Menghe

Socialist Republic of Menghe

대멩 사회주의 궁화국
大孟社會主義共和國
Dae Meng Sahoejuyi Gonghwaguk
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Emblem
Map showing neighboring countries and major cities.
Map showing neighboring countries and major cities.
CapitalDonggyŏng
Largest citySunju
Recognised regional languagesPolvokian, Uzeric, Siyadil, Dzhungestani
Ethnic groups
(2015)
Meng 87.7%

Uzeri 10.6%

Other 1.7%
Demonym(s)Menghean
GovernmentAuthoritarian Socialist Meritocracy
• Chairman
Choe Sŭng-min
• Vice Chairman of the Supreme Council
Kim Pyŏng-sŏ
• Chairman of the National Assembly
Ri Hyo-jin
Sovereign State
• Yangju Unification
110 BCE
• Menghe Federative Republic
4 August 1898
• Socialist Republic of Menghe
25 May 1988
Area
• Total Land
3,427,592.87 km2 (1,323,401.01 sq mi)does not include Jijunghae inland sea
• Water (%)
1.4%
Population
• 2015 census
524,917,178
• Density
153.14/km2 (396.6/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2015 estimate
• Total
$11,675 trillion
• Per capita
$22,242
GDP (nominal)2015 estimate
• Total
$6,415 trillion (2nd)
• Per capita
$12,221
Gini (2015)Negative increase 28.9
low
HDI (2016)Increase 0.795
high
CurrencyInminpye (IMP)
Time zoneUTC+7 (Menghean Central Time
Menghean Southwestern Time)
Date formatyyyy-mm-dd; CE(AD)
Driving sideright
Calling code+25

Menghe (/ˌmɛŋˈh/ in English), officially the Socialist Republic of Menghe (Menghean Gomun: 大孟社會主義共和國; Menghean Sinmun: 대멩 사회주의 궁화국; Romaja: Dae Meng Sahoejuyi Gonghwaguk) is a country occupying the southeastern portion of the continent of Hemithea within the region of Septentrion. It borders the Republic of Innominada, Maverica, Dzhungestan, and Polvokia on land, as well as the Sylvan enclave city of Altagracia, which Menghe claims as its sovereign territory. Its southern coast runs along the South Menghe Sea, and its Eastern coast borders the East Menghe Sea. The country contains a freshwater inland sea, known as Jijunghae, with an area of 48,695 square kilometers. Menghe itself has a total land area of slightly over three million square kilometers and had a population of 525 million people in 2015. Its capital is the city of Donggyŏng, which is located in the northeast.

Etymology

The country's current name originated in the Meng dynasty, which unified many of the warring states in 110 BCE. After this dynasty fell, scholar-gentry and contemporary historians continued to use the term Meng (孟) to refer to the culture shared among the Warring States. This formed the basis of several two-character compounds, including Mengguk (멩국 / 孟國, "Country of the Meng"), Menghwa (孟華 / 멩화, "Illustrious Meng"), Dae Meng (大孟 / 대멩, "Great Meng"). All three of these are in use today, with Mengguk used as the standard short form, Menghwa in rhetoric or poetry, and Dae Meng appearing in the names of government agencies (e.g., Dae Meng Yukgun, Menghean Army). It also forms the name of the Meng ethnic group, which accounts for 88.6% of Menghe's population.

During the Yi dynasty, Jungguk (중국 / 中國, "Middle Kingdom") gained popularity as an alternative, in reference to the belief that Menghe was located at the center of the world. The use of Mengguk/Menghwa was revived in the 16th century, however, and Jungguk is seldom used today.

When the first Sylvan explorers arrived in the country in 1502, they recorded its name as Menghea. There is still some debate over the origins of the name, which appears to be derived from Menghwa, perhaps when spoken through a now-extinct southern dialect. Since the 19th century, domestic and diplomatic documents have recognized "Menghe" as the official English-language name for the country, even though it does not directly correspond to the Menghean pronunciation.

There is a common misconception in Septentrion that Menghe means "eldest country." Technically speaking, it is true that the character Meng (孟) can be translated as "eldest brother" or "first in series," and thus Mengguk (孟國) can be interpreted literally as "eldest" or "first" country. Etymologically, however, the Meng in Menghe ultimately derives its name from the Meng River, after which the State of Meng and the Meng Dynasty were named. No Menghean native would read the characters 孟國 as "eldest country," but would recognize it first and foremost as the proper name of a country, and even the "eldest" meaning of Meng is rarely used. Nevertheless, the nickname stuck, and it is still occasionally displayed in tourism brochures or referenced in newspaper headlines.

History

First Settlements

File:Cradle.png
The upper Meng and Ryongtan river valleys, where the first eastern human settlements were densest. It roughly corresponds to the area of the mythical "Jade Kingdom," which is also said to have extended to the upper Chunggyŏng and Ro rivers.

Fossil evidence suggests that the first hominid populations arrived in Menghe 2.4 million years ago, part of a northerly migration out of Meridia during the last ice age. Over time, these semi-nomadic tribes began settling down into permanent towns and villages built around sedentary agriculture. By the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, there were three distinct "cradles of civilization" in Menghe: the Proto-Chikai (later Achahan) civilization on the White River, the Gojun dynasty on the Meng river, and the Haedong culture east of Lake Jijunghae. This period corresponds to the arrival of the legendary Yellow Emperor, first ruler of all civilized peoples, in the Sindo creation myth. The proto-Chikai civilization was the first in Septentrion to develop bronze working, and it built impressive stone monuments and tombs, but changes in the regional climate contributed to its decline and eventual disappearance in the 9th century BCE.

The decline of Achahan corresponded to the growing consolidation of Meng river civilization in the Jun dynasty and the Warring States period that followed it. In the course of their conflicts, these states mastered iron working, organized taxation, and early military strategy, and by the end of the Warring States Period several states fielded armies numbering in the hundreds of thousands. This period also saw a flourishing of philosophy, including Legalism, Yuhak thought, and Doism, which remain foundational to Menghean culture today.

