795.00/5–654: Telegram

The Ambassador in Korea (Briggs) to the United States Delegation

secret
priority

49. Sent priority Department 1122, repeated information Tokyo 660. Tokyo pass CINCUNC. For the Secretary and Smith from Dean. Re Embtel 1119 repeated Geneva 48, Tokyo 659.1 While we realize UK, Commonwealth, and France have formed and expressed opinion that it is essential there should be simultaneous elections north and south and Plan B so provides, is this necessarily so? While Soviets refused to allow UNTOCK north of parallel in 1948, south cooperated completely, democratic elections were held and UN recognized ROK as only legitimate government in Korea even though it only recognized it south of parallel in UNGA 21 October 1949. Now because of wording UNGA resolution 7 October 1950, it is said correct interpretation thereof demands simultaneous elections north and south and such elections also necessary command respect free world opinion.

Whereas, really all that necessary is to have Communist forces withdrawal in order that free elections may be held in north under UN observation in connection with unification.

Understand UK-Commonwealth attitude motivated in part by unfavorable reports by former Australian member UNCURK as to extent of democracy in ROK Government. Some UNCURK members seem to take for granted complete lack of freedom of elections in Communist north but compare rather turbulent workings of new Asian democracy in south to theoretical maximum ideals of textbook Anglo-Saxon democracy and to concentrate almost entirely on criticizing admitted faults of present ROK regime.

If Communist armies remain in north and North Korea Communist regime remains in power during elections there, despite UNCURK observation, don’t see how we can avoid having but one Communist [Page 213]slate with nothing but Communist assemblymen elected in north followed by demand for coalition government. This fact and apparent harmful result does not seem to bother advocates of simultaneous elections, but they balk at accepting forthcoming May 20 elections of admittedly sovereign government as sufficient even though faulty in some respects.

As practical matter under Plan B don’t see how you can operate national elections under one electoral law in north and ROK’s in south. Somehow can’t visualize North Korea Assembly at request of UNCURK ever adopting ROK election law. Will south therefore have to enact Communist election law in south in order to have unified electoral law?

Believe Rhee shrewd enough to know UK and Commonwealth do not think highly of his government. Casey’s speech about necessity for simultaneous north and south elections in order to impress free world does not move him but rather he regards such demand as vote of lack of confidence in his government. He asks how many times ROK must be certified as sovereign and assuming ROK really is sovereign, what business UNCURK has to observe working of ROK election laws and whether UNCURK authority will be same in north and south and precisely what its authority will be.

Shall continue to use all persuasive powers to convince him necessity for simultaneous elections but thought you might be interested in his thinking and hard practicable nature of his questions.

Briggs
  1. Dated May 5. p. 205.