Foreign Relations of the United States, 1946, The Far East, Volume VIII
740.00119 Control (Korea)/6–646
Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas (Hilldring) to the Operations Division, War Department13
It is recommended that the following message together with the conclusions of the attached paper be transmitted to SCAP as soon as possible and that the entire paper be forwarded at an early date.14
Following are conclusions of a State Department political policy paper on Korea, concurred in by War and Navy Departments and transmitted to you for information and guidance. Entire paper is being forwarded by courier. In implementing any of the below listed provisions you are cautioned not to exceed your current budget. Steps have been taken to prepare a new JCS directive for Korea based on political principles outlined below and including expanded cultural and economic measures which are considered necessary in order effectively to implement a revised policy.
Policy for Korea
1. The problem is to determine the basic objectives of the United States with regard to Korea and how best to achieve these objectives through further negotiations in the Joint Commission and through unilateral action in southern Korea, pending the establishment of a Provisional Korean Government.
facts bearing on the problem
2. See Appendix “A”.15
3. See Appendix “B”.
4. It is concluded that:
- The basic objectives of the United States with regard to
Korea as a whole are:
- To establish a self-governing Korea, independent of foreign control and eligible for membership in the United Nations;
- To insure that the national government so established shall be a democratic government fully representative of the freely expressed will of the Korean people; and
- To assist the Koreans in establishing the sound economy and adequate educational system necessary for an independent democratic state.
- It is the intention of the United States Government to achieve its objectives in Korea within the framework of the Moscow Agreement and to this end to do all in its power to achieve the fulfillment of the terms of the Agreement and in particular the attainment of Korean independence at the earliest possible date.
- The military occupation of Southern Korea is for the purpose of facilitating the attainment of basic United States objectives in Korea and shall continue as long as it contributes to this end.
- With a view to preparing Koreans for early independence
and winning popular Korean support for United States
policies and thus strengthening the United States position
in future negotiations with the Soviet Union, the Commander
of United States Forces in Korea, pending the establishment
of a nation-wide Provisional Korean Government, shall
broaden the basis for Korean participation in the
administration of Southern Korea. Insofar as the following
can be [Page 694]
accomplished without impairing the maintenance of the
necessary military control, he shall:
- Utilize qualified Koreans in as many posts of
responsibility as possible in the local and
provincial administrations and in the administration
of the United States zone as a whole:
- Using popular electoral processes for the selection of Koreans to occupy key posts in local and provincial administrations and in the administration of the United States zone as a whole;
- For all appointive posts, selecting Koreans insofar as possible from all political groups; and
- Establish through broad electoral processes an advisory legislative body which shall supersede the present Representative Democratic Council of Southern Korea and shall have the duty of formulating and presenting to the United States Commander draft laws to be used at his discretion as a basis for political, economic and social reforms in the southern zone, pending the establishment of a Provisional Korean Government. The Commander of the United States Forces in Korea shall put into effect such draft laws except when they are inconsistent with basic United States objectives or the Moscow Agreement.
- In the implementation of paragraphs (1) (a) and (2) above, the United States Commander shall make every effort to insure that all major political groups participate in all elections.
- As a further measure to win popular Korean support for United States policies and thus strengthen the United States position in future negotiations with the Soviet Union, the Commander of United States Forces in Korea shall take steps to institute a broad program of constructive economic and educational reforms for Southern Korea looking toward the creation of conditions favorable to the development of a strong and lasting democratic system in Korea. The advisory legislative body, when constituted, shall be encouraged to assist in formulating this program and to take the lead in initiating draft legislation for its implementation. All major reforms shall, if possible, be initiated by the advisory legislative body, and no major reform shall be undertaken without consultation with this body and, preferably after obtaining its support. Further instructions regarding specific features of such an economic and educational reform program will be provided by the United States Government for the guidance of the United States Commander.
- In implementing paragraphs d and e above, the Commander of the United States Forces in Korea shall continue to permit full freedom of expression to all political groups and shall seek the cooperation of representatives of all groups in the administration of southern Korea. No Korean shall be barred from an appointive or elective post [Page 695] because of his political affiliations. As a general policy, however, the United States Commander shall encourage the selection of leaders who remained in Korea throughout the period of Japanese rule and shall in no way oppose the voluntary retirement from politics of Korean leaders who have returned to Korea since the Japanese capitulation.
- The public information program shall be utilized to the fullest to further Korean understanding of and support for United States policies in Korea.
