North Korea background_001

North Korea background_001 - North Korea and Nuclear...

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North Korea and Nuclear Weapons Teaching with the News Online Resource ± WWW . CHOICES . EDU W ATSON I NSTITUTE FOR I NTERNATIONAL S TUDIES , B ROWN U NIVERSITY C HOICES FOR THE 21 ST C ENTURY E DUCATION P ROGRAM North Korea and Nuclear Weapons - Background Reading What is North Korea like today? North Korea today is one of the most impoverished, isolated societies on earth. Some estimate that as many as two million North Koreans starved to death between 1995 and 1998 after a series of floods. Estimates are that out of a population of twenty-two million, thirteen million North Koreans are suf- fering from malnutrition. Sixty percent of all North Korean children are malnourished—the highest level in the world. Nevertheless, North Korea has one million soldiers in its military, many of whom are poised along the border with South Korea. North Korea is one of the most highly militarized countries in the world. In 2001, North Korea spent more than 30 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on the military. Nearly eight thousand North Korean artillery pieces are along the border, many within range of the South Korean capital of Seoul. North Koreans are isolated from the rest of the world by an extremely repressive state. For example, when the United States provided 500,000 tons of food aid in 2001, the North Korean government told its people that the food was provided as a form of tribute to their powerful country. North Koreans are forbidden to have any contact with the world outside of North Korea by mail, telephone, internet, or radio. Today, North Korea seems incomprehensible to most Americans. Why is this communist totalitarian state threatening us? What is the history of relations between our countries? The story of our relations with North Korea begins at end of the Second World War. Why was Korea divided in two? In 1910, Japan annexed and occupied Korea. At the end of World War II, the Japanese forces in Korea surrendered to the Americans in the South and to the Soviets in the North. A line of demarcation between the two regions was created by the superpowers. This line divided the country in two—a communist North and a capitalist South. As tensions between the Soviets and the United States heated up and the Cold War began, the divi- sion of North Korea became an issue for national security. The United States installed a hard-line anti-communist regime in the South. In the North, the Soviets installed Kim Il Sung, a staunch com- munist who had lived in the Soviet Union during World War II. How did the Korean War begin? Kim Il Sung hoped to reunify the two Koreas by conquering the South, and he sought permission to invade from the Soviet leader Josef Stalin. Stalin agreed, and on June 25, 1950, the North launched an invasion backed by Soviet equipment and military advisors. The North Koreans captured Seoul in three days.
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