Chronography of Korea North and South post 1945

Page last modified 21 August 2023


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See also China, Japan, Korea for events pre 1945


Demography of North Korea

Demography of South Korea


Box Index:-

8.0, North Korean Missile and Nuclear Tests 2016-17

7.0, North Korean Missile and Nuclear Tests 2012-13

6.0, North Korean Missile and Nuclear Tests 2002-09

5.0, North Korea under Kim Il Sung, 1968-96

4.0, South Korea post Armistice 1953-1991

3.0, Korean War, stalemate 1951 to Armistice 1953

2.0, Korean War 1950-51. US forces reach Chinese frontier; General MacArthur wants to carry war into China

1.0, Korean War started by North, 1950

0.0, Korea divided, 1945-50


16 June 2020, North Korea blew up the �Liaison Office�, a 4-storey building in a zone of North Korea where South Koreans could work. This was a protest at propaganda balloons and food sent in by southerners from across the border.

12 June 2018, A historic summit meeting took place in Singapore between President Kim Jong Un of North Korea and President Trump of the USA.

27 April 2018, Kim Jong Un became the first leader of North Korea to cross into South Korea for a historic meeting with the South Korean leader, Moon Jae In.


8.0, North Korean Missile and Nuclear Tests 2016-17

28 November 2017, North Korea test fired a missile which flew 1,000 km towards the Sea of Japan. This missile attained a height in excess of 100 km then re-entered the atmosphere, proving that North Korea has missiles with a re-entry capability.

14 September 2017, North Korea fired another missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido, into the Pacific Ocean. The missile rose to an altitude of 770 km, and travelled 3,700 km, which would have taken it to Guam had it travelled southwards not east.

3 September 2017, North Korea detonated a test Hydrogen Bomb underground in its north-east. The test produced a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. The missile was reported to be capable of being fitted on an ICBM and hitting the USA.

28 August 2017, North Korea test fired a missile, which overflew the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, travelled 1,000 km and landed in the Pacific. Japan protested at the intrusion into its airspace.

28 July 2017, North Korea launched a further missile, which landed inside the Japanese Economic Zone waters. The missile attained a height which indicated it had intercontinental ballistic capabilities, threatening the US.

4 July 2017, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile which flew 930 km/580 miles, on US Independence Day.

8 June 2017, North Korea test-fired a further land to sea missile.

7 June 2017, North Korea test-fired 4 anti-ship missiles.

29 May 2017, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that flew for 280 miles in 6 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan. This was reported to be the second test-firing of a missile in two days by North Korea.

21 May 2017, North Korea test-fired a further ballistic missile.

13 May 2017, North Korea test fired a further ballistic missile, which flew 430 miles. It fell into the sea between Russia and Japan,

28 April 2017, North Korea test-fired a further ballistic missile.

16 April 2017, The day after North Korea�s annual celebrations of �The Day of the Sun� (15 April, the anniversary of the birth of the founder of North Korea, President Kim Il Sung), with a large military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea attempted to launch an intercontinental ballistic rocket. However the rocket blew up on the launch pad. President Trump of the USA had, stationed a naval strike force just off North Korea, ready to strike either Pyongyang or the rocket launch pads. On 17 April 2017 North Korea threatened to conduct one missile test every week.

5 April 2017, North Korea test-fired a medium range missile which they said was capable of destroying a US aircraft carrier. The missile failed.

6 March 2017, North Korean artillery fired four missiles into the Sea of Japan, as part of an exercise simulating a North Korean attack on US bases in Japan; some missiles landed within 200 miles of Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the move �extremely dangerous�.

12 February 2017, North Korea successfully launched a solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 missile from a submarine. This was an act of defiance against the new Trump administration in the US.

9 September 2016, North Korea conducted its 5th nuclear test, the largest to date.

7 February 2016, North Korea launched a satellite into orbit. The US and South Korea made strong protests, because the same rocket technology could be used for an intercontinental nuclear strike.

