Who founded Korea

Korea - divided country

Germany has a good reputation in South Korea. Not least because the Germans have overcome their division in an exemplary manner for many Koreans and many Koreans are now living in the unified Germany themselves.

Dark past

Legend has it that the demigod Dangun established the first kingdom of the Koreans over 4000 years ago: the land of the morning calm. Great father Dangun stands for the Korean feeling that everyone belongs to one big, very special family.

Until 1392, however, the eventful history in different state territories and the spread of Buddhism shaped the region.

The Korean alphabet was created under King Sejong the Great 세종대왕 (1418–1450). From 1592 a long defensive war (Imjin War) raged against the Japanese general Hideyoshi, who shattered the country.

From the 17th century onwards, Korea was a backward authoritarian class and caste state that hardly imported any technology and conducted little trade with the West and East.

The geographical proximity to Mongols, Chinese, Japanese, and later to Russia and the USA, made Korea repeatedly, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the object or scene of rivalries and disputes between the respective neighboring great powers.

From 1910, Korea came under the rule of the Japanese emperors as the colonial province of Chosen. The last emperor Sunjong was urged to renounce power, and Korea initially ceased to exist as a state.

Independence and war

The return of Korea as a sovereign state was not on the list of priorities of the victorious powers of World War II. After the end of the Pacific War and the surrender of Japan, Korea became (de facto) independent on August 15, 1945 within the boundaries of the Japanese province of Chosen.

Under the Yalta Accords, Korea remained occupied by Soviet troops in the north and US troops in the south until 1948. The two victorious powers, the Soviet Union and the USA, divided the country between themselves rather arbitrarily along the 38th parallel. In August and September 1948, the Republic of South Korea and the Communist People's Republic of North Korea were founded separately.

The resource-rich north had almost 90 percent of industrial and energy production, while light industry and food production had their focus in the south.

But Korea quickly got caught up in the maelstrom of the Cold War: On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began with an attack by North Korean troops and Chinese units on the south. The aim was to force the unification of the country. On the southern side, western states participated, above all the USA.

After the almost complete destruction of the country, an armistice was signed in Panmunjeom in 1953, which is still in force today and has since cemented the division of the country. While a socialist system was established in the north, a democratic state based on the western model developed in the south after a dictatorial military government. But there were always bloody border skirmishes along the demilitarized zone (DMZ).


In nominal terms, North and South Korea are still at war. The 1953 armistice only ended the fighting of the Korean War. There is no peace treaty. There is also no exchange of mail, transport links or information exchange between the north and the south.

However, there have been repeated attempts to get into conversation with the other side at the highest political level. The so-called "Sunshine Policy" (1998-2006) operated by the South Korean President Kim Dae Jung was intended to lead to more contacts with North Korea.

Among other things, two railway lines that had been cut in the course of the war were restored, as well as a joint industrial area in the border town of Kaesŏng.

A meeting between Kim Dae Jung and the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang in 2000 hardly produced any real reconciliation or rapprochement.

While Kim Dae Jung's successor, Roh Moo Hyun (2003-2008), continued the rapprochement policy between North and South Korea, after him the relationship under South Korean President Lee Myung Bak (2008-2013) increasingly cooled.

After 2017 there were some summits between Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (2017) and US President Donald Trump (2017). The threat from the North Korean military nuclear program remained.

For North Korea, the reunification of Korea is a declared goal - under its flag. The Kim dynasty ruled North Korea, largely isolated from the world, since 1948, beginning with the state founder Kim Il Sung (1912-1994). Since 2011, his grandson Kim Jong-un (1984 – today) has ruled North Korea.

With recurring famine, countless imprisoned work slaves in camps and a huge army whose needs the entire economy is geared towards, North Korea is one of the most backward countries in the world.

Countless scenarios exist as to how a peaceful reunification of the two parts of the country could be achieved. In economic terms, South Korean strategic planners in particular rely on a confederate connection between North Korea and the South Korean economic system.

The cost of this form of reunification is calculated at $ 5,000 billion for the first 30 years (Rand Corporation).

SWR | Status: 07/17/2020, 2:00 p.m.