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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?"

  • May 14, 1950

    Cable from Vyshinsky to Mao Zedong, Relaying Stalin's Stance on Permission for North Korea to attack South Korea

    The cable contains Stalin’s personal response to Mao's 13 May telegram. Using the code-name “Filippov,” Stalin confirms his agreement with the North Korean proposal to “move toward reunification,” contingent on Beijing’s assent.

  • May 16, 1950

    Telegram from Filippov (Stalin) to Mao Zedong via the Soviet ambassador

    Stalin notifies Mao Zedong that he believes the signing of a treaty pact between China and North Korea should only come after Korean reunification.

  • May 30, 1950

    Telegram from Soviet Ambassador in Pyongyang, Report on a Meeting between Shtykov and Kim Il Sung

    Terenti Shtykov reports on Kim Il Sung's military planning for an invasion of South Korea and signals Soviet approval for the invasion.

  • May 31, 1950

    Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko to Soviet Ambassador in Pyongyang Terentii Shtykov, 31 May 1950

    Gromyko reports Stalin's approval of Kim Il Sung's request for the prompt delivery of medical supplies to North Korea.

  • June 25, 1950

    Report of the DPRK Ministry of Internal Affairs

    A report from the North Korea Ministry of Internal Affairs on an alleged offensive carried out by South Korean forces and the official start of the Korean War.

  • June 25, 1950

    United Nations Security Council Resolution 82, on Korea

    The Security Council makes a complaint of aggression by North Korean forces upon the Republic of Korea

  • June 27, 1950

    Statement by the President, Truman on Korea

    Truman's statement on the invasion of South Korea by North Korean forces.

  • June 29, 1950

    A.A. Gromyko Reports on Reception of US Ambassador Kirk

    A.A. Gromyko delivers a statement on the start of the Korean War to U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Kirk.

  • June 30, 1950

    Ciphered Telegram, from Mao Zedong to Filippov [Stalin]

    Telegram from Mao asking Stalin to make sure that Kim Il Sung knows that he must agree to conduct negotiations to cease hostilities, and to decide the time, place, and number of participants for these negotiations. Mao continues to give his advice as to what the best place and time would be for these negotiations (place, on the 38th parallel; and time, 15 July, 1950).

  • September 09, 1950

    National Security Council Report, NSC 81/1, "United States Courses of Action with Respect to Korea"

    The National Security Council reports to President Truman on possible US courses of action in resposne to the North Korean invasion of South Korea.