Following World War II, Korea was split between the Soviet-allied Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the American-allied Republic of Korea (South Korea). The two powers instituted their political ideologies in their areas of domination, leading to the division of the Korean people into two states.
In the 1950's Korea served as a proxy battleground for the two powers, and while North Korea had a strong sense of independence from foreign powers, playing China off of Russia and vice versa, South Korea had heavy US influence and a substantial military presence of over 40,000 troops. The two nations were technically at war up into the 1980's.
Due to the relationship of the two Koreas with the combatants on Doomsday, they were both hit by nuclear warheads on Doomsday. South Korea was hit first and hardest, bombs knocking out Seoul, the capital and the headquarters of the US Korean army and navy, Pyeongtaek, the US air force HQ, Gunsan, another major air force base, and the US navy base in Chinhae. The missiles were launched at 10:40 local time and arrived shortly afterwards. All four explosions were visible throughout the peninsula, and most Koreans can tell you exactly what they were doing at the time. The explosions triggered the re-ignition of the war, and while infrastructure and communications of the Republic of Korea had been destroyed, the pulse from the explosions cut off the North Koreans as well. A crazy, confused battle raged with communication provided solely by messenger, and by the occasional distant lights of bombs going off in Japan and China. Meanwhile, people in North Korea scrambled for cover, wondering if a bomb was heading for them. After six hours or more, the US launched warhead detonated over Pyongyang, and also at several locations on the Russian coast to the north. Kim Il-Sung, warned by the fate of the nation to the South, survived the blast in a bunker 20 miles out of Pyongyang. Most South Korean Leaders were killed in the attack, and both sides had their communications completely disrupted.
Second Korean WarWhile the American Military took a beating in the atomic strikes, the South Korean Military's losses were mostly in infrastructure, and were paralleled in the North. Due to lack of communications, local officers carried out the war, penetrating lines on both sides in multiple places. As September ended, North Korea's structural superiority showed through and they gained ground rapidly. However, they were soon faced with a second invasion -- one composed of massive numbers of Chinese refugees and marauders. Wherever they went, civilization vanished, and Kim Il-sung ordered the military to repulse the "invaders."
The refugees came heaviest over land, but they also came by sea, throwing much of Korea's coast into chaos. Ironically, the irradiated zones on South Korea's coast protected it from the worst of the situation. North Korea was now fighting a two front war and trying to control its people. Several of the South Korean cities experienced massive unrest, and the largest ones came under the control of popular demagogues who civil authorities were forced to bow to and the army to recognize for the time, the Northern and Chinese threat being deemed more important. indeed, the demagogues proved more capable of maintaining control than the traditional authorities. The South and North reached a standstill as both struggled to retain their hold on the area they each owned. Hundreds of thousands of people began to die of radiation exposure. and with the military situation, hiding out in shelters was not an option. Both Nations began to mobilize as much of their population as possible, pulling out decades of stored armaments. the newly mobilized troops ended up maintaining control of the countryside and repelling Chinese as much as fighting the war between the two nations.
The South Korean forces, including the remaining 15,000 US troops, were at this point led by three or four generals, while North Korea was still under the direction of Kim Il-sung. On October 3rd, 1983, Kim declared "We must Unite". He offered major concessions to the southern Generals and cities in exchange for military aid. While there was a great deal of mutual mistrust at first, the southern generals, the demagogues, and the Communist north came together in the "unification war”, and began to drive the Chinese out of Korea.
