Executive Secretariat Files

Briefing Book Paper

Inter-Allied Consultation Regarding Korea

Summary

It is desirable that an understanding be reached with the British and Chinese Governments and depending upon developments, with the Soviet Government, on the question of what countries should participate (1) in the military occupation of Korea and (2) in an interim international administration or trusteeship for Korea if it is decided that such an administration should be established.

In reference to the first part of the question it is the view of the Department that the problems of Korea are of such an international character that with the completion of military operations in Korea, (1) there should be, so far as practicable, Allied representation in the army of occupation and military government in Korea; (2) such representation should be by those countries which have a real interest in the future status of Korea, such as the United States, Great Britain, and China and the Soviet Union if it has entered the war in the Pacific; and (3) the representation of other states should not be so large as to reduce the proportionate strength of the United States to a point where its effectiveness would be weakened.

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As regards the second part of the question, it is the Department’s tentative opinion that (1) an interim international administration or trusteeship should be established for Korea either under the authority of the proposed international organization or independently of it; and that (2) the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union should be included in any such administration.

[Inter-Allied Consultation Regarding Korea]

The Problem

Which countries should participate 1) in the military occupation of Korea and 2) in an interim international administration or trusteeship for Korea if it is decided that such an administration should be established?

Discussion

(1) Joint action in connection with the establishment of Korean independence is both important and necessary for the following reasons:

1)
China and the Soviet Union are contiguous to Korea and have had a traditional interest in Korean affairs;
2)
The United States, Great Britain and China have promised in the Cairo Declaration that in due course Korea shall become free and independent;
3)
The military occupation of Korea by any single power might have serious political repercussions.

While the questions relating to the operations of Allied military, naval and air forces are admittedly of a purely military character and hence are not of direct concern to the Department, military operations and subsequent military occupation in Korea by any single state alone might have far-reaching political consequences. China would fear that exclusive Soviet responsibility for military government in Korea might lead to the growth of a Soviet sphere of influence in Manchuria and north China. Likewise, the Soviet Union would be resentful of any arrangement whereby China would have exclusive responsibility for military government in Korea after the cessation of hostilities. It is our view, therefore, that with the completion of military operations in Korea, there should be, so far as practicable, Allied representation in the army of occupation and in military government in Korea and that such military government should be organized on the principle of centralized administration with all of Korea administered as a single unit and not as separate zones. Such representation should be by those countries which have a real interest in the future political status of Korea, but the representation of other states should not be so large as to prejudice the effectiveness of American participation in that occupation. An [Page 360]important element in American participation consists of the trust which Koreans will place in the United States not to harbor imperialistic designs. The United States, therefore, should play a leading role in the occupation and military government.

Studies on post-war Korean problems are now being undertaken by the Department and the British and Chinese Foreign Offices, based on a draft questionnaire which relates to various political, military and economic aspects of post-war Korea. When these studies have been completed, papers on these questions will be exchanged informally without in any way committing the respective Governments on matters of policy. Informal bilateral parallel discussions will then be held to clarify points of difference.

The question of which countries should participate in the military occupation of Korea is of immediate importance and should receive careful consideration because 1) at the request of the British Foreign Office, the problems of military occupation in Korea are not included among those questions now being studied in the Department and by the British and Chinese Foreign Offices, 2) the entrance of the Soviet Union in the war against Japan would result in the presence of Soviet forces in Korea which would be an important factor in determining the composition of the occupational forces, and 3) the traditional interest of the Soviet Union in Korea raises the possibility that it will wish to participate in the military occupation of Korea even though the Soviet Union may not enter the war in the Pacific.

(2) The second important question concerning Korea prior to independence is what countries should participate in an interim international administration or trusteeship for Korea if it is decided that such an administration should be established. In order to reduce to a minimum the period of military occupation of Korea and at the same time to prepare the Korean people for the responsibilities which will come with independence, it is our present opinion that there should be in Korea, following the period of occupation and prior to the establishment of Korean independence, some form of international administration or trusteeship, such administration or trusteeship to function until such time as the Koreans are able to govern themselves.

If an interim international administration or trusteeship is established for Korea under the authority of the projected international organization, that organization would presumably appoint as trustees those countries principally interested in Korea including the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union. Moreover, even if an interim administrative authority for Korea is established independently of the projected international organization, the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union would naturally take an active part in such an administration. The position of the [Page 361]Soviet Union in the Far East is such that it would seem advisable to have Soviet representation on an interim international administration regardless of whether or not the Soviet Union enters the war in the Pacific.

The studies on problems of post-war Korea have not yet progressed far enough to enable the Department to make recommendations on either the exact structure of any interim international supervisory authority for Korea, or the time when Korea should be granted independence. However, it is the view of the Department that an agreement should be reached at an early date among the principal interested powers on the question of whether an interim international supervisory authority is to be established for Korea and if so what powers are to be represented thereon in order to avoid the possibility of an extended period of occupation and to prevent an unnecessary postponement of Korean independence.