(Information from the internet.) The modern division of Korea into North and South Korea stems from the 1945 Allied victory in WWII...Before the war, Korea was a colony of Japan; after the Russo-Japanese War ended in 1905, peace between Russia and Japan was concluded with the mediation of U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt, and the de facto Japanese occupation continued. Though Korea had nominally been a protectorate, in 1910 it was annexed by Japan. At the Cairo Conference in November 1943, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Chiang Kaishek agreed that Japan should lose all the territories it had conquered by force. In a later declaration the three powers declared that they, "mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall be free and independent."

With the war's end in sight in August 1945, no American troops on the peninsula, and the Soviet forces approaching, the U.S. realized the risk of the whole country being occupied by the Soviet Union, and an American occupation zone was created at the 38th parallel. This was a three-mile buffer zone which became known as the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), where nobody would enter. The de factor division existed in peace until 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea, triggering the Korean War, which, a few years later, made the division permanent for all practical purposes. It is a continuing source of pain, with divided Korean families unable to communicate.

While the end of WWII brought peace and prosperity to most Americans, it also created a heightened state of tension between the Soviet Union and the United States. Fearing that the Soviet Union intended to "export" communism to other nations, America centered its foreign policy on the "containment" of communism both at home and Europe and Asia. Fearing that the Soviets intended to seize the entire peninsula...the United States quickly moved its troops into southern Korea. In an effort to avoid a long-term decision regarding Korea's future, the United States and Soviet Union agreed to divide Korea temporarily along the 38' parallel, a latitudinal line that bisected the country. The result became, in 1946, the communist Democratic People's Republic in the north and under Syngman Rhee, the Republic of Korea in the south. In 1950, the Korea Peninsula was divided between a Soviet-backed government in the north and an American-backed government in the south. War broke out along the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950, although President Truman termed it a "police action."


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Last Revised April 10, 2015