OK, that title is a little bit like clickbait, we are not going to go into the nitty-gritty of this. Still, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea considers the Great Fatherland Liberation War a victory, while for the Chinese, the “War to resist America and aid Korea” (catchy huh) was also considered a success.
From the southern point of view, communism was held back, the Americans saw it as a stopping a domino, and the rest of the world? Obviously, there is no definitive answer here, but due to the very marginal changes in the border between the North and South of Korea, some have hailed it a draw.
Many people know about the what led to the divided nation of Korea, in that it was split on the 38th parallel into Soviet, and American spheres of influence, and we know about the aforementioned Korean War, but what many do not realize is that there are chunks of both the DPRK and ROK that were on the other side of the border before the signed that armistice.
So, who won what, and how much did they win?
We will leave out politics, and ideology here, and concentrate on pure land issues. The main victory came in Kaesong, the site of the signing of the armistice, and now a divided nation.
Kaesong is a significant city on the culture of Korea, both north, south and beyond. It was previously an imperial capital, holds numerous cultural relics, and the whole town is a UNESCO heritage site. Where it not for the Korean War though, it would currently be part of South Korea.
Today Kaesong is home to around 310,000 residents is regularly visited on North Korean tours, and is also home to the Kaesong Joint Industrial complex run by both Koreas. Due to its proximity to Seoul, it has hosted many important meetings.
Although areas of the old “North” became part of the “South” post-war, Kaesong was the only city to change hands following the peace.
What did South Korea win during the Korean war?
Again we are talking land, not the politics of war, to be clear.
As previously stated, Kaesong was the only city to change hands as a result of the Korean War, but some smaller places on the Korean Borderlands were previously northern but became part of the south. In short, everything north of the 38th that is now part of the Republic of Korea, but let’s go into specifics.
Cheorwon County now in South Korea located literally on the border with North Korea. Following the 1945 division of Korea, the whole of Cheorwon County was located in what would become the DPRK. However, following the armistice, the county was divided into two places, one north, one south, and both part of the Demilitarized Zone. You’ve heard of divided countries, but here we have a full-on divided country.
Tourism wise there’s a lot to see here, such as an observatory to North Korea, as well as the “second tunnel.” There’s also Cheorwon station, originally built in 1912, but is now an unused historical relic.
Most interestingly (perhaps) is the former Workers Party of Korea office, which can also be visited.
Now, this is the big kahuna when it comes to what the south gained from the war, and while perhaps not as prestigious as Kaesong, it is still somewhat important. So much so that Kim Il Sung had a villa on the coast here.
Tourism wise there is another observatory, the former home of Kim Il Sung (as mentioned) as well as Seoraksan National Park.
Abai Village has gained popularity due to a Korean TV show, but it was originally created for refugees, or “leftover people” from the Korean War, meaning many of the residents still have relatives in the north. Apparently, the Abai Sundae is also popular, although you can forget toffee and ice-cream. It is squid stuffed with vegetables…..
It is also a reasonably bustling and pleasant seaside town that is well worth a visit, whether you are a DPRK watcher or not.
Eventually, we’d like to do a blog on the whole DMZ Borderlands, but for now, this answers the question of “what territory changed hands after the Korean War.”
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