740.00119 Control (Korea)/2–1446: Telegram

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur to the Joint Chiefs of Staff50

top secret

CA 57792. I have just received the following message from General Hodge:

“Although SWNCC 176/1851 states that the most pressing task of the forthcoming meeting of the Joint Commission should be the creation of an interim Korean Government, I feel that before that problem can be faced it will be necessary to open up the country and break down the Soviet ‘blackout’. The arrangement in this regard reached by the recent conference was most unsatisfactory from the United States standpoint. Soviet delegation refused to consider free circulation of newspapers, combined radio network for benefit all parties on equal basis, and travel Koreans between zones except under strict permit system. I accordingly propose to instruct American delegation to begin proceedings of Joint Commission with a strong demand for complete freedom of speech, press and movement within Korea of Koreans, on grounds that until that is accomplished Joint Commission will be unable freely to consult Korean parties and leaders and to learn desires Korean people regarding their government, a prerequisite stipulated in Moscow communiqué.

I am prepared to press this point with considerable vigor and to postpone joint consideration by the Commission of structure of interim government until solution satisfactory to U.S. is reached. If this viewpoint is approved, I suggest asking State Department to inform USSR that despite considerable progress achieved by recent economic conference, United States Government feels that Koreans are still so restricted in freedom of speech and movement that Joint Commission will have difficulty in asking proper evaluation of the desires and aspirations of all classes Korean people.

The Soviet Government might not respond to such approach but at least it would put the United States Government in addition to the U.S. Army Forces in Korea on record, and would prepare Soviet delegation in Joint Commission of our viewpoint.

If my position outlined above has backing of United States Government and if Soviet delegation in Joint Commission displays reluctance [Page 633] to come to agreement, I could discreetly make known to Korean people through their consultative group in South Korea that United States has from beginning tried to break down barrier of 38 parallel but that USSR has failed to follow out [our] lead. Such disclosure should strengthen our hand and might cause USSR delegation to accede to our desires. I am convinced that the more we open up the country and convince the people of our real aims, the greater will be the chances of achieving truly democratic rather than a Soviet directed communistic Korean Government. Benninghoff concurs.”

I am in agreement with Hodge’s suggestion and request the Government view for guidance.

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department with SWN–3875, February 14, as SWNCC 176/20, from the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee.
  2. January 28, p. 623.