|1945 – 60: The Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945, cause the peninsula to came under divided rule: the USSR occupied Korea north of the 38th parallel, while the U.S. occupied the southern section. Under UN auspices, a democratic government established the Republic of Korea (South Korea) in 1948 with its capital in Seoul. The Communists established the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) with its capital in P’yongyang. On June 25, 1950, the North Korean Army invaded the South, starting the Korean War. UN forces helped the South while Communist Chinese volunteers sided with the North, resulting in a three year war which left millions dead on both sides. (The Korean War section gives greater detail about this period, including a day-by-day calendar with historical events, diary entries from people who were there, and period photographs.) Student protests against the corrupt government caused Syngman Rhee to step down as president in 1960.|
| 1988 – 92: General Noh, Tae-woo, Chun’s chosen political successor, won the presidential election. The opposition party failed to field a single candidate, splitting the opposition vote and giving Noh a comfortable win. During his term, President Noh’s government established diplomatic relations with many non-capitalist countries, including the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union, both long-term allies of communist North Korea. The successful hosting of the 1988 Olympic Games brought Korea to the center stage of world recognition.
1992 – 1996: The election of President Kim, Young-sam ushered in a new era of civilian rule. Since taking office he worked hard to reform the widely criticized regulatory system through his “New Economy” and “Globalization” programs. The implementation of the real-name financial transaction act put an end to the easy hiding of hot money. Another 2,000 rules and regulations were abolished or amended during Presdient Kim’s term. Despite the many contibutions he made, Kim, Young-sam will probably be remembered most for the dismal economic situation the country was in when he left office.
|1997 – present: The election of President Kim, Dae-jung marked the first time an opposition leader has been elected as president in Korea. After failing in four other attempts to win the popular vote, his party joined with the party of Kim, Jong-pil, and riding the population’s growing resentment towards the ruling party, gained the narrow majority needed to gain the presidency. His term immediately got off to the rocky start when the former ruling party boycotted the National Assembly session which was to have confirmed President Kim’s choice of cabinet and prime minister candidates. Go to Korea’s Future|