The House Divided
The Americans Occupy South Korea
On 13 August 1945 the Joint Chiefs of Staff designated General Douglas
MacArthur to receive the surrender of Japanese forces in those areas for which
the United States was responsible, including the southern half of Korea. 
General MacArthur stood at the pinnacle of a distinguished military career. A
man of outstanding intellect and physical stamina, son of a Civil War hero, he
was marked early for posts of high responsibility. Graduated from West Point
with the highest scholastic rating ever recorded there, he rose swiftly in World
War I to the rank of brigadier general and displayed great courage in combat. He
later served as superintendent of the Military Academy, Chief of Staff of the
Army; and thereafter became the military adviser to the Philippines which gave
him the rank of field marshal in 1936. General MacArthur after retiring from the
United States Army in 1937 was recalled to active duty in July 1941 and led
Allied forces to victory over the Japanese in the Southwest Pacific Area,
planning and directing a series of brilliant campaigns. MacArthur received
little guidance at the outset on how to handle Korea. He designated the XXIV
Corps, commanded by Lt. Gen. John R. Hodge, to carry out the terms of surrender
in Korea and to occupy and administer South Korea on behalf of the United
States. General Hodge became commander of the United States Army Forces in Korea
(USAFIK) on 27 August 1945. 
As already noted, the possibility of establishing a 4-power trusteeship over
Korea had been discussed between President Roosevelt and Marshal Stalin at Yalta
in February 1945, and in conferences with Mr. Harry Hopkins in May 1945 Stalin
had agreed to such a 4-power trusteeship. In June the Chinese Government had
also agreed. The British Government, although in formed of plans for
trusteeship, had made no commitment. 
The paucity of specific guidance in
 (1) HQ, United States Army Military Government in Korea, Statistical
Research Division, History of the United States Army Military Government in
Korea, Period of September 1945-30 June 1946, 3 vols. (hereafter cited as
History of USAMGIK), I, 22-23, copy in OCMH. (2) WD GO No. 1, 13 Aug. 45.
 (1) History of USAMGIK, 1, 22-23. (2) USAFIK GO No. 1, 27 Aug. 45.
 Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: The
British Commonwealth and the Far East, 1945 (hereafter cited as Foreign
Relations: The British Commonwealth and the Far East, 1945), Dept. of State
Publication 8451 (Washington, 1969), vol. VI, pp. 1021, 1095.
advance of occupation reflected an assumption that fairly simple solutions
could be found for Korea's problems in close co-operation with Great Britain,
the Soviet Union, and the Chinese Government of Generalissimo Change Kai-shek.
But neither in Washington nor in the Far East were serious preparations made for
carrying out an American program in South Korea that would take into account the
entirely different Soviet outlook with respect to Korea's future.
That General MacArthur expected problems with the Russians became evident on
29 August when he warned Hodge that the Russians might already be in Seoul when
he arrived. He told Hodge to take over Seoul nevertheless, to make friendly
contact with the Russian commander, and to act with caution to avoid troublesome
incidents. MacArthur believed that Korea would be occupied on a quadripartite
basis, with British, Chinese, Russian, and American participation, although he
had no exact knowledge of the areas the four powers would occupy. General Hodge
continued to believe that guidance from Washington was inadequate. He contended
that unless he were provided more specific and positive policy instructions the
United States would fail in Korea. 
In the years before World War II the President of the Korean Provisional
Government in Chungking, Kim Koo, and its representative in the United States,
Dr. Syngman Rhee, who styled himself Chairman of the Korean Commission in the
United States, had sought United States recognition and support but without
success. In the closing months of the war, these men increased their efforts,
seeking not only recognition by the United States and other governments, but
membership in the United Nations. American national policy forbade such actions
however and Rhee was told in June 1945, after an appeal to President Truman,
that "It is the policy of this Government in dealing with groups such as the
'Korean Provisional Government' to avoid taking action which might, when the
victory of the United Nations is achieved, tend to compromise the right of the
Korean people to choose the ultimate form and personnel of the government which
they may wish to establish." 
On 17 August, with the approach of allied victory over Japan, Kim Koo
petitioned President Truman, through the United States Ambassador to China, for
permission to send representatives of his Provisional Government to Korea and
sought to participate in "all Councils affecting the present and future destiny
of Korea and Koreans." No immediate action was taken on this request, but
General Hodge, a few days after arriving in Korea, suggested to General
MacArthur that leaders of the Chungking government in exile be returned to Korea
under allied sponsorship to act as "figureheads" until the political
 (1) Rad, MacArthur to Hodge, 29 Aug. 45, quoted in History of Occupation
of Korea, vol. I, ch. 1, pp. 60-61. (2) The history written on this period by
officers of Hodge's headquarters and approved by him states: "General Hodge had
been given little or no practical guidance by his instructions on such thorny
questions as the eventuality of Korean independence, methods of handling various
political factions or the severance of Korea from Japanese influence, economic
or otherwise. If Washington or GHQ had given much constructive thought to Korean
problems, it had not been reflected in orders issued the Corps Commander."
