History of the North and South Korea Border Conflict

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18th Feb 2019 International Relations Reference this

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In recent years, the relation between North Korea and South Korea becomes better. And in the latest news, the two parts of Korea decided to stop the conflict and sign the peace treaty. That even surprised people around the world and attracted many political criticizers from multiple nations. So what happened to make the conflict between North and South Korea become so famous? Why did Korea divide into two parts as the North and the South? How did the Korean War relate to World War II? And what did Korea do to make it become the highest security concern to the US? We all know that since the development of nations around the world, the need for expanding the territory of those countries has escalated as well. However, the region of each country is regulated by UN rules and international order. Therefore, more and more nations fight over their regions. North Korea wanted to expand its territory so started to invade South Korea’s region and created one of the most popular regional conflict, which is known as North-South Korea border dispute.

The tension between North and South Korea has continuously lasted. The roots of the conflict on the Korean Peninsula started in 1945, at the end of the Second World War. Before 1945, Korea was still a part of the Empire of Japan. However, the situation started to change in August 1945. Japan’s Kwantung Army surrendered the Red Army, “The northern part of the Korean peninsula was liberated,” this statement means that at that time, only a northern part of Korea was free from Japanese Army. Two separate zones of the country were formed along the 38th parallel between USSR in the North and the US in the South. As a consequence, the two divided nations would receive supervision from the two different parties. North Korea or known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea got help from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), while the South was under the protection of the US. In 1947, the issue of forming the single state of Korea was mentioned in UN Commission on August 1948, the Republic of Korea was proclaimed.

Over time, the differences of military and political regimes between two countries develop and create a massive tension. However, the conflict between the two parts of Korean Peninsula started to break out in June 1950. North Korea provoked bloody strife when Prime Minister of North Korea, Kim Il-sung decided to invade the South. There were 75000 North Korean soldiers running across the 38th, and 10,000 soldiers died daily before the war broke out. On June 25, 1950, the war happened “between US Armed Forces, along with 15 other countries under the banner of a UN multinational force fighting for South Korea, and the DPRK, backed by Chinese and Soviet troops.” which was known as the Korean War.

So, what is the real reason for the bloody conflict between North and South Korea last for a half of a decade? The tension of two parts of the Korean peninsula is in the hottest stage. This battle got a lot of attention from multination around the world. Many people drew up possible hypothesizes about the factor of Korea War. However, there were still many questions remained unanswered over time. The collision was related to World War II and believed to be a part of the international power struggle between USSR and the US.

In the North, Kim II Jung received the help his patrons included the Soviet Union and China. He formed his country as The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Kim II Jung also rose up skillful political leaders who knew how to build an aura of captivating charismatic power. Therefore, the president of North Korea controlled his country by force and regulations. North Korean people could be in jail if they against these rules. They had a very limited contact with the actual world. The country constructed itself as a dictatorship nation. Additionally, North Korea tried to build a good relationship with the Soviet Union to borrow USSR’s army to expand territory. Kim II Jung desired to reunify Korea. Thus, he repeatedly asked Joseph Stalin for military permission long time before the invention, according to The Wilson Quarterly. Moreover, at that time, USSR and The US were in the state of cold war. Stalin wanted to use Korean War as a means of measuring the West’s power. The leader of Soviet Union wanted to demonstrate its aggressiveness to the world. And if there would be no resistance, Korean War would become a stepping stone for USSR to conquer the world.

On the other hand, South Korea was also democratic regime with fewer regulations. Citizen vote elected Prime Minister. People had the freedom of speech and connected to the world around. South Korean at that time was allied with the US and others fifteen countries. The US declared that it would not guarantee South Korea’s security, according to The Wilson Quarterly. The purpose of that declaration was not to make USSR not to have any caution with the US power. USA wanted to give an unexpected counter-attack to USSR to express their military potential. They also meant to threaten others plans of USSR.

The Korean War began on June 25, 1590. Primarily, people thought it happened to be a civil war between two parts of a country. However, The Korean War was an international offence when the Soviet Union planned the North Korea’s attack.  Moreover, Soviet-led tens of thousands of North Korean soldiers across the 38th parallel invade South Korea territory. As an expectation, the US and other fifteen countries countered the Korean War aims to change the international issues. Until 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s threated to use nuclear weapons on the northern continent. Worrying about the desolation of nuclear missile on the nation, after Stalin’s death, his uncertain successors, decided to end the Korean War via the armistice.

