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continue the war in Korea was a major factor sented below and the others from this collecin the prolongation of the war; immediately tion published in this issue, the documents after his death the three communist allies declassified by the Presidential Archive took decisive steps to reach an armistice greatly expand our knowledge of the Korean agreement.
War and of Soviet foreign policy in general The timing of the Council of Ministers' in the late Stalin years, particularly Soviet resolution also suggests that it was Stalin's relations with the new communist governdeath rather than U.S. threats to use nuclear ment in China. It will be some time before weapons that finally brought a breakthrough these new sources can be adequately anain the armistice negotiations. The lyzed and integrated with documentary and Eisenhower Administration later asserted memoir evidence from other countries. In that it finally broke the stalemate at the meantime, readers may wish to consult Panmunjom by virtue of its “unmistakable the following recent publications using other warning” to Beijing that it would use nuclear new sources from China and Russia in order weapons against China if an armistice were to place this new evidence in a broader not reached—a claim that had great influ- context: Chen Jian, China's Road to the ence on American strategic thinking after Korean War: The Making of the Sino-Ameri1953.15 However, Eisenhower's threats to can Confrontation (New York: Columbia use nuclear weapons were made in May University Press, 1994); Thomas 1953, two months after the Soviet govern- Christensen, “Threats, Assurances, and the ment resolved to bring the war to an end. Last Chance for Peace: The Lessons of Mao's The Russian documents thus provide impor- Korean War Telegrams,” International Setant new evidence for the debate over“nuclear curity 17:1 (Summer 1992), 122-54; Sergei
N. Goncharov, John W. Lewis and Xue The final two documents presented be- Litai, Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao and low provide intriguing information about the Korean War (Stanford: Stanford UniverMao Zedong's attitude toward the Korean sity Press, 1993); Michael Hunt, “Beijing War and the effect the war had on his rela- and the Korean Crisis, June 1950-June 1951," tions with Moscow. In a discussion with Political Science Quarterly 107: 3 (Fall Soviet officials in Beijing on 28 July 1953 1992), 453-78; William Stueck, The Korean (document #114), Mao was remarkably bel- War, An International History (Princeton: licose, speaking of the war as though it had Princeton University Press, 1995); and Zhang been a great victory for China. He even Shu Guang, Mao's Military Romanticism: commented that “from a purely military China and the Korean War, 1950-1953 point of view it would not be bad to continue (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, to strike the Americans for approximately 1995). another year.” Mao may have been mainly posturing before the Russians, part of a larger 1. Photocopies of these documents have been deposited effort to redefine his relations with Moscow at the National Security Archive in Washington DC, following the death of Stalin; the Soviet
located in The Gelman Library (7th fl.), George Wash
ington University, 2130 H St. NW, Washington, DC documents need to be combined with the
20037 (tel.: (202) 994-7000). The National Security new Chinese sources before one can draw
Archive, a non-governmental organization devoted to firm conclusions about Mao's thinking. It is facilitating increased access to declassified records on clear, however, as the excerpt from a conver
international relations, is open to all researchers. Cop
ies of this collection will also be available at Columbia sation with the Soviet ambassador in Beijing University. in April 1956 (document #115) suggests, 2. "New Findings on the Korean War," CWIHP Bullethat the Korean War profoundly affected tin 3 (Fall 1993), 1, 14-18; and “To Attack or Not to relations between the PRC and the USSR.
Attack? Stalin, Kim Il Sung and the Prelude to War,"
CWIHP Bulletin 5 (Spring 1995), 1,2-9; and “The Stalin desperately wanted Mao Zedong to
Soviet Role in the Early Phase of the Korean War: New pull his chestnuts out of the fire in Korea, but Documentary Evidence,” The Journal of Americanthe PRC's stunning success against the for- East Asian Relations 2:4 (Winter 1993), 425-458. midable American foe, combined with
3. See Sergei N. Goncharov, John W. Lewis, and Xue
Litai, Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao and the Korean Moscow's tightfistedness toward its ally,
War (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993), made the communist government in Beijing 149. much less willing to tolerate subsequent 4. Although Kim Il Sung secured Mao's approval Soviet demands.
