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The Status Of Women’s Rights In North Korea

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Prior to 1945, women in North Korea had few rights. The expectations were to assure the family line continued with male heirs. Opportunities to participate in political, economic or social society were few. An academic education was considered unimportant for women. The Christian missionaries created schools for girls during the 19th century enabling Korean females to acquire an education. The exceptions were the female shamans who drove away evil spirits to cure illnesses, performed fortune telling and divination and prayed for rain in a drought.

 

The social status changed after 1945. A SEX Equality Law was passed by the thirty-eighth parallel authorities on July 30th of 1946. The 1972 constitution provided women with rights and social status equal to men. The 1990 constitution created conditions to enable women to advance in society. Women began participating in the labor force and gaining educations but were still considered inferior to men. Girls and boys were separated in elementary and middle schools. Economics was emphasized for girls and physical education for boys. By the fourth year in a university, women majored in literature, biology, foreign languages and medicine.

 

North Korea is a patriarchal society. The role of women has changed from the conclusion of World War II until today. Women helped rebuild the country after the war but the improvement in the economy placed women in more traditional roles. Most families survived on state rations until the famine of the 1990’s. They looked for financial support elsewhere because they were not paid for mandatory government jobs. The government is reliant on free labor from the males. Men are required to pay twenty to thirty times their salary to be free from work to find a profitable job. If the payment is not made, the men go to jail. Women in the informal sector are exposed to exploitation, sexual violence and sexual harassment and bribes from the government officials.

 

North Korea is well known for political prison camps. The deaths due to starvation were between 450,000 and 2 million people. A U.N. Commission of Inquiry found the government of North Korea guilty of crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, religious, gender, and racial persecution, enslavement, sexual violence, torture, causing prolonged starvation, forced abortions, rape and imprisonment. The women of Korea lower in the songbun system were forced into prostitution due to poverty. Medical care and drugs were unavailable causing some to use opium in the impossible hope of preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Thousands of women escaped to China and became the pawns of traffickers.

 

The North Korean prison camps were especially cruel to women. They feared being assigned to the mines during the night shift because they were raped by the guards in Political Prison Camp No. 18. These guards targeted teenage girls and the female inmates were sexually abused by one of the senior officials while visiting the camp. Once the women were raped, they were killed. Once raped by officials, several of the women disappeared. Women are also sexually assaulted and beaten in public. The officials are corrupt and use violence and sexual abuse as punishment and penalties. The dire food and economic situation has left many women responsible for feeding their families. This places them in public places to transport and sell goods. Acts of sexual assault are becoming more frequent by inspectors aboard trains and police in the marketplace. There are severe punishments for raping a minor but raping an adult is not a crime.

 

The most famous North Korean woman is Ri Chun-hee. She has been seen on television across the globe when the nation becomes interested in boasting about current achievements. She was believed to have retired but reappeared as a veteran news anchor for Kim Jung Un, the dictator of the country. She state the hydrogen bomb tests by North Korea had been executed.

Gender inequality in the history of South Korea

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Equality between men and women, a conceptual image of the status of female rights with a man drawing a seesaw on a virtual interface balancing the two concepts on opposite ends in equilibrium.

The traditional South Korean society had their women as subordinates who did not have formal education at all. The roles of the women to stay at homes as good mothers and homemakers. The primary duties were to ensure there was harmony in the family by avoiding any conflict. Additional, after a woman was married, she was supposed to move and stay with the husband at the husband’s home. While at the husband’s place, she was expected to take care of the whole family as well as the parents-in-law. The traditional Korean society preferred male child to a girl. A woman who did not bore a male child was not worthy in the society. Women in the traditional Korean society did not have a voice and were not allowed to participate in any activity in the community as men. The society expected them to give support to their husband.

