I remember the exact moment that I, the daughter of an officer in the US Air Force, found out that I would be moving to South Korea with my family. Ignorantly, the first thought that crossed my mind was whether or not I was going to be the only black girl there.
I was nervous about moving to a foreign country, because, at fifteen years old, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d traveled all over the US as a military child, but I’d never lived overseas. I’d never lived in an actual war zone.
I remember the day my father taught me how to put on a gas mask. “Just in case,” he said. I remember watching my father hastily run out of the front door, because North Korea had done something radical. I remember Thanksgiving being ruined, because my dad had to “protect national security.”
The media keeps broadcasting headlines like “North Korea Declares War on South Korea” as if the conflict is new, but it is not new. The war has been going on for over 60 years.
Here is the timeline:
1948: Korea was under Japanese rule until Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers in 1945 following WWII. In 1948, Korea split into two seperate states, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Ironically, North Korea has never really been a democracy.
1950: Political and military tension caused the Korean War to begin on June 25th. South Korea had the support of the United States and 15 other countries while North Korea had the support of China and the USSR.
1953: Both sides agreed to sign a ceasefire agreement that was meant to calm the conflict until a peace treaty agreement could be reached. A peace treaty has not been signed to this day, almost 60 years later.
1972: Although the 60s proved to be a rough decade for both countries, North and South Korea made secret negotiations and attempted to establish basic rules for reunifaction without influences from outside countries.
1987: The 80s started as a relatively peaceful decade, but , in 1987, a bomb detonated on a Korean Air flight killing 115 passengers. North Korea was blamed for the attack and placed on the United States’ list of Designated State Sponsors of Terrorism.
1994: Kim Jong-Il, otherwise known as “Dear Leader,” assumed power over North Korea after the death of his father, Kim Il Sung.
2006: After withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, North Korea threated to test its first nuclear weapon in October of 2006.
2011: Kim Jong-un rose to power after his father died and immediately threatened to retaliate against any country that dared go against North Korea.
2013: Despite how friendly this hug between Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman looks, things have not been too friendly between North Korea and the United States this year. In February, North Korea launched its third nuclear test. In March, they threated to send missiles to South Korea and the United States.
Now: North Korea declared that it will be entering a “state of war” against South Korea. The United States has since sent a series of stealth fighter jets to the country.