin promised to join his allies in the Pacific War in two to three months after victory in Europe. On August 8, 1945, three months to the day after the end of hostilities in Europe, and two days after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan.As war began, the Commander-in-Chief of Soviet Forces in the Far East, Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky, called on Koreans to rise up against Japan, saying "a banner of liberty and independence is rising in Seoul".
The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia–Pacific War, was the theater of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean and islands, the South West Pacific, South-East Asia, and in China.
Victory in Europe Day, generally known as V-E Day, VE Day or simply V Day, was celebrated on 8 May 1945 to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces. The formal surrender of the German forces occupying the Channel Islands did not occur until the following day, 9 May 1945. It thus marked the end of World War II in Europe.
Soviet troops advanced rapidly, and the US government became anxious that they would occupy the whole of Korea. On August 10, 1945 two young officers – Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel – were assigned to define an American occupation zone. Working on extremely short notice and completely unprepared, they used a National Geographic map to decide on the 38th parallel. They chose it because it divided the country approximately in half but would place the capital Seoul under American control. No experts on Korea were consulted. The two men were unaware that forty years before, Japan and pre-revolutionary Russia had discussed sharing Korea along the same parallel. Rusk later said that had he known, he "almost surely" would have chosen a different line.The division placed sixteen million Koreans in the American zone and nine million in the Soviet zone. To the surprise of the Americans, the Soviet Union immediately accepted the division. The agreement was incorporated into General Order No. 1 (approved on 17 August 1945) for the surrender of Japan.
Soviet forces began amphibious landings in Korea by August 14 and rapidly took over the north-east of the country, and on August 16 they landed at Wonsan.On August 24, the Red Army reached Pyongyang.
General Nobuyuki Abe, the last Japanese Governor-General of Korea, had established contact with a number of influential Koreans since the beginning of August 1945 to prepare the hand-over of power. Throughout August, Koreans organized people's committee branches for the "Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence" (CPKI, 조선건국준비위원회), led by Lyuh Woon-hyung, a left-wing politician. On September 6, 1945, a congress of representatives was convened in Seoul and founded the short-lived People's Republic of Korea.In the spirit of consensus, conservative elder statesman Syngman Rhee, who was living in exile in the US, was nominated as President.
When Soviet troops entered Pyongyang, they found a local branch of the Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence operating under the leadership of veteran nationalist Cho Man-sik.The Soviet Army allowed these "People's Committees" (which were friendly to the Soviet Union) to function. In September 1945, the Soviet administration issued its own currency, the "Red Army won". In 1946, Colonel-General Terentii Shtykov took charge of the administration and began to lobby the Soviet government for funds to support the ailing economy.
In February 1946 a provisional government called the Provisional People's Committee was formed under Kim Il-sung, who had spent the last years of the war training with Soviet troops in Manchuria. Conflicts and power struggles ensued at the top levels of government in Pyongyang as different aspirants maneuvered to gain positions of power in the new government. In March 1946 the provisional government instituted a sweeping land-reform program: land belonging to Japanese and collaborator landowners was divided and redistributed to poor farmers.Organizing the many poor civilians and agricultural laborers under the people's committees, a nationwide mass campaign broke the control of the old landed classes. Landlords were allowed to keep only the same amount of land as poor civilians who had once rented their land, thereby making for a far more equal distribution of land. The North Korean land reform was achieved in a less violent way than in China or in Vietnam. Official American sources stated: "From all accounts, the former village leaders were eliminated as a political force without resort to bloodshed, but extreme care was taken to preclude their return to power." The farmers responded positively; many collaborators and former landowners fled to the south, where some of them obtained positions in the new South Korean government. According to the U.S. military government, 400,000 northern Koreans went south as refugees.
Key industries were nationalized. The economic situation was nearly as difficult in the north as it was in the south, as the Japanese had concentrated agriculture in the south and heavy industry in the north.
Soviet forces departed in 1948.
With the American government fearing Soviet expansion, and the Japanese authorities in Korea warning of a power vacuum, the embarkation date of the US occupation force was brought forward three times.On September 7, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur announced that Lieutenant General John R. Hodge was to administer Korean affairs, and Hodge landed in Incheon with his troops the next day. The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, which had operated from China, sent a delegation with three interpreters to Hodge, but he refused to meet with them. Likewise, Hodge refused to recognize the newly formed People's Republic of Korea and its People's Committees, and outlawed it on 12 December.
In September 1946, thousands of laborers and peasants rose up against the military government. This uprising was quickly defeated, and failed to prevent scheduled October elections for the South Korean Interim Legislative Assembly.
