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Democratic People's Republic of Korea
DPRKmap
DPRKflag
Country
Continent: Asia
Capital: Pyongyang
National Language: Korean
Government: single-party state
Status in OTL: Active

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Korean, 조선민주주의인민공화국), known colloquially as North Korea, is the ruling government of the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. In the north it is bound by the Tumen and Yalu Rivers, across which are land borders with China and Russia (the latter border being very short). Its de facto southern border is the Military Demarcation Line as defined under the terms of the 1953 ceasefire with South Korea. The North Korean government does not consider this border legally binding; it officially claims jurisdiction over the entire peninsula and the island of Jeju off the southern coast. (South Korea makes the same claim.)

The DPRK traces its historical antecedents to the aftermath of the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. In 1945, Korea was divided into two zones by the United States and Soviet Union, with the north occupied by the Soviets and the south by the Americans. Negotiations on reunification failed, and in 1948 two separate governments were formed: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north, and the Republic of Korea in the south. (In this, the major Allied powers reneged on a 1943 promise by Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill to support the Republic as the sole legitimate Korean government.) The DPRK was handed over to Kim Il-sung, a Korean-born Soviet army officer who was Stalin's handpicked choice to lead the Cominform-affiliated Korean Workers' Party.

The conflicting claims of sovereignty led to the Korean War in 1950. The Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953 led to a ceasefire, but no peace treaty was ever signed. Both states were accepted into the United Nations in 1991.

Over time North Korea has gradually distanced itself from the world Communist movement. North Korea follows Songun, or "military-first" policy. It is the world's most militarized society, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel. Its active duty army of 1.21 million is the 4th largest in the world, after China, the U.S., and India. It also possesses nuclear weapons.

The DPRK holds (single-party) elections and describes itself as a self-reliant socialist state, but it is widely considered a dictatorship and has been described as totalitarian and Stalinist, with an elaborate cult of personality around Kim Il-sung and certain of his descendants. Its economy is in a perennial shambles, and despite controlling roughly half of Korean territory and about a quarter of its population, it generates less than five percent of the peninsula's GDP. Furthermore, inequality in the distribution of wealth exists at almost unprecedented levels thanks to rampant political corruption.

Human rights violations in North Korea have been assessed by international organizations as in a category of their own, with no parallel in the contemporary world.

North Korea in The Hot WarEdit

North Korea's invasion of South Korea in 1950 became the catalyst for World War III. While North Korean forces managed to drive far into South Korean territory in its initial surprise attack, UN forces, under the command of U.S. general Douglas MacArthur, had succeeded in pushing the North Koreans back, and had even driven up towards the Chinese border.[1] However, in November 1950, Chinese troops cross the Yalu River and came to Kim Il-sung's aid. In late November, the Chinese forces thoroughly destroyed three divisions of American forces between the Chosin Reservoir and Hungnam.[2] Red forces recaptured Seoul in December.[3]

In response, the United States used atomic weapons in Manchuria on January 1951.[4] The Soviet Union, China and North Korea's ally, attacked Britain, France, and West Germany, and in short order, World War III was underway.[5]

With China's help, Kim's forces were able to move south again, with the Korean War looking more and more like World War I. Nonetheless, the U.S. military was able to deliver a regiment's worth of Pershing tanks in advance of an attack near Chongju. The battle proved to be a success for the UN.[6] Another engagement in April saw U.S. infantry forces hold back a column of T-34s until air support could do enough damage to force a retreat.[7] In April 1951, the U.S. launched a substantial bombing raid on Kim's capital, Pyongyang, in a failed effort to kill Kim himself.[8] After that event, the war quieted down, with both sides blaring propaganda at each other over loudspeakers.[9]

The month of May saw the snow melt, and an increase in shelling attacks from the Chinese. NATO's efforts were hobbled by the long logistics chain between Korea and the U.S. after the attacks on the U.S. west coast, and the Panama and Suez Canals.[10] While many hoped that the U.S. atomic attacks on Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk would slow down supply lines to the Chinese and North Korean armies, others had doubts.[11]

