Eisenhower Library, Dulles papers, Korea

Memorandum by John Foster Dulles to Dwight D. Eisenhower

top secret
personal and private


  • The Republic of Korea

President Syngman Rhee is old and feeble. He is highly nervous and moves from fits of great despondency to elation. His will is still powerful and he has three obsessions:

To continue in power;
To unite all of Korea under his leadership;
To give vent to his life-long hatred of the Japanese.

It is my recommendation that political matters be discussed as little as possible with Rhee.1 To the extent that they have to be discussed, you might:

Congratulate President Rhee upon his reelection as President. This occurred last July, thanks to the amendment of the Constitution which Rhee put through when it was apparent that the Legislature would not reelect him as called for by the then Constitution.

Indicate that the unity of Korea continues to be the goal of the United States in accordance with its pre-war pledges, just as the unity of Germany and unity of Austria continue to be our goals. But that does not mean that the United States is committed to precipitate a third World War in an effort to achieve these goals by force.

In this connection I may note my belief, held ever since I was in Korea in June 1950, that our objective should be to extend the effective control of the Republic of Korea up to the so-called “waist line”. We could never expect a friendly Republic of Korea to hold unchallenged possession of the entire northern area since this would bring Western powers close to Port Arthur and Vladivostok and in control of an area which provides much of the power needed by the industrial complex of Manchuria.

Speak reassuringly of the present intentions of Japan as democratized through the occupation and new constitution. Also point out that Japanese rearmament will be so integrated with U.S. air and seapower that Japan could not alone be an offensive threat against Korea. It is vitally important from the standpoint of the entire Pacific situation, including Korea itself, that good relations be reestablished between Japan and Korea.

  1. Secretary of State-designate Dulles is referring to President-elect Eisenhower’s upcoming trip to Korea.