North Korea Recent History


Independent in very remote ages, Korea was vassal, then subject to the Chinese empire, from 109 BC to 314 after Christ. After various events, only the State of Silla remained independent of the various Korean statues, however subject to Chinese influences. The Mongols later prevailed and Kubilai Khan used Korea as a base against the Japanese islands, from 1278 to 1281.

Towards the end of the 14th century, after the fall of the Mongol empire, there was a national revival, characterized by a cultural awakening and by the prevalence of Confucianism over Buddhism. Between the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Korea was at war with Japan, with a favorable outcome; then followed a progressive decline with caste struggles and violent manifestations of xenophobia, which favored the advent of a Japanese-Chinese condominium in 1885.

With the 1905 treaty of Portsmuth, Japan secured the protectorate over Korea, and on August 22, 1910, the Korean emperor ceded sovereign rights to the emperor of Japan.

According to Abbreviationfinder, the Allied conference in Cairo on November 26, 1943, during the Second World War, after the defeat of Japan, established that independence was restored to Korea. On August 12, 1945, on the eve of the armistice with Japan, Soviet troops entered Korea. With this the entire planned plan was compromised so that in 1948 a de facto separation was made between North and South Korea; theoretical limit, between the two, was the 38th parallel.

For North Korea, on February 16, 1948 the Soviet Union proclaimed the “Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea” in Pyong Yang, followed by an economic-cultural agreement with the Soviet Union on July 7, 1949. On September 29 the same year, the United Nations organized a protest against Moscow’s interference in the country’s internal affairs.

For South Korea, on 15 August 1948 in Seoul, the United States General Mc Arthur and the representative of the United Nations were present, the independence of the “South Korean Republic”, recognized on January 1 and January 18, was proclaimed respectively from the United States and the United Kingdom.

On June 25, 1950 the Communist army of North Korea, surprisingly, crossed the border of South Korea and, with a sustained march, on the 27th reached the capital Seoul. The then President of the United States, Truman, decided to resist and the United Nations Security Council supported the initiative. General Douglas Mc Arthur was in charge of the operations.
The advance of the Northerners towards Fusan, the landing port where American and United Nations reinforcements flowed, was delayed by strong resistance to the Naktong River; meanwhile Mc Arthur arranged a landing in Inchon, in the rear of the northerners and not far from Seoul. This made it possible to recapture the capital and provoke the withdrawal of the Northerners to positions not far from the 38th parallel.

North Korea Recent History

And while the American general was preparing to drive the Northerners back beyond the parallel, there was a massive intervention by the forces of the People’s Republic of China, massed on the border with Manchuria. And the situation was reversed. There were several offensives between January and March 1951 which led to the prediction of the eviction of Korea by American troops. And as the Northerners had rejected an armistice proposal, General Mc Arthur threatened direct action against the People’s Republic of China, without having consulted the Washington government. And therefore he was dismissed and in his place General Matthew B. Ridgway was sent to Korea, who, before the summer, was able to recapture almost all the lost territory up to the first border. On June 23 the delegate of the Soviet Union to the United Nations, He proposed that truce negotiations be opened between the parties. The proposal was approved and the conversations began in July, first in Kaesong then in Pan Mun-jom but lasted, among many accidents, for over two years. But in the meantime, military operations continued between ups and downs, but with less and less intensity. Near the conclusion of the treaties for the truce, the President of South Korea, Syngman Rhee, made the claim that the war should continue until the complete unity of Korea, that is, the conquest and annexation of the north and in May 1953 he freed all Northern prisoners.

The incident again delayed the conclusion of the negotiations. The armistice was agreed on July 27, 1953; shortly thereafter, under neutral control, the exchange of prisoners began with the concession, to those who requested it, not to repatriate, and to enjoy the right of asylum.

Of the four essential points accepted with the signing of the armistice, two led to lengthy discussions. One concerned the composition of a special commission formed by Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Czechoslovakia, which had the task of controlling the modalities of the truce and blocking the armed forces of the two Koreas. And the other involved the meeting of a particular high-level conference to be done within three months with the specific task of withdrawing all foreign troops from Korean territory.

