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The United Korean States, officially The Federal Republic of the United Korean States (Hangul: 대한 연합 연방 공화국: Daehan Yeonhap Yeonbang Gonghwagug), commonly reffered to as North Korea, is a country in East Asia, in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its governmental capital is Pyongyang, which is the seat of the National Assembly where the Premier runs the country. Its royal and spiritual capital is Kaesong, which houses the Royal Family in Kaesong Palace. Pyongyang is the largest city by population whereas the port city Wonsan is the largest by land area. North Korea borders on to the Chinese Empire and the Russian Empire to the north. The Amnok and Tumen Rivers are the internationally recognized borders between China. North Korea borders with South Korea to the south.
Before 1910, the Korean Peninsula was administered by the Joseon Emperors, until it was annexed by Japan. After the Second World War, the peninsula was split into two occupied zones: The north being controlled by the USSR and the south being controlled by the US. After the first president of the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, was elected, he attempted to spread his Stalinist ideals to the public. Coupled with the Communists failing to gain a foothold in China, and the USSR's embrace of capitalism and democracy in the months following the war, Kim was unable to administer and lead a single party state without several sanctions imposed by the superpowers. Support for the regime flatlined and in 1951, students, led by the last living Joseon; Yi Pong-ju, forced Kim to hold elections. The Capitalist party won a landslide victory and the United Korean States were born, with the Monarchy re-instituted as the heads of state. Since then the country's economy has boomed as many foreign investors came to the North's new businesses. North Korea's most prominent industry, Pak vehicles, produces the majority of the world's cargo trucks, lorries and diggers.
The country's most famous Premier, Kim Jong-Il, who was elected in 1963, is regarded to have been the driver behind the country's economic development. He set up the Pyongyang Stock Exchange, encouraged foreign business, privatized the mining and healthcare companies and set the income tax to 16% from the previous 30%. He lead a 'Economy First' plan to focus on economic strength as a domination tool, to strive all Koreans to work for the UKS to produce the richest country in Asia. This did mean that military funding was hugely lacking, with as few as 2,000 soldiers in 1972. However the current government has made military funding the primary concern, due to several petitions and protests by the citizens.
North Korea is the founding member of the East Asian Mineral Organization, and a member of the Asian Union and United Nations.
According to legend, Gojoseon was the first Korean kingdom founded in the north of the peninsula, in 2333 BC by Dangun. Gojoseon expanded until it controlled the northern Korean Peninsula and some parts of Manchuria. Gojoseon was first mentioned in Chinese records in the early 7th century BC, and around the 4th century BC, its capital moved to Pyongyang.
After many conflicts with the Chinese Han Dynasty, Gojoseon disintegrated. A number of small states emerged in the 2nd–1st centuries BC, leading to the Proto–Three Kingdoms of Korea period. This saw the kingdoms of Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye, and the Samhan confederacy occupying the peninsula and southern Manchuria. Of the various states, Goguryeo in the north, and Baekje and Silla in the south, grew to control the peninsula as the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Goguryeo was the first Korean kingdom to adopt Buddhism as the state religion in 372.
The kingdom reached its zenith in the 5th century AD, when it controlled central Korea, including the present-day Seoul area. Goguryeo fought numerous wars with China and repulsed a number of Chinese invasions. However, the kingdom fell into decline in the 7th century and after internal power struggles, it was conquered by allied Silla-Tang forces. The unification of the Three Kingdoms by Silla in 676 led to the North South States Period, in which much of the Korean Peninsula was controlled by Silla. The kingdom of Balhae controlled northern areas of Korea and parts of Manchuria between the 7th and 10th centuries.
Under the rule of Unified Silla, relationships between Korea and China remained relatively peaceful. Silla weakened under internal strife, and eventually was defeated by Emperor Taejo of Goryeo of the Goryeo Dynasty in 935.
Goryeo, with its capital at Gaegyeong in present day North Korea, gradually came to rule the whole Korean peninsula. The Mongol invasions in the 13th century greatly weakened Goryeo. Goryeo became a dependency of the Mongol Empire and was forced to pay tribute. After the Mongol Empire collapsed, Korea experienced political strife and the Goryeo Dynasty was replaced in 1388 by the long-lasting Joseon Dynasty (named in honor of the ancient Gojoseon kingdom).
The capital was moved south to Hanyang (modern-day Seoul) in 1394. Joseon accepted the nominal suzerainty of China. Internal conflicts within the royal court and civil unrest plagued the kingdom in the years that followed, a situation made worse by the depredations of Japanese pirates.
After a largely peaceful 15th century, central authority declined and Korea was plagued again by coastal raids by Japanese pirates. Two Japanese attempts to conquer Korea were repulsed in 1592–1598. In the early 17th century Korea became involved in wars against the rising Manchus on the northern borders.
The 17th–19th centuries were marked by increasing Joseon self-isolation from the outside world, dependence on China for external affairs and occasional internal faction fighting. The Joseon Dynasty tried to isolate from sea traders by closing itself to all nations except China. Slaves, nobi, are estimated to have accounted for about one third of the population of Joseon Korea. By the mid-19th century the Joseon court followed a cautious policy of slow exchange with the West. In 1866, an American-owned armed merchant ship, attempted to open Korea to trade. The ship sailed upriver and became stranded near Pyongyang.
After being ordered to leave by Korean officials, American crewmen killed four Korean inhabitants, kidnapped a military officer and engaged in sporadic fighting. The ship was finally set aflame by Korean fireships. In 1871, a US force killed 243 Korean troops on Ganghwa island. This incident is called the Sinmiyangyo in Korea. Five years later, Korea signed a trade treaty with Japan, and in 1882 signed a treaty with the United States, ending centuries of isolationism of the "Hermit Kingdom".
Japanese Occupation (1895-1945)
As a result of the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895), the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki stipulated the end of traditional Joseon dependency on China. In 1897, Joseon was renamed the Korean Empire. Russian influence was strong until the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), after which Korea became a protectorate of Japan. Korea was then annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910, leading to 35 years of military rule.
After the annexation, Japan tried to suppress Korean traditions and culture and ran the economy primarily for the Japanese benefit. Anti-Japanese, pro-liberation rallies took place nationwide on 1 March 1919 (the 1 March Movement). About 7,000 people were killed during the suppression of this movement. Continued anti-Japanese uprisings, such as the nationwide uprising of students in 1929, led to the strengthening of military rule in 1931. After the outbreaks of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and World War II Japan stepped up efforts to extinguish Korean culture.
The Korean language was banned and Koreans were forced to adopt Japanese names. Worship at Japanese Shinto shrines was made compulsory. The school curriculum was radically modified to eliminate teaching in the Korean language and history. Numerous Korean cultural artifacts were destroyed or taken to Japan. Resistance groups known as Dongnipgun (Liberation Army) operated along the Sino-Korean border, fighting guerrilla warfare against Japanese forces. Some of them took part in allied action in China and parts of South East Asia.
During World War II, Koreans at home were forced to support the Japanese war effort. Tens of thousands of men were conscripted into Japan's military. Around 200,000 girls and women, many from Korea, were forced to engage in sexual services, with the euphemism "comfort women".