The Role of Religion
conventional long form: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
conventional short form: North Korea
local long form: Choson-minjujuui-inmin-konghwaguk
local short form: none
note: the North Koreans generally use the term "Choson" to refer to their country
At the end of World War II, the US and the Soviet Union agreed that US troops would accept the surrender of Japanese forces south of the 38th parallel and the Soviet Union would do so in the north. In 1948, the UN proposed nationwide elections; after P'yongyang's refusal to allow UN inspectors in the north, elections were held in the south and the Republic of Korea was established. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was established the following month in the north. Communist North Korean forces invaded South Korea in 1950. US and other UN forces intervened to defend the South and Chinese forces intervened on behalf of the North. After a bitter three-year war, an armistice was signed in 1953, establishing a military demarcation line near the 38th parallel. The North's heavy investment in military forces has produced an army of 1 million troops equipped with thousands of tanks and artillery pieces. Despite growing economic hardships, North Korea continues to devote a significant portion of its scarce resources to the military.
Location: Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea.
Ethnic groups: racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese
Religions: Buddhism and Confucianism, some Christianity and syncretic Chondogyo
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom.