Korea was a part of the Japanese empire between 1910 to 1945. The dynastic kingdom- Joseon Korea had signed the Japan-Korean Treaty in 1876 and formed a coalition with the Meiji government of Japan. Through the treaty, Japan had indirect control of Korea as it also gave protection to it, followed by the annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910. This annexation was arbitrary and without the consent of the Korean emperor.
As with any other colonization in the world, it too was a brutal one. People were exploited by the Japanese army. Industrialization was accelerated in Korea to benefit Japan. Soon they also attacked Korean history and culture. The environment too was exploited. Soon, the need for a freedom movement became palpable. Many rallies took place throughout the nation after the death of the Korean emperor as there was widespread suspicion that he was poisoned. The Japanese violently responded to these protests and subsequently suppressed the movement. An estimated 2 million people participated in the country-wide protests and about 7000 people were killed by the Japanese forces during the 1 year. According to the Korean reports, almost 50,000 people were arrested and 16000 wounded.
Following the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered to the Allied forces on 15 August 1945, ending 35 years of Japanese occupation. American forces under General John R. Hodge arrived at the southern part of the Korean Peninsula on 8 September 1945, while the Soviet Army and some Korean Communists had stationed themselves in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. U.S. Colonel Dean Rusk proposed to Chischakov, the Soviet military administrator of northern Korea, that Korea should be split at the 38th parallel. This proposal was made at an emergency meeting to determine post-war spheres of influence, which led to the division of Korea. After the surrender of Japan on 15 August 1945, the United States and the Soviet Union divided Korea along the 38th parallel into two zones of occupation. The Soviets (Russia and allies) administered the northern zone and the Americans administered the southern zone. Post World War 2, the Cold war began. It was an ideological war between Communism of Russia & allies and The Capitalism of the USA.
The Soviet Army crossed the borders and attacked South Korea in June 1950. The UN denounced this as arbitrary and an invasion. Soon the UN sent their forces to help the South Korean army and counter the attack. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing around 90% of the military personnel. Russia, too, sent in more forces to help the North Korean attack. The South, backed by UN and US forces, was successful in defending and driving the invading forces out. Post this, they invaded the north. China too joined the war and backed its ideological ally- Russia and helped the North. The Chinese army invaded the South but was pushed back to positions around the 38th parallel from where it all started. The North had to face immense American bombing. Many civilians died. The backbone of the northern army was broken. This war which started in June 1950 ended in July 1953. Approximately 3 million people died in the Korean War, the majority of whom were civilians, making it perhaps the deadliest conflict of the Cold War era. Compounding this devastation for Korean civilians, virtually all of the major cities on the entire Korean Peninsula were destroyed as a result of the war. The May 1953 bombing of major North Korean dams threatened several million more North Koreans with starvation, although large-scale famine was averted with emergency aid provided by North Korea’s allies. North Korea was the country most devastated by the war, which resulted in the death of an estimated 12%–15% of the North Korean population (appox. 10 million), “a figure close to or surpassing the proportion of Soviet citizens killed in World War 2”, according to Charles K. Armstrong. Post-war, South Korea took comparatively less time to recover. As America was an ally, South Korea grew on the principles of Capitalism and Democracy while, North Korea, having the Soviet Union as an ally, moved ahead with Communism, and no sooner it turned into a dictatorship. People’s life there is miserable. No freedom of speech, expression. No press freedom. South Korea, on the other hand, is very democratic and is one of the fastest-growing economies. But South Korea is constantly at threat of war with the North. With the dictator of North Korea having now initiated many nuclear tests, even the US is under a threat of attack. North Korea was devastated to a great extent by the south and the US. The hatred of the North Koreans and the dictator himself towards these two is very evident.
Categories: Culture and History