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KEI Podcasts

A Division No One Planned or Wanted: Charles Kraus

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Show Notes

June 25, 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. The conflict on the Korean Peninsula has been going on for so long that we sometimes see it as a natural extension of the Second World War – But we forget that the tragic division was one that no one had planned or wanted.

So how did the Koreas end up becoming two countries if neither the United States or the Soviet Union had wanted this to happen?

To take us back to those fateful early years of the Cold War, we caught up with historian Charles Kraus. He is the deputy director of the History and Public Policy Programs at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Wilson Center’s digital archives recently curated a series of declassified documents from the Soviet Union that reveal what the country’s chief policymakers, including Stalin, expected on the Korean Peninsula at the end of the Second World War. These documents weave a complex story of missed opportunities and misaligned intentions that ultimately yielded a tragedy.

Please consider visiting the Wilson Center’s digital archives:

And here are some articles by Charles Krause:

“Failed Diplomacy: Soviet-American Relations and the Division of Korea” (

“Preparing for War: Soviet-North Korean Relations, 1947-1950” (

“China, North Korea, and the Origins of the Korean War” (

And please check out the just-published issue of the Wilson Quarterly, which focuses on the Korean War. You can find a link to the issue, again, in the description of this episode.

On Wednesday June 24, KEI is hosting Cold War scholars James Person and William Stueck for a historical perspective on how the Korean War shaped the geopolitical tensions in Asia and how they continue to affect the current security environment in the region. Please RSVP here:

June 19, 2020