Ideological Conflict in the Cold War
The cold war was a time of tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective ideologies. It followed World War II and lasted from about 1945-1991. It was not declared in the same sense as most wars; rather, it progressed over time. Therefore, there are different opinions about the exact beginning of the war. The places of hostilities most often were competitions, such as: who gets to space first, sports events and espionage. This was proof of superiority rather than struggle. There were several cases when two superpowers did meet with each other. There have also been cases where Soviet and American aircraft fought during the Korean War. The war ended in 1991, because the Soviet Union was no more.
And in this essay, I would like to write about some of the events between North and South Korea that occurred during the Cold War.
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Korean War 1950-1953
August 1945 at the end of the Second World War the Japanese army that had occupied Korea for 35 years surrenders. Russian and American troops liberated Korea meeting together just as they had in Germany, as occupying powers the Soviet Union and United States agreed to divide Korea along the 38th parallel as a temporary measure. For the Americans, it was an attempt to stake out their plot for the subsequent influence on China.
South of the divide the Americans were in control. American generals installed a hard-liner anti- communist Rhee Syngman. He’s very tough and very patriotic. Rhee appointed as first president of the new Republic of Korea in 1948 and American troops withdrew.
The northern part of Korea was under the influence of the PRC and the Soviet Union. For the USSR, North Korea was a border state that was of strategic importance both for ensuring its own security and for solving serious externally political tasks. A month after the proclamation of the South Korean state, in North Korea was formed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea headed by Kim Il Sung, and they established a communist regime through a network of people’s committees. All North Korean people loved Kim Il Sung, he was a national hero of the Korean people. During the appointment of Kim Il Sung, the USSR thought that a more dedicated and reliable person could not be found for them, however, they were mistaken. Because in the beginning he kept the instructions of the Soviet Union, but then he began to play his own game. After the departure of the Soviet troops, Kim Il Sung began to carry out plans to unite the whole of Korea into a single communist state. Kim Il Sung understood that the unification of the two parts of Korea is very difficult and that he would need help in this matter, of course he hoped to get support from the Soviet Union. In March 1949, Kim Il Sung arrived in Moscow with the secret intention of receiving permission from Stalin to invade South Korea. Stalin rejected the idea of Kim Il Sung about invasion. And from my point of view it is because the Soviet Union was weak at that time after World War 2 and the second reason is that if the USSR entered, it could lead to a third world war between the communists and the capitalists. I think that without the help of the Soviet Union, Kim Il Sung would not even try to get into the political sphere, because he was a military man and was not ready for politics. For that after his appointment to the post of head of North Korea, military training was very useful for him to conduct military operations in the southern part. From the point of view of the North Koreans, this was the fight against the illegal government of Rhee Syngman, and Kim Il Sung was engaged in preparing for war. Good training and armament were a distinct advantage to North Korea. And when the American and Soviet troops left the peninsula, Kim Il Sung knew that he would not have the best moment to advance to the south.
In April 1950, a national security strategy was approved in Washington aimed primarily at fighting the Soviet Union. The Korean incident was the first Cold War armed conflict.
On June 25, 1950, North Korean troops launched an offensive and, in a few days, destroyed the defenses of South Korean troops along the 38th parallel. By July 2 the troops had already seized Seoul the capital of South Korea. For the North Koreans it was a war of liberation, liberation from foreign forces and the unification of Korea. After some time, US Secretary of State Dean Acheson receives a message stating that North Korea has crossed a parallel and is actively advancing. However, recently he declared to the whole world that the Americans have no interests in relation to Korea and this statement assured Kim Il Sung that the United States would not intervene in the conflict on the peninsula. But when US President Truman returned home after the rest, the first thing he said was: I am going to teach them a lesson. For the USA, the offensive served as a very convenient reason to designate the DPRK as an aggressor and carry out the invasion of the peninsula under the UN flag. Truman in this case got what he wanted, the opportunity to officially save the face of the country to intervene in the conflict. By mid-August, almost 90% of South Korea’s shares were captured, but in September, the UN launched a counter-offensive, South Korea received strong support from the sea, on land and an advantage from the air. By the end of September, it became clear that the North Korean armed forces had been defeated and UN troops approached 38 parallels. The PRC leadership publicly stated that if any non-Korean military forces crossed the 38th parallel China will enter the war. The United States considered this an attempt at blackmail, because at that time China was not in the best shape and could not count on success when entering conflict. The United States knew this and confidently crossed the 38th parallel in its forces and the main plan was to liberate the northern part of Korea right up to the border with the USSR. At this time, Kim Il Sung asked for help from Stalin, but the Soviet Union turned out to be in a losing situation when entering the war, because they would have to oppose the UN troops. Because of this, Stalin began to actively push China to assist the DPRK, although the USSR helped very actively with equipment and weapons.
