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740.00119 Control (Korea)/7–747: Telegram

Lieutenant General John R. Hodge to the Secretary of State

confidential
priority

Zgcg 865. For Hilldring. Following is public statement made by Syngman Rhee on 3rd July:

“We have been supporting General Hodge’s policy that the Korean-American cooperation would set up a government and solve the Korean problem. General Hodge tried to obtain our cooperation 5 or 6 times but they always failed because he could not get the cooperation of the Communist leaders.

“If we were to get the cooperation of the Communist leaders all plans will be reduced into nothing. But General Hodge’s only policy is to obtain the Communist leaders’ cooperation, which is impossible. But we cooperated with General Hodge hoping that he would learn that getting any cooperation from the Communist leaders is something impossible, and that he would devise some new plans.

“At last, last winter I realized that it was hopeless to expect anything new of General Hodge and we could not support him any longer. [Page 692]I told him the reasons and Mr. Kim Koo and I said that we would take our own free actions.

“While in the States, General Hodge told me that he would pass a general election law in the Legislative Assembly and that he would conduct a general election so that a Korea Interim Government could be set up according to the will of the Korean people. He made this statement in public too. Ever since that time I have been hoping that he would fulfill his statement that he made in Washington and that by doing so I thought there would be some cooperation between General Hodge and myself. General Hilldring of the State Dept. and General MacArthur of Tokyo gave me the hope that this plan (general election) would take place and that they wanted me to support that plan. As we see the thing as it stands the Legislative Assembly members whom General Hodge appointed have pursued an obstructionist policy in passing this general election law and they even dreamed of destroying the Legislative Assembly itself.

By the concessions on the part of the rightist camp at last the enfranchisement bill was passed. In making this concession the rightist did not want to give the world an unpleasant impression and a wrong impression that the Koreans are running their own affairs. General Hodge is expecting something of the Joint Commission; when the general election will take place is something indefinite. Therefore, we are compelled to set up our own plans and go ahead with them. Our fellow countrymen must realize this and all the political parties and social organizations must have one heart and go forward with one spirit.

“The reason why we fail to have cooperation with General Hodge is something inevitable—it has nothing to do with our personal friendship. The only thing is that our political policy is something different. If he changes his policy it is a different thing. If not, we have to stick to the policy we have been supporting all this while. General Hodge’s policy is against that of the American Government. We want to advocate the American policy and we want to carry it out along with the Americans. All our fellow countrymen must realize this either in action or speech. All the ill feelings should not be expressed. In politics we have to maintain what is right and we have to push it to realize this policy.”

This public statement is in line with his propaganda line of “secret understandings, promises by the State Dept., etc.” for past several months and is being accompanied by personal propaganda attacks on and reported plans of assassination of General Brown by extreme rightist groups. Rhee apparently being encouraged in his attitude by Oliver, Staggers23 and Jerome Williams24 in Washington. His actions are a part of his campaign to break up the Joint Commission and establish a separate government in South Korea which he hopes to head. He confuses many ignorant Koreans and builds up hostility to [Page 693]the US forces. Local statements in refuting have no counteracting effect. To allow such statements to go unchallenged leads ignorant Korean and military youth groups to believe they are true.25

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  1. John W. Staggers, Washington lawyer and president of the American World Trade Export-Import Company, Inc.
  2. Jay Jerome Williams, vice president of the same company.
  3. In telegram 186, July 7, from Seoul, Mr. Jacobs quoted an exchange of messages between General Hodge and Dr. Rhee which the latter made public. Dr. Rhee denied accusations against him and demanded an investigation to determine the truth. (740.00119 Control (Korea)/7–747)