chapter  Chapter 19
28 Pages

Korea and Southeast Asia

Decolonization, Cold War, and After
ByRhoads Murphey, Kristin Stapleton

In Southeast Asia the former colonial powers that had been ousted in the early 1940s by the Japanese attempted, briefly, to reestablish control. Korea was perhaps more brutally exploited than any colonial country in the world, under an exceptionally harsh Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945. National movements and outside pressure forced them to withdraw, for the most part, by the early 1960s. Most Koreans were denied even elementary education. Western missionaries, mainly American, hung on in Korea during the Japanese occupation and began to make many new converts, who found the Christian message with its Western connections both an antidote to the Japanese and a consolation. Korean culture, language, and nationalist sentiment are quite uniform across the current border between north and south—a fact that serves to underscore the tragedy of the country’s artificial division. North Korea with its government-controlled press remained almost entirely closed to outsiders, but there was some modest economic growth after 1980.