6 January 2016, North Korea claimed to have exploded a Hydrogen Bomb in an underground test. China, North Korea�s closest ally expressed anger over this and over claims that North Korea had also succeeded in firing a missile from a submarine. However the explosion was smaller than would be expected from a true Hydrogen Bomb, and may have been a �boosted fission� bomb instead.


13 June 2017, Otto Warnbier, a 22-year old student at the University of Virginia, was unexpectedly released from North Korea after more than a year in detention following his conviction for stealing a propaganda poster whilst on a tour of the country. He had been sentenced to 15 years hard labour for this offence following a 1-hour trial. He was returned in a state of severe brain damage, and died on 19 June 2017. The cause of his brain damage has not been determined.

10 April 2017, The US sent the large aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the sea off North Korea, as a show of force.

20 August 2015, Kim Jong Un, President of North Korea, put his troops on a war footing in reaction to South Korea blasting propaganda messages by loudspeaker across the border. Seoul said the propaganda broadcasts, the first since 2004, were in retaliation for a landmine that maimed two South Korean soldiers. North Korea threatened to shoot out the loudspeakers. There was also exchange of gunfire between the two countries.

16 September 2013, North Korea reopened the joint N-S industrial zone at Kaesong.

3 April 2013, North Korea closed the joint N-S industrial zone at Kaesong.


7.0, North Korean Missile and Nuclear Tests 2012-13

2 April 2013, North Korea said it would restart its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

12 February 2013, North Korea conducted a 3rd underground nuclear test, provoking fears of war with the USA.

12 December 2012, North Korea successfully launched a satellite using its Unha-3 rocket, see 13 April 2012.

13 April 2012, North Korea launched a satellite, which exploded soon after take-off. The USA condemned the move. The rocket used was the Unha-3, which could theoretically carry a nuclear missile to the mainland USA. See 12 December 2012.

29 February 2012, North Korea agreed to stop enriching uranium and testing missiles.


11 March 2013, North Korea cut the phone line with the South, breaking the 1953 Armistice terms.

7 March 2013, The UN Security Council unanimously agreed to tighten sanctions on North Korea.

18 July 2012, Kim Jong Un was officially appointed Supreme Leader of North Korea.


Kim Jong Il died, succeeded by hs son, Kim Kong Un.

17 December 2011, Kim Jong Il, leader of North Korea died. His youngest son, Kim Jong Un, succeeded him.

23 November 2010, North Korea shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.

26 March 2010, North Korea was blamed for the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, killing 46 of the 104 aboard.


6.0, North Korean Missile and Nuclear Tests 2002-09

25 May 2009, North Korea announced that it had conducted a second successful underground nuclear test; America condemned the move.

5 April 2009, North Korea fired a rocket, ostensibly to carry a satellite. The UN held an emergency session, but took no action.

13 February 2007, North Korea agreed to close its nuclear facility at Yongbyon by 14 April 2007 in return for energy aid equivalent to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil.

9 October 2006, North Korea claimed to have conducted its first ever nuclear test explosion.

July 2006, The UN and Japan imposed sanctions on N Korea, and South Korea halted food aid.

19 September 2005, North Korea agreed to stop building nuclear reactors in exchange for aid and co-operation.

10 February 2005, North Korea announced it had nuclear weapons.

8 March 2004, North Korea demanded the withdrawal of all US troops from South Korea as a precondition for N Korea abandoning its nuclear programme.

24 April 2003, Talks in Beijing between N Korea and the USA ended when the Koreans stated, provocatively, that they had almost completed the reprocessing of 8,000 spent fuel rods, giving enough plutonium for 8 more warheads.

10 January 2003, North Korea announced it would withdraw from the 1970 Non Proliferation Treaty, which allowed international inspection of nuclear facilities. It claimed this was due to the �hostile actions� pf US President Bush, who had named North Korea as part of an axis of evil. |It was uncertain whether North Korea genuinely feared a US attack, or was trying to gain leverage for extracting more aid.

2002, The US suspended help to North Korea in building two nuclear reactors, over suspicions that the country was secretly enriching uranium for a bomb. United Nations inspectors were expelled from the Yongbyon nuclear facility.


