795.00/1–354: Telegram

The Deputy Representative for the Korean Political Conference (Young) to the Department of State


201. Repeated information Seoul, Tokyo, CINCUNC unnumbered. Personal for Dean from Young. Reference Department telegram 172,2 the following is further comment to mytels 1983 and 199,4 and is based wholly on local scene and subject any correction from Department’s over-all perspective.

  • Part 1.

    Regarding first paragraph Deptel 172. There is real possibility Communists do not understand full connotation of “perfidy” in English or intensity Americans’ reactions to such a charge. Haksar and Singh corroborated this as a possibility Thursday.5 But on the basis of Peiping radio output, Communist’s written note of 14 December,6 and impressions of diplomatic sources Peiping, it may be doubtful Communists would withdraw or expunge any charge or intimation UNC signed terms of reference on 8 June knowing President Rhee intended release prisoners. Since Communists have charged UNC with “conniving” that action ever since it occurred, it may be impossible for them climb back limb. Charge of “perfidy” is associated with political talks and might be handled more easily by diplomatic means. Therefore, I doubt we would get any results on retraction or expunging statements indicated in your first paragraph, or in persuading Communists make a statement as indicated last sentence paragraph 1. While this is speculation, and perhaps no real difference in substance, I suspect elimination of the last three statements from the transcript of 23rd plenary session might be worth exploring as one possibility.

  • Part 2.

    With respect to the following three questions in your third paragraph:

    When is appropriate time for resumption of talks? January 10 seems premature. I can see no particular date appropriate for resumption, but three pertinent dates may affect Department’s decision: January 22, January 28 and February 9. These dates raise conflicting considerations. Resumption during the next three or four weeks might help us with respect to the intentions and decisions of the GOI regarding PW disposition, since Indians here greatly regret their suspension and postponement of the political conference. However, final paragraph Ambassador Allen’s telegram is most relevant (New Delhi’s 1032 to Department7). On the other hand, early resumption talks will create new difficulties with ROK in atmosphere of real tension and divergence between the US negotiators and the ROK Government, as indicated below. If the US Government still believes PC desirable to be convened as soon as possible, then appropriate time for resuming preliminary talks might be around February 1 just after January 28 which will be moment of great interest in Korea as to whether time passes without Rhee taking unilateral military action, and just prior any reconvening or discussion reconvening GA on February 9.

    Should the talks be resumed before or after January 22? I have discussed the military aspects of this question fully with Generals Lacey and Daley, UNCMAC. They believe the PW situation and circumstances in the MC are secondary factors in answering the question which should depend on much larger and over-all political considerations. They see no impact on their situation in the MAC.

    There is the possibility that, viewed solely from the context of PW situation in Korea, it would be advisable to postpone actual resumption of political talks until end of January, after we hope PW’s have been let out and CFI is in process of staging out of Korea. First, if this process progresses smoothly and ROK Government is satisfied with Indian conduct, it may be easier work out understanding with ROK on Pakistan and India as non-voting observers. Second, last two weeks January are going to be supercharged with tension at perhaps fever pitch over a powder keg. As January 22 approaches, PW’s may become increasingly taut, and susceptible to rumors, provocations and mass desire for unhindered release. UNC and Indians are doing everything allay these feelings and conduct orderly let-out.

    During next three weeks, Communist reaction to PW release may become exceedingly violent in propaganda and political terms. They [Page 1688] may even seek to disrupt let-out and excite prisoners in order to cause maximum disturbance and bloodshed. They might send formal protest to stir up the GA. Whether the Communists will make any overt major physical or military move to frustrate or prevent PW release, or to “snatch” them, I do not know. No doubt they have capability—and Indians, Swiss, and Swedes are becoming increasingly nervous over this matter. This whole question of possible Communist countermoves is no doubt receiving continual and full attention from our intelligence agencies at all levels, particularly in the light of the strong statement reportedly made by Chou En-lai to the Indian Ambassador (Deptel 176).8

    Therefore, Panmunjom in month of January may be progressively less conducive to resumption of talks on respectable, constructive basis get results quickly. On the other hand, efforts on our part now to begin to arrange resumption of talks may slightly offset tensions here, as well as out-maneuver any Indian move for reconvening UNGA. Other consideration is that resumption of talks after 22 January might get away from PW problem if that is liquidated and Communists give indications accept fait accompli.


