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Day 62 – Q 2. What factors led to the division of Korea into South and North Korea?

Q.2) What factors led to the division of Korea into South and North Korea?


North Korea and South Korea are again in news, but this time for a good reason. Peace process which publically started with the Winter Olympics are still going on with hope of unification and demiliterisation of Korean Peninsula.


The Division of Korea began at the end of World War II in 1945. With the defeat of Japan, the Soviet Union occupied the north of Korea, and the United States occupied the south, with the boundary between their zones being the 38th parallel.

Factors that led to the division of Korea

Japanese Rule: Since Russio-Japanese war ended in 1905, Korea was under Japanese control till 1945. During this period, nationalist and radical groups emerged, mostly in exile, to struggle for independence.

World War II and defeat of Japan: As war began, Russia took benefit of resentment rising in Korea against Japanese rule. Russia called on Koreans to rise up against Japan.

US became anxious that Russia would occupy the whole of Korea, thus they hurriedly decide on the south of 38th parallel as American occupation. They chose it because it divided the country approximately in half but would place the capital Seoul under American control. During the process no one from Korea were consulted.

Cold war: Soon after WWII, cold war between US and USSR started. USSR started to establish communism in Northern part of Korean peninsula. With the fear of Soviet expansion, US occupied South Korea and established anti-communist government there.

UN intervention and the formation of separate governments: UN decided to hold elections in Korea to establish an independent government there, but Soviet Union boycotted the elections because it was perceived that UN is under US influence. Therefore UN decided to go-ahead with election only in South.

The decision to proceed with separate elections was unpopular among many Koreans, who rightly saw it as a prelude to a permanent division of the country.

Korean War: It was final nail in the coffin of United Korea. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. United Nations intervened to protect the South, sending a US-led force. Both the sides tried to unify Korea under their influence, communist and anti-communist.

Armistice: The Korean Armistice Agreement was signed after three years of war. The two sides agreed to create a four-kilometer-wide buffer zone between the states, known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This new border, reflecting the territory held by each side at the end of the war, crossed the 38th parallel diagonally. And Korea stood formally divided.


North and South Korea have been divided for more than 70 years, ever since the Korean Peninsula became an unexpected casualty of the escalating Cold War between two rival superpowers: the Soviet Union and the United States.

Recently, presiding leaders of both the Koreas met in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The Panmunjom Declaration signed by both leaders called for the end of longstanding military activities near the border and the reunification of Korea.

Best Answer: Sonia Hussain

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