The Formation of an Independent Country

A Case Study of the Republic of Korea and America

-1-

Because of being divided by half of a world South Korea and America seem to have nothing in common. But if you break down the road to independence for both countries, you will notice that there are in fact some similarities. Along with these similarities there are still some differences. The two countries had different methods of protesting and had completely different reasons for wanting to become their own nation. In spite of this both countries had to fight long and hard to get to where they are today.
Korea is a small peninsula that is approximately the size of Britain. It jets out from the northeastern corner of the Asian continent. It is an old place, whose people were united as one from the seventh century until 1945, when it was divided by the United States and the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. The ensuing cold war created two very distinct governments one in the north, which went on to be known as the Democratic Peopleís Republic of Korea (DPRK), and one in the south, which will later be known as the Republic of Korea(ROK). I will be concentrating on the latter.
At one point in time South Korea(which is now referred to as the Republic of Korea) and North Korea(which has become known as the Democratic Peopleís Republic of Korea) lived peacefully together in a place called Korea. The first showings of a nation being formed there was in the year one hundred and eight BC. This was called Old Choson, in what is now known as northwestern Korea and southern Manchuria. It was conquered by the Chinese in 108 BC. These Chinese colonists lived in peace with the native Korean kingdom of Koguryo, founded in around the same spot in the first century BC. More to the south the kingdoms of Paekche and Silla emerged in the third and fourth centuries, respectively. On the southern coast was a fourth but not as important one called Kaya. Koguryo was essentially the most powerful state, controlling most of the owning most of the peninsula and Manchuria by the fifth century. However, by 668, the
-2-

Chinese Tang dynasty, in alliance with Silla, had defeated Koguryo and Paekche and setup what would become the first unified Korean state. Yet, the kingdomís reliance on Chinaís Tang dynasty had its price. Eventually Silla had to forcibly resist the imposition of Chinese rule over the entire peninsula, which they did, but the strength of Silla did not go beyond the Taedong River. Much of former Koguryo territory was given up to the Chinese and to other tribal states. It remained for later dynasties to push the border northward.
During the fourteenth century, Koreans were influenced by Neo-Confucianism. Thus this led to the Choson dynasty. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a
money economy and a market system were established. The ensuing political and social changes severely strained Chosonís political and social system, which had begun to break down during the nineteenth century. Christianity, introduced in the year 1784 from China, put native institutions and values under even more stress. In 1864, a man by the name of Taewongun seized power. While in power he brought about changes such as, outlawing
Christianity and repelling military interventions by France and the United States, in the years 1866 and 1871, respectively. These reforms backfired. It triggered the downfall of
Taewongun himself. Japanís defeat of China in 1895 and of Russia in 1905 led to the formal Japanese annexation of Choson in 1910.
Koreans were chafed under Japanese domination established by the Protectorate Treaty of 1905. In retort to Korean resistance, Japan formally annexed Korea. In 1919 tens of millions of Koreans took to the streets in peaceful demonstrations for independence. The movement was suppressed and Japan tightened its control until its defeat in World War II in 1945.
Right before the end of the war in the Pacific, the United States and the Soviet Union (which was called the USSR) agreed to divide Korea at the 38th parallel for the intent of accepting the surrender of Japanese troops. All Koreans looked toward the same goal, reunification, but in 1947 both powers began setting up separate