Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, The Geneva Conference, Volume XVI
FE files, lot 60 D 330, “Position Papers”
Memorandum by the Technical Secretary, United States Delegation at the Geneva Conference (Van Hollen)
basic position paper on korean reunification
The attached paper, revised by Mr. Young, contains the three alternative plans which would each meet the U.S. objectives of a non–Communist, independent and representative government in Korea.
A full description of each of these three alternative plans is contained in the following documents:
- Plan A—Administrative Incorporation of North Korea into the Existing Republic of Korea (GK D–4/7)1
- Plan B—Elections in North and South Korea for Establishment of Korean National Government within the ROK Constitutional Structure (GK D–4/10)2
- Plan C—All-Korean Elections for Constituent Assembly, New Government and New National Government (GK D–4b)3
Position Paper Prepared for the Korean Phase of the Geneva Conference
basic position paper on korean reunification
To develop a plan for Korean reunification and the withdrawal of foreign forces which will be in consonance with United States national policies on Korea, and which will resolve the different views of the ROK, the United States and our other allies.
Purpose of Conference and Basic U.S. Objective
The Geneva Conference on Korea is called pursuant to Paragraph 60 of the Armistice Agreement and the Berlin Communiqué, whereby the two belligerent sides are to meet to seek a peaceful settlement of the Korean question considering that the establishment by peaceful means of a united and independent Korea would be an important factor [Page 132] in reducing international tension and in restoring peace in other parts of Asia.
The general purpose of the United States at Geneva is to seek an agreement to a plan for the reunification of Korea which will establish a non-Communist, independent and representative government constituted by independently supervised elections, and which will provide for the orderly, phased withdrawal of foreign forces synchronized with that plan.
General Principles and Considerations:
The United States, the Republic of Korea, and their Allies should:
- Maintain a position of strength and stability in free Korea which will lessen ROK fear of abandonment, and avoid actions which in the ROK may cause confusion, or public turmoil, leading to a weakening of public morale.
- Affirm that the ROK is the only sovereign, lawful government in Korea; that it must not be equated with the North Korean regime; that the ROK cannot legally or morally be liquidated without its consent, which it is unlikely to give; and that the ROK has the fundamental and primary interest in the manner of unifying Korea.
- Seek the unification within the constitutional framework of the ROK State, and in keeping with the spirit and purposes of past United Nations resolutions to the greatest extent possible, recognizing that any constitutional changes desired by the new Assembly can be worked out within the ROK constitution.
- Maintain a united front at the Conference among the allies, the United States and the Republic of Korea (a) in the presentation and negotiation of the unification of Korea, and (b) in restricting the Korean phase of the Conference solely to Korean matters, despite Communist attempts to introduce broader issues.
- Assume that the Korean Phase of the Geneva Conference will be a serious negotiation to bring about, if at all possible the independence and unification of Korea. Therefore, maintain some flexibility for manoeuver, while at the same time develop a full and common understanding of the basic principles regarding unification and withdrawal on which they will not compromise.
- Acknowledge that the United States should assume leadership on the allied side in close partnership, if possible, with the Republic of Korea, in view of the heavy sacrifices and commitments made by both the US and the ROK to repel Communist aggression in Korea. Without ROK–US endorsement or support, no proposal will be effective.
- Determine whether the Communists will (1) insist on controlling part of all Korea, or (2) renounce any special position in Korea and agree to set up “a united Korea for free Koreans”; if the former is the case, recognize that no formula can succeed, and unmask Communist aggressive intentions.
- Although recognizing that the Communists may not agree to any proposal put forward by our side on Korea’s unification, formulate our plans and proposals in such a way that their implementation would protect and preserve our interests if they were accepted by the Communists [Page 133] and make clear our implementation of such plans will be conditioned on Communist performance.
- Compose existing differences on various phases of plan for unifying Korea in order to arrive at a common formula that can be strongly and favorably presented and negotiated at the Conference, if the Communists have any intention of entering into real discussions rather than just propaganda.
- Emerge from the Conference in a strong moral and political position by presenting and negotiating proposals commending themselves as fair, reasonable and workable to the world at large and which, if not accepted by the Communists, will make clear their responsibility for failure to reach agreement on Korea’s unification at Geneva.
