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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Korean War

A couple of things about the Korean War I thought I'd just write up.

• Mauno Koivisto (b. '23), social democrat and president in 1982-1994, wrote in his memoirs that he was hesitant of having a family in the insecure world at the turn of the 1950s when communism seemed to be taking over the world, but the Western resolve in stopping the invasion in Korea gave him courage to marry. In the late 1940s Koivisto had been active in the anti-communist activity of social democrats.
• In the 1950s, at the height of cold war, and hot war in the Korean peninsula, the Finnish security police was busy gathering information on communists and making files of them. All the smallest pieces of info were good. One rumor which ended in the files was that a former Red Guardist [in the civil war of '18] was recruiting volunteers to fight in the North Korean army. (It had been a little more than 30 years since the civil war, and the communists now had the backing of USSR and could operate legally.)(Kimmo Rentola: Niin kylmää että polttaa: Kommunistit, Kekkonen ja Kreml 1947-1958 [So cold that it burns: communists, Kekkonen, and Kreml], Otava 1997
• The two later years of the Korean War are known as "Korean boom" in the Finnish economic history. The prices of Finnish export products rose, and Finnish export industries were flourishing. Especially forest owners and forest industry had it good. [Professor Chang Si-gi of Dongguk U. might be interested to know that we still don't feel gratitude for Kim Il-sung.]
But Stalin was not your average Joe either. As he knew that there was going to be a war in Korea, he summoned the Finnish side for trade negotiations in the spring of 1950. (I'm citing from memory, but I understand this took place untimely. The Finno-Soviet trade was kind of barter, done according to agreements.) So the Soviets received Finnish goods in pre-war prices when the capitalist world paid the war boom price. (Kimmo Rentola: Niin kylmää että polttaa.)
(Update, Oct 25, 2005. What I write here is not quite what Rentola writes in his book - that happens when quoting from memory. The main line was that the Finnish-Soviet trade negotiations in May-June 1950 and the Soviet knowledge of the imminent Korean War were connected, but I'll have to save for a later occasion the details of this interesting piece of history.)

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