Division of Korea

The Division of Korea began at the end of World War II in 1945. With the defeat of Japan, the Soviet Union occupied the north of Korea, and the United States occupied the south, with the boundary between their zones being the 38th parallel.

With the onset of the Cold War, negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union failed to lead to an independent and unified Korea. In 1948, UN-supervised elections were held in the US-occupied south only. Syngman Rhee won the election while Kim Il-sung was appointed as the leader of North Korea. This led to the establishment of the Republic of Korea in South Korea, which was promptly followed by the establishment of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in North Korea. The United States supported the South, the Soviet Union supported the North, and each government claimed sovereignty over the whole Korean peninsula.

In 1950, North Korea invaded the South to try to reunify the peninsula under its communist rule. The subsequent Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, ended with a stalemate and has left the two Koreas separated by the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) up to the present day. Diplomatic initiatives have so far failed to end the division.

Korea DMZ
The Korean Peninsula first divided along the 38th parallel, later along the demarcation line
Korea demilitarized zone map - 1969
Detail of the DMZ

Historical background

Japanese rule (1910–1945)

When the Russo-Japanese War ended in 1905 Korea became a nominal protectorate of Japan, and was annexed by Japan in 1910. The Korean Emperor Gojong was removed. In the following decades, nationalist and radical groups emerged, mostly in exile, to struggle for independence. Divergent in their outlooks and approaches, these groups failed to unite in one national movement.[1][2] The Korean Provisional Government in China failed to obtain widespread recognition.[3]

World War II

Lyuh Woon-hyung giving a speech in the Committee for Preparation of Korean Independence in Seoul on August 16, 1945

At the Cairo Conference in November 1943, in the middle of World War Two, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek agreed that Japan should lose all the territories it had conquered by force. At the end of the conference, the three powers declared that they were, "mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, ... determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent."[4][5] Roosevelt floated the idea of a trusteeship over Korea, but did not obtain agreement from the other powers. Roosevelt raised the idea with Joseph Stalin at the Tehran Conference in November 1943 and the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Stalin did not disagree, but advocated that the period of trusteeship be short.[6][7]

At the Tehran and Yalta Conferences, Stalin promised to join his allies in the Pacific War in two to three months after victory in Europe. On August 8, 1945, three months to the day after the end of hostilities in Europe, and two days after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan.[8] As war began, the Commander-in-Chief of Soviet Forces in the Far East, Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky, called on Koreans to rise up against Japan, saying "a banner of liberty and independence is rising in Seoul".[9]

Soviet troops advanced rapidly, and the US government became anxious that they would occupy the whole of Korea. On August 10, 1945 two young officers – Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel – were assigned to define an American occupation zone. Working on extremely short notice and completely unprepared, they used a National Geographic map to decide on the 38th parallel. They chose it because it divided the country approximately in half but would place the capital Seoul under American control. No experts on Korea were consulted. The two men were unaware that forty years before, Japan and pre-revolutionary Russia had discussed sharing Korea along the same parallel. Rusk later said that had he known, he "almost surely" would have chosen a different line.[10][11] The division placed sixteen million Koreans in the American zone and nine million in the Soviet zone.[12] To the surprise of the Americans, the Soviet Union immediately accepted the division.[9][13] The agreement was incorporated into General Order No. 1 (approved on 17 August 1945) for the surrender of Japan.[13]

Soviet forces began amphibious landings in Korea by August 14 and rapidly took over the north-east of the country, and on August 16 they landed at Wonsan.[14] On August 24, the Red Army reached Pyongyang.[13]

General Nobuyuki Abe, the last Japanese Governor-General of Korea, had established contact with a number of influential Koreans since the beginning of August 1945 to prepare the hand-over of power. Throughout August, Koreans organized people's committee branches for the "Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence" (CPKI, 조선건국준비위원회), led by Lyuh Woon-hyung, a left-wing politician. On September 6, 1945, a congress of representatives was convened in Seoul and founded the short-lived People's Republic of Korea.[15][16] In the spirit of consensus, conservative elder statesman Syngman Rhee, who was living in exile in the US, was nominated as President.[17]

Post–World War II

Soviet occupation of North Korea

Welcome Celebration for Red Army in Pyongyang2
Welcome celebration for the Red Army in Pyongyang on 14 October 1945

