• The demarcation line exists between North and South KoreaThe demarcation line exists between North and South Korea
  • Kim II-sung was given the title of “eternal president”Kim II-sung was given the title of “eternal president”
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  • South Korean’s president Lee Myung-bak South Korean’s president Lee Myung-bak

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North Korean crisis

During the Second World War Japan had formed a military alliance with German and widened its influence in Asia. After both states were forced into capitulation in 1945 the political situation in Korea changed and was overshadowed by the development of the bipolar world order. The USA and the Soviet Union remained the sole super powers in a world coined by the conflict of two irreconcilable political systems. Korea was split up into two occupation areas: The Soviet Union occupied the north and proclaimed the Republic of Korea on the 9th of September 1948. Their aim was the establishment of a communistic state as a counterweight to the political influence of the USA.

Korean War

As both, north and south, saw themselves as the sole political representation of Korea and did thus not accept the respective adversary, a political conflict was predetermined. This caused the forceful attack on South Korea in 1950 when North Korean troops breached the border in order to extend their influence all over Korea. As the USA and the United Nation both assured military support and proceeded until the Chinese border with the South Korean army, they provoked China to enter the war. The development into positional warfare eventually prompted the USA and China to sign a ceasefire on the 27th of July 1953. Ever since then the so called demarcation line exists between North and South Korea, it was previously known as the 38th latitude1.

Reign of Kim II-sung

Ever since the 1950s the workers‘party was the leading political institution in North Korea. The chairman of the central committee, Kim II-sung, was thereupon designated as North Korean head of state. He took the personality kult exercised by Stalin as an example and used it to silence political opponents and gradually extend his power. Apart from installing censorship he designed re-education camps for members of the political opposition. The country was superior to South Korea economically. The change of government and the de-Stalinisation through Chruschtschow led to a political change: China and North Korea distanced themselves from the Soviet thaw politics. Especially Chruschtschow admissions in the Cuba crisis were questioned vigorously. This estrangement stopped the financial aids supplied by the Soviet Union and hampered the North Korean economy. After North Korea assumed a new constitution in 1972 Kim II-sung was declared president. Within the same year both Korean states committed to achieve a peaceful reunion. This short phase of détente did however not bring any noteworthy success2.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union

When Kim II-sung died in 1994 a period of mourning was announced for three days. He was given the title of „eternal president“in 1998. His son, Kim Jong-II took over his position as General Secretary in the party. The collapse of the Soviet Union did not leave North Korea unaffected, foreign trade stagnated, the economy was paralysed and a grave famine followed. Kim Jong-II however maintained the status quo as he feared that liberal reforms would overthrow his political system. In 2000 a phase of détente took place due to the „sunshine policy“ of president Kim Dae-Jung, it improved international relations and travel opportunities. When Lee Myung-bak seized power in South Korea the peaceful relation ended. Ever since 2000 North Korea provoked internationally with its nuclear weapons programme, even though nuclear tests were sentenced with sanctions by the United Nations3.

Takeover of Kim Jong-un

After Kim Jon-IIs death in December 2011 his son Kim Jong-Un became the new president of North Korea. This takeover changed the relationship with South Korea as Korea declared itself a nuclear power in a constitutional change in April 2012 and conducted several nuclear weapon tests in the spring of 2013. Kim Jong-Un cancelled the ceasefire agreement of 1953 and threatened South Korea and the USA with a nuclear pre-emptive strike. American troops and missile defence stations are stationed in the surrounding areas ever since.

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Since 1953