The Chairman of the Korean Commission in the United States (Rhee) to President Roosevelt

Sir: I have the honor to transmit to you the enclosed telegraphic message13 received from the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, now in exile in Chungking. This message expresses the national sentiment of the 23,000,000 Korean people, and I am sure it merits your special consideration.

May I call your attention to the fact that now is the time for the United States to rectify the wrong and injustice done to the Korean people and their nation during the last thirty-eight years. In 1905, as Your Excellency will recall, the United States allowed Japan to occupy Korea14 and in 1910 to annex her,15 all in violation of the American-Korean treaty of 1882.16 As Your Excellency has graciously mentioned in one of your public addresses, the Korean people have since suffered more and longer than all the conquered races in the world.

The destruction of Korea was only the beginning of Japan’s march of conquests. It is needless to recount here the nations that have fallen one by one into the hands of the Tokyo militarists. Since December 7, 1941, how much of American blood and billions has been spent to save civilization and democracy from the island tribes of Nippon?

All of this is due to the failure of the statesmen of the West to realize the importance of an independent Korea as a bulwark of peace in the Orient. These statesmen have overlooked the historical fact that it was the Koreans, and only the Koreans, who defeated the invading hordes of Japan time and again during the centuries past. These statesmen, instead of helping Korea to be a strong, independent state contributed their moral and material support lavishly toward the building of a world menace in the Empire of Japan.

Allow me to repeat, Your Excellency, it is time for the United States to change its mistaken conception of Korea—a conception created only by Japanese propaganda influences. If the American [Page 1094]statesmen today fail to realize this fact, the postwar settlements will leave the way open for another and even greater disaster than the present world conflagration.

Since Pearl Harbor—nearly a year and a half—we have been urging the State Department to recognize the Korean nationalist government, the oldest government-in-exile. The replies we have received were merely inconsequential excuses. Now we have reports indicating Russia’s aim to establish a Soviet Republic of Korea. It is to be earnestly hoped that these reports are groundless. At the same time it should be borne in mind that the danger of Russian expansion in the Far East, so feared and dreaded by the United States forty years ago, has not entirely disappeared.

In order to accelerate the present war effort and to safeguard the future peace of the Pacific, I beseech you, Your Excellency, to recognize now the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea and to give the Koreans every aid and encouragement so that they may do their share in fighting our common enemy, Japan, thereby rendering a material service to the United States.

Respectfully yours,

Syngman Rhee
  1. Copy not found attached; the message, signed by Mr. Tjo, was forwarded to the Department by the Counselor of Embassy in China (Vincent) in telegram No. 690, May 11, 7 p.m.; it stated that “all Koreans desire absolute independence only and therefore are opposed to any understanding or suggestion concerning post-war international guardship of Korea.”
  2. For correspondence regarding the establishment by Japan of control over Korea, see Foreign Relations, 1905, pp. 612 616, 625 634.
  3. For correspondence on the annexation of Korea by Japan, see ibid., 1910, pp. 677 685.
  4. Treaty of peace, amity, commerce and navigation, signed May 22, 1882, William M. Malloy (ed.), Treaties, Conventions, etc., Between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1776–1909 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1910), vol. i, p. 334.