South Korea: Brutal Dictatorship in the Post-War Period - Cold War

South Korea: Brutal Dictatorship in the Post-War Period - Cold War

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the cold war in popular perception is often portrayed as the good of western democracy versus the evil of totalitarianism and i get why it's an easy binary for people to understand even if they don't agree with the labels but like anything in history it's never that simple what if we told you that evil wasn't always evil and good wasn't always good today we are going to look at an example of when the good was far more problematic than many people realize i'm your host david and today we are going to look at the situation in south korea in the period after the korean war this is the cold war i'm a busy guy with lots of great projects going on so sometimes i need a little help to let me find some mental clarity so i can stay productive i am so glad to be using the sponsor of this video ndell a uniquely useful application that creates personalized soundscapes to help you focus relax or sleep if you sometimes have a hard time focusing on your studies or on work if you suffer from stress and anxiety making you unproductive or you're having trouble sleeping endl is the solution you have been looking for its patented technology creating personalized soundscapes for every user is informed by science created with science and backed by science studies show that endel provides the fastest most consistent focus versus playlists on streaming platforms it's known that your biological clock circadian rhythm should be in tune with nature's organic rhythms and cycles and endo complements these to improve how you feel day and night endl also features a soundscape with original vocals and music created by grimes which has been engineered to help you sleep and all has a special offer for our viewers the first 100 people to download endl use the link in the description will get a free week of audio experiences this will also support our channel on august 16 1945 a day after emperor hirohito proclaimed the unconditional surrender of japan thousands of koreans spilled into the streets joining together in joyous celebrations people danced partied and marched up and down the boulevards waving korean flags after four decades of japanese occupation the peninsula would finally be independent unbeknownst to them however the newly emerged superpowers had already divided their land into two occupation zones with the border marked along the 38th parallel and how did that come about well only a few days prior to the japanese surrender the soviet union had entered the pacific war and had begun offensive operations into manchuria and the northern parts of korea facing the prospect of a complete soviet occupation of the entire peninsula the united states urgently came up with a plan to split korea in two using the 38th parallel as the line simply because it would put seoul into the american sphere our good friend and supporter of this channel general douglas macarthur proclaimed this decision on august 15th in the general order number one to be honest the soviets could have easily rejected this and pushed for total control of all of korea as american and allied troops were not in any position to challenge the soviets but to everyone's surprise they raised no objections well they did demand possession of japan's northern island of hokkaido but macarthur of course refused the koreans for their part were quick to establish people's committees throughout the provinces as well as the people's republic of korea which served as the central governing institution connecting them don't be fooled by the name though despite being called peoples and the association we have with them now as representing socialist or communist governments these committees encompassed the entire political spectrum since the task at hand was the decolonization of the peninsula the prk leaders chose as president a right-wing nationalist sigmund re who with the blessings of the american government arrived in seoul in mid-october in one of those weird moments of history re wasn't initially asked if he wanted to be elected so when he became aware of it he actually refused the position just a few days before the ussr had revealed their own champion in pyongyang kim il-sung presented before a cheering crowd with spheres of influence now determined and the major political players in place the two superpowers began reshaping the political landscape of their respective sides of the line dividing the peninsula the soviets faced opposition from the right-leaning nationalist and christian tendencies of the population and while they did recognize the prk and the committees they did everything they could to make sure kim il-sung would gain the upper hand for the americans however the situation was a bit more complex seoul was the heart of the korean political world and disagreements between the korean right wing and the united states army military government in korea or yusem gipp were not out of the ordinary discontent among the populous was also growing fueled by rampant inflation unemployment poverty and opposition to occupation policies many of the disenchanted turned to leftist-led labor movements resulting in a general strike and the daegu uprising in the fall of 1946 which quickly spread across the southern provinces the government crackdown that followed resulted in the deaths of 92 policemen 163 civil workers 116 civilians 240 rioters and the arrest of around 2 600 people in the south the americans were mostly concerned with rooting out communist influence naturally yet the korean far right didn't limit itself in dealing with just the leftists they were determined to exterminate any political opposition that appeared to be a threat including the prominent politicians yao unhyung and kim gu who were assassinated in july of 1947 and june 1949 respectively the american occupation forces did their part in uprooting communist elements declaring the people's committees illegal stomping out every activity that was deemed red and arresting or killing hundreds of communist activists now while each side was purging their political adversaries several gatherings between u.s and soviet authorities took place with the intent of uniting korea though it quickly became evident these discussions were fruitless as neither side was willing to back down eventually the americans decided to shift responsibility to a newly created provisional council in the south headed by sigmund re and the united nations that would sponsor elections in 1948. while the prospect of free elections sounded good the communists living in the south didn't take the news well as a separate southern state especially run run by a rightist government was against their goals so it didn't take long until a large uprising occurred this time on jeju island the fighting between guerrillas and government forces would last for a year but the insurgency didn't have the power to stop the elections from taking place in the rest of the country well rest meaning only the southern part as the soviets denied access to un officials nevertheless the people showed great enthusiasm in voting for their leaders for the first time though within a month the elected assembly voted to implement a presidential system instead of a parliamentary one a move that showcased rei's political power this also set a precedent for indirect presidential election a move that would be used in the future to maintain dictatorial regimes rei was then unsurprisingly elected president by the assembly on the 20th of june and the new republic of korea was inaugurated on august 15th on the third anniversary of liberation the soviet union would reply a few weeks later by formally establishing the democratic people's republic of korea both states claimed sovereignty over the entire korean peninsula a policy that set the stage for a head-on collision so life wasn't easy for the newborn southern state for starters the rebellion on jeju island was still going on and another uprising would be added to that in mid autumn known as the yosu sunshine rebellion it began on october 19th in the port city of yeosu after disgruntled soldiers of the 6th and 14th regiments refused to fight against the jeju gorillas within a day the 2 000 rebels had total control of the city and soon seized sun-jan as well as other nearby towns they were joined by leftists waving red flags and calling for a korean people's republic the pooled prk though some raised north korean flags and pledged their loyalty to kim song they even went so far as to establish people's courts and then tried and executed several police officers government officials landlords and rightists a newspaper controlled by the rebels made their goals known to the public first all americans would have to leave korea and all government authority should be transferred to the people's committee of yeosu it also called for land redistribution a purge of officials who had cooperated in the past with the japanese and finally a union of the land under the northern regime they would get none of these things however certainly not on america's watch with u.s personnel in advisory and