Formation of the Korean Union
Formed at the urging of Kim Il-sung, the Korean Union was initially an agreement for the different parts of Korea to accept each other's existence and act together as Koreans. In order to ensure a balance of power, and also to recognize the Southern Cities with their recent degree of autonomy, the Union of Korea was formed from Provinces, the National Governments having their influence through the provinces. The main blocs were led by Kim Il-sung, who had eight provinces under his control, an alliance of generals from both sides controlling three provinces in the center of Korea, an aspiring orator by the name of Chung Ki-deol leading the autonomous southern cities and Son Man-su, who lead the remnant of South Korea's Government and six provinces. In the beginning, The System was a series of agreements to aid and coordinate policing, and military efforts, but as conditions stabilized in late 1984, The Korean Union was formed, run strongly at the local level, but creating a "general committee", an "executive council", and a "Chief General", to handle foreign and military affairs. Power was centralized in the five-man executive council, the main role of the general committee being to appoint the executive council, which maintained a large degree of control over the Chief General. The economic affairs of the provinces where managed on a provincial level, but trust was built.
The greatest obstacle the Korean Union faced was that of Chinese refugees, which continues to be a problem today. Early on, the decision was made "If China cannot feed China, how could Korea feed China". This sentiment was received as a matter of course by some and with more difficulty by others. The Chinese had arrived in two main ways --- by land, filling of the northern corners of North Korea, and the other was by sea, over running the western coast and islands. Pushing back the refugees by land back into China was simple enough, but those who came by sea were harder, first, because it was much more obvious they had nowhere to go, and second, because those that did have boats got into the habit of packing up in one spot and touching down in another. They also on occasion entered radiated zones that the Korean Troops were very reluctant to enter, and were forced to patrol to prevent a second wave of anarchy. During this time, the local governments ruled their own people with an iron hand, even the large cities that provided much of the economic strength to maintain the massive armies conscripted to push back the Chinese. In 1986, much of the north had been reclaimed, but the coastal situation had spread too much of the southern coast of Korea. In the end, the Korean navy sent patrols to capture or destroy Chinese-manned vessels, and forced marches of refugees were conducted to the northern border. Many of the refugees died on these marches from hunger and exhaustion, but the Korean leaders continued their "how can Korea feed China policy".
In the meantime, huge numbers of Chinese had assimilated Korean society and become productive citizens as an immigrant workforce, due to desperation many immigrants became de facto slaves for their Korean employers. Chinese were tied to the rising crime rate, and some provinces decided to expel them. Most of the other provinces refused to take them, and insisted they be conducted to the border like the other Chinese, but one general who controlled one of the central provinces stepped forward and said that as they had a enough rice for themselves, he would take the Chinese, form a camp, and keep them to themselves. The Chinese labors in this camp quickly gained a reputation for cheap labor, and were extensively used in the hard labor of rebuilding the nation. By 1992, the only permanent Chinese holding on the coast were pirates, and the Koreans took control of their coasts. In 1993 with progress of refugee expulsion in the north slowing, and much of the landscape scoured by the sheer numbers, it was decided to create a Refugee Emergency Zone. Construction began on a wall several km inland of the northern border to keep refugees out of the rest of the country. The lands beyond the wall were still claimed by the Korean government, but abandoned to the refugees. The wall was completed in 1996 and despite periodical breaches has been successful in keeping large numbers of refugees out of the country.
In 1984-1986, Koreans had no effective neighbors. They refused to parley with the thousands of Chinese leaders, and Japan drew into itself. They gradually became aware of the existence of Soviet Siberia through rumors among the Chinese. Siberia also learned of Korea, and in 1986 they sent a boat to establish contact. The first meeting was tense, but contact was established, and the two nations were later able to start a small scale exchange of goods and information. Later in the decade, the contacts increased as radio relay stations were established at Siberian bases through Manchuria, and a shipping fleet became established between the two countries.
Jeju and the American Military
Throughout the turmoil of the mid 80's, the American troops in Korea were not only loyal to the South Korean Generals, they stuck together and eventually formed what they called the American Forces of Korea (AFOK). While they fought with enthusiasm, they felt very isolated, even from their allies. In 1984, American Troops from Japan began to arrive, leaving a population that despised them. In 1985, the AFOK announced its intention to set up headquarters on the island of Jeju, which had been overrun by Chinese marauders since October of 1983. The invasion was a costly one, with many casualties on both sides, though the marauders suffered many more than the AFOK. Very little of the former population of the island was left, most having been killed by marauders.