The Early Dynasties

In 341 BCE, the State of Yang emerged as the most powerful of the warring states, conquering the three other states to the west of Lake Jijunghae and establishing a small empire which would gradually expand to include much of the land northeast of the Meng river. The Yang State brought new innovations to areas under its control, including planned cities arranged in a "wheel-and-spoke" format with the palace and main keep at the center. Its capital at Jang'an is today the 14th largest city in Menghe, and among the oldest. The State of Yang made major advances in military technology and engineering for its time, though culturally it was somewhat distinct from later Menghean dynasties, with a cult of the sun god and a militaristic warrior culture.

As the State of Yang entered into decline, one of its tributary states, the State of Meng, declared the formation of a new Meng Dynasty. From 192 BCE onward, the Meng state steadily unified much of what is today south-central Menghe, forcing the last Yang emperor to abdicate in 110. Faced with the task of holding together such a large empire, Emperor Sŏngmyŏng (reigned 118-92 BCE) established an official court language, standardized Menghe's different logographic writing systems into a single set of written characters, and assigned a surname to every household to facilitate record-keeping. The unified Meng Dynasty witnessed a flourishing of Menghean culture and Yuhak philosophy, and both the state of Menghe and the Meng ethnic group are named in its honor. It also brought a number of improvements in engineering and technology, such as the construction of the Grand Gangwŏn Canal.

In 278 CE, a failed coup by a provincial general led to the collapse of the State of Meng and the beginning of the Five States and Seven Fiefdoms period. These states vied for dominance until 542, when the semi-nomadic State of Chikai conquered the State of Chŏllo and established the Jin dynasty. The Chŏllo imperial family, descendants of the Meng dynasty's imperial bloodline, went into exile in Themiclesia. In order to administer the country, the Jin Emperors eventually adopted many aspects of sedentary Menghean culture, including the Menghean language and Yuhak philosophy, though the movement of populations during this period spread nomadic linguistic influences among the population in the northeast.

The Middle Dynasties

The Jin Dynasty fell in the year 679, toppled by a peasant uprising against its oppressive land use policies. This resulted in the rise of the Kang dynasty, which would last until 905. The Sŭng dynasty, which followed it, was best remembered for its cultural achievements, especially in the areas of decorated porcelain, written poetry, and calligraphy, as well as the world's first movable type printing system. Sŭng governors also improved the country's river infrastructure, building canals, weirs, reservoirs, and irrigation networks to improve river transport and manage water levels in areas with monsoon climates. These measures, along with the introduction of the magnetic compass at sea, allowed extensive growth in long-distance trade in both luxuries and commodities.

By the 12th century, however, prosperity in the Sunghwa court had given way to extensive corruption. In 1253, General Yi Do led a coup and installed himself on the throne as the Taejo Emperor, establishing the Yi Dynasty. This is today considered a golden age in Menghe history, witnessing the introduction of simplified Sinmun script, the establishment of Chŏndoism as the state religion, and, after the Northern and Western Expeditions, the expansion of the country to its greatest territorial extent. For a little over a century, the Yi dynasty even held Themiclesia in semi-tributary status, after General Cho Myŏng'wŏn successfully besieged Kienk'ang.

The Yi dynasty was also a period of extensive economic growth due to improvements in agricultural techniques, canal transport, and river management infrastructure. Some historians claim Menghe's population in 1500 may have exceeded 150 million, or over a quarter of its current level, though more conservative estimates place it at between 100 and 120 million. During the 15th century, there was even a revival of coal mining in the Donghae and Gangwŏn regions and a surge in household and cottage manufacturing, which several modern scholars identify as the beginnings of an industrious revolution with the potential to give way to rapid economic growth.

The Four Dark Centuries

Explorers from Sylva made contact with the Yi dynasty in the late 15th century, sailing along the coast of what is now Innominada and making their first audience with Imperial officials in the city of Dongchŏn. Initially Menghe welcomed the foreign traders, but in 1508 rats aboard Casaterran trade ships spread the Menghean Black Plague, killing upwards of 60 million people over the course of four years. With the death of its Emperor and over half of its population, the Yi dynasty collapsed, bringing with it Menghe's extensive trade and tribute network. The period that followed, from 1508 to 1900, is remembered in Menghe as the Four Dark Centuries.

The mountainous province of Suksan escaped the worst effects of the plague due to its relative isolation, and seceded in 1512 as the State of Suk. Over the decade and a half that followed, they led their armies onto the South Menghean Plain, easily retaking land which had suffered most heavily from the plague. In 1528, they reached the city of Junggyŏng and proclaimed the formation of the Myŏn dynasty.

The Myŏn emperors attributed the plague to the unclean habits of Casaterran barbarians, and sealed all of the country's ports against foreign trade, prohibiting any ship of another nation from coming to dock and forbidding Menghean citizens from leaving the country. Under certain Emperors, Menghean fishermen were even forbidden from leaving sight of shore, a decree which was rarely enforced. In this state of isolation, Menghe stagnated economically and technologically, falling behind the Casaterran naval powers which colonized its neighbors to the West, North, and South. This situation lasted until 1852, when a Sylvan battle fleet sailed into Sunju Bay and seized the city's coastal forts. In an unequal treaty that followed, the Myŏn state opened its ports to foreign ships and gave Sylva a 99-year lease to the Goŭn peninsula, which became the city of Altagracia.

Defeat to Sylvan forces severely sapped public confidence in the Myŏn dynasty. In June of 1865, General Kim Ryungsŏng led his troops against the capital at Junggyŏng, proclaiming the formation of the Sinyi (or New Yi) Dynasty. The northeastern provinces quickly fell or surrendered, but many of the southern provinces refused to recognize the new government, forming the State of Namyang in an opposing claim to the throne. The southwestern provinces seceded as the Kingdom of Uzeristan, which declared independence in 1866. In the Three States Period that followed, Sinyi, Namyang, and Uzeristan waged an on-and-off civil war, during which all three imported foreign weapons and modernized their state structures. Namyang and Uzeristan followed the Themiclesian model, encouraging foreign trade and westernization, while Sinyi followed the Dayashinese model, importing military and industrial technology but retaining an authoritarian nationalist ethos.

