Division of Korea

Division of Korea

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The division of Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

into North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 and South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 stems from the 1945 Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 victory in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, ending Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

's 35-year colonial rule of Korea
Korea under Japanese rule
Korea was under Japanese rule as part of Japan's 35-year imperialist expansion . Japanese rule ended in 1945 shortly after the Japanese defeat in World War II....

. In a proposal opposed by nearly all Koreans, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 agreed to temporarily occupy the country as a trusteeship
United Nations Trusteeship Council
The United Nations Trusteeship Council, one of the principal organs of the United Nations, was established to help ensure that trust territories were administered in the best interests of their inhabitants and of international peace and security...

 with the zone of control demarcated along the 38th parallel
38th parallel north
The 38th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 38 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean...

. The purpose of this trusteeship was to establish a Korean provisional government which would become "free and independent in due course." Though elections were scheduled, the Soviet Union refused to cooperate with United Nations plans to hold general and free elections in the two Koreas, and as a result, a Communist state was permanently established under Soviet auspices in the north and a pro-Western state was set up in the south. The two superpowers backed different leaders and two states were effectively established, each of which claimed sovereignty over the whole Korean peninsula.

The Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 (1950–53) left the two Koreas separated by the Korean Demilitarized Zone
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and...

 through the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 to the present day. North Korea is a communist state
Communist state
A communist state is a state with a form of government characterized by single-party rule or dominant-party rule of a communist party and a professed allegiance to a Leninist or Marxist-Leninist communist ideology as the guiding principle of the state...

 — though the last instances of the word Communism were removed from its constitution in 2009 — often described as Stalinist
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 and isolationist
Isolationism
Isolationism is the policy or doctrine of isolating one's country from the affairs of other nations by declining to enter into alliances, foreign economic commitments, international agreements, etc., seeking to devote the entire efforts of one's country to its own advancement and remain at peace by...

. Its economy initially enjoyed substantial growth but collapsed in the 1990s, unlike that of its Communist neighbor People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

. South Korea emerged, after decades of authoritarian
Authoritarianism
Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...

 rule, as a capitalist
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 liberal democracy
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

.

Since the 1990s, with progressively liberal South Korean administrations, as well as the death of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

, the two sides have taken small, symbolic steps towards a possible Korean reunification
Korean reunification
Korean reunification refers to the hypothetical future reunification of North Korea and South Korea under a single government...

.

Korea under Japanese Rule (1910–45)


As the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 ended in 1905, Korea became a nominal protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

, and was annexed in 1910 by Japan.

End of World War II (1939–45)



In November 1943, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 and Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 met at the Cairo Conference
Cairo Conference
The Cairo Conference of November 22–26, 1943, held in Cairo, Egypt, addressed the Allied position against Japan during World War II and made decisions about postwar Asia...

 to discuss what should happen to Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

's colonies, and agreed that Japan should lose all the territories it had conquered by force. In the declaration after this conference, Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 was mentioned for the first time. The three powers declared that "mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea [we] are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.”

For Korean nationalists who wanted immediate independence, the phrase "in due course" was cause for dismay. Roosevelt may have proposed to Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 leader Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 that three or four years elapse before full Korean independence; Stalin demurred, saying that a shorter period of time would be desirable. In any case, discussion of Korea among the Allies would not resume until victory over Japan was imminent.

Soviet invasion of Manchuria


With the war's end in sight in August 1945, there was still no consensus on Korea's fate among Allied leaders. Many Koreans on the peninsula had made their own plans for the future of Korea, and few of these plans included the re-occupation of Korea by foreign forces. Following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima
Hiroshima
is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It became best known as the first city in history to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on it at 8:15 A.M...

 on August 6, 1945, Soviet soldiers invaded Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

, as per Stalin's agreement with Harry Truman at the Potsdam conference
Potsdam Conference
The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 16 July to 2 August 1945. Participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States...

.