before launching the attack on South Korea, he did not
inform Mao of the specific plan for the invasion or the As is apparent from the documents pre
timing of the attack. The North Korean leadership
12. Chen Jian, China's Road to the Korean War , 211-
NOTE ON TRANSLATION: In translating himself for the meeting.
to Comrade Stalin with a request to use in these documents I have retained the style of Regarding the question of delivering 1950 the credit the Soviet government had the Russian texts, which in most cases is the lead from Korea to the USSR, I read the allocated for 1951. With this credit they cumbersome, indirect, bureaucratic prose second point of your order. Kim answered would like to buy in the Soviet Union arms characteristic of official Soviet documents. that he will take all necessary measures to for the three infantry divisions they intend to The telegrams from Mao Zedong to Stalin in secure the delivery to the USSR from Korea form. I answered that I will report this 1951 and 1952 are written in particularly of the quantity of lead indicated by you. He
of the quantity of lead indicated by you. He question to my government. poor Russian; I have kept as much to the promised to work out all necessary measures 4. Kim Il Sung further communicated original text as possible while still rendering regarding this question in the course of 10-15 that they intend to call a session of the Suthe prose intelligible. The numbers of the days.
preme People's Assembly for February 25 ciphered telegrams are given when they are
31.1.50. [T.F.] SHTYKOV
with the following agenda: legible, but in many cases the “DECLASSI
1. Regarding the budget for 1950. 2. FIED” stamp obscured the number of the [Source: Archive of the President of the Regarding the criminal code. 3. Regarding telegram. Personal names and place names Russian Federation (hereafter APRF), Listy
the results of the fulfillment of the national are given in the standard English spelling 123-124, Fond and Opis not given; and economic plan in 1949. They still do not wherever possible; otherwise they are trans- Archive of the Foreign Policy of the Russian have a firm decision regarding whether to literated from the Russian. An index of Federation (hereafter AVPRF), Fond 059a, raise the three questions. abbreviations and identifications of the most Opis 5a, Delo 3, Papka 11, Listy 92-93] Kim Il Sung reported that he had comimportant persons mentioned are provided
missioned Pak Hon Yong to write a request after the documents. Dates are given in the 2. 7 February 1950, ciphered telegram, to the Soviet government about sending a Russian manner: day, month, year. Note on Shtykov to Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei
of textile workers to the Soviet Union archival citations: Those documents that were Vyshinsky re meeting with Kim Il Sung in order to prepare them to work on the provided by the Russian Government to
Soviet equipment that is arriving. I answered South Korea have a citation to the Russian Ciphered telegram Strictly secret that as soon as I receive his letter I will report Foreign Ministry archives (AVPRF) as well Copies: Stalin, Molotov, Malenkov, Beria, it to my government. as to the Russian Presidential Archive Mikoyan, Kaganovich, Bulganin, Vyshinsky, I ask your orders about what to answer (APRF); both archives are located in Mos- Copy.
Kim Il Sung regarding the first three quescow.-K.W.
From Pyongyang, No. 4040. 10 hours 10 tions raised by him [as reported] in this minutes. 8.II.1950
telegram. 1. 31 January 1950, ciphered telegram, Special File
7.11.50 SHTYKOV USSR Ambassador to the Democratic To Vyshinsky
In the margins Stalin wrote “it is possible” People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) T.F. On 4 February I had a meeting with Kim beside points 1, 2 and 3, “we don't object” Shtykov to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin re Il Sung at his request. During the meeting beside point 4 and “let him write it” beside meeting with North Korean leader Kim Il Kim Il Sung raised the following questions: the last paragraph. He wrote a note at the top Sung
1. Can they adopt a central committee to Malenkov to "give an answer today.”
decision about issuing a loan, about which he Ciphered telegram Strictly secret earlier asked my advice[?] They have al- [Source: APRF, Listy 125-126, Fond and From Pyongyang
ready calculated the loan at 2 billion won. Opis not given; and AVPRF, Fond 059a, To Comrade Stalin, I.V.