In 1953, over a million soldiers and civilians not only from both sides of Korea but also from America, China, Russia and Britain dead. This war created a fear of the ‘domino effects’ to many allied nations. People recognize that the price of victory would be too high for any party; there was no point in letting the war continued. Fortunately, an armistice agreement was created in Panmunjom on July 27, 1953, and signed by both parties of Korea. In the armistice, although official peace between the North and the South was not established, a “demarcation line with a four-kilometer-wide demilitarized zone on both sides.” After that, in July 1972, the North and the South signed another treaty, the North-South Joint Statement. The statement was mainly about “independently, without reliance on foreign powers; peacefully, and based on a great ethnic consolidation.”

After the Korean war, both parts of Korea made much of devastations their countries. North Korea lost its essential source of support due to the collapsing of USSR. Also, it lost all of the usual diplomatic relations with other countries and became the prominent security concerns of the United Nations. Furthermore, many Korean families were split due to the different kind of thoughts, either communism or non-communism. While South Korea became a significant economic and technological power, North Korea is still poverty, heavily militarized nation. The differences put North and South Korean in the state of ‘ready-to-fight’ over a period and have no clue of ending.

Even though the Korean War ended for more than half of a century and many treaties were signed to keep the national peace. Technically, the two parts of the Korean Peninsula are still in the state of cold war. This tension does not only affect the diplomatic relations between North and South Korea but also become an international concern. Other allied countries started to have precaution with North Korea, North Korea isolates itself as an independent, socialist state and become aggressive to the world. The tension between North and South Korea has been continued up until now and causes many damages on both sides of the Korean Continent. While North Korea suffered from famine and economic crisis and the political system was predicted to be regressed. In the South, another vision of reformation developed. Korean people thought that the reunification would happen organically – not through military force or political solution. However, the idea that each part is following is different from the other. North Korea stubbornly wants to reunite with South Korea under North Korea’s philosophy, socialism. On the other hand, South Korean intends to run the country as a democratic system. Therefore, the questions of achieving reunification remain unanswered over time.

In South Korea, the government wants to run the country under a democratic system. Because the South had a larger population compared to the North, thus, it cannot be managed in the same way as Kim’s empire. South Korea seeks freedom for its people. Park Chung Hee wants his citizens to talk what they want freely. Citizens have a right to decide who would be their prime minister. Also, residents are also allowed to connect to the world. Moreover, Park President wants to develop the Korean economic. Due to the division along Korean Peninsula, Korean economy was damaged enormously. The North-South joint factory was forced to close. As a result, hundreds of North Korean have to return to their state. The unemployed rate in the North escalated dramatically. Electric power and water supply have also been cut as well. In the term of tightening up the sanction on North Korea, the national economic system was almost collapsed. The deviation of economies between North and South Korea makes the unification more difficult than ever. Park Chung Hee wants to get close to the North, balance out the differences and turn Korea into the most economical and technological in Asia.

In North Korea, Kim Jong Un wants to reunify Korea with a socialist idea. That idea was formed since Kim II Jung. The president of North Korea had an idea of building a country as a dictatorial system. He wanted to control his citizens with military force because he thought that people would be obedient to what he said due to the scare of death. Also, he wanted the country to be isolated from the rest of the world. When the nation became backward, the citizens would not dare to rebel; they would be loyal to the country. North Korea’s president understood the efficacy of the power force. Thus, he would love to keep that power not only during his lifetime but also beyond the time of his throne to mobilize the masses toward ambitious political goals.

Moreover, on the reunification plan, Kim Jong Un also wants to take advantages of South Korea to develop the military system. According to Heather Stephenson, “Over the past 20 years, Seoul has given the Kim regime, on the record, over $10 billion, without any monitoring of who receives the aid.” There was still a mysterious thing to know whether that amount of money was used to increase living facilities or develop a nuclear missile. In another source, when Byung- Ho Chung visited North Korea, he asked how people in that country managed their lives during the difficult time. The North Korea tour guide just said “For us in North Korea, the thing that really matters is politics. The economy is nothing compared to politics. We are ready to endure hunger and sacrifice our lives for politics if necessary.” Kim assimilated his citizens that politic should become their first priority. North Korean military becomes dangerous and dominant over time while the quality of living remains the same for half of a century.

