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Inter-Korean relations and issues - statistics & facts

The Korean Peninsula used to be a single nation with a high degree of ethnic similarity. Today, it has been separated into two countries: the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the South and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the North; commonly known as South Korea and North Korea respectively. The division of Korea occurred between 1945 and 1948 due to an agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States, following the surrender of Imperial Japan in the Second World War. The subsequent Korean War from 1950 to 1953 changed the two Koreas' boundary along the 38th parallel into the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which is situated roughly in the middle of the Peninsula.

Divided families

The Korean War resulted in massive physical and economic damage to both nations. Since the interaction between the countries was officially discontinued overnight, family members who were on either side of the border were forced to live apart from each other. Many of the separated families did not even know whether their family members had survived. Since 2000, the two governments have irregularly organized inter-Korean family reunions, yet the number of dead among family reunification applicants now outnumbers the number of living.

Conflict and cooperation

While North Korea's nuclear tests in recent years have led to tension between South and North Korea, there have also been cooperative movements across sectors such as inter-Korean trade, the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and most recently, their joint participation in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and the historic summit between the two Korean leaders and Trump in 2019. However, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have again escalated after North Korea destroyed the inter-Korean liaison office in 2020. Despite around 5,000 years of history shared in the united Korea, the prolonged division has brought about differences in almost every aspect of the Korean societies including economy, political systems, language, and culture. The necessity of Korean unification is nevertheless widely accepted in South Korea.


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