The Korean conflict began where World War II ended. When the Korean Peninsula was liberated from Japanese occupation in 1945, the Koreans split into two states. The Soviet Union and the United States made North Korea and South Korea enemies of each other in a conflict that continued into the 2000s.
According to 800zipcodes, North Korea is a dictatorship, a closed country where its inhabitants live under severe oppression, severe hardship and occasional starvation.
Since he became the country’s leader after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011, Kim Jong-Un has sought to consolidate his position and carried out several purges in the top echelons of the regime.
Neither sanctions, military threats nor promises of dialogue and cooperation from the outside world have been able to deter North Korea’s leaders from continuing to develop the country’s nuclear weapons program. Under Kim Jong-Un’s rule, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have increased as North Korea has gradually increased the number of test firings of nuclear weapons and robots.
In early 2018, North Korea’s leaders declared that the goal of acquiring nuclear weapons had been achieved and that no further test firings were needed. From now on, the economy would be in focus. Kim Jong-Un also met quickly with the presidents of China, South Korea and the United States, and pledged to work for peace and for the Korean Peninsula to be free of nuclear weapons.
But developments continue to be highly unpredictable and North Korea is still perceived by the outside world as an unstable and threatening nation.
North Korea’s desperate situation and threatening attitude are rooted in the division of the Korean Peninsula in 1945. Both North Korea and South Korea have reunification as their goal, but the reality has long been marked by conflict and threats of war. Tensions have been heightened by North Korea’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
South Korea has US military support. North Korea’s society is heavily militarized: the army consists of over one million soldiers. At the same time, North Korea is so poor that the people are occasionally starving. According to the UN, about 40 percent of North Koreans were malnourished in the fall of 2017.
North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-Un has since he took power in 2011 after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il done everything to eliminate critics and consolidate his position. Purge has taken place at a high level, both in the military and in political positions. In late 2013, Kim Jong-Un had his uncle and mentor Jang Song-Thaek, the supposed second in command, executed. The Pyongyang regime was also believed to be behind the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother, which was carried out with internationally banned nerve gas at an airport in Malaysia in early 2017.
Kim Jong-Un has had two parallel goals: to develop the economy so that people will feel better and to acquire nuclear weapons to deter the country’s enemies.
Analysts have pointed out that the Pyongyang leadership is experiencing a real threat from outside, especially since the United States overthrew the regime in Iraq in 2003 with reference to weapons of mass destruction. The regime believes it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself. The example of Libya is also believed to contribute to the regime wanting to stick to its nuclear weapons; Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shut down the country’s nuclear weapons program in 2003 but was overthrown a few years later and killed by NATO – backed rebels in the country.
Pyongyang’s threatening and changeable policies are often explained by a power struggle between the Kim dynasty and the military. The regime is also believed to need foreign policy crises and external enemies in order to gather and maintain a grip on a hungry and dissatisfied population.
Citizens are strictly supervised and forbidden to leave their home country. North Korea’s closed society is permeated by ideological propaganda.
The country is estimated to have around 100,000 political prisoners, and brutal conditions prevail in prisons and labor camps. Executions, arbitrary arrests and torture make all criticism of the regime impossible. In 2014, the UN Human Rights Council published a report, based on interviews with displaced North Koreans, with evidence that the regime had committed crimes against humanity .
The division of Korea
From the 6th century, Korea was a united kingdom. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Koreans came under Japanese rule, but after four decades of heavy Japanese oppression, the nation split in the liberation in 1945. To force the Japanese to capitulate in the final stages of World War II, Soviet troops invaded from the north South. At 38 degrees latitude, the two victorious armies met.
The victorious powers decided to administer the country for five years. The United States appointed anti-communist Syngman Rhee as its future leader, while the Soviet Union paved the way for communist guerrilla leader Kim Il-Sung. Two incompatible ideologies based on their respective military powers claimed Korea.