They have already prepared an example of a Opis 5a, Delo 4, Papka 11, Listy 145-146] On 30 January I had a meeting with bond. He asked agreement to send their Comrade Kim Il Sung, in accordance with representatives to Moscow with draft bonds 3. 10 February 1950, ciphered telegram, your order. After referring to the conversa- in order to formulate orders for these bonds. Shtykov to Vyshinsky re meeting with tion that took place on January 17 during the I answered that I had communicated Kim Il Kim Il Sung lunch at [North Korean Foreign Minister] Sung's request to Moscow, but had still not Pak Hon Yong's, I relayed precisely the received an answer.
Ciphered telegram Strictly secret contents of the first point of your orders.
2. Kim Il Sung asked my advice about Copying prohibited Kim Il Sung received my report with whether they can proceed toward forming From Pyongyang great satisfaction. Your agreement to re- three additional infantry divisions, so that To Vyshinsky ceive him and your readiness to assist him in the total number of the army will be brought Today, February 10, I visited Kim Il this matter made an especially strong im- to ten divisions. I answered that this question Sung and in accordance with your order pression. Kim Il Sung, apparently wishing is large and serious, that before adopting a
a verbally transmitted to him the answer to his once more to reassure himself, asked me if decision you must think through whether questions of February 4 of this year. Kim Il this means that it is possible to meet with you have the necessary material resources Sung received my communication enthusiComrade Stalin on this question. I answered for this. I also need time to think through this astically and several times asked me to comthat from this communication it follows that question before I give you advice on this municate to Comrade Stalin his gratitude for Comrade Stalin is ready to receive you. Kim measure.
his assistance. Il Sung further stated that he will prepare 3. Kim Il Sung asked me if he can appeal I promised to present a letter to the
government of the USSR within three days
following: concerning all the questions touched upon in 9 tons of gold — 53,662,900 rubles
In connection with the agreement of the your telegram.
40 tons of silver — 1,887,600 rubles Government of the USSR to allocate to Ko10/II-50. SHTYKOV
15,000 tons of monazite concentrate rea in 1950 a portion of the credit for 1951 in 79,500,000 rubles
the amount of 70,700,000 rubles, the Gov(Source: APRF, List 129, Fond and Opis not In all a sum of 133,050,500 rubles. ernment of the Korean People's Democratic given]
Korea is interested in the soonest pos- Republic would like to acquire with this sum
sible receipt of the goods indicated in this arms, ammunition and military-technical 4. 23 February 1950, ciphered telegram, application.
equipment for the Korean People's Army in Shtykov to Maj. Gen. A.M. Vasilevsky, I ask you to inform the Soviet govern- the amounts indicated in the attached [list]. Head of Soviet Military Advisory Group ment of our request.
The Government of the Korean People's in DPRK
Kim Il Sung
Democratic Republic hopes that the Govern
Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of ment of the USSR, understanding well the Ciphered telegram Strictly Secret the Korean People's Democratic Republic.” needs of the young Korean Republic, will Copying prohibited
complete the delivery of all the special goods From Pyongyang
in the shortest period. To Vasilevsky, Copy to Vyshinsky. (Source: APRF, Listy 131-132, Fond and Kim Il Sung
Lieutenant-General Vasiliev has arrived Opis not given; and AVPRF, Fond 059a, Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of and has taken over the responsibility of main Opis 5a, Delo 4, Papka 11, Listy 149-150] the Korean People's Democratic Republic military adviser of the Korean People's
A copy of the note was transmitted by
A Army. He has familiarized himself with the 6. 12 March 1950, ciphered telegram, me to the trade representative of the USSR in position in the staff and units of the army. Vyshinsky to Soviet Ambassador in Korea. I will send the original note by
In connection with this I understand Pyongyang (Shtykov) transmitting mes- diplomatic post. The arms and military equipthat the functions of main military adviser sage to Kim Il Sung
ment indicated in the attached [list] will go to are removed from me.
the formation of 3 divisions. I ask you to confirm. [handwritten]
16.III.50 SHTYKOV 23.11.50 SHTYKOV
attached is a seven page list, divided into
Copying is Prohibited sections for artillery armaments, ammuni(Source: APRF, List 130, Fond and Opis not
Ciphered telegram tion, (illegible), engineering equipment, miligiven; and AVPRF, Fond 059a, Opis 5a, To Pyongyang
tary-medical equipment, and military aviaDelo 4, Papka 11, List 148] To Soviet Ambassador
Communicate to Kim Il Sung, in answer 5. 9 March 1950, ciphered telegram, to his letter of 10 February, that the Soviet (Source: APRF, Listy 133-140, fond and
[ Shtykov to Vyshinsky transmitting note Government will satisfy the request of the opis not given] from Kim Il Sung to Soviet Government government of the DPRK about using in 1950
a portion of the credit for 1951 that was 8. 18 March 1950, message, Stalin to Kim Ciphered telegram Strictly Secret allocated by the Soviet Union to Korea in Il Sung (via Shtykov) Copying is prohibited
accordance with the Agreement of 17 March From Pyongyang 1949.