When Soviet troops entered Pyongyang, they found a local branch of the Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence operating under the leadership of veteran nationalist Cho Man-sik.[18] The Soviet Army allowed these "People's Committees" (which were friendly to the Soviet Union) to function. In September 1945, the Soviet administration issued its own currency, the "Red Army won".[9] In 1946, Colonel-General Terentii Shtykov took charge of the administration and began to lobby the Soviet government for funds to support the ailing economy.[9]

In February 1946 a provisional government called the Provisional People's Committee was formed under Kim Il-sung, who had spent the last years of the war training with Soviet troops in Manchuria. Conflicts and power struggles ensued at the top levels of government in Pyongyang as different aspirants maneuvered to gain positions of power in the new government. In March 1946 the provisional government instituted a sweeping land-reform program: land belonging to Japanese and collaborator landowners was divided and redistributed to poor farmers.[19] Organizing the many poor civilians and agricultural laborers under the people's committees, a nationwide mass campaign broke the control of the old landed classes. Landlords were allowed to keep only the same amount of land as poor civilians who had once rented their land, thereby making for a far more equal distribution of land. The North Korean land reform was achieved in a less violent way than in China or in Vietnam. Official American sources stated: "From all accounts, the former village leaders were eliminated as a political force without resort to bloodshed, but extreme care was taken to preclude their return to power."[20] The farmers responded positively; many collaborators and former landowners fled to the south, where some of them obtained positions in the new South Korean government. According to the U.S. military government, 400,000 northern Koreans went south as refugees.[21]

Key industries were nationalized. The economic situation was nearly as difficult in the north as it was in the south, as the Japanese had concentrated agriculture in the south and heavy industry in the north.

Soviet forces departed in 1948.[22]

US occupation of South Korea

Anti-Trusteeship Campaign
South Korean citizens protest Allied trusteeship in December 1945

With the American government fearing Soviet expansion, and the Japanese authorities in Korea warning of a power vacuum, the embarkation date of the US occupation force was brought forward three times.[3] On September 7, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur announced that Lieutenant General John R. Hodge was to administer Korean affairs, and Hodge landed in Incheon with his troops the next day. The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, which had operated from China, sent a delegation with three interpreters to Hodge, but he refused to meet with them.[23] Likewise, Hodge refused to recognize the newly formed People's Republic of Korea and its People's Committees, and outlawed it on 12 December.[24]

In September 1946, thousands of laborers and peasants rose up against the military government. This uprising was quickly defeated, and failed to prevent scheduled October elections for the South Korean Interim Legislative Assembly.

The ardent anti-communist Syngman Rhee, who had been the first president of the Provisional Government and later worked as a pro-Korean lobbyist in the US, became the most prominent politician in the South. Rhee pressured the American government to abandon negotiations for a trusteeship and create an independent Republic of Korea in the south.[25] On July 19, 1947, Lyuh Woon-hyung, the last senior politician committed to left-right dialogue, was assassinated by a 19-year-old man named Han Chigeun, a recent refugee from North Korea and an active member of a nationalist right-wing group.[26]

The occupation government conducted a number of military campaigns against left-wing insurgents. Over the course of the next few years, between 30,000[27] and 100,000 people were killed.[28]

US–Soviet Joint Commission

In December 1945, at the Moscow Conference, the Allies agreed that the Soviet Union, the US, the Republic of China, and Britain would take part in a trusteeship over Korea for up to five years in the lead-up to independence. Many Koreans demanded independence immediately; however, the Korean Communist Party, which was closely aligned with the Soviet Communist party, supported the trusteeship.[29][30] According to journalist Fyodor Tertitskiy, documentation from 1945 suggests the Soviet government had no plans for a permanent division.[17]

A Soviet-US Joint Commission met in 1946 and 1947 to work towards a unified administration, but failed to make progress due to increasing Cold War antagonism and to Korean opposition to the trusteeship.[31] In 1946, the Soviet Union proposed Lyuh Woon-hyung as the leader of a unified Korea, but this was rejected by the US.[17] Meanwhile, the division between the two zones deepened. The difference in policy between the occupying powers led to a polarization of politics, and a transfer of population between North and South.[32] In May 1946 it was made illegal to cross the 38th parallel without a permit.[33] At the final meeting of the Joint Commission in September 1947, Soviet delegate Terentii Shtykov proposed that both Soviet and US troops withdraw and give the Korean people the opportunity to form their own government. This was rejected by the US.[34]