Feminism, women rights movement

Feminism or women rights movement originated and has its history from South Korea. Article 11 of the national constitution in 1948 talked about the women suffrage in South Korea. According to the constitution, the law recognizes citizen as equal, and no discrimination shall be there in social, Political, economic and cultural life. The law states the no person should be discriminated against based on the sex, social status or religion. The South Korean women rights or feminism movement is pretty recent as compared to the Western World’s first and second wave of feminism. Industrialization and globalization have brought so many changes that have been implemented in the economy and workplaces in so many places and so has been the case in South Korea. The rapid economic growth through globalization has seen the role of men and women changing in the South Korean society. With the introduction of capitalism and democracy, women started working in public places as well as participating in political events. In 1948, according to the constitution, the women suffrage became legal, and thus they started gaining opportunities to continue to higher education including colleges and universities.

Amidst all the advancement taking place in the world and South Korea, women discrimination existed behind the scene. Even though the social perspective does not externally exclude women from taking part in economic activities, low wage, poor working environments compared to male workers, there is a lot of sexual harassment taking place at workplaces which is seen to discourage women. Besides, people do not discuss such cases openly as they feel they are not essential matters as compared to others.

Minjung Undong or mass people’s movement of South Korea

There were many women’s rights groups established even before the Second World War in South Korea. However, these groups did not solely discuss the issues that were affecting women until the mid-1980s. The current feminist movement in South Korea has its history traced back to the mass people’s movement of South Korea or Minjung Undong. The attention of women rights increased as minjung movement developed. Minjung movement decided to focus on the rights of women after women labor was exploited within factories in South Korea. Women’s movement gained more momentum in the mid-1980s after women got involved in student and labor movements as there were a lot of reforms taking place in South Korea by this time.

Current feminism activities in South Korea

Presently, there are two kinds of women movements in South Korea, reformist and radical. The reformist female movement focuses on changing the role of women in the society. They use such methods as drafting legislation, lobbying, as well as influencing decision makers. The group supports the government of South Korea. The radical movement concentrates on general human rights issues. The group tackles problems such as the torture of prisoners and the reunification with North Korea.

The roles of women during the Korean war

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The Korean War, lasting from 1950-1953, had many participants, including women. Women from both sides of conflict had essential noncombat roles. These ranged from nurses to supply clerks, as well as intelligence analysts and communications technicians.

 

South Korean women became refugees during the war, but many of them ended up becoming active participants as well. They served a diverse array of roles, from nurses to dentists to even surgeons. The war effort caused a labor shortage, and women were a practical solution to fill the gap.

 

Under U.S. military command women from the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia filled a variety of subordinate roles. They were healthcare providers or worked in logistical or administrative positions. In sharp contrast to their Western and South Korean counterparts, women in North Korea were active military participants, serving in units alongside males. They also served military support roles as well.

 

Before the end of World War II the Korean Peninsula had been occupied by Japan. After the occupation had ended women in Korea were able to make gains in education and began entering the workforce in increasing numbers. The 1948 constitution actually gave women the same equality as men. The Korean War served to further change the status of women. Not only did women receive medical training in the army medical field school, but they were also employed in war industries, making guns, ammunition, and bombs.

 

The need for servicewomen increased as the war went on, and the women of South Korea responded by enlisting. Female recruits were given basic military training, the same as the men, and afterwards assigned to units as needed. Some women even received office training as well. As the war continued women also received specialized training and became attached to specialized units.

 

For non-Korean servicewomen, the most in-demand role by far was nursing. Between 500 and 600 female U.S. Army Nurse Corp members served in the war zone during combat. Several thousand more worked in hospitals under the Far East Command. By the war’s end, over 120,000 women were assigned to active duty. They served as administrative aids, translators and stenographers. Non-American women also participated in the war effort. Women from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Great Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey and Thailand served during the Korean war. The majority of these, like their American counterparts, served noncombat roles as nurses in hospitals.

 

Women in North Korea found themselves in a similar, but different, scenario. After taking control and consolidating his power, Premier Kim Il Sung promoted gender equality, incorporating equal rights into the North Korean constitution. Women in North Korea were able to join organizations along with men, such as the Worker-and-Peasant Red Guard. There were also political organizations solely for women.

