North Korea–South Korea relations

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North Korea–South Korea relations
Map indicating locations of North Korea and South Korea

North Korea

South Korea

North Korea–South Korea relations (Korean: 남북관계, Nambukkwan'gye, hanja:南北關係) are the political, diplomatic, and military interactions between North Korea and South Korea, from the division of Korea in 1945 following World War II to today.

According to a 2013 BBC World Service Poll, 4% of South Koreans view North Korea's influence positively, with 90% expressing a negative view.[1] However a 2014 government funded survey found only 13% of South Koreans viewed North Korea as hostile, and 58% of South Koreans believed North Korea was a country they should cooperate with.[2]


The end of Korea under Japanese rule[edit]

Main article: Division of Korea

The Korean peninsula had been occupied by Japan from 1910 to 1945. After the defeat of Japan in World War II, the Korean peninsula was occupied by the Soviet Union in the North and the United States in the South. The dividing line was the 38th parallel north.

Establishment of South Korea[edit]

South Korean history begins with the division of the Korean Peninsula in 1945. A civilian government was established in 1948, beginning the First Republic. Syngman Rhee becomes the first president.

Establishment of North Korea[edit]

North Korea was proclaimed on September 11 in 1948, under the supervision of the occupying Soviet forces. The Soviets preferred Korean Communists who had spent the war years in the Soviet Union in power, rather than the Communist Party of Korea. Kim Il-sung is named head of the North Korean Provisional People's Committee in February 1946. Kim then became Prime Minister, a post which he held until 1972, before becoming President.

Korean War[edit]

Main article: Korean War
  • June 25, 1950 – the Korean War begins.
  • July 1950 – UN Forces are formed. UN Forces are driven back to the Pusan Perimeter
  • September 1950 – UN Troops make an amphibious Landing at Incheon. UN Forces soon reach the Manchurian border
  • November 1950 – Chinese forces enter the war and UN Forces are pushed back to the 38th Parallel
  • July 27, 1953 – The Korean Armistice Agreement is signed by UN Forces, North Korea and China, but not by South Korea

Cold War[edit]

  • October 1966 to 1969 – the Korean DMZ Conflict occurs - it is a series of low-intensity clashes from both North Korean and South Korean troops infiltrating the DMZ[3][4]
  • January 21, 1968 – North Korean agents attempt to attack the South Korean Blue House
  • December 11, 1969 – Korean Air Lines YS-11 hijacking and kidnapping
  • August 1971[5] – The first Red Cross talks between North and South Korea are held
  • July 4, 1972 – North-South Joint Statement is issued. The statement announced the Three Principles of Reunification: first, reunification must be solved independently without interference from or reliance on foreign powers; second, reunification must be realized in a peaceful way without use of armed forces against each other; finally,reunification transcend the differences of ideologies and institutions to promote the ethnic unification of Korea as one ethnic group.[5]
  • August 18, 1976 – There is an Axe murder incident at Panmunjom

Reconciliation and antagonism[edit]

  • May 1980 – Gwangju Democratization Movement
  • October 9, 1983 – Rangoon bombing allegedly orchestrated by North Korea
  • 1984 – North Korea's Red Cross provides relief products for South Korean flooding
  • 1985 – The first family reunion[6]
  • 1987 – Bombing of Korean Air Flight 858
  • 1988 – The 1988 Summer Olympics take place in Seoul
  • September 4 to 7, 1990 – The first high-level talks are held in Seoul
  • March 25, 1991 – A unified Korean team first uses the Korean Unification Flag at the World Table Tennis Competition in Japan
  • May 6, 1991 – A unified team competes at the World Youth Football Competition in Portugal
  • December 13, 1991 – The Agreement on Reconciliation, Non aggression, Exchange and Cooperation is signed between North and South Korea
  • 1994 – Kim Jong-il becomes General Secretary of the WPK of North Korea upon the death of his father, Kim Il-sung.
  • June 15, 1999 – The naval conflict at Yeonpyeong