UN intervention and the formation of separate governments

Demonstration in support of the US-Soviet Joint Commission2
South Korean demonstration in support of the U.S.-Soviet Joint Commission in 1946
South Korean general election 1948
South Korean general election on May 10, 1948

With the failure of the Joint Commission to make progress, the US brought the problem before the United Nations in September 1947. The Soviet Union opposed UN involvement.[35] The UN passed a resolution on November 14, 1947, declaring that free elections should be held, foreign troops should be withdrawn, and a UN commission for Korea, the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK), should be created. The Soviet Union boycotted the voting and did not consider the resolution to be binding, arguing that the UN could not guarantee fair elections. In the absence of Soviet co-operation, it was decided to hold UN-supervised elections in the south only.[36][37] This was in defiance of the report of the chairman of the Commission, K. P. S. Menon, who had argued against a separate election.[38] Some UNTCOK delegates felt that the conditions in the south gave unfair advantage to right-wing candidates, but they were overruled.[39]

The decision to proceed with separate elections was unpopular among many Koreans, who rightly saw it as a prelude to a permanent division of the country. General strikes in protest against the decision began in February 1948.[33] In April, Jeju islanders rose up against the looming division of the country. South Korean troops were sent to repress the rebellion. Tens of thousands of islanders were killed and by one estimate, 70% of the villages were burned by the South Korean troops.[40] The uprising flared up again with the outbreak of the Korean War.[41]

In April 1948, a conference of organizations from the north and the south met in Pyongyang. The southern politicians Kim Koo and Kim Kyu-sik attended the conference and boycotted the elections in the south, as did other politicians and parties.[42][43] The conference called for a united government and the withdrawal of foreign troops.[44] Syngman Rhee and General Hodge denounced the conference.[44] Kim Koo was assassinated the following year.[45]

On May 10, 1948 the south held a general election. It took place amid widespread violence and intimidation, as well as a boycott by opponents of Syngman Rhee.[46] On August 15, the "Republic of Korea" (Daehan Minguk) formally took over power from the U.S. military, with Syngman Rhee as the first president. In the North, the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" (Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk) was declared on September 9, with Kim Il-sung as prime minister.

On December 12, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly accepted the report of UNTCOK and declared the Republic of Korea to be the "only lawful government in Korea".[47] However, none of the members of UNTCOK considered that the election had established a legitimate national parliament. The Australian government, which had a representative on the commission declared that it was "far from satisfied" with the election.[46]

Unrest continued in the South. In October 1948, the Yeosu–Suncheon Rebellion took place, in which some regiments rejected the suppression of the Jeju uprising and rebelled against the government.[48] In 1949, the Syngman Rhee government established the Bodo League in order to keep an eye on its political opponents. The majority of the Bodo League's members were innocent farmers and civilians who were forced into membership.[49] The registered members or their families were executed at the beginning of the Korean War. On December 24, 1949, South Korean Army massacred Mungyeong citizens who were suspected communist sympathizers or their family and affixed blame to communists.[50]

Korean War

This division of Korea, after more than a millennium of being unified, was seen as controversial and temporary by both regimes. From 1948 until the start of the civil war on June 25, 1950, the armed forces of each side engaged in a series of bloody conflicts along the border. In 1950, these conflicts escalated dramatically when North Korean forces invaded South Korea, triggering the Korean War. The United Nations intervened to protect the South, sending a US-led force. As it occupied the south, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea attempted to unify Korea under its regime, initiating the nationalisation of industry, land reform, and the restoration of the People's Committees.[51]

While UN intervention was conceived as restoring the border at the 38th parallel, Syngman Rhee argued that the attack of the North had obliterated the boundary. Similarly UN Commander in Chief, General Douglas MacArthur stated that he intended to unify Korea, not just drive the North Korean forces back behind the border.[52] However, the North overran 90% of the south until a counter-attack by US-led forces. As the North Korean forces were driven from the south, South Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel on 1 October, and American and other UN forces followed a week later. This was despite warnings from the People's Republic of China that it would intervene if American troops crossed the parallel.[53] As it occupied the north, the Republic of Korea, in turn, attempted to unify the country under its regime, with the Korean National Police enforcing political indoctrination.[54] As US-led forces pushed into the north, China unleashed a counter-attack which drove them back into the south.