Seeing this, the AFOK began to invite civilians to immigrate to the conquered territory. The response came mainly from Displaced North Koreans and especially from Korea's new Chinese Population. The Americans gradually began to assimilate into the culture of their new home, but the resulting culture was a unique blend of Chinese, American and Korean Customs. After a short spurt of growth, Jeju was repopulated, and immigration was restricted like the rest of Korea. There has been much debate about the status of Jeju or the "foreign Isle" as the Koreans often call it. Before Doomsday it was its own province, and it is economically very much a part of Korea, but the nationalism that holds the Korean Union together is against making Jeju a province.
7 Day War and Democratization
With the refugee problem under control, and heavy agriculture investment beginning to pay off for the food supply, the next problem facing the union government was the growing resurgence in democratic activism in South Korea. With the borders now open between nations this movement began taking root in the north as well, where it found fertile ground in the people held down by communist rule for years. While many generals were desperate to hold on to their power, the US soldiers who had been integrated into the Korean military had spread the ideals of freedom and democracy to many of the common soldiers, who refused to prop up a military rule when it wasn't wanted by the people. Most of the southern generals realized that a return to civilian rule was inevitable and began drawing up plans for a new constitution, involving important civilian and business leaders. In the north there was more resistance to this move, many generals moved to consolidate their power. In 1998 South Korean leaders brought their proposals to Kim Il-sung for an official constitution for all of Korea. Not wanting to entirely give up power but realizing his reaching to the south for aid had brought unwanted influences to his people he conceded to negotiate a lasting permanent constitution. During these negotiations Kim Il-sung died of various complications due to his age. This left a power vacuum in the north, with the south claiming that Kim Il-sung had agreed to a turnover to civilian rule, many of the northern generals, decreed that power over the north should remain with Il-sung's son and successor, Kim Jong-il. Fighting broke out on March 27th 1998 and with the majority of the armed forces under federal control or deserting rather than fight to prop up a military rule; the communist forces fell apart seven days later on April 3rd with the death of Kim Jong-il.
Constitutional talks continued afterwards and the new constitution was adopted in August of 1999, with the first national elections occurring in September.
Re-establishment of outside contact
Korea had contact with the outside world since 1986 through Siberia, but it was the arrival of the "Benjamin Franklin" that established the first real contact with the world outside of Asia. The contact was received in a lukewarm fashion on the mainland, but enthusiastically on Jeju, especially among the men of the former American forces gathered there. The "Benjamin Franklin" picked up as many men who wanted to leave Jeju as they could, which meant that many more would stay behind. Fortunately, most of the Americans wanted to stay with their new families in their new home, and became a bridge between Korea and the Anglosphere. The Korean Union determined to be "independent of outside influence", and while Jeju gained status in the eyes of the outside world, it would further alienate the people of Jeju and the mainland Koreans from each other and create a cause for conflict between APA and its later CANZ, advocater of more rights for the people of Jeju and the Koreans who wanted to reverse the increase of autonomy for Jeju and feared that Jeju will try to become independent.
GovernmentKorea has a federal System, with most of the power concentrated in at the level of provinces. The styles of these provinces are quite diverse, each having its own constitution. Officially, there are five types: Federal Provinces, Cities, and Districts, as well as Military and Autonomous districts. The first two send delegates to the Korean parliament, though different methods are used to select the delegates. The provinces are mostly based on old boundaries, though new borders have been drawn to reflect the depopulation of certain areas.
The Federal Provinces form the majority of the Korean Union territory. They have different sets of laws, though internal trade is uniformly regulated and considered to be the heart of Korea.
The Federal Cities gained virtual independence in the wake of Doomsday and have never really given it up. They are economic and political centers with almost complete control over their own economies.
The Federal district is the capital of Korea, and is administered directly by the Korean parliament and men appointed by it.