However, American leaders worried that the whole peninsula might be occupied by the Soviet Union, and feared this might lead to a Soviet occupation of Japan. Soviet forces arrived in Korea first, but occupied only the northern half, stopping at the 38th parallel, per the agreement with the United States.

On August 10, 1945 two young officers – Dean Rusk
Dean Rusk
David Dean Rusk was the United States Secretary of State from 1961 to 1969 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Rusk is the second-longest serving U.S...

 and Charles Bonesteel
Charles Bonesteel
General Charles Hartwell Bonesteel III was an American military commander, the son and grandson of American military officers....

 – were assigned to define an American occupation zone. Working at extremely short notice and completely unprepared, they used a National Geographic map to decide on the 38th parallel. They chose it because it divided the country approximately in half but would leave the capital Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

 under American control. No experts on Korea were consulted. The two men were unaware that forty years previous, Japan and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 had discussed sharing Korea along the same parallel. Rusk later said that had he known, he "almost surely" would have chosen a different line. Regardless, the decision was hastily written into General Order No. 1 for the administration of postwar Japan.

General Abe Nobuyuki, the last Japanese Governor-General of Korea
Governor-General of Korea
The post of Japanese Governor-General of Korea served as the chief administrator of the Japanese government in Korea while it was held as the Japanese colony of Chōsen from 1910 to 1945...

, had been in contact with a number of influential Koreans since the beginning of August 1945 to prepare the hand-over of power. On August 15, 1945, Lyuh Woon-Hyung
Lyuh Woon-Hyung
Yuh Woon-Hyung was a Korean politician who argued that Korean independence was essential to world peace, and a reunification activist who struggled for the independent reunification of Korea since its national division in 1945....

, a moderate left-wing politician, agreed to take over. He was in charge of preparing the creation of a new country and worked hard to build governmental structures. On September 6, 1945, a congress of representatives was convened in Seoul. The foundation of a modern Korean state took place just three weeks after Japan's capitulation. The government was predominantly left wing; many of those who had resisted Japanese rule identified with Communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

's views on imperialism and colonialism.

After World War II



Southern Korea


On September 7, 1945, General MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 announced that Lieutenant General John R. Hodge
John R. Hodge
General John Reed Hodge was a general in the United States Army.-Early life and Career:Being born in Golconda, Illinois, Hodge attended Southern Illinois Teachers College and the University of Illinois. After completing U.S. Army Officer Candidate School at Fort Sheridan, he entered military...

 was to administer Korean affairs, and Hodge landed in Incheon
Incheon
The Incheon Metropolitan City is located in northwestern South Korea. The city was home to just 4,700 people when Jemulpo port was built in 1883. Today 2.76 million people live in the city, making it Korea’s third most populous city after Seoul and Busan Metropolitan City...

 with his troops the next day. The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea
Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea
The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was the partially recognised government in exile of Korea, based in Shanghai, China, and later in Chongqing, during the Colonial Korea.-History:...

 sent a delegation with three interpreters, but he refused to meet with them. Thus, they refused to recognize the People's Republic of Korea
People's Republic of Korea
The People's Republic of Korea was a short-lived provisional government organized to take over control of Korea after the Surrender of Japan at the end of the Pacific War. It operated as the government in late August and early September of 1945 until the United States Army Military Government in...

 or the Korean Provisional Government
Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea
The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was the partially recognised government in exile of Korea, based in Shanghai, China, and later in Chongqing, during the Colonial Korea.-History:...

. However, an anti-communist named Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee or Yi Seungman was the first president of South Korea. His presidency, from August 1948 to April 1960, remains controversial, affected by Cold War tensions on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere. Rhee was regarded as an anti-Communist and a strongman, and he led South Korea through the...

, who moved back to Korea after decades of exile in the US, was considered an acceptable candidate to provisionally lead the country since he was considered friendly to the US. Under Rhee, the southern government conducted a number of military campaigns against left-wing insurgents who took up arms against the government and persecuted other political opponents. Over the course of the next few years, between 30,000 and 100,000 people would lose their lives during the war against the left-wing insurgents.

