311. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Korea0

897. We believe President Rhee has taken wise and statesmanlike step in resigning in response to what appears to be overwhelming desire of Korean people that he do so and reflected in unanimous National Assembly resolution urging him do so. We strongly endorse line you took with President Rhee in your conversation with him reported Embtel 987.1 We had concluded here that time had come for Rhee to step down if public confidence in ROKG was to be restored and even more explosive situation susceptible Communist exploitation prevented from developing.

We are aware there will be many and difficult problems to deal with in wake of President Rhee’s resignation and establishment of caretaker government. At same time we feel that situation as it is developing in Korea offers real opportunity for development broadly based Korean administration dedicated to Free World principles and security objectives and to effective operation genuinely democratic political system [Page 646] capable achieving and maintaining popular support. We believe our efforts and influence in Korea should be directed to this end. Additionally we believe also that situation holds hope that way can now be found bring about some accommodation between ROK and Japan.

We believe you should in early conversation with Acting President Ho Chung assure him our desire cooperate and work closely with him in maintaining and furthering close Korean-American relations. Emphasize US Government intends ensure survival of ROK as a democratic member Free World. We would hope under Ho Chung’s leadership public confidence in Korean Government could be rapidly restored and an early return to law and order achieved. We would hope every effort would be made by his government to ensure that situation in Korea does not now degenerate into one of internal political discord accompanied by further and possibly more violent demonstrations. Believe this can best be avoided by Ho and his government moving promptly toward holding of new elections which we assume will assure freedom secret ballot and development broadly based moderate government. We would consider most unfortunate and would hope as well that new government could undertake prevent any campaign of vilification of President Rhee which might be initiated. On contrary we would hope President Rhee could retire to position respect and honor in his country which he so richly deserves on basis long historical record.

We would also wish you indicate to General Song that we consider commendable manner and restraint with which he and his forces conducted themselves throughout recent crisis. You should also express our hope that General Song will continue exercise his influence to maintain stability and to ensure that ROK’s vital security interests are not impaired. We will look forward to cooperating closely with him in helping achieve these objectives.

We believe it would also be useful if you could talk to university professors of your choosing in order emphasize importance of their endeavoring prevent any student excesses at this juncture which might tarnish or impair satisfaction that they have now obtained from their government.

Foregoing represents only preliminary approach to tremendous potentialities which now confront us. Real new vistas in entirely new era US-Korean relations open before us which will require our best imaginative efforts on priority basis. Some of new forces revealed in this period of crisis are of course fraught with danger as well as offering opportunities for fruitful utilization. Would appreciate as free exchange as possible as we jointly endeavor accomplish most in this new opportunity.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.95B/4–2760. Confidential. Drafted by Bane and cleared by Steeves. Repeated to Tokyo and Taipei.
  2. Document 309.