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Korea, North


Introduction: An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored Communist control. After failing in the Korean War (1950-53) to conquer the US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern portion by force, North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President KIM Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic "self-reliance" as a check against outside influence. The DPRK demonized the US as the ultimate...

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Political Overview: The DPRK has a centralised government, strictly controlled by the communist Korean Workers' Party (KWP), to which all government officials belong.  The government operates under the national guiding principles of juche "self-reliance", and songun "military first".

Important positions in the government, economy and the military are held by party members or officials, and KWP Secretaries generally exercise greater authority over policy and administrative issues than government Ministers.  Although open to mass membership, access to the Party is denied to those without a 'reliable' class background. Official party ...

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Government and Political Conditions: North Korea has a centralized government under the rigid control of the communist Korean Workers' Party (KWP), to which all government officials belong. A few minor political parties are allowed to exist in name only. Kim Il-sung ruled North Korea from 1948 until his death in July 1994 as Secretary General of the KWP and President of North Korea. The latter post was abolished following Kim ...

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History: Korea is an ancient civilisation. It developed from walled-town states and larger kingdoms and became united in the 7th century. After being 'opened' by Japan in 1876, China, Japan and Russia competed for influence until Japan annexed the country in 1910. The end of the Second World War freed Korea from 35 years of Japanese rule although a US-Soviet decision left the country divided into separate occupation zones along the 38th Parallel after Japan's surrender. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded with US support in the south on 15 August 1948 and the Soviet-backed Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north on 9 September. ...

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Prior to the national division of the Korean Peninsula in 1945, Korea was home to a people with a unitary existence, ethnic and linguistic homogeneity, and a historic bond of exclusionism.

There are other parallels between Korea's past and presentday North Korea. The traditions of Confucianism and a bureaucracy administered from the top-down and from the center continue to ...

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