Military districts are areas deemed too volatile to be incorporated as a province at this time. They are controlled by various generals and include areas along the former Chinese border and the communities around Seoul. Like the federal district, they do not send people into the parliament, but the rest of Korea is very involved in making sure their brethren are taken care of.
The isle of Jeju is the sole Autonomous District. It was originally a military district, but the military control has mostly disappeared. The main obstacles to acceptance as a federal province are cultural and ethical. Jeju has collected people from several different nations: the majority being Chinese, but with large Korean, American and Japanese elements, and the Korean nationalism, that is the basis of the Korean Union has no place for the diversity of Jeju.
The people of Korea elect two presidents and the leader of the majority party in parliament serves as prime minister. The presidents are elected on four year intervals and on separate years. This strange election-system is designed to keep any one group from dominating the country. The entire population, including Jeju and the Military Provinces, can vote for both presidents.
Korea has a diversity of political parties. Ones prominent on a national scale include;
- The National Democratic Party of Korea (NDK) : common throughout the country; leans to the right and promotes international trade and interaction
- The Democratic Socialist Party of Korea (DSK): common through all Korea; focuses on building the nation's infrastructure and providing for less fortunate Koreans
- The National Korean Party (NKP): common through Korea, weak in Jeju; exact platforms change frequently, but places an emphasis on Korean "Unity and Independence"
- The Nationalist Liberal Party of Korea (NLP): dominant in the Federal Cities; promotes civil freedoms and trade, as well as autonomy for individual provinces
- The Socialist Workers Party of Korea (NSPK): common in the north; large focus on government programs and the military.
- The Korean National Party (KNP): found through Korea, though not in Jeju (where it is called the "Koreans Only National Party); it focuses on foreign threats, both military, political and cultural.
Presidents are usually sponsored by multiple parties, so the politics of Korea are rather fluid.
Before Doomsday, the economy of South Korea was rapidly growing, while the industrial economy of North Korea had been stagnant for almost the last decade. After South Korea lost its markets and source of imports, its economy fell and had to readjust. North Korea was more independent of other nations, but its economy still could not provide a high standard of living for its people. South Korea was very fortunate in that it set a goal to reduce its food imports in 1981 after a drought, and had just reached the capability to feed itself.
After Doomsday, the Korean economy found itself producing the wrong goods for the wrong markets. Much of its machinery had to be modified or turned to purposes other than the original design planned for, but this situation has happily been reversed. It also had a great energy problem, which is still an issue today but which is now obtained from Siberia and Indonesia. Korea is a famous manufacturing center and most of its exports are manufactured goods. Siberia is Korea's largest trading partner, but not a dominant one, as Korean goods are exported all over the world.
More to come ...
The Korean Union's immediate neighbors consist of some of the worst torn areas of China, isolationist Japan and Siberia. Korea has adopted harsh policies to deal with the Chinese, and there is a great deal of animosity between them. The Koreans have had more contact with the Japanese than anyone else, but that is not saying much. Korea's relationship with Socialist Siberia has been long and fruitful, but tense. They conduct a good deal of trade by sea, but communication by land has been relatively rare. The two nations have often considered an alliance to restore order to former Manchuria, but plans have always fallen apart over the status of the proposed Manchu state, Siberia claiming jurisdiction as the rightful successor of the PRC, while the Koreans, fearful of becoming a puppet of another foreign power, demand the territory be established as an independent buffer state, established by both nations.
During the recent state visit of USSR-chairman Tuleyev, Korea declined to be a part of the CSTO, a new Siberian-led alliance. It did agree to cooperate on a bilateral level with Siberia on matters of importance to both nations, specifically trade and defense.
Korea maintains fairly good relationships with most of the League of Nation countries, Particularly those in the Pacific. Politically they do little, trying hard to stay as "independent" as possible by not supporting one bloc or the other, though they are known to make odd decisions when tensions are low. Most interactions with countries other than Siberia or Japan goes through the metropolitan Jeju, the "gate of Korea", despite the fact that this area is not culturally a part of Korea.