History of Occupation of Korea, vol. I, ch. 1, p. 63.
 Foreign Relations: The British Commonwealth and the Far East,
1945, vol. VI, pp. 1023, 1027, 1030-32.
situation stabilized and elections could be held. 
While this action was not taken in the manner Hodge had suggested, the return
of individual members of the Korean Provisional Government was approved in late
September and transportation and support provided them by the United States.
Each individual returning to Korea was required to sign a statement agreeing to
abide by the laws and regulations of the Military Government. 
On 28 August the commander of Japanese forces in Seoul had appealed for a
quick entry into Korea by American troops to preserve order and to maintain
government functions. He charged that Korean communists were creating trouble as
an excuse to bring Russian troops into the area below the 38th Parallel.
A small advance party from the XXIV Corps landed at Kimp'o Airfield near
Seoul at noon on 4 September. Four days later, the bulk of the corps landed at
Inch'on and entered Seoul. Contrary to prior fears, the Russians had not taken
over the Korean capital. A few Soviet soldiers had entered smaller towns in the
American sector close to the 38th Parallel, but no organized units appeared to
be south of the line. 
General MacArthur issued a proclamation to the people of Korea on 7 September
establishing American military control over all Korea south of the 38th
Parallel. "Having in mind the long enslavement of the people of Korea and the
determination that in due course Korea shall become free and independent," he
declared, "the Korean people are assured that the purpose of the occupation is
to enforce the Instrument of Surrender and to protect them in their personal and
religious rights. In giving effect to these purposes, your active aid and
compliance are required.... All persons will obey promptly all my orders and
orders issued under my authority. Acts of resistance to the occupying forces or
any acts which
 Ibid., pp. 1036-37, 1053.
 Ibid., pp. 1053-60.
 (1) History of Occupation of Korea, vol. II, ch. 3, p. 19. (2) History of
USAMGIK, I, 24-26. (3) For details of arrival of U.S. forces in Korea, including
preparation for movement from Okinawa and events in Korea between the
announcement of surrender and the actual landing, see History of Occupation of
Korea, vol. I, chs. 1-4.
may disturb public peace and safety will be punished severely." 
General Hodge appointed Maj. Gen. Archibald V. Arnold, commander of the U.S.
7th Division-the initial occupation force-Military Governor of South Korea on 12
September 1945,  and a Department of State official had, at Hodge's request,
been assigned as his Political Adviser. The latter, Mr. H. Merrell Benninghoff,
described for the Secretary of State a disturbed and chaotic situation in South
Korea on 15 September. "USAFIK," he commented,
is operating under two great difficulties, neither of which can be
corrected at this end. The first is that this headquarters has no
information in regard to the future policy of the United States or
its allies as to the future of Korea. What is going to happen to the
nation and what will be the solution of the now almost complete
division of the country into two parts? What will be our general
policies beyond immediate military necessity? The second difficulty
is that USAFIK is in small strength, and has too few competent
military government and
 Foreign Relations: The British Commonwealth and the Far East,
1945, vol. VI, pp. 1043-44.
 USAFIK GO No. 7, 12 Sep. 45.
other officers that it can operate only in a limited area and with
little overall effect."
American forces did indeed face urgent problems in Korea. Industry and
commerce had virtually ceased. Public utilities and services hardly existed. The
Korean economy was in a perilous state. Complicating all these problems, the
political atmosphere was turbulent and tense. There was little prospect of an
early stabilization of this political situation and even less chance that the
Koreans themselves could assume orderly control of their own affairs. Although
more than seventy political parties had been formed in South Korea in the brief
period between Japanese capitulation and the arrival of American troops, none
appeared competent to govern. Not only were these parties at odds with one
another, but their leaders had little if any political experience. 
The Japanese heritage had left very few Koreans qualified for responsible
posts either in government or in industry. Railway jobs, for example, even as
yardmen, much less as engineers, were beyond the experience and skills of most
Koreans. No trained public administrators existed. Faced with these facts,
General Hodges decided to keep some Japanese officials in responsible posts
during a transition period. On the day after he reached Korea, Hodge appointed
General Nobuyuki Abe, wartime governor-general of Korea, temporary head of the
Korean Government, to serve under American supervision. Hodge promised that
Americans would replace the Japanese officials as soon as possible, and Koreans
would, in turn, replace the Americans. His assurances proved to be a mistake.
