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Identify when Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, and Mongolia became independent countries and describe how independence was achieved.

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Topics on the Page

China and Taiwan
The Two Koreas
  • Country Comparison
  • Post World War II Partition
  • The Korean War
  • North Korean Leadership
    • Kim Jong-un
  • North Korean Nuclear Program
  • Sanctions Against North Korea

Focus Question: How did the countries of Northeast Asia gain independence?

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China and Taiwan

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  • For historical background on China before 1800, go to World History WHI.23 and WHI.24.

  • For historical background on China in the 19th century, see World History WHII.13.

  • For historical background on China in the 20th century, see World History WHII.33 and WHII.34

external image Nuvola_North_and_South_Korean_flags.svgThe Two Koreas

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The image to the right shows the Korean Peninsula as seen by satellite view.
  • While South Korea has lights and cities, North Korea is left in the dark

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  • For historical information on Korea, link to World History WHI.28

Flag of North Korea

Japan invaded Korea and occupied it until the end of World War II (1945)

primary_sources.PNGClick here for the Korean Declaration of Independence from 1919. It was written by Koreans to protest the Japanese rule.

Country Comparison
South and North Korea: How Do the Two Countries Compare an article from the Guardian that compares life in North Korea vs. South Korea

map_icon.jpeg40 Maps That Explain North Korea

Post World War II Partition

After World War II, Korea was then split up by the victors.
  • south-korea-flag.gifNorth of the 38th parallel went to Soviet control, and became North Korea.
    • South Korea went under the control of the United States.

The Korean War
  • In 1950, North Korea (later with the help of the Chinese) invaded South Korea
    • It was an effort to take over the whole peninsula and reunite the country.
  • The United Nations sent troops, led by the U.S., to repel the invasion
    • The Korean War was fought from 1950 to 1953, until a cease-fire was agreed on.
      • The Korean war has been in a truce since 1953.
  • North Korea and South Korea are, technically, still at war.
  • Effectively, however, the two are separate states
    • with a democracy in the south and a growing economy
    • a dictatorship in the north that leaves many North Korean people in poverty and isolation.

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North Korean Leadership

The Education of Kim Jong-un, Brookings (February 2018)

North Korea Nuclear Program
North Korea's Nuclear Programme. How Advanced Is It? BBC News (August 2017)

Sanctions Against North Korea
What to Know About the Sanctions on North Korea, Council on Foreign Relations (November 27, 2017)

UN Passes Fresh Sanctions on North Korea
  • Includes charts on North Korean exports and nuclear tests

What to Read If You Want to Know More About North Korea, New York Times (January 7, 2018)


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  • Mongolia became independent in 1911.
  • It is surrounded by both Russia and China
  • As a result, it is an amalgam of those countries' two cultures and governments; its history intertwined with theirs.
  • Mongolia was part of China after the Chinese defeated the Mongols in the 1600s up until 1911.
  • Independence came during the Chinese revolution, when China was in chaos.
  • A few years later, China tried to seize control of Mongolia again
    • The Russian revolution created the Soviet government, which protected Mongolia from the Chinese in the early 1920s.
  • Mongolia remains culturally Asian and Chinese and governmentally Russian and Soviet (even though the Soviet Union is defunct).
timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline on Mongolia

Sources :
country information, maps, and flags
maps (public source)