740.00119 Control (Korea)/1–2546: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kennan) to the Secretary of State


227. There follows full translation of Tass statement on Korean question appearing Soviet press January 25.

Number of Korean newspapers published in South Korea where control is in hands of American military authorities are spreading incorrect reports concerning decision of Moscow Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of USA, USSR and UK on question of Korea. These reports represent matter as if establishment of trusteeship in Korea was sought by Soviet Union whereas USA upheld opposite position.

To end of denying these incorrect reports and restoring truth Tass has been authorized to make following elucidation.

Question of Korea was raised for discussion at Moscow Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs at initiative of delegation of USA which presented its draft for a decision on Korea.28

In this draft Govt of US advocated that immediate goal in Korea must be formation of unified administration headed by two military commands operating jointly in all questions affecting Korea national interests, i.e., in questions affecting currency, trade, transport, etc. Along with this it was specified that Koreans would be drawn so far as feasible into unified administration as administrators and as consultants and advisers under military commanders. It was also observed in draft that unified administration was proposed as transitional step toward non-military administrative supervision of Korea on broad foundation with aim of establishing independent Korean Govt and that Four Power Trusteeship would provide most suitable machinery for realization of independence of Korea. Along with this it was proposed that four interested powers as soon as possible discuss question of establishing unified administration for Korea under a trusteeship agreement.

In American draft it was further proposed that agreement provide among other things for administrative organ (US, China, UK and USSR) operating on behalf of United Nations and people of Korea. This administrative organ should exercise such executive, legislative and judicial power as might be necessary for effective administration of Korea until such time as independent Korean Govt would be established. Administrative organ should exercise its powers and functions through High Commissioner and Executive Council consisting of representatives of states entering administrative organ. In this connection draft proposed that High Commissioner and Executive Council bring about as soon as possible political, economic and social progress of Korean people and establish popularly elected legislative [Page 618] organs of Korea and required judicial system in Korea,—all this in aim of establishing independent Korean Govt within period of 5 years which period might be prolonged if necessary by agreement among four states represented in administrative organ for further period not to exceed five years.

After receiving American draft Soviet delegation presented for consideration of Conference of Three Ministers its own draft decision on Korea. After having studied Soviet draft American delegation withdrew its draft from discussion and advocated adoption of Soviet draft with minor amendments. Delegation of Great Britain also agreed to this. As result of this Soviet draft was made basis of decision adopted by Moscow Conference of Three Ministers on Korea.

Decision adopted by Moscow Conference of Three Ministers on Korea which was published December 28, 1945 differs in number of essential points from original American draft.

Firstly. In American draft it was proposed for first period to form in Korea unified administration headed by two military commanders who were to exercise administration of Korea until establishment of trusteeship. Along with this it allowed for participation of Koreans in administrative organs of military commanders only as administrators, consultants and advisers. Establishment of national Korea Govt in this period was utterly unprovided for in American draft. In decision of Conference of Three Ministers, according to proposal of Soviet Govt, measures were specified for solution of urgent administrative economic questions affecting both North and South Korea and as is known this has already begun with convening in Seoul of conference now taking place of representatives of Soviet and American commands in Korea. Together with this decision recognized urgency of formation of provisional Korean Democratic Govt which corresponds to mounting national demands of Korean people and also must facilitate swiftest liquidation of ruinous consequences of prolonged Japanese domination in Korea.

Secondly. In American draft it was proposed for establishment of trusteeship in Korea to create four power administrative organ (US, USSR, Great Britain, China) which should exercise its powers and functions through High Commissioner and Executive Council of representatives of these four states. This administrative organ according to American draft was supposed to exercise executive, legislative, and judicial authority during period of establishment of trusteeship in Korea while during this period American draft did not provide for creation National Korean Govt. Question is posed in utterly different fashion in decision adopted by Moscow Conference of Three Ministers in accordance with Soviet Govt’s draft. This decision not only does not postpone creation of National Korean Govt but on contrary provides for rendering of assistance in formation of provisional Korean Govt on part of representatives of Soviet Union and United States. With this aim it was decided to form Joint Soviet American Commission which must help to accelerate creation of Korean Govt, consulting with Korean democratic parties and public organizations. In this fashion four power trusteeship in Korea must be exercised through provisional Korean Govt and its organs which must insure national interests of Korean people.

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Thirdly. In American draft it was proposed to establish trusteeship in Korea for period of 5 years and extension of trusteeship for 5 more years was allowed. In decision of Three Ministers according to proposal of Soviet Govt period of trusteeship was established for 5 years only. Extension of trusteeship over longer period was thereby excluded.

Thus abovementioned Korean newspaper reports distort actual state of affairs and misconstrue real position of Soviet Govt. Evidently Korean newspapers became victim of incorrect and unscrupulous information.

Sent Dept 227, repeated Chungking 16 and Frankfurt. Dept please repeat to Seoul and Tokyo.

  1. For memorandum by the U.S. delegation at the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 641. It was presented at the second formal session on December 17, 1945. The text was quoted in telegram 15, January 29, 1946, 7 p.m., to Seoul, which stated that the contents represented “U.S. initial position at Moscow not to be published, but may be used by Gen. Hodge as background”. (740.00119 Control (Japan)/1–2946)