 

When the Korean war began women were immediately integrated into the ranks of North Korea’s military. Women did logistical tasks such as transporting supplies and materials to the front lines. However female soldiers were not limited to only support roles. They also served as front line troops along with their male counterparts. They also served as spies and saboteurs, posing as refugees to infiltrate behind enemy lines, either to gather intelligence or carry out surprise attacks on unsuspecting enemy troops. Women also served and fought with guerilla units, using hit-and-run attacks as well as acts of sabotage.

 

Women were not solely victims and refugees during the Korean War. May were active participants, putting their time, effort, and sometimes even their lives into supporting the war effort. While not flashy or glamorous, their roles were necessary and essential to the war, and their sacrifices were no less vital than the men they served alongside.

The Traditional Role of Women in South Korea

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Within the historical Korean community, the women’s responsibility was to be restrained in the home. In early stages, women were educated on the ethics of relegation and the ability to organize their forthcoming responsibilities as a spouse and mother. Furthermore, they were not enabled to partake within the community as the men did and their portrayal was mainly focused on household concerns.

 

As the nineteen era approached, things began to eventually shift, with the perforation of the nation’s connection to the exterior world. Around this period, specifically westbound Christian pastors developed upscale schools. Furthermore, a majority of these schools was established particularly with the objective of cultivating women.

 

This process enabled the women to partake in a host of activities, such as creative crafts, educating others, sacred holy morals and the gifts and abilities to provide other women with hope and courage. Along with this, the women also participated in essential revolutions in opposition to the oriental traditions and demonstrated forceful strength, believes and devotion than what the men had brought forth.

 

By 1948, the development of the commonwealth of Korea had approached and the women had then accomplished lawful entitlement for equivalent responsibilities to participate in schooling, careers and personal living per their preference. This movement certainly benefited the women, as it formulated advanced lucrative growth, which helped other women to follow other influential women by joining them in the work force platform.

 

Over the years, the Korean industry consistently enhanced and perfected its livelihood. Moreover, the women’s educational and workforce status also continued to expand. By 1966, many women had successfully completed their elementary training, leaving only thirty-three percent of youthful females who pursued their schooling in middle school.

 

Along with this, twenty percent consistently pursued their education through high school and colleges. By 1998, this figure had substantially increased to more than ninety-seven and over sixty-percent for high school and university attendance. In addition, by 1999, the work force involvement of women had increased to over forty-seven percent.

 

With all respect and acknowledgments to the Christian pastors who passed down these extraordinary gifts and abilities to these women. All of which, consisted of hard work, courage and devotion. By 1987, the number of women who partaked in professional careers had significantly increased and the “Equal Employment Act” was initialized to eliminate further prejudicial treatments towards women. This act applied to all women in all circumstances in personal living and within their working environments.

 

With the approach of the re-modified legislation in 1998, the constitutional embassy introduced the Women’s affairs to work through further concerns particularly for women. This strategy was enhanced and heightened to develop into the Ministry of Gender Equality by 2001. The new reformed spiritual leadership initiated and organized more than seventeen essential assignments to be accomplished within six original segments.

 

The segments included the reorganizing and development of legislation’s that focused on prejudicial in any form. The legislation also consisted of, the advancement and support for women, the acceleration on women’s careers and deliverance of ongoing support for women who were employed and were seeking higher learning. Along with this, the segments included public assistance and resources to enable women to become more aggressive in the work force and to bring forth additional work and volunteer resources.

 

In today’s society, the Korean women are rapidly and effectively committed and bound to a host of different beneficial activities that include learning, tutoring, crafts, lawful legislation’s, historical content and many more intriguing gifts available to them. Moreover, these women today, take their gifts and abilities to give back to their communities for the continuance of free living and hope for other women.

The Korean Legend of Dangun

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The national founder of Korea is Dangun. A grand ritual is observed to celebrate the Legend of Dangun. This event is called Eocheonjeol and observes the day Dangun went to heaven. According to the lunar calendar, this is March 15th. The legend says Dangun came to the earth from heaven. After opening the nation, Dangun went back to heaven. Dangun came to earth with the belief that if the world were ruled with humanitarian principles, it would create a utopia. This ceremony has been held throughout the history of Korea. This includes both the Jeoseon and Goryo dynasties. Imperial Japan stopped the Eocheonjeol ceremony from 1910 until 1935 when they colonized the Korean Peninsula.

