Recently, a group of activists in South Korea got together near the border of North Korea and sent giant helium balloons with leaflets into the neighboring country. There were tens of thousands of leaflets in these balloons. The South Korean government had earlier stopped the activists from sending the balloons because the North Korean government had threatened to attack South Korea if such leaflets came flying into its territory.
However, the activists launched the balloons from another site. This isn’t the first time activists sent leaflets to their northern neighbors in balloons. They have done it several times upsetting North Korea’s government. Typically the leaflets criticize the North Korean government and the lack of freedom in the country, and ask the people to rise against their government. The leaflets usually contain information about advancements in the world, and mention the comfortable life style in South Korea.
There isn’t much communication between North Korea and the rest of the world. Little is known about what life is like in the country. The North Korean government very strictly controls many aspects of its citizens’ lives. It is very difficult to visit North Korea and for its citizens to leave. People don’t have access to many gadgets and conveniences. It is believed that there are food and power shortages in the country.
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 (called the 38th Parallel) was drawn and two countries were created in 1948 – North Korea and South Korea. After the two countries were created, North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950, starting the three year Korean war. After the war ended, the border between North and South Korea became the most guarded border in the world, and the two countries have evolved very differently from each other.
North Korea has been led by people from the same family since it was founded. Kim Jong-un is the current leader, and his grandfather and father were the leaders before him. North Korea is about the 50th most populous nation in the world, but is thought to have the 5th largest army. The capital of North Korea is Pyongyang. The Juche Tower (see image) is a famous landmark of the country.
South Korea is democratic. The citizens of the country have a very high standard of living, and South Koreans are one of the world’s most hi-tech people. They love gadgets and technology. They have been a leader in creating new robots. Earlier this year, some robots were placed as prison guards in a jail. They have robots for teachers and even actors. One of the country’s aims is to have a robot in every home by the year 2020.
Did you know? PSY’s Gangnam Style, a song that was released in July, has become popular around the globe. PSY is a South Korean signer and the song’s video has been watched millions of times on the Internet.
Image Credits: Martyn Williams for Juche Tower’s image