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795B.00/5–150: Telegram

The Chargé in Korea ( Drumright ) to the Secretary of State

confidential

605. I had long informal talk yesterday with Acting Prime Minister who evinced discouragement over experiences of a harried first week as Acting Prime Minister. He confirmed he had been by-passed by Home Ministry in making top police changes (Embtel 596, April 281) and as result had offered his resignation, but Rhee had rejected it. He said police changes made to date were not decisive, but he expressed fear Home Ministry might be able prevail on President to make further wholesale police changes at county and local levels which could seriously affect course of election. He accordingly, urged me to see President and intimate wholesale police changes would be unwise and should not be made at this time. He indicated he had exerted every effort check further changes but that matter was now beyond his control.

Late yesterday Kim Sung Soo, leader Democratic National Party, also came to see me. He expressed concern over police changes made to date and professed to believe additional changes were imminent which could seriously affect prospects of his party. However, he said DNP candidates had thus far been able to campaign in free atmosphere.

This morning King, AP correspondent, came to see me with report further police changes were rumored which might influence course [Page 59]of election. It was agreed that rather than send despatch, King would make informal inquiry of President whether further wholesale police changes were contemplated. Subsequently King came to tell me he had made such inquiry through one of President’s secretaries and had received reply that no such changes were in prospect.

I have engagement to see Rhee tomorrow afternoon at which time I propose find opportunity to suggest that if any wholesale police changes are in contemplation, it would seem best that they be deferred until after election, lest impression get abroad that changes are designed to influence course of election. Inform Muccio.

Drumright
  1. Not printed. It reported the receipt of confidential information from a Korean official that the Home Ministry had transferred a number of senior police officials and dismissed six others, with the sanction of President Rhee but over the objections of Acting Prime Minister Sinn Sung Mo (795B.00/4–2850).