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History of the Koreas During 1910-1945

The early twentieth century became a ground-breaking period of time for many countries, as the most influential conflicts and events occurred at the time. Japan’s aim of strengthening its political and economic rank in the world could be highlighted as one of the main reasons for its invasion of Korea in 1910. Although the Japan-Korea Protectorate Treaty was signed in 1905, the official annexation process took over the country in 1910 (“The Koreas,” n.d). The following 35 years included a difficult period of time for Koreans, with various repressions and restrictions imposed by the system.

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Japan’s influence became prominent after its victory in the Russo-Japanese War. The 1904-1905 conflict resulted in the defeat of the Russian Empire, which, in that way, lost its power in the Korean territory (“The Koreas” n.d). Having contained its main rival, the Japanese government enabled its forces to annex Korea and reinforce their own restrictions. Although the changes occurred according to the previously signed Treaty, they were not accepted by Korea and violated international law.

As Japan’s influence became stronger, various economic, political, and civil life areas were negatively impacted. For over twenty years, around half of all Korean arable land was under the control of Japan (“The Koreas” n.d). This occurrence caused issues for the families using the ground, as the owners were mostly Japanese. Hence, many Korean families could not afford to pay the tenancy rates for the land. As a result, some Koreans had to work under extreme conditions to provide for their families.

Furthermore, the living conditions for Koreans only worsened as World War II events proved unfavorable for the country. Due to significant labor shortage rates during the first years of the war, Korean citizens were recruited to work for the missing Japanese workers. Such jobs often included hazardous conditions and did not pay well. In the end, around 270-810 000 of the workers died while being forced to commit to these jobs («The Koreas» n.d). A secret experimental unit was also established to conduct unethical experiments on people. According to historians, Koreans were among the top nationalities to be killed in the units.

Other nations, such as the US and USSR, played essential roles in the development of «The Koreas». Both countries aimed to influence different regions of the Korean territory: the US occupied the South, while the USSR occupied the North. Respectively, the Southern and Northern areas soon became the bases for several organizations which shared propaganda and controlled the citizens’ own beliefs. In that way, the USAMGIK prohibited communism-related topics from being shared publicly, while the Soviet troops were granted key Communist positions (“The Koreas,” n.d). Furthermore, modern experts state several persisting similarities between current North Korea and the Soviet Union (Tertitskyi 2). This evident division played a central part in the future formation of two independent governments of South and North Korea.

The Korean War served as an attempt to reunite the two independent regions. As the initiative came from the South, it was organized and approved by Stalin and other communism-oriented leaders. On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began as North Korea invaded South Korea (“The Koreas” n.d). Interventions from the US and Soviet forces were inevitable, and they played a critical role in resolving the conflict. On July 27, 1953, the war was over, and the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed (“The Koreas” n.d). In that way, although the conflict seemed to be resolved, South and North Korea tensions remained consistent for years afterward. As the two countries started developing as independent economic and political states, South Korea demonstrated significant economic growth, while North Korea was regarded as a totalitarian state with poor democratic regulations.

Works Cited

“The Koreas”. Lumen Learning, n.d. Web.

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Tertitskiy, Fyodor. “A Study of Soviet Influence on the Formation of the North Korean Army.” Acta Koreana, vol. 20, no. 1, 2017, pp. 195-219.

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