In 1951, the front line stabilized near the 38th parallel, and both sides began to consider an armistice. Rhee, however, demanded the war continue until Korea was unified under his leadership.[55] The Communist side supported an armistice line being based on the 38th parallel, but the United Nations supported a line based on the territory held by each side, which was militarily defensible.[56] The UN position, formulated by the Americans, went against the consensus leading up to the negotiations.[57] Initially, the Americans proposed a line that passed through Pyongyang, far to the north of the front line.[58] The Chinese and North Koreans eventually agreed to a border on the military line of contact rather than the 38th parallel, but this disagreement led to a tortuous and drawn-out negotiating process.[59]


Korea at night
The division is clearly visible from space with a higher amount of light emitted into space from the South than the North

The Korean Armistice Agreement was signed after three years of war. The two sides agreed to create a four-kilometer-wide buffer zone between the states, known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This new border, reflecting the territory held by each side at the end of the war, crossed the 38th parallel diagonally. Rhee refused to accept the armistice and continued to urge the reunification of the country by force.[60] Despite attempts by both sides to reunify the country, the war perpetuated the division of Korea and led to a permanent alliance between South Korea and the U.S., and a permanent U.S. garrison in the South.[61]

As dictated by the terms of the Korean Armistice, a Geneva Conference was held in 1954 on the Korean question. Despite efforts by many of the nations involved, the conference ended without a declaration for a unified Korea.

The Armistice established a Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) which was tasked to monitor the Armistice. Since 1953, members of the Swiss[62] and Swedish[63] armed forces have been members of the NNSC stationed near the DMZ. Poland and Czechoslovakia were the neutral nations chosen by North Korea, but North Korea expelled their observers after those countries embraced capitalism.[64]

Post-armistice relations

2018 inter-Korean summit square
Moon and Kim shaking hands over the demarcation line

Since the war, Korea has remained divided along the DMZ. North and South have remained in a state of conflict, with the opposing regimes both claiming to be the legitimate government of the whole country. Sporadic negotiations have failed to produce lasting progress towards reunification.[65]

On April 27, 2018 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The Panmunjom Declaration signed by both leaders called for the end of longstanding military activities near the border and the reunification of Korea.[66]

On November 1, 2018, buffer zones were established across the DMZ to help ensure the end of hostility on land, sea and air.[67][68] The buffer zones stretch from the north of Deokjeok Island to the south of Cho Island in the West Sea and the north of Sokcho city and south of Tongchon County in the East (Yellow) Sea.[68][67] In addition, no fly zones were established.[67][68]

See also


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  2. ^ Cumings, Bruce (2005). Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 156–160. ISBN 978-0-393-32702-1.
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  50. ^ 두 민간인 학살 사건, 상반된 판결 왜 나왔나?'울산보도연맹' – '문경학살사건' 판결문 비교분석해 봤더니.... OhmyNews (in Korean). 2009-02-17. Archived from the original on 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
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  • Oberdorfer, Don. The Two Koreas : A Contemporary History. Addison-Wesley, 1997, 472 pages, ISBN 0-201-40927-5
  • Cumings, Bruce. The Origins of the Korean War: Liberation and the Emergence of Separate Regimes, 1945-1947. Princeton University Press, 1981, 607 pages, ISBN 0-691-09383-0
  • Hoare, James; Daniels, Gordon (February 2004). "The Korean Armistice North and South: The Low-Key Victory [Hoare]; The British Press and the Korean Armistice: Antecedents, Opinions and Prognostications [Daniels]". The Korean Armistice of 1953 and its Consequences: Part I (PDF) (Discussion Paper No. IS/04/467 ed.). London: The Suntory Centre (London School of Economics).

External links

Catholic Church in Korea

The Catholic Church in Korea is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the pope in Rome.

The Catholic hierarchy in Korea has never been divided between South and North, in the same manner as the Catholic hierarchy in Germany was never divided between East and West or in Ireland between the artificially created borders. For example, some parts of the territory of the archdiocese of Seoul are located in North Korea. Nevertheless, since the political division of Korea in 1945, Catholicism has had a different development in North and South.