The ardent anti-communist Syngman Rhee, who had been the first president of the Provisional Government and later worked as a pro-Korean lobbyist in the US, became the most prominent politician in the South. Rhee pressured the American government to abandon negotiations for a trusteeship and create an independent Republic of Korea in the south.On July 19, 1947, Lyuh Woon-hyung, the last senior politician committed to left-right dialogue, was assassinated by a 19-year-old man named Han Chigeun, a recent refugee from North Korea and an active member of a nationalist right-wing group.
The occupation government conducted a number of military campaigns against left-wing insurgents. Over the course of the next few years, between 30,000and 100,000 people were killed.
In December 1945, at the Moscow Conference, the Allies agreed that the Soviet Union, the US, the Republic of China, and Britain would take part in a trusteeship over Korea for up to five years in the lead-up to independence. Many Koreans demanded independence immediately; however, the Korean Communist Party, which was closely aligned with the Soviet Communist party, supported the trusteeship.According to journalist Fyodor Tertitskiy, documentation from 1945 suggests the Soviet government had no plans for a permanent division.
A Soviet-US Joint Commissionmet in 1946 and 1947 to work towards a unified administration, but failed to make progress due to increasing Cold War antagonism and to Korean opposition to the trusteeship. In 1946, the Soviet Union proposed Lyuh Woon-hyung as the leader of a unified Korea, but this was rejected by the US. Meanwhile, the division between the two zones deepened. The difference in policy between the occupying powers led to a polarization of politics, and a transfer of population between North and South. In May 1946 it was made illegal to cross the 38th parallel without a permit. At the final meeting of the Joint Commission in September 1947, Soviet delegate Terentii Shtykov proposed that both Soviet and US troops withdraw and give the Korean people the opportunity to form their own government. This was rejected by the US.
With the failure of the Joint Commission to make progress, the US brought the problem before the United Nations in September 1947. The Soviet Union opposed UN involvement.The UN passed a resolution on November 14, 1947, declaring that free elections should be held, foreign troops should be withdrawn, and a UN commission for Korea, the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK), should be created. The Soviet Union boycotted the voting and did not consider the resolution to be binding, arguing that the UN could not guarantee fair elections. In the absence of Soviet co-operation, it was decided to hold UN-supervised elections in the south only. This was in defiance of the report of the chairman of the Commission, K. P. S. Menon, who had argued against a separate election. Some UNTCOK delegates felt that the conditions in the south gave unfair advantage to right-wing candidates, but they were overruled.
The decision to proceed with separate elections was unpopular among many Koreans, who rightly saw it as a prelude to a permanent division of the country. General strikes in protest against the decision began in February 1948.In April, Jeju islanders rose up against the looming division of the country. South Korean troops were sent to repress the rebellion. Tens of thousands of islanders were killed and by one estimate, 70% of the villages were burned by the South Korean troops. The uprising flared up again with the outbreak of the Korean War.
In April 1948, a conference of organizations from the north and the south met in Pyongyang. The southern politicians Kim Koo and Kim Kyu-sik attended the conference and boycotted the elections in the south, as did other politicians and parties.The conference called for a united government and the withdrawal of foreign troops. Syngman Rhee and General Hodge denounced the conference. Kim Koo was assassinated the following year.
On May 10, 1948 the south held a general election. It took place amid widespread violence and intimidation, as well as a boycott by opponents of Syngman Rhee.On August 15, the "Republic of Korea" (Daehan Minguk) formally took over power from the U.S. military, with Syngman Rhee as the first president. In the North, the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" (Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk) was declared on September 9, with Kim Il-sung as prime minister.
On December 12, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly accepted the report of UNTCOK and declared the Republic of Korea to be the "only lawful government in Korea".However, none of the members of UNTCOK considered that the election had established a legitimate national parliament. The Australian government, which had a representative on the commission declared that it was "far from satisfied" with the election.
Unrest continued in the South. In October 1948, the Yeosu–Suncheon Rebellion took place, in which some regiments rejected the suppression of the Jeju uprising and rebelled against the government.In 1949, the Syngman Rhee government established the Bodo League in order to keep an eye on its political opponents. The majority of the Bodo League's members were innocent farmers and civilians who were forced into membership. The registered members or their families were executed at the beginning of the Korean War. On December 24, 1949, South Korean Army massacred Mungyeong citizens who were suspected communist sympathizers or their family and affixed blame to communists.