- While implementing paragraphs d and
e above, the Commander of United
States Forces in Korea should not lose sight of the
intention of this government to establish, as soon as
possible, a nation-wide Provisional Korean Government, in
accordance with the terms of the Moscow Agreement. To this
end, the United States Commander, while standing firm on the
principle that freedom of expression must be safeguarded
throughout Korea, shall be prepared to instruct the United
States representatives on the Joint Commission to resume
negotiations with the Soviet representatives at any time and
shall propose the resumption of negotiations whenever there
is reason to believe that there may be a basis for agreement
within the Commission without compromising United States
principles. In particular, he shall be ready to exploit any
favorable reaction on the part of the Korean people or the
Soviet representatives on the Joint Commission to conditions
resulting from the implementation of paragraphs d and e above
as the basis for agreement regarding the establishment of a
nation-wide Provisional Korean Government. When negotiations
are resumed, the United States representatives shall look to
SWNCC 176/1816 for guidance
and shall also consider the following additional suggestions
as possible means of resolving the present impasse in the
- To hold nation-wide elections of a type consistent with United States concepts of democracy in order to select the group of representative democratic Korean leaders called for in paragraph 4d(1) of SWNCC 176/18;
- To hold nation-wide elections of a type consistent with United States concepts of democracy in order to select the key members of a nation-wide Provisional Korean Government;
- To accept for consultative purposes the advisory legislative body called for in paragraph d(2) above as representative of all democratic parties and social organizations in southern Korea; and
- To use members of such an advisory legislative body for key positions in a nation-wide Provisional Korean Government.
- Pending the establishment of a Provisional Korean Government, the United States Commander in Korea shall continue to strive for [Page 696] the coordination of economic and administrative matters between the United States Command in southern Korea and the Soviet Command in northern Korea, insofar as this can be done without prejudicing the attainment of basic United States objectives.
- For the purpose of attracting the well-qualified personnel essential to the effective operation of the United States occupation in southern Korea, a substantial program shall be initiated to provide acceptable living accommodations for the families of United States personnel. In addition to providing living accommodations by utilizing and remodeling former Japanese owned property, new construction should be undertaken. Other facilities, such as schools, hospitals, and household supplies shall be made available to all United States personnel and their families. Accommodations shall also be provided for personnel on specialized duty requiring only brief visits.
1. The major current statements of United States policy with regard to Korea are SWNCC 176/817 and SWNCC 176/18.18 These two documents no longer fully meet the needs of the situation in Korea. The former was designed as guidance for the initial stages of the occupation of southern Korea prior to the assumed early unification of the United States and Soviet zones and the creation of a Korean Government or a Trusteeship. The latter document was designed as guidance in the negotiations with the Soviet authorities over the establishment of a Provisional Korean Government as a preliminary step in the unification of Korea and the creation of a Trusteeship or an independent Korean Government, as called for in the Moscow Agreement.
When the Joint Commission adjourned sine die on 8 May 1946, negotiations looking toward the creation of a Provisional Korean Government came to a halt. It obviously will be extremely difficult to reopen these negotiations and push them to a successful conclusion. Thus, the United States authorities in southern Korea are faced with the prospect of an indefinite prolongation of the present unnatural division of Korea and the postponement of all plans for the creation of a Trusteeship or independent Korean Government. It is necessary, therefore, at this time to reexamine United States policy with regard [Page 697] to Korea in order to determine what are our basic objectives there and how under present circumstances these may best be attained.
2. The fundamental United States objective with regard to Korea, simply stated, is the independence of Korea. This the United States has promised in the Cairo Declaration and subsequent statements. Korean independence is important not only for the sake of the Koreans themselves but also as a means of strengthening political stability throughout the Far East, for the domination of Korea by either Japan or the Soviet Union would further endanger Chinese control of Manchuria and would thus lessen the prospect of the creation of a strong and stable China, without which there can be no permanent political stability in the Far East. If we are to establish a self-governing Korea, independent of foreign control and eligible for membership in the United Nations, we must also assist the Koreans to establish the sound economy and adequate educational system essential to an independent state. To be consistent with our own principles of freedom and liberty, we must also be prepared to insure that the National Korean Government we help establish is a democratic government fully representative of the freely expressed will of the Korean people.
. . . . . . .
4. As a result of the joint occupation of Korea by United States and Soviet forces, basic United States objectives with regard to Korea can only be attained through agreement with the Soviet Union. In fact, the policy problems raised by Korea assume added significance because they entail the necessity of agreement with the Soviet Union and thus become part of the much more vital problem of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. While the United States should hold firm to its basic objectives with regard to Korea, it should be recognized that an amicable agreement with the Soviet Union over Korea is to be desired not only as a means of achieving our objectives there but also as a factor facilitating a Far Eastern and general understanding with the Soviet Union.
