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Stalin and Kim Il Sung`s Invasion

Posted June. 19, 2010 17:32,   


Who triggered the Korean War has been academically verified. Records of the former Soviet Union released in the 1990s provided critical evidence to this end. In March 1949, about a year before the war broke out, North Korean leader Kim Il Sung visited Moscow. Diplomatic documents of the former Soviet Union released in 1993 contained dialogue between Soviet leader Josef Stalin and Kim. “Now the conditions have been established, and we can liberate the entire territory through military force,” Kim said, adding, “Our military is strong and militias of pro-communist spies in the South strongly support our operations,” urging Stalin’s approval for his planned invasion of South Korea. Stalin told Kim, however, that invading South Korea is out of the question, and asked to wait for a chance to counter when the South invaded the North.

North Korea also sought an alliance with China. Responding to Pyongyang’s request for military assistance in May 1949, Beijing said, “You need to wait before taking critical action until we completely defeat the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) and start to rule all of China.” After the communists took over China in the fall of 1949, the situation changed dramatically. Kim visited Moscow again in April 1950 and obtained approval for invading South Korea, and received a promise of Soviet help from Stalin. Pyongyang also asked for Beijing’s support in May 1950. Chinese leaders approved the North’s initiation of a war after checking whether the Soviet Union consented. Thus the Korean War, which broke out on June 25, 1950, was a joint project by Kim, Stalin and Mao Zedong.

From the late 1980s, revisionist ideology emerged in South Korea that blamed the U.S. and the South Korean government under Rhee Syng-man responsible for national division and the war. Such ideology found its way into the study of modern history. After data released by the former Soviet Union and China was made public, the revisionist theory was corrected. Despite this, North Korea keeps lying that the Korean War was triggered by a South Korean invasion. The North Korean textbook “Modern Korean History” says, “President Rhee Syng-man under the rule of the American empire launched massive artillery attacks on our republic (North Korea) at north latitude line 38 from June 23, and this evolved into a full-fledged war on June 25.”

China has not clarified its stance on the exact cause of the war’s outbreak in its textbooks. Beijing seems to have silently acquiesced to Pyongyang’s claim. The official Chinese daily Global Times just carried a report suggesting that the Korean War “was masterminded jointly by Stalin, who sought to establish a pro-Soviet regime on the Korean Peninsula, and Kim Il Sung.” Chinese scholars also admit that North Korea invaded South Korea first when speaking to South Korean colleagues in private. It is time for Beijing to clarify its stance on who started the Korean War.

Chief Editorial Writer Hong Chan-sik (chansik@donga.com)