Why Did Korea Split in to North and South? - INTHEPROF

9.22.2019

Why Did Korea Split in to North and South?

Why Did Korea Split in to North and South?


Relations between North and South Korea have been rather tense for some time. Which might be -- an understatement. 
On this year we saw North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walked over the border to shake hands with South Korea's president, Moon Jae-In. 
Until then, most South Koreans and most of the world, for that matter, saw that North's head honcho is some kind of evil dictator. 

After the meeting, some South Koreans referred to him as a cute teddy bear. 
So, is everything okay now? Following handshakes and slaps on the shoulder? 
Well, even though a third summit has been proposed between the two leaders, right now the North isn't exactly in the USA's good books.
South Korea's big brothers certainly watches over this relationship like a brooding mother. 

Let's have a look at how this division started. In this episode of The Infographics Show, why did North and South Korea split? You probably already know that North and South Koreans are very similar in many ways, even culturally. 

The language is pretty much exactly the same, except for a few small differences. 
You could say that North Korea likes to keep the language free from impurities, such as borrowing words from English. 
But besides regional dialects being slightly different, we can say you speak Korean, not North or South Korean. 
North and South Korea originally came together in the 7th century under Silla Dynasty, and they remained united up until 1945. 
So, what happened? How could a country united for so long suddenly just split in two? The answer is WAR. 
The SECOND WORLD WAR. But it's a bit more complicated than that. Prior to the second world war, there was something called the First Sino-Japanese war, which was a war between China and Japan between 1884 and 1895. 
Based on a western industrial model, Japan had become a very powerful country in the 19th century. No longer a backwater, as the members of the British empire used to call it. Japan emerged as an empire itself. 
Korea, on the other hand, had been rather fearful of foreigners and western industrialization, especially the elite that ruled over the country. 
They didn't want outsiders messing in their business. But then, in 1880, things started to change. 
Korean diplomats went on a mission to Japan that year. 
While in Japan, they were presented with a study from a Chinese diplomat, which was called "A Strategy for Korea". 
In part, that study warned that the Russians were coming. 
It also said "Stay friendly us, the Chinese, and don't get on the wrong side of Japan." Japan wasn't at an immediate threat at that time, but the Chinese diplomat advised the Koreans to stay close with the burgeoning nation, at the same time, Korean was also advised to form good relations with the United States, who also could provide protection from the Russian juggernaut. 
In 1882, Korea signed a treaty with the US, called the "The Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce and Navigation". So far, so good. Open trade, modern industries, and the bonus of added protections. 
But, there was a catch. The Chinese wanted the treaty to say that the Korea belonged to China. 
The Americans were not keen on that, and insisted that Korea was independent. In the end, they agreed that Korea had a kind of independent status, but was still a tributary state of China. 
To cut the long story short, China had a massive influence on Korea, and tried to reform the country. 
That was in line with embracing some western ideas, and using western technology. 
So, Korea became more modernized to some extend. China just kept pushing and soon was involved in running Korea as well as dispatching its own troops there. We can't spend too much time on this, but the war between the Japanese and China was fought hardly in Korea. 
Japan came out on top and in 1910 the country annexed the Korean Peninsula. From then until the end of the second world war, Korea was part of the Japanese empire. 
This wasn't exactly great news for many Koreans as some historians said the Japanese treated them like second class citizens. But then, the war ended, and Japan was on the losing side. 
What to do with Korea? That was in the hands of the winners. 
The allied powers. "No more empire for you", said the allies to Japan. 
It was up to the USA to take over the administration side of Korea, but it wasn't keen on the idea of running the country. 
The Soviet Union was keen, and wanted the land it thought it deserved. Russia had lost a war with Japan in the early 20th century, called the Russo-Japanese War. 
That's why the Soviets, to some extend, at least, thought they deserved control of Korea. Under developed Korea, for so long had been standing between these giants of Japan, China and Russia, and basically everyone, at some point, wanted a piece of it. 
Or should we say -- all of it. It was actually quite surprising that the Japanese had defeated the Russian empire. 
And so perhaps Russia had been left with some eggs on his face. 
After winning wars both against China and Russia, the Wests knew that Japan certainly was a mightier power. 
But that ended with its defeat at the hands of the US in the second world war. Two Americans called Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel had the responsibility of making orders in the US occupied territories in East Asia. They came up with the idea of splitting Korea into two, almost in half, divided by what's called "The 38th Parallel". 
This was done without Korea having a word in it. 
The Americans said that half the country would be run by the Soviets, and half by them. Not surprisingly, America got the better half of the cake, which included the more modern city of Seoul. 
That's not to say that North wasn't out bad, it too had many major heavy industries; the South had the light industries. Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin and President Roosevelt agreed to the split, while the Koreans were not even invited to the meeting. Of course, many Koreans were passionately against this, but not those that had ties to the Soviet Communist Party. 
Actually, at the end of the war, many Koreans from the North and South were over the moon. FINALLY They would get their independence back. Brothers in arms, they embraced in plan for the future together, but of course, that didn't happened. Brothers in arms were about to become quarreling siblings. 
Soviet forces quickly took a control from the Japanese forces in the North; and in the South the same happened with the Americans. Easy. Well, not really. 
The US, as we know, was afraid of the spread of communism as one might fear an outbreak of Ebola. 
The country didn't even want any of the South Korean political parties to have much say and how of the now half country was wrong. 
Just in case they lean ever so slightly to the left, as things turned out the US wanted both North and South to have a democratic government and democratic principles, while the Soviets wanted the entire peninsula to be communist. Now, we have a divide of the former two allies, although America had been wary of communism for a long time. 
The US and Soviet leaders were even supposed to meet in 1948 to discuss the idea of reunifying Korea, and leaving the country to its own devices. 
But, both countries were so afraid of the other that this didn't happen. 
In 1948, the Americans pretty much installed their own idea of a good leader for the South. A staunch anti communist called Syngman Rhee; the Soviets installed Kim Il-Sung as leader. 
He'd been a fighter in the Red Army, and of course, was a puppet for the Soviet Empire as much as Rhee was the puppet for the empire that dare not speak its name -- i.e. America. Like Stalin, the North had to be ruled by a God-like character, and the cult of personality was sewn into the minds of those Koreans living in the North. You must remember at this point, the Koreans were still just Koreans, they'd been split in half without any saying in it. 
Of course, North Koreans were not born with such things as supreme leaders, and all that attended propaganda. 
But, if you feel like Plato, you've heard of the "Noble Lie". Plato said that "If the elite must rule, they must tell a huge offer, create a mythology for the not so clever public consumption". Plato said that he was noble because the normal folks need this lie to bring them together under one great myth, just as religion brought people together under one truth. 
Plato said if the first generation don't buy it, the second will, mostly.
And you'll have the 3th completely, if you fill their heads with his idea from being children. That's how many North Koreans became so enamoured with their godly leader. Well, that and fear. 
But then in 1950, Kim Il-sung got ambitious, and decided he wanted to rule the whole peninsula. 
That was the start of a three-year long war called "The Korean War". 
The Americans joined the South with other countries of the United Nations, and they defeated the North. 3 million people died, and in the end nothing at all really changed, Korea was still divided at the 38th Parallel. After that, the demilitarized zone was set up to prevent more blood from being spilled, and to prevent people from reuniting or escaping. People did get through though, most of the Northerners trying to get into the South. 
Both countries though, soon became enemies, or at least enemies in ideas. 
The North was strictly communist with its Korean workers party, and the South espoused capitalism, individual freedom, and American values. 
The Americans have kept bases in Korea's sense, as you watch this, there are about 28,000 US troops base in South Korea. 

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