The lines stalemated south of Chongju, with the Americans and the Chinese intermittently taking shots at one another throughout June and July, 1951.[12] This was broken when the Soviets dropped atom bombs on Pusan and Chongju in South Korea in August,[13] Chinese and North Korean troops poured through the hole the Soviet's had created,[14] driving UN troops south to Kaeryong,[15] where their stubborn resistance stabilized the lines once gain.[16]

However, within weeks, the situation had sufficiently deteriorated such that the U.S. Army recruited South Korean soldiers to fill things out. U.S. troops who'd seen how badly the South Koreans had done at the outset of the war in 1950 were not impressed. The fact that many of the South Korean officers used a model of discipline patterned on one the Japanese had used was further cause for alarm.[17] In short order, the South Koreans demonstrated that they'd learned a great deal since the war began and proved themselves in combat.[18] Tensions did flair up between U.S. troops and their South Korean counterparts over ROK methods of discipline.[19]

While the line had stabilized again with the arrival of winter,[20] with the spring thaw, the Reds advanced and successfully took Kaeryeong in April, 1952, and UN forces set up a new line just south of the town.[21] UN propaganda played up the role of the new hydrogen bomb in Stalin's death, and intimated that it could be used against the Chinese. Mao and his allies were defiant,[22] and kept fighting even after Treaty of Versailles ended the war in Europe. UN forces began increased pressure in Korea, with B-47s now picking up where the B-29s had left off.[23]

Despite Mao's public defiance, NATO attacks on North Korean and Chinese infrastructure began taking a toll. In August, 1952, the Chinese government approached the government of Yugoslavia to open up talks with the U.S. While Marshal Tito was a "deviationist" in Mao's eyes, Yugoslavia was one of the handful of countries to maintain relations with both the U.S. and the P.R.C.

Chinese Foreign Minister Chou En-Lai proposed a return to the status quo ante bellum in Asia if the U.S. ended its bombing campaign against China. Chou further promised that North Korea would withdraw its forces north of the 38th Parallel. Yugoslavian Foreign Minister Edvard Kardelj met with President Truman in Philadelphia with Chou's proposal. Satisfied that Kim would withdraw, Truman accepted Chou's plan, and the war officially ended on all fronts.[24]

North Korea in SupervolcanoEdit

In the aftermath of the eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano, people in the United States became somewhat more worried about North Korea's status as a possible threat to the weakened U.S.,[25] although not too worried, given the impact of the eruption on North Korea's climate and its lack of intercontinental missiles.[26] In the end, the actions of Iran and Russia were far more disruptive to the world stage than anything North Korea did.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Bombs Away, see, eg., pg. 7, ebook.
  2. Ibid, pg. 5, ebook.
  3. Ibid.,pg. 39.
  4. Ibid., pgs. 55-57.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 65-70.
  6. Ibid., pg. 204-205.
  7. Ibid., pgs. 273-277.
  8. Ibid., pgs. 283-287.
  9. Ibid., pgs. 311-315.
  10. Ibid., pgs. 357-360.
  11. Ibid., pg. 382.
  12. Fallout, loc. 197-268.
  13. Ibid., loc. 2152-2213.
  14. Ibid., loc. 2302.
  15. Ibid., loc. 2503.
  16. Ibid., loc. 2562.
  17. Ibid., loc. 3371-3422.
  18. Ibid., loc. 3434-3446.
  19. Ibid, loc. 4408-4482.
  20. Ibid., loc. 5157-5231.
  21. Ibid., loc. 5535.
  22. Armistice, pgs. 85-88.
  23. Ibid., pg. 163.
  24. Ibid., pgs 277-280, ebook.
  25. Eruption, pg. 268.
  26. All Fall Down, pg. 115.
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