This division of Korea, after more than a millennium of being unified, was seen as controversial and temporary by both regimes. From 1948 until the start of the civil war on June 25, 1950, the armed forces of each side engaged in a series of bloody conflicts along the border. In 1950, these conflicts escalated dramatically when North Korean forces invaded South Korea, triggering the Korean War. The United Nations intervened to protect the South, sending a US-led force. As it occupied the south, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea attempted to unify Korea under its regime, initiating the nationalisation of industry, land reform, and the restoration of the People's Committees.
While UN intervention was conceived as restoring the border at the 38th parallel, Syngman Rhee argued that the attack of the North had obliterated the boundary. Similarly UN Commander in Chief, General Douglas MacArthur stated that he intended to unify Korea, not just drive the North Korean forces back behind the border.However, the North overran 90% of the south until a counter-attack by US-led forces. As the North Korean forces were driven from the south, South Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel on 1 October, and American and other UN forces followed a week later. This was despite warnings from the People's Republic of China that it would intervene if American troops crossed the parallel. As it occupied the north, the Republic of Korea, in turn, attempted to unify the country under its regime, with the Korean National Police enforcing political indoctrination. As US-led forces pushed into the north, China unleashed a counter-attack which drove them back into the south.
In 1951, the front line stabilized near the 38th parallel, and both sides began to consider an armistice. Rhee, however, demanded the war continue until Korea was unified under his leadership.The Communist side supported an armistice line being based on the 38th parallel, but the United Nations supported a line based on the territory held by each side, which was militarily defensible. The UN position, formulated by the Americans, went against the consensus leading up to the negotiations. Initially, the Americans proposed a line that passed through Pyongyang, far to the north of the front line. The Chinese and North Koreans eventually agreed to a border on the military line of contact rather than the 38th parallel, but this disagreement led to a tortuous and drawn-out negotiating process.
The Korean Armistice Agreement was signed after three years of war. The two sides agreed to create a four-kilometer-wide buffer zone between the states, known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This new border, reflecting the territory held by each side at the end of the war, crossed the 38th parallel diagonally. Rhee refused to accept the armistice and continued to urge the reunification of the country by force.Despite attempts by both sides to reunify the country, the war perpetuated the division of Korea and led to a permanent alliance between South Korea and the U.S., and a permanent U.S. garrison in the South.
As dictated by the terms of the Korean Armistice, a Geneva Conference was held in 1954 on the Korean question. Despite efforts by many of the nations involved, the conference ended without a declaration for a unified Korea.
The Armistice established a Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) which was tasked to monitor the Armistice. Since 1953, members of the Swissand Swedish armed forces have been members of the NNSC stationed near the DMZ. Poland and Czechoslovakia were the neutral nations chosen by North Korea, but North Korea expelled their observers after those countries embraced capitalism.
Since the war, Korea has remained divided along the DMZ. North and South have remained in a state of conflict, with the opposing regimes both claiming to be the legitimate government of the whole country. Sporadic negotiations have failed to produce lasting progress towards reunification.
On April 27, 2018 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The Panmunjom Declaration signed by both leaders called for the end of longstanding military activities near the border and the reunification of Korea.
On November 1, 2018, buffer zones were established across the DMZ to help ensure the end of hostility on land, sea and air.The buffer zones stretch from the north of Deokjeok Island to the south of Cho Island in the West Sea and the north of Sokcho city and south of Tongchon County in the East (Yellow) Sea. In addition, no fly zones were established as well.
Although Soviet occupation forces were withdrawn on December 10, 1948, [...] the Soviets had maintained ties with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [...]
The history of North Korea began at the end of World War II in 1945. The surrender of Japan led to the division of Korea at the 38th parallel, with the Soviet Union occupying the north, and the United States occupying the south. The Soviet Union and the United States failed to agree on a way to unify the country, and in 1948 they established two separate governments – the Communist-aligned Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Western-aligned Republic of Korea – each claiming to be the legitimate government of all of Korea.
The history of South Korea formally begins with its establishment on August 15, 1948.
Juche is the official state ideology of North Korea, described by the government as "Kim Il-sung's original, brilliant and revolutionary contribution to national and international thought". It postulates that "man is the master of his destiny", that the Korean masses are to act as the "masters of the revolution and construction" and that by becoming self-reliant and strong a nation can achieve true socialism.
The Korean conflict is an ongoing conflict based on the division of Korea between North Korea and South Korea, both of which claim to be the sole legitimate government and state of all of Korea. During the Cold War, North Korea was backed by the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, and its communist allies, while South Korea was backed by the United States and its Western allies. The division of Korea by external powers occurred at the end of World War II, starting in 1945, and tensions erupted into the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. When the war ended, both countries were devastated, with utter destruction of much of the countries, but the division remained. North and South Korea continued a military standoff, with periodic clashes. The conflict survived the collapse of the Eastern Bloc of 1989 to 1991 and continues to this day.
