Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Eternal Smile--------Independence of Korea

            Following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the impending overrun of the Korean peninsula by Russian forces, Japan surrendered to the Allied forces. As Japan admitted defeat on August 15, 1945, it directly liberated Korea, ending 35 years of Japanese occupation. That freedom did not come easily as there were numerous attempts of a revolution, including the March 1st movement that ended tragically for the Koreans.  When the Declaration of Independence was read in Seoul, an estimated 2 million people took part in the victory rallies. (5) Korea celebrated a new beginning while commemorating those who fought and gave their lives fighting for independence, freedom and victory.
Many modern historians still debate reasons why Korea was successful in decolonizing themselves and proposed a few reasons: the people’s efforts, a good leader and support from others nations. First, the Koreans in Manchuria formed resistance groups known as Dongnipgun (Liberation Army), which traveled across the Korean-Chinese border, using guerrilla warfare tactics against Japanese forces. (6) Second, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1932 and subsequent Pacification of Manchukuo deprived many of these groups of their bases of operation and supplies. Many were forced to either flee to China, or to join the Communist-backed forces in eastern Russia. One of the guerrilla groups was led by the future leader of communist North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, in Japanese controlled Manchuria. Kim Il-Sung's time as a guerrilla leader was formative upon his political ideology once he came to power. (7) And finally, the timing of the atomic bomb attacks in Japan debilitated the country into surrendering in the World War II.  This indirect support from the United States (with the dropping of the atomic bombs) gave the Koreans the last catalyst for a successful decolonization.
As if destined to suffer, as soon as Korea liberated itself from Japan, it entered a new dilemma: its division into two separate entities.  Armies of the Soviet Union captured Pyongyang while the United States disembarked Inchon in 1945 and Korea became a divided nation.  Separated by the Military Demarcation Line, Korea was split into North Korea and South Korea. South Korea was established at August 15 and North Korea in September 9 of 1948. South Korea became an ally of United Status while North Korea of the Soviet Union, a relationship that still existed in modern day. 

Map of present day Korea, with the DMZ line in red to divide North and South Korea.