Federative Republic of Menghe

Sinyi held the upper hand for most of the war, but in 1898 its repressive taxation policies spawned a major peasant uprising in Haedong Province. As the rebellion spread to other areas, drawing the Sinyi army away from the front, Namyang troops pushed forward and seized the old Imperial capital at Junggyŏng. Seeing their opponent near collapse but wary of foreign colonial fleets loitering off the coast, Namyang leaders offered a conditional surrender and a power-sharing agreement. In the resulting Treaty of Chŏnjin, they established the Federative Republic of Menghe, which was divided into eight regions with autonomous powers under a Western-style federal, parliamentary system. The year of the treaty's signing became the starting year of the Menghean modern calendar, which incidentally coincided with the Common Era year 1900.

Two years later, the united Menghean state launched an intervention in Uzeristan, ostensibly on the basis that King Qulamlü had requested aid in putting down a rebellion. The temporarily independent kingdom was reintegrated into Menghe in 1906, forming a ninth federal region. Uzeristan's northern mountainous regions, today part of the Siyadag Semi-Autonomous Province, were particularly rebellious after reintegration, staging uprisings in 1910-1912 and 1921-1925.

The Federal Republic of Menghe was a fairly liberal state for its time, with universal male suffrage (over the age of 24) and an elected parliament. On paper, it is the most democratic form of government Menghe has enjoyed to this day, with an executive prime minister independently elected by parliament to a non-renewable four-year term. The government prioritized economic growth and modernization, and relied heavily on private enterprises for construction and industrial development. By the mid-1920s, Menghe had emerged as a second-rate industrial power, with a significant steel industry in overall terms but a low income per capita.

The federal government's embrace of Western culture, however, stirred unrest among Menghean nationalists, especially those who grew up under Sinyi rule. The Menghean Nationalist Party, founded in 1905, steadily expanded its political influence, building up a power base in the rural interior. The Nationalists remained hostile to Western culture, and hoped to rebuild the South Menghe Sea trade and tribute empire which the Yi dynasty had controlled up to the early 16th century.

Menghe in the Pan-Septentrion War

Authoritarian nationalism crested on February 18th, 1927, when General Kwon Chong-hoon seized power in a military coup and proclaimed the formation of the Greater Menghean Empire. The federal parliament was disbanded and replaced with a centralized authoritarian system led by the Nationalist Party, with the Imperial Army taking an assertive role in directing foreign policy. Domestically, the Nationalists organized a sweeping purge of "Western decadence" and political opposition, and promoted a "Buguk Gangbyŏng" economic policy which placed military-related industries first.

After Themiclesian palace guards suppressed the Nationalist Revolt of 1932, killing Kwon's nephew in the process, the Greater Menghean Empire launched an armed intervention in Dzhungestan in early 1933, starting the Pan-Septentrion War in the Eastern Theatre. Within two years Menghean troops had reached the border of Themiclesia proper and were preparing an invasion of the country. When Sylvan diplomats suggested that in light of Menghe's actions it would not return Altagracia in 1952 as promised in the original treaty, Kwon launched an offensive war to take the city, with a simultaneous offensive into Sylva's neighboring ally Innominada. Kwon died unexpectedly in 1937 and was succeeded by Kim Myŏng-hwan, who escalated the war with a land invasion of Maverica and in 1938 provoked a declaration of war from New Tyran.

Initially, Menghe and its ally Dayashina held the upper hand in the Eastern theatre, pushing as far as Kien-k'ang and Baumburg in Hemithea and nearing Saladina in Naseristan. At the Battle of Portcullia in 1938, they dealt a decisive defeat to the Royal Navy, and in March 1940 Menghean troops landed on the Acheron Islands. The entry of the Organized States into the war decisively strengthened the Allies, however, as did the Imperial Menghean Navy's defeat at the Battle of Williamstown. By the end of 1941, Menghean forces were in retreat in all theatres, and by 1944 Allied troops had crossed into Menghean territory proper. The Imperial Menghean Army was prepared to wage a guerilla war for Menghe's defense, as the Federation of Socialist Republics had done against Ostland, but after the Allies intensified their carpet bombing of Menghe's cities and dropped a nuclear bomb on Haeju, Kim Myŏng-hwan offered a surrender on the sole condition that the postwar Menghe, whatever its government, be preserved at its pre-1927 borders.

Menghe's war crimes during this conflict were relatively mild compared to those of Dayashina, but remain a contentious issue today. Menghe's traditional warrior code, Musado, looked down on the killing of unarmed noncombatants, and the Imperial Menghean Army committed early on to following the restrictive Ten Rules of Conquest. Rear-area troops and administrators systematically mistreated Casaterran creole populations, however, and in the spring of 1937 the Army used Sylvan and later Maverican POW labor to build the "Railroad of Death" across Dzhungestan to supply the Themiclesian front. After 1941, retreating Menghean forces also carried out reprisal attacks against Maverican civilians suspected of supporting guerillas, and conducted a more general scorched earth campaign on hostile territory. Current Menghean textbooks and diplomatic statements still deny that Menghean soldiers carried out war crimes and atrocities, and domestic Menghean propaganda openly glorifies the Pan-Septentrion War - known locally as the Great Conquest War - as a noble if misguided struggle for colonial liberation.

The Postwar Era

Following the surrender, the victorious Allied powers placed Menghe under military occupation while preparing a transition to democratic rule. The country transitioned to an independent leadership, the Republic of Menghe, in 1951, but its government remained reliant on foreign economic and military support and enjoyed little autonomy in policymaking. Throughout this period, the Allies struggled to control Menghean nationalist military holdouts and Communist revolutionary cells, which struggled against foreign control in the Menghean War of Liberation. This conflict intersected with the Cold War in Septentrion, as the FSR and Polvokia supplied arms to the Communist rebels, who emerged as the dominant faction in the late 1950s.