Sunshine policy[edit]

Main article: Sunshine Policy

Six-party talks[edit]

Main article: Six-party talks

Second Summit in 2007[edit]

Main article: Inter-Korean Summit

The June 15, 2000 Joint Declaration that the two leaders signed during the first South-North summit stated that they would hold the second summit at an appropriate time. It was originally thought in 2000 that the second summit would be held in South Korea, but that was not to be the case in 2007.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun walked across the Korean Demilitarized Zone on October 2, 2007 and travelled on to Pyongyang for talks with Kim Jong-il. During the visit, there were meetings and discussions.[7][8][9][10] The two sides reaffirmed the spirit of the June 15 Joint Declaration and had discussions on various issues related to realizing the advancement of South-North relations, peace on the Korean Peninsula, common prosperity of the people and the unification of Korea. On October 4, 2007, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il signed the peace declaration. The document called for international talks to replace the Armistice which ended the Korean War with a permanent peace treaty.[11]


2010: Sinking of a South Korean naval vessel[edit]

Main article: ROKS Cheonan sinking

On March 26, 2010, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, the 1,500-ton ROKS Cheonan with a crew of 104, sank off Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea. Seoul said there was an explosion at the stern, and was investigating whether a torpedo attack was the cause. Out of 104 sailors, 46 died and 58 were rescued. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak convened an emergency meeting of security officials and ordered the military to focus on rescuing the sailors.[12][13]

On May 20, 2010, a team of international researchers published results claiming that the sinking had been caused by a North Korean torpedo; North Korea rejected the findings.[14] South Korea agreed with the findings from the research group and President Lee Myung-bak declared afterwards that Seoul would cut all trade with North Korea as part of measures primarily aimed at striking back at North Korea diplomatically and financially.[15] North Korea denied all such allegations and responded by severing ties between the countries and announced it abrogated the previous non-aggression agreement.[16]

2010: Bombardment of Yeonpyeong islands[edit]

On November 23, North Korea's artillery fired at South Korea's Yeonpyeong island in the Yellow Sea and South Korea returned fire. Two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed, more than a dozen were wounded, including three civilians. The town was evacuated and South Korea warned of stern retaliation, with President Lee Myung-bak ordering the destruction of a nearby North Korea missile base if further provocation should occur.[17]

The official North Korean news agency, KCNA, stated that North Korea only fired after the South had "recklessly fired into our sea area".[18]


In 2011 it was revealed that North Korea abducted four high-ranking South Korean military officers in 1999.[19]

2012: North Korea launches satellite[edit]

On December 12, North Korea launched the Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2, a scientific and technological satellite, and it reached orbit.[20][21][22] The United States moved warships to the region.[23]


Main article: 2013 Korean crisis

January-September 2013 saw an escalation of tensions between North Korea and South Korea, the United States, and Japan that began because of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2087, which condemned North Korea for the launch of Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2. The crisis was marked by extreme escalation of rhetoric by the new North Korean administration under Kim Jong-un and actions suggesting imminent nuclear attacks against South Korea, Japan, and the United States. [24]


On March 24 a crashed North Korean drone was found near Paju, the onboard cameras contained pictures of the Blue House and military installations near the DMZ. On March 31, following an exchange of artillery fire into the waters of the NLL, a North Korean drone was found crashed on Baengnyeongdo.[25][26] On September 15, wreckage of a suspected North Korean drone was found by a fisherman in the waters near Baengnyeongdo, the drone was reported to be similar to one of the North Korean drones which had crashed in March 2014.[27]


On January 1, 2015, Kim Jong-un, in his New Year's address to the country, stated that he was willing to resume higher-level talks with the South despite recent controversy over a film called The Interview that takes a derogatory stance towards Kim.[28]

In the first week of August 2015, a mine went off at the DMZ, wounding two South Korean soldiers. The South Korean government accused the North of planting the mine, to which the North denied. Since then South Korea started propaganda broadcasts to the North.[29]

