Two Koreas: Road to Peace

  • Abstract and source of information
  • The Division of Korea and the Korean War
  • Efforts to peace: Unified Korean sporting teams and Korea family reunions
  • Obstacles of reconciliation
  • Ways to use this source

Abstract and source of information

This post will provide some information of division of Korea and how two countries are trying to build a peace during the armistice, and factors that interrupt the peacebuilding for not only a students, but also an adults, whose discipline or matter of concern is in international relations or conflict resolution. But this post is also open to various people who engage in other disciplines, if they want to know about the conflict between two Koreas. The words of this post will be narrated in simple words so it is accessible to middle to high school students and even students who have difficulties with understanding English.

Resources used in this post

The Division of Korea and the Korean War

The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), also known as the South Korea and North Korea, are one of few divided countries that existing today. After the liberation from Japan in August 15, 1945, the United States occupied the South and the Soviet Union occupied the North, dividing Korean peninsula by latitude 38˚ N, or the 38th parallel. At that moment, the tension of the Cold War tightened which made impossible to reunify the peninsula. In 1948, the South Korea formed its own government, ROK, in Seoul by voting first president, Lee Syungman, and at the same year the North Korea installed Kim Il Sung as the first premier of the DPRK in Pyongyang. Both Koreas were not acknowledge each other’s structure and had ideological conflict, which lead to Korean War or 6.25 War.

In June 25th 2015, under the command of Kim Il Sung, the North first cross over the 38th parallel and invaded the South. As the South Korea was not ready for the war, Seoul, capital of the South, was conquered by the North only in 3 days. As the invasion of the North was confirmed, the United Nation (UN) send UN troops from 16 different countries and 5 medical support countries to help ROK for the war. One famous battle, the Battle of Incheon, led by General MacArthur, made the South to retake the Seoul back and this catastrophic war continued until 1953. This tragedy killed over 2.5 million people and destroyed every city. In 1953, both sides finally made an agreement of ceasefire; however, it is not the end of war but just an armistice. 

Efforts to peace: Unified Korean sporting teams and Korea family reunions

Even in the status of ceasefire, there are few events that led Koreas into peacebuilding: Unified Korean sporting teams and Korea family reunions.

Unified Korean Sporting teams

After the division in 1945, two Korea’s national sports teams had unified under the name of Korea (KOR) and competed in international sports competition, such as Olympics and Asian Games, in total of 5 times. Team Korea used the Unification Flag and the anthem “Arrirang.”

1. 1991 World Table Tennis Championships

2. 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship

3. 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (women’s ice hockey)

4. 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships

5. 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games (Canoe)

Korea family reunions

The Korean War not only divided the land itself, but also it divided families. In August 2018, family reunion was held in the North Korea. Dozens of families from both North and South made an emotional reunion. They met their relatives at least 65 years. Over the years, North and South have arranged 20 family reunions in past 18 years. 

Obstacles of reconciliation

There are some factors that interrupt the reconciliation between two Koreas. Most of the people can think of missile and nuclear issue from the North Korea is the biggest issue. However, the biggest problem is the attitude of the North. Their egocentric, self-righteous, and stubborn behavior definitely prolong the conflict. Recently, in August of this year, North Korea shut down peace talks with South Korea after the North launched two ballistic missiles. It is certain that if the North Korea don’t mind to change their arrogant behavior, the conflict between two Koreas will last forever.

Ways to use this source

             This post can be a resource or study material for readers who wants to know about the situation between the South Korea and the North Korea. Moreover, readers should learn that a peace doesn’t happen immediately. There are dozens of struggles, efforts, and variables that can change the whole situation. 

Author and references of photo used

Juyoung You (Student in Global Affairs B.A., George Mason University)

This research has been made for the course CONF 340


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