The conference was held in Geneva in July 1955 but the matter was not resolved. North Korea, after the proclamation of the Republic, was politically closer to both the Soviet Union and popular China while that of the South, while implementing a liberal democracy, in foreign policy made friends with the United States which, however, they were always very concerned that it wanted to continue the conflict. American aid was needed to administer for some time but, given the high level of rampant corruption, after the elections of 1959, manipulated by various cheating, a popular uprising occurred, led by students and intellectuals, which drove the dictator Syngman Rhee out.

On June 15, 1960 the new Constitution of democratic and parliamentary matrix entered into force and on July 29 there were new elections that decidedly assigned the victory to the Democratic Party.

Here the government, for a long period after 1960, was in the hands of Kim Il-song. In 1962 the Supreme People’s Assembly was elected and a complete reorganization of all government offices took place. In 1972 there was a change at the top of the leadership and the President of the Republic Ch’oe Yong-gun was replaced by Kim Il-song who then had the two most prestigious positions in his hands, being already President of the Council of Ministers.

With the new Constitution, North Korea defined itself as a socialist state with capital P’yongyang.

In foreign policy, North Korea remained in balance between the two largest communist powers: the Soviet Union and China. He had diplomatic relations with both socialist and neutral countries. In May 1972 she joined the world health organization and, only as an observer, was admitted to the United Nations. For internal politics, however, only the news that a state censorship allowed to reach the rest of the world could be known.

Throughout the 1960/75 period the two Koreas did not reach an agreement of peace and relaxation, mainly due to the presence of American forces in the south.

In 1971 the International Red Cross intervened and for the first time the two countries had direct contacts. On July 4, 1972, the first joint declaration on peace agreements between the two countries took place.

In 1973, discussions began at the United Nations for the unification of Korea, but without success. Indeed, while South Korea asked for their two representatives to be admitted to the United Nations, North Korea demanded only the representative of a single “Confederal Republic of Korea” be admitted. In 1976, since no conclusion could be reached, the United Nations lifted that of Korea from the agenda of international affairs.

Over the years Kim Il-song worked to prepare the succession to the government for his son Kim Jong-il, who in 1980 was already appointed secretary of the Central Party Committee and Politbjuro Presidium, as well as President of the Military Commission.

This imposition was the cause of discontent, aggravated even by a failed coup in 1986.
Economically there was no great progress, on the contrary, the self-sufficiency regime kept productivity constant, naturally according to the news always filtered by censorship.

In the early 90’s various contacts were promoted with Seoul for a possible reunification. The crisis that led to the dismantling of the Soviet Union due to the “perestroika” and the diplomatic rapprochement of China to South Korea also contributed to this.

But the unresolved core of the matter was always the presence in the country of the United States. Indeed, in 1993 new difficulties arose for two essential reasons. The first was a renewed resumption of joint military maneuvers between South Korea and the United States; the second was North Korea’s refusal to grant nuclear inspection permission to the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1992.

This went on until 1994. In that year the ex-President of the United States Carter communicated that the two Korean heads of state would meet. This was not the case with Kim Il-song’s sudden death in July 1994. His son Kim Jong-il, contrary to what had previously been established, did not replace him.

Meanwhile, the economic situation had gradually deteriorated. Foreign capital was scarce, Soviet credits ceased, Chinese food exports decreased and even the United States did not grant economic aid, as promised, for the repeated failure to apply the agreements agreed in exchange for a moratorium on the North Korean nuclear program.

Furthermore, between 1995 and 1996, a series of floods contributed to making the situation dramatic. Not only were many rice fields destroyed but there were many victims, especially among children, following precisely the famine.

Some international agreements decreed the sending of food and basic necessities. Then, the resumed contacts with South Korea and with the United States, also allowed, in 1997, the construction of two nuclear power plants, intended for civilian use.

After some preliminary meetings between the two Koreas, the United States and China, four official sessions of the peace talks took place in Geneva in December 1997, March and October 1998 and January 1999. These sessions, however, remained interlocutory since nothing came between Seoul and P’yongyang.

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