The Republic of Korea Position
The Republic of Korea will probably subscribe in general to the above objectives and principles.
Specifically, the Republic of Korea will:
- Oppose any unification plan violating ROK sovereignty and any proposals for a “neutralized Korea”, a coalition government or north-south arrangements placing the North Korean regime on an equal basis with the Republic of Korea.
- Propose first the withdrawal of all Chinese forces from Korea, extension of ROK sovereignty over North Korea, and elections held by the ROK in North Korea to fill the seats in the ROK National Assembly available for representatives from the North.
- Argue against simultaneous elections in South Korea, but possibly acquiesce in such elections provided ROK sovereignty is preserved.
- Reject plans for a constitutent assembly, new constitution and new government as an initial position and possibly all through the Conference.
- Accept phased withdrawal of foreign forces, if coupled with reunification.
Position of Other United States Allies
Our other allies, and particularly the Commonwealth, will:
- subscribe in general to the above principles;
- go along with the general US position at the beginning of the Conference, but question proposals for elections only in North Korea.
- prefer a formula for reunification along the general lines of that proposed by the United States, France and the United Kingdom for Germany, i.e., completely fresh start in Korea to form a new government;
- possibly insist on such a formula as the final Allied position after others fail;
- object strongly to any proposal that simply provides for incorporation of North Korea into South Korea without some new constitutional act;
- emphasize the importance of proposals that will appear reasonable and acceptable to world opinion;
- insist on tactical flexibility at Geneva.
The Communists will probably:
- Do their utmost to broaden discussions on specious, deceptive lines, such as a general Far East security pact, lessening of tensions and recognition of the independence and security of all states;
- Oppose any plans that would remove or weaken their control and hegemony in North Korea, and not make real concession that would create a free, united Korea;
- Propose (a) withdrawal of all armed foreign forces in Korea so that the “Koreans themselves” may bring about their own unification; (b) elaborate measures for the establishment of a provisional government over all Korea designed to give the Communists predominance and based on equal status of the north and south; and (c) national elections to take place at some indefinite time after the establishment of this provisional government and to be carried out “by the Koreans themselves” without any international supervision.
General United States Position
In the light of United States policies in Korea, the ROK attitude, and the Allied position, the United States position should be based on the following two general propositions:
Utilization of ROK Constitutional Structure
A. It is essential, from the United States point of view, to develop proposals within the framework of legitimacy, sovereignty and integrity of the political system, and constitutional structure of the ROK State in principle. This would:
- preserve the integrity of the nation and people which fought, with much allied and United Nations blood and treasure, for three years against Communist aggressors;
- give voice to the viewpoint of the overwhelming majority of the Korean people; and
- not put the ROK on a par with the North Korean regime.
Continuation of United Nations Resolutions
A. Our proposals should serve in general to resume the program for Korea’s unification which the UN undertook in 1948–1950 and which the Communists frustrated by refusal to cooperate by North Korean aggression in June 1950 and by Chinese Communist intervention in November 1950. Allied plans for the unification of Korea should apply the general principles of previous United Nations plans for unification of Korea, which are contained in the General Assembly resolutions of November 14, 1947, December 12, 1948, October 7, 1950, December [Page 135] 1, 1950, and August 28, 1953. The principal points of these resolutions are:
- The United Nations objective is to assist the Korean people in re-establishing their freedom, independence and unity which are their urgent and rightful claims, recognizing that the Korean question is primarily a matter for the Korean people;
- National independence of Korea should be re-established and foreign forces withdrawn thereafter;
- Elections should be held on the basis of adult suffrage and by secret ballot and the number of representatives from the voting districts should be proportionate to population; elections should be observed by an international commission with freedom to observe and consult throughout Korea;
- The ROK is the only lawful sovereign government in any part of Korea in so far as the United Nations is concerned;
- The United Nations has in being a commission with personnel and experience to carry out the terms of reference on Korean unification established in the General Assembly Resolution of October 7, 1950;
- The United Nations has in being an agency to rehabilitate all Korea once it is unified.
Specific Plans for the Unification of Korea
1. Generally speaking, there are three possible plans which might bring about a non-Communist, independent and representative government in a united Korea, if the Communists were to cooperate in implementing any one of them. These plans are consistent with the above two propositions in different and varying degrees.
