On September 1, North and South Korea started permitting regular traffic across their border. On August 29, North Korea freed four South Korean fishermen. On August 28, the two Koreas decided to restart a reunion program for family members who have been separated and are living in the different Koreas. On Aug 22, a group of North Korean officials came to South Korea to attend the funeral for the former South Korean President, Kim Dae-jung. On Aug 13, a South Korean worker was freed by North Korea. In short, the two Koreas are becoming friendly again.
So why are the two Koreas not good friends with each other to begin with? North and South Korea were part of a single country called Korea for over four thousand years. 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. A line in the middle was drawn and two countries were created in 1948 – North Korea and South Korea. North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950, starting the three year Korean war. After the war, the border between North and South Korea became the most guarded border in the world.
In 1998, Kim Dae-jung became the President of South Korea. One of his goals was to improve the relationship between the two countries. He was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his efforts. About two years back, the first regular rail service started between North and South Korea after more than 50 years. But all this started breaking down when the current President Lee Myung-bak came into office in February last year and made some stricter policies towards North Korea. This made North Korea quite mad, and the relationship between the two countries started deteriorating. In May this year, North Korea conducted some missile tests which upset South Korea.
The month of August has been a much friendlier month for the two countries – let’s hope that it stays that way!