NORTHAND SOUTH KOREA
NORTHAND SOUTH KOREA
Undermore than a 700-year rule of the Josean dynasty, the entire Koreanpeninsula was a unified territory since the 1392 annihilation of theGorveo Empire. However, the rule of the Josean Empire came to an endwith the Japanese invasion of Korea in 19101.For 35 years, Koreans were placed under an unkind Japanese rule until1945 when the Soviet Union planned and executed an annexation of theJapanese-occupied Korea. After news of Japan’s surrender to theSoviet Union broke, the US dreaded a full takeover of the Koreanpeninsula because they had no troops on the ground to assist Japandeter the ferocious Soviet Union army2.In an effort to hamper the Soviet Union from seizing the entireKorean peninsula, the US proposed a temporary division of Koreabetween the zones that were controlled by the Soviet Union and theUS3.Endorsed by the USSR, US’ proposal was acted upon and a38-parallel mark was designated to separate the north from the south.This division was meant to be provisional, but differing ideologies(communism and capitalism) that existed between the two zoneshampered the plans to reunite both regions4.The communist North blocked the elections to have Korea reunifiedeven after the intervention of the UN. Currently, South Korea andNorth Korea are geographically and politically alienated5.
Thegovernment of South Korea has played a crucial role in the commercialgrowth of the nation since it was institutionalized in 1948. Prior tothe present-day democratic systems in South Korea, the region wasruled by military and civilian authoritarian regimes until 19886.The first democratic handover of power transpired in 1989 after RohTae-woo was elected the first president of South Korea in a fairelection7.The greatest economic shifts in the economy of South Korea tookeffect after Kim Dae-Jung, an opposition leader, was electedpresident in 19978.Upon assuming his duties as president, Kim Dae-Jung completelyrestructured the economy of the region. Kim’s government expandedthe economic landscape and industrialization of South Korea byencouraging direct involvement in the global economy9.
Throughfinancial activities, his government provided financial assistance tohelp people set up their enterprises while protecting them fromforeign competition. Kim’s government also helped these privateenterprises expand by looking for international markets for theirproducts10.The government of South Korea also actively participated ininternational financial activities through its banks and industrieswith the support of IMF and World Bank11.Certainly, all the presidents elected and parties formed after Kim’sregime have incessantly advocated for the continued economicdevelopment and industrialization of South Korea through itsparticipation in global economic markets. Intrinsically, thepolitical framework of South Korea is the axis along which itseconomic development is built.
WithNorth Korea, things are rather different. Just like South Korea,North Korea was commissioned in 1948 led by Kim II Sung12.After the Korean War, Kim II Sung decided to remodel the economiclandscape of the region by promoting Korean autonomy13.The government collectivized farming and all other commercialactivities. The state also seized all private properties andorganizations for the common benefits of the entire community. Kim IISung worked to centralize power and the Worker’s party of Koreaunder his dictatorial rule14.All the while, Kim II Sung locked the international community,including South Korea and the US, from its commercial activities. By1970s, inequalities started emerging in South Korea even though itwas “doing better” than South Korea15.However, things got worse when the Soviet Union, North Korea’sprincipal confederate, collapsed in 199116.The Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc stopped giving North Koreamonetary aid. North Korea’s economy finally stagnated when shiftsin weather patterns damaged their agricultural yields in 1993.
Thesame year, Kim II Sung’s government admitted failure of itseconomic plans. Kim II Sung died in 1994 and was swiftly succeeded byhis son, Kim Jong II17.North Korea suffered yet another blow in 1996 when a flood damagedall the area’s agricultural crops and mining fields. The economy ofKorea was further impaired by the 1997 drought that killed theregion’s agricultural produce. Yielding into pressure from theinternational community to open its borders, Kim Jong II finallyagreed to put an end to North Korea’s economic isolation in 200018.By early 2000s, the economy of North Korea began to recover afterdecades of communist dictatorship. The economy is presently betterestablished.
Undoubtedly,North and South Korea are presently where they economically are owingto the political choices the leaders of both nations made soon afterthe regions were split. South Korea, with the backing of the US, madethe political choice to favor democracy over communism(dictatorship). On the contrary, North Korea, with the support of theSoviet Union, made the political choice to favor communisticdictatorship over democracy. Both these nations made politicaldecisions that affected their economic development. Evidently,democracy is the better choice because presently, South Korea is oneof the trillion-dollar economies in the world while the South isheavily dependent on aid. Through democracy, South Korea chose toopen their commercial activities to the global market in 1989. Thispolitical choice is the reason why South Korea has more mileage ineconomic development than North Korea. Per se, democracy is betterthan communism by all aspects.
Jinsu,Lin. "Evaluating North Korea’s Economic Policy in the2000s—Economic Cooperation with China Is an Inevitable Choice."Chinaand North Korea,2015, 205-23. Accessed December 15, 2016. Doi:10.1057/9781137455666_13.
Lambert,Tim. "A BRIEF HISTORY OF KOREA." A Brief History of Korea.June 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.http://www.localhistories.org/korea.html.
Minns,John. "The Labour Movement in South Korea." LabourHistory,no. 81 (2014): 175. Accessed December 15, 2016. Doi:10.2307/27516810.
Schneidewind,Dieter K. "Economic Miracle Market South Korea." Economiesof the World,2016. Accessed December 15, 2016. Doi: 10.1007/978-981-10-0615-9.
Spark,Timothy. "History of North Korea – Liberty in North Korea."Liberty in North Korea. April 2015. Accessed December 15, 2016.http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/learn-north-korea-history/.
1 Lambert, Tim. "A BRIEF HISTORY OF KOREA." A Brief History of Korea. June 2016.
3 Spark, Timothy. "History of North Korea – Liberty in North Korea." Liberty in North Korea. April 2015.
4 Lambert, Tim. "A BRIEF HISTORY OF KOREA." A Brief History of Korea. June 2016.
6 Minns, John. "The Labour Movement in South Korea." Labour History, no. 81 (2014): 175.
8 Schneidewind, Dieter K. "Economic Miracle Market South Korea." Economies of the World, 2016.
10 Minns, John. "The Labour Movement in South Korea." Labour History, no. 81 (2014): 175
12 Spark, Timothy. "History of North Korea – Liberty in North Korea." Liberty in North Korea. April 2015.
14 Jinsu, Lin. "Evaluating North Korea’s Economic Policy in the 2000s—Economic Cooperation with China Is an Inevitable Choice." China and North Korea, 2015, 205 23
16 Spark, Timothy. "History of North Korea – Liberty in North Korea." Liberty in North Korea. April 2015. Accessed December 15, 2016.
17 Jinsu, Lin. "Evaluating North Korea’s Economic Policy in the 2000s—Economic Cooperation with China Is an Inevitable Choice." China and North Korea, 2015, 205 23.