The Korean Peninsula

Two North Korean soldiers at the inter-Korean border at Panmunjom, where the border between South and North Korea can be crossed. This border crossing was used for the first time by the leaders of both Korean states in April 2018; normally it is used only by the UN Command.
Die innerkoreanische Grenze in Panmunjom. Der linke, sandige Teil des Weges liegt auf nordkoreanischer, der rechte, mit Kies bestreute Teil des Weges auf südkoreanischer Seite. Der Betonstreifen quer über den Weg markierte die innerkoreanische Grenze. Sie wurde im April 2018 zum ersten Mal von beiden koreanischen Regierungsoberhäuptern überquert.

PDF-Icon The development of the conflict over North Korea’s nuclear programme

The Korean peninsula was part of the Japanese colonial empire from 1910 until the end of the Second World War. Following the surrender of Japan, Korea was divided along the 38th parallel, the North being occupied by the Soviet Union and the South by the United States. What was supposed to be a transitional solution led in 1948 to the foundation of two states with opposing political systems: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Ever since, there has been a border of about 250 kilometres long and four kilometres wide, the so-called demilitarised zone (DMZ). Despite its name, this is one of the most militarised zones in the world. Violent clashes often occur along this border zone as well as along the disputed maritime border line.

Both Korean states joined the United Nations in 1991, but they do not recognise each other and remain formally at war. The Korean War began with North Korea’s attack on the South in 1950. It became the first active Cold War conflict. The 1953 ceasefire between the United Nations (represented by the United States), China and North Korea ended the war. South Korea has not signed the ceasefire agreement.

Ethnic cohesiveness, the goal of reunification and South Korea’s security alliance with the USA are key issues dominating inter-Korean relations. These issues influence the Koreas’ readiness for exchange and cooperation as well as their mutual perceptions as security threats.

Publications

Hanns Günther Hilpert, Oliver Meier

Interests, Interdependencies and a Gordian Knot

in: Hanns Günther Hilpert, Oliver Meier (eds.)
Facets of the North Korea Conflict

Actors, Problems and Europe’s Interests

Contributions to Research Papers 2018/RP 12, December 2018, 85 Pages, S. 7-10
Eric J. Ballbach

North Korea: Between Autonomy-Seeking and the Pursuit of Influence

in: Hanns Günther Hilpert, Oliver Meier (eds.)
Facets of the North Korea Conflict

Actors, Problems and Europe’s Interests

Contributions to Research Papers 2018/RP 12, December 2018, 85 Pages, S. 11-16
Hanns Günther Hilpert, Elisabeth Suh

South Korea: Caught in the Middle or Mediating from the Middle?

in: Hanns Günther Hilpert, Oliver Meier (eds.)
Facets of the North Korea Conflict

Actors, Problems and Europe’s Interests

2018/RP 12, December 2018, 85 Pages, S. 17-21
Hanns Günther Hilpert, Oliver Meier

“Seoul Goes Nuclear”: How South Korea Became a Nuclear Weapon State

in: Lars Brozus (ed.)
While We Were Planning

Unexpected Developments in International Politics. Foresight Contributions 2018

Contributions to Research Papers 2018/RP 05, September 2018, 46 Pages, S. 31-35
Eric J. Ballbach

North Korea’s Engagement in International Institutions

The Case of the ASEAN Regional Forum

in: International Journal of Korean Unification Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2017, pp. 35−65
Hanns Maull, Helena Largarda

Kim Jong-un is his own worst enemy

in: MERICS Blog – European Voices on China, 23.08.2017 (Chapter: “Korean Peninsula”), (online)
Hanns Günther Hilpert

A Comparison of German and Korean Division: Analogies and Differences

in: International Journal of Korean Unification Studies, 19 (1) 2010, pp. 126-156