South Korean Government Humanitarian Aid Policy Toward North Research Paper

Pages: 13 (4253 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: History - Asian

¶ … Korean War is one of those rare events in human history: it had no official ending and had no official ending. Although there is a marked date for the beginning of War, June 25, 1950, when the 75,000 North Korean soldiers invaded South Korea across the 38th parallel, War was never officially declared and in July of 1953 an armistice was signed between North Korea and the United Nations forces but an official treaty ending the War was never signed and, although the Cold War has ended on the world stage it continues between the nations of North and South Korea (Stueck).

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At the beginning of the twentieth century, the peninsula of Korea was part of the Japanese empire. When World War II ended, the governments of the United States and the Soviet Union were faced with how to deal with the various possessions of the former Japanese empire (Chang). Unceremoniously, the decision as to how to handle the Korean peninsula fell into the lap of two low level US. State Department officials (McCune). For reasons never explained, the two unnamed officials decided to divide the Korean peninsula in half at the 38th parallel with the Soviet Union occupying the Northern half and the United States occupying the Southern half. Under the direction of the Soviet Union and the United States the two halves began to organize their own governments in accordance with the political and economic policies of their respective occupiers. Needless to say, in the North a Communist style government was organized while in the South attempts at forming democratic governments were made but the influence of dictator Syngman Rhee proved too powerful and the U.S. government made the decision to support Rhee. The result was of the formation of two dictatorships. The North Korean government was under the direction of Kim II Sung who was supported by the Soviet government while in the South the government was directed by Syngman Rhee.

Research Paper on South Korean Government Humanitarian Aid Policy Toward North Korea Assignment

Both Sung in the North and Rhee in the South, however, were not content to live in a divided Korea. Sung and Rhee both had visions of a united Korea and late in 1949 and early 1950 border skirmishes began to break out along the 38th parallel as both dictators began to jockey for position. Within a few months nearly 10,000 North and South Korean forces had lost their lives in these "minor" skirmishes.

In the initial stages of the Korean conflict the United States and Soviet Union largely kept themselves divorced from the border skirmishes and, as a result, when the North Koreans ultimately crossed over the 38th parallel in June of 1950 the United States was left wondering what the nature of the invasion was. The United States prior to the invasion was content to allow the border skirmishes to continue and viewed the situation as an internal one for Rhee and his government. The full scale invasion, however, was looked upon much differently by the U.S. And because fears of a Communist expansion throughout the world was paramount in the minds of most Americans North Korea's invasion was considered the first step forward in such expansion efforts. This American fear motivated the United States to become involved under the auspices of the United Nations and the minor border skirmish escalated into a full-scale War.

The Korean War took on many different looks. It began as a defensive war where the goal was for the UN forces to reclaim the areas occupied by the North Koreans and to force the North Koreans back across the 38th parallel but within months the strategy had changed and the UN forces became determined to liberate North Korea from the Communists. Initially, this liberation tactic was successful but the War eventually developed into a virtual stalemate. A stalemate that lasted for nearly two years and which resulted in an armistice being signed in July of 1953.

Even the actual fighting in Korea was short-lived the casualty levels were exceptionally high. In three years, nearly 5 million people lost their lives with half of those casualties being civilians. In fact, nearly 10% of the Korean population living at the time that the War broke out lost their lives during the conflict.

The Korean War had a lasting effect on the citizens of both North and South Korea. The citizens of the Korean peninsula had suffered through the period of colonization by the Japanese since 1931, and then the tensions and sense of crisis brought on by the Korean War so by the time of the signing of the armistice in 1953 many of those living in Korea had known nothing but conflict and unrest for all their lives.

In North and South Korea, most of the inhabitants had known nothing but the confines of their own villages prior to the War. The ravages of the War, however, caused many to venture outside of their villages for the first time either through military service or as refugees. For many these new exposures were not good ones. The War caused the nation to fall into the depths of poverty and it would take years for the South Koreans to re-establish any state of normalcy and the trauma of the years of colonization and war were not only felt by the generation that had experienced it but was also passed onto the succeeding generation as well.

The refugee problem in post-war South Korea was significant. South Korea had to find a way to not only deal with their own refugees following the War they also had to address the needs of over a million North Koreans who were seeking new homes in the South. Those from the North and a great number of the displaced South Koreans settled in South Korean cities which resulted in a major urbanization of South Korean society. Unfortunately, the South Korean government was not equipped to handle the influx of refugees and the result was the emergence of slum areas in South Korean cities.

In North Korea, following the War, Kim Sung worked to secure this position as dictator (Lankov). There were some several minor threats to Sung's power but they were systematically purged by Sung and he established himself as the permanent and total dictator in North Korea. Sung's control of the North Korean government was complete. Every aspect of the government and the economy was state controlled which led to a state of stagnation developing. The country was also plagued by several natural disasters that, when combined with the economic mismanagement caused by Sung's and his advisors caused the nation to become heavily dependent on the receipt of foreign aid in order to feed the North Korean people. Meanwhile, however, the North Korean government maintained its heavy military build-up. Sung moved after the War to separate his nation's dependence on China and part of this break with China included Sung developing one of the largest standing armies in the world.

Although Sung's power and authority was never seriously challenged following the end of the Korean War, his government still maintained a systemic pattern of human rights violations. Information emanating out of North Korea was sketchy but there were regular reports of torture, public executions, slave labor, and infanticide. Anyone expressing displeasure of any kind was subject to incarceration in a prison camp.

It was Sung's theory after the War to create a nation built on self-reliance. Sung's goal, described as juche, was to build a nation focused on industrialization that would rebuild the country after years of war and colonial domination and allow it to become totally self-reliant in regard to food, technology and all domestic needs. Sung's goal was to eliminate any North Korean dependence on imports.

From the beginning Sung's economic program struggled but with assistance from the Soviet Union and Red China, North Korea was able to move forward but the program began to stall significantly when North Korea suddenly found itself caught between a power struggle with the Soviets and Chinese. In the end the Soviets determined that North Korea was siding too heavily in favor of Red China and so the Soviets began to withdraw their support. Gradually the loss of Soviet support affected the struggling North Korean economy and by the early 1970s the North Korean economy was on the verge of collapse.

Kim Sung II, the dictator who led North Korea through its transition from a Japanese colony, its involvement in the Korean War, and in the years subsequent as North Korea attempted to become self-reliant, died in 1994 leaving a country that continued to struggle economically. He was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-il. At the time of Kim Sung II's death, North Korea remained heavily dependent on foreign aid to feed its people.

By the end of the Korean War, South Korea lay devastated. The economic infrastructure of the nation was in ruins, millions of its citizens had lost their lives, and millions more were homeless. As the War ended, South Korea was among… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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