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795B.00/5–250: Telegram

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

confidential
priority

614. Inform Muccio reEmbtel 613, May 2. Noble called on President 5 p. m. this afternoon. Was received again in bed room with Home Minister, Director National Police, Kim Tae-Sun, and President’s private secretary present. President instructed Home Minister explain police changes. Home Minister, consulting records, stated since assumption [Page 63]office had changed 34 senior police officers: 5 being required to resign, 29 having posts changed. He gave reasons for requiring 5 resignations, of which Noble felt 3 probably admissible and 2 possibly politically based. President evidenced some dissatisfaction with Home Minister’s explanation. Home Minister stated categorically would be no further dismissals in appreciable future. Home Minister explained are now 31 police chiefs vacancies throughout Republic of Korea which he intends to fill. In process filling these vacancies, total about 90 police position changes envisaged through lower promotions since all such posts must be filled by officers presently in police force.

On May 4 all Republic of Korea police chiefs gathering Seoul for conference. At that time certain police inspectors previously sent throughout country by Home Minister will report to board consisting of district police chiefs on possible improper conduct including political activity. In such case board will recommend transfers to other posts.

In Noble’s presence, President directed Home Minister must not dismiss any other officers; must not transfer officers excepting for proven political activity; would hold Home Minister personally responsible for execution this order; required all police refrain completely from any political activity during election period and any policeman violating this order would be punished for criminal acts.

During conversation Noble repeated arguments similar to those presented in morning conference against police interference. Subsequent to departure Home Minister, Director National Police and secretary, Noble presented my views orally and then left copy of memo with President.1 President said he was determined guarantee free elections and would not be deterred by criticism from friends from changing police who did engage political activity. He asked Noble what would be done in US with police officer attempting manipulate elections and said he intended act similarly here. He conveyed his appreciation my expression of views.

Following further discussion problem, President told Noble he had directed Home Minister submit to him name or names of any police officers listed for further transfer and said he would show it to and discuss it with Noble before he permitted transfer to be made.

[Drumright]
  1. Not printed, but see the portion within quotation marks of telegram 613, May 2, from Seoul, supra.