 

The Great Religion includes four festivals. One of these is Eocheonjeol. The day Hanbegeom went to heaven is celebrated on March 15 by the lunar calendar. It was the year of sangwongapja when Hanbegeom came to earth. Hanbegeom taught and opened the city of God. Later on, Hanbegeom became the king and governed. He provided the virtues of education and creation while governing in the Trinity for 217 years. Hanbegeom is celebrated by the grand religion as he ascended to heaven. Each temple holds both the gyeonghasik and the seoneuisik.

 

The legendary founder of Gojoseon was Dangun Wanggeom. This was Korea’s first kingdom. In Liaoning of the current day, this is the Korean and Manchuria peninsula. According to the legend, Dangun Wanggeom is the God of heaven’s grandson. The year was 2333 BCE when he founded the kingdom. The term Dangun is a reference to the founder. There are some people who believe this term was a title all the rulers of Gojoseon used. They believe the correct name for the founder was Wanggeom.

 

The ancestry of Dangun starts with Hwanin, his grandfather. This term appears in the texts of the Indian Buddhists and is referred to as Lord of Heaven. The name of Hwanin’s son was Hwanung. He wanted to live on the earth in the mountains and the valleys. Hwanin gave his permission for Hwanung and 3000 of his followers to descend into the Baekdu Mountain. These were called the Taebaek mountains at this time. This was where Hwanung found the City of God or the Sinsi. He taught humans different agriculture, medicine and arts and instituted moral and law codes with his ministers of wind, rain and clouds.

 

A bear and a tiger prayed to Hwanung because they wanted to become human. When Hwanung heard their prayers, he gave them a bundle of mugwort and twenty cloves of garlic. He ordered them to stay out of the sun for 100 days and eat nothing but this sacred food. After roughly twenty days, the tiger gave up and left the cave. The bear stayed in the cave and was transformed into a woman.

 

The bear woman made offerings to Hwanung out of gratitude. She became sad because she did not have a husband. She prayed under the Divine Betula or Shindansu tree to receive the blessing of a child. Her prayers moved Hwanung and he took the bear woman for his wife. She gave birth to a son and named him Dangun Wanggeom.

 

Dangun eventually ascended to the throne and was responsible for the construction of the walled city of Pyongyang. This city is now known as North Korea’s capital and is referred to as the kingdom Joseon. Dangun moved the capital Asadal on Mount Gunghol or Mount Baegak. After fifteen hundred years had passed, in the year Kimyo, the capital was moved to Jangdangyeong by Dangun. He was now age 1,908 and became a mountain God after his return to Asadal.

JAPANS NATIONAL MOBILISATION LAW

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With the second World War looming every country was busy preparing for it. This fueled political, economic and social changes at various levels. The buildup to the war involved competition and governments were starting to come up with mechanisms of gaining an advantage over other. In some instances, the governments through the legislature had to come up with laws that would promote strengthening the army. The Empire of Japan also resorted to these reforms to restructure their system to favor military advancement.

 

The beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese saw the Japanese legislature, the Diet of Japan, make reforms to the law. The laws were set up to gain some control over civilians and to benefit the Japanese army. There was resistance opposing the formulation of the law at the start of 1938. This pressure, however, was subdued by the military. By May the same year, the bill was put into effect. The fifty clauses created by the legislature were collectively termed as the National Mobilization Law.

The National Mobilization Law had placed the government in a position where its activities favored military operations. The government was given the authority to impose unlimited subsidies on the production of military-related goods. The actions of the labor unions were curtailed thereby reducing private opinion over government matters. Industries that were deemed crucial by the government were nationalized. This increased government control in the economy. Price controls were set up by the government on various products, rationing of the goods was also used. Majority of what was in the media was government controlled. The press was nationalized.

