Editorial Note

On June 17, President Rhee called in Ambassador Briggs and handed him a letter replying to President Eisenhower’s communication of June 6. Rhee informed Briggs that he would make the letter public on June 19. Rhee then made an oral statement amplifying a reference he made in the letter to the proposed mutual defense pact. Believing that these observations were inappropriate in the letter, Rhee asked Briggs to transmit their gist to Washington. The following excerpt from telegram 8 from Seoul, June 17, 1953, was Briggs’ description of the points made by Rhee:

  • “1. US responsibility shortly after turn of century for Japanese domination of Korea. Rhee said that in 1904 in contravention US–Korea treaty of 1882 and in exchange for free hand from Japan in Philippines, US Government had agreed not to interfere with Japanese ambitions in Korea.
  • “2. In 1945, US agreed with Russia on arbitrary division of Korea at 38th Parallel. US was doubtless acting in good faith and had not foreseen refusal of Communists to leave North Korea, but nevertheless US Government by acquiescing in establishment that arbitrary line had created situation which to this day has prevented unification of Korea.
  • “3. In 1950 by such statements as declaring Korea outside US defense perimeter, American Government responsible for encouraging Communists to attack South Korea. Those statements, Rhee repeated, had led directly to attack of June 25, 1950.
  • “4. US has entered into defense pacts with Australia and New Zealand, Philippines and Japan, wherefore Korea is entitled to benefits of similar pact with US.
  • “5. Korea needs defense pact today for protection against Communists but may need it tomorrow for protection against Japan. Rhee declared Japan has abandoned none of its aspirations of ultimate domination [Page 1193] of Korea and that fact explains campaign he said is now being waged by Japanese press against negotiation of Korea-US defense pact.” (795.00/6–1753)

For text of the letter from Rhee to Eisenhower, see the Department of State Bulletin, July 6, 1953, pages 13–14.