organizing roles the south korean army managed to largely suppress the rebellion though pockets of resistance would remain until 1957 but the violence didn't stop there as reprisals from loyalists began who went on to shoot people who they had the slightest suspicion of supporting communist uprising in total around three thousand people were killed in the uprising that ultimately had only one winner sigmund re who used the opportunity to further strengthen his power and wipe out all resistance to his rule in may of the following year the larger rebellion on jeju island was put down as well it was an unprecedented massacre as both sides especially the south korean government committed atrocities and war crimes resulting in entire villages being wiped from the map estimates indicated around 30 000 casualties although privately the governor of the island reported almost 60 000 dead almost as shocking was the fact that for 50 years afterwards even the mention of these events was a crime punishable by beatings torture and time in prison but while singing rhee was putting out one fire another one was being lit this time on the opposite side of the country when on the fourth of may border battles began at kaesong an incident initiated by the south skirmishes and raids along the 38th parallel would continue until december and the only reason all-out war didn't break out that year was that both superpowers wanted to avoid war and made clear they wouldn't help if an unprovoked general attack was launched so going into 1950 the strategy for both sides was to hope for a provocation from the other side so as to ensure assistance from their guarantor but the strategic situation had changed by the spring of 1950 as the soviets had broken the u.s monopoly on nuclear weapons and mao zedong had achieved final victory for the communists in china so in april stalin gave his permission to kim il-sung for an attack on the south so long as mao was willing to assist him while concerned about u.s involvement mao ultimately agreed to support the north korean endeavor and preparations for the war that would break out at the end of the summer were escalated now we've covered the events of the war in detail in other episodes so we're going to fast forward a bit to 1953 and south korea in the aftermath of the war if you haven't watched our episodes on the korean war we'll link them in the show notes although devastating the korean war actually gave south korea the chance to start a game with a clean slate let me explain the old aristocracy that once controlled people markets and enterprises had lost its political powers through land redistributions and because the war had caused mass migrations which in turn shook things up in a country where solidity of lineage and place were pivotal they were substituted by entrepreneurs that had amassed fortunes through war-related enterprises middle-class merchants and by some people that had engaged in more nefarious economic activities you know like money lending and black marketeering many of present day south korea's great corporations began taking shape during this period but that didn't mean that the majority of people enjoyed any economic prosperity ri's numismatic policy of just print more money had caused massive inflation largely turning the urban population against him thankfully for re there was someone willing to provide financial aid uncle sam and the good old u.s of a washington was willing to subsidize countries that stood on the front lines of the cold war the republic of korea and the 600 000 strong rok army were the bulwark that protected american interests in the area as well as the disarmed japan sigmundry was very aware of south korea's geo-strategic importance to the united states and had no moral inhibitions in accepting every last dollar the american government is willing to throw at him in fact for almost a decade nearly the entire government budget came from american funding with corruption being widespread it's of little wonder that large amounts of these dollars ended up in the pockets of people working under re like cabinet officials and his political friends ri's mal administration didn't go unnoticed and his years from 1953 to 1960 can be summarized as an increasingly desperate attempt to cling to power in the election for the national assembly held in 1954 he managed to receive an absolute majority but only by using police harassment and restrictive electoral laws and he didn't stop there through the clever use of good old bribery he managed to get many independent members of the assembly onto his side a move he needed to get that necessary two-thirds majority for a constitutional amendment that would allow for a third presidential term in 1956 which of course he got however the political mindset of the people had begun to change people had had enough of the economic hardships the out-of-control inflation the corruption and rise authoritarian rule his popularity declined rapidly in urban areas and especially among the younger generations that tended to be better educated and thus had greater political understanding and stronger beliefs in democratic values and ideals facing the prospect of getting voted out of power rei's administration resorted again to repression a notable victim was cho a former minister of rhys who made the simple mistake of founding his own party and obtaining an impressive 30 of the vote for the presidency in the 1956 elections so in february 1958 just a couple of months before the next assembly elections he was charged with spying for north korea and after two trials was executed in the summer the following year but even with the extensive repressions and electoral fraud rei's liberal party managed to only get 38.7 percent of the votes compared to the democratic party which won 29.5 ree responded to this stronger opposition the only way he knew how with even stronger repressions this culminated in the passage of a new national