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Modern Korean History

Syngman Rhee: Socialist

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CWIHP Working Paper 82

Syngman Rhee: Socialist

David P. Fields[1]
June 2017

The Gwangju Uprising: A Battle over South Korea's History

The contested memory of South Korea's most famous democratic uprising

To South Koreans, Gwangju is not just the name of a southwestern city on the Korean Peninsula. The site of a large-scale civil uprising which was brutally suppressed by Army Major General Chun Doo-hwan’s military junta in 1980, Gwangju also symbolizes the early years of South Korea’s democratic movement.

The Korean War Remembered: Seoul vs Pyongyang

Conflicting interpretations of the Korean War are offered in museums in Seoul and Pyongyang, exposing and contributing to tensions between North and South Korea

Thirty Years of Democracy in the Republic of Korea

Join the Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy and Asia Program for a panel discussion commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the Republic of Korea’s democratization.

The panel will feature a discussion on the momentous events of 1987 that culminated in the first election of a president by direct popular vote in 26 years, the role of the United States in Korea’s path to democratization, and Korea’s democracy over the past thirty years.

Understanding the North Korean Regime

Research on North Korea’s government system has undergone significant changes since the 1990s. While it is still a challenge to conduct fieldwork in North Korea, to say the least, the strengthening of economic cooperation between North and South Korea, together with advancements in satellite technology, have increased the amount of information available. Testimonies by North Korean defectors are also rich sources of information, especially from former high-ranking government officials.

North Korea and the East German Stasi, 1987-1989

The archives of the East German Stasi feature revelations about North Korea’s intelligence services and international relations at the end of the Cold War

Although the archives of the former Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc have revealed much about North Korea’s foreign policies and the country’s domestic conditions, these sources tell us very little about North Korea’s international intelligence cooperation, its domestic intelligence services, or its military structures and practices.

Nuclear Tests Are Not What You Think

Above: Reagan observes North Korean positions at the DMZ, November 1983

The United States bargained with Israel, Pakistan, and South Africa to stave off nuclear tests. Can it do the same in North Korea?

The Punggye-ri site in North Korea appears primed for a nuclear test. Waiting for the order, personnel now pass the time by playing volleyball, with one suspected “volleyball net set up at the command center area”.

The EC-121 Shoot Down and North Korea’s Coercive Theory of Victory

On April 15, 1969, North Korea shot down an American EC-121 reconnaissance aircraft. The incident has special meaning in the history of US-North Korea relations. 

The Rocky Way Ahead: South Korea's Position in Asia

The Spring 2017 issue of the Harvard International Review magazine features an article written by the Asia Program's senior associate for Northeast Asia, Shihoko Goto.