The Communists and their Nationalist allies repelled the last cells of Allied and Republican soldiers in 1964, bringing an end to 31 years of continuous modern war in and around Menghe. They established a new regime, the Democratic People's Republic of Menghe, which was headed by the Menghean People's Communist Party. The MPCP generally followed the Polvokian branch of Communism, as opposed to its Letnevian counterpart, favoring state control of the economy and viewing traditional culture with apathy or hostility. Under the first two General-Secretaries, Sun Tae-jun and Sim Jin-hwan, the DPRM made some advancements in heavy industry and military technology, though it still lagged far behind Septentrion's developed economies and never caught up with the Greater Menghean Empire as a share of world GDP.

Sim Jin-hwan's developmentalist "Progress faction" shared power with a more hardline "Populist faction" under Ryŏ Ho-jun, which favored a more radical and revolutionary approach. After Ryŏ came to power in 1980, he orchestrated a chaotic purge of his political enemies, followed by a series of disastrous economic reforms intended to bring the DPRM closer to true Communism. One of these changes, the forced collectivization of agricultural land, resulted in a severe famine that caused upwards of 20 million deaths. Ryŏ also ordered Menghe's first open-air nuclear test, causing other countries to invoke the STAPNA accords and place Menghe under a general embargo.

Socialist Republic of Menghe

File:December Tank.jpg
A JCh-5 from the 12th Tank Division moves through the streets in the early hours of 21 December 1987.

In response to famine, economic stagnation, and the threat of a purge, a charismatic Major-General by the name of Choe Sŭng-min staged a military coup which overthrew the Menghean People's Communist Party. The Interim Council for National Restoration, a military junta which followed, disbanded Menghe's nuclear program in exchange for a resumption of normal trading relations and ushered in some early economic reforms, including decollectivization. On May 25th, 1988, the Interim Council formally transferred power to a new civilian government, the Socialist Republic of Menghe.

During the 1990s, Choe Sŭng-min consolidated his power, transitioning from a first among equals on the Supreme Council to a charismatic leader with a strong personality cult. He also ushered in a comprehensive program of economic reforms, converting inefficient state-owned enterprises into Jachi-hoesa and legalizing private enterprise. These policy changes resulted in the Menghean economic miracle, a period of rapid GDP growth that continues up to the present. Yet economic liberalization was not paired with political liberalization: in the late 1990s, Choe Sŭng-min centralized his authority, built up a personality cult, and embarked on the Disciplined Society Campaign to reshape public morality.

In foreign policy, the new government was at first conciliatory, vowing restraint before resorting to the use of force. In 1996, it concluded a special agreement with the capitalist, democratic Grand Alliance, distancing itself from the Federation of Socialist Republics in the process. Menghe's involvement in the Ummayan Civil War brought an end to its non-aligned policy, leading to a rapid deterioration of relations with Maverica and Innominada, which joined the Able Vigil Accords.

Geography

Menghe occupies the southeastern coastal portion of the continent of Hemithea, sitting between 26 and 50 degrees North and 93 and 125 degrees East, and covers a land area of 3,427,592.87 square kilometers. This figure excludes Lake Jijunghae, a large freshwater inland sea located in the middle of the country's Central Basin. The country shares land borders with Altagracia, the Republic of Innominada, Maverica, Dzhungestan, and Polvokia, in clockwise order from south to northeast. To its south lies the South Menghe Sea, known locally as the Southern Sea, and to its east lies the East Menghe Sea, also called the Sea of Fuso.

The terrain of Menghe is defined by three main mountain ridges. The Chŏnsan range, running from the southwest to the northwest, is the largest; it is home to Mt. Tae, the highest point in Menghe, with an elevation of 3,274 meters above sea level. An additional range, the Ryongguk highlands, runs from the central Chŏnsan range to the southeastern peninsula, while the Hamgyŏng range runs north to south along the eastern coast. Both of these ranges are relatively lower, with few peaks higher than 1,500 meters above sea level. These ranges divide the country into the Chŏllo Plain, the Central Hemithean Steppe, and the Central Basin. Population density is highest along the eastern and southern coasts, and lowest in the Western Desert, with the remaining temperate and subtropical plain areas characterized by an intermediate population density among forests and agricultural land.

Administrative Divisions

Menghe is divided into four levels of administrative organization, with the central government sometimes listed as the fifth. At the highest level are twenty-two provinces, four of which hold semi-autonomous status, and three directly-controlled cities. The next three levels are conventionally known as the Prefectural, County, and Village levels, but carry different names depending on whether they are in urban or rural areas.

Menghean provinces as they exist today are based on the approximate layout of the country’s regions stretching back through history, which in turn can trace its origin to the warring states that have fought for political supremacy between unified dynasties. Some recent notable changes include the creation of Baeksan Province from areas of Sŏsamak and Pyŏngsu (1972), the creation of the Sunju directly-governed city (1991), the division of Donghae into North and South Donghae (1999), and the division of Chŏnro into East and West Chŏnro (2009).

File:Provinces of Menghe.png
Map of Menghe with official Province Codes. Refer to the key to the left for province names.
Code (2009) Name Sinmun Gumun Capital
1 Donggyŏng Directly Controlled City 동경직할시 東京直轄市 Donggyŏng
2 Sunju Directly Controlled City 순주직할시 淳州直轄市 Sunju
3 Chunggyŏng Directly Controlled City 중경직할시 中京直轄市 Chunggyŏng
4 Chŏnghae Province 청해도 青海道 Chŏngsan
5 Goyang Province 고양도 高陽道 Taekchŏn
6 North Donghae Province 동해북도 東海北道 Hangju
7 South Donghae Province 동해남도 東海南道 Haeju
8 Ryonggyŏng Province 룡경도 龍境道 Daegok
9 Sinbukgang Province 신북강도 新北江道 Baekjin
10 Kilim Province 길림도 吉林道 Songrimsŏng
11 Taehwa Province 태화도 泰火道 Hwaju
12 Haenam Province 해남도 海南道 Hwasŏng
13 Sanchŏn Province 산천도 山川道 Chŏnjin
14 Sŏsamak Province 서사막도 西沙漠道 Sinjŏn’gyŏng
15 Chikai Province 치카이도 N/A Jinjŏng
16 Gangwŏn Province 강원도 江原道 Wonsan
17 East Chŏnru Province 천로동도 千鷺東道 Hamyang
18 West Chŏnru Province 천로서도 千鷺西道 Insŏng
19 Baeksan Province 백산도 白山道 Wansŏ
20 Pyŏngsu Province 평수도 平肅道 Susŏng
21 Hwangjŏn Province 황전도 黄田道 Pyŏngan
22 Uzeristan Semi-Autonomous Province 우쩨리스탄 N/A Kuşadası
23 Daristan Semi-Autonomous Province 다리스탄 N/A Hasavyurt
24 Argentstan Semi-Autonomous Province1 아르겐스탄 N/A Szantiag
25 Siyadag Semi-Autonomous Province 시야닥 N/A Kadirkent
1: Since 2018, formally known as the "Semi-Autonomous Province of Argentan People Living in Menghe" (멩국에서 아르겐탄 민족의 자치도, Menggugesŏ Arŭgentan Minjog-e Jachido). This move was apparently intended to soothe relations with the newly independent state of Argentstan to the southwest. Use of the short form persists informally.

