396.1–GE/3–1854: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Korea


740. Soviet Aide-Mémoire March 17 accepting Palais de Nations as conference building in Geneva states “considering the composition of participants of the conference it appears expedient to establish that official and working languages of the conference should be English, French, Chinese and Russian.” Aide-Mémoire states views Soviet Government on preparation for conference at Geneva were discussed with Government Chinese Peoples Republic “which has stated that it shares them.” Omission any reference to consultations with North Korean regime and omission Korean as official and working language is another example Communist attempt mold conference into 5-power affair. In order forestall this and in view both sides at Panmunjom included Korean as well as Chinese and English in respect to proposals for official languages at political conference, Department believes we should propose addition Korean language.

Department wishes you to advise Rhee and/or Pyun of U.S. view essential for Korean as working language at Korean Political Conference but that we are not in position propose this provision until we know whether or not ROK will attend and therefore it most important we know this soonest. You should point out this is good example desirability preliminary consultation and planning by U.S. and ROK as U.S. suggested sometime ago and repeated Secretary’s letter to Pyun. Department believes language question chance prod ROKs into response.1

  1. A response to this message was transmitted in telegram 917, Mar. 19, from Seoul, which read as follows:

    “Foreign Minister Pyun himself having raised question of Korean as conference language at our meeting this morning (Embtel 913) [infra] I telephoned him on receipt reference telegram this afternoon. Minister expressed appreciation of US offer seek acceptance Korean should ROK attend, but indicated attendance might not be decided until after receipt of reply to President Rhee’s latest letter.” (396.1–GE/3–1954)