227. Letter From President Rhee to President Eisenhower 1

Dear Mr. President: A few days ago Ambassador Dowling and General Lemnitzer came to Chinhae to inform me of the decision of the United States to send modern weapons to Korea. Needless to say, I was very gratified to receive this word and I want to express to you my deepest appreciation for the wise influence which you have given to this decision.

In my letter of June 19,2 which was sent to Washington before the meeting with Ambassador Dowling and General Lemnitzer, I appealed to you to consider the measures which needed to be taken to remedy the intolerable situation caused by the Communists’ complete disregard of the limitations imposed by the Armistice Agreement.

Now an important step has been taken to counterbalance the unfair build up of Communist military strength in the northern part of our country which has been taking place since the day the Armistice Agreement was signed. It would have been a bold stroke for freedom if you had declared the entire Armistice Agreement invalid in view of the repeated violations of the Communist side and we hope that this further step will follow. We cannot emphasize too strongly the influence such action would have in Asia and throughout the world and the encouragement you would have given to all people who are willing to take a courageous stand against the ruthless forces of Communist aggression.

With regard to the reduction of manpower in our Army which was considered in connection with the decision to send newly developed weapons to Korea, I assure you, Mr. President, we will be more than willing to agree to such reduction if this can be accomplished without weakening our ability to achieve the establishment of a unified, independent and democratic government in Korea which is the essential objective reaffirmed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution of October 7, 1950,3 and the goal for which we have all made great sacrifice. Until this objective is achieved we feel compelled to bear the tremendous burden of maintaining the present level of our defense forces. If the maintenance of the present military strength can be accomplished through the introduction of modern weapons, certainly we will give serious consideration to a reduction of manpower. However, until information is made available [Page 464] to us concerning the modernization program contemplated and plans are made for the delivery to our forces, the present level of forces must be maintained in the face of the enemy threat that confronts us. We feel this is essential not only for our own sake but for the sake of your great Nation as well.

With kindest regards and best wishes for your good health and good fortune.

Sincerely yours,

Syngman Rhee
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International File. No classification marking.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid.)
  3. General Assembly Resolution 376 (V); U.N. doc. A/1775.