Climate

File:Koppen Climate Map.png
Köppen climate map of Menghe. Labels have been abbreviated, and climate types not present in the country are omitted from the key.

Menghe's climate is generally temperate, though the exact conditions vary across its land area. On a rough spectrum, temperatures rise from the semi-tropical southwest to the cold northeast, and precipitation levels rise from the arid Western Desert to humid Ronggyŏng province, but mountain ranges and bodies of water profoundly alter this climate schemata. Due to overall patterns in atmospheric circulation and the heating and cooling of Central Hemithea, prevailing winds are southeasterly in the summer and northeasterly in the winter.

This weather pattern makes the Southern Plain heavily dependent on the summer monsoon rains for most of its precipitation, leaving it prone to flooding and drought in off-average years. The Central Basin's climate is moderated by the presence of Lake Jijunghae, whose warmth in summer provides an additional source of moisture for winds passing overhead. In good years, stable precipitation and above-freezing temperatures in both winter and summer allow the southwest (especially the provinces of Haenam, Samchŏn, and Ryonggyŏng) to produce a twice-annual harvest, making this area a critical breadbasket in historical times. Further north, a plain running from Gilim through Chŏnghae to both provinces of Donghae has stable precipitation year-round but experiences a cold wind from over the East Menghe Sea in winter, bringing heavy snow that feeds the river system as it melts. Areas west of the Chŏnsan mountains are shielded by rainfall by high mountains and sheer distance, but regularly experience cold winds blowing down from the center of the continent, making this area a relatively cold steppe-desert plain dependent on glacial meltwater to feed its three main rivers.

Rivers and Canals

Menghe is criscrossed by fifteen major rivers, as well as a variety of minor tributaries and streams. Of these rivers, eight empty into the ocean, four empty into Lake Jijunghae, and three empty into other major lake and river systems outside Menghean territory. Ever since the 3rd Century BCE, Menghean cartographers have distinguished between "inward" and "outward" rivers, the former emptying into the freshwater Lake Jijunghae and the latter into the Southern and Eastern Seas. The Pichoe river, which branches off of the Meng, is the only natural connection between these water systems.

Before the arrival of the railroad, river barges were the only cost-effective way to transport bulk goods over long distances inland, making the Pichoe river a critical transportation route for tribute and grain. During the Sŭng, Yi, and Myŏn dynasties, Menghean Emperors ordered the construction of monumental canal projects between inward and outward-flowing rivers, complete with pound locks and reinforced levees centuries ahead of their time. The most ambitious of these projects is the Meng-Ryŏngtan Grand Canal, which runs between Yŏng'an and Sunyang in Gangwŏn province.

Menghean rivers are also critical sources of water for irrigation and civil use. Many of them now bear dams on their mountainous upper reaches. In addition to providing electricity at peak use, these dams form a network of reservoirs, which supply the nation's water needs during the dry season and contain flooding during the rainy season. When built in combination with locks and weirs, they also expand the navigable area of the river further upstream. Menghean rivers and canals are still used for shipping bulk cargo to coastal ports, though rail transport has surpassed them as the main way of moving freight.

Environmental Problems

Menghe has a long history of environmental variability, and as early as the Meng dynasty government records spoke of erosion, water pollution, and the collapse of levees separating rivers and canals from the surrounding farmland. These problems intensified in the wake of the Menghean economic miracle, which dramatically improved the livelihoods of Menghean citizens but also resulted in an enormous expansion of heavy industry and a surge in car ownership. Globally, Menghe is the largest CO2 emitter in Septentrion, and locally many of its cities suffer severe problems with smog and particulate matter.

By virtue of its geographic location, Menghe is also especially vulnerable to climate change. The Southern Plain's reliance on monsoon rains also means that ENSO patterns can bring periods of flood or drought, resulting in disasters like the Menghean famine of 1985-87. Anthropogenic climate change threatens to intensify this variation through its effect on wind patterns and ocean temperatures, leaving Menghe at particularly severe risk. Rapid urbanization in areas with good shipping access also means that Menghe has a large number of densely populated cities, most notably Sunju, built on low-lying coastal ground which faces a severe risk from flooding.

In the last few years, the central government has made an increasingly strong commitment to cutting emissions and improving air and water quality, tightening oversight of the environmental regulation process and launching high-profile investigations of major polluters. Menghean Jachi-hoesa and state agencies have also made a coordinated research into forms of alternative energy, including conventional nuclear power, Thorium MSR technology, battery- and hydrogen-powered cars, and solar and wind power, with the aim of reducing Menghe's reliance on coal and oil. As a result of state subsidies and sustained investment, Menghe is emerging as a regional leader in several of these fields, and Menghean universities and research institutes have expanded collaboration with their counterparts in countries like Tol Galen and Rajamaa.

Menghe is also at risk from other natural disasters, including earthquakes and typhoons. After the devastating Gangwŏn Earthquake of 2003, the government has maintained strict construction standards for new buildings in urban areas, though in the countryside or on the outskirts these are not always well-enforced. When an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck South Donghae in 2014, the relatively low death toll, absence of major building collapses, and speedy arrival of emergency response forces testified to the success of this program.

