What is the Conflict in the Korean Peninsula?
- The root of the conflict lies in the Japanese occupation of Korea between 1910- 1945.
- When Japan was defeated in the Second World War, the Allied forces agreed to establish a “four-power trusteeship over Korea” at the Yalta Conference (1945).
- However, the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)invaded Korea and took control of the north while the south remained under the rest of the allies, mainly the USA.
- The division of the two regions was along the 38th parallel north, which still continues to be the official border dividing the two Koreas.
- In 1948, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) were established.
- As both tried to enhance their reach, territorially and ideologically, the Korean Conflict emerged between the two nations.
The Korean War:
- On 25th June 1950, North Korea, backed by the USSR, launched an attack on South Korea and occupied most of the country.
- In response, the United Nations force led by the US retaliated.
- In 1951, the US forces led by Douglas MacArthur crossed the 38th parallel and triggered the entry of China in support of North Korea.
- To prevent further escalation, peace talks began later in 1951.
- India was actively involved in negotiating peace in the Korean peninsula by engaging all the major stakeholders – the US, USSR, and China.
- In 1952, the Indian resolution on Korea was adopted by the United Nations (UN).
- On 27th July 1953, the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed between the UN Command, the Korean People’s Army, and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army.
- It led to an official ceasefire without a Peace treaty. Thus, the war officially never ended.
- This also led to the establishment of the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) – a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula to serve as a buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea.
- In December 1991, North and South Korea signed a pact agreeing to refrain from aggression.
What is the US-North Korea Conflict?
- During the Cold War era, the US extended its Nuclear Umbrella (guarantee of support during a nuclear attack) to its allies i.e., South Korea and Japan.
- North Korea withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003 and afterward, under present leader Kim Jong-un, it increased nuclear missile testing.
- In response to this, the US started deploying THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) in South Korea in March 2017.
- The territorial conflict that started between North and South Korea has transformed into a tussle between the US and North Korea.
What are the Recent Acts of Aggression by North Korea?
- In recent years North Korea has accelerated its nuclear program by increasing its nuclear stockpile, withdrawn from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and tested nuclear explosives multiple times.
- The USA has deployed THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) in South Korea to counter the increasing missile adventurism of North Korea.
- North Korea recently demolished the Inter-Korean Liaison Office in Kaesong, which was established in 2018. In the absence of formal diplomatic relations, the building functioned as a de facto embassy and provided a direct communication channel for the two nations.
- Most recently in 2024, North Korea conducted a record number of artillery fires near South Korea.
- The firing was done near an island, which is a disputed island between North and South Korea.
What is India’s Position in the Korean Conflict?
- India has consistently voiced its opposition to North Korean nuclear and missile tests. However, it has maintained a neutral stance regarding sanctions.
- Earlier, during the Korean War (1950- 53), India played a major role in a cease-fire agreement signed between both the warring sides.
India’s Relations with North and South Korea:
- In May 2015, the bilateral relationship with South Korea was upgraded to a ‘special strategic partnership’.
- India has a major role to play in South Korea’s Southern Policy under which the latter is looking at expanding relations beyond its immediate region.
- Similarly, South Korea is a major player in India’s Act East Policy under which India aims to promote economic cooperation, and cultural ties and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific.
- India has had diplomatic relations with North Korea for over 47 years, which reflects the legacy of India’s commitment to the Non-Alignment Movement.
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