|Democratic People's Republic of Korea|
|Status in OTL:||Active|
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Korean, 조선민주주의인민공화국), known colloquially as North Korea, is the ruling government of the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. In the north it is bound by the Tumen and Yalu Rivers, across which are land borders with China and Russia (the latter border being very short). Its de facto southern border is the Military Demarcation Line as defined under the terms of the 1953 ceasefire with South Korea. The North Korean government does not consider this border legally binding; it officially claims jurisdiction over the entire peninsula and the island of Jeju off the southern coast. (South Korea makes the same claim.)
The DPRK traces its historical antecedents to the aftermath of the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. In 1945, Korea was divided into two zones by the United States and Soviet Union, with the north occupied by the Soviets and the south by the Americans. Negotiations on reunification failed, and in 1948 two separate governments were formed: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north, and the Republic of Korea in the south. (In this, the major Allied powers reneged on a 1943 promise by Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill to support the Republic as the sole legitimate Korean government.) The DPRK was handed over to Kim Il-sung, a Korean-born Soviet army officer who was Stalin's handpicked choice to lead the Cominform-affiliated Korean Workers' Party.
The conflicting claims of sovereignty led to the Korean War in 1950. The Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953 led to a ceasefire, but no peace treaty was ever signed. Both states were accepted into the United Nations in 1991.
Over time North Korea has gradually distanced itself from the world Communist movement. North Korea follows Songun, or "military-first" policy. It is the world's most militarized society, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel. Its active duty army of 1.21 million is the 4th largest in the world, after China, the U.S., and India. It also possesses nuclear weapons.
The DPRK holds (single-party) elections and describes itself as a self-reliant socialist state, but it is widely considered a dictatorship and has been described as totalitarian and Stalinist, with an elaborate cult of personality around Kim Il-sung and certain of his descendants. Its economy is in a perennial shambles, and despite controlling roughly half of Korean territory and about a quarter of its population, it generates less than five percent of the peninsula's GDP. Furthermore, inequality in the distribution of wealth exists at almost unprecedented levels thanks to rampant political corruption.
Human rights violations in North Korea have been assessed by international organizations as in a category of their own, with no parallel in the contemporary world.
North Korea in The Hot WarEdit
North Korea's invasion of South Korea in 1950 became the catalyst for World War III. While North Korean forces managed to drive far into South Korean territory in its initial surprise attack, UN forces, under the command of U.S. general Douglas MacArthur, had succeeded in pushing the North Koreans back, and had even driven up towards the Chinese border. However, in November 1950, Chinese troops cross the Yalu River and came to Kim Il-sung's aid. In late November, the Chinese forces thoroughly destroyed three divisions of American forces between the Chosin Reservoir and Hungnam. Red forces recaptured Seoul in December.
In response, the United States used atomic weapons in Manchuria on January 1951. The Soviet Union, China and North Korea's ally, attacked Britain, France, and West Germany, and in short order, World War III was underway.
With China's help, Kim's forces were able to move south again, with the Korean War looking more and more like World War I. Nonetheless, the U.S. military was able to deliver a regiment's worth of Pershing tanks in advance of an attack near Chongju. The battle proved to be a success for the UN. Another engagement in April saw U.S. infantry forces hold back a column of T-34s until air support could do enough damage to force a retreat. In April 1951, the U.S. launched a substantial bombing raid on Kim's capital, Pyongyang, in a failed effort to kill Kim himself. After that event, the war quieted down, with both sides blaring propaganda at each other over loudspeakers.
North Korea in SupervolcanoEdit
In the aftermath of the eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano, people in the United States became somewhat more worried about North Korea's status as a possible threat to the weakened U.S., although not too worried, given the impact of the eruption on North Korea's climate and its lack of intercontinental missiles. In the end, the actions of Iran and Russia were far more disruptive to the world stage than anything North Korea did.