Chorwon County

Ch'ŏrwŏn County is a kun, or county, in Kangwŏn province, North Korea. Portions of it were once a single county together with the county of the same name in South Korea; other portions were added from neighbouring counties in the 1952 reorganization of local governments. After the initial division of Korea, the entire county lay to the Northern side of the dividing line, but in the course of the Korean War part of the county was taken by the South.

Cinema of North Korea

The cinema of North Korea began with the division of Korea and has been sustained since then by the ruling Kim dynasty. Kim Il-Sung and his successor Kim Jong-Il were both cinephiles and sought to produce propaganda films based on the Juche ideology.

Due to the totalitarian regime of North Korea, all film production is supervised by the Workers' Party of Korea and generally concerns propaganda. North Korea has nevertheless produced some non-propaganda films for export to the wider world.

Circuit (administrative division)

A circuit (Chinese: 道; pinyin: dào or Chinese: 路; pinyin: lù) was a historical political division of China and is a historical and modern administrative unit in Japan. The primary level of administrative division of Korea under the Joseon and in modern North and South Korea employs the same Chinese character as the Chinese and Japanese divisions but, because of its relatively greater importance, is usually translated as province instead.

Frozen conflict

In international relations, a frozen conflict is a situation in which active armed conflict has been brought to an end, but no peace treaty or other political framework resolves the conflict to the satisfaction of the combatants. Therefore, legally the conflict can start again at any moment, creating an environment of insecurity and instability.

The term has been commonly used for post-Soviet conflicts, but it has also often been applied to other perennial territorial disputes. The de facto situation that emerges may match the de jure position asserted by one party to the conflict; for example, Russia claims and effectively controls Crimea following the 2014 Crimean crisis despite Ukraine's continuing claim to the region. Alternatively, the de facto situation may not match either side's official claim. The division of Korea is an example of the latter situation: both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea officially assert claims to the entire peninsula; however, there exists a well-defined border between the two countries' areas of control.

Frozen conflicts sometimes result in partially recognized states. For example, the Republic of South Ossetia, a product of the frozen Georgian–Ossetian conflict, is recognized by eight other states, including five UN members; the other three of these entities are partially recognized states themselves.

Gangwon Province, South Korea

Gangwon-do (Korean pronunciation: [kaŋ.wʌn.do]) is a province of South Korea, with its capital at Chuncheon. It is bounded on the east part by the Sea of Japan (East Sea), and borders Gyeonggi Province to its west, and North Gyeongsang Province and North Chungcheong Province to its south. Its northern boundary is the Military Demarcation Line, separating it from North Korea's Kangwŏn Province. Before the division of Korea in 1945 Gangwon and Kangwŏn formed a single province. Pyeongchang County hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics and 2018 Winter Paralympics.

Gangwon Province (historical)

Gangwon Province or Gangwon-do (Korean pronunciation: [kaŋ.wʌn.do]) was one of the Eight Provinces of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. The province was formed in 1395, and derived its name from the names of the principal cities of Gangneung (강릉; 江陵) and the provincial capital Wonju (원주; 原州).

In 1895, Gangwon-do was replaced by the Districts of Chuncheon (Chuncheon-bu; 춘천부; 春川府) in the west and Gangneung (Gangneung-bu; 강릉부; 江陵府) in the east. (Wonju later became part of Chungju District.)

In 1896, Korea was redivided into thirteen provinces, and the two districts were merged to re-form Gangwon-do Province. Although Wonju rejoined Gangwon-do province, the provincial capital was moved to Chuncheon (춘천; 春川).

With the division of Korea in 1945, the subsequent establishment of separate North and South Korean governments in 1948, and the conclusion of the Korean War in 1953, Gangwon came to be divided into separate provinces once again: Gangwon-do (South Korea) and Kangwon-do (North Korea).

History of North Korea

The history of North Korea began at the end of World War II in 1945. The surrender of Japan led to the division of Korea at the 38th parallel, with the Soviet Union occupying the north, and the United States occupying the south. The Soviet Union and the United States failed to agree on a way to unify the country, and in 1948 they established two separate governments – the Soviet-aligned Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Western-aligned Republic of Korea – each claiming to be the legitimate government of all of Korea.

In 1950 the Korean War broke out. After much destruction, the war ended with a stalemate. The division at the 38th parallel was replaced by the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Tension between the two sides continued. Out of the rubble North Korea built an industrialized command economy.