Government and Politics

Menghe's 1988 constitution declares that the country is a Socialist republic and functions as a one-party state. It is ruled by the Menghean Socialist Party, in coalition with two satellite parties, the Menghean Social-Democratic Party and the Menghean Workers' Party. The Socialist Party leadership gives these organizations some autonomy to determine their platforms, but retains stern boundaries on what policy positions are considered unacceptable, and does not permit the formation of additional political parties. The government itself is centralized and highly authoritarian; elections are tightly controlled by the Socialist Party, and administrative positions are filled through appointment.

The executive branch is headed by the 25-member Supreme Council, which includes the heads of Menghe's twenty ministry-level agencies. The Chairman of the Supreme Council, elected by the National Assembly, serves as the head of state and wields strong executive power. Choe Sŭng-min has held the post of Chairman since 1988 and the post of General-Secretary since 1993, ruling as an established autocrat with no serious rivals among the other ruling elites. From the 1990s onward, he cultivated a personality cult, using state and party propaganda organs to promote his book of collected quotations and spread Choe Sŭng-min Thought.

The MSP still claims to be loyal to state socialism, but it departed from many Socialist ideals during the reform period of the 1990s, legalizing private enterprise and granting autonomy to state-owned enterprises. The Disciplined Society Campaign also underscored the Party's commitment to conservative nationalism and its opposition to bourgeois, western, or generally individualist values. Many political scientists consider Menghe to be corporatist rather than Socialist, citing in particular Choe's 1991 speech rejecting class conflict in favor of class cooperation.

Legislature

Menghe has a unicameral legislature, consisting of a single body known as the National Assembly. All 278 members represent single-seat districts and serve five-year terms, with no term limits. They are elected by a simple plurality vote within their districts, but the General-Directorate for Elections tightly controls the nomination process: candidates must represent one of the three officially sanctioned political parties, and in many districts the MSDP and MWP do not run candidates, leaving voters with a choice between two Socialist Party representatives.

The National Assembly has little independent power, and mainly serves as a rubber-stamp body for decisions made by the Supreme Council. It does elect the Chairman of the Supreme Council, but Choe Sŭng-min has run unopposed for this position in every election since 1988, and voting is conducted by a show of hands rather than a roll call. Nevertheless, the National Assembly is influential for its role of shaping central initiatives and proclamations into formal legislation, a "rule by law" approach which exists in between rule of law and rule by decree.

Though it is not formally listed in the 1988 Constitution, some experts consider the National Social Consultative Conference to be an informal lower house. A much larger body than the National Assembly, it has 2,918 members, of which 2,391 are indirectly elected; rather than representing districts, they are assigned a social constituency, such as skilled workers, industrial and construction workers, and women outside the labor force. The NSCC lacks the ability to pass binding legislation, but instead drafts annual proposals which reflect the "interests of the people" and submits them to the National Assembly and the Supreme Council for consideration.

Administrative posts

At every level of administration, elected assemblies serve primarily as advisory groups or rubber-stamp bodies for administrative officials, who are appointed from above and are not subject to a popular vote. Entry to lower-level administrative positions is controlled by the National Administration Examination, and subsequent promotion is based on standardized assessments of a cadre's performance in office. This system, which the Menghean government touts as technocratic and meritocratic, is designed to promote skilled administrators rather than popular ones, but it has the added effect of giving the central government strong influence over the promotion process and insulating officials from democratic pressure.

Demographics

Ethnic Groups

Education

Education in Menghe is universal and compulsory for the first eight years, encompassing elementary and middle school, and most students go through some form of secondary education. Fees for elementary and middle schools were abolished in 2012, removing another barrier to educational attainment. The vast majority of primary and secondary schools in Menghe are publicly owned and follow a standardized curricula set by the Ministry of Education, and all schools outside the four Semi-Autonomous Provinces conduct all lessons in the standard Botong-ŏ dialect of Menghean.

From middle school onward, the Menghean education system places a heavy emphasis on tracking, sorting students' school advancement based on their scores on standardized tests (the UMSAT and NCEE, respectively). Secondary education tracks divide students between standard college-prep high schools and technical schools which prepare them for semi-skilled work on the labor market. A student's score on the NCEE is extremely important in determining their college admission, and studying for the NCEE occupies an enormous portion of high school students' lives.

Education has traditionally held a high place in Menghean culture. Dynasties from the late Meng onward used classical examinations to select ministers and administrators for the government, a practice later carried over to Themiclesia. Rapid economic growth from the 1990s onward meant that for the first time, higher education was open to a larger share of the population, giving children from lower-income families a chance to achieve upward social mobility. At the same time, Menghe's industrial economy does not offer enough college-grade jobs to meet the yearly supply, which led the government to impose a soft ceiling on the number of college entrants every year. This dual pressure has resulted in cutthroat competition for the limited number of placements at high-ranking universities, resulting in a middle- and high-school culture where students routinely spend long hours studying outside of class.

In September 2015, 41% of graduates from high schools proceeded onward to tertiary education, relatively high given the Soodean Imperium's per-capita GDP but still below many developed countries. The Soodean government has consistently worked to improve this ratio, with a focus on generating a core force of highly educated workers to lead the country's eventual transition to a knowledge economy. Tuition is relatively low, and both military agencies and public-private corporations offer scholarships in exchange for guarantees that the graduate will accept a job in their ranks. There are also central government scholarships intended to cover tuition and travel costs for students from impoverished backgrounds, especially in the country's inland interior. Between 1990 and 2005, high-school graduates entering college and university education were even exempt from military conscription, a move intended to speed their integration into the workforce. More recently, the government has shifted its focus to improving the quality of Soodean university education and correcting many newer universities' reputations as degree mills churning out minimally qualified graduates. Especially at the local level, it has also worked to promote research connections between universities and private, public-private, and state-run enterprises, setting up Industry and Innovation Zones in major cities to foster clusters of firms and university departments.

