Korea North and South post 1945
Page last modified 17/6/2020
Korean War 1950-53
Nuclear and missile events
16/6/2020, North Korea blew up the ‘Liaison Office’, a 4-storey building in a zone of North Korea where South Koreans could work. This was a protest at propaganda balloons and food sent in by southerners from across the border.
12/6/2018, A historic summit meeting took place in Singapore between President Kim Jong Un of North Korea and President Trump of the USA.
27/4/2018, Kim Jong Un became the first leader of North Korea to cross into South Korea for a historic meeting with the South Korean leader, Moon Jae In.
28/11/2017, North Korea test fired a missile which flew 1,000 km towards the Sea of Japan. This missile attained a height in excess of 100 km then re-entered the atmosphere, proving that North Korea has missiles with a re-entry capability.
14/9/2017, North Korea fired another missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido, into the Pacific Ocean. The missile rose to an altitude of 770 km, and travelled 3,700 km, which would have taken it to Guam had it travelled southwards not east.
3/9/2017, North Korea detonated a test Hydrogen Bomb underground in its north-east. The test produced a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. The missile was reported to be capable of being fitted on an ICBM and hitting the USA.
28/8/2017, North Korea test fired a missile, which overflew the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, travelled 1,000 km and landed in the Pacific. Japan protested at the intrusion into its airspace.
28/7/2017, North Korea launched a further missile, which landed inside the Japanese Economic Zone waters. The missile attained a height which indicated it had intercontinental ballistic capabilities, threatening the US.
4/7/2017, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile which flew 930 km/580 miles, on US Independence Day.
13/6/2017, Otto Warnbier, a 22-year old student at the University of Virginia, was unexpectedly released from North Korea after more than a year in detention following his conviction for stealing a propaganda poster whilst on a tour of the country. He had been sentenced to 15 years hard labour for this offence following a 1-hour trial. He was returned in a state of severe brain damage, and died on 19/6/2017. The cause of his brain damage has not been determined.
8/6/2017, North Korea test-fired a further land to sea missile.
7/6/2017, North Korea test-fired 4 anti-ship missiles.
29/5/2017, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that flew for 280 miles in 6 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan. This was reported to be the second test-firing of a missile in two days by North Korea.
21/5/2017, North Korea test-fired a further ballistic missile.
13/5/2017, North Korea test fired a further ballistic missile, which flew 430 miles. It fell into the sea between Russia and Japan,
28/4/2017, North Korea test-fired a further ballistic missile.
16/4/2017, The day after North Korea’s annual celebrations of ‘The Day of the Sun’ (15 April, the anniversary of the birth of the founder of North Korea, President Kim Il Sung), with a large military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea attempted to launch an intercontinental ballistic rocket. However the rocket blew up on the launch pad. President Trump of the USA had, stationed a naval strike force just off North Korea, ready to strike either Pyongyang or the rocket launch pads. On 17/4/2017 North Korea threatened to conduct one missile test every week.
10/4/2017, The US sent the large aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the sea off North Korea, as a show of force.
5/4/2017, North Korea test-fired a medium range missile which they said was capable of destroying a US aircraft carrier. The missile failed.
6/3/2017, North Korean artillery fired four missiles into the Sea of Japan, as part of an exercise simulating a North Korean attack on US bases in Japan; some missiles landed within 200 miles of Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the move ‘extremely dangerous’.
12/2/2017, North Korea successfully launched a solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 missile from a submarine. This was an act of defiance against the new Trump administration in the US.
9/9/2016, North Korea conducted its 5th nuclear test, the largest to date.
7/2/2016, North Korea launched a satellite into orbit. The US and South Korea made strong protests, because the same rocket technology could be used for an intercontinental nuclear strike.
6/1/2016, North Korea claimed to have exploded a Hydrogen Bomb in an underground test. China, North Korea’s closest ally expressed anger over this and over claims that North Korea had also succeeded in firing a missile from a submarine. However the explosion was smaller than would be expected from a true Hydrogen Bomb, and may have been a ‘boosted fission’ bomb instead.
