795B.00/1–951: Telegram

The Ambassador in Korea ( Muccio ) to the Secretary of State

secret   priority

659. For Dean Rusk. Following message sent MacArthur and Ridgway1 as eyes only.

I am increasingly concerned over the progressive weakening of Korean morale and spirit, both civilian and military, during the past month.

Prime factors in both fields are awe of Chinese Communist intervention and concurrent fear of abandonment by the US/UN. Loss of Seoul has jarred all Koreans to a new low. Lurid pessimism in free world press has ever undermined Koreans.

As regards the military, I might mention:

The Korean Army has been fighting continuously since June 25 and has suffered tremendous losses. Replacements—especially quality of non-com and junior officers—have not kept pace with losses;
US Army ever probing for the most effective way of directing and using the tremendous Korean manpower potential have used following systems: (1) the “buddy” system, incorporating Korean individuals with US units and allying Korean units to American units; (2) firming-up Korean army units with additional KMAG personnel; (3) placing Korean divisions within UN Corps; (4) better coordination of Korean army, national police and Youth Corps. Ridgway now having reviews made. I have hopes and there are indications that Korean army will again show resiliency and power of recuperation.

As regards civilian morale, I am not as hopeful:

President under strain not holding up his hitherto effective leadership—see my letter January 1.2 President yesterday informed me had asked Chang Myun3 twice to return but has had [Page 41] no reply. Chang, by spearheading war Cabinet could be most helpful. Other official leadership is not promising.4
Removal by Communists of large numbers has accentuated the lack of non-official leaders in all fields of national life.
Disintegration of Korean national life by three successive military onslaughts—south, north, now south again makes effective leadership that much more difficult.
I should again like to call attention to the fact that hundreds of Korean leaders sent to US for specialized training under the GARIOA, ECA and State leadership programs have not returned to Korea to help in this period of crises. Many have been able to just stay on in the US: Others have been able to get their grants extended: Some were taken in by the military in Tokyo for special tasks there. The fact is, very few have returned. I feel very strongly that should it become necessary to leave the peninsula all possible consideration must be given to care for as many Koreans as practicable. Up to that time, however, we must urge all Koreans to do their parts courageously and patriotically, especially those that the US has assisted.

General Ridgway and I have been doing everything possible to pep up Koreans. I still hope that their surprising resiliency will again bring them forward.

  1. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was Supreme Commander, Allied Powers (Japan); Commander in Chief, Far East; and Commander in Chief of the United Nations Command in Korea. Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, Commanding General, Eighth U.S. Army in Korea.
  2. Not printed.
  3. John M. Chang (Chang Myun) was Korean Ambassador in the United States.
  4. Ambassador Muccio made the following further observations in telegram 669, January 11, from Seoul, which was directed to Mr. Rusk:

    “I feel presence Chang Myun here more material value than presence in US at this time. (Embtel 659, January 9) He is respected by all Koreans and would be in position to (1) advise Rhee, (2) improve relations Executive with National Assembly, (3) help in dealings with UNCURK, (4) give direction and cohesion to War Cabinet—this most essential in view President’s condition and War Cabinet would have to maintain order should anything happen to Princetonian [i.e. President Rhee], and (5) his mere return Korea this time would boost morale and help pull Koreans out of doldrums.” (795B.00/1–1151)