The Korean peninsula was a Japanese possession from 1910-1945. When World War 2 ended in the Pacific in 1945, the USSR administered the surrender of Japanese forces north of the 38 th parallel in Korea, and the United States supervised the surrender in the South. The two allies established a joint commission to form a provisional Korean government.
The Soviets and the Americans soon disagreed, however, on the legitimacy of the competing political groups that sought to govern Korea, and mutual suspicions soon emerged. In 1947, the United States asked the UN to attempt to unify the northern and southern halves of the country. The 38 th parallel hardened ominously, however, into an international boundary with the establishment of Syngman Rhee’s Republic of Korea in the South and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea under Kim Il Sung in the North.
The set border split the peninsula both politically and economically into a Communist industrial North and a primarily agricultural South, which was dependent on U.S. aid. By 1949 both the USSR and the United States had withdrawn most of their troops, leaving behind small advisory groups. Increasing hostility led to border clashes between North and South Koreans throughout 1949 and into 1950. In September 1949 a UN commission, after trying unsuccessfully to unify the country, warned of the possibility of civil war.
THESIS STATEMENT The conflict between North and South Korea is not exactly a class conflict but a power struggle between nations characterized by resistance from the North and ongoing peacemaking efforts from the South.
I. Dependency theory may be used in viewing this conflict as a power struggle. A. South Korea, being a relatively wealthy nation as compared to the underdeveloped North Korea, intends to gain from the latter. 1. South Korea aims to benefit from North Korea’s natural resources, especially in the agricultural sector. 2. South Korea aims to benefit from North Korea in terms of trade because trade routes will be more accessible for the South if its citizens can pass through the North to get to China and other developing Asian countries.
B. North Korea currently benefits from South Korea. 1. North Korea receives rice and other food rations annually from South Korea’s national budget. 2. South Korea helps North Korea in its fiscal affairs for the latter’s development.
II. The lines of dependency between North and South Korea are blurry at present. A. The bombing of a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, last March. 1. North Korea was recently accused of the bombing with sufficient evidence. 2. North Korea continuously denies that they are responsible despite sufficient evidence.
B. The North Korean weapons of mass destruction 1. North Korea’s claims that they are in possession of nuclear weapons keep South Korea from declaring war.
Conclusion: This age-old issue between North and South Korea may best be explained by dependency theory in which resources supposedly flow from a "periphery" — a poor and underdeveloped state (North Korea) to a "core" or a wealthy state (South Korea), enriching the latter at the expense of the former. North Korea’s resistance, however, goes to show that it is not willing to be the dependent and struggles to stay more powerful than its neighboring nation.