 

Articles one up to three interpreted the Mobilization Law and its relation to the industries. Article thirteen gave the government powers to control what was happening in the private sector. The government had aims of providing an environment that would favor armament and increase of military strength. The government would then have the ability to confiscate, hire and manage private business entities. The law explained in article twenty-one that the government might appoint civilians if the government sees it fit. It was a requirement for some industries to keep in hand a certain number of goods if a directive was made. There were policies under which firms and organizations would create plans to conduct research and do experiments that may advance the military. In return, the government would provide subsidies to these organizations.

The creation of the supervisory commission also fulfilled the government need for control. The commission was responsible for overlooking sectors of the economy that were deemed “crucial.” The law, at first was only to be applied during emergency situations. It was, however, invoked and was made to include cases like the conflict with China. The National Service Draft Ordinance was also created to supplement National Mobilization Law. The Ministry of Welfare was in charge of recruiting workers to serve industries that promoted supplies to the war. At its peak, the ministry had hired 1.6 million people, another 4.5 million people had been reassigned from their previous jobs.

 

The National Mobilization Law had a social impact on the Japanese people. The women in the Japanese society were more like caretakers of their homes. According to custom, they were required to stay at home doing household duties. The advent of the Second Sino-Japanese war pushed the government to recruit women thereby changing their roles. As the war continued, the labor force required was insatiable. This situation prompted the recruitment of children to work in factories. The standards of living had also deteriorated. More hours were spent to increase military oriented production leaving other sectors deprived.

The Anti-Chinese riots of 1931

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Wanpaoshan used to be a small village located north of Changchun, Manchuria. The town was marshy and alongside Itung river. Japanese Empire had at the time taken power over Koreans. Some Koreans decided to lease a large piece of land from a Chinese broker with the intention of irrigation practices. In preparation for the irrigation, they dug a ditch some kilometers along but extended from the Itung River to a piece of land that was exclusive of what they had leased and was at the time occupied by the local Chinese farmers. On seeing this, local Chinese farmers protested by reporting the activity to the Wanpaoshan local authorities. At this time, a considerable length of the ditch had already been dug which called for action to be taken. Police were dispatched, and the Koreans were ordered to terminate the project and leave the area immediately. On the other hand, the Imperial Japanese Consul from Changchun also sent Japanese consular police for the Koreans protection. The collision between the Japanese and Chinese authorities based in the city called for an agreement point that the matter needed joint investigation.

 

Wanpaoshan Incident- Joint investigation needed time to lunch and complete and the Chinese farmers got impatient. Four hundred local Chinese farmers who were whose lands were cut by the ditch decided to take matters in their own hands, armed with pikes and agricultural tools. Their main aim was to drive the Koreans away however they also filled the most substantial part of the ditch. As the incident took place, Japanese consular police tried to disperse the group while protecting the Koreans farmers by firing rifles. Luckily, no casualties were recorded, and Chinese farmers withdrew. Japanese police had to guard the project until the Koreans farmers were able to finalize on digging the ditch and dam along the Itung River.

 

Anti-Chinese riots in Korea incident- the incident happened in Pyongyang, Korea as a result of the Wanpaoshan Incident. Anti-Chinese riots were severe as opposed to the Wanpaoshan Incident and even had to be published in both Japanese and Korean newspapers. The riots started at Incheon on July 3 and spread all over Korea cities. Chinese authorities claimed that one hundred and forty-six lives were lost, five hundred and forty-six wounded and properties of great value destroyed with July 5 as a day that worst rioting happened in Pyongyang. The Chinese authorities also lamented that the authorities in Japanese did not take precautions to protect Chinese lives and properties and also failed to prohibit the publishing of inflammatory accounts. In defense, Japanese authorities claimed that the riots were random outbursts that were settled as soon as they could and also gave compensation to the families that were bereaved.

 

Anti-Korean sentiment in China incident- in response to the Anti-Chinese riots, riots by Chinese against Koreans erupted in China. The hatred and ethnicity among Koreans and Chinese grew dramatically. According to an article published by the New York Times, in Jilin alone, ten thousand Koreans were brutally killed by the Chinese ethnic groups. Several Korean houses were also burnt down and looted in the province. In Supingkai, anti-Korean riot claimed three hundred lives. May 1931, Chinese boycotted Japanese-made products as a way of resistance.

