North Korea's history is far more complex than 25 years of aggression


Although it's easy to focus on the last quarter-century of North Korean aggression — ushered in by all three Kim rulers — where we are today is very much a result of 70-plus years of historical dominoes.

North Korea in its current form traces its roots back to the end of World War II when the Korean Peninsula was split in two: The Soviet Union controlled the north, and the U.S. controlled the south.

Over the decades, several key moments convinced Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un a nuclear North Korea was their best chance to survive.

SEE MORE: The North Korean Standoff Is (And Isn't) Like The Cuban Missile Crisis

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RELATED: North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel -- the "Hotel of Doom"

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North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel -- the "Hotel of Doom"
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North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel -- the "Hotel of Doom"
The 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel splits the sky over Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. The picture of a crane sitting idle on top of the hotel has become a familiar one for locals, unchanged for over a decade. The partially complete building now stands tall, but without windows or visitors. Picture taken April 24, 2002. REUTERS/Teruaki Ueno TO ACCOMPANY FEATURE STORY KOREA-NORTH-ECONOMY ES/RCS
Ryugyong Hotel is seen in Pyongyang in this picture taken August 28, 2009. The towering North Korean hotel, which Esquire magazine once dubbed "the worst building in the history of mankind", has come back to life with a facade of shiny glass windows affixed to one side of the concrete monolith. Picture taken August 28, 2009. REUTERS/The Korea Sharing Movement/Handout (NORTH KOREA BUSINESS POLITICS SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
The 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel, the highest building under construction in North Korea, is seen in Pyongyang April 11, 2012. REUTERS/Bobby Yip (NORTH KOREA - Tags: CITYSPACE TRAVEL BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION ANNIVERSARY)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - 2002/10/01: Ryugyong Hotel in background is the highest building in the country; its construction was stopped in 1992. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) North Korea; Pyeongyang; unfinished Ryugyong Hotel (Photo by Hans Peters/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - AUGUST 24: A view of the Pyongyang cityscape, looking towards the Ryugyong Hotel Tower from Yanggakdo Hotel on August 24, 2015 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North and South Korea today came to an agreement to ease tensions following an exchange of artillery fire at the demilitarized border last week. (Photo by Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 08: Tramway passing in front of ryugyong hotel, pyongyang, North Korea on September 8, 2012 in Pyongyang, North Korea.
The top of the 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel, the highest building under construction in North Korea, is seen in Pyongyang, North Korea early October 9, 2015. North Korea is getting ready to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers' Party of Korea on October 10. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
The 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel, the highest building under construction in North Korea, is seen behind residential building in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A man cycles along the bank of Taedong River on the other side of the bronze statues of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung (L) and late leader Kim Jong-il, in Pyongyang July 26, 2013. The 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel is seen behind the statues. REUTERS/Jason Lee (NORTH KOREA - Tags: SOCIETY)
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