5. If an agreement over Korea is to be reached with the Soviet Union, it is imperative that the United States strictly observe the Moscow Agreement. The United States Government, therefore, in attempting to achieve its objectives in Korea should work within the framework of the Moscow Agreement and to this end should do all in its power to achieve the fulfillment of the terms of the Agreement and in particular the attainment of Korean independence within a maximum period of five years.
A satisfactory agreement over Korea with the Soviet Union can only be made if, in the future, common ground for agreement can be found where none now exists or if the Soviet authorities are persuaded [Page 698] to modify their present position by the force of Korean public opinion ranging itself in support of United States policies as opposed to Soviet policies in Korea. In other words, the way to resolve the present impasse in our favor would seem to be to adopt a course of action in southern Korea which would win such active popular support for United States principles and practices as to force the Soviet Union to modify its present stand and at the same time would make an understanding easier by developing common ground for agreement with the Soviet Union.
. . . . . . .
9. While winning Korean support for United States policies, it should not be forgotten that the creation of a broader basis for agreement with the Soviet Union is equally important. The measures outlined in paragraph 7 above should prove to be equally valuable for this purpose. A broad program of constructive economic and educational reforms would probably contain many features which would be acceptable to the Soviet authorities and might help to create greater confidence among them in our aims and methods. The inclusion of Koreans from all political groups in our administrations in southern Korea and the holding of popular elections also should afford new ground for agreement. In particular, the holding of elections to choose an advisory legislative body should enable us to create a Korean leadership in the south which is more truly representative of all Korean political opinion than is the leadership of the present Representative Democratic Council of southern Korea, which includes no leftists of any kind. Such a new leadership should prove to be not only stronger but also more acceptable to the Soviet Union than the present Council and, therefore, a factor strengthening rather than weakening the possibility of agreement with the Soviet Union. For these reasons the United States Commander should seek the cooperation of representatives of all political groups in the administration of southern Korea and should not bar any Korean from an appointive or elective post because of his political affiliation.
10. Agreement not only between the Soviet and United States authorities but also between the various factions in southern Korea would also be greatly facilitated if certain personalities who have been the storm centers of recent political controversy in Korea were to retire temporarily from the political scene. There is reason to interpret the collapse of negotiations in the Joint Commission as the result of a clash between United States insistence upon respect for the principle of freedom of speech and Soviet determination to prevent certain avowedly anti-Soviet Korean leaders from participation in a Provisional Korean Government. These leaders constitute a group of older émigré Koreans who have returned to Korea since the [Page 699] capitulation of Japan. They are not thought to be completely representative of Korean political opinion, nor are they felt to be essential to the establishment of Korean democracy or the attainment of United States objectives in Korea. On the other hand, their presence on the political scene greatly increases the difficulty of reaching an agreement with the Soviet Union. For these reasons, it can be concluded that the attainment of United States objectives in Korea is on the whole hampered rather than aided by their participation in Korean politics.
. . . . . . .
11. The various measures outlined above are not ends in themselves but are means of achieving basic United States objectives in Korea through agreement with the Soviet Union on the basis of the Moscow Agreement. These measures are meant to facilitate but not to delay such an agreement. The Commander of United States Forces in Korea, therefore, while initiating these various measures, should not lose sight of the intention of this government to bring the negotiations of the Joint Commission to a successful conclusion as soon as possible through the creation of the Provisional Korean Government provided for in the Moscow Agreement. To this end, he and the United States representatives on the Joint Commission should be prepared to resume negotiations with the Soviet representatives at any time and should, in particular, be ready to exploit in these negotiations any favorable reaction on the part of the Korean people or the Soviet representatives to conditions resulting from the implementation of these measures as the basis for agreement regarding the establishment of a nation-wide Provisional Korean Government. The United States Commander should not only be receptive to any Soviet suggestion that negotiations be resumed but he should also be prepared to take the initiative in their resumption when he had reason to believe that there exists a basis for agreement within the Commission without compromising the principle that freedom of expression must be safeguarded throughout Korea.
. . . . . . .
- The same was sent to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Sullivan) with a request for a favorable reply.↩
- Sent to General MacArthur in telegram War 90716, June 7, for forwarding to General Hodge in Korea.↩
- Not printed.↩
- January 28, p. 623.↩
- October 13, 1945, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. vi, p. 1073.↩
- Ante, p. 623.↩