The country was founded in 1948 after it had been freed from Japanese occupation, but the southern half of the country was, and remains, occupied by the United States. At first there was a war between the armies of the North and South in what is called the Korean War, but the fighting stopped in 1953 while the war never officially ended. Afterwards, North Korea was friendly with China and Russia but never was formally allied with either and became more isolated over time. While the South went from one military dictatorship to another, the North went through steady development and was ahead of the South until the 1980s when the South became more democratic. Soon afterwards, the North's main trading partners collapsed leaving it stranded and isolated. Throughout the 1990s, North Korea suffered from famines and natural disasters. Afterwards, things stabilized but continued to lag behind the South.
The country is organized along socialist lines, as all workplaces are public property and function along a universal plan. This is because the founders of North Korea were inspired by the ideas of communism. But as time went on, North Korea became more conservative and nationalist, and had less in common with other countries aiming for communism. To justify these differences, the country's leader Kim Il-sung said that the government was following his own ideology of "Juche", which means "self-reliance". Later on, the country's leaders began to remove "communism" from North Korean laws and philosophy. After Kim Il-sung died during the disasters of the 1990s, his son Kim Jong-il took his place and was promoted by the government as the leader who led North Korea out of the disasters. Kim Jong-il enacted a new policy of "Songun", or "military-first", which turned the country into a military state. When he died in 2011, his youngest son Kim Jong-un took his place and continues to lead the country today.