2007 was a big year for the two Koreas – they took a big step to becoming friends again! The two countries’ leaders met in October to discuss ways on improving relationships between them. This is only the second time in more than fifty years that leaders of the two countries have met. Not only that, in December, history was made when the first regular rail service started between North and South Korea after more than 50 years!
So why are the two Koreans not good friends with each other? And why are there two Koreas instead of one anyway? For over four thousand years, North and South Korea were part of the same country called 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. That was the last time trains went across the border between the two. The border between North and South Korea became the most guarded border in the world. But now the two nations are getting friendlier, and the regular train service is a big step. Also, North Korea announced in February that it would work towards ending its nuclear program – something that allows them to make very dangerous weapons.
South Koreans use the internet a lot. Cyworld is an online social networking site that practically every South Korean uses – each person has a set of web pages called a “minihompy”. They also 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!