As the Second World War came to an end, most Koreans hoped that their nation would be an independent and prosperous state. ‘From colony to competing states’ shows that, instead, events took an unexpected turn. Korea became both free of Japanese colonial rule and simultaneously partitioned into two occupation zones by the United States and the Soviet Union. From these zones, two separate states were created: the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; two societies with different leaderships, political systems, and geopolitical orientations. When North Korea attempted to reunify the country in 1950, foreign powers again intervened resulting in the Korean War, a costly conflict that left the peninsula still divided.