Memorandum by Lieutenant General John R. Hodge to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur at Tokyo73
[Seoul,] 24 September, 1945.
Subject: Conditions in Korea.
- Reference is made to my letter 13 September 1945,74 same subject. This is supplemental thereto. The principal changes in conditions are in the nature of a further unfolding of the picture rather than in the way of any great shifts.
- There is no change in the attitude of Koreans toward the Japs and/or in their attitude toward independence. In the Jinsen-Seoul (Keijo) area Koreans are beginning to settle on the surface. There are fewer parades and demonstrations and fewer vocal remonstrances. However, there is a growing deep-seated distrust of Allied intentions concerning, and real dissatisfaction with the division of Korea along the 38° line into two occupation zones occupied by forces with such widely divergent policies. Many intelligent Koreans have already reached the conclusion that the Allied Powers have no intention of building up a Korean nation. Older Koreans recall a tentative agreement between Russia and Japan before the Russo-Jap War for division of Korea along same boundary, and believe Russia is again making a bid for its old demand. Based upon policies to date there [Page 1055] is little to encourage them in the belief that the Allied promise of Korean independence is sincere. Information coming out of Northern Korea is along the line of the attached statement presented to me by an Australian news correspondent.75
- There appears to be a growing realization on the part of many Koreans that the widely divergent activities by the multitudinous political parties are undesirable. However, there is no real reduction of these to date except that vocal expression of many is lessening. It is still impossible to get working agreements between factions and to shake out the cross-currents and suspicions of one against the others.
- I consider the current division of Korea into two occupational zones under widely divergent policies to pose an insurmountable obstacle to uniting Korea into a nation. In my opinion the Allied Powers, by this division, have created a situation impossible of peaceful correction with credit to the United States unless immediate action on an international level is forthcoming to establish an overall provisional government which will be fully supported by the occupation forces under common policy. It appears doubtful if any of the Powers with the exception of Russia has given serious thought to the problems involved. Korea is not and without full Japanese control was never a part of the Japanese Empire, and cannot be so treated without the everlasting enmity of Koreans toward those nations who so treat them. The country is ripe for anything that releases them from the Japanese, but because of past history are now most favorable toward some type of democratic government and particularly toward the United States. During this receptive phase immediately following the breach of Japanese control is the time to unite factions and begin formative education in democracy. Continuation of separation of the country into two parts under opposed ideologies will be fatal. Furthermore, neither of the two sections is in any degree self-supporting without full reciprocity between them. At present there is no reciprocity except that refugees from north of 38° are coming south in considerable numbers and the reverse is not true.
- Continuing, but so far almost unfruitful effort is being made to establish some sort of workable agreement with the Soviets on a military level. To date the only accomplishment has been to get out the occupants of the Kanko Prisoner of War Camp which was accomplished approximately ten days after negotiations were started and after much backfiring and vacillation on arrangements. I am still awaiting word from Russians on dates and places for reporting of [Page 1056] exchanged liaison parties. Relationships of contact troops along the 38° line have been without unusual incidents since last report except that electric power was turned off by Soviet forces in an area north of Seoul.
- It appears at this time that the “Military Government” in Korea will for the time being have to be complete and entire except for minor functions. As we get into the structure of what was the government here, we find that the framework was built primarily for Japanese control and exploitation of a subject people and most of it is unsuitable for democratic rule. … As we are able to increase our Military Government personnel and increase our occupation to include all the southern provinces, it is hoped that a clearer picture may unfold.
- One combat team of the 40th Division arrived at Inch’on on 22 September and is moving light forces by increment by rail to Fusan. The division should close in Korea within ten to twelve days, but unless the port at Fusan is opened, will not be able to complete its movement there for many days later. Rail facilities are limited and to date we have not found any road by which we can move. I am pressing the Navy to open Fusan to LST’s at least, in which case I can transship from Inch’on. If coal cannot be obtained soon, the railways will soon be forced to suspend action south of 38°.
- As soon as the 40th Division establishes control of Fusan, I will start movement of Japanese forces to Japan as rapidly as they can be passed through the port. Because of limitations in land transport this flow may be less than the shipping capacity available.
- The problem of handling depossessed arms and ammunition stores is assuming more and more importance. … The guarding of ammunition dumps to keep out saboteurs consumes a considerable number of troops needed for other purposes. It is believed that in Korea munitions should be destroyed except such few items as may have combat intelligence value.
- The attitude of news correspondents has improved materially. Most of the undesirable juvenile minded ones have moved on to more exciting fields of endeavor. Those remaining are more thoughtful and more mindful of their responsibility as American citizens. There is still a tendency for them to send in Russian stories which if published may jeopardize the American mission here. It is believed USAFPac censors here should be warned by your headquarters to suppress all such as are considered dangerous. Correspondents take the attitude that United States citizens should be informed. I agree in principle, but believe premature critical stories are dangerous now.
- Recommendations contained in reference letter are reiterated.
- It is further recommended that authority be granted for destruction of or rendering permanently useless all arms and munitions taken over in Korea. This will greatly relieve need for United States troops.
John R. Hodge
- Copy transmitted to the Department by the Political Adviser in Korea in despatch 4, September 26; received October 9. The despatch stated that the Political Adviser was “in agreement with General Hodge’s observations” and concurred “with his recommendations insofar as they related to other than purely military matters”.↩
- Not printed; it is parallel in substance to despatch 1, September 15, from the Political Adviser in Korea, p. 1049.↩
- Copy not found attached.↩