The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) is an East Asian country located in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula, bordering South Korea. North Korea officially became a state in 1948 and the capital city is known as Pyongyang. The entire Korean peninsula was governed by the Korean Empire up until 1905, when the annexation by Japan occurred following the Russo-Japanese war of 1905. The peninsula ended up being split into American and Soviet occupied zones shortly after World War II was over. The area that is now North Korea utterly refused to take part in an official election that was supervised by the UN and took place in the south in the year 1948. This resulted in the splitting of the Korean Peninsula into two separately occupied areas. Shortly after, North and South Korea both issued a claim of sovereignty over the entire peninsula, which resulted in the beginning of the Korean War (1950).
It was a brutal war and is technically still going on. The fighting ended due to an armistice in 1953 but the peace treaty was never signed. Both North Korea and South Korea were accepted into the U.N. in the early 1990's, but North Korea withdrew from the armistice in May of 2009. The North Korean political system is a one party system, similar to the Chinese political system. The party is known as "The Korean Worker's Party" and claims to follow an ideology based on the "Juche Idea" of self-reliance. However, North Korea is considered by many to be a totalitarian dictatorship which is not a practical application of the Juche ideology. Most of the media and art in the country is controlled by the state's propaganda department. The current leader of the country is Kim Jong-il who is the son of the previous leader "Kim II-sung".
Shortly after the terrorists attacks on the United States in September 2001, President George Bush Jr. declared North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" that also included Iran and Iraq. Regardless of the political situation in the country, North Korea is a very beautiful place. Over 75% of North Korea is mountainous terrain separated by deep valleys. The climate in North Korea is relatively temperate for that part of the world. The summers are warm and the winters are usually very cold due to the winds blowing into the country from Siberia. Tourism in North Korea is virtually non-existent and most visitors are required to be accompanied by a guide at all times. It is almost impossible for residents of the United States or South Korea to obtain a visa for North Korea, with some exceptions being granted for North Korea's annual Arirang Festival.
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