South Korea

Overview of South Korea

  • South Korean National Assembly member and former DPRK diplomat Thae Yong-ho discusses North Korean nuclear weapons, inter-Korean relations and representing Gangnam as a lawmaker.Thae has appeared on the podcast before, and you can listen to that interview here.About the podcast: The North Korea News Podcast is a weekly podcast hosted exclusively by NK News, covering all things DPRK — from news to extended interviews with leading experts and analysts in the field, along with insight from our very own journalists.
  • South Korea has confirmed that it’s considering developing a nuclear-powered submarine after Kim Jong Un declared at the recent Workers’ Party Congress in North Korea that he would “advance national reunification through a strong military power” — and boasted of deploying hypersonic missiles, spy satellites, multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles and the North’s own nuclear-powered submarine.  
  • South Korea had a sophisticated pandemic-fighting plan developed after past experiences with SARS and MERS that employed rapid testing, stringent contact tracing, isolation of patients, and consistent government-driven communication to ensure widespread cooperation.
  • South Koreans refer to themselves as Hanguk-in (Korean: 한국인, Hanja: 韓國人) or Hanguk-saram (Korean: 한국 사람), both of which mean “Korean country people.” When including members of the Korean diaspora, Koreans often use the term Han-in (Korean: 한인; Hanja: 韓人, lit.
  • South Korea’s only female President, Park Geun-hye, was impeached in 2017, and is now in prison, serving twenty-five years for bribery, extortion, and abuse of power, which some maintain is harsher treatment than accorded men who committed comparable offenses.
  • South Korea’s Yonhap News has also reported that around 7,000 people are being monitored for symptoms of the virus, while the North Korean government is encouraging foreign diplomats stationed in Pyongyang to leave the country for the foreseeable future.
  • South Koreans have been put out by American demands that they pay the entire cost of its troop deployment, and by America’s use of public furlough threats to South Korean staff at its bases as a negotiating tactic.
  • South Korea believes Kim is alive and in control, and most analysts agree that even if he weren’t, Kim’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, would likely take control, possibly with the help of select officials.
  • South Korea’s leadership has hoped its estranged sibling, feeling desperate, would put aside their rivalry and accept aid, namely in the form of medical equipment to protect against COVID-19.
  • South Korea has been especially adept at using technological tools, including camera footage, smartphones, location data, and credit card records to track down and limit infection clusters.


Five attack scenarios show that casualties could range from 4,500 to more than 200,000. North Korea maintains nearly 6,000 artillery systems within range of major South Korean population centers. The United States and South Korea should avoid military provocation cycles that could lead to these attacks.

History of South Korea

  • In 1972, the two Koreas agreed in principle to achieve reunification through peaceful means and without foreign interference.[179] On 10 October 1980, then North Korean president Kim Il-sung proposed a federation between North and South Korea named the Democratic Federal Republic of Korea in which the respective political systems would initially remain.[180] However, relations remained cool well until the early 1990s, with a brief period in the early 1980s when North Korea offered to provide flood relief to its southern neighbor.[181] Although the offer was initially welcomed, talks over how to deliver the relief goods broke down and none of the promised aid ever crossed the border.[182] The two countries also organized a reunion of 92 separated families.[183]
  • In 1979, the U.S.
  • In 1983, 18 members of then-South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan’s entourage were killed during a visit to Burma.
  • In 1984, North Korea donates 7,200 tons of rice, 550,000 yards of cloth and 759 cases of medicine to South Korea following a flood, coinciding with a peak in North Korean grain production at 10 million tons.
  • In 1991, Washington withdrew all its remaining nuclear weapons from South Korea.
  • In 1992, the IAEA detected that North Korea had secretly attempted to reprocess plutonium.
  • In 1995, a Korean living in the US contacted us in the hopes of meeting his mother and younger siblings in North Korea.
  • In 1999, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade estimated revenues from all illegal activities (not including arms sales) at $100 million.
  • In 2002 Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC) were abolished and along with them went all the different coloured currencies.
  • In 2005, North Korea’s total range with its Nodong missiles was estimated as 900 km with a 1,000 kg payload.[181] That is enough to reach South Korea, and parts of Japan, Russia, and China.
  • In 2006, there were eight sites identified as potential test explosion sites for current (and future) tests according to a statement by the South Korean Parliament.
  • In 2008 a South Korean tourist who strayed into a restricted military area was shot dead.
  • In 2009, North Korea responded by ending all of its previous agreements with the South.[187] It deployed additional ballistic missiles[188] and placed its military on full combat alert after South Korea, Japan and the United States threatened to intercept a Unha-2 space launch vehicle.[189] The next few years witnessed a string of hostilities, including the alleged North Korean involvement in the sinking of South Korean warship Cheonan,[88] mutual ending of diplomatic ties,[190] a North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island,[191] and growing international concern over North Korea’s nuclear program.[192]
  • In 2010, the South Korean corvette Cheonan was sunk by a torpedo and the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong came under North Korean artillery fire.
  • In 2011, before the rise of Kim Jong Un, 2,706 North Koreans arrived in South Korea; only 1,137 arrived in 2018 and only 771 between January and September 2019.  
  • In 2012 the South Korean government assessed that North Korea could have between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, potentially one of the largest stockpiles on Earth.
  • In 2012, China gave 240,074 tons of rice, more than 80 times what Europe gave North Korea that same year.
  • In 2012, Moscow cancelled 90 per­cent of Pyongyang’s $10 billion debt.
  • In 2017, for instance, China’s pri­mary concern was preventing war, after Trump stated that “all options are on the table” to the resolve the North Korean conflict, including military action.
  • In 2018, Presidents Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Donald Trump of the United States held a series of summits with Kim Jong-un which led to declarations in favor of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
  • In 2019 alone, after a year of silence brought on by the promise of post-Singapore concessions, North Korea launched 19 short-range ballistic missiles into South Korean and Japanese waters.
  • In 2019 that figure stood at 1,047.
  • In 2019, Kim Jong Un continued the diplomatic engagement efforts he started in 2018, and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, US President Donald Trump, Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • In 2019, that figure stood at 1,047.
  • In the 1960s until the 1980s, North Korea tried to incite revolution in the South and undertook numerous terrorist attacks.
  • In the 1990s, the United States negotiated the Agreed Framework to freeze North Korea’s nuclear weapons program while pursuing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
  • On 4 July 2009, a botnet with around 20,000 bots paralysed the websites of government institutions in the US and South Korea.
  • In 1940, the Afghan Hound Club of America was admitted to AKC membership and held its first specialty show.
  • In 1948, North Korea adopted Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (Korean: 조선민주주의인민공화국, Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk; listen) as its new legal name.
  • In 1948, North Korea attempted to make the script perfectly morphophonemic through the addition of new letters, and in 1953, Syngman Rhee in South Korea attempted to simplify the orthography by returning to the colonial orthography of 1921, but both reforms were abandoned after only a few years.[27]
  • In 1959, relations with Japan had improved somewhat, and North Korea began allowing the repatriation of Japanese citizens in the country.
  • In 1971, secret, high-level contacts began to be conducted culminating in the 1972 July 4th North–South Joint Statement that established principles of working toward peaceful reunification.