14 June 2000, Talks between North and South Korea. As a result of these talks, a limited number of North Koreans were allowed to meet family members in the South, from whom they had been separated since the Korean War 1950-3.

1999, North Korea agreed to stop testing long-range missiles.

1998, North Korea fired a Taedong missile over Japan. A North Korean mini-submarine was captured in South Korean


31 August 1998, North Korea test-fired a ballistic weapon over Japan as a show of strength. There were fears that North Korea was covertly building nuclear weapons.

1997, Major famine in North Korea; estimates of those who died vaty from 100,000 to 3 million. Kim Jong Il became Party Leader.

Kim Jong Il succeeded Kim Il Sung


5.0, North Korea under Kim Il Sung, 1968-96

1 February 1996, The US Government offered to help a UN food assistance programme in famine-hit North Korea.

1994, North Korea shut down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, which had been producing plutonium. This was in exchange for US aid and assistance in producing civilian nuclear power.

21 October 1994, North Korea agreed to international inspection of its nuclear facilities in return for political and economic benefits.

Death of Kim Il Sung

8 July 1994. North Korean President Kim Il Sung (born 1912) died. His son Kim Jong Il succeeded him after a power struggle.

22 March 1994, Talks between North and South Korea, aimed at averting nuclear capability by the North, broke down and a full military alert was set up in the South. The crisis was defused when former US President Jimmy Carter visited Pyongyang on 15 June 1994.

11 March 1993. North Korea threatened to withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but did not in fact leave.

12 February 1991, North and South Korea formed a joint team for a table tennis competition.

31 August 1998, North Korea test-fired a ballistic weapon over Japan as a show of strength. There were fears that North Korea was covertly building nuclear weapons.

15 April 1988, North Korean President Kim Il Sung received 43,000 gifts as he instituted lavish celebrations for his 76th birthday.

1986, North Korea started operations at the 5-megawatt Yongbyon nuclear reactor, which had been built with Soviet help.

1975, Sweden became the first Western country to set up an embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea.

23 January 1968, The USS Pueblo, an intelligence ship, and its 89 man crew was seized by the North Koreans in the Sea of Japan.


4.0, South Korea post Armistice 1953-1991

1991, South Korea joined the United Nations.

1988, South Korea hosted the Olympic Games.

10 June 1987, President Chun of South Korea named his successor as General Roh Tae Woo. This provoked demonstrations because Roh, close friend of Chun, had supported his coup against the military after the 1979 assassination of Park.

1986, South Korea began exporting cars.

9 October 1983, North Korean dissidents set off a bomb at the Martyr�s Mausoleum, Yangon, Myanmar. 16 South Koreans were killed and the South Korean President, Chun Doo Hwan, only narrowly escaped death.

1 September 1983, A South Korean airliner was shot down by Soviet fighter planes after it had strayed into USSR airspace, killing 269 people.

14 October 1982. 5,837 people were married simultaneously in Seoul, South Korea; the world�s largest mass wedding.

3 January 1982, South Korea finally lifted a nightly curfew imposed 36 years earlier.

26 October 1979, President Park Chun Hee of South Korea was assassinated by his secret service.

14 March 1979, Korean reunification talks remained deadlocked over who would participate in the discussions.

19 January 1979, President Park Chun Hee of South Korea proposed talks with North Korea on reunification.

1972, Martial law was declared in South Korea.

21 January 1968, North Korean commandos made an assassination attempt upon President Park of South Korea, getting within 300 metres of the Presidential Palace.

1965, South Korea restored official links with Japan.

19 July 1965, Syngman Rhee, first President of the Republic of Korea (1948-60) died in Hawaii.

1961, Military coup in South Korea led to rule by an authoritarian junta under Park Chung Hee.

3 July 1961, In South Korea, General Park Chung Hee was named as leader of the military administration which had overthrown the democratic government on 16 May 1961.

27 April 1960. Synghman Rhee resigned as President of South Korea, amidst popular discontent (The April Revoluition).

15 March 1960, Presidential elections in South Korea were won fraudulently by Synghman Rhee, 85; demonstrations across the country forced his resignation on 27 April 1960.