Kim Il-sung led North Korea until his death in 1994. He developed a pervasive personality cult and steered the country on an independent course in accordance with the principle of Juche (self-reliance). However, with natural disasters and the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1991, North Korea went into a severe economic crisis. Kim Il-sung's son, Kim Jong-il, succeeded him, and was in turn succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un. Amid international alarm, North Korea developed nuclear missiles. In 2018, Kim Jong-un made a sudden peace overture towards South Korea and the United States.

Indians in Korea

Indians in Korea consist of migrants from India to Korea and their locally born descendants. A majority of them live in Seoul while there are smaller populations living in other parts of Korea.

Kangwon Province (North Korea)

For the province in South Korea that bears the same name but different romanisation, see Gangwon Province, South Korea.Kangwon Province (Kangwŏndo; Korean pronunciation: [kaŋ.wʌn.do]) is a province of North Korea, with its capital at Wŏnsan. Before the division of Korea in 1945, Kangwŏn Province and its South Korean neighbour Gangwon Province (also spelled Kangwon Province sometimes) formed a single province that excluded Wŏnsan.

Korean Seon

Seon Buddhism (Korean: 선, 禪; IPA: [sŏn]) is the transformative facture of Chan Buddhism tradition and creed in Korea. A main feature of Seon Buddhism is a method of meditation, Ganhwa Seon (Korean: 간화선/看話禪). A Korean monk, Jinul (Korean: 지눌/知訥) accepted partially a meditative method of Chan Buddhism in 1205. In Chan Buddhism, hwadu (Korean: 화두/話頭) was a delivery of realising a natural state of the Awakening. Jinul addressed a doctrine of Sagyo Yiepseon (Korean: 사교입선/捨敎入禪)) that monks should live an inborn life after learning and forgetting all creeds and theories. Within the doctrine of Jinul, hwadu is the witnessing of truthful meaning in everyday life.

Korean conflict

The Korean conflict is an ongoing conflict based on the division of Korea between North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (Republic of Korea), both of which claim to be the sole legitimate government and state of all of Korea. During the Cold War, North Korea was backed by the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, and its communist allies, while South Korea was backed by the United States and its Western allies. The division of Korea by external powers occurred at the end of World War II, starting in 1945, and tensions erupted into the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. When the war ended, both countries were devastated, with utter destruction of much of the countries, but the division remained. North and South Korea continued a military standoff, with periodic clashes. The conflict survived the collapse of the Eastern Bloc of 1989 to 1991 and continues to this day.

The U.S. maintains a military presence in the South to assist South Korea in accordance with the ROK–US Mutual Defense Treaty. In 1997, U.S. President Bill Clinton described the division of Korea as the "Cold War's last divide". In 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush described North Korea as a member of an "axis of evil". Facing increasing isolation, North Korea developed missile and nuclear capabilities.

Following heightened tension throughout 2017, 2018 saw North and South Korea, and the United States, holding a series of summits which promised peace and nuclear disarmament. This led to the Panmunjom Declaration on 27 April 2018, when the two nations agreed to work together to end the conflict.

Provinces of Korea

Korea's provinces (Do; hangul: 도; hanja: 道) have been the primary administrative division of Korea since the mid Goryeo dynasty in the early 11th century, and were preceded by provincial-level divisions (Ju and Mok) dating back to Unified Silla, in the late 7th century.

During the Unified Silla Period (AD 668–935), Korea was divided into nine Ju (주; 州), an old word for "province" that was used to name both the kingdom's provinces and its provincial capitals.

After Goryeo defeated Silla and Later Baekje in 935 and 936 respectively, the new kingdom "was divided into one royal district (Ginae; 기내; 畿內) and twelve administrative districts (Mok; 목; 牧)" (Nahm 1988), which were soon redivided into ten provinces (Do). In 1009 the country was again redivided, this time into one royal district, five provinces (Do) and two frontier districts (Gye; 계; 界?).

After the Joseon Dynasty's rise to power and the formation of Joseon in 1392, the country was redivided into eight new provinces (Do) in 1413. The provincial boundaries closely reflected major regional and dialect boundaries, and are still often referred to in Korean today simply as the Eight Provinces (Paldo). In 1895, as part of the Gabo Reform, the country was redivided into 23 districts (Bu; 부; 府), which were replaced a year later by thirteen new provinces.

