In this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Feb. 21, 2014, p. A11, is a story, “Koreans Split by War Reunite.” The story reiterates a false history of how the two Koreas were separated. “The reunions serve as a reminder that despite the division of the peninsula after the 1950-53 Korean War, the border divides blood relatives.”
Leaving aside the sad fact–this is, after all, The Wall Street Journal, hey–that the above sentence makes no real sense, I get the gist from surrounding text. The actual history swallowed in this nonsense sentence is that the United States of America divided the two Koreas in July 1945, immediately after WWII. Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel, then in the U.S. Army, knew that the Soviets under Joseph Stalin wanted to take the entire Korean peninsula and incorporate it into the Soviet Union. They were also aware that the U.S. Army did not have the troops in place to prevent this.
Rusk and Bonesteel looked at a map of Korea hanging in the conference room where they were meeting, saw that the 38th Parallel looked like a good place to draw a boundary line between North and South. They drew it and presented their plan to the Soviets, who agreed. Thus the Koreas were divided.
I know this because my dad was secretary to the American negotiating team brought in by the U.S. and Russia (then the dominant state of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, otherwise called U.S.S.R.) I have his handwritten notes from the negotiations, and included a bit of these in my book about this division: The Jade Locket and the Red Star: An Untold History of the Invasion of Korea and Why Korea Is Now Two Countries Instead of One, available on Amazon as a paperback book, with photographs, or Kindle.