The Korean winter has come, and a new war has begun, for which the Americans were not ready, they have already experienced this in a war with the Japanese. The Americans understood how this could end and they had to stop this war. The Chinese quickly supplanted the Americans for the 38th parallel. The parties began treaties and a turning point was the death of Stalin on March 5, 1953. After some time, the conflict ended on July 27, 1953, although the official end of the war was not announced.
The Beginning of new era in South Korea, 1961
In 1940-1942, Pak studied at the Japanese-controlled military academy, then at the Higher Military Academy of Japan. In those days, he had the Japanese name Takagi Masao. He managed to participate in the Second World War on the side of the Japanese. I suppose that for modern Korea, the biography of Pak at that time meant the path of the collaborator. Because, for them he was a traitor, collaborating with the enemies of his homeland during the occupation.
South part was occupied by the Americans and from that time communists were persecuted. Pak joined one of the communist cells, he was caught and sentenced to death. Life was saved for him only by the fact that he became an informer and betrayed all his comrades. During the Korean War (1950-1953), he had already fought against the Communists from the DPRK. He was trained in the United States and became a general. In the 1950s, Park Chung-hee became one of the most prominent generals of the South Korean army. To be honest, I do not know how he became a general after everything that he did. But I suppose that it was one of the plans of USA, because at that time US needed own people in Korea.
Meanwhile, the new government was caught between an economy that was suffering from a decade of mismanagement and corruption under the Rhee presidency. Students at the demonstrations demanded democracy and the fight against poverty. Public security had deteriorated while the public had distrusted the police, which was long under the control of the Rhee government, and the ruling Democratic Party lost public support after long factional fighting. And then became the time of “”traitor”” Pak.
May 16, 1961, he stood at the head of a military coup. Premier Chan Myung was fired, and President Yun lost real power. Then Park Chung-hee was no longer a shadow and became a real acting president. Under pressure from US President John Kennedy, he agreed to hold elections for the head of state and withdrew his general uniform. In 1963, he won the presidential election, and a new era began in the history of South Korea. Park Chung-hee announced that the priority will be to fight with the Communists and restore the power of Korea. I believe that Pak was the leader that South Korea needed at that time, because he was tough leader, also he was against illegal enrichment and illegal goods. Moreover, he was indifferent to luxury and directed financial resources to the development of the country. Park Chung-hee was called the creator of the Korean “”miracle.”” Because, after 1960s, South Korea’s economy grew at 25 percent a year. A country that was economically dependent on the United States turned into a developed country and even was able to protect itself in the event of war.
But the economic recovery was largely possible thanks to the help of the United States and Japan. Pak made a bet on an alliance with them. He concluded an agreement on the normalization of relations with Japan, which helped to attract Japanese technologies and investments to the country. Pak wanted to turn South Korea into an export-oriented economy like Japan.
The Blue House Raid, 1968
The Korean War, which consolidated the division of the nation into the capitalist South and the socialist North, ended in 1953. However, the invisible confrontation, occasionally pouring out into open battles, continues. In 1967, in the “”demilitarized zone””, there are regular exchanges of fire and sabotage, killing soldiers on both sides.
In 1968 DPRK began special forces raid on the “”Blue House”” – the mansion of South Korean President Park Chung-hee in Seoul. The order to kill Park Chung-hee got the best unit of North Korean special forces “”Unit 124″”. All were trained to survive in a hostile country. They were all masters of the battle with small arms and knives, as well as bare hands.
