Draft Memorandum by the Planning Adviser, Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs (Emmerson)

top secret

United States Course of Action With Respect to Korea


1. To determine what United States course of action with respect to Korea would be best calculated to advance the national interests of the United States.


2. The objective of the United States and of the United Nations in Korea is to bring about and maintain the independence and unity of Korea. Action taken by the United Nations in Korea, pursuant to the [Page 1061] resolutions of the General Assembly and of the Security Council, has been dedicated to this objective.

3. Unless a massive intervention by non-Korean Communist forces takes place in Korea, the United Nations can proceed to establish the conditions of peace and security which will permit the maintenance of a unified and independent Korea.

4. In pursuance of NSC 81/11 the Unified Command has proceeded to the occupation of North Korea and the United Nations has established machinery for bringing about the unification and independence of Korea in fulfillment of decisions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.

5. With regard to the trial of war criminals, the Directive for the Occupation of North Korea approved by the President and transmitted to the Unified Commander, states as follows:

“The mere fact that an individual is or was a member of the armed forces of the North Korean Government, an official of that Government or any local Government, or a member of any political party will not subject him to prosecution or reprisal and will not, by that reason alone, bar him from office or employment. You will apprehend and hold for trial by appropriate tribunals, in accordance with the law and customs of war, all persons who are or may be charged with atrocities or violations of the law and customs of war.”

6. With regard to the trial of persons charged with the crime of waging aggressive war, or so-called “Class A” war crimes, the following factors should be taken into consideration:

The North Korean regime was a Soviet satellite government and the responsibility for the decision to wage aggressive war cannot be fixed solely upon the North Korean leaders. We must assume that the USSR in actuality bears a heavy responsibility if not the major responsibility for the action of the North Korean puppet leaders.
Trials of North Korean leaders for crimes of aggression would prolong the psychological effects of the division of Korea and would increase the difficulties of a rapid unification of the country.

7. In view of the factors cited above and of the unlikelihood that any responsible North Korean leaders will fall into the hands of United Nations forces, the United States should not press in the United Nations for the holding of “Class A” war crimes trials in Korea.

8. It is expected that the restoration of “international peace and security in the area”, within the meaning of the Security Council’s resolution of June 27, 1950, will require continued action over a period of time by the Unified Command and by the agencies operating under the authority of the United Nations, that it will be necessary to maintain UN occupation forces in Korea for yet a temporary period, [Page 1062] and that even when organized resistance ceases, the continuance of guerrilla activities will necessitate the carrying out of extensive counter-guerrilla operations.

9. In pursuance of NSC 81/1, it is expected that United States forces will be reduced as rapidly as possible and that forces of the ROK and those of UN members besides the United States, will be used to the maximum during the period of occupation, mopping up, and counter-guerrilla operations.

10. It is expected that, in pursuance of the General Assembly’s resolution of October 7, 1950, UN forces (i.e. non-Korean) will be withdrawn from all parts of Korea as soon as appropriate steps have been taken to insure conditions of stability throughout Korea and all constituent actions have been taken, including the holding of elections, under the auspices of the United Nations, for the establishment of a unified, independent and democratic government in the sovereign state of Korea.

11. It may be assumed that the USSR will not permanently renounce attempts to effect Communist control of Korea and that, with Soviet assistance, preparations will be made by Chinese Communists and remaining Korean Communist elements for the reconquest of Korea by subversive means and by military invasion if necessary.

12. Following the withdrawal of UN forces, the security of Korea must depend upon the capability of Korean forces to defend the country.

13. It is in the interests of the United States, acting through the United Nations, to assist the Republic of Korea to maintain its independence and to provide for its security from outside attack and internal subversion. Military aid furnished by the United States will be dedicated to these ends.

14. The UN Commission for the Unification and. Rehabilitation of Korea should make recommendations as to the size and character of the military and internal security forces needed by the ROK, as required by NSC 81/1. The United States should propose that, upon dissolution of the Unified Command, the United States be authorized to act as agent of the UN in establishing a Military Advisory Mission to the ROK. Through this Mission, whose staff would include personnel from UN members participating in the Korean action, the United States would act to effect the most efficient training and buildup of ROK military, naval, and air forces which may be deemed necessary for the adequate defense of Korea.

