South Korea: On the Edge?

Essay by kiki8610Junior High, 9th gradeA+, April 2003

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A developing country is defined as a country whose average per capita GNP is a fraction of that in more industrialized countries (8). With an average per capita of $16000 (US dollars), South Korea fits into this category, but is very close to achieving the title of a developed country (6).

Korea won independence from Japan on August 15, 1945, after the end of World War II (4). The United States encouraged the south to start it's own independent government, and the Soviet Union encouraged the north to do the same (1). In 1950, the south declared its independence (2). Soon after, the north attacked, starting a war that lasted for three years, ending with a cease-fire agreement, and two independent countries (2). After many years of semi democracy, martial law was declared in 1972 (1). Later in the decade, citizens started protesting for more rights, like freedom of the press, democratic elections, and the release of political prisoners (3).

The protests reached a peak in 1980, when 200 student protestors were killed in a riot later named the Gwangju massacre (7). Protests continued to increase, and a civil war was seen in the future, when the current president suddenly decided that he would grant everything the protesters asked for (1). In 1988, the protestors got one thing they asked for, democratic elections (3). Many years later, the current president of South Korea, Kim Dae-jung, was elected to office in 1998 (1). During the election, South Korea's economy had started to fail (3). The won (South Korea's currency) dropped in value, and tourism was decreasing (3). Slowly the economy started to improve, and is still improving to this day (3). In 2000 Dae-jung visited with North Korea to try and improve relations, and as a sign of good terms he...