Why is Korea (North) called Korea (North)?

Why is Korea (North) called Korea (North)?

If you are curious about the origins of the name "Korea (North)" and why it is used to refer to the northern part of the Korean peninsula, this article will provide you with all the answers. Understanding the historical and geopolitical factors that led to the naming of Korea (North) will shed light on the complexities of this region and its unique identity. Join us as we delve into the roots of the name and unravel the fascinating story behind why Korea (North) is called Korea (North).

Historical Context

Origin of the Name ‘Korea’

The name ‘Korea’ has its roots in ancient history. The earliest recorded mention of the term can be traced back to the 3rd century BCE, during the reign of the Chinese Han Dynasty. The Chinese referred to the region as "Goguryeo," which was one of the three ancient kingdoms in the Korean Peninsula.

Over time, the name ‘Goguryeo’ evolved into ‘Koryo’ in the Korean language and was used to refer to the entire Korean Peninsula. The name ‘Koryo’ gained prominence during the Goryeo Dynasty, which ruled from the 10th to the 14th century. Eventually, the name ‘Koryo’ transformed into ‘Korea’ as it is known today.

Division of Korea

The division of Korea into North and South is a relatively recent development in its long history. After World War II, Korea was under Japanese colonial rule, but when Japan surrendered in 1945, the Korean Peninsula was liberated.

However, the liberation was not without consequences. The division of Korea was a result of the Cold War tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. The peninsula was divided along the 38th parallel, with the Soviet Union occupying the north and the United States occupying the south.

This division led to the establishment of two separate governments – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north, commonly known as North Korea, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the south, known as South Korea.

The division of Korea has significantly influenced the geopolitical landscape of the region and has had lasting effects on the people of both North and South Korea. Despite the political division, the shared history and cultural heritage of Korea continue to bind the two nations together.

Reasons for the North-South Distinction

Korean War

The primary reason for the distinction between North and South Korea is the Korean War. This war, which took place from 1950 to 1953, resulted in the division of Korea into two separate entities. The conflict began when North Korea, supported by the Soviet Union and China, invaded South Korea, which was backed by the United Nations and the United States. The war ended in a stalemate, with an armistice signed but no formal peace treaty. As a result, the 38th parallel was established as the demilitarized zone separating the two countries, creating a clear distinction between North and South Korea.

Political Ideology

Another significant factor contributing to the North-South distinction in Korea is the difference in political ideology. North Korea follows a communist ideology, with a single-party system led by the Workers’ Party of Korea and a centrally planned economy. On the other hand, South Korea is a democratic republic with a multi-party system and a market-based economy. These ideological differences have led to contrasting political systems, governance structures, and economic policies, further solidifying the divide between the two countries.

International Recognition

The international community also plays a role in the North-South distinction of Korea. While South Korea is widely recognized as the legitimate government representing the entire Korean peninsula, North Korea faces limited international recognition. Due to its controversial human rights record and nuclear weapons program, North Korea has been subject to sanctions and isolation by many countries. In contrast, South Korea has established diplomatic relations with numerous nations and actively participates in international organizations, reinforcing its separate identity from its northern counterpart.

In conclusion, the North-South distinction in Korea stems from various factors, including the Korean War, political ideology, and international recognition. These factors have contributed to the division of the country into two separate entities with distinct political, economic, and social systems.

Impact on North Korea

Economic Sanctions

North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has been subjected to severe economic sanctions imposed by the international community. These sanctions were primarily implemented due to the country’s nuclear weapons program and its continued violation of international agreements. The impact of these economic sanctions on North Korea has been significant and wide-ranging.

The economic sanctions have severely restricted North Korea’s ability to engage in international trade and commerce. Many countries and international organizations have imposed strict bans on the import and export of goods to and from North Korea. This has resulted in a sharp decline in foreign investment, limited access to essential resources and technologies, and a decrease in overall economic growth.

The sanctions have also targeted key industries in North Korea, such as coal, iron, and seafood exports, which were major sources of revenue for the country. With these industries severely impacted, North Korea has struggled to generate sufficient income to support its economy and provide for its people. The scarcity of resources has resulted in widespread poverty, unemployment, and a decline in living standards.


In addition to economic sanctions, North Korea has faced significant isolation from the international community. The country’s aggressive stance, nuclear weapons program, and human rights abuses have led to its exclusion from various regional and global forums. North Korea’s isolation has further intensified its economic and political challenges.

Being isolated from international organizations and diplomatic relations has limited North Korea’s access to vital resources, technologies, and expertise. The country has been unable to benefit from international collaborations, trade agreements, and foreign investments, which are crucial for economic development and growth. Consequently, North Korea has been forced to rely heavily on its limited internal resources, leading to stagnation and inefficiency in various sectors.

Moreover, the isolation has also affected the well-being of the North Korean population. The lack of exposure to outside ideas, cultures, and information has resulted in a highly controlled society, with limited access to global advancements and opportunities. The people of North Korea find themselves cut off from the rest of the world, leading to a lack of awareness and understanding of the international community.

Human Rights Concerns

North Korea’s human rights record has been a subject of significant concern and condemnation by the international community. The country’s authoritarian regime has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including political repression, censorship, forced labor, and widespread surveillance. These human rights concerns have further contributed to the impact on North Korea.

The international community, in response to the human rights violations, has imposed additional sanctions and restrictions on North Korea. These measures aim to pressure the regime to address the human rights issues and improve the living conditions of its citizens. However, the oppressive nature of the regime has made it challenging to bring about meaningful change.

The human rights concerns have also affected North Korea’s image and reputation on the global stage. The country is often criticized for its lack of political freedoms and the suppression of dissenting voices. This negative perception has limited North Korea’s ability to foster positive relationships with other nations, hindering its diplomatic efforts and further isolating the country.

In conclusion, the economic sanctions, isolation, and human rights concerns have had a profound impact on North Korea. These factors have contributed to the country’s economic struggles, political isolation, and restricted access to resources and technologies. Addressing these issues is crucial for North Korea’s development and integration into the global community.

The name "Korea (North)" is used to distinguish the northern part of the Korean Peninsula from its southern counterpart, which is known as South Korea. The division of Korea into North and South occurred after World War II, when the peninsula was occupied by the Soviet Union in the north and the United States in the south. The term "Korea (North)" is commonly used to refer to the communist regime led by the Kim dynasty, which governs the northern part of the peninsula. While the name may seem arbitrary, it serves as a geographical and political identifier, highlighting the distinctiveness of North Korea in relation to its southern neighbor.

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