20/8/2015, Kim Jong Un, President of North Korea, put his troops on a war footing in reaction to South Korea blasting propaganda messages by loudspeaker across the border. Seoul said the propaganda broadcasts, the first since 2004, were in retaliation for a landmine that maimed two South Korean soldiers. North Korea threatened to shoot out the loudspeakers. There was also exchange of gunfire between the two countries.
16/9/2013, North Korea reopened the joint N-S industrial zone at Kaesong.
3/4/2013, North Korea closed the joint N-S industrial zone at Kaesong.
2/4/2013, North Korea said it would restart its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.
11/3/2013, North Korea cut the phone line with the South, breaking the 1953 Armistice terms.
7/3/2013, The UN Security Council unanimously agreed to tighten sanctions on North Korea.
12/2/2013, North Korea conducted a 3rd underground nuclear test, provoking fears of war with the USA.
12/12/2012, North Korea successfully launched a satellite using its Unha-3 rocket, see 13/4/2012.
18/7/2012, Kim Jong Un was officially appointed Supreme Leader of North Korea.
13/4/2012, North Korea launched a satellite, which exploded soon after take-off. The USA condemned the move. The rocket used was the Unha-3, which could theoretically carry a nuclear missile to the mainland USA. See 12/12/2012.
29/2/2012, North Korea agreed to stop enriching uranium and testing missiles.
17/12/2011, Kim Jong Il, leader of North Korea died. His youngest son, Kim Jong Un, succeeded him.
23/11/2010, North Korea shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.
26/3/2010, North Korea was blamed for the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, killing 46 of the 104 aboard.
25/5/2009, North Korea announced that it had conducted a second successful underground nuclear test; America condemned the move.
5/4/2009, North Korea fired a rocket, ostensibly to carry a satellite. The UN held an emergency session, but took no action.
13/2/2007, North Korea agreed to close its nuclear facility at Yongbyon by 14/4/2007 in return for energy aid equivalent to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil.
9/10/2006, North Korea claimed to have conducted its first ever nuclear test explosion.
7/2006, The UN and Japan imposed sanctions on N Korea, and South Korea halted food aid.
2005, North Korea announced it had nuclear weapons.
19/9/2005, North Korea agreed to stop building nuclear reactors in exchange for aid and co-operation.
2003, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
2002, The US suspended help to North Korea in building two nuclear reactors, over suspicions that the country was secretly enriching uranium for a bomb. United Nations inspectors were expelled from the Yongbyon nuclear facility.
14/6/2000, Talks between North and South Korea. As a result of these talks, a limited number of North Koreans were allowed to meet family members in the South, from whom they had been separated since the Korean War 1950-3.
1999, North Korea agreed to stop testing long-range missiles.
1998, North Korea fired a Taedong missile over Japan. A North Korean mini-submarine was captured in South Korean
1997, Major famine in Noerth Korea; estimates of those who died vaty from 100,000 to 3 million. Kim Jong Il became Party Leader.
1994, North Korea shut down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, which had been producing plutonium. This was in exchange for US aid and assistance in producing civilian nuclear power.
8/7/1994. North Korean President Kim Il Sung (born 1912) died.
11/3/1993. North Korea threatened to withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but did not in fact leave.
1991, South Korea joined the United Nations.
12/2/1991, North and South Korea formed a joint team for a table tennis competition.
1988, South Korea hosted the Olympic Games.
15/4/1988, North Korean President Kim Il Sung received 43,000 gifts as he instituted lavish celebrations for his 76th birthday.
10/6/1987, President Chun of South Korea named his successor as General Roh Tae Woo. This provoked demonstrations because Roh, close friend of Chun, had supported his coup against the military after the 1979 assassination of Park.