The thirteen provinces of 1896 included three of the original eight provinces, with the five remaining original provinces divided into north and south halves (Bukdo (북도; 北道) and Namdo (남도; 南道) respectively). The thirteen provinces remained unchanged throughout the period of Japanese annexation.

With the liberation of Korea in 1945, the Korean peninsula was divided into Northern Korea and Southern Korea under trusteeship from Soviet Union and America, with the dividing line established along the 38th parallel. As a result, three provinces—Hwanghae, Gyeonggi, and Gangwon (Kangwŏn)—were divided into North Korea and South Korea today.

The special cities of Seoul and P'yŏngyang were formed in 1946. Between 1946 and 1954, five new provinces were created: Jeju in South Korea, and North and South Hwanghae, Chagang, and Ryanggang in North Korea.

Since 1954, provincial boundaries in both the North and South have remained unchanged but new cities and special administrative regions have been created.

Religion in Korea

Religion in Korea refers the various religious traditions practiced on the Korean peninsula. The oldest indigenous religion of Korea is Korean shamanism, which has been passed down from prehistory to the present. Buddhism was introduced to Korea from China during the Three Kingdoms era in the 4th century, and the religion flourished until the Joseon Dynasty, when Korean Confucianism became the state religion. During the Late Joseon Dynasty, in the 19th century, Christianity began to gain a foothold in Korea. While both Christianity and Buddhism would play important roles in the resistance to the Japanese occupation of Korea in the first half of the 20th century, only about 4% of Koreans were members of a religious organization in 1940.Since the division of Korea into two sovereign states in 1945—North Korea and South Korea—religious life in the two countries has diverged, shaped by different political structures. Religion in South Korea has been characterized by a rise of Christianity and a revival of Buddhism, though the majority of South Koreans have no religious affiliation. Religion in North Korea is characterized by state atheism in which freedom of religion is nonexistent. Juche ideology, which promotes the North Korean cult of personality, is regarded by experts as the national religion.

Sariwon Chongnyon Station

Sariwŏn Ch'ŏngnyŏn Station is the central railway station of Sariwŏn, North Hwanghae province, North Korea. It is on located on the P'yŏngbu Line, which was formed from part of the Kyŏngŭi Line to accommodate the shift of the capital from Seoul to P'yŏngyang; though this line physically connects P'yŏngyang to Pusan via Dorasan, in operational reality it ends at Kaesŏng due to the Korean Demilitarized Zone. It is also the northern terminus of the Hwanghae Ch'ŏngnyŏn Line.The station was opened in 1906, at the same time as the line itself. In 1945, when the division of Korea took place, Sariwŏn Station became the end point of the North Korean section of the former Kyŏngŭi Line; however, at the end of the Korean War, with Kaesŏng becoming part of North Korea, the latter station became the terminus of the P'yŏngbu Line, as the line was renamed. It was given the current name, Sariwŏn Ch'ŏngnyŏn Station, in 1974.

South Korea at the 1948 Summer Olympics

Korea competed in the Summer Olympic Games in London, United Kingdom. It was the first time Korea competed as an independent country. The Korean Olympic Committee, established in 1946 and recognized in 1947, represented only South Korea although the division of Korea was not fully realized at the time of the 1948 Games.

Korea won two bronze medals, putting it at the 32nd rank of competing nations.

South Korean literature

See also Culture of South Korea, Korean literature until 1945, and North Korean literatureSouth Korean literature is literature written or produced in South Korea following the division of Korea into North and South in 1945. South Korean literature is primarily written in Korean, though English loanwords are prevalent.

Soviet Civil Administration

The Soviet Civil Administration (SCA) functioned as the occupying government of northern Korea from October 3, 1945 until the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in 1948 although it governed concurrently after the setup of the Provisional People's Committee for North Korea in 1946. It was the administrative structure that the Soviet Union used to govern what would become North Korea following the division of Korea. Terentii Shtykov was the main proponent of setting up a centralized structure to coordinate Korean People's Committees. The setup was officially recommended by General Ivan Chistyakov and headed by General Andrei Romanenko in 1945 and General Nikolai Lebedev in 1946.

Timeline of Korean history

This is a timeline of the history of Korea. Some dates prior to the 5th century are speculative or approximate.

East and
South Asia
West Asia

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