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South Korea

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South Korean History

South Korea’s history has always been dominated by its neighbours, as China and Japan has made its mark on the country for the past two thousand years. It’s thought that Buddhism was brought to Korea, by the Chinese in the late 4th century when religion played an important role in society. In the 13th century Korea invented printing, which was two centuries before it was invented in the West. Also, during the 13th century that country was briefly controlled by the Japanese before the Chinese and the Ming dynasty moved in and controlled it for the next two hundred years.

Relations with the Japanese have always been difficult as the Japanese have attacked Korea several times in its history. In 1592, the Japanese invaded with over 150,000 troops and it has always been a dark day in history, as the Japanese rapped and murdered tens of thousands of people. The Japanese were eventually forced back a couple years later, but after the First Sino-Japanese war in 1895, Japan controlled Korea, which became a colony of Japan in 1910 till the end of World War II in 1945. This was a dark period in Korean history, where many atrocities happened, as thousands of Koreans were forced into labour and girls as ‘comfort women’ and to this day the Koreans haven’t forgotten.

When World War II ended, Japan lost all of its colonial territories and the Soviets and Americans decided to divide Korea along latitude 38°N (the 38th parallel). As the Cold War broke out, so did a full scale war between North and South Korea in 1950, which still today as still technically at war even though in 1953 a stalemate was signed between all parties involved.

During the 1980s South Korea was ruled by a series of dictators, which oppressed its citizens. In 1980 the Kwangju massacre occurred, where over 200 protesting students were massacred by the army. After pressure from the international community and mainly the Americans they decided to have elections in 1988. After these elections things changed, as the government pumped loads of money into the economy to create jobs and the new democratic government gave its population more freedoms. This in turn saw Korea as one of the leaders in the world in producers of cars, computer chips, mobile phones and other electronic goods. Today, the country has one of the strongest economies in Asia and has a strong say as well for what’s happening in the region.

In 2002, South Korea’s was in the international profile, as it co-hosted the Football World Cup. Since this time there have been several attempts to have diplomatic relations restored with the North and try to bring a lasting peace to Korea. 

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