The goal of unification of two parts of Korea is entirely different from each other. While Kim Jung Un only wants the country to be directed under his authority, South Korea seeks peace and freedom in its nation. It is a dilemma problem for political experts to solve. Hypothetically, The North follows the democratic system, would its citizens not make any rebellions to Kim? On the other sides, what would happen if the South change into Socialism? Would South Korea people be able to obey what Kim says even if his demand is unreasonable or dictatorial? Also, when Kim becomes the controller, who can stop him from using South Korea money to develop nuclear weapons?

We all know that North Korea is the most dangerous potential nuclear force. People are anxious about each movement of North Korea military. Because, we all know that when the nuclear war happens, it will influence unimaginably enormous to the nations. No country can win in nuclear war. What it means is that in the end, the “winner” might end up less defeated than the “loser” but not too much of differences between two powers. Both sides of the conflict could have devastation occurred extremely quickly. “Two sides would have neither powers, nor laws, nor cities, nor cultures, nor cradles, nor tomb.” Also, nuclear weapons could be considered a holocaust. No one could survive after being involved. Additionally, national economic could be desolated. And it would take a lot of time and effort to restore as the origin. Seeing many adverse outcomes from nuclear programs, North Korea decides to stop working on nuclear weapons and find the way to unify with South Korea.

Reunification between the North and the South has always been a dream for the President of the North Korea, Kim Jong Un. That idea has been held since Kim II Sung up until now. According The Hill, Harris said “He [Kim Jong Un] is after what his grandfather failed to do and his father failed to do, and he’s on a path to achieve what he feels is his natural place and where North Korea’s natural outcome is: a unified Korean peninsula that’s subject to the communist regime.” Reunification with the South brings to the North various benefits such as the developing in the economy and life qualification. Therefore, during last six decades, North Korea tried to set up many negotiating conferences to set peace between two parts of Korea. However, due to the differences between two nations, a peace treaty was still a difficult thing to come up.

Until Early April 2019, after the Olympics event, the tension between two parts of Korea had a sign of reducing when South Korea sent a delegation to Pyongyang to meet Kim Jong Un. The purpose of this visiting is to prepare for a first summit meeting after holding high-level talks for more than a decade between North and South Korea. The summit meeting played a significant role in any possibility of peace on the Korean peninsula. This summit was historic; it was believed to a be conference to erase the tension between two parts of Korea since 1953s. On April 27th, the first summit meeting finally happened with the participants of North and South Korea’s Leader. In the conference, Kim said “If we maintain frequent meetings and build trust with the United States and receive promises for an end to the war and a non-aggression treaty, then why would we need to live in difficulty by keeping our nuclear weapons?” After half of a century of setting troops at the border to keep uneasy peace, Kim Jong Un decided to stop the conflict and find the peace for citizens from both sides. The meeting was meant to have a peace treaty between two states of Korea by removing all of the nuclear missiles out of the Korean Peninsula.

On the other hands, seeing the potential benefits when reunifying with the North, South Korea did many things to make unification happen. South Korea’s leader even started a committee to make the reunification becomes possible. Base on Mr. Moon’s perspective, the unity could help Korea to become wealthier by the help from North Korea. Additionally, for the last several years, North Korean society was one of the most sheltered guarded in the contemporary world. North Korea had a proud investment in preventing outsiders from seeing anything that might make a negative impact to the country. When reunifying the two parts of the continent, Korea could have a better military defense formed on North Korean military. Because of the common goal, at the summit, both North and South Korean agree to sign the peace agreement. Furthermore, Moon Jea-in met with North Korea’s president for the second time in a month to carry out the peace committee. Also, Prime Minister of Korea knows that if the meeting between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump is not going well, denuclearization becomes impossible as well. Therefore, Mr. Moon supported Kim’s potential meeting with President Donald Trump for positive outcome. Korea authorities determinedly looked forward to developing sustainable peace between two countries.

In conclusion, reunification is the only possible solution to help both sides of Korea develop. Even though the tension between North and South Korea has a sign of declaration. It is still challenging to consolidate as the two states have different views on the unification. In the North, Kim Jong-un wants to rule the country as a socialist system. While in the South, Mr. Prime minister seeks to modify the country democratically. In my opinion, to make reunifications happens, both Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon needs to reduce their egocentrism and look for the potential benefits beyond the unity. The key is to let Korean people live peacefully and improve the quality of life.  Although this reunification has to face obstacles, citizens from both sides are willing to try their best to let unification happen.

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