500.CC/5–1545

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

My Dear President Truman: The recent discovery of a secret agreement at Yalta contrary to the Cairo Declaration30 regarding Korea was doubtless just as startling to Your Excellency as it was to me. Your Excellency will recall that it is not the first time Korea was made a victim of secret diplomacy.

The first secret agreement by which Korea was sold to Japan in 190531 was kept secret until twenty years later. Fortunately, this Yalta agreement has been uncovered right here in the midst of the United Nations Conference. We have to appeal to Your Excellency to intervene. For that is the only way to rectify the past wrong and to prevent the further enslavement of the thirty million people.

We have presented to the Membership Committee of the United Nations Conference our request for a rightful seat in the Conference.32 Your Excellency’s instruction alone can open the door for us and then Korea will have a voice in the assembly.

Mr. President, allow us to renew our offer which we have repeatedly made in the past. We now offer again our tremendous manpower to serve in the Armed Forces and in various underground activities. The Koreans are the most bitter enemies Japan has. They have continued their fight single-handed and unaided for the last forty years. They want to participate in this war on a larger and more effective [Page 1029]scale, especially since the Pacific warfront is drawing nearer to the Japanese Islands and the Allied Armies will need the cooperation of the Korean underground forces. They can help defeat Japan sooner and reduce the number of American casualties.

We count on you, Mr. President, to say the word that will give Korea the human rights for which the United Nations are fighting this war.

With my highest esteem,

Respectfully yours,

Syngman Rhee

Chairman, Korean Delegation
  1. Made by President Roosevelt, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, and Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill and released by the White House December 1; for text, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, p. 448.
  2. The reference is presumably to the “agreed memorandum” between Secretary of War William Howard Taft and Japanese Prime Minister Count Katsura, a copy of which was sent from Tokyo by Secretary Taft to Secretary of State Elihu Root on July 29, 1905. This copy is in the custody of the National Archives, among the “Miscellaneous Letters of the Department of State, July (Part III) 1905”. The memorandum was first published, with commentary, by Tyler Dennett in Current History, vol. xxi, No. 1, October 1924, pp. 15–21. This version deleted the name of Secretary Taft, “so as not to embarrass” him, and the last six sentences, as they dealt with a different subject. The full text of the telegram appears in an article by John Gilbert Reid in The Pacific Historical Review, vol. ix, No. 1, March 1940, pp. 66–68.
  3. “Korean Memorial to the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco, California, April 25, 1945.”, not printed. The memorial was signed by Mr. Tjo So-wang by direction of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. (895.01/4–2545)