PYONGYANG To Vyshinsky.
Telegraph the fulfillment.
To SHTYKOV I transmit the text of a note received from the A. Vyshinsky
Transmit to Kim Il Sung the following chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the
answer from Comrade Stalin: DPRK:
(Source: APRF, page 141, fond and opis not “First. I received your communication “The Cabinet of Ministers of the Ko- given]
of March 4 about agreement to send the rean People's Democratic Republic reports
indicated amount of lead to the Soviet Union. to you about the following:
7. 16 March 1950, ciphered telegram, I thank you for the assistance. As concerns In 1950 the Korean People's Demo- Shtykov to Vyshinsky transmitting 14 the equipment and materials you request, cratic Republic, in order to strengthen the March 1950 message from Kim Il Sung and also the specialists in lead industry, the people's army and to fully equip it with
Soviet Government has resolved to fully arms, ammunition and technical equipment, Ciphered telegram Strictly Secret
satisfy your request. asked the Soviet government to send to Copying is Prohibited
Second. I have also received your proKorea military-technical equipment in the From Pyongyang
posal of 9 March about the delivery to you of amount of 120-150 million rubles, in accor- To Vyshinsky.
arms, ammunition and technical equipment dance with an application made earlier to the I transmit the note we received on 14 for the people's army of Korea. The Soviet Government of the USSR.
March 1950 from the chairman of the Cabinet government has decided also to satisfy fully The Korean People's Democratic Re- of Ministers of the DPRK, Kim Il Sung: this request of yours.
. public correspondingly will deliver to the “I have the honor to inform you of the With respect I. STALIN”.
transporting Kim and Pak to Moscow. For such a plan for unification of Korea, then the (Source: APRF, List 142, Fond and Opis not this purpose I request a corresponding order meeting with Kim Il Sung can be conducted given]
to apportion a plane. The designated plane officially.
should arrive in Pyongyang on March 29 of Li Zhou-yuan has not given a concrete 9. 21 March 1950, ciphered telegram, this year. In case it is not possible to send a answer to the question of the time and form Shtykov to Vyshinsky re meeting with plane, the departure from Korea can be orga- of the meeting, referring to the fact that Kim Kim Il Sung
nized by naval transport from Seisin to Il Sung is presently undergoing medical treat
Vladivostok. From Vladivostok to Moscow ment. [Ed. note: Kim was making a secret Ciphered telegram Strictly Secret [Kim and Pak can travel] by train in a special visit to Moscow.) Further, Mao said in the Copying Prohibited
conversation with Li Zhou-yuan that if a From Pyongyang
Kim intends to take with him to Moscow third world war begins, Korea will not esTo Vyshinsky.
as an interpreter Mun Il, who was interpreter cape participation in it, therefore the Korean In accordance with your order on March during the negotiations in Moscow, and the
during the negotiations in Moscow, and the People's Democratic Republic should pre20 I had a meeting with Kim Il Sung, at which personal adjutant of So Chen Diu, who was pare its armed forces. [DPRK Foreign Minister] Pak Hon Yong also with him in Moscow in 1949.
In the conversation with Li Zhou-yuan, was present. During the meeting I transmit- I request an order regarding whether it is Mao Zedong expressed the wish to develop ted to Kim the text of the telegram of Com- necessary for someone from the embassy to wider trade between the Chinese People's rade Stalin. accompany Kim to Moscow.
Republic and the DPRK. During this meeting Kim asked me to I ask for corresponding orders.
