North and South Korea Conflict
By: Jake Miller
Brief History on the Korean War
North and South Korea were once one nation; that was until the end of World War 2 when the North and South were split due to very opposing political views. The North had a very strong influence from the Soviet Union and the communist China, thus creating a communist dictatorship within the North. The South was influenced by the United States of America, which created a democratic society in the South. In 1950, the civil war begins with North Korea attacking the South with the help of the Soviet Union and China. The United States and United Nations help defend the South and within 3 years the Korean War ends when a ceasefire agreement was signed. The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is what separates the two nations to this day.
North and South Korea Conflict over the Recent Years
If we fast forward about 50 years in the future, to the beginning of the 21st century, there are many smaller conflicts over time until present day.
In 2002 two North Korean boats cross the maritime border in the Yellow Sea and engage South Korean Patrol Ships, but are forced to retreat. About 30 North Koreans and 4 South Koreans were killed.
In 2007 South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun walks across the DMZ in an attempt to talk peace with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il.
In 2009 the two sides exchange fire near the maritime border and no casualties were taken.
In 2010 a South Korean naval vessel sinks, killing 46 sailors on board, which was later discovered to be a North Korean Torpedo. In the same year North Korea fires artillery at Yeonpyeong Island near the maritime border on the Yellow Sea, which killed two South Korean Soldiers and two citizens. South Korea retaliated by sending fighter jets to return fire.
In 2014 two drones, allegedly from North Korea, are found with pictures of South Korean government buildings.
In 2015 two South Korean soldiers were wounded by land mines and South Korea responded by playing anti-Pyongyang (Pyongyang is the capital of North Korea) propaganda over speakers across the border which could be heard almost 12 miles into North Korea. North Korea responded with the same idea by playing North Korean propaganda over the border but then escalated to firing rockets towards South Korea’s speakers. South Korea responded with artillery and then the countries agreed to de-escalate tensions.
Directly below is a video from Al Jazeera News showing the tense situation on the North and South Korean border.
North Korean Security
The Ministry of People’s Security and State Security Department are in charge of the internal security. The surveillance of their citizens, both physical and electronic, is routine.
The Ministry of People’s Security is responsible for the internal security, social control and basic police functions. The department controls approximately 144 000 security personnel and they maintain the law very effectively. Some of the responsibilities that they are held accountable for include investigating common criminal cases, managing prisons, monitoring citizens’ political attitudes, conducting background investigations, civil registrations, managing the governments classified documents and protects government and party officials. Within the ministry there are about 27 different bureaus, but only some of their functions are known to the public. An example of this is the Investigation Bureau which is responsible for investigation of criminal and economic crimes.
The State Security Department is in charge of counterintelligence and internal security functions that are generally associated with the “secret service”. What that means is they will search for anti-state criminals. The department is also in charge of all border security and they have guards situated at every international entry point. The border guards consist primarily of paramilitary forces of the ministry of peoples security. They are also in charge of camps that are for political prisoners that are under its jurisdictions. These camps’ existence is always denied by North Korea, but evidence from satellite photos and stories that are told from North Korean defectors, now living in the South, are giving signs that they do exist. These camps have been compared to as the present day Auschwitz and are a major concern for human rights violations.
Below is a satellite photo of a camp in North Korea
South Korean Media's Influence on North Koreans
South Korean media and North American media is slowly seeping its way into the country of North Korea, even though watching any sort of television programs or listening to radio stations that come from outside of the country are often punishable by death. The number of smuggled VCRs from China is increasing, and they are mostly used to watch South Korean shows recorded on VHS. South Korean soap operas, movies and Western Hollywood movies, according to the defectors, are said to be spreading at a rapid rate. The increase of smuggled radios into North Korea is also increasing, with North Koreans tuning into the North Korea Reform Radio (http://www.nkreform.com) which produce daily broadcasts for North Koreans to keep them informed and satisfy their curiosity about the rest of the world. With the increase of knowledge coming from the outside world this is causing more and more defectors within North Korea to escape and migrate to South Korea.
There is a television show in South Korea about North Korean defectors telling their stories of how they escape, which is used to inform the general public about the situation in North Korea. Host of the show, Yeon-Mi Park, is a defector herself and became a pop-culture icon by sharing these stories, but keeping the show entertaining.
Below is a documentary of Yeon-Mi Park and how she escaped North Korea. (Not necessary to watch)