895.01/7–214–5: Telegram

The Chairman of the Korean Commission in the United States (Rhee) to President Truman 35

The Korean Commission official representative at Washington of the Korean Provisional Government exiled in Chungking respectfully petitions Your Excellency and through you the Premiers of Great Britain and Soviet Russia now at the Conference to issue a joint statement pledging to repudiate any secret international agreement or understanding affecting the future political and administrative sovereignty and territorial integrity of Korea, to recognize the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea now so as to eliminate the possibility of a civil war in Korea after the war between the Communists and Nationalists which will inevitably disturb international peace and disrupt friendly relations between Russia and Korea and to give the Koreans a chance to do their share of fighting on a larger scale against the common enemy Japan. With the cooperation of Allied Powers to this extent the Korean Provisional Government will be in a position to assume the responsibility, 1st, to furnish all manpower necessary to help speed the Allied victory and to reduce number of Allied casualties, 2d, to assist in policing Japan in checking all possibilities of secret preparation for another war, 3d, to hold a national election within one year after our return to Korea and establish a Democracy [sic] form of Government according to the Seoul Proclamation of 1919,36 and 4th, to restore and promote the former friendly relations and collaboration with the United Nations in the interest of world peace. So far Korea the seventh largest in population among the United Nations fighting on the Allied side is the only nation that has received no aid or recognition in her 40 years struggle against Japan while continued rumors persist and prevail that Korea may be [Page 1032] again a victim of international power politics. To keep the 30 million people proud of an independent history of over 4,000 years disappointed and rankling with resentment would not contribute to the cause of international peace guaranteed by the San Francisco Charter.37 However the Koreans still have, we assure you, unshaken with [faith in?] the American sense of justice and fairness. At this dawn of a new world order we beseech you to uphold the sanctity of international agreements by fulfilling the pledge made to Korea in 188238 thus bringing Korea back to her rightful place in the family of civilized nations but even more important it will be redeeming the faith of uncounted millions in the details [ideals?] for which this war is being fought.39

Syngman Rhee
  1. President Truman was then attending the Tripartite Conference at Berlin which met near Potsdam from July 17 to August 2, 1945. The Heads of Government of the United States, China, and the United Kingdom, in paragraph 8 of their Proclamation issued at Potsdam on July 26, announced that “The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out”, Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. ii, pp. 1474, 1475. For other documentation on Korea at this Conference, see index entries under ‘Korea”, ibid., vol. i, pp. 1573, 1574, and under “Japan: Operations in and near China and Korea,” and “United Nations Organization: Trusteeship for Italian colonial territories and Korea”, ibid., vol. ii, pp. 1624, 1642.
  2. The Proclamation of Independence, March 1, 1919; for text, see United Korean Committee in America, Korean Liberty Conference, p. 32. The Korean Liberty Conference met at Washington from February 27 to March 1, 1942.
  3. The United Nations Charter, signed June 26, 1945; for text, see Department of State Treaty Series No. 993, or 59 Stat. 103.
  4. See Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce and Navigation signed in Chosen (Korea), May 22, 1882, Department of State Treaty Series No. 61, or 23 Stat. 720. The second sentence of Article I reads: “If other Powers deal unjustly or oppressively with either Government, the other will exert their good offices … to bring about an amicable arrangement, thus showing their friendly feelings.”
  5. On July 21, the Secretary of State, attending the Berlin Conference, telegraphically summarized Mr. Rhee’s telegram and directed the Acting Secretary to “make acknowledgment to Rhee in such informal manner and in such terms as you may consider appropriate”. On July 24, the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs replied for the Acting Secretary as follows: “The receipt is acknowledged, by reference from the President, of your telegram requesting that a joint statement be issued by the President, Prime Minister Churchill and Generalissimo Stalin concerning the political, administrative and territorial integrity of Korea, and recognizing the ‘Korean Provisional Government’.” (895.01/7–2145)