2. Kim Ch’aek has reported that Kim transmit to Comrade Stalin his request that
Dar Sen, the leader of the partisan detachhe, together with Pak Hon Yong, would like
ments in the south of Korea whom the southhave a meeting with Comrade Stalin at the (Source: APRF, Listy 146-147, Fond and ern press and radio have repeatedly officially beginning of April.
Opis not given; and AVPRF, Fond 059a, reported as killed in battles with punitive They want to make the trip to Moscow Opis 5a, Delo 3, Papka 11, Listy 96-97] units of the South Korean army, arrived in and the meeting with Comrade Stalin unoffi
Pyongyang from South Korea on April 3. cially, in the manner as [it was done] in 1945. 11. 10 April 1950, ciphered telegram, So- Kim Dar Sen came to North Korea to report
Kim Il Sung said further that they are viet representative Aleksei Ignatieff in about the position of the partisan movement completing the preparation of all materials Pyongyang Ignatiev to Vyshinsky
in South Korea and to receive orders on this for the trip and intend to raise the following
question. questions at the meeting with Comrade Stalin: Ciphered telegram Strictly Secret Kim Ch'aek asked me to transmit the 1. About the path and methods of unifi- Copying Prohibited
above indicated questions to Kim Il Sung cation of the south and the north of the From Pyongyang
through Comrade Shtykov. country. To Vyshinsky.
10.IV.50. [A.] IGNATIEV 2. About the prospects for the economic The deputy chairman of the Cabinet of development of the country.
Ministers of the DPRK has reported to me [Source: APRF, Listy 148-149, Fond and 3. Also possibly several party questions. about the following:
Opis not given; and AVPRF, Fond 059a, I ask your order.
1. A report to Kim Il Sung was received Opis 5a, Delo 3, Papka 11, Listy 98-99] 21.III.50 SHTYKOV
from the ambassador of the DPRK in the
Chinese People's Republic Li Zhou-yuan in 12. 25 April 1950, ciphered telegram,
In the conversation between Mao Zedong Copying Prohibited
Kim Il Sung and Mao Zedong was discussed. 25 April at 16:00 hours local time Kim
Mao Zedong responded positively to Il Sung and Pak Hon Yong arrived in Seisin Ciphered telegram. Strictly secret. the question of a meeting with Kim Il Sung (North Korean) from Voroshilov by plane. From Pyongyang
and selected the end of April or the beginning Both feel well. To Vyshinsky. of May of this year as the approximate time
25.IV.50 IGNATIEV On March 24 I visited Kim Il Sung and for this meeting communicated to him that Comrade Stalin Mao Zedong connected the proposed [Source: APRF, List 150, fond and opis not has agreed to receive him and [Foreign Min- meeting with the question of the unification given] ister] Pak Hon Yong.
of Korea, indicating in this regard that if Kim Il Sung plans to leave Korea for there is a concrete plan for the unification of 13. 12 May 1950, ciphered telegram, Moscow on March 30 of this year. I consider Korea, then the meeting should be organized Shtykov to Vyshinsky re meeting with it advisable to arrange a special plane for secretly [not openly], but if there is not yet
Kim Il Sung
[Source: APRF, Listy 151-154, Fond and Opis not given; and AVPRF, Fond 059a, Opis 5a, Delo 3, Papka 11, Listy 100-103]
[Ed. note: For the texts of an exchange of messages between the Chinese leadership and Stalin on 13-14 May 1950, during Kim Il Sung's secret visit to Beijing and concerning his plans to attack South Korea, see CWIHP Bulletin 4 (Fall 1994), 60-61.]