Military Education

As a third-track alternative to the traditional education system, graduates from middle school are allowed to apply to the Gundae Hakkyo (군대 학교), four-year academies intended to prepare students for military careers. In addition to nationalist doctrine and physical training, these schools include courses on military history, military science, and technical areas such as field navigation. The Soodean Army and Imperial Soodean Navy both run their own military schools (Yukgun Hakkyo and Haegun Hakkyo, respectively) including dedicated schools for aviation, engineering, and medicine. These are seen as prestigious institutions, where students can gain a high-quality education and then proceed on to a successful career in the military. Graduates generally go on to serve as commissioned officers in a command role.

There are also a number of Jŏnsa Hakkyo (전사 학교), or "warrior schools," which place a greater emphasis on physical education and training in the field. The Army and Navy use these schools as an alternate source of recruits for the special forces and elite units, which are primarily fed by returning volunteers with past service in other units. In contrast to the Gundae Hakkyo, which limit access to well-qualified students and focus on training commanders and technical specialists, the Jŏnsa Hakkyo are generally a destination for students who are physically fit but have performed poorly in classes. In some cases they are used as a correctional academy for students who were poorly disciplined or ill-behaved. As a result, they have a reputation among the military and civilians alike as "muscle schools," cranking out strong fighters and NCOs but poor high-ranking commanders.

In addition to these specialist schools, the Army and Navy both maintain "military scholarships" used to support students in standard tertiary education. Functionally similar to a Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, these contracts generally offer to pay a student's full four-year tuition in exchange for a contract that they will complete their education in a relevant field and serve two years in the military upon graduating. During the school year, these students are also required to satisfy a set level of physical education, and on school holidays they are gathered for more intensive military education including field exercises or familiarization with technical equipment. Recipients of the military scholarships are sometimes hired into officer positions, but the Army and Navy generally use the program to fill specialist positions such as radar technicians, nuclear reactor engineers, and military doctors who require special qualifications in a specific field.

Criticism

In spite of its numerical successes, some domestic and foreign observers have criticized the Soodean education system for stifling creativity and overburdening students. Particular attention has been given to the two-track division exam administered in grade 8 and the college entrance exam administered in grade 12, intensely competitive tests which can determine a student's future life course. In addition to relying too heavily on a single measure of competence, critics say, the system also restricts course curricula to material covered on the test at the cost of music and the arts, and long hours of preparation leave students with little free time for extracurricular activities. The Soodean government has defended its education system on the basis that the tests are a meritocratic path of advancement for rural families, and that rigorous preparation inside and outside the classroom "has the positive effect of instilling the virtues of diligence and conformity, which are vital to the health of a society." It has nevertheless sought to reduce the negative effects of test reliance, expanding the system in 2011 to include recommendations by teachers as a supplement to test scores. Some foreign media companies have also described elements of the state curriculum as political indoctrination, pointing especially to synchronized exercises at flag-raising, the requirement that a portrait of Emperor Su Dou be hung in every classroom, and nationalist history lessons that openly defend Menghe's aggression in the Great Conquest War.

A particular problem concerns the minority of students who are accepted into prestigious four-year high schools but are not accepted into college. In his international bestseller Iron Rows, expatriate author Matt Yang wrote that "these young adults enter life in the grip of a fierce double bind: on the one hand they are looked down on as failures by peers who did gain admission into colleges, and on the other hand they face the jealousy of those who were assigned to technical schools but felt they could have gained admission into college given the chance." The latter problem is particularly serious because as non-college entrants, these individuals are not exempt from conscription, and often face abusive hazing by their trade-school peers. As part of its wider campaign to eliminate hazing in the military, the Soodean government has tried to frame military service as a chance for these individuals to integrate into society and achieve a new path to social mobility, a campaign Matt Yang derided as "vastly out of step with reality." A comprehensive national study published in 2009 revealed that four-year students who fail to gain admission to tertiary education suffer suicide rates many times higher than their peers, and that this difference remains significant well into adult life.

Military

Ever since its establishment, the Soodean Imperium has invested significant effort in building up its military capabilities, continuing a trend that stretches back to the time of the DPR Menghe. Military spending in 2014 was equivalent to 4.8% of GDP, for a total equivalent to $412 billion in 2014 USD. For all years since 1999, Soodean military spending has risen faster than GDP. All branches of the military currently employ about 6 million active soldiers in total, or 1.1% of the population. This active force is maintained through an ongoing policy of conscription, though volunteers make up an increasingly large proportion of the military, currently accounting for slightly more than half of all personnel in the active forces.

In the early 21st century, the Soodean government initiated a thorough restructuring of the military, with the Navy reforms beginning in 2004 and the Army reforms beginning in 2005. At the strategic level, these reforms returned to the earlier Menghe policy of "counter-offensive defense," with the stated aim of aggressively neutralizing invasion forces in a defensive scenario. At sea, this would consist of coordinated anti-ship missile attacks on approaching carrier battlegroups; on land, it could consist of a flexible defense against the ground forces of Maverica. The 2004 and 2005 reforms also signaled a broader shift toward greater professionalism in the armed forces, with the term of conscription extended to two years and increased incentives to recruit volunteers and skilled technicians. This period has also brought steady increases in the military budget, as both the Army and Navy race to replace their older gear with more modern equipment.

Personnel

For more than a century, the successive Menghe and Soodean militaries have relied on a policy of mandatory military service to fill their ranks. Current law officially requires that all male citizens complete at least six months of military training and two years of military service between the ages of 17 and 37. In practice, this service is usually fulfilled immediately after finishing high school. A similar policy requires that female citizens complete one year in the Women's National Service, which ranges from local government work to teaching in rural areas, though they may opt to complete a two-year military service term instead. Male citizens who are mentally ill, physically disabled, undergoing drug rehabilitation, or otherwise deemed unfit by a military doctor are registered in two years of similar work. In 1992 male students accepted to colleges and universities were exempted from conscription, to help speed the training of skilled workers and minimize skill attrition, but the government discontinued this policy in 2005.

A major part of the 2005 military reforms was an effort to improve the quality of military personnel, which had degraded significantly since the initial reforms of 1989. The length of a conscription term was lengthened to two years to allow greater experience and skill retention, and a separate training period was added ahead of it. All service branches have worked to supplement conscript forces with volunteers, especially volunteers who have renewed their service contracts. Since an all-time low of 10% in the 1990s, the percentage of volunteers in the Soodean military has steadily increased, and volunteers now make up roughly half of all active personnel. The proportion is higher in elite units, such as the Airborne Assault Forces and the Marine Infantry, to maintain a more experienced and motivated force. In addition to a Reserve Officers' Training Corps, both the Army and the Navy offer a limited number of "contract scholarships" every year, in which they pay full tuition and allow a deferral of service until university graduation in exchange for a guarantee that the student will major in a relevant degree and serve at least four years in the military upon graduating. This system is usually used to fill highly skilled roles, such as nuclear reactor operators, military doctors, and certain engineering roles, in which a college degree is deemed necessary. The ISN in particular has invested heavily in gathering skilled personnel for technical roles on its most modern vessels.

After completing two years of military service, ex-soldiers are required to serve four years in the Mobilization Reserve, where they must complete at least ten days of military training a year (though the requirement is higher for certain roles). After this they serve in the Emergency Reserve until the age of 45, where the training requirement is lightened to three days a year. Most Mobilization Reservists are assigned to a "shell division," a paper military formation which has all the necessary vehicles and equipment stored at a military base; a disproportionately large number are kept in logistics and artillery units requiring less skill than front-line units. Emergency Reserves could also be called up for home front roles, including arms manufacture, fire and rescue service, and riot control, and the government has made use of this policy in response to severe natural disasters when local relief forces are overwhelmed. Ex-servicemen who are employed in designated "key military industries," such as arms manufacturing and oil refining, are exempt from mobilization, but are still required to take part in regular refresher training. There is also a wider National Reserve, consisting of all physically fit citizens between the ages of 16 and 45, but in practice this figure only serves as a baseline for recruitment calculations and would only be drawn from in a "prolonged existential conflict."

Military service is generally seen as a rite of passage for young men, especially those in the lower classes, and often serves as the foundation for employment opportunities and networking later in life. The central government views conscription not only as a means of filling the barracks, but also as a means of instilling nationalism and discipline in the adult male population. The state-run youth organizations Cheri Sudeitai and Yaori Sudeitai occasionally organize public shaming campaigns against accused draft evaders, especially when these are the children of local government officials or celebrities, and among the general public draft evasion is considered a severe transgression. Ever since the policy was renewed in 1989, government Ministers have occasionally suggested that it be phased out in favor of an all-volunteer force, but as of yet none of these proposals have received widespread approval in the military or the government.

Arms of Service

The armed forces of the Soodean Imperium are currently divided into two main branches: the Soodean Army and the Imperial Soodean Navy. There was originally a third branch, the Imperial Soodean Air Force, but in 2005 it was broken up and its operational units were divided between the Army and the Navy. Since that time, combat air assets over the front lines on land have been the duty of Soodean Army Aviation, with Naval Aviation handling air missions at sea. No independent air arm exists.

In addition to Army and Navy Aviaiton, there are additional arms of service that serve as sub-branches at the administrative level. Within the Navy, these consist of the Marine Infantry and the Maritime Patrol Forces. Within the Army, there are separate branches for the Airborne Forces and the Strategic Missile Troops, the latter of which was its own branch prior to 1988. These forces have their own upper leadership and wield more influence than combat arms like the Armored Forces and the Army Engineers, and can be distinguished by rank insignia in separate colors, but are administratively and operationally subordinate to either the Army or the Navy.

Strategic Arsenal

As part of its effort to defend against perceived aggression from Capitalist powers, the Democratic People's Republic of Menghe made early efforts to develop its own nuclear arms program. During this period, it received assistance from other Socialist powers in and around Tethys. In 1974 its Special Atomic Research Unit successfully tested a nuclear device at At'hany in the desert province of Sianghok. Over the next 13 years, Menghe stockpiled an arsenal of over 200 nuclear warheads, which were intended to serve as a deterrence threat to New Tyran and New Oyashima. Menghe's nuclear arms, however, proved deeply unpopular with the general population, as the country had been subjected to nuclear attack in 1944. In spite of central state efforts to maintain ambiguity about the scale of Menghe's nuclear arsenal, popular protests against nuclear armament continued to grow in number.

After coming to power in the 1987 Decembrist Revolution, Emperor Su Dou declared that he would disarm the country's nuclear arsenal. This was a stance he had initially outlined several years earlier in a pseudonymous pamphlet; the conservative Sudei opposition movement with which he came to power had long opposed nuclear weapons, which they associated with the 1944 nuclear attacks. Su Dou's promises gained new traction in February 1988, when it was discovered that Loyalist forces under General Tsai had attempted to rig several nuclear bombs to detonate during their last stand at Ssanglin airbase. Many in the new government also hoped to use nuclear disarmament to gain the trust of the international community. In a speech given in May 1988, Su Dou declared that the Soodean Imperium was officially dismantling its nuclear arsenal, a process that ended in 1994.

In order to balance for this deficiency, the Soodean military has placed additional effort into precision-guided munitions, hoping to achieve "nuclear-like effects" through targeted strikes against the enemy's command and control networks. Most of these weapons are intermediate-range missiles like the Seodang-11, intended for use at the tactical and operational levels, though a number of older missiles like the Seodang-7 have been fitted with improved guidance systems and conventional warheads. In the last few years, there has been a growing interest in the development of longer-ranged or MIRVed ballistic missiles which can be used to deliver conventional strikes with sufficient accuracy to destroy rail yards, port facilities, or underground missile launch tubes. Thus far, however, Soodean engineers have yet to develop a sufficiently accurate guidance system, stating that such a level of precision at those speeds and ranges may be more than ten years off.

Beginning in 2012, some Soodean political and military figures have suggested that the country should rebuild its nuclear arsenal to deter massive enemy nuclear strikes or improve its ability to destroy important area targets on land and at sea. Thus far, these proposals have met with little support, and the decision to rearm cannot be made without the personal approval of Emperor Su Dou - who thus far remains staunchly opposed to the idea.

See also

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