396.1 GE/6–154

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Adviser to the United States Delegation (Young)



  • Dr. Y. T. Pyun, ROK Delegation
  • Ambassador Yang, ROK Delegation
  • General Walter Bedell Smith
  • Mr. Walter S. Robertson
  • Mr. Kenneth T. Young, Jr.

Dr. Pyun and Ambassador Yang came in this morning at their request and spent an hour with General Smith discussing the final phase of the Korean Conference. Since they were greatly disturbed over press reports of Prince Wan’s idea for a committee of 7 to meet indefinitely in Geneva to discuss the Korean question after the conclusion of the Geneva Conference, most of the discussion revolved around this matter.

General Smith emphasized and reiterated that, firstly, the United States Delegation had absolutely no foreknowledge whatsoever that Prince Wan was going to disclose any such idea to the press without consulting with the United States or with the Sixteen, which we deplored as much as the ROK Delegation did; and secondly, that the United States Delegation does not like the idea and would not join in supporting it. Prince Wan had broached this idea informally to a member of the United States Delegation a couple of weeks ago, but General Smith said neither he nor Mr. Robertson had ever discussed it with Prince Wan. When he had first heard of the idea, General Smith said it had so many disadvantages that he was against it. And so was the State Department.

However, he had just been discussing the idea with Mr. Robertson and Mr. Young in an effort to anticipate subsequent stages of the Korean question in the United Nations after the Geneva Conference ended. General Smith pointed out that both the United States and the Republic of Korea must recognize as a real possibility that the Communists or certain other delegations may seriously propose some sort [Page 330]of a standing committee, whether we like it or not. While we would try to discourage such a proposal from being put forward, General Smith said that we are now wondering among ourselves if it might not have one advantage, if it is unavoidably raised. The existence of such a committee, even if it met only a few times and recessed indefinitely, might head off any invitation from the General Assembly to the Chinese Communists and the North Koreans to sit as observers during consideration of the Korean question, if as seems likely, the General Assembly resumes debate on Korea. Such a motion might eventually create very great difficulties for the United States in view of the fact that the marginal majority opposing such invitation has been decreasing, and could reach a point where it might even turn into a majority for bringing in the Chinese Communists and the North Koreans. That could bring about a crisis in the United Nations, if the Republic of Korea declined an invitation and if the United States had to abstain or absent itself. But if there were some sort of post-conference machinery including the Chinese Communists and the North Koreans, we could argue that an invitation to them was unnecessary and inappropriate, particularly in view of the fact that they had categorically rejected and repudiated the authority of the United Nations in Korea.

If, by some chance, a proposal for such a committee were under serious discussion, General Smith stated that the United States would insist on adding Thailand, the Philippines and Australia.

Mr. Robertson pointed out that, if there were such a committee, the Republic of Korea and the United States would have the same full sovereign powers as at the Geneva Conference, and that neither could be out-voted, nor could any decisions be made binding if either the Republic of Korea or the United States opposed them. Mr. Robertson also pointed out several times to the ROK Delegates that, under the terms of the resolution of August 28, 1953 of the General Assembly, the fifteen United Nations members on our side at the Geneva Conference are obligated to report back to the United Nations. Accordingly, subsequent consideration of the Korea question by the General Assembly is practically automatic. That is an additional reason for considering the question of a post-conference committee along the lines of General Smith’s suggestion.

Making clear he had no current instructions from President Rhee, Dr. Pyun completely opposed the idea of a committee of 7 as suggested by Prince Wan. Not only would it serve no useful purpose, it would be harmful in that it would give the Communists just the means they want in order to prolong indefinite talks on Korea, as, Dr. Pyun said, they were trying to do on Indonesia [Indochina], All in all, he thought it was an extremely bad idea. He suspected that the “chicanery” of [Page 331]other delegations, and particularly the United Kingdom, had put Prince Wan up to this idea for some ulterior purpose. He regretted that Prince Wan had made the suggestion public before consulting with the ROK or any other Delegation or in the meeting of the sixteen. Dr. Pyun said that he was glad to receive General Smith’s clarification of the United States attitude toward this idea. He agreed to General Smith’s suggestion to see Prince Wan as soon as possible to express the opposition of the ROK to the idea of a standing committee.