In August 1948, Syngman Rhee became the first president of South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

, and U.S. forces left the Korean peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

.

Northern Korea


Throughout August Koreans organized the country into people committees branches for the "Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence" (CPKI, 조선건국준비위원회). The Soviet Army allowed for these committees to continue to function since they were friendly to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, but still established the Soviet Civil Authority to begin to centralize the independent committees. Further provisional committees were set up across the country putting Communists into key positions. In March 1946 land reform was instituted as the land from Japanese and collaborator land owners was divided and handed over to poor farmers. Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

 initiated a sweeping land reform program in 1946. Organizing the many poor civilians and agricultural laborers under the people's committees a nationwide mass campaign broke the control of the old landed classes. Landlords were allowed to keep only the same amount of land as poor civilians who had once rented their land, thereby making for a far more equal distribution of land. The North Korean land reform was achieved in a less violent way than that of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 or Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. Official American sources stated, "From all accounts, the former village leaders were eliminated as a political force without resort to bloodshed, but extreme care was taken to preclude their return to power." This was very popular with the farmers, but caused many collaborators and former landowners to flee to the south where some of them obtained positions in the new South Korean government. According to the U.S. military government, 400,000 northern Koreans went south as refugees.

Key industries were nationalized. The economic situation was nearly as difficult in the north as it was in the south, as the Japanese had concentrated agriculture in the south and heavy industry in the north.

In February 1946 a provisional government
Provisional government
A provisional government is an emergency or interim government set up when a political void has been created by the collapse of a very large government. The early provisional governments were created to prepare for the return of royal rule...

 called the North Korean Provisional People's Committee was formed under Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

, who had spent the last years of the war training with Soviet troops in Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

. Conflicts and power struggles rose up at the top levels of government in Pyongyang as different aspirants maneuvered to gain positions of power in the new government. At the local levels, people's committees openly attacked collaborators and some landlords, confiscating much of their land and possessions. As a consequence many collaborators and others disappeared or were assassinated. It was out in the provinces and by working with these same people's committees that the eventual leader of North Korea, Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

, was able to build a grassroots support system that would lift him to power over his political rivals who had stayed in Pyongyang. Soviet forces departed in 1948.

Establishment of two Koreas


With mistrust growing rapidly between the formerly allied United States and Soviet Union, no agreement was reached on how to reconcile the competing provisional governments. The U.S. brought the problem before the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 in the fall of 1947. The Soviet Union opposed UN involvement.

The UN passed a resolution on November 14, 1947, declaring that free elections should be held, foreign troops should be withdrawn, and an UN commission for Korea, the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea
UNTCOK
UNTCOK, the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea, was a body which was supposed to oversee free and fair elections in Korea after World War II. In Soviet-controlled North Korea, the body was not even recognized with the Soviets arguing that the commission would break earlier agreements...

, should be created. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, although a member with veto powers, boycotted the voting and did not consider the resolution to be binding. In April 1948, a conference of organizations from the north and the south met in Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

. This conference produced no results, and the Soviets boycotted the UN-supervised elections in the south. There was no UN supervision of elections in the north.

On May 10 the south held a general election. Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee or Yi Seungman was the first president of South Korea. His presidency, from August 1948 to April 1960, remains controversial, affected by Cold War tensions on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere. Rhee was regarded as an anti-Communist and a strongman, and he led South Korea through the...

, who had called for partial elections in the south to consolidate his power as early as 1947, was elected, though left-wing parties boycotted the election
Election boycott
An election boycott is the boycotting of an election by a group of voters, each of whom abstains from voting.Boycotting may be used as a form of political protest where voters feel that electoral fraud is likely, or that the electoral system is biased against its candidates, or that the polity...

. On August 15, the "Republic of Korea" formally took over power from the U.S. military. In the North, the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" was declared on September 9, with Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

 as prime minister.

