See Also: Korean War, Division of Korea,
Second Korean War
The 38th Parallel was for a time the possible source of conflict between the two Koreas and proxy conflict between the communists and the West throughout the remainder of the Cold War. The DPRK entered World War III after China declared war on the United States and its allies, taking advantage of the situation and opening a new front: The Second Korean War. However, this served as the nation's downfall as its initial success in capturing Seoul was turned against them when the Allies had the upper hand.
Pyongyang was the site of the bloodiest battles of the war as the KPA troops engaged the Allies in a house-to-house fighting. Eventually, the city fell and Kim-Il Sung was captured by ROK troops. He would later be executed publicly for his crimes against humanity.
It took a two years for the situation to finally stabilize in Korea. During this time, moderate former North Korean generals were discussing reunification talks with the South. These talks resulted in the finalization of the reunification process. The two Koreas finally united in 1993 under the Republic of Korea. For the first time, families separated since the Korean War of 1950-1953 were able to reunite once again. In addition, South Korea's economic prosperity spread to the former North, enabling North Korean citizens to have new jobs and new opportunities in their daily lives.
PoliticsThe DPRK was ruled by an authoritarian government. It adopted communism as its ideology in 1948, but when the Sino-Soviet split occurred in 1960, it tipped both the USSR and the PRC in which side to play during the Cold War. Between the Korean War to the 1980s, "Juche" or "self-reliance" was adopted by the Kim Dynasty. Kim Il Sung was the only leader of the DPRK, having entitled himself as "Eternal President" meaning he would hold the position even after his death. Because he was arrested, tried, and hanged for his war crimes, there was no official successor although historians and political analysts have concluded it would have been his son, Kim Jong-Il to have succeeded him.
The armed forces was known as the Korean People's Army. It was divided into the following branches:
- Korean People's Army Ground Forces
- Korean People's Army Navy
- Korean People's Army Air Force
- North Korean Special Operation Force
- Worker-Peasant Red Guards
The KPA utilized a wide array of Soviet and Chinese equipment, notably small arms, anti-tank howitzers, anti-aircraft guns and batteries, ships, patrol boats, fighter jets, helicopters, and submarines. Occasionally, it received some Western-made equipment from third party countries such as Iran and Libya.
While it had an advantage over the Republic of Korea Armed Forces and the U.S. military in terms of numbers, its outdated equipment was no match for the more advanced ROK, U.S., and allied military hardware.
Upon reunification, the ROK Armed Forces took over the KPA Arsenal and placed these old equipment on reserve.
North Korea had a rich amount of natural resources as compared to the South. However, there was no means to put this into advantage as it had a scarcity of technology to exploit this. Manual labor, usually from detention camps that house dissidents, has made the efficient work force of the country albeit the complaints of human rights groups and the United Nations. The hermit kingdom largely depended food exports from neighboring China and the USSR. The North Korean famine was expected to happen around 1994 but this never occurred as the peninsula was eventually reunited after World War III.
Because of it's oppressive policies, the country stagnated while South Korea became rich and progressive. This is one of the main reasons that contributed to it's defeat by Allied forces during the war.