After both the North Korean nuclear weapon threat and the propaganda video that shocked the world, many Americans have a very similar question on their minds: Why exactly does North Korea hate America?
The answer, according to reports, traces all the way back to the beginning of the Korean War.
Records indicate the Korean War was initiated by a North Korean invasion of the South in 1950, just two years after a formerly united Korea was liberated from Japan and split into two separate entities. Historians state that for those two years (1948-1950), South Korea was controlled by US military forces, while the Soviet military controlled a good portion of the North. Experts indicate that while talks of reunification had previously taken place, the communists governing the North didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with a more nationalistic South, so tensions between the two regions ran relatively high. In fact, these tensions, coupled with Stalin of Russia’s rather acute dislike of most American policies and values, may very well have prompted the invasion, although experts aren’t completely certain. It is known, however, that Stalin was both fully aware and supportive of the attack.
After receiving word of the invasion, records indicate that then-President Harry Truman sent thousands of American troops in an attempt to quell the issue, but America’s intervention may have actually caused more problems than it intended. Following the actions of America, surrounding countries began to lend troops to the battle as well, ratcheting up the body count and turning what was originally a domestic issue into an international standoff. The addition of allies did, however, turn the tide, and South Korea was able to make considerable headway against the invaders.
Just when it seemed North Korea was to be overthrown, Chinese military forces stepped in. At the time, China was the second largest Communist nation on the planet, and the combination of Russian and Chinese forces meant a dicier situation for the US and its allies. Records show that the war ceased with the signing of an armistice in 1953, but not before almost 3 million Koreans had perished. This, it seems, is when the North’s hatred of America began. As Russians and Americans returned to their respective nations, a now broken North Korea- too proud to reunite with its neighbors in the South, yet too weak to offer much to any other country- became something of a “hermit state.” In an effort to unify the people, the country’s first leader, Kim Jong-il, introduced a common enemy as the reason for the nation’s isolation- the United States. Records show propaganda campaigns pegged the American nation as an evil, meddling entity, and North Korean officials went to great lengths to brainwash citizens into believing no good could come from the country. In fact, a quote from North Korean defector Je Son Lee gives some insight as to the kind of teaching the regime forced on its citizens.
“The North Korean regime claims that US soldiers tore off the limbs of innocent Koreans and cut off eyes, noses and lips and hung them on the trees.”
While he claims older citizens of his hometown said these teachings weren’t true, he did add that the North’s communist government was thorough in its “education”- even admitting that he, too, for a time, was brainwashed into believing “the government takes care of everything for me and only thing I have to do is to obey.”
Current leader Kim Jong-un’s vice-like grip on the nation’s media seems to indicate the hate-filled education will continue, at least for a while. According to sources, even though “freedom of the press” is marginally protected by North Korean laws, journalists aren’t actually allowed to practice the concept unless they’re praising the regime. Combining hate speech with misinformation has long been a tactic employed by some of the world’s most ruthless leaders in order to manipulate citizens. It seems that as long as there’s a common enemy in the mix, those in charge retain corrupt power with relative ease.
[Featured Image by Ng Han Guan/AP Images]