Just like the DPRK, the ROK was founded by one of the two superpowers. The USSR founded the DPRK and the USA founded the ROK. The early Republic of Korea claimed to be a free democracy, but in reality the nation was a corrupt totalitarian state under the rule of Syngman Rhee. This anticommunist Korean lived in the USA and once led the Korean government in exile. Between 1919 and 1925, Syngman Rhee was chairman of the Koreans in exile. But he abused his power and was very corrupt. That is why the Korean government in exile removed him from power!
But in 1945 he returned to Korea, this time he got support from the US Army under Douglas MacArthur. The Americans saw in Syngman Rhee a strongman, a anticommunist who would do their dirty work. By 1948 more then 30.000 opponents of Syngman Rhee were jailed by the South Korean government. For many progressives and leftist Koreans, Syngman Rhee was a autocratic leader and a puppet of US imperialism. North Korea was at that time right about the true nature of South Korea!
But the USA did not cared about democracy in Korea, nor did they cared about the massive human rights abuse under Syngman Rhee. The only thing the USA wanted was a anticommunist Korea who would stand against China and the Soviet-Union. Yet the Americans were too slow in arming the South Korean Army. By 1950, there were 90.000 troops armed with older US weapons. The Korean People's Army of the DPRK were armed with the Soviet T-34 tanks and had about 260.000 troops under arms. Kim Il Sung knew that his army outmatched that of Syngman Rhee!
The Korean War started on 25 June 1950. Korean People's Army soldiers attacked the ROK and drove the Syngman Rhee government out of Seoul. The anticommunist world was in shock and the USA was able to win a majority of support in the United Nations to start a war against the DPRK. The UN declared its support for the Republic of Korea and claimed that they came to save ''democracy''. Meanwhile this ''democracy'' in South Korea was killing 150.000 to 200.000 innocent Koreans!
Syngman Rhee had jailed more then 150.000 people between 1945 and 1950. Most of these people were leftist, supporters of communism or progressive Koreans who hated the rule of Syngman Rhee. The elections in South Korea were not free and fair, yet the hypocrite UN claimed that the were fair. This shows how blind most UN nations were. Their fear for world ''communism'' was so great, they claimed that every anticommunist dictatorship was a free state. As the Korean People's Army drove the Army of the Republic of Korea south, more then 150.000 opponents of the South Korean government, were brutally executed!
For almost 55 years the criminal South Korean government, claimed that North Korean soldiers were responsible for the killings in the Bodo League concentration-camps. Leftist groups told the true all this time, yet the bourgeoisie and their media told that they were spreading ''communist lies''. Finally in 2005, did the South Korean government the right thing. South Korea took responsibility for the killing of 150.000 to 200.000 innocent people. The USA is also to blame, they supported the lies spread by the South Koreans for 55 years. Today we also know that the CIA knew of the killing. In 1950 they were told that South Koreans were slaughtering many of their own people, yet the USA kept silence. Most Americans still have no idea how cruel this so called ''democratic'' South Korea was!
With help from the anticommunist forces, the Koran People's Army was driving back to the north. Syngman Rhee returned to power and had high hopes of a united anticommunist Korea under his banner. Because the DPRK was losing the war, anticommunist forces conquered Pyongyang and forced Kim Il Sung to flee. In desperation the North Koreans asked the USSR for aid. But Joseph Stalin did not wanted to drag his nation into a war with the United Nations. The only nation that came to Kim Il Sung's aid was the People's Republic of China!
Mao Zedong and his Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949, after winning the Chinese Civil War. The Chinese maoists did not liked the idea of having a united anticommunist Korea. They needed the DPRK as a buffer between the anticommunist world and the ''communist'' world. Mao ordered the formation of a People's Volunteer Army. He claimed that this volunteer army was not part of the regular People's Liberation Army. But in reality those 700.000 ''volunteers'' were ordered by Mao Zedong to aid North Korea!
The attack of the Chinese caught the anticommunist UN forces by surprise. Soon they were the ones on the retreat as the Chinese drove the UN back to the old border with North and South Korea. Fighting went on until 27 July 1953. A cease fire was signed by both parties and both claimed to have won the war!
Because of the planned economy, North Korea was able to rebuild itself very fast. By 1960 it had rebuild its cities and outgrow South Korea's capitalist economy. The south was plagued by corruption and poverty. Syngman Rhee did little to rebuild anything, he kept all power to himself. After seven year of mismanagement, corruption and dictatorial rule, the students of South Korea rose up against Syngman Rhee!
The right-wing dictator wanted to crush the students. But the USA had also lost faith in the 84 year old anticommunist. A new leadership was needed, more younger and less corrupt. The CIA flew Syngman Rhee out of the nation and he never returned to Korea. Many hoped for genuine democracy in the south, after Syngman Rhee. Yet the military of South Korea never wanted that. A democracy would mean freedom for socialists and communists. That was not acceptable. Military leader Park Chung-hee took power and kept it for 19 years!
Under the military government of Park Chung-hee, South Korea kept a high profile of anticommunism. Children were raised as dogmatic anticommunists. At schools they were told that communism is the evil of the world and that South Korea is a democratic and free nation. Another lie, because leftists were still jailed for opposing the military. But the bourgeoisie and the rich desperate wanted a pro-capitalist leader. A leader who would end the corruption and who would serve them!
Park Chung-hee played both cards. He ended corruption and created a state-capitalist style government, much like the current economic system of China. By 1970, South Korea was outgrowing North Korea, who's bureaucratic planned economy could no longer grow. Also the trade relations with Japan boosted the state-capitalist economy, even while many South Koreans still hated the Japanese for their occupation of Korea!