Korean War


This division of Korea, after more than a millennium of being unified, was seen as unacceptable and temporary by both regimes. From 1948 until the start of the civil war on June 25, 1950, the armed forces of each side engaged in a series of bloody conflicts along the border. In 1950, these conflicts escalated dramatically when North Korean forces attacked South Korea, triggering the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

. An armistice was signed three years later ending hostilities and effectively making the division permanent. The two sides agreed to create a four-kilometer wide buffer zone between the states, where nobody would enter. This area came to be known as the Demilitarized Zone
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and...

 or DMZ.

Geneva Conference and NNSC


As dictated by the terms of the Korean Armistice a Geneva Conference
Geneva Conference (1954)
The Geneva Conference was a conference which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, whose purpose was to attempt to find a way to unify Korea and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina...

 was held in 1954 on the Korean question. Despite efforts by many of the nations involved the conference ended without a declaration for a unified Korea.

The Armistice established a Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission
Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission
The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission was established by the Korean Armistice Agreement signed July 27, 1953, ending the Korean War...

 (NNSC) which was tasked to monitor the Armistice. Since 1953, members of the Swiss and Swedish Armed Forces have been members of the NNSC stationed near the DMZ.

Post-armistice infiltrations, incursions and incidents



Since the division of Korea, there have been numerous instances of infiltration and incursions across the border largely by North Korean agents, although the North Korean government never acknowledges direct responsibility for any of these incidents. A total of 3,693 armed North Korean agents have infiltrated into South Korea between 1954 to 1992, with 20% of these occurring between 1967 and 1968. According to the 5 January 2011 Korea Herald
Korea Herald
The Korea Herald is a daily English-language newspaper founded in 1953 and published in Seoul, South Korea. The editorial staff is composed of Korean and international writers and editors, with additional news coverage drawn from international news agencies such as the Associated Press.The Korea...

, since July 1953 North Korea has violated the armistice 221 times, including 26 military attacks. Some instances include:

Land border incidents


Between 1966 and 1969, a series of land border and DMZ incidents occurred. Other incidents after 1969 include the following:
  • April 1970: Three North Korean infiltrators were killed and five South Korean soldiers wounded at an encounter in Kumchon
    Kumchon
    Kŭmch'ŏn is a county in North Hwanghae province, North Korea. It has a population of 68,216.-Geography:Kumchon is bordered to the west by Kaesong, to the south by Kaepung, to the northwest by Tosan, and to the north by Mt. Pakbong and Singye county. It is bordered to the east by the Ryesong River,...

    , Gyeonggi-do
    Gyeonggi-do
    Gyeonggi-do is the most populous province in South Korea. The provincial capital is located at Suwon. Seoul—South Korea's largest city and national capital—is located in the heart of the province, but has been separately administered as a provincial-level special city since 1946...

    .
  • November 1974: The first of what would be a series of North Korean infiltration tunnels under the DMZ was discovered.
  • March 1975: A second North Korean infiltration tunnel was discovered.
  • June 1976: Three North Korean infiltrators and six South Korean soldiers were killed in the eastern sector south of the DMZ. Another six South Korean soldiers were injured.
  • 18 August 1976: The Axe Murder Incident
    Axe Murder Incident
    The axe murder incident was the killing of two United States Army officers by North Korean soldiers on August 18, 1976, in the Joint Security Area located in the Korean Demilitarized Zone which forms the de facto border between North and South Korea...

     resulted in the death of two U.S. soldiers and injuries to another four U.S. soldiers and five South Korean soldiers in a neutral zone of the Joint Security Area
    Joint Security Area
    The Joint Security Area is the only portion of the Korean Demilitarized Zone where South and North Korean forces stand face-to-face. It is often called the "Truce Village" in both the media and various military accounts...