 

Results- the situation was worse and called for Japanese and Chinese authorities to come up with ways to resolve the situation. On the one hand, Chinese felt that Koreans broke the law by leasing land outside of Gando District according to Gando Convention. On the other hand, maintained that since Koreans were Japanese subjects, they had the right to lease land all over South Manchuria and that the Koreans were in good faith apart from the Chinese broker. Koreans farmers remained.

Ewha Womans University

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History

Ewha is a school in Seoul Korea that holds a lot of history behind its name. A determined woman named Mary F. Scranton founded the university in 1886. The school was designed for woman seeking higher education. As of today, the University still operates and functions effectively providing students a host of essential courses. Although, the school is in Korea, it provides courses to many different ethnic backgrounds and services students from more than 70 countries.

Statistics

Ewha features graduate and undergraduate courses and today it has more than fifteen thousand students that are currently enrolled. One hundred and seven-two thousand who successfully graduated and achieved a Bachelor’s degree. More than forty-eight thousand who have received their master’s degree and over four thousand who have received a Doctorate degree.

Housing Dorms

This enormous school has a host of housing dorms that is quite useful for students that attend. EWHA offers students on campus dorming and off campus dorming options. Today, more than four thousand students currently occupy the dorming facilities. The students are matched with dorms pertaining to the courses of study. Furthermore, the school provides the students a variety of accommodations while in the dorm, such as recreation, cultural programs and essential academic programs.

Most of the rooms are completely furnished where others just include the basic materials, such as desks and beds. Prices typically start at three hundred and fifty thousand, but are well worth the payment for the quality and professionalism the school offers. Moreover, there are scholarship programs available through the school to assist students with financial hardship. Students are provided hot/cold meals twice a day with access to refrigerator, microwaves and many useful accessories.

Academic Affairs

This department consists of professional administrators who are there to help students along the way. They typically handle calendar scheduling, arranging school events, directing academic courses and student reviews on performance of grades and day-to-day management with administration and faculty concerns.

Registration Process

Non-English registers interested will adhere to an application process and will then be required to write a brief essay. Once this process is complete, the registrar will then be notified for a thorough interview. Furthermore, students will then be notified whether they fit the criteria to attend. In addition, students may be required to provide identity credentials, such as a passport, English language certification etc.; Unqualified registrars are usually notified by mail if they are not selected to attend EWHA.

Visitors

To get an idea and hands on experience of the University there are a host of tours that are available usually from Monday through Saturday and other guided tours are available from Monday through Friday. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn and visit all the nearby amenities and attractions offered. The touring process is open to anyone that has interest in EWHA and what they have to offer. However, they must receive full consent from the school before partaking in touring with EWHA.

1948- Women Gain Their Rights

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Source : jia.sipa.columbia.edu

After decades of occupation and dictatorship Korea attempted to become a democracy in 1948. A traditionally male-dominant society due to their adherence to the male-dominated religion of Confucianism, the 1948 Constitution guaranteed all citizens equal treatment under the law and that religion, gender and social status no longer could legally provide a barrier to personal and political rights.

As is often the case it took some time for these legal decrees to actually become practiced in the law and indeed there is still a gender equality gap in South Korean society.

The religious influence of Confucianism led to a strictly patriarchal society. Women were expected to maintain and stay in the home and defer to the man of the house on all things. Their rights to own property, even as an inheritance from their husband, were severely limited. The Constitution, through its various forms since 1948, has always guaranteed women the legal right to leave the home, vote and hold positions in business and cultural institutions. Though women have had these rights for decades they have not been put into practice and often the courts reflected the patriarchal attitude as opposed to the constitutional attitude. Women were not generally allowed “out of the house” until later, and this is reflected in their participation in government.

Between the adoption of this Constitution in 1948 and 2004 the percent of women in the South Korean National Assembly was less than three (2.9%), with only three years in that period (1973, 2000, 2004) seeing women elected to over five percent of parliamentary positions. 2004 was the highest percent of any year in that range at 13%, more than doubling the second highest year of 2000 at 5.9%

These low numbers persisted even though several administrations in South Korea pledged to do better. It was not until the election of Kim Jae-jung in 1998 that things truly began to turn around for women in South Korea.