15. At the request of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations has considered the problem of relief and rehabilitation in Korea and has adopted the substance of a U.S.-sponsored [Page 1063] resolution to place the responsibility for these matters in the hands of an Agent General of the United Nations.2 The economic, and in turn the political, stability of Korea will depend heavily on the success of a program of relief and reconstruction for an integrated Korean economy, which will take a number of years to complete and cost in excess of $500 million.

16. The ROK, in order to take its rightful place among the nations of the world and to bind itself to the obligations of the UN Charter, should become a member of the United Nations as soon as possible. To this end the United States should actively support the application of the ROK for membership in the UN and should endeavor to achieve its acceptance.

17. In fulfilling its mission to bring about the establishment of a unified, independent and democratic government of all Korea, the UNCURK will face complex problems arising out of the common boundary between Korea and its neighbors, Communist China and the USSR. These problems will include such matters as the control of electric power output from the Suiho plant located on the Manchurian border at the Yalu River, navigation rights along the Yalu and Tumen Rivers, the regulation of the coastal and river traffic in the Yalu estuary, the operation of through railroad lines between Korea and Manchuria, and various other problems of trade, communications, and security. The UNCURK might, for example, as a result of its investigation of various border problems, find it desirable to recommend the establishment of a neutralized or security zone along the Chinese and Soviet borders.

18. The United States should take whatever diplomatic action is deemed advisable in order to reduce the dangers of a repetition of Communist aggression against Korea. Pursuant to NSC 81/1, this should include recommendations that the UNCURK consider the problem of the neutralization of Korea. A proposal for “neutralization” might consist of an affirmation by the ROK of its acceptance of the obligations of the UN Charter and its commitment not to engage in any aggressive action against its neighbors. It should be proposed that parallel undertakings be entered into by other states including the USSR, Communist China, and Japan, the latter when a peace treaty is signed.

[Page 1064]


19. The United States should reduce its forces in Korea as rapidly as the military situation permits but should retain U.S. elements within the forces under the Unified Command so long as any UN forces remain in Korea.

20. Without prejudice to any position assumed in the past with regard to the assignment of guilt for the crime of waging aggressive war, the United States should not propose or support in the United Nations the holding of war crimes trials in Korea, except those of persons charged with atrocities or violations of the law and customs of war.

21. The United States should urge the establishment by the UN, on the basis of negotiations with the ROK, of a Military Advisory Mission to the ROK. The United States should propose the UNCURK ask the United States to act as the agent of the UN in establishing and maintaining the Military Advisory Mission. The Mission should come into being upon the dissolution of the Unified Command, and its staff should, so far as feasible, include personnel representing nations participating in the UN military action in Korea.

22. The United States should extend military and economic aid to the government of the ROK in accordance with programs to be formulated and approved by appropriate UN agencies. Military aid so extended by the United States should be administered by the Military Advisory Mission as part of the military aid program. Economic aid extended by the United States should be administered as part of the United Nations relief and reconstruction program by the UN agency established for this purpose.

23. The United States should be prepared to support up to the extent of 70% of the total cost, the United Nations program of relief and reconstruction in Korea. While not a development program, it should be consistent with the requirements of Korea’s future economic development. The influence of the United States should be exerted in every tactful way to promote closer economic relations between Korea and Japan.

24. The United States should urge UNCURK to consider the various problems arising out of the Korean common border with the USSR and Communist China. These problems might include such matters as transportation, trade, communications, electric power and the possible establishment of a neutralized zone along the border. The UNCURK would be expected to use its good offices for negotiations which might be deemed necessary between the ROK on the one hand and the USSR and Communist China on the other.

25. The United States should press for the admission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations.

[Page 1065]

26. The United States should suggest that the UNCURK consider, as an additional step toward the maintenance of the integrity and independence of Korea, the advisability of undertakings being entered into by the ROK not to engage in any aggressive action against its neighbors, and by other states not to engage in aggression against the ROK.

  1. September 9, p. 712.
  2. ECOSOC had taken this action on October 30. For the legislative history of ECOSOC’s handling of the question of Korean relief at its resumed eleventh session, October 12–November 7, see Yearbook of the United Nations, 1950, pp. 270–276. Concerning U.N. General Assembly Resolution 410 (V), December 1, 1950, on the establishment of the U.N. Korean Reconstruction Agency (UNKRA), see the editorial note, p. 1297.