With respect to the United Nations, Dr. Pyun opposed the referral of the Korean question to the United Nations as vehemently as he did the idea of a permanent committee. His arguments were that the United Nations had nothing to do with the Geneva Conference and that it had not sponsored the Geneva Conference. Therefore, it would be wrong for the matter to be returned to the United Nations. He said he was sure his government would oppose this.

Towards the end of the conversation, Dr. Pyun stated very frankly that it was the understanding of the ROK Government that there would be no further negotiation or discussion of the Korean question after the Geneva Conference if it did not succeed in arriving at an agreed upon solution. That was the fundamental reason for his rejection of Prince Wan’s idea or referral of the Korean question to the United Nations. His Government was opposed to indefinite talk, and wanted it terminated once and for all. In that connection, he suggested that the United States should be more inclined to ignore public opinion in the allied countries as well as the opinion of its allies, except the ROK.

General Smith told Dr. Pyun very frankly that the United States has allies to a far greater extent than does the Republic of Korea and that some of these allies do not appreciate or support the ROK nearly as much as the United States does. He hoped that Dr. Pyun would understand how different the position of the United States is in this respect from the Republic of Korea and what a difficult time the United States has in carrying along all its allies.

Dr. Pyun and Ambassador Yang inquired as to how long General Smith thought the Korean phase of the conference would last and how it should be terminated. General Smith replied that in the opinion of himself and the United States Delegation the conference should end fairly quickly on the question of the United Nations authority which was a clear-cut issue for our side. There might be a restricted session to put the question directly to the Communists as to whether or not they would accept the authority of the United Nations in Korea. If they continued to reject this principle, as we fully expect them to, [Page 332]then there could be a final plenary session for each side to state its case, after which the conference would adjourn sine die. General Smith explained that this was just the view of the United States Delegation, that we were waiting for the final instructions from the Secretary of State, and that other delegations might not share this view. Dr. Pyun and Ambassador Yang both responded favorably to the suggestion for a restricted session followed by a final plenary with United Nations authority as the principal issue.

General Smith emphasized that the final phase of the Korean Conference would require the most careful planning and the closest possible cooperation between the United States and the ROK Delegations. Dr. Pyun concurred wholeheartedly. General Smith went on to say that he wanted to compliment Dr. Pyun for the effective way in which he had presented his government’s point of view at this conference. General Smith told the ROK Delegates that at the beginning of the conference many of our allies had been skeptical over ROK intentions and convinced that the ROK would be completely intransigent. However, they had been considerably surprised and gratified over the 14 points which Dr. Pyun had put forward for his government. The allied delegations now have a very favorable attitude towards Dr. Pyun and his delegation, which, it is important to maintain. For that reason also, General Smith emphasized, it is essential to plan the conclusion carefully so as to leave the conference on that basis.

During the course of the conversation, General Smith also mentioned Krishna Menon’s idea of agreeing to disagree, which General Smith said in his opinion contained some merit; the tendency of some of our allies and particularly the United Kingdom to prefer mediation and discussion as long as possible in an effort to reach a combination; and his anticipation in the restricted session on Indochina yesterday, before they made it, of the Communist proposal for a supervisory commission similar to the one that is working so poorly in Korea.

During the course of the conversation, Dr. Pyun expressed great alarm over the Colombian suggestion in the plenary May 22 on changing the composition of the Supervisory Commission in the United Nations. Dr. Pyun said this was an extremely dangerous idea and hoped the United States Delegation would talk the Colombians out of it. Dr. Pyun also produced a clipping from The New York Times of May 28 on Korea which he believed “showed how the wind was blowing in Geneva”. Dr. Pyun became extremely agitated over this clipping until General Smith told him that it was quite inappropriate for him to come in to discuss with the United States Delegation one single newspaper article and that if he, as chief of the United States Delegation, spent his time on inaccurate press stories nothing would ever [Page 333]get done. General Smith asked Dr. Pyun why he did not pay more attention to the very favorable New York Times editorial on the Korean proposals instead of getting upset over one correspondent’s story. After replying that the editorial was indeed very satisfactory, Dr. Pyun put the clipping back in his pocket, as much as to say he was dropping the subject.