14. 26 June 1950, top secret report on military situation by Shtykov to Comrade Zakharov
the Politburo). Ciphered telegram Strictly secret Kim Il Sung reported to me that they Copying prohibited
intend to discuss roughly the following quesFrom Pyongyang
tions with Mao Zedong: To Vyshinsky
1. To inform about their intentions about At the request of Kim Il Sung, on May unifying the country by military means and to 12 I had a meeting with him and [Foreign report about the results of the discussions on Minister] Pak Hon Yong. During the con- this question in Moscow. versation Kim Il Sung reported to me that 2. To exchange opinions on the question upon his return from Moscow he received a of the conclusion of a trade agreement beletter from Li Zhou-yuan (ambassador to tween Korea and China. He intends to proChina), in which he reported about a meet- pose that they sign a trade agreement in the ing that took place with Mao Zedong and nearest future, but that they sign an agree[PRC Foreign Minister] Zhou Enlai. During ment about friendship after the unification of this meeting the question of the necessity of
the country. a meeting between Kim Il Sung and Mao 3. To inform Mao about several quesZedong was discussed. Zhou Enlai pro- tions which were placed under discussion posed that the meeting have an official char- with Comrade Stalin in Moscow and about acter. Mao, turning toward Li as if asking the establishment of closer communications
intend to begin the unification of between the Central Committee of the labor the country, without waiting for an answer party of Korea and the communist party of stated that if you intend to begin military China. operations against the south in the near fu- 4. To exchange opinions on several questure, then they should not meet officially. In tions which interest both Korea and China, such a case the trip should be unofficial. such as the electrical station at Suiho, Kore
Mao Zedong added further that the uni- ans who live in China and so forth. fication of Korea by peaceful means is not Kim further asked my advice, about what possible, solely military means are required kind of questions he should raise before Mao to unify Korea. As regards the Americans, Zedong from the point of view of assistance there is no need to be afraid of them. The in the intended operation. I declined to anAmericans will not enter a third world war swer, stating that it is clearer to him, what he for such a small territory.
has insufficiencies in and what the Chinese Kim Il Sung reported further that since can help him with. Then Kim Il Sung anLi Zhou-yuan did not have a commission swered that he intended to ask for ammunifrom the Central Committee to meet with tion for the Japanese and American arms Mao Zedong and to discuss questions about which the divisions that arrived from China his meeting, i.e. Kim Il Sung's, with Mao have and for some number of horses. HowZedong, they decided to summon Li Zhou- ever, after a conversation with the chief of yuan and give him corresponding rebukes staff of the army, who reported that they have and instructions.
more than 3 b.k. [boekomplekt, standard load Li Zhou-yuan came to Pyongyang and of ammunition] of ammunition, he decided on May 10 left for Beijing with correspond- not to raise these questions. He stated that he ing commissions.
doesn't have more requests for Mao about Today, May 12, Li Zhou-yuan reported assistance, since all his requests were satisthat he met with Mao Zedong, who agreed to fied in Moscow and the necessary and suffithe arrival of Kim Il Sung at the time indi- cient assistance was given him there. cated by him. Kim Il Sung reported that they Kim Il Sung reported to me that with intend to leave for Beijing in the morning of regard to the question of the preparation of May 13 and asked me if the plane coming for the operation he had given all necessary orhim will be ready by this time. I answered ders to the chief of the general staff, who that the plane is ready.
already has begun to implement them, that Kim Il Sung further reported that they his wish is to begin the operation in June, but decided to go to China with Pak Hon Yong, he is still not convinced that they will manage that they have not discussed the question of it in this period. a meeting with Mao Zedong in the Central 13 May at 5:20 local time Kim Il Sung Committee, that he has only spoken about and Pak Hon Yong flew to Beijing. this question with Kim Ch’aek (member of
I report about the preparation and course of the military operations of the Korean People's Army.
The concentration of the People's Army in the region near the 38th parallel began on June 12 and was concluded on June 23, as was prescribed in the plan of the General Staff. The redeployment of troops took place in an orderly fashion, without incident.
The intelligence service of the enemy probably detected the troop redeployment, but we managed to keep the plan and the time of the beginning of troop operations secret.
The planning of the operation at the divisional level and the reconnaissance of the area was carried out with the participation of Soviet advisers.
All preparatory measures for the operation were completed by June 24th. On June 24th divisional commanders were given orders about “D”[day] and “H”[hour].
The political order of the Minister of Defense was read to the troops, which explained that the South Korean army had provoked a military attack by violating the 38th parallel and that the government of the DPRK had given an order to the Korean People's Army to go over to the counterattack.
The order to counter-attack was met with great enthusiasm by the soldiers and officers of the Korean People's Army.
The troops went to their starting positions by 24:00 hours on June 24th. Military operations began at 4 hours 40 minutes local time. Artillery preparation was accompanied in the course of 20-40 minutes by direct fire and a ten-minute artillery barrage. The