1986, North Korea started operations at the 5-megawatt Yongbyon nuclear reactor, which had been built with Soviet help.
1986, South Korea began exporting cars.
1/9/1983, A South Korean airliner was shot down by Soviet fighter planes after it had strayed into USSR airspace, killing 269 people.
14/10/1982. 5,837 people were married simultaneously in Seoul, South Korea; the world’s largest mass wedding.
3/1/1982, South Korea finally lifted a nightly curfew imposed 36 years earlier.
1979, South Korean President Park was assassinated,
1975, Sweden became the first Western country to set up an embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea.
1972, Martial law was declared in South Korea.
21/1/1968, North Korean commandos made an assassination attempt upon President Park of South Korea, getting within 300 metres of the Presidential Palace.
1965, South Korea restored official links with Japan.
19/7/1965, Syngman Rhee, first President of the Republic of Korea (1948-60) died in Hawaii.
1961, Military coup in South Korea led to rule by an authoritarian junta under Park Chung Hee.
1960, President Syngman Rhee resigned amidst popular discontent (The April Revoluition).
20/7/1954, The Geneva Agreement ended hostilities between North and South Korea.
10/10/1953, President Eisenhower of the USA signed a treaty with South Korea promising military aid if North Korea attacked.
27/7/1953, Armistice signed in Panmunjom, Korea, ended the Korean War. The 3-year conflict cost an estimated 4 million lives. These included 1,313,000 South Koreans, 1,000,000 of whom were civilians; 900,000 Chinese soldiers, 520,000 North Korean soldiers, and 1,000,000 North Korean civilians. There were 33,629 US casualties and 3,194 UN soldiers were killed. Across Korea, 43% of industrial facilities and 33% of homes were destroyed.
31/12/1952, China now had 1,200,000 troops under Peng TeHuai fighting alongside North Korea.
24/10/1952, In the US, Eisenhower described Korea as ‘the burial place of twenty thousand Americans’ and promised that if he was elected President he would end the Korean War. Meanwhile the United Nations remained deadlocked over the issue of the return of North Korean prisoners of War. The USSR and China wanted them all returned to North Korea, but some PoWs insisted they had been forcibly drafted into the North Korean forces and wanted to settle in South Korea.
23/6/1952. US planes bombed hydro-electric plants in North Korea. One of these was close to the Yalu River, the border between North Korea and China. The US was forced to apologise to its allies for taking the Korean war so close to the border without consulting them.
See also USA for Korean War, 1950 onwards
4/3/1952, China accused the US of germ warfare in Korea.
10/7/1951, Negotiations began between the USA and USSR over the Korean conflict. The USSR demanded a return to the 38th parallel; the US insisted on the current front line as the frontier. The US also rejected Chinese demands for a withdrawal of all foreign troops from Korea. PoWs were also an issue, with the US holding 171,000 prisoners, 50,000 of whom did not wish to return to Communist rule. Many North Koreans and Chinese wished to go to South Korea or Taiwan. The Communists, afraid of losing face, wanted all returned. Both sidcs wanted an end to the conflict; Dwight D Eisenhower, in office from 1953, was concerned at the expense of the war. Stalin’s death in 1953 in March 1953 eased the deadlock. Most of the PoWs who wanted to defect to Western countries were allowed to do so.
22/4/1951, In the Korean War, the Battle of Imjin River. Defensive action by UN troops against Chinese and N Korean forces.
11/4/1951. General MacArthur was relieved of his command by President Truman, after disagreeing over the conduct of the Korean War. MacArthur wanted to carry the war over into Communist China, and bomb Chinese bases in Manchuria. MacArthur returned to a heroes welcome in Washington, but did not realise his hopes of nomination for the US Presidential elections. From now until the Armistice of 1953 both sides fought holding actions to maintain current positions; US forces were slightly north of the 38th parallel.
31/3/1951, In the Korean War, UN / US forces once again reached the 38th parallel, the border between North and South.
