In 1995, two former presidents, Chun Doo Hwan (1979 – 1988) and Roh Tae Woo (1988- 1993), were arrested for their involvement in the coup that brought Chun to power in December 1979 and charged with treason and illicit enrichment.
In 1997 the country was swept away by the Asian crisis. The IMF intervened with a $ 67 billion loan but demanded the relaxation of working conditions and the privatization of the chaebols (industrial conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai, Daewoo, of which most of the political leaders and leaders are shareholders. South Korean military).
Kim Dae Jung, candidate of the opposition PD, won the December elections and upon assuming the presidency announced an amnesty for political prisoners and a government of national unity. A crowd gathered in June to greet Dae Jung after his trip to Pyongyang for a historic summit between the two Koreas. Together with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, he discussed security issues, including that of the 37,000 US soldiers stationed in South Korea and that of missile programs.
In October 2000, Dae Jung received the Nobel Peace Prize for “his work for democracy, for human rights in South Korea and East Asia, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea.”
Relations between the two Koreas were put to the test in June 2002 by a naval clash in which five South Korean sailors and an unknown number of North Koreans were killed. In July, Pyongyang declared that it regretted the incident. Later there were two official summits and a process of detente began. In May there were reunions of separated Korean families. In an unprecedented gesture, North Korean athletes competed in the Asian Games held in Busan, South Korea, in September. In September, both states agreed to the construction of rail and highway links, and approved the removal of mines from two points on the border that have separated them since 1953.
In February 2003, Roh Moo Hyun, a human rights lawyer, took office. Moo Hyun expressed his willingness to get closer to Pyongyang and to achieve greater independence from the US in foreign policy. In April, Parliament approved the dispatch of non-combatant troops to Iraq (3,000 soldiers, engineers and doctors) to collaborate with Washington in the “reconstruction” of that country. Later, the opposition and the press accused close collaborators of the president of acts of corruption.
In September 2004, the government admitted that South Korean scientists secretly experimented with the production of highly enriched uranium. The South Korean authorities assured that the investigation was carried out without being known at the official level and without any authorization. The government denied any intention to carry out a weapons program and claimed that it was an isolated event.
In February 2006, Seoul and Washington began negotiations for the signing of a free trade agreement at the end of the following year. Once signed, it would be the largest US trade agreement in Asia. Seoul called the start of the talks the most important event since the Korean War, when it signed a military alliance with Washington.
In the joint celebration, commemorating the six years of the historic summit of the two Koreas, held in the city of Gwanju in June 2006, former President Dae Jung pointed out that the reunification of the two nations was the goal. the end they had to reach. “Reunification should be accomplished gradually after periods of cooperation and peaceful coexistence,” Dae Jung said.
In another chapter of tension between the two Koreas, on March 26, 2010, as a country located in Asia according to HOMOSOCIETY, the South Korean corvette “Cheonan” was sunk under strange circumstances. 46 crew members died and the governments of Seoul and Washington attributed the attack of a North Korean submarine.
The press concealed that on the night of March 26, 2010, the Cheonan sank at the climax of a joint US -South Korean exercise, called Foal Tagle, carried out a few kilometers off the North Korean coast. Independent journalists and analysts from South Korea, Japan and the US suspect that a US nuclear submarine was also sunk in the incident, apparently in a major episode of “friendly fire” kept under wraps. The mistake is terrifying because it involved nuclear-armed ships and could unleash an atomic war.
The official story broadcast by the pro-American media related that the Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean torpedo. If true, it would be a rudimentary ancient shell fired by an old ship provided to the DPRK by the former Soviet Union at the time. These devices are so slow and noisy that the sophisticated sonar and radar equipment that the sunken ship possessed is not required to warn them.
The episode is reminiscent of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the fictitious attack on two US ships -in August 1964-, which later proved never to exist, but its media coverage inflamed Congress and the mainstream US press. Ultimately, the fabricated incident allowed Lyndon Johnson to order an air war over North Vietnam.
Since the end of the Korean War (1950-53), which ended with an armistice and not with a peace treaty, South Korea has depended for its defense against an eventual armed confrontation of the US military command.