The recent turn of events in North Korea with its alleged admission to possessing nuclear weapon has created nervous tension in the Far East region. Specifically, North Korea has recently transformed the existing bilateral U.S.-ROK alliance into an awkward triangular ROK-U.S.-DPRK dynamic, significantly complicating the previous bilateral relationships amongst the three as well as making these relationships more difficult to manage. We will trace the development of these relations, to gain a better insight into this long standing conflict and to assess better the future implications surrounding these tensions.
Background History of Korea
At the turn of the century, Korea was annexed by the neighboring Japan, ending the rule of Korean dynasty and independence. Korea was under Japanese control for 35 years from 1910-1945 and the colonial rule was highly repressive and exploitative. Freedom of speech and press was non-existent, human rights were completely disregarded, farm lands were confiscated under various pretexts, economic and educational opportunities were extremely limited, and Korean workers and peasants alike were exploited under the repressive rule of the Japanese.
Japanese surrendered to the Allies on August 15 1945, and the Cairo Declaration of December 1943 issued by the British and US leaders stated that "in due course Korea shall become free and independent". The USSR accepted the Cairo agreement, but proposals made by the USA in 1945 led to the division of Korea into two military zones: the area south of the 38th parallel line under US occupation and the northern area under the Soviet control.
In 1948, after some quarrels over the type of state to be established in the Korean Peninsula, the two regions established two separated autonomous states. The North supported by the USSR established the communist Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in Pyongyang under Chairman Kim Il Sung. Meanwhile, the National Assembly in the South drew up a democratic Constitution for the Republic of Korea (ROK) in Seoul. Dr. Syng Man Rhee was elected the first President of the Republic of Korea, whose legitimacy was immediately recognized by the UN. On August 15, 1948, the Republic of Korea was inaugurated and the US occupation of the South came to an end.
With tensions simmering from increasing internal Korean political conflicts between the North and the South (largely as the by product of the Cold War), the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel line and invaded the South on June 25th 1950, with a force of over 60,000 troops substantially equipped by the Soviet Union. North Korea rapidly advanced southwards and occupied most of South Korea within weeks. The UN troops under the lead of US mounted a collective defense to support South Korea, who successfully drove the invaders back and advanced to capture Pyongyang by October. However, the Peoples Republic of China sent 200,000 Chinese troops across the Yalu...