- Plan “A”—Incorporation of North Korea into
the Existing Republic of Korea (GK
- The key elements of Plan “A” would include:
- free elections to be held only in north Korea for representation in the ROK National Assembly to complete processes carried out under UN supervision in 1948 in the area south of the 38th Parallel. That election was held to effect the unity and independence in Korea and was regarded by the electorate and the Temporary UN Commission as a “step” in reestablishing the independence in Korea. The General Assembly considered it a “further development” of representative Government in Korea.
- the elections should be supervised and observed in north Korea by the UNCURK in a manner similar to the work of the UN Temporary Commission of 1948 with regard to conforming north Korean electoral laws and conditions to the principles of General Assembly resolutions of 1947 and 1950–53 in order to establish at least minimum conditions for free elections during a period of 90 days before elections. UNCURK must have authority to: (1) move and observe freely; (2) propose measures for insuring an atmosphere of free elections; (3) set date for such elections; (4) determine the number of representatives to be elected proportionate to the relative population in north [Page 136] and south Korea; (5) certify election of valid expression of the will of the people; and (6) make recommendations and observe the orderly transfer of functions and authority from all administrative levels of north Korea where elections in accordance with the foregoing have been properly carried out, to the lawful government of a united Korea.
- application of ROK constitutional authority over all Korea after completion remaining constituent act, under UN resolutions, of elections in North Korea, with inherent right of expanded National Assembly to amend constitution as now provided for, if it desired;
- withdrawal of foreign military forces before and after convocation of expanded ROK National Assembly, observed and verified by UNCURK during stages and on completion;
- application by United States of US-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty to entire Korean Peninsula;
- supersession of the armistice agreement, after UNCURK verifies completion above steps;
- rehabilitation of all Korea by the United Nations Reconstruction Agency for Korea.
- General Comments
- Plan A meets the requirement for preserving the ROK constitutional system. The ROK will probably endorse it and would become the government and State for all Korea. Our Allies will only reluctantly support this Plan because it calls for elections only in north Korea. The Communists will certainly reject Plan A.
- Plan A is not inconsistent with past efforts of the UN to achieve Korea’s unification if it is viewed as additional step to complete the program begun in 1948 in south Korea. However, the General Assembly resolution of October 7, 1950 and its legislative history imply that UNCURK was to set up elections throughout Korea for a government of a united Korea, although under the conditions then prevailing the ROK would have won overwhelmingly in north and south.
- If the Communists really complied with the UN Commission’s terms of reference to the same extent as U.S. military government and the interim South Korean authorities did in 1948, the elections in north Korea would be free and the results safeguarded. Under such conditions, the ROK would win a large majority.
- Plan “B”—Elections in North and South Korea
for Establishment of Korean National Government within the
- The key elements of Plan B are:
- free elections would be held throughout Korea under the ROK constitution of which Article 32 provides that elections shall be arranged by legislation passed by the Assembly and Article 4 refers to the entire territory of Korea.
- Pursuant to the provisions of Chapter IX, Article 98 of the Constitution of the ROK as adopted July 12, 1948, and amended July 4, 1952, the expanded National Assembly would be expected after these elections to meet in its constituent capacity to consider adoption [Page 137] or amendment of the Constitution in whole or in part, so as to provide a form of constitutional government satisfactory to the entire Korean people. The Constitution may be amended by two-thirds’ vote of the National Assembly. This would be consistent with UN resolutions. While preserving the framework of the existing constitution and political system, it would permit the people of a unified Korea to choose their own form of government in accordance with the existing constitution.
- Elections to be observed by UNCURK in the same
manner as indicated in paragraph (b) of Plan A and in accordance
with the 9A Resolution of October 7, 1950. Minimum
conditions for free elections to be established
and verified by UNCURK in Korea 90 days before election
date and to include:
- Freedom of presentation and movement of candidates within North and South Korea respectively, but not between both areas;
- Immunity of candidates from arrest or coercion;
- Freedom of expression;
- Secrecy of vote;
- Security of polling stations and ballot boxes.
- Representation in all-Korea National Assembly to be based on population ratio between North and South Korea.
