Relations with North Korea
Even though the Korean War ended in a truce agreement in July
1953, a high level of tension remained between the two countries.
Although North Korea presented numerous proposals for peaceful
unification after signing the truce, none was premised on the
notion of the continuation of the existing South Korean
government, which made the proposals unacceptable to Seoul.
Throughout the Park era, relations with North Korea were
marked by mutual distrust and discord, with only a brief respite
between July 1972 and June 1973 when the two sides engaged in
high-level negotiations. Hopes were raised that tensions might be
reduced and a way toward unification of the divided nation found.
Entrenched suspicions made the contentious issues separating the
two sides even more difficult to solve, and the talks were broken
(see Relations with North Korea
, ch. 4). Meanwhile, the armed
(see The Threat from the North
, ch. 5).
The continuing failure of the negotiations reflected the
depth of the gap separating the two Koreas--particularly
noteworthy in view of the mellowing international environment
evidenced, for example, by China's much-improved relations with
both the United States and Japan. There were indications that
both China and the United States exerted considerable influence
on the Korean negotiations, but without marked effect. Leaders in
the north and the south found their ideologies and aims totally
incompatible. South Korea's leaders were determined to keep their
society free from communism, while North Korea's leaders were
committed to the cause of bringing "people's democratic
revolution" to the south.
Data as of June 1990