security law on christmas eve 1958 an attempt by the opposition to boycott the procedure was made in vain as the government mobilized the police and kicked them out of the building then unopposed passed 22 bills including the law that effectively turned south korea into a police state under these new laws criticizing the president was a crime and intelligence agencies could arrest civilians merely on the suspicion of criminal activity ultimately however ri's electoral frauds would become his own undoing in the presidential election of 1960 he was unopposed at the ballots as his rival had passed away from cancer but not to be satisfied with only one victory his government also heavily raped the elections for the vice presidency an act which very soon came to light and resulted in massive protests on april 19th thousands of university students marched towards the presidential residence demanding sigmund rui's resignation and new elections in an effort to suppress the protests the police mercilessly fired into the crowds killing more than 100 students this however failed in its goal to disperse the demonstrations and over the following days more and more people joined the protests facing overwhelmingly larger crowds this time the armed forces refused to open fire and on the 26th of april re submitted his resignation two days later he was flown out of the country on a dc-4 belonging to the cia and would spend the rest of his days in exile in hawaii now following rui's resignation south korea had the chance to implement a democratic system to help achieve this ho chong the minister of foreign affairs under the re-administration was tasked with forming a caretaker government that would revise the constitution and organize new elections the amended constitution designated the second republic to have a parliamentary cabinet system instead of a presidential one which is the first and only time such a government system has been implemented in the history of korea in the national assembly elections were held in late july the democratic party triumphed whereas ri's former party the liberal party only managed to obtain two seats it didn't take long however for cracks to appear within the democratic party while they had been united against their common foe sigmund re with him gone the party split into two factions this political infighting coupled with inexperience in governance created a politically unstable environment that couldn't fight the corruption or fixed the ruined economy rise administration had left behind although they did formulate a five-year plan and the troubles for the vulnerable second republic didn't stop there the students emboldened by their successes against ri's regime frequently protested demanding economic and political reforms in october they even went one step further storming the national assembly and forcing the members there to enact laws for the punishment of government officials and policemen that had acted in an anti-democratic manner during the era of the first republic seeing the weakness of the second republic the north korean regime couldn't help but take advantage and began subversive activities even proposing discussions surrounding unification many students found the idea of unification quite appealing as north korea at that time was actually in overall better shape and actively campaigned for it but the northern regime aside there was another institution that had significant political power was more stable than the political world of the second republic and had noticed the republic's weakness we are of course talking about the republic of korea armed forces they had in the past actually planned a coup against sigmund re but were only stopped by the success of the students in the april revolution they were however displeased with the progress of the new regime and a group of officers concluded that the time for a military takeover had come in the early hours of may 16 1961 major general park chung-hee with 250 officers and 3 500 soldiers announced the army's intervention to save the country park dissolved the national assembly instituted martial law and declared the formation of the supreme council for national reconstruction a fancy title for the military junta he had just established a series of dictatorial regimes in south korea would remain in place until the establishment of the liberal democratic sixth republic in 1987.

the history of south korea stands as an excellent example of the cold war a country which stood firmly in the anti-communist alliance but did so at the expense of human rights and civil liberties which its financial and diplomatic sponsor state the united states proclaimed to be the reason for fighting the cold war in the first place south korea is only one example during the cold war of washington providing support for dictatorial and repressive regimes in order to keep the world safe from communism as we said at the beginning the side of good is not always good we hope you've enjoyed today's episode and to make sure you don't miss all of our future episodes please make sure you subscribe to our channel and have rigged the pressing of the youtube bell button so that no matter which bell button you press it supports only this channel i'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of our patrons since without your help none of this would be possible week after week if you aren't a patreon please consider supporting us at the www.patreon.com war or through youtube membership we can be reached via email at thecoldwar channel at gmail.com and we're active on facebook and instagram at thecoldwartv this is the cold war channel and as we think about the cold war i will leave you with the words of jfk in the final analysis our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet we all breed the same air we all cherish our children's future and we are all mortal

2022-01-13 02:54

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