    .
  • October 1978: The third North Korean infiltration tunnel
    Third Tunnel of Aggression
    The Third Tunnel of Aggression is a tunnel under the border between North Korea and South Korea, extending south of Panmunjom. It was the third tunnel to be discovered running under the border between the two Koreas.-Background:...

     was discovered.
  • October 1979: Three North Korean agents attempting to infiltrate the eastern sector of the DMZ were intercepted, killing one of the agents.
  • March 1980: Three North Korean infiltrators were killed attempting to enter the south across the estuary of the Han River
    Han River (Korea)
    The Han River is a major river in South Korea and the fourth longest river on the Korean peninsula after the Amnok, Duman, and Nakdong rivers. It is formed by the confluence of the Namhan River , which originates in Mount Daedeok, and the Bukhan River , which originates on the slopes of Mount...

    .
  • March 1981: Three North Korean infiltrators spotted at Kumhwa, Gangwon-do
    Gangwon-do (South Korea)
    Gangwon-do is a province of South Korea, with its capital at Chuncheon. Before the division of Korea in 1945, Gangwon and its North Korean neighbour Kangwŏn formed a single province.-History:...

    , one was killed.
  • July 1981: Three North Korean infiltrators were killed in the upper stream of Imjin River
    Imjin River
    The Imjin River is a river of North and South Korea. It flows from North to South, crossing the Demilitarized Zone and joining the Han River downstream of Seoul, very near the Yellow Sea.- History :...

    .
  • May 1982: Two North Korean infiltrators were spotted on the east coast, one was killed.
  • March 1990: The fourth North Korean infiltration tunnel was discovered, in what may be a total of 17 tunnels in all.
  • May 1992: Three North Korean infiltrators dressed in South Korean uniforms were killed at Cheorwon, Gangwon-do
    Gangwon-do (South Korea)
    Gangwon-do is a province of South Korea, with its capital at Chuncheon. Before the division of Korea in 1945, Gangwon and its North Korean neighbour Kangwŏn formed a single province.-History:...

    . Three South Koreans were also wounded.
  • October 1995: Two North Korean infiltrators were intercepted at Imjin River
    Imjin River
    The Imjin River is a river of North and South Korea. It flows from North to South, crossing the Demilitarized Zone and joining the Han River downstream of Seoul, very near the Yellow Sea.- History :...

    . One was killed, the other escaped.
  • April 1996: Several hundred North Korean armed troops entered the Joint Security Area
    Joint Security Area
    The Joint Security Area is the only portion of the Korean Demilitarized Zone where South and North Korean forces stand face-to-face. It is often called the "Truce Village" in both the media and various military accounts...

     and elsewhere on three occasions in violation of the Korean armistice agreement.
  • May 1996: Seven North Korean soldiers crossed the DMZ but withdrew when fired upon by South Korean troops.
  • April 1997: Five North Korean soldiers cross the military demarcation line's Cheorwon sector and fired at South Korean positions.
  • July 1997: Fourteen North Korean soldiers crossed the military demarcation line, causing a 23-minute exchange of heavy gunfire.
  • May 2006 - Two North Korean soldiers enter the DMZ and cross into South Korea. They return after South fires warning shots.
  • October 2006 - South Korea fires warning shots after North Korean soldiers cross briefly into their side of the border.
  • 23 November 2010: After a Northern warning to cease planned military drills near the island of Yeonpyeong
    Yeonpyeong
    Yeonpyeong Island or Yeonpyeongdo is a group of South Korean islands in the Yellow Sea, located about west of Incheon and south of the coast of Hwanghae Province, North Korea. The main island of the group is Daeyeonpyeongdo , also referred to simply as Yeonpyeong Island, with an area of and a...

    , the South commenced the drill. The North then bombarded the island
    Bombardment of Yeonpyeong
    The bombardment of Yeonpyeong was an artillery engagement between the North Korean military and South Korean forces stationed on Yeonpyeong Island on November 23, 2010. Following a South Korean regular artillery exercise at waters in the south, North Korean forces fired around 170 artillery shells...

     with heavy artillery in response to the firings related to the South's readiness-exercise and the South returned fire with air force jets and howitzers. On Yeonpyeong, 4 were killed (including 2 civilians) and 15 injured.

