The Korean peninsula, in which there are two Koreas today – South and North, used to be a united country with long lasting traditions and hardworking people.

This sad story of one country divided, is a result of the Cold war of the 20th century and two opposite ideologies fighting for power and leadership. It started with Koreans being oppressed by the Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945). No freedom in their own country. After the Japanese surrender to allies on August 15, 1945, situation didn’t get any easier for the Korean people and the confusion about what is going to happen next was as big as ever.

These events were the starting point in the separation of the Korean peninsula. It was the hope of the Korean people that the allies – Americans and the Soviets would free them from the Japanese rule and Koreans would finally have their country back. However, the country was divided into zones of occupation by the Americans and Soviets, and various individuals and organizations across the political spectrum from Communists to the far Right claimed to speak for an independent Korean government. The Soviets and Americans failed to reach an agreement on a unified Korean government, and in 1948 two separate governments were established, each claiming to be the legitimate government of all Korea: the Republic of Korea in Seoul, in the American zone, with its first president Rhee Syngman (이승만) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in Pyongyang, in the Soviet zone, with their president – Kim Il Sung (김일성). The hope of unified state left the peninsula for many years to come.

These newly founded governments in The South and The North inevitably led to The Korean war (1950-1953), which sacrificed many lives and separated families forever. The Korean War that began in 1950 is commonly cited as the first “hot war” of The Cold War, the confrontation between the capitalist and communist blocks that dominated the second half of the twentieth century and still leaves Korea divided today. In the memories of the Korean people, this war is also known as the "육이십오", 25th of June, 1950, when the North invaded the South.

The war for unification of both sides continued for 3 years. What changed the course of the war significantly though, was the Inchon Landing – a strategic plan that shook the North side and made the actual warfare significantly smaller scale from then on. The next two years the fighting was known as the “trench warfare”. No close-up physical contact. During the fighting, peace talks had been started and eventually, on the eve of 1953, July 27th, a ceasefire agreement between South and North Korea was signed. The peninsula was divided by the 38th parallel and remains so today.

It was now clear that the peninsula would remain divided for many years to come. Both newly founded countries have taken a different course from each other. On the one hand South Korea, recognized by the whole world as a successful story from rags to riches and on the other – North Korea, totalitarian state, with lacking resources and limited means of freedom manifestation. There have been discussions about unification, however, it is highly unlikely to happen in the next coming years, due to both country’s level of life and ideology being extremely different.