Deeply offended at seeing their old rulers apparently still in control, the
Koreans reacted violently, forcing Hodge to dismiss the Japanese and to place
many less able Koreans in governmental offices. By December 1945, almost 75,000
Koreans, many of them of dubious qualification, were holding governmental
The course of events indicates all too clearly that the United States had not
foreseen what its role might be in Korea and had made no effective plans for
military government. The first instructions sent from Washington to General
Hodge were vague. Subsequent instructions were, according to his reports,
Without benefit of specific guidance, General Hodge tried to keep order, to
restore public utilities, and to shore up the sagging economy. His efforts were
hampered by the fact that his XXIV Corps had been organized to fight the
Japanese, not to occupy Korea. Keeping experienced men and officers in Korea was
next to impossible. A steady and considerable rotation brought unqualified
people into positions at all levels of responsibility in the Korean occupation.
Another indication of how little prepared the United States was to occupy
Korea in 1945 was the almost total ab-
 Foreign Relations: The British Commonwealth and the Far East,
1945, vol. VI, p. 1052.
 (1) History of Occupation of Korea, vol. II, ch, 1. (2) E. Grant Meade,
American Military Government in Korea (New York: King's Crown Press,
Columbia University, 1951), pp. 54-58.
 (1) History of USAMGIK, I, 26-27, 29-32. (2) History of Occupation of
Korea, vol. I, ch. 4, pp. 6-18.
 Meade, American Military Government in Korea, p. 48.
sence in the country of Americans who could speak or understand Korean.
Americans were forced, in dealing with Korean officials and the general public,
to rely upon English-speaking Koreans. General Hodge used a Korean to interpret
his first press conference. A Korean translated his first address to the Korean
public. The U.S. military government became known among the people as a
"government by interpreters." A survey in October 1945 showed that Koreans
distrusted native interpreters and rated their influence on American officials
among the biggest problems disturbing them. South Koreans strongly suspected
that interpreters were dishonest and were trying, in many cases successfully, to
influence occupation policy. The situation improved as trained military
government officers began arriving in Korea in increasing numbers late in
The Soviets had not been idle meanwhile. An inkling of their intentions
existed within the Department of State even before Japanese surrender. In a
policy paper prepared in June 1945, State planners had predicted, "The Soviet
Government will, no doubt, establish military government in the portion of Korea
under its control and may subsequently wish to establish a Korean regime
friendly to the Soviet Union composed at least partially of Korean leaders
groomed in the Soviet Union." 
Dr. Rhee, whose prestige with the Korean people was believed by Washington
officials and Generals MacArthur and Hodge to be strong enough to instill a
sense of purpose into the politics of his native land, reached Korea on 16
October 1945. Kim Koo arrived in Korea slightly later from Chungking, China.
Their arrival coincided with the issuance to General MacArthur of specific
guidance from Washington. This guidance, which had been under preparation within
the SWNCC since 1 September, was sent MacArthur on 17 October. The basic initial
directive stated that the United States "ultimate objective" in Korea was "to
foster conditions which will bring about the establishment of a free and
independent nation capable of taking her place as a responsible and peaceful
member of the family of nations." MacArthur was further instructed, "In all your
activities you will bear in mind the policy of the United States in regard to
Korea, which contemplates a progressive development from this initial interim
period of civil affairs administration by the United States and the U.S.S.R., to
a period of trusteeship under the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and
the U.S.S.R., and finally to the eventual independence of Korea with membership
in the United Nations organization." 
The presence of Syngman Rhee and Kim Koo coincided, perhaps accidentally,
with a noticeable rise in communist activity in southern Korea, all of it
directed against the American occupation. Other anti-occupation groups, not
necessarily communist, stirred up increasing trouble. General Hodge criticized
 (1) History of Occupation of Korea, vol. I, ch. 4. (2) History of
USAMGIK, I, 69.
 Foreign Relations: The British Commonwealth and the Far East,
1945, vol. VI, pp. 556-80.
 History of Occupation of Korea, vol. II, ch. 1, p. so.
