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Korea: A Peninsula Divided Essay

1388 words - 6 pages

Korea: A Peninsula DividedKorea is a land divided by political differences. The political contrast between the Southern Republic government and the North's Communist regime has brought about cultural clashes as well. While both nations are guaranteed basic personal freedoms toward speech, religion and press under their constitutions, the North Koreans have almost no real freedoms. The Communist government maintains strict control over all aspects of life to ensure their dominance over the country. For example, South Koreans are allowed to worship freely and express themselves however they wish but citizens in the North are strongly discouraged from practicing and religion because it conflicts with the teachings of Communism.Although the religious aspect of everyday life may be different for the two nations, Northerners and Southerners alike share the philosophy of Confucianism and its ethics like hard work, strong familial bonds and the emphasis toward a good education. All these ideals, Koreans believe, will lead to future prosperity. Much like the other Confucian nations in East Asia, those strong beliefs have helped the Korean people weather the storms during many turbulent times in their history.Since the 19th century the political and cultural landscape of the Korean Peninsula has been altered dramatically on more than one occasion. The Japanese occupation from 1910 until 1945 marked a turning point in Korean history. Rivalries formed between several nations, including China, Russia and, of course, Japan, over trade agreements with Korea. Japan's victories over China in 1895 and Russia in 1905 all but sealed the fate for the "Hermit Kingdom." By 1910 Japan began governing Korea as a colony to benefit their own interests. The 1930's saw Japan turning the once strictly agrarian nation into a factory churning out iron, steel chemicals and other industrial goods. The Japanese went even further by attempting to erase any trace of Korean influence and culture by forcing Koreans to take on Japanese names and abolishing the teaching of the Korean language. Others were forced into the Japanese war effort as soldiers or, sadly for the women, as prostitutes known as "comfort women."The Japanese rule lasted for 35 years until 1945 when the Empire was defeated in World War II. Korea was occupied by the United States below the 38th parallel and by the Soviet Union north of the dividing line. A peaceful reunification immediately following the war was not achieved. The South went onto adopt a democratic constitution and the Republic of Korea was formed on August 15, 1948. Soon after, the North became a Communist nation with the formation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on September 8, 1948. With both nations claiming to represent the entire Korean peninsula, a conflict was to ensue. With the departure of all Soviet and US troops by the middle of 1949, North Korea saw the opportunity to invade South Korea. Backed by the two Communist superpowers...

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