Kim Jae-jung ran on an inclusive platform aimed specifically at women. His campaign was a success on some levels. 50% of voters in his election were women, the highest percentage at the time. He promised to appoint four women to Cabinet positions and to help get elected officials achieve being at least 30% women in parliament.

He also changed several policies and laws to become fairer to women and to reflect their equal standing with men under the nations Constitution. He also passed the Gender Discrimination Prevention and Relief Act in 1999 which resulted in the formation of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, a government organization dedicated to increasing participation by women in all aspects of South Korean culture including politics.

In reality his policies fell short of his promises. Though many legal steps forward were taken in favor of women’s rights government participation fell short. The year Kim Jae-jung promised to have 30% of parliament was 2000, where the percent was only 5.9%.

There has been an increase in women’s participation in government since Kim Jae-jung’s tenure. In local and national elections more and more women enter the political arena by seeking office. They still make up a small percentage of elected of officials but they are exercising their freedoms and their rights by running for office and gaining ground against the patriarchal tendencies of their culture. Women overwhelmingly register for liberal parties, making up 70% of the Democratic Liberal Party in 1995 although general participation in organized parties is minimal.

It is notable that women in South Korea attained suffrage and equal rights under the law without violence. This method is atypical in history.

The Division of Korea

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The division between North and South Korea happened after the conclusion of World War II, and it ended the Japanese rule, which had been in effect for 35 years. The United States and the USSR each took control of one half of the former country of Korea, with the USA taking the south and the USSR taking the north. The two countries attempted to negotiate towards the goal of a unified Korea, but failed. As a result, elections were held in the south portion in 1948, supervised by the United Nations. The winner was Syngman Rhee, who was a noted anti-communist. Meanwhile, in the north, Kim Il-sung was named leader by Joseph Stalin.

The Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

South Korea became the Republic of Korea and North Korea became the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and both governments claimed that they were the official government of the entire Korean peninsula. This eventually lead to the Korean War, which began in 1950. Korea had previously been unified for centuries, and the sudden division was viewed as extremely contentious right away by both governments. It was also seen as temporary. After the governments were established, and before the official start of the war, both sides engaged in various conflicts along the dividing border. The forces of North Korea eventually took it a step further by invading the south. The UN immediately intervened with a force led by the USA.

While North Korea’s forces were in the South, they attempted to unite Korea under their regime. Initially, the intervention from the UN was supposed to restore the border, however, both Syngman Rhee and General Douglas MacArthur agreed that North Korea’s forces had ruined the border concept entirely. MacArthur further said that he wanted to pursue uniting Korea, not just driving the North back to their territory.

The Korean War

North Korea’s forces were able to take over 90 percent of the South’s territory before being attacked by US forces. The North’s forces were driven from the South, and then South Korean and UN forces crossed the previous border. Before this happened, China warned that it would get involved if the South tried to take over the North. As the North had attempted to do, the South also tried to unite Korea with its occupation. However, China finally intervened, as it said it would, and drove the South’s forces back into their own territory.

By 1951, the 38th parallel had become a fairly stable front line for the ongoing war, but both sides began to consider peace. Syngman Rhee wanted the war continue until the South won, but the North’s side wanted an armistice. After three years, both sides eventually signed the Korean Armistice Agreement, which created the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Rhee did not accept the agreement and continued to lobby for uniting Korea by force.

Present Day Korean Relations

North and South Korea have remained in technical conflict since the Korean War, which never really ended in a final sense. Both governments have continued to claim ownership of the Korean peninsula, and negotiations between both countries have generally failed to produce any results towards unification, or even full peace. Military confrontations have continued as well. North Korea is largely supported by China in the present day as the USSR no longer exists. South Korea is still strongly supported by the United States and its allies.

In 2018, some progress was made as the North’s leader Kim Jong-un met with the South’s leader Moon Jae-in. The leaders met in the DMZ and signed the Panmunjom Declaration to end military activities at the border.

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