Global Education

Modern Korea: one people, two nations

By Denebola
Published: November 2007
By Nicole RepinaAs a result of World War II, Korea was divided into two parts; the
North, occupied by the Soviet Union, and the South, ruled by the
United States. The North and South Korean governments developed,
reaching a high point in 1948 when the United States and the Soviet
Union drew out their forces.
The resulting civil war created an unbreakable rift between the two
halves. North Korea, remaining under a Stalinist regime established by
the USSR, is still a communist country to this day.
North Korea was riddled with economic disasters and political
troubles. Since the mid-1990′s, 2 million people are estimated to have
died because of starvation. The World Food Program says that more than
a third of North Korea’s children are chronically malnourished. The
country relies on foreign aid to feed its citizens, primarily provided
by China. In towns, electricity and water services are sporadic.
The totalitarian government, lead by Kim Jong-Il, abuses the basic
rights of its citizens. There have been reports of torture, slave
labor, public executions, and forced abortions and infanticides in
prison camps.A United States-based rights group has estimated there
are up to 200,000 political prisoners in North Korea.
Radio and TV stations are controlled by the government and issue
propaganda, giving flattering reports on Kim Jong-Il. Citizens who are
caught listening to foreign radio and television stations are subject
to horrific punishments.
North Korea forbids immigration, and rarely do prisoners of the
government manage to escape. China welcomes refugees, but they are
few; usually less than a dozen per year.
Many Western organizations have been founded to help refugees, but it
has been difficult for the groups to support North Korean refugees.
Hopefully with increased awareness, the plight of the North Korean
people will be addressed.

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