Stamps issued: 1948-PRESENT
After the establishment of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in 1948, the Republic of Korea was established in the southern portion of the peninsula occupied by the United States. The regime in the south was recognized as the legal government of Korea on Dec. 12, 1948. On June 25, 1950, North Korea attacked South Korea, quickly pushing the South Korean forces back to a small pocket of resistance in the southeast. Massive U.N. intervention brought a North Korean rout, but the invasion of the North by communist China brought the retreat of the U.N. forces to below the 38th parallel. On July 10, 1951, after renewed U.N. advances, peace talks began, and on July 27, 1953, an armistice was achieved.
A technical state of war continues between the two Koreas, and a large number of U.S. forces remain in the south. From 1948 to 1960, Dr. Syngman Rhee was president of South Korea. The corruption of the regime alienated many South Koreans, and in 1960 Rhee was forced to resign. In the following year, a military coup brought Gen. Park Chung Hee to power. Park expanded his power and ruled dictatorially until his assassination in 1979. In 1980, the head of South Korean military intelligence established martial law and suppressed political opposition. Popular demonstrations in 1987 led to popular elections, and in 1993 the first civilian president since 1960 took office. Despite South Korea's political turmoil, a dynamic, modern manufacturing economy has developed over the past three decades, and it is one of the most prosperous of the East Asian nations.