    What effect would resumption of talks have on US-ROK relations? This strikes me as major question in consideration timing and policy resumption of political talks. On basis present indications and atmosphere here I am sure, and Ambassador fully concurs, such resumption will produce real collision with President Rhee. In mytels 1789 and 199 I attempted highlight my question and concern whether talks should be resumed before we had worked out some understanding with ROK on composition of conference, perhaps voting procedure, and resumption. I believe we should meet issue head on, if we want talks and political conference, and in light our policy on unilateral ROK military action. In view of Rhee’s New Year’s statement10 that suspension of talks is final, together with his statement on 21 December,11 I am sure [Page 1689] he and Pyun will officially object to resumption. This time they may publicly disassociate the ROK Government completely from the talks both by denouncing them and by not delegating Vice Minister Cho and Colonel Li as observers. We will be put in even more impossible position than in early December when you had so skillfully and patiently led the President nearly to acceptance our proposals. Suspension talks viewed with delight and satisfaction by ROK; resumption would provoke immediate ugly reaction in present deterioration temper and mood in ROK-US relations.

    Moreover, at the moment, official ROK temperature has risen again to boiling point against Indians. It may subside around 22 January if things work out.

    Unless Communists are absolutely sincere and anxious for quick agreement in talks, they will again exploit divisions between US and ROK and put us in impossible position at talks unless US and ROK are united. I subscribe fully to the Ambassador’s recent telegram12 on this subject.

  • Part 3.

    With respect to your fourth paragraph on voting procedure, I am not sure whether you mean mention casually to Indians or Chinese Communists we are prepared review voting procedure, et cetera. I think we should do both when time is ripe. I have already tried with the Indians to fuzz the issue on voting procedure proposals. They do not believe it is primary issue. They have told me explicitly Chinese Communists view it as wholly negotiable. Therefore, I believe it would be advisable to indicate our intentions in general but not specific terms to the Indians and to the Chinese Communists when, if and after Department makes basic decision to resume talks.

  • Part 4.

    All the questions in your paragraph 5 cannot be answered briefly. Much of the information on the answers should be available through intelligence people in the Department, CIA, and the Pentagon.

    Some answers are as follows:

    My personal opinion is that we will get nothing out of a PC if it is ever convened, except perhaps the facility to state our case for a peaceful unification of Korea and to expose Communist intentions in North Korea and Asia. Daeniker and Franke13 told me today in most positive terms PC will never succeed in unifying Korea or of getting Chinese out. Indians here hold same opinion.
    If the US and general opinion in the free world strongly support over-all plebiscite as part of peaceful settlement of the Korean question [Page 1690] under circumstances that would not endanger the sovereignty and integrity of the ROK, my guess is President Rhee would come along.
    There is an increasing amount of information on the “infiltration”, settlement, and take-over by Chinese Communist civilian and military elements North Korea. Swedish observation in mytel 18214 are an illustration. As many of our telegrams from here have indicated, North Korea appears to be turning into an adjunct of Communist China. The Indians are convinced Chinese will never give it up.
    There is no reliable estimate of the NK population, but it may be somewhere in the neighborhood of five millions.
    There are indications Chinese and Soviet advisors are attempting build up NK armed forces, including air.
    There is intelligence on withdrawal of some Chinese units from NK.
    I cannot imagine Chinese Communists would be interested in any kind of a guarantee without demanding expensive quid pro quo from us. If the USSR is not a member of the conference nor a signatory, the bargaining power of the Chinese Communist on a guarantee either of South Korea or of all Korea would seem to me to increase greatly. Is there not a possibility Peiping would bargain inter alia, for total US military withdrawal, elimination military agreements with ROK, Peiping’s representation in Security Council, and even diplomatic recognition? These demands could also take place even if Russians are at conference, who would sponsor them, assuming Moscow and Peiping fully aligned as seems to be case on these matters. However, in the light of our developing information regarding the possibility an increasingly active, positive attitude of Chinese Communist regime concerning their status and role international affairs, a political conference with only Chinese Communists and North Koreans on the other side would put Peiping in the key position in the hard, time-consuming bargaining for which the Chinese and Communists, but particularly the combination, are skilled at. It will also greatly increase the status and prestige of Peiping if it is negotiating in effect alone with the US and the Western world and if it tries to act as spokesman for Asian unity, et cetera. Unless we wish to take advantage of Peiping’s desire for status and recognition on some terms, in our policy to create stress and strain in the Soviet orbit, I still have the feeling the advantage in Soviet participation in the political conference outweigh the disadvantages, particularly if the Chinese Communists generally resent and oppose our insistence on full Soviet participation. The latter may give us some leverage. [Page 1691] Swedes and Swiss are dubious about our insistence on Soviet signature, and tell me British do not agree or understand our attitude.