On the night of January 17, 1968, fighters “”Unit 124″” cut a wire fence in the demilitarized zone and penetrated south. Today, this route leads tourists to Seoul. After some time, they met some civilians and instead of ruthlessly disposing of their four civilian captives, the officer in charge of unit 124 decided to release them. The civilians immediately went to the police. In Seoul, declared the highest degree of combat readiness, the tank brigade and the landing corps were transferred to the city. Posts on the streets were doubled. Due to the reinforcement of the block of posts, the attack on the Blue House became impossible. South Korean and US forces soon went on alert and within hours, troops and police units fanned out across the region in search of the invaders. The survivors of the city battle participants of Unit 124 ? went through the forests and mountains towards North Korea – they were caught for another week. One of the northerners was taken alive and managed to hide a grenade in clothes. He pulled the check and killed himself during interrogation, which was conducted personally by the director of the National Police of Korea – the official was severely injured. Only Kim Shin-jo surrendered to the enemy. Most of the details of the raid on the Blue House are known from his words. He was released under an amnesty, received South Korean citizenship. The operation of Unit 124 was failed.
Soon, on August 15, 1974, Park Chung-hee escaped a second assassination attempt by a single North Korean agent, but a stray bullet killed his wife.
But on the third attempt, on October 26, 1979, the Pak was finally killed by his friend Kim Jae-gyu during the dinner at the agency’s headquarters. As I heard from documental film, someone said that during the dinner there were women and friends, and that Pak insulted him, the Kim did not like this and was hurt by feelings. Chief wanted to prove to those who sat at the table that he was not ready to be silent when he was being insulted by someone and after this, he killed Park Chung-hee. At trial, Kim Jae-gyu said that by killing Pak he saved South Korea from dictatorship.
From my point of view, the effectiveness of Park Chung-hee as president irritated North Korea. And because of this, it caused to provocations towards South Korea and attempted murders. In addition, North Koreans searched for communists inside the southern part and recruited them against Pak.
Also, was murder attempts on 8 October 1983, North Korea bombed a hotel in Rangoon, Burma, during a visit by President Chun Doo-hwan. He survived but 21 people, including some government ministers, were killed. Japanese and South Korean analysts tend to exclude President Kim Il Sung for indirect reasons and consider it more likely that his son Kim Jong Il and military officials associated with him sanctioned the operation. They suspect that he may have done so as part of an attempt to establish his authority in Pyongyang as the next president of a communist country after his aging father leaves the scene. North Koreans probably thought that if the murder attempt were successful and killed President Chun, South Korea would be in chaos. It also proves that North Korea is ready to harm the southern part in any way to get ahead of them.
Red Cross negotiations and normalization ratio
On August 12, 1971, the South Korean Red Cross Society, through the KBS Broadcasting Corporation, proposed that North Korean colleagues hold a meeting of Korean family members who were on the opposite side of the demarcation line as a result of the Korean War. And soon were some negotiations which did not lead to practical agreements. The negotiations resumed after the DPRK Red Cross announced its intention to provide humanitarian aid to the South, which was hit by severe flooding in 1984. Finally, the negotiations ended with the signing of an agreement on holding meetings of members of divided families. In the period from September 20 to 23, in 1985, members of divided families met in Seoul and Pyongyang – there were almost 151 people in total. This meeting of divided families took place for the first time in 30 years. Many of them previously did not know whether their relatives on the other side of the border are alive or not.
Improving relations between the South and the North affected not only the humanitarian sphere – meetings of members of divided families and the provision of assistance to victims of natural disasters. Also, began Mutual visits of individuals, trade was established. And although the scale of such an exchange was insignificant, it was already possible to say that the split of the nation is gradually being overcome. The foundations were laid for private economic cooperation and through public organizations. Began the penetration of South Korean companies to the North. At that time, Pyongyang was visited by the chairman of the board of the Hyundai corporation Jong Joo Yong, who met with the top leaders of the DPRK, including Kim Il-Sung. This visit marked the beginning of active economic cooperation between the two Koreas.
End of Cold War
The Cold War ended in 1991 because there was no longer a Soviet Union. After the end of the Cold War brought economic crisis to North Korea and led to expectations that reunification was imminent. North Koreans began to flee to the South in increasing numbers. After that in the southern part many refugees began to appear from the northern part. In December 1991 both states made an accord, the agreement on reconciliation, non-aggression, exchange and cooperation, pledging non-aggression and cultural and economic exchanges. They also agreed on prior notification of major military movements and established a military hotline, and to work on replacing the armistice with a “”peace regime””.