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What's All the Fuss about North Korea?

Part 2: The Long Answer

And here's the long answer:

This international crisis dates back, really, to the Korean War, which began in 1950 and ended in 1953.

As the Cold War began to build, the Soviet Union and its allies tried to extend their influence throughout the world while the United States and its allies tried to counter the Soviet influence by, essentially, doing the same thing. It was a difference in way of life and belief in how a government should treat its people.

The Soviet Union was run by a Communist government. So was China, and so was North Korea.

The Korean Peninsula had been divided after World War II into North and South. North Korea was Communist; South Korea had a democratically elected government.

In 1950, North invaded South. Backed by aid from Japan and the U.S., the South staged a counterattack and drove far into the North. Then, China joined the war on the side of North Korea. Suddenly, it was the North that was driving far into enemy territory. The South, buoyed by reinforcements from the United States, fought back. In 1953, the front reached roughly the common border of the two countries. A truce was called, and both sides relaxed. No formal treaty was signed, so technically, the war isn't finished; but neither side has invaded the other since. And now, between the two countries is a DMZ, a DeMilitarized Zone, that is a constant reminder of violent times past.

Since that war, nations in the West have lumped North Korea together with China and the Soviet Union as Communist "bad guys." Since the fall of the Soviet Union, in 1989, Russia hasn't been a very good friend to North Korea, which can now count China as its only really solid ally.

Frustrated by what it perceives as a lack of respect from the international community, North Korea has turned inward in the last two decades, concentrating on itself and implicitly asking the world to stay away.

Named by U.S. President George W. Bush as part of an "axis of evil" after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, North Korea has become increasingly vocal in its opposition to what it sees as U.S. aggression in its affairs. And fearful that the United States will target it as a terrorist state, North Korea has decided to speak out in the public eye, threatening South Korea and the world with nuclear technology that it seems to be only a matter of time before the North is synonymous with "nuclear nation."

Will North Korea announce that it has nuclear bombs? Will it restart its nuclear program fully and join "The Nuclear Club"? Is it all just a ploy to gain economic aid? Only time will tell.

Next page > The Long Answer > Page 1, 2

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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