Atoms for Sale?: Cold War Institution-Building and the South Korean Atomic Energy Project, 1945–1965
Abstract

The Atoms for Peace program has typically been read as primarily a project of American Cold War ideology, supplying very little in the way of substantive materials and training to participating partner nations. This article challenges this position by bringing in the additional perspective of the recipient as an actor, in this case South Korea during the early stages of its post–Korean War reconstruction (1953– ). As Atoms for Peace arrived in Seoul in the late 1950s, a complex set of actors—on the American side, representatives of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project, and on the Korean side, representatives of the Ministry of Education—came together on these issues, with the Koreans seeking to gain maximum advantage from their sponsors. While the question of what Atoms for Peace supplied in material terms remains highly relevant, ideologically the program helped to transform the colonial Korean participants into "free world" post-colonial scientists. Moreover, the program also served as a form of subsidy through the early 1960s, allowing South Korea to retain many of its scientists, who would otherwise have likely gone abroad.


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