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North Korea timeline

Key dates in the history of North Korea, which has been accused by a UN-mandated commission of a series of crimes against humanity, including mass murder, enslavement and starvation. 

1945: Japan's colonial rule over Korea ends with its World War II surrender. 

1948: Korea is formally divided at the 38th parallel between the North, backed by the Soviet Union, and the South, supported by the United States. 

1950-53: After Soviet and US troops leave the Korean peninsula, the North invades the South and war breaks out. The US intervenes on behalf of the South as part of a United Nations force, and China on the side of the North. The war leaves an estimated four million dead. Afterwards the US retains a major military presence in the South. 

1988: The US imposes sanctions on North Korea after putting the country on its list of nations supporting terrorism. 

1989: US satellite pictures reveal a nuclear reprocessing plant at the Yongbyon complex.

1994: The US comes close to war with North Korea over its removal of spent fuel rods from the Yongbyon reactor. 

1994, July 8: Founding president Kim Il-Sung dies aged 82. He is succeeded by his son Jong-Il. 

Mid-1990s: North Korea suffers famine which kills hundreds of thousands of people. 

1998: North Korea fires its first long-range ballistic missile. 

2000: North and South Korea hold their first-ever summit. A second is held in 2007. cn domain  hk domain  pw domain

2002: US President George W. Bush names North Korea as part of an "Axis of Evil". 

2003: North Korea withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

2005: For the first time, North Korea states that it has nuclear weapons. 

2006: North Korea carries out its first nuclear test on October 9, sparking international condemnation and more UN sanctions.

2007: North Korea agrees in February to scrap its nuclear facilities in return for economic aid and diplomatic benefits. In July, North Korea says it has closed down its main nuclear site. 

- April 5: The North launches a long-range rocket and announces it will restart its Yongbyon complex despite UN condemnation. 

- May 25: North Korea conducts its second nuclear test, sparking tougher UN sanctions. 


- December 19: North Korean state media say Kim Jong-Il died two days previously of a heart attack at the age of 69, and urge people to support his son and heir apparent Kim Jong-Un. 

- December 24: State media acclaim Jong-Un as 'supreme commander' of the military. 


- December 12: North Korea launches long-range rocket, which the international community condemns as a disguised ballistic missile test. 

- February 12: North Korea conducts third and largest nuclear test, drawing added UN sanctions and sending military tensions on the Korean peninsula surging for months. 

- December 13: North Korea announces the execution of Kim Jong-Un's uncle and political mentor, in a move seen by some as a sign of internal dissent. 


- February 17: UN-mandate commission publishes report stating that rights abuses in North Korea amount to crimes against humanity.