North Korea to enter state of war with South Korea and United States
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April 8th, 2013 (9:03 PM).
So today I learned that the Korean peninsula had a 99% chance of going communist had the US not intervened.
After the fall of the Japanese, there was a People's Republic of Korea managing a provisional government in the South, as well as a Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in exile in Shanghai. There were also many grassroots people's committees being organized all over the countries. The military occupation didn't like this one bit, as they thought the whole arrangement to be too communist. So they ignored the existing and developing interim governments, and decided to continue military rule.
They ended up appointing Syngman Rhee, an anti-communist ex-member of the Provisional Government of the ROK who was impeached from its leadership 20 years ago for corruption and the abuse of authority (read: he had a dictator's personality). This wasn't enough, so they cracked down on leftist elements like revolutionary organizations and the labour unions. This culminated in an uprising throughout Southern Korea in 1946, with citizens clamouring for socialist goals such as higher wages, the right to organize, and better working conditions. The US military government responded with martial law, police power, strikebreakers, and sending in troops. This ended up crushing the power of the leftist movement in South Korea.
Rhee ended up elected as President of the ROK, but this is after a brutal repression of leftists, torturing/eliminating political enemies, and using the military to shut down rebellions. Repression and corruption become the norms during his role, and a communist insurgency develops. The US doesn't want to send him weapons because they wanted only a defensive military. The North Koreans, however, were much better equipped and by 1950 they were streaming over the 38th parallel, beginning the Korean War. The rest, they say, is history.
Rhee ended up removing term limits and rigging elections. After having the police shoot at demonstrators, Rhee decides that was enough repression for a lifetime and resigns peacefully. There was another dictator, Park Chung-hee, who ruled South Korea for 16 years. Somewhere along the way a whole lot of US aid got thrown in, and the democracy happened and you got your Samsung Galaxy SIII's.
It's rather similar to most other US occupations - entering a foreign country with no understanding of the indigenous culture, eliminating the people determined undesirable under American ideology, bringing in an obscure and dictatorial leader as "our own dog in the fight", and then establishing democracy after the political opposition has been neutralized. You can look in Asia, Latin America, and Africa for similar examples. Except this one ends with smartphones.
I do love Samsung products and Korean cars are great, and my music world would not be complete without K-pop. But it's interesting to wonder how things could have turned out had the US decided to go with the flow of land and people. Undoubtedly North Korea, or shall we say Red Korea wouldn't be stockpiling nukes, starving its people for an army - as their would be no purpose for that, and there wouldn't be screaming hellfire and brimstone against the United States, because it wouldn't be an enemy. Without an atmosphere of fear I doubt that the military would grow to be the power it is today. I wouldn't say there would be a democratic transition - but who's to say that there wouldn't have been one? And surely they would have transitioned to a capitalist economy like China is doing right now. If you read the history of North Korea, you will find that there were plenty of opportunities for change that were nipped away one by one.
South Korea, as we know it today, is not simply glitz and glamour but a product of US intervention. We the youth have clear memories of Iraq and Afghanistan, and our parents and grandparents can remember Vietnam. In the middle were plenty of Cold War conflicts involving US-backed coups and dictators, but nobody seems to remember those. It was mindblowing for me to look back at the history of the Korean peninsula to understand how it all came to be today. Perhaps there would have been peace in Korea had things gone the way history intended.
tl;dr - I read some history of NK and learned how SK came to be at the expense of local governments and the people's wishes. This doesn't excuse NK's behaviour today, but it is very sobering to put today's situation in its historical context. I thought it would be a good idea to bring to you guys a slice of history that is so relevant but unheard of. Don't start boycotting Samsung smartphones - those are great.
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