North Korea


Overview

Human Rights Watch has called North Koreans “some of the world’s most brutalized people” due to restrictions against their political and economic freedoms. North Korea has strained international relationships with many countries, including South Korea, with whom many attempts at reunion of the states have been made, all resulting in failure. Currently, North Korea is accelerating its nuclear weapons program in response to South Korea’s unveiling of their THAAD defense system, which North Korea opposes. North Korea is at odds with not only South Korea over its nuclear program, but also Japan and the United States. The United Nations has also imposed sanctions against North Korea due to its refusal to halt its nuclear development.

Facts

Where: North Korea

Population: 25.4 million

Prisoners: 200,000 

Current nuclear capability: Believed to be able to miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit on ICBM missiles

Intercontinental ballistic missile range: Claim the ability to hit anywhere in the USA.

Key actors

has rescinded peaceful talks with South Korea and is also antagonistic with the United States and Japan due to their nuclear program and their refusal to denuclearize

borders North Korea, who they split with in 1945 and have since been adversaries. South Korea is allied with the U.S.A, who assist in military training and drills.

supports South Korea and is attempting to force North Korea into de-nuclearization

imposed increased sanctions against North Korea in an attempt to persuade its de-nuclearization as its missile tests increased in 2017

Timeline of the crisis

End of WWII, Korean territory taken from Japan by Allied forces

Free elections held in the US-occupied south of Korea results in the creation of the Republic of Korea; North Korea becomes the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea founded by Kim Il-Sung

North Korea threatens to quit the nuclear non-proliferation treaty but later withdrawals this threat.

Kim Jong-Il takes power after the death of his father, Kim Il-Sung

North Korea withdraws from the nuclear nonproliferation treaty

North Korea announces that they have attained nuclear weapons.

North Korea conducts an underground nuclear test.

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak takes office and introduces hard-line strategy of relations with North Korea over the issue of nuclear demilitarization

North Korea ends peace agreements with South Korea

North Korea deploys additional ballistic missiles

North Korea attacks Yeonpyeong Island, killing 4 South Koreans and injuring an additional 19

Kim Jong-Un takes power following his father’s state funeral

South Korea asks the United States Pentagon for information concerning the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in the interests of defense against North Korean nuclear missiles

THAAD system fully operational in South Korea

North Korean foreign minister accuses the United States of declaring war against North Korea (false), and claims it has the right to shoot down United States bombers

North Korea accuses the United States of threatening them with “nuclear aircraft carriers and strategic bombers”

Donald Trump announces the “largest ever” sanctions package against North Korea. The latter nevertheless says that it is willing to start direct talks with America.

A meeting takes place between a high-ranking South Korean delegation and Kim Jong-un during a historic visit by the South Koreans to Pyongyang

North Korea, it is announced, is willing to discuss denuclearization if it can begin direct talks with the U.S. Kim Jong-un is also said to be scheduled to meet his South Korean counterpart in April, in the first summit of its kind in more than a decade

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un makes an unannounced visit to Beijing, China, in what is his first foreign visit since taking power in 2011.

Kim Jong-un makes a historic visit to South Korea, where he meets
South Korean President Moon Jae-in for talks at the border crossing between both countries. During that meeting they agree to end hostile actions and work towards reducing nuclear arms on the peninsula.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says that North Korea’s nuclear test site, Punggye-ri will be closed. Foreign experts from South Korea and the US will be invited to watch the closure.

South Korea starts taking down the loudspeakers along its border with North Korea. The speakers had for years been used to blast propaganda across their mutual border.

North Korea blows up one of its nuclear facilities in a show of good faith ahead of the summit with the President of the United States.

Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump meet in Singapore in a historic moment, as it is the first time a North Korean leader has met the U.S. President. An agreement was signed to encourage positive relations between the U.S. and North Korea, stating North Korea’s desire for peace on the Korean peninsula and their commitment to steps toward denuclearization. 

North Korea reportedly returns the remains of 200 missing U.S. soldiers from the Korean War.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Kim Yong Chol in Pyongyang to address progress since the June 12th summit. While Pompeo believed the talks went well, the North Korean Foreign Ministry characterized them as “unilateral and robber like”

A secret North Korean uranium enrichment site, named Kangston by US intelligence is discovered

North and South Korea open their first joint liaison office in Kaesong

Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in meet in Pyongyang for their third summit

During the summit the two leaders announce the Pyongyang Joint Declaration, agreeing to expand the cessation of military hostilities

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang to confirm the dismantling of nuclear test sites and discuss plans for a second summit between US President Trump and Kim Jong Un

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