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A Japanese colony through the end of World War II, then divided into communist and non-communist halves ever since, torn up by a 1950-53 war that has not ended, just interrupted by a decades long ceasefire, Korea has developed into one of the most volatile hotspots on the planet. Communist North Korea fell apart economically with the end of the cold war, and Russian and Chinese subsidies. South Korea began a market driven economic boom in the 1970s, and moved from a military dominated government to a functioning democracy in the 1980s. By the 1990s, North Korea was a heavily armed economic basket case with one of the largest armies in the world. North Korea also had a paranoid, blindly nationalistic view of the world and still believed that only by liberating South Korea could peace come to the region. North Korea economic woes have been made worse by disastrous weather through most of the 1990s. Famine and malnutrition, plus economic collapse have made North Korea a heavily armed basket case that no one quite knows how to handle. The current strategy consists of trying to bribe the North Koreans to cease work on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and not to export any of this technology to rogue states. The hope is that the current communist government will just collapse like those in Eastern Europe did in the late 1980s. So far, this does not appear to be working. Increasingly, the senior leadership of the country consists of military officers, rather than communist party officials.