501.BB Korea/2–248: Telegram
The Political Adviser in Korea (Jacobs) to the Secretary of State 1
Seoul, February 2, 1948.
43. Cite Zpol 117.
- Commission has fixed Wednesday February 4 for plenary session to consider action in view Soviet refusal to receive commission in North Korea. Paul-Boncour expected to return to Seoul this afternoon for meeting and Arranz2 has been asked to postpone his departure, [Page 1090] scheduled for tomorrow morning, until decision on this question has been reached but he seems determined to depart tomorrow leaving his alternate Luna to act for him (Luna probably more effective than Arranz).
- Understand Jackson (Australia) is only commissioner arguing that commission should not observe elections in South Korea. Up to Saturday afternoon Patterson (Canada) was halfheartedly supporting Jackson but now seems to have joined with others in belief that commission should proceed in South Korea.
- Information obtained of meeting of commissioners on Saturday morning January 31 to consider whether Police Chief Chough should be invited to testify before commission (Chough has been invited), indicates Jackson has become active leader of those commissioners seeking to investigate current criticism of police. There was some heated discussion led by Manet and Liu3 on propriety of thus delving into American administration here, especially since commission has not yet decided to proceed with elections in South Korea. General Hodge and I also question how far commission should go, especially at this time, in trying to uncover alleged defects in our administration but the general is raising no objection awaiting some indication as to how far commission will actually attempt to go. In this connection, commission has asked the commanding general in writing to supply information concerning number of Japanese police in Korea before the war, police now in service, number of such formerly connected with Japanese police, and strength of South Korean constabulary.
- Unfortunately foregoing efforts leak to the public which causes misgivings, especially at this time when Korean public wants to know first and foremost whether commission is going to proceed and how it is going to proceed in view of Soviet rebuff. Another disturbing factor in this connection is that we have evidence of group of propagandists, assassins and saboteurs recently arrived in Seoul from Pyongyang to stir up leftists in South Korea and embarrass the command. Soviets realize that the command is handicapped in attempting to circumscribe activities of these agents because efforts in that direction becoming public might appear in eyes of commissioners as an attempt to suppress legitimate expression of opinion on part of leftists. This same situation developed last summer when the command relaxed its checks and controls over leftists in order to enable them to appear freely before joint commission, with result that by August it was necessary to “crackdown” on leftists saboteurs.
- Also find growing tendency among commissioners to shed tears over fact that middle of readers, such as Kimm Kiusic have little following and, therefore, would not be elected to any future Constituent Assembly where they could participate in deliberations looking toward establishment of a Korean Government. Growing out of this realization some commissioners now have tendency to criticize administration and police as responsible for this situation. They overlook fact that, while there are middle of road leaders, there is no sizable middle of road constituency. Koreans are by nature extremists, mostly either leftists or rightists and, due to division of country into zones, leftists are gravitating to the north and rightists to the south. Our estimate last summer was that approximately two-thirds of people in South Korea were rightists and one-third leftists. In view of Soviet attitude since that time and of stories which have been spread by refugees from the north, we believe that percentage of leftists in South Korea is now considerably less than one-third. The issue therefore between the two zones and the two segments of the Korean people is an ideological struggle between leftists and rightists. Nobody will get anywhere in finding a solution by bewailing fact that there is no middle of road party and by charging our administration and its police with responsibility therefore. The cause is natural outgrowth of clash between two ideologies which after all is chief source of friction between United States and Soviets.
- Chinese commissioner Liu will attempt to persuade commission to include in it recommendations to Interim Committee suggestion that, if elections are held under UN supervision in South Korea, number of seats in future Constituent Assembly, proportionate to the population of North Korea (minus proportionate number for the one million refugees from North Korea now in South Korea) be held open for occupancy at any time North Korean authorities decide to join with the south. Liu feels this would be incentive for North Koreans ultimately to take such action.
- French alternate Manet will press for inclusion of suggestion that Interim Committee call upon both American and Soviet authorities to “abolish 38th parallel” so that there may be free communication back and forth for inhabitants of North and South Korea. Insofar as US authorities are concerned, 38th parallel is no barrier in this respect, but it is a barrier from Soviet standpoint. Manet’s idea is that such a recommendation would be refused by Soviets and such refusal constituted another disclosure of Soviet unwillingness to cooperate with UN commission (as if some new disclosure were needed?).