A key component of the rebuilding of North Korea, ruled by Kim Il Song until his death in 1994, was industrialization, influenced politically and efficiently by the Soviet Union, China, and other Communist allies. But by the mid-1990’s, with the fall of the Soviet Union; a deteriorating economy; and terrible natural disasters of flood, drought, and famine; North Korea has had to face deep hardship, increased isolation, and dependence on food aid. The social institutions and principles still reflect their roots in the fusion of feudalism, Confucianism, and Communism.
North Korea’s relationship with the South has determined much of their post-World War II history and still forms a large part of its foreign policy. North and South Korea have had a hard and hostile relationship with the Korean War. In recent years, North Korea has followed a mixed policy:
- Seeking to develop economic relations with South Korea
- Win the support of the South Korean public for better North-South engagement
- Maintaining a threatening conventional force posture on the DMZ and in neighboring waters.
The demilitarized zone in South Korea is the place where South Korea citizens are not permissible to visit. The border is too well known and too frightening for Koreans to fall across it by accident. They are driven to it by the wish to escape, or to be coming together with family, or to spy. The 38th Parallel had been fixed by common agreement as the dividing line to two regimes zones in which the Americans and Russians would receive the surrender of the Japanese forces, but after the autumn of 1945, it had become a real frontier (Fontaine 395)
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