20 July 1954, The Geneva Agreement ended hostilities between North and South Korea.

10 October 1953, President Eisenhower of the USA signed a treaty with South Korea promising military aid if North Korea attacked.


3.0, Korean War, stalemate 1951 to Armistice 1953

27 July 1953, Armistice signed in Panmunjom, Korea, ended the Korean War. The 3-year conflict cost an estimated 4 million lives. These included 1,313,000 South Koreans, 1,000,000 of whom were civilians; 900,000 Chinese soldiers, 520,000 North Korean soldiers, and 1,000,000 North Korean civilians. There were 33,629 US casualties and 3,194 UN soldiers were killed. Across Korea, 43% of industrial facilities and 33% of homes were destroyed.

20 April 1953, Exchange of PoWs from the Korean War at Panmunjon.

31 December 1952, China now had 1,200,000 troops under Peng TeHuai fighting alongside North Korea.

24 October 1952, In the US, Eisenhower described Korea as �the burial place of twenty thousand Americans� and promised that if he was elected President he would end the Korean War. Meanwhile the United Nations remained deadlocked over the issue of the return of North Korean prisoners of War. The USSR and China wanted them all returned to North Korea, but some PoWs insisted they had been forcibly drafted into the North Korean forces and wanted to settle in South Korea.

23 June 1952. US planes bombed hydro-electric plants in North Korea. One of these was close to the Yalu River, the border between North Korea and China. The US was forced to apologise to its allies for taking the Korean war so close to the border without consulting them.

30 May 1952, General Mark Clark took over command of UN forces in Korea.

See alsoUSAfor Korean War, 1950 onwards

4 March 1952, China accused the US of germ warfare in Korea.

27 December 1951, A trial armistice period ended and fighting resumed in Korea, but now only to influence the final peace. Both sides realised that complete victory was unattainable.

25 October 1951, Peace talks in Korea resumed at Panmunjom.

23 September 1951, South Korean forces took Heartbreak Ridge, as fighting continued.

23 August 1951, Talks to end the Korean War broke up without agreement.

10 July 1951, Negotiations began between the USA and USSR over the Korean conflict. The USSR demanded a return to the 38th parallel; the US insisted on the current front line as the frontier. The US also rejected Chinese demands for a withdrawal of all foreign troops from Korea. PoWs were also an issue, with the US holding 171,000 prisoners, 50,000 of whom did not wish to return to Communist rule. Many North Koreans and Chinese wished to go to South Korea or Taiwan. The Communists, afraid of losing face, wanted all returned. Both sidcs wanted an end to the conflict; Dwight D Eisenhower, in office from 1953, was concerned at the expense of the war. Stalin�s death in 1953 in March 1953 eased the deadlock. Most of the PoWs who wanted to defect to Western countries were allowed to do so.

25 April 1951, In the Korean War, the Battle of Imjin River ended. The frontline had now become stalemated at around the 38th parallel, where the frontier had been before the war.

22 April 1951, In the Korean War, the Battle of Imjin River. Defensive action by UN troops against Chinese and N Korean forces.


2.0, Korean War 1950-51. US forces reach Chinese frontier; General MacArthur wants to carry war into China

11 April 1951. General MacArthur was relieved of his command by President Truman, after disagreeing over the conduct of the Korean War.MacArthur wanted to carry the war over into Communist China, and bomb Chinese bases in Manchuria.MacArthur returned to a heroes welcome in Washington, but did not realise his hopes of nomination for the US Presidential elections. From now until the Armistice of 1953 both sides fought holding actions to maintain current positions; US forces were slightly north of the 38th parallel.

31 March 1951, In the Korean War, UN / US forces once again reached the 38th parallel, the border between North and South.

5 February 1951, In Korea, UN forces advanced again towards Seoul.

4 January 1951, Seoul was evacuated by US forces (again). However at Pyongtaek, 50 km south of Seoul, the Chinese-North Korean offensive was halted. A UN counter-offensive began in late January.