- Convocation of all-Korea National Assembly to consider ROK Constitution and pass basic uniform laws for all Korea.
- Election for President for all Korea on basis universal suffrage and secret ballot in all Korea.
- Phased withdrawal of foreign forces before and after elections to be completed within 12 months after formation of National Government of Korea and observed and unified by the UNCURK. Withdrawal to start 90 days before election date.
- Application by U.S. of U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty to entire Korean Peninsula, coupled with such assurances of Korea’s political independence and territorial integrity as are feasible.
- Supersession of the Armistice Agreement, after UNCURK has verified above measures have been carried out.
- Rehabilitation of all Korea.
- Plan “B” is more likely to obtain the approval of both the ROK and our other Allies which is not the case with Plan “A” or Plan “C”. The Communists will probably oppose it.
- Plan B contains the essence of our two general propositions. Plan “B” reflects the spirit and the provision of General Assembly resolutions on the unification of Korea more than Plan “A” does. While Plan “B” provides for elections in both North and South Korea for a National Assembly and President, it would do so under the ROK Constitutional system.
- In addition to holding elections throughout Korea, the feature distinguishing Plan “B” from Plan “A” is the intention to have the [Page 138] Assembly act in a constituent capacity to consider the ROK Constitution. The Assembly could also provide for presidential elections.
- Plan “C”—All-Korean Elections for
Constituent Assembly New Government and New National
- The key elements of Plan “C” are:
- Formation of a new commission to supervise elections and bring about new all-Korean government to replace ROK and PDROK.
- Establishment of conditions throughout Korea for free elections.
- Free elections throughout Korea for a constituent assembly.
- Convocation of constituent assembly.
- Adoption of constitution, formation of reunified Government for all Korea, and transfer of power to such government from predecessor states.
- International assurances on the territorial integrity and political independence of a reunified Korea.
- Mutual phased withdrawals of foreign military forces from Korea to be completed 12 months after date of formation of new national government for Korea, and to be observed and verified by the new commission.
- Dissolution of the Commission and supersession of the armistice agreement.
- Rehabilitation of all Korea through international contributions and international agency.
- The ROK would be strongly opposed to Plan “C” because the ROK would be superseded, and it would be on a par with the North Korean regime.
- The Commonwealth and general opinion in many countries of the world would prefer Plan “C” to Plan “B” on the grounds that Plan “C” is more objective and impartial vis-à-vis the present Korean authorities, and gives the entire voting population in Korea a chance to make a completely new start, and thus fulfill UN resolutions. Another argument for Plan “C” is that the same general plan proposed by the three powers for Germany should be applied to Korea. Plan “C” does resemble the Eden Plan for Germany.
- The Communists probably would not accept such a plan unless they considered it necessary as a precedent for Indo-China.
United States Courses of Action Regarding Specific Plans:
To retain initiative and flexibility in an attempt to negotiate an agreement at Geneva on the unification and independence of Korea, the United States should:
- Obtain ROK and allied endorsement to the two propositions and the general principles and considerations outlined above;
- Seek ROK agreement to Plan “B” on the understanding that the ROK, if it desires, may present Plan “A” as its opening position at the Conference;
- Limit ourselves, at the beginning of the Conference, to:
- a review of the frustrated history of Korean unification and the reasons for holding a conference on Korea, and
- an exposure of Communist conduct in Korea, particularly their circumvention of the Armistice Agreement;
- Manoeuver to have the Communists show their hand during the Conference before the United States and its allies advance any basic proposals;
- Arrange with our allies to have the ROK lead off, with our side’s general endorsement, with Plan “A”, particularly with regard to elections only in North Korea;
- Have Plan “B” introduced with full allied backing at an appropriate time after the Communist position and the initial ROK position have been hopelessly deadlocked.
- Keep Plan “C” in reserve possibly for consideration, if it develops that the Communists show signs of desiring seriously to negotiate the peaceful settlement of the Korean question that will provide for the independence and unification of a free Korea;
- Insist on the coupling of the withdrawal of foreign forces with acceptable plans for Korea’s unification, and refrain from any consideration of second-stage plans during the discussion at the Conference of the unification and independence of Korea.