Incidents in other areas

  • June 1969: North Korean agent reached Huksan Island, resulting in 15 killed.
  • August 1975: Two North Korean infiltrators intercepted at Gochang County
    Gochang County
    Gochang County is a county in North Jeolla Province, South Korea. It is a rural area, and is home to only one institution of higher education: Gochang Polytechnic College.Famous people from Gochang include the 20th-century poet Midang....

    , Jeollabuk-do
    Jeollabuk-do
    Jeollabuk-do is a province in the southwest of South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the northern half of the former Jeolla province, and remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, then became part of South Korea...

     kills one infiltrator, two South Korean soldiers and wounds another two South Korean soldiers.
  • November 1978: Three North Korean agents killed two South Korean civilians in Hongseong, one civilian in Gongju
    Gongju
    Gongju , also spelt Kongju, is a city in South Chungcheong province, South Korea. It is located at .- History :Gongju was formerly named Ungjin and was the capital of Baekje from AD 475 to 538. In this period, Baekje was under threat from Goguryeo...

    , Chungcheongnam-do
    Chungcheongnam-do
    Chungcheongnam-do or Chungnam is a province in the west of South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the south-western half of the former Chungcheong Province and remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, thereafter becoming part of South Korea...

     and another civilian at Osan
    Osan
    Osan is a city in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea, approximately 35 km south of Seoul. The population of the city is around 120,000. The local economy is supported by a mix of agricultural and industrial enterprises....

    , Gyeonggi-do
    Gyeonggi-do
    Gyeonggi-do is the most populous province in South Korea. The provincial capital is located at Suwon. Seoul—South Korea's largest city and national capital—is located in the heart of the province, but has been separately administered as a provincial-level special city since 1946...

    .
  • November 1980: Three North Korean infiltrators and one South Korean civilian were killed at Whenggando, Jeollanam-do
    Jeollanam-do
    Jeollanam-do is a province in the southwest of South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the southern half of the former Jeolla province, remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, then became part of South Korea...

    . Six others were wounded.
  • December 1980: Three North Korean infiltrators and two South Korean soldiers were killed off the southern coast of Gyeongsangnam-do
    Gyeongsangnam-do
    Gyeongsangnam-do is a province in the southeast of South Korea. The provincial capital is located at Changwon. It contains the major metropolitan center and port of Busan. Located there is UNESCO World Heritage Site Haeinsa, a Buddhist temple that houses the Tripitaka Koreana and attracts many...

    . Two other South Korean soldiers were wounded.
  • September 1984: A North Korean infiltrator killed two civilians and wounded another at Daegu
    Daegu
    Daegu , also known as Taegu, and officially the Daegu Metropolitan City, is a city in South Korea, the fourth largest after Seoul, Busan, and Incheon, and the third largest metropolitan area in the country with over 2.5 million residents. The city is the capital and principal city of the...

     before committing suicide.
  • October 1995: Two North Korean infiltrators were intercepted at Buyeo County
    Buyeo County
    Buyeo County is a county in South Chungcheong Province, South Korea. Buyeo-eup, the county's capital, was the site of the capital of the Baekje kingdom from AD 538 to 660, when it was called Sabi....

    . One was killed, the other captured.
  • 17 September 1996: 26 North Korean military personnel landed on the east coast near Jeongdongjin
    Jeongdongjin
    Jeongdongjin is a famous town near Gangneung, South Korea and one of the most popular sites in Korea for watching the sunrise on New Year's Day. It is eighteen kilometers south-east of Gangneung on the east coast of Korea....

    , 20 kilometres south-east of Gangneung
    Gangneung
    Gangneung is a city in Gangwon-do, on the east coast of South Korea. It has a population of 229,869 . Gangneung is the economic centre of the Yeongdong region of eastern Gangwon Province. Gangneung has many tourist attractions, like Jeongdongjin, one of the most famous towns in Korea...

