Korea: A Peninsula Divided
Korea is a land divided by political differences. The political contrast between the Southern Republic government and the North's Communist regime has brought about cultural clashes as well. While both nations are guaranteed basic personal freedoms toward speech, religion and press under their constitutions, the North Koreans have almost no real freedoms. The Communist government maintains strict control over all aspects of life to ensure their dominance over the country. For example, South Koreans are allowed to worship freely and express themselves however they wish but citizens in the North are strongly discouraged from practicing and religion because it conflicts with the teachings of Communism.
Although the religious aspect of everyday life may be different for the two nations, Northerners and Southerners alike share the philosophy of Confucianism and its ethics like hard work, strong familial bonds and the emphasis toward a good education. All these ideals, Koreans believe, will lead to future prosperity.
Much like the other Confucian nations in East Asia, those strong beliefs have helped the Korean people weather the storms during many turbulent times in their history.
Since the 19th century the political and cultural landscape of the Korean Peninsula has been altered dramatically on more than one occasion. The Japanese occupation from 1910 until 1945 marked a turning point in Korean history. Rivalries formed between several nations, including China, Russia and, of course, Japan, over trade agreements with Korea. Japan's victories over China in 1895 and Russia in 1905 all but sealed the fate for the "Hermit Kingdom." By 1910 Japan began governing Korea as a colony to benefit their own interests. The 1930's saw Japan turning the once strictly agrarian nation into a factory churning out iron, steel chemicals and other industrial goods. The Japanese went even further by attempting...