Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Ballantine)

Participants: Mr. Shao Yu-lin, Senior Secretary of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek3
Mr. Ballentine
Mr. Turner4

Mr. Shao called in pursuance of an arrangement made at a previous interview when he had outlined a range of topics he wished to explore in fuller detail. It had been agreed that the discussions were to be on a personal basis without implication of any commitment. The first topic discussed was the Korean Independence Movement. Mr. Shao said there have been for some time a number of Koreans in Free China who have been working for Korean independence. There has been some friction and jealousy between the leaders of these groups. Mr. Shao said that the Chinese Government had, of course, no official relations with any of these groups and that he as an official of the Chinese Foreign Office had no contact with the Koreans. However, after becoming a member of Chiang Kai-shek’s Secretariat he had had some dealings with them.

In discussions with the leaders of the Korean Independence Movement in Chungking, Mr. Shao said he had advised them that before [Page 1019] they could expect any form of recognition from the United Nations they would have to compose the differences among themselves and form some kind of effective organization; that they were in a sense on trial and that it was up to them to demonstrate their capacity for responsibility before they should expect concrete assistance from the United Nations. Mr. Shao said that he had suggested to these leaders that they organize an underground movement along the lines of that in France, which would stir up the people of Korea, inform them of developments, and instruct them in methods of resistance. In this connection he had suggested the use of secret agents and of pamphlets to be dropped from airplanes. He had suggested further that Korean troops now in the service of Japan could be told to drop their arms at the proper moment or instructed to desert to the side of the United Nations.

Mr. Shao stated that the Korean Provisional Government has now undertaken a program along the lines of Mr. Shao’s suggestions and that among other things they were working with captured Korean troops in Chungking who number about 2,000, with a view to training them for duties as underground agents.

Mr. Shao said that it was his understanding that the attitude of the American Government towards the Korean Provisional Government was the same as that of the Chinese Government, namely of withholding recognition for the present. Mr. Ballantine confirmed this understanding. Mr. Shao inquired whether, in Mr. Ballantine’s opinion, it would be possible to obtain military equipment on a lease-lend basis for the arming of Korean troops for use against Japan. Mr. Ballantine replied that this was of course a matter to be decided by the military authorities but that it seemed likely that arms and equipment could be found to supply anyone who would undertake to fight the Japanese. Mr. Shao asked Mr. Ballantine’s opinion in regard to the proper channel whereby the Chinese Government might communicate with the American Government in any matter relating to Korean matters. Mr. Ballantine replied that in his opinion such communication should be made through our Embassy.

Mr. Shao inquired in regard to the attitude of the Korean independence leaders in this country. He said that it was his observation that the principal difference in the attitude of his own Government and that of the American Government toward the Korean leaders was that the Chinese Government took more positive steps toward the guidance of such leaders and of the movement. Mr. Ballantine said that some of the Korean spokesmen in this country seemed to be more interested in furthering their personal interests and the interests of their particular group than in furthering the Korean national cause; that some had a great predilection for personal publicity; and that [Page 1020] some seemed to want to maneuver the Department into going on record in their favor; and that it was necessary to proceed with considerable caution in dealing with these men as they seemed to be personally ambitious and somewhat irresponsible.

Mr. Shao stated that upon his arrival in this country he had got in touch with leaders of the Korean Independence Movement and had discovered that there was even more jealousy and lack of cooperation between them than between their counterparts in China. He had pointed out to them that their lack of unity in the face of a common objective simply underscored their unpreparedness to assume responsibility, and had advised them of the necessity of combining into one responsible organization if they were to attain any kind of recognition. He had advised them to establish some form of relationship with the Korean Independence Movement in China, and had informed them that the Chinese and American Governments would act in concert in any matter concerning Korean independence.

J[oseph] W. B[allantine]
  1. President of the National Government of the Republic of China.
  2. William T. Turner of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (FE).