On October 2, President Roh Moo-hyun of South Korea walked across the border into North Korea to meet President Kim Jong-il. The visit was to promote friendship and improve relationships between the two countries. This is only the second time in more than fifty years that leaders of the two countries have met.
So why are the two Koreans not good friends with each other? And why are there two Koreas instead of one anyway?
For over 4000 years, North and South Korea were part of the same country called – no prizes for guessing – Korea. In 1910, the Japanese occupied Korea and ruled it until the Second World War. When the war ended in 1945, the Japanese had to give up control of Korea. Korea was then occupied by the Soviet Union in the north and the United States in the south. These parts were separated by a straight line called the 38th Parallel (since it was the latitude for 38 degrees north). This led to the formation of two separate countries in 1948 – North Korea and South Korea. North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950, starting the three year Korean war. The Soviet Union and China helped North Korea, while the United States helped South Korea. The countries have barely talked to each other since then, but finally things are looking brighter.
North Korea has also been in the news since it possesses nuclear weapons. But just this week it has agreed to disable its nuclear facilities by the end of this year.
South Koreans are one of the world’s most hi-tech people! They love gadgets and technology. Most of the country has very high speed internet access. They have the coolest cell phones – phones that you can watch TV on, phones that can store thousands of songs, and even phones that can project their pictures and videos onto a screen!
South Koreans love robots, and they aim to have a robot in every home by the year 2020. A few months ago, Tiro, a robot, acted as the master of ceremonies at a wedding! Some schools have used robots to make sure children behave in the corridors, and even to teach English!