The ROK supported the USA and the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. More then 350.000 soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Korea fought alongside the South Vietnamese against the Viet Cong and the Vietnamese People's Army. In a way the Vietnam War was similar to the Korean War and Park Chung-hee knew that if South Vietnam would fall, then South Korea could also fall to ''communism''
In Vietnam, the Korean soldiers committed many war crimes. Together with the South Vietnamese and Thai troops, they were hated by many Vietnamese peasants. The Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam ( Viet Cong ) were able to recruit many peasants and young nationalists because of the crimes committed by South Korean forces. On 9 October 1965 the ROK forces killed 68 people in a small village. This war crime is just one of many ROK soldiers committed. For the Vietnamese peasants the South Koreans were among the most cruel soldiers next to the South Vietnamese soldiers!
In the Republic of Korea, Park Chung-hee's state-capitalist agenda was not always in favor of US imperialism. Some times he acted more independent, like when he ordered a attack on North Korean border guards after a north attack on South Korean guards. Skirmishes were very common between the ROK and the DPRK.
But even Park Chung-hee grow to become autocratic. His Korean Central Intelligence Agency was arresting and torturing all those who opposed his rule. Again his many enemies were leftists and supporters of the DPRK. The KCIA was very brutal and this was not loved by many South Koreans. By the end of the 70's, the people had enough of the military and their autocratic leader. On 16 October 1979, students began demonstrating against the government Soon 50.000 students joined the protests against the dictatorship of Park Chung-hee!
The director of the KCIA feared that Park Chung-hee would start a blood path. So he and some officers decided to kill him. On 26 October 1979 during a luxurious dinner, the director of the KCIA shot Park Chung-hee death. It is ironic that the dictator who ruled through his criminal KCIA was shot by his own agency!
After the murder of Park Chung-hee, the KCIA director was arrested and executed among those officers who supported the assassination. Chun Doo-hwan became the new military dictator of South Korea in 1980. He tried to hide the crimes of the KCIA by renaming the agency into the Agency for National Security Planning. In reality this new ANSP was just as dictatorial as the KCIA was. Leftists and opponents of the ROK were still arrested and tortured for their opposition to the state. Chun Doo-hwan showed how cruel he was by killing more then 2.000 anti-military protesters during the May 1980 demonstrations. 60.000 South Koreans were jailed after the 1980 crack down. Again the USA did not criticize South Korea, again they called the south to be ''free'' and ''democratic''
Dictator Chun Doo-hwan claimed that he would remove all corruption spread by Park Chung-hee. But again he did nothing of such thing. He called Park Chung-hee a dictator and a corrupt leader, while he himself denied his people any political freedom. International he supported the struggle of US imperialism against their enemies. Chun Doo-hwan fought ''communism'' not only in Korea but around the world. South Korea was still the bastion of anticommunism in Asia!
But after seven years, the South Koreans rose up again. Unlike the totalitarian North Korean government, the South Koreans were never fully brainwashed by their leaders. They were misled by anticommunist lies about Marxism, but most South Koreans knew that the military government was not democratic. The students were the ones who, for the third time, rose up and demanded freedom. President Chun Doo-hwan declared that he would not stand for elections in 1987!
Roh Tae-woo became the leader of the Democratic Justice Party, the party of the military and the conservatives. The DJP was founded in 1963 as the Democratic Republican Party, it was the party of Park Chung-hee. After Park Chung-hee murder and the rise of Chun Doo-hwan, the party was renamed into the Democratic Justice Party. Yet in ideology the party remained conservative, right-wing nationalist and anticommunist, just like the Democratic Republican Party!
The elections in December 1987 were the first that were partly-free. For the first time the military allowed opposition, but only from the bourgeois liberal democratic camp. Revolutionary socialists and communists were still banned and suppressed. Because the DJP controlled the media and was supported by all rich and powerful families, the conservatives won the elections. Roh Tae-woo became the first president of South Korea after a partly-free elections!
Roh Tae-woo remained president until 1993 when his DJP fused with other liberal conservative parties to form the Democratic Liberal Party. This party joined the Grand National Party in 1997 and that party became today's Saenuri Party. The reason why the conservatives changed their names so much is perhaps because many people hated their governments. After another four years of conservative rule, people had it with the ruling conservatives. Finally in 1998, the conservatives lost the elections to the liberal democrats. Those liberals were able to rule South Korea from 1998 till 2007!
Since 2007 the old conservatives are back into power. Partly thanks to the support of billionaires who own the media. But the Republic of Korea has changed a lot, from a military dictatorship into a semi-democratic republic. But there are still things that limit freedom of speech in the south. Revolutionary socialists still get jailed for opposing the ROK. Communists are still banned and anyone who is opposing the ROK is still branded a pro-DPRK traitor by the pro-capitalist media!
In 2012 the daughter of Park Chung-hee became president of South Korea. She asked for forgiveness for the crimes of her father. She could start by opening the archives of the again renamed Agency for National Security Planning. Or telling the world that the ROK was no democracy between 1948 and 1987. Because many Americans and Europeans still believe that lie. They still think that the south was the free one and that North Korea was the only dictatorship!
She should ask for forgiveness to those leftists who were jailed and tortured by her father and his military. To the 150.000 people murdered by Syngman Rhee and general Park Chung-hee. That is a good begin, but if South Korea wants to become a free nation, it must respect freedom of speech. Since the government of South Korea is still anticommunist, it cannot become democratic. Because anticommunists hate freedom of speech for leftists!