North Korea History

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History[edit | edit source]

In 1910, Korea was annexed by Imperial Japan. After the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II in 1945, Korea was divided into two zones, with the north occupied by the Soviet Union and the south occupied by the United States. Negotiations on reunification failed, and in 1948, separate governments were formed: the socialist Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north, and the capitalist Republic of Korea in the south. An invasion initiated by North Korea led to the Korean War during 1950–1953. The Korean Armistice Agreement brought about a ceasefire, but no peace treaty was signed.

North Korea officially describes itself as a self-reliant socialist state, and formally holds elections, though said elections have been described by outside observers as sham elections Juche was introduced into the constitution in 1972. This means production is owned by the state through state-run enterprises and collectivized farms. Most services such as healthcare, education, housing and food production are subsidized or state-funded. From 1994 to 1998, North Korea suffered a famine that resulted in the deaths of between 240,000 and 420,000 people, and the population continues to suffer malnutrition.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1910 - 1945 Korea was occupied by Japan
1948 - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was established in the North
1950 - 1953 Korean War, fighting ended with an armistice that approximately restored the original boundaries between North and South Korea. More than one million civilians and soldiers were killed in the war
1994 - 1998 North Korea suffered a famine that resulted in the deaths of between 240,000 and 420,000 people
1995 - Flooding in the mid-1990s exacerbated the economic crisis, severely damaging crops and infrastructure and led to widespread famine which the government proved incapable of curtailing

Local Histories and Gazettes (Shin-moon-ji or Ji-bang-ji)[edit | edit source]

Research Use: Local histories and gazettes can be very useful for research. For example, one can consult various sections to find information about clan origin, family movements, birth or burial places, etc. Local histories also are a valuable aid in understanding geographic conditions and historical background of the area. The can supplement genealogy books and official records which are often nonexistent today for many localities and time periods. The biographical data is very valuable for those with prominent ancestors and these records may contain data for females and lower-class individuals which are not available elsewhere. They are an invaluable source of historical place names and administrative boundary changes. This makes them very useful for correlating research even when they don’t provide information about the user’s specific ancestry.

Record Type: These are historical geographic studies of specific villages and towns that include some biographical and genealogical information.

Background: These books are quite similar to the local histories and gazettes found in China. Korean local histories, like their Chinese counterparts, usually contain a number of sections dealing with the history and geography of the particular locale and with influential families and individuals in the community. Each local history covers a specific administrative unit (county, town, city, or prefecture).

Time Period: About 1500 to present.

Contents: A typical local history is divided into sections covering a wide range of topics and categories, including: geography, historical events, local literary contributions, taxes, population, products and trade, education, transportation, local legends and folklore, and so on. Many include a chapter devoted to recording the famous or influential families or clans of the area. They often include precise biographical information about prominent individuals as well as mention of – or even lists of – local persons of merit such as local officials, persons who lived long lives (more than 90 years), faithful sons and chaste widows. In North Korea the biographies would spotlight local martyrs of the revolution. Approximately 20 to 30% of the contents contain genealogical or biographical information.

Location: University and local libraries, the Central National Library of Seoul, Harvard library and some other foreign libraries.

Percentage in Family History Library: 55%.

Population Coverage: About 5%. Local histories and gazettes generally include data about important personalities and special categories of individuals.

Reliability: Generally very reliable.[1]

Further Research[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Korea,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-2001.