4/1/1951, Seoul was evacuated by US forces (again). However at Pyongtaek, 50 km south of Seoul, the Chinese-North Korean offensive was halted. A UN counter-offensive began in late January.
1/1/1951, Chinese and North Korean forces advanced through UN lines and captured Seoul.
28/12/1950. Chinese forces in Korea crossed the 38th parallel.
28/11/1950. China entered the Korean War; 200,000 troops entered Korea across the Yalu River. UN troops were forced back south again. On 28/12/1950 Chinese forces crossed the 38th parallel. The West had ignored Chinese threats to intervene if US forces crossed north of the 38th parallel.
24/11/1950, South Korean forces began an offensive in the Yalu Valley; China planned intervention to support the North.
26/10/1950. US forces advancing in North Korea reached the Yalu River, the border between North Korea and China.
19/10/1950. US and South Korean forces captured Pyongyang, during the Korean War. The UN General Assembly declared an aim of a united Korea.
29/8/1950. The first British soldiers arrived in Korea.
29/6/1950, South Korean forces retook Seoul.
See also USA for Korean War, 1950 onwards
28/6/1950, British Royal navy ships joined the US forces in South Korea.
27/6/1950. North Korean forces took Seoul. British forces joined the war in Korea.
26/6/1950, US President Truman sent US forces to support South Korea.
25/6/1950. Start of the Korean War. North Korea invaded the South, crossing the 38th parallel, which was the border.
30/1/1950, North Korea Chairman, Kim Il-sung, was informed that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had decided to support Kim's plan for an invasion of South Korea. Stalin provided the message to Kim by way of Soviet envoy Terenti Shtykov, after having met with Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Moscow.
29/6/1949, US troops completed their withdrawal from South Korea, leaving behind just 500 men to serve as advisors to the 98,000-strong South Korean armed forces, a body barely large enough to maintain internal order, let alone deal with any threat from North Korea.
7/6/1949, In a statement to US Congress, President Harry S Truman, talking about measures necessary to prevent Communist domination of the Pacific, declared that Korea had become a testing ground in the ideological conflict between Communism and democracy.
17/3/1949, The USSR agreed to provide heavy military equipment to North Korea.
9/9/1948, Following the withdrawal of Russian troops, North Korea became independent as the People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea.
15/8/1948. The Republic of Korea was proclaimed in the south of the peninsula; Syngman Rhee was the first President. On 9/9/1948 a Communist republic was set up in North Korea.
31/5/1948, The South Korean National Assembly elected Syngman Rhee as Chairman.
14/11/1947. The UN recognised the independence of Korea.
23/8/1946, In North Korea, the Workers Party was established. By December 1946 its membership reached 600,000 (total population of North Korea was then 9 million). One of the Party leaders was Kim Il Sung, who had received Red Army training.
14/10/1945, Kim Il Sung returned to North Korea (in the uniform of a Soviet Red Army Major) to receive a hero’s welcome. Soviet policy in North Korea was to install North Korean Communists in key positions swiftly after the War ended to reinforce Communist rule in the northern half of the country.
10/10/1945, The Communist Party of Korea was founded. North Korea observes Party Foundation Day every October 10 as a national holiday.
6/9/1945, A leftist committee led by Woon Hyung Lyuh proclaimed itself the official Government of an independent South Korea. However the US under Lieutenant John R Hodge, Commanding General of US forces in Korea, refused to recognise this Government. The US wanted to establish a trusteeship to supersede both the US military administration in the South and the Soviet-backed administration in the North. The Korean Government in exile declared itself as a political party, not the government.
11/8/1945, The US drafted General Order No.1, providing for Japanese forces in Korea north of the 38th parallel to surrender to the Soviets; those south of the 38th parallel to surrender to the Americans. The Soviets began to seal off the North at the 38th parallel, whilst the US was keen to halt any further southwards penetration by Russian soldiers.