 Foreign Relations: The British Commonwealth and the Far East,
1945, vol. VI, pp. 1073-74.
decisiveness in Washington as a "drifting" which could only lead to an
untenable position for his forces. "The Koreans want their independence more
than any one thing, and they want it now," he stated. "This stems from the
Allied promise of freedom and independence which is well known by every Korean
without the qualifying phrase 'in due course.' I am told that there are no
Korean words expressing 'in due course.'" The United States, he insisted, must
either take some positive action at an international level or empower and direct
him to seize the initiative in South Korea. As a drastic alternative, he
proposed that both the United States and Russia withdraw forces from Korea
simultaneously and leave Korea to its own devices and an inevitable internal
upheaval for its self-purification. 
At the same time General Hodge ex-
 (1) Rad, CX 56045, CINCAFPAC to JCS, 16 Dec. 45. (2) See also Meade,
American Military Government in Korea, p. 48.
perienced unexpected trouble from Dr. Rhee. After forming a Central Council
for the Rapid Realization of Korean Independence, Rhee found that he could not
control the Korean Communist party. Invited by General Hodge to give a series of
nonpartisan radio talks to the Korean people, Rhee used the opportunity to
castigate the Communists. From then on, a bitter enmity grew between Rhee and
the Communists, and the consequent divisiveness complicated Hodge's problems.
Although American policy-makers pinned their hopes on trusteeship, the Korean
people opposed it vehemently. Foreign control by any name was inimical to Korean
national aspirations. The Koreans wanted at once the freedom about which their
liberators kept talking. Nevertheless, viewed in perspective, trusteeship
represented at least a step toward the eventual solution of Korea's problems.
The United States succeeded in bringing about a meeting in Moscow in late
December 1945 of foreign ministers of
 History of Occupation of Korea, vol. II, ch. 1.
the United States, Great Britain, and the USSR. A seemingly constructive plan
of trusteeship for Korea was worked out among these officials. Under this plan a
U.S.-USSR joint commission would be formed to recommend, after consulting with
Korean political parties and social organizations, the creation of a provisional
Korean democratic government for all of Korea. The ministers directed the
commission to consult with this provisional Korean government and to draw up a
program, which would be considered by their own governments. The object would be
an agreement to form a 4-power trusteeship of Korea for a period of up to five
When news of the trusteeship proposal with its "up to five years" clause
reached South Korea, many of the Koreans reacted violently. Riots, which had to
be quelled by U.S. troops, broke out on 29 December. In contrast, the South
Korean Communists, presumably acting on instructions from their Russian mentors,
announced their support of the trusteeship proposals on 3 January.
The conference of U.S. and USSR officials in Korea began on 16 January and
ran for fifteen formal sessions through 5 February 1946. The Americans wanted to
integrate the two zones, but the Russians wanted to keep both zones and merely
to co-ordinate activities between them. Since neither side would budge on this
basic issue, the sessions produced little of consequence. On 2 February, Hodge
reported that there was nothing in the attitude of the Russians to show that
they had any thought of unifying Korea so long as American forces were present.
"So far," he said:
all discussion includes adjustment of the flow of everything from
mail to persons through central posts along the boundary. My best
guess now is that north and south will never be really united until
the Russians are sure that the whole will be soundly communistic.
Based on current trends, I question our ability to stem the
propaganda and controlled political maneuvering of the Soviets. 
The Russian propaganda campaign in Korea was indeed cleverly contrived and
handled. Taking full advantage of Korean sentiment, the Russians presented
trusteeship to the Korean people as the brainchild of the United States. Tass
made it appear that the Russians had been trying to arrange for everything the
Koreans wanted, including full and immediate independence, but that the
Americans were fighting for a 10-year trusteeship. General Hodge was bitter
about the Russian success in this venture. "As the significance of the Tass
statement ... sinks in, the Korean people are feeling that the U.S. has again
'sold them down the river,'" he charged, "this time to the Russians instead of
the Japanese." 
After the military-level conferences, which resulted only in some vague
agreements on an exchange of mail, an allocation of radio frequencies, and
military liaison, the Joint Commission of the U.S.-USSR began deliberations at
Seoul on 20 March 1946. The pattern of stalemate was repeated. The Americans
 Department of State, "Korea, 1945 to 1948", Dept. of State Publication
3305, FE Series (Washington, 1948). (2) McCune, "Korea Today", p. 61, app. A,
Doc. 1. (3) Truman, Memoirs, II, 31-20.
 Rad, TFGCC 272, Hodge to MacArthur, 1 Feb. 46.
claimed that the Russians obstinately refused to co-operate or to make any
constructive attempt toward agreement. The Russians insisted that only Korean
groups fully supporting the Moscow agreement were eligible for membership in a
provisional government. The Joint Commission adjourned on 8 May without
resolving this fundamental issue.
The Russians in North Korea
Every world area in which Soