South 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, an acronym site which also features history of South Korea, 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.

South 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.

After Syngman Rhee was dismissed, Yun Po-son became president, but on 16 May 1961 power passed into the hands of the military, headed by Pak Chong-hui. He was elected president in May 1962 and reconfirmed in both the 1967 and 1971 elections.

With the latest amendments to the Constitution, the president saw his powers greatly expanded; the years of office were increased from 4 to 6 years and the number of re-elections was unlimited. Between 1974 and 1975 there were anti-government demonstrations by students, intellectuals and religious. The repressions were extremely harsh. On August 15, 1974, an attack on Pak instead killed his wife.

And over the years South Korea has kept relations with the United States alive. He also sent his contingent to Vietnam. A treaty normalizing diplomatic relations was signed with Japan in 1965.

In October 1979 Pak Chong-hui was assassinated. As required by the Constitution, provisional president was Prime Minister Choi Kyu-hah.

He was immediately involved in strikes and popular demonstrations. More freedom and democracy were called for. Harsh repressions led to martial law.

Elections were held on August 27, 1980 which led to ex-general Chun Doo Hwan, head of the Democratic Party of Justice, as president. In October the same year, a new constitution was promulgated and martial law was revoked.
In March 1981 the elections confirmed the Democratic Party of Justice in power but anti-government demonstrations continued throughout the 1983/84 period. This resulted in Chun Doo Hwan’s resignation and further presidential elections in December 1987.

The new president was Roh Tae-woo, head of the ruling party. The political elections of April 1988 registered a drop in votes for the ruling party which, however, maintained the relative majority. In September-October the same year, the planned Olympics, preceded by violent unrest, were instead carried out in a calm and cordial climate in the city of Seoul.

Between 1990 and 1991 there was an exchange of visits with Gorbachev, and the foreign policy of South Korea was mainly aimed at balancing the hegemony of Japan which, in the meantime, had opened up to North Korea.

Afterwards, tensions and demonstrations resumed not only anti-government but also anti-American. They were so large that they led to the Prime Minister’s resignation in May 1991.

Following the election results Roh Tae-woo, at the head of the party he was replaced by Kim Yung-sam who in December 1992 was elected President of the Republic, the first civilian after 30 years of military rule. He immediately promoted a moralizing campaign that made many personalities fall also in the industrial sector as well as in the political one.

In April 1996, the legislative elections awarded the ruling party victory. But social tensions, the increase in external debt, the fragility of the banking system, led South Korea to face a large economic crisis.

South Korea

In December 1996 the government passed new labor legislation. This allowed companies to lay off striking workers, to grant temporary and seasonal contracts and to strengthen public security powers.

All this exacerbated the union organizations that immediately proclaimed strikes such that the government was forced to postpone the application of the new labor code for two years.

In January 1997, the bankruptcy of the Hanbo industrial group involved not only South Korea but also many Asian markets. In December, South Korea had to resort to the International Monetary Fund for emergency aid of $ 57 billion.

A strong austerity policy was immediately applied. And also in December the presidential elections decreed the victory of the opposition candidate, Kim Dae Juntg who, together with the Prime Minister Kim Jong Pil, continued the healing work to overcome the difficult crisis.

Kim Jong Pil was confirmed as prime minister by the National Assembly also in August 1998.

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