Korea: North-South Divide

Article excerpt

Q Why is it that a Korean patrol boat has been sunk by another Korean vessel?

A It's quite simple. The vessel which sank belonged to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the warship which sank it was from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).

Q So how did there come to be two Koreas?

A It all goes back to the defeat of Japan at the end of World War II. The Americans entered Korea from the south and the USSR's forces from the north. They split the country along the 38th Parallel and set up the different political regimes, a liberal democracy in the south and a Marxist-Leninist regime in the north.

Q Wasn't there another war soon after that?

A Yes. In June 1950 forces from North Korea launched a surprise attack on South Korea, taking Seoul and much of the country. A United Nations force, made up of 15 nations, was sent to liberate the south.

Q Were the British involved at all? A In total some 100,000 British servicemen served in the conflict.

Q Did many people die? A It is estimated by some that as many as four million people, including combatants and civilians, died in the Korean War. The US lost almost 40,000 men and the UK had 1,078 killed in battle. The North Koreans lost 215,000 men and their Chinese allies more than 400,000, according to a Pentagon estimate.

Q So when did the war come to an end?

A It ended on July 27, 1953, when an armistice was signed at Panmunjom. …