    , Gangwon-do
    Gangwon-do (South Korea)
    Gangwon-do is a province of South Korea, with its capital at Chuncheon. Before the division of Korea in 1945, Gangwon and its North Korean neighbour Kangwŏn formed a single province.-History:...

     from a disabled North Korean submarine
    1996 Gangneung submarine infiltration incident
    The 1996 Gangneung submarine infiltration incident occurred on September 18, 1996, near the South Korean town of Gangneung. The incident was one of the more serious instances of North Korean espionage involving naval forces....

    . Out of these, 11 were killed by North Korean commandos from the submarine presumably in a bid to save the rest. 13 were killed by South Korean soldiers as they tried to make their way back over the DMZ over the next 49 days, one was captured and one escaped. 13 South Korean soldiers and 4 civilians were killed, and five others wounded, including an off-duty ROK soldier strangled by the escaping infiltrators. North Korea threatened to retaliate over the incident, and in October 1996, a South Korean diplomat, Choi Duk Keun
    Choe Deok-geun
    Choe Deok-geun was a South Korean consular official for the Russian Far East who was assassinated by poison in October 1996....

    , was found poisoned in Vladivostok
    Vladivostok
    The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

     by a substance similar to that carried on the submarine. By 29 December, however, the North issued an official statement expressing "deep regret" over the submarine incident, although it did not issue a direct apology. In return, the South Korean government returned the cremated remains of the infiltrators to the North via Panmunjom on 30 December. The beached submarine remains at Jeongdongjin, where it has since been turned into an outdoor exhibit. Investigations in the South over the intrusion resulted in twenty ROK officers and soldiers punished for "negligence of duty" and the dismissal of a lieutenant general and a major general. A taxi driver who first spotted the intruders and alerted the authorities was given a hefty reward.

Maritime incidents



  • June 1981: A North Korean spy boat was sunk off Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do
    Chungcheongnam-do
    Chungcheongnam-do or Chungnam is a province in the west of South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the south-western half of the former Chungcheong Province and remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, thereafter becoming part of South Korea...

    , with nine agents killed, 91 injured and one captured.
  • October 1985: A North Korean spy ship was sunk by the South Korean navy off the coast of Busan
    Busan
    Busan , formerly spelled Pusan is South Korea's second largest metropolis after Seoul, with a population of around 3.6 million. The Metropolitan area population is 4,399,515 as of 2010. It is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth largest port in the world...

    .
  • May 1996: Five North Korean naval patrol craft entered South Korean waters in the west coast and withdrew after a four-hour confrontation with Southern forces. Another incident in June 1996 saw three North Korean naval patrol craft intruding for three-hours in the same area.
  • June 1997: Three North Korean patrol boats entered South Korean waters in the Yellow Sea
    Yellow Sea
    The Yellow Sea is the name given to the northern part of the East China Sea, which is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. Its name comes from the sand particles from Gobi Desert sand storms that turn the surface of the water golden...

    , firing at South Korean patrol boats.
  • 22 June 1998: A North Korean Yugo class submarine
    Yugo class submarine
    The Yugo class submarine is a class of four midget submarines used primarily for infiltration and espionage by North Korea. The class is so named because it was built to plans supplied to North Korea by Yugoslavia in 1965. This class is actually a family of midget submarines for that not all are...

     was found caught in fishing nets in South Korean waters 18 km off the coast from Sokcho
    Sokcho
    Sokcho is a city in Gangwon-do province, South Korea. It is located in the far northeast of Gangwon-do. Lying north of the 38th parallel, the city belonged to North Korea from 1945 until the end of the Korean War, when the dividing line between the two Korean states was officially altered....