  • Part 5.

    With respect to your paragraph 6, may I suggest that every effort be made to conceal the fact that some UN members, and particularly the UK, are pressing us for early resumption of the talks. If President Rhee and Pyun pick up this information, our difficulties with them regarding resumption talks and neutrals participating will be increased, in view of fact they told you so many times our coming out here and our proposals on neutrals in non-voting observer’s role were due to Allies and British whom Koreans do not like or trust. The Ambassador fully concurs.

  • Part 6.

    I have consulted with the Ambassador on this telegram.

  1. The source text indicated no time of transmission, but the telegram was received in the Department of State at 10:11 a. m. on Jan. 3.
  2. Dated Dec. 29, p. 1675.
  3. In this telegram, Dec. 31, Young reported more information from Indian sources in Korea to the effect that the Chinese wished the negotiations at Panmunjom to be resumed. (795.00/12–3153)
  4. Dated Dec. 31, p. 1680.
  5. Dec. 31.
  6. Not found.
  7. Dated Jan. 1, 1954; the paragraph under reference read as follows:

    “As regards resumption of PC talks at Panmunjom, I am inclined to think we should make no effort towards resumption until POWs are safely outside demilitarized zone. It will be easier to hold GOI in line if no complicating factors intervene during next three weeks.” (695A.0024/1–154)

  8. Telegram 176 to Munsan-ni was a repeat of telegram 2786 from London in which the Embassy reported on the ChouRaghavan conversation as follows:

    Chou’s chief preoccupation at moment was POWs. He said his government could never agree that explanations to POWs should now cease or that they be released January 22. Chinese Communists would refute these views as strongly as possible. They had lost 16 days at beginning because UNC refused make alterations in camps on ground they would take 30–35 days to complete; at end alterations completed in 24 hours. Again, explanations were held up for month owing refusal UNC agree to segregation. It useless proceed with explanations without segregation, as POWs to whom explanations had already been given were showing up in subsequent batches and even filtering into other camps, identification disks being exchanged. Now suddenly on December 20 it had been found possible segregate POWs and Chinese Communists had immediately resumed explanations. (Raghavan inferred if decision had been taken extend explanations Chinese Communists would have continued them as they anxious repatriate every POW who could be persuaded to accept repatriation).” (795.00/12–2953)

  9. Not printed. (795.00/12–2053)
  10. An advance text of Rhee’s New Year’s message was in telegram 595, Dec. 30, not printed. (795B.11/12–3053)
  11. Presumably the reference was to a statement made by Rhee in an exclusive Reuters interview reported in telegram 574, Dec. 22, 1953, not printed. (795.00/12–2353)
  12. Not identified.
  13. These men were Swiss members of the NNRC.
  14. In this telegram, Dec. 21, 1953, Young relayed information he received from a Swedish member of the NNSC who had just returned from a 2-week inspection of North Korea. The Swede observed that the Chinese appeared to be running North Korea and were there to stay. (795.00/12–2153)