South Korea: Why the South's Better

By: Jane Kim and Ugonna Adugba

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Korean Nationalism

Why should you join the South Korean Nationalist Movement? The history, the achievements and the culture of South Korea are some things the Koreans are proud of.


There is a lot of Korean history, but one of the most infamous historical events in Korea was the Korean Independence Movement. From 1910 to 1945, the Japanese had occupied Korean land, they had deprived them of their resources, such as rice and metals, banned them from speaking Hangul, the official Korean language and even went as far as to force them to change their name. The Name Order required them to change their personal names to Japanese styled surnames.

Although there was strong Japanese forces in Korea, there were still attempts to fight back from the Koreans. The Korean leaders announced their Declaration of Independence on March 1919, many had supported this, they had demonstrations and protests for 12 months and had 2 million Koreans working together during these protests. The protests had spread to the Koreans refusing to submit in Manchuria, United States, Europe and even in Japan itself. The protests weren't always peaceful, thousands had died from them, and many were injured by the Japanese attempting to suppress them. The March 1st Movement was successful in their goal, but it brought national unity amongst the Koreans. After the 1919 Korean Independence Movement, there were organizations all over that would support the Koreans cause and their want for freedom away from the Japanese.

Eventually, on August 15, 1945, they were given their Independence from the Japanese after the Japanese had lost the Pacific War, the US and Soviet soldiers were deployed and were given the task to remove any of the remaining Japanese soldiers remaining on Korean land.

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Leaders of the Provisional Government, formed after the March 1st Movement
Learn Korean Holidays - Independence Movement Day

Korean War

After World War 2 was over, there was another conflict for Korea. The Soviet Union and the U.S. had divided Korea into two lands because they could not come to an agreement for the reunification of both Koreas. The north land was known as the People's Democratic Republic of Korea and being a communist state supported by the Soviet Union, the south land was known as the Republic of Korea and being an anti communist conservative state supported by the U.S..

On June 25, 1950, the Korean War was started when the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel( the border between North and South Korea) and invaded South Korea with 100,000 soldiers, with a goal to unify the Koreas by force. They captured Seoul, the capital of South Korea and pushed the South Koreans back. On July , 1950, the United States had joined the battle to aid the South Koreans, but lost many battles during the summer, but on September, they won a battle at Incheon and eventually, pushed back the North Koreans back into their original bordered state. But the U.S. didn't stop there, believing that they could unify the Koreas under a friendly government, they decided to keep pushing and took over Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. But as they kept going, it alerted the People's Republic of China and they had threatened to be involved if the U.S. kept going, but the United States kept going, prompting the Chinese to side with the North Koreans and pushed back the U.S. and allied forces back.

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Suspended Strife

After many years of fighting, and after many deaths, both sides decided on a cease-fire on July 27, 1953. Both North Korea and South Korea remain separate to this day.
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Key Leaders

Syngman Rhee: Rhee is the first president of South Korea. He is an American educated Korean and is a huge advocate for anti-communism. He has a PhD and also graduated from Princeton. Rhee participated in the Korean protests and rebellions when the Japanese occupied Korea. After this, he fled and did not return until the Japanese were removed from Korea. His presidency during the Korean War was not a very successful one though, he did little good helping the South Koreans during the time of war and made poor decisions in trying to maintain power. He wanted war with the Koreans, had an authoritarian rule and ordered his military to execute any political enemies, leading to over 100,000 deaths. His poor rule had lead to the near collapse of South Korea.

Kim Il Sung: The dictator of North Korea. During the Japanese occupation in Korea, he led guerilla forces against the Japanese army. He was a Communist and later on, became the leader of the People's Democratic Party. Kim led the North Koreans during the Korean War, with successful victories, but also with several defeats. He agreed to the armistice of 1953. He ruled over North Korea with an iron fist and during his rule, slid North Korea further and further into poverty and authoritarianism. His rule left a mark on North Korea and the country is ruled by his family in a similar way that he governed.

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Syngman Rhee

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Kim Il Sung

South Korean Nationalism

Korea's history may have been harsh and littered with wars, but that's what makes South Korea so grand, it's why its the country that it is today. When the Koreans were under the control of the Japanese, they didn't just let them push them around, they created the March 1st Movement. They protested, they rioted, they did what they could to stifle the Japanese's rule over them. Although their March 1st Movement wasn't successful, it was the passion that unified the Koreans to work together and continue resisting the Japanese until they came off their land. The March 1st Movement was so impactful, that both South and North Korea consider it a national holiday.

Korean War Nationalism

Although the Korean War had effectively split the two Koreas both geographically and politically and also made the idea of reunification less ideal, South Korea gained more feelings of nationalism. If South Korea had surrendered to the North Koreans and let the People's Democratic Republic of Korea forcefully assimilate them into one Korea, they would've been under the rule of Kim Il Sung, who ruled with an "iron fist" and was a communist leader. If Kim Il Sung had ruled, they would slowly but surely be governed in an absolute dictatorship and decline into poverty.