Take-Home Essay: The Split of Korea

Military conflicts between countries are one of the most common methods of solving misunderstandings in the history of the humanity. Despite the fact that most modern countries have already recognized ineffectiveness of such a struggle, in the twentieth century many countries were prone to wars. Hence, the second most important military conflict after the Second World War in the modern history is the separation of Korea into the Northern and Southern parts. Moreover, this case is unusual not only because of the large-scale effect on the environment, but also because it is a civil war in which not only representatives of Korea participated. Thus, it is difficult to understand whether external factors might have affected the split of Korea. Nonetheless, a thorough study of historical facts, which are independent variables, shows that that the conflict between the Soviet Union and America is the most influential factor that impacted the rebel forces at different stages of the liberation of Korea.

Despite the fact that the division of Korea was most visible and progressive after the end of the Second World War, the period from 1910 to 1945 is also essential for considering its prerequisites. First of all, it is important to remember that during this time Korea was under the protectorate of Japan. The reason of this regime was the defeat of the Soviet Union in the Russo-Japanese War (Seth, 2016a). More importantly, the first divisions in the opinions of the Koreans emerged during this period as various radical and nationalist groups were created during this period of time throughout the country. It is worth noting that although most of them supported uprisings and different types of revolution, their views on state administration were completely different (Seth, 2011). Subsequently, Roosevelt began to raise the topic of management of the Japanese government's colonies since modern politics did not support the seizure of power through military operations. Although the Soviet Union did not support the idea of full custody of the territory of Korea, in August of 1945 it declared a war on Japan and brought troops onto the territory of Korea (Robinson, 2009). At the same time, in order to maintain credibility on the territory of the country, the American government divided the state by 38 parallel in order to preserve the protectorate on the territory of the Southern part of the country, while the Soviet Union could manage the help for the Northern part. Thus, the conclusion of these facts, which are dependent variables, is that external interventions became the basis for the subsequent conflict.

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With respect to the American management of the Korean territories before the first democratic elections in the country, the US had a strong influence on the distribution of political forces in South Korea. In 1945, the provisional government of Korea was located on the territory of China, but it was not recognized by the American representatives. Moreover, actions of the Soviet Union on the territory of the Northern part were also not assessed as compliant with the norms and the law. In this regard, America was forced to face significant uprisings against the new regime of the government. Nevertheless, the military government of America was retained and elections to the Provisional Legislative Assembly of South Korea were held in October of 1946 (Peterson & Margulies, 2010). The first president of this government was an anti-communist politician who was distinguished by making pro-Korean statements during negotiations with the United States. In this regard, subsequently, an independent republic of Korea was formed in the Southern part of the country and it was supported by the US government despite a number of military companies that were conducted by the new rulers. Thus, the United States of America became one of the main reasons that intensified the conflict between the South and the North of Korea, which is a dependent variable.

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Soviet troops also exerted strong pressure on the Korean governance and the development of the conflict during the period of the protectorate. First of all, since Seoul was under the influence of the US government, the largest city in the North – Pyongyang – became the center of political action. At the same time, Soviet troops supported Cho Man-sik who created people's committees on the basis of ideologies friendly to the Soviet Union (Bluth, 2013). Thus, just like the American representatives in South Korea, political leaders of the Soviet Union tried to maintain the most favorable regimes for governing North Korea. Besides, a major land reform was carried out, which destroyed feudal relations between different strata of the society and was able to restore some part of the country's economy without military actions. It allowed the descendant of the current ruler of North Korea to strengthen his political power against the background of other rivals. At the same time, this resulted in many feudal lords leaving the Northern part of the country. Thereby, although the Soviet Union helped the Northern part of the country to carry out the necessary reforms, many aspects of the governance negatively affected the conflict between the two regimes; hence, this result is a dependent variable.

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Subsequently, the Northern and Southern parts of Korea were facing such a strong conflict that it turned into a full-fledged war between citizens of the two sides. Before the main elections of the Korean government, the US showed initiative and included the UN into the list of organizations that would deal with this problem. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union spoke out forcefully against this action as its representatives could not make sure that this would help preserve the electoral legitimacy (Buzo, 2017). At the same time, America, as well as the United Nations planned to restore the management of the Korean people independently as soon as possible. Therefore, they decided to hold elections only in the Southern part of the country. It evoked anger both in the North and in the South, which led to armed actions and the creation of a demilitarized zone. Thus, the growing conflict between the USA and the Soviet Union was another point that aggravated relations between the two parts of Korea.

As a result, both parts of Korea became disunited countries with different capitals, political leaders, and systems. Despite the cessation of hostilities and the restoration of the demilitarized zone between the North and the South, most of the world powers negatively reacted to these results. In this connection, in 1954 the Geneva conference was convened to resolve the conflict and promote unification of the two parts of the country (Seth, 2016b). Perhaps, this was the first correct solution to the conflict since negotiations are an effective method of solving such problems. Nevertheless, representatives of various parties were so divided that they did not reach an agreement (Jager, 2014). This way, despite a sincere attempt to solve the problem, the influence of the conflict between the USA and the Soviet Union turned out to be too pronounced.

In conclusion, although many internal factors affected heterogeneity within the Korean political elite, the uncoordinated interplay of representatives of the Soviet Union and the United States is the primary factor that influenced the split between South Korea and the Korean People's Republic. Initially, representatives of Korean insurgent groups were scattered, but then they were united by a single goal of liberation. At the same time, several years during which Korea was under the influence of the two opposing political regimes created an intense dislike of each other among the parties, which resulted in a split of the countries both on political and spiritual levels.

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