    . South Korean fishermen observed the crew trying to untangle the submarine from the fishing nets and notified the South Korean navy. The submarine was subsequently towed by a South Korean corvette to a navy base near Sokcho. It was believed that 5 or 6 crewmen were alive inside and the South Koreans used louspeakers to try to convince the crew to come out, but they received no response. When the submarine was eventually opened all nine crew were found dead in an apparent group suicide. North Korea criticized the South for causing the death of the crew and demanded the return of the bodies and submarine on 27 June. South Korean President Kim Dae Jung
    Kim Dae Jung
    Kim Dae-jung was President of South Korea from 1998 to 2003, and the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize recipient. He came to be called the "Nelson Mandela of Asia" for his long-standing opposition to authoritarian rule.-Early life:...

     asked for the North to "admit responsibility and take reasonable measures" in response.
  • July 1998: A dead North Korean frogman was found with paraphernalia on a beach south of the DMZ.
  • November 1998: A North Korean spy boat entered South Korean waters near Ganghwa Island
    Ganghwa Island
    Ganghwa Island is an island in the estuary of the Han River, on the west coast of South Korea. Ganghwa Island is separated from Gimpo, on the mainland, by a narrow channel, which is spanned by two bridges. The main channel of the Han River separates the island from Gaeseong in North Korea.About...

     but escaped upon detection.
  • 17–18 December 1998: In the Battle of Yosu, a North Korean semisubmersible boat was sunk near Yeosu
    Yeosu
    Yeosu is a city in South Jeolla Province, South Korea. Old Yeosu City, which was founded in 1949, Yeocheon City, founded in 1986, and Yeocheon County were merged into a new city in 1998....

     after an exchange with the South Korean navy. A North Korean frogman's body was found near the site.
  • June 1999: A nine-day confrontation was sparked when several North Korean ships intruded into disputed waters near the Northern Limit Line
    Northern Limit Line
    The Northern Limit Line or North Limit Line is a disputed inter-Korea maritime demarcation line in the Yellow Sea between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on the north, and the Republic of Korea on the south...

     in the Yellow Sea. A firefight erupted on 15 June 1999, sinking a North Korean torpedo boat and damaging five others. Two South Korean vessels were lightly damaged. North Korea issued a warning that violent exchanges would continue if the disputed waters were to continue being intruded by South Korea or the United States.
  • 9 April 2001: North Korean patrol boats entered South Korean waters briefly over the Northern Limit Line but retreated when challenged by the South Korean Navy. Similar incidents were reported on February 5, March 3 and April 10. 12 maritime intrusions were reported in total in 2001.
  • 5 January 2002: North Korean patrol boats continued to infiltrate into South Korean waters, with another craft spotted off Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea.
  • 29 June 2002: North Korean patrol boats crossed the Northern Limit Line and fired at a South Korean patrol boat, provoking a firefight which killed four South Korean military personnel and an unknown number of North Koreans.
  • 11 November 2009: North Korean patrol ship was set on fire after attacking a South Korean ship in the Yellow Sea. Newspaper article on the incident
  • 26 March 2010: The South Korean warship Cheonan
    ROKS Cheonan (PCC-772)
    ROKS Cheonan was a South Korean Pohang-class corvette of the Republic of Korea Navy , commissioned in 1989. On 26 March 2010, it broke in two and sank near the sea border with North Korea...

     sinks
    ROKS Cheonan sinking
    The ROKS Cheonan sinking occurred on 26 March 2010, when the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship carrying 104 personnel, sank off the country's west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen...

    , with 46 sailors dying. On 19 May 2010 an investigation said a North Korean submarine caused the sinking.

Air incidents

  • 19 February 2003: A North Korean fighter jet entered South Korean airspace over the Yellow Sea, the first since 1983. Six South Korean fighter planes responded, and the North Korean plane departed after two minutes.

  • 17 June 2011: South Korean soldiers mistakenly fired on an Asiana commercial airplane with small-arms fire; they believed it to be North Korea's military aircraft.

See also

  • History of North Korea
    History of North Korea
    The history of North Korea formally begins with the establishment of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in 1948 in the aftermath of division of Korea.-The early years:...

  • History of South Korea
    History of South Korea
    The history of South Korea formally begins with the establishment of South Korea on 15 August 1948, although Syngman Rhee had declared the establishment in Seoul on 13 August....

  • Korean reunification
    Korean reunification
    Korean reunification refers to the hypothetical future reunification of North Korea and South Korea under a single government...

  • North Korea–South Korea relations

External links