1 January 1951, Chinese and North Korean forces advanced through UN lines and captured Seoul.

28 December 1950. Chinese forces in Korea crossed the 38th parallel.

6 December 1950, North Korean forces, backed by China, reoccupied Pyongyang, which had been taken by US and South Korean forces in October 1950.

28 November 1950. China entered the Korean War; 200,000 troops entered Korea across the Yalu River. UN troops were forced back south again. On 28 December 1950 Chinese forces crossed the 38th parallel. The West had ignored Chinese threats to intervene if US forces crossed north of the 38th parallel.

24 November 1950, South Korean forces began an offensive in the Yalu Valley; China planned intervention to support the North.

26 October 1950. US forces advancing in North Korea reached the Yalu River, the border between North Korea and China.


1.0, Korean War started by North, 1950

19 October 1950. US and South Korean forces captured Pyongyang, during the Korean War. The UN General Assembly declared an aim of a united Korea.

29 August 1950. The first British soldiers arrived in Korea.

7 August 1950, US forces in Korea launched an offensive at Chinju.

29 June 1950, South Korean forces retook Seoul.

See alsoUSAfor Korean War, 1950 onwards

28 June 1950, British Royal navy ships joined the US forces in South Korea.

27 June 1950. North Korean forces took Seoul. British forces joined the war in Korea.

26 June 1950, US President Truman sent US forces to support South Korea.

25 June 1950. Start of the Korean War. North Korea invaded the South, crossing the 38th parallel, which was the border.


0.0, Korea divided, 1945-50

30 January 1950, North Korea Chairman, Kim Il-sung, was informed that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had decided to support Kim's plan for an invasion of South Korea. Stalin provided the message to Kim by way of Soviet envoy Terenti Shtykov, after having met with Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Moscow.

29 June 1949, US troops completed their withdrawal from South Korea, leaving behind just 500 men to serve as advisors to the 98,000-strong South Korean armed forces, a body barely large enough to maintain internal order, let alone deal with any threat from North Korea.

7 June 1949, In a statement to US Congress, President Harry S Truman, talking about measures necessary to prevent Communist domination of the Pacific, declared that Korea had become a testing ground in the ideological conflict between Communism and democracy.

17 March 1949, The USSR agreed to provide heavy military equipment to North Korea.

9 September 1948,Following the withdrawal of Russian troops, North Korea became independent as the People�s Democratic Republic of North Korea.

15 August 1948. The Republic of Korea was proclaimed in the south of the peninsula; Syngman Rhee was the first President. On 9 September 1948 a Communist republic was set up in North Korea.

31 May 1948, The South Korean National Assembly elected Syngman Rhee as Chairman.

14 November 1947. The UN recognised the independence of Korea.

23 August 1946, In North Korea, the Workers Party was established. By December 1946 its membership reached 600,000 (total population of North Korea was then 9 million). One of the Party leaders was Kim Il Sung, who had received Red Army training.

29 December 1945, Koreans attacked US soldiers in Seoul in protest at the decision to wait as long as five years to restore Korean independence.

14 October 1945, Kim Il Sung returned to North Korea (in the uniform of a Soviet Red Army Major) to receive a hero�s welcome. Soviet policy in North Korea was to install North Korean Communists in key positions swiftly after the War ended to reinforce Communist rule in the northern half of the country.

10 October 1945, The Communist Party of Korea was founded. North Korea observes Party Foundation Day every October 10 as a national holiday.

8 September 1945. The USA and USSR agreed to divide the Korean Peninsula.

6 September 1945, A Leftist committee led by Woon Hyung Lyuh proclaimed itself the official Government of an independent South Korea. However the US under Lieutenant John R Hodge, Commanding General of US forces in Korea, refused to recognise this Government. The US wanted to establish a trusteeship to supersede both the US military administration in the South and the Soviet-backed administration in the North. The Korean Government in exile declared itself as a political party, not the government.

11 August 1945, The US drafted General Order No.1, providing for Japanese forces in Korea north of the 38th parallel to surrender to the Soviets; those south of the 38th parallel to surrender to the Americans. The Soviets began to seal off the North at the 38th parallel, whilst the US was keen to halt any further southwards penetration by Russian soldiers.


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