Bruce Cumings is an American historian of East Asia, professor, lecturer and author. He is the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in History, and former chair of the history department at the University of Chicago. He specializes in modern Korean history and contemporary international relations.
The First Republic of Korea was South Korea's first independent government, ruling the country from 1948 to 1960. It succeeded USAMGIK, the United States military government, which ruled the area from 1945 to 1948. The Philippines recognized South Korea on 15 August 1948. The First Republic was established on August 15, 1948, with Syngman Rhee as the first president. Like subsequent governments, it claimed sovereignty over the entire Korean Peninsula, although it only had power over the area south of the 38th parallel. The investiture of the Rhee government followed the general election of May 10, 1948. The country's first constitution had been promulgated by the first National Assembly on July 17. It established a system with a strong president, who was elected indirectly by the National Assembly. The April Revolution in 1960 led to the resignation of Syngman Rhee and the transition to the Second Republic of South Korea.
The People's Republic of Korea (PRK) was a short-lived provisional government that was organized at the time of the surrender of the Empire of Japan at the end of World War II. It was proclaimed on September 12, 1945, as Korea was being divided into two occupation zones, with the Soviet Union occupying the north, and the United States occupying the south. Based on a network of people's committees, it presented a program of radical social change. In the south, the US military government outlawed the PRK on December 12, 1945, while in the north, the Soviet authorities co-opted the committees into the structure of the emerging Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Kim Kyu-Sik, also spelled Kimm Giusic and Kimm Kiusic, was a Korean politician and academic during the Korean independence movement and a leader of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. Kim served in various roles in the provisional government, including as foreign minister, ambassador, education minister and finally as the vice president from 1940 until the provisional government's dissolution on March 3, 1947. Kim's nicknames included Yoosa(우사), Kummun(금문), KimSung(김성), and JukJeok(죽적).
Constitutional Assembly elections were held in South Korea on 10 May 1948. It was held under the American military occupation, with supervision from the United Nations. It resulted in a victory for the National Association for the Rapid Realisation of Korean Independence, which won 55 of the 200 seats, although 85 were held by independents. Voter turnout was 95.5%.
The Second Republic of South Korea was the government of South Korea for eight months in 1960 and 1961. It succeeded the First Republic, and was followed by a military government under the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction. It was the only government under a parliamentary system in the history of Korea.
North Korea–South Korea relations are the bilateral relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea. Formerly a single nation that was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910, the two nations have been divided since the end of World War II in 1945. North Korea is a one-party state run by the Kim dynasty. South Korea was formerly governed by one-party military dictatorships until 1987 when it held direct elections. Both nations claim the entire Korean peninsula. Both nations joined the United Nations in 1991 and are recognized by most member states. Since 1970s, both nations started informal diplomatic dialogues in order to ease military tensions. In 2000, President of South Korea Kim Dae-jung became the first president to visit North Korea, 55 years after the peninsula was divided.
The United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK) was a body that oversaw elections in South Korea in May 1948. The commission initially was composed of nine nations, and Australia, Canada and Syria played a dissenting role, resisting US plans to hold separate elections in South Korea. That position was in line with Korean moderates Kim Ku and Kim Kyu-sik.
Kim Il-sung was the first leader of North Korea which he ruled from the country's establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Premier from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to 1994. He was also the leader of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) from 1949 to 1994. Coming to power after the end of Japanese rule in 1945, he authorized the invasion of South Korea in 1950, triggering an intervention in defense of South Korea by the United Nations led by the United States. Following the military stalemate in the Korean War, a ceasefire was signed on 27 July 1953. He was the second longest-serving non-royal head of state/government in the 20th century, in office for more than 48 years.
Yeosu-Suncheon Rebellion, also known as the Yeo-Sun Incident, was a rebellion that began in October 1948 and mostly ended by November of the same year. However, pockets of resistance lasted through to 1957, almost 10 years later.
The Korean National Revolutionary Party, or KNRP, was a nationalist party formed by exiles in Shanghai in 1935 to resist the Japanese occupation of Korea. At first it was the main nationalist Korean political party, but as the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45) progressed the rival Korean National Party, later Korea Independence Party, gained more influence with the Chinese Nationalist government in Chongqing and came to dominate the Korean Provisional Government. The KNRP of America was a significant factor as a source of funds and a link to the US government. The KNRP was dissolved in 1947.
The Northwest Youth League was a South Korean right-wing paramilitary group that carried out anti-communist terrorism during the Cold War. Most infamously, the group massacred thousands of people in the Jeju Uprising.