On August 20, 2015, North Korea fired a shell on the city of Yeoncheon. South Korea launched several artillery rounds in response. Although there were no casualties, it caused the evacuation of an area of the west coast of South Korea and forced others to head for bunkers. [30] The shelling caused both countries to adopt pre-war statuses and a talk that was held by high level officials in the Panmunjeom to relieve tensions on August 22, 2015, and the talks carried over to the next day.[31] Nonetheless while talks were going on, North Korea deployed over 70 percent of their submarines, which increased the tension once more on August 23, 2015.[32] Talks continued into the next day and finally concluded on August 25 when both parties reached an agreement and military tensions were eased.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 2013 World Service Poll BBC
  2. ^ Zachary Keck (30 May 2014). "South Koreans View North Korea as Cooperative Partner". The Diplomat. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Lee Tae-hoon (7 February 2011). "S. Korea raided North with captured agents in 1967". The Korea Times. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting, Washington, August 25, 1976, 10:30 a.m.". Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State. 25 August 1976. Retrieved 12 May 2012. Clements: I like it. It doesn't have an overt character. I have been told that there have been 200 other such operations and that none of these have surfaced. Kissinger: It is different for us with the War Powers Act. I don't remember any such operations. 
  5. ^ a b 김영호. 사실로 본 한국 근현대사. 2nd ed. 서울:황금알, 2011. Print.
  6. ^ a b Choe, Sang-Hun (Feb 20, 2014). "Amid Hugs and Tears, Korean Families Divided by War Reunite". The New York Times. Archived from the original on Feb 21, 2014. Retrieved Jan 12, 2015. 
  7. ^ Korean leaders in historic talks, BBC, Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 10:14 GMT
  8. ^ In pictures: Historic crossing, BBC, 2 October 2007, 10:15 GMT
  9. ^ Mixed feelings over Koreas summit, BBC, 2 October 2007, 10:17 GMT
  10. ^ Kim greets Roh in Pyongyang before historic summit, CNN. Retrieved 2 October 2007.
  11. ^ Korean leaders issue peace call, BBC, 4 October 2007, 9:27 GMT
  12. ^ Geopolitical Weekly
  13. ^ "'Blast' sinks S Korea navy ship". BBC News. March 26, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Anger at North Korea over sinking". BBC News. 2010-05-20. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  15. ^ Clinton: Koreas security situation 'precarious', by Matthew Lee, Associated Press, 24-05-2010
  16. ^ Text from North Korea statement, by Jonathan Thatcher, Reuters, 25-05-2010
  17. ^ "(LEAD) S. Korea vows 'stern retaliation' against N. Korea's attacks" (in Korean). 2010-11-23. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  18. ^ McDonald, Mark (November 23, 2010). "North and South Korea Exchange Fire, Killing Two". The New York Times. Retrieved November 23, 2010. 
  19. ^ Kim, Rahn (2011-05-20). "North Korea abducted 4 South Korean military officers’". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2011-07-31. 
  20. ^ "KCST Spokesman on Launching Time of Satellite". 2012-12-08. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  21. ^ "DPRK Succeeds in Satellite Launch". 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  22. ^ "KCNA Releases Report on Satellite Launch". 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  23. ^ "US moves warships to track North Korea rocket launch". 2012-12-07. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  24. ^ "In Focus North Korea's Nuclear Threats". 
  25. ^ "Mystery drones found in Baengnyeong, Paju". JoongAng Daily. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  26. ^ "South Korea: Drones 'confirmed as North Korean'". BBC News. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  27. ^ "South Korea finds wreckage in sea of suspected North Korean drone". Reuters. 15 September 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  28. ^ Yahoo! News
  29. ^ "Land Mine Blast South Korea Threatens North with Retaliation". 
  30. ^ South Korea evacuation after shelling on western border
  31. ^ "Rival Koreas Restart Talks, Pull Back from Brink for Now". 
  32. ^ "North Korea Deploys Submarines while Talks with Seoul Resume". 

External links[edit]