501.BB Korea/1–2648

President Truman to the Canadian Prime Minister (Mackenzie King)

My Dear Mr. Prime Minister: I have received your letter of January eighth1 and am gratified to learn of your decision to name a representative to the Korean Commission.

[Page 1087]

With respect to the future work of the Commission, that will, of course, be a matter for the Commission itself to decide. We believe that the Commission should carefully consider the situation it finds in Korea and determine in the light of the facts how it might best give effect to the desire of the General Assembly to forward the cause of Korean independence. If obstacles arise to prevent the Commission from carrying out in full the task set for it by the General Assembly, we can imagine that the Commission might either decide on its own account to proceed with such part of its task as is possible under the circumstances or report to the Interim Committee for advice, as permitted under the terms of the Assembly’s resolution.2

We hope very much that it will be possible for the Korean Commission to carry out its task throughout the whole of Korea and we are by no means convinced that it is a certainty that the Commission will be denied entry into northern Korea. Should the latter eventuality arise, however, we would still be eager to have the assistance of the United Nations in our efforts to bring to the people of south Korea, who constitute more than two-thirds of the total population of the country, the freely-elected government which they so eagerly await. Such a government, even if established at the outset for only a part of the country, would, in our view, prove of itself to be a strong force for the democratization and unification of the country as a whole, the goal toward which we are all working.

Please accept [etc.]

Harry S. Truman
  1. See memorandum of January 9, p. 1084.
  2. The Interim Committee (IC) was established by General Assembly resolution in 1947 to function as a body (“Little Assembly”) that could give continuing attention to questions of importance, particularly political and security questions, while the General Assembly was not in session. At the same time, the UN Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK) was authorized to consult the IC which held its first meeting on January 5.