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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Korean War Origins, 1945-1950

 This collection of primary source documents sheds light on the question of "who started the Korean War?"

  • January 30, 1950

    Telegram from Stalin to Shtykov

    Stalin asks Shtykov to relay a message to Kim Il Sung about North Korea's proposed offensive against South Korea and Soviet Union's request for lead from North Korea.

  • January 31, 1950

    Telegram from the USSR Ambassador to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to Stalin

    As a response to Stalin's willingness to talk to Kim Il Sung on the issue of offensive attack to South Korea and on Stalin's request of lead, Kim Il Sung, according to Shtykov, responded that he would like to set up a meeting with him, and that he would take necessary measures for the lead to be delivered to the Soviet Union.

  • February 07, 1950

    Telegram from Shtykov to Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Vyshinsky

    Shtykov relays to Vyshinsky Kim Il Sung's questions regarding the central committee's decision to issue a loan, on whether they can proceed toward forming more infantry, and on if North Korea could use in 1950 the credit the Soviet government had allocated for 1951. In answer to Kim Il Sung's requests, Shtykov answered ambiguously, stating that more thought needs to be put in.

  • February 09, 1950

    Telegram, from Vyshinsky to Shtykov

    Vyshinsky relays that all of the things that Kim Il Sung requested are allowed.

  • February 23, 1950

    Telegram from Shtykov to Maj. Gen. A.M. Vasilevsky, Head of Soviet Military Advisory group in DPRK

    Telegram from Shtykov to Vyshinsky reporting the arrival of Lieutenant-General Vasiliev and the transfer of military adviser duties from himself to Gen. Vasiliev.

  • March 09, 1950

    Telegram from Shtykov to Vyshinsky

    In a telegram to Shytykov which he then relays to Vyshinsky, Kim Il Sung writes that North Korea requests of the Soviet Union military and technical support. In return, North Korea is sending the natural resources such as gold and silver to Soviet Union. Kim requests that a

  • March 12, 1950

    Ciphered telegram, Vyshinsky to Soviet Ambassador in Pyongyang (Shtykov) transmitting a Message to Kim Il Sung

    Telegram from A. Vyshinsky to Soviet Ambassador in Pyongyang, Shtykov, to inform Kim Il Sung of reallocation of portion of 1951 credit (17 March 1949 agreement) to 1950.

  • March 16, 1950

    Telegram from Shtykov to Vyshinsky

    Shtykov transmits Kim Il Sung’s March 14 letter containing requests for credit in the form of arms and other military equipment.

  • March 18, 1950

    Message, Stalin to Kim Il Sung (via Shtykov)

    Stalin informs Kim Il Sung of the decision to approve of North Korean request of arms, equipment and specialist requests, per his March 4 message.

  • March 21, 1950

    Telegram from Shtykov to Vyshinski regarding meeting with Kim Il Sung

    Shtykov reports on his meeting with Kim Il Sung where Kim Il Sung requests a meeting with Stalin in Moscow.

  • March 24, 1950

    Telegram from Shtykov to Vyshinsky regarding Kim Il Sung's impending trip to Moscow

    Shtykov informs Vyshinsky of Kim Il Sung's upcoming visit and the transportation arrangements.

  • May, 1950

    Record of a Conversation of Cde. Stalin with Kim Il Sung and Pak Heon-yeong

    Kim Il Sung and Stalin discuss the North Korean economy and Soviet-North Korean cooperation.

  • April 07, 1950

    National Security Council Report, NSC 8/2, "Position of the United States with Respect to Korea"

    Report by the National Security Council to the President on US policy objectives regarding Korea.

  • April 10, 1950

    Ciphered telegram, Soviet Representative Aleksei Ignatieff in Pyongyang to Vyshinsky

    In a discussion between Mao Zedong and Ri Ju-yeon, Mao expresses a positive attitude toward China-North Korea relations, though indicates he is unaware that Kim Il Sung was then in the Soviet Union.

  • April 25, 1950

    Telegram from Ignatiev to Vyshinsky

    Report of Kim Il Sung and Pak Heon-yeong’s safe arrival into North Korea.

  • May 03, 1950

    Telegram, from Filippov [Stalin] to Mao Zedong

    A message to Mao stating that Mao's requests for aviation equipment, naval equipment and consultants were received and that these requests will be met as soon as possible.

  • May 06, 1950

    Soviet Memorandum, 'The Partisan Movement in South Korea'

    Ignatyev discusses the partisan movement in the rural areas of South Korea.

  • May 12, 1950

    Telegram from Shtykov to Vyshinski regarding meeting with Kim Il Sung

    Shtykov reports of a meeting with Kim Il Sung, in which Kim Il Sung tells Shtykov the questions he means to ask Mao Zedong in a following meeting in Beijing the next day.

  • May 13, 1950

    Cable from Roshchin to Stalin, Relaying Mao's Request for Clarification on North Korea Taking Action Against South Korea

    The telegram relays a request from Mao, conveyed via Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai, seeking Stalin’s “personal clarifications” of his stand on a potential North Korean action to reunify the country. Mao sought the information after hearing a report from Kim, who had arrived that day in the Chinese capital for a secret two-day visit and clearly claimed that he had received Stalin’s blessing.

  • May 14, 1950

    Telegram from Roshchin to Stalin

    Soviet Ambassador to China N.V. Roschin relays a Chinese assessment of the armed forces in North Korea and South Korea and the possibility of China and North Korea signing a treaty of friendship, alliance, and mutual aid.