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    The howl of the 38th Parallel: Story of the Korean Peninsula

stuck in my mind
The howl of the 38th Parallel: Story of the Korean Peninsula

the howl

Ashik Kabir

The Second World War and the Cold war politics had shaped many of the newly independent countries fate. Because of different ideologies the territories which were historically together, had to fall apart. The Koreans use the proverb, “When Whales fight, the Shrimp’s back is broken”, to describe the victimization at the hands of powerful and more larger neighbors.
China, japan, Russia and United states played Korea to fulfil their own political interests in the 20th century. Japan, China and Russia were the main rivals for influencing Korea in the last quarter of the 19th century. Japan defeated China and Russia in the wars between 1895 and 1905, and became predominant power on the Korean peninsula. Japan ruled Korea in brutal and strict manner after annexing Korea in 1910. Towards the end of Japan’s colonial rule in Korea, Japanese authorities tried to wipe out Korea’s language and cultural identity. They tried to impose Japanese culture on Korean people. Japan also brought the beginning of industrial development in Korea. By the time Japanese colonial rule ended in Korea, it was the second most industrialized country in Asia.
Towards the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union (USSR) declared war on Japan and by August 10, 1945, it occupied the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. By the end of the war Korea was divided into northern and southern portions at the 38th Parallel by the Allies. The United State was to administer the southern area and the USSR administered the northern area. The division brought conflicts between the two areas of Korea because the northern region influenced by USSR became communist, while the south didn’t want this form of government, and formed a strong anti-communist, capitalist government.
On August 15, 1948, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) was officially founded and Syngman Rhee became the first President. Shortly after that,
the USSR established a communist government at the north. The North Korean government called itself, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) with Kim II Sung as its leader. Once both the Koreas were established, the leaders Rhee and Sung tried to unify the whole nations but they wanted to do it believing in their own ideologies Rival governments were established and North Korea was heavily supported by USSR and China. By 1950, the conflicts on the border of North and South Korea led to the Korean War. On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea and the United Nation and its member nation started sending aid to South Korea. North Korea quickly advanced to the south by September, 1950. By October 1950, the UN forces managed to take the war to the north and on 19th October North Korea’s Capital, Pyongyang was taken. In November Chinese forces joined North Korean forces and the fighting was taken to the south again. By January 1950, South Korea’s capital Seoul was taken. Heavy fighting went on for months where the center of conflict was near 38th Parallel. Peace negotiation was going on in the years of 1951 and 1952 and in 1953 the peace negotiations were ended and the Demilitarized zone was formed. But officially a peace treaty was never signed by both of the countries. After the end of the Korean War, tensions were always there in between the countries. In 1968, North Korea tried to assassinate the South Korean President which was unsuccessful. In 1983, North Korea killed 17 South Korean officials in Myanmar. In 1987, North Korea was accused of bombing South Korean airplane. Tensions were high in 2010, when South Korea accused North Korea for sinking one of South Korean ships in the Yellow Sea. On November while South Korea was having military drills, North Korea accused it as “war maneuvers”.Korea is divided into north and South Korea, where nearly two million men under arms in the Peninsula and a high state of military tensions always prevailing. As Korean Peninsula captures a very strategic position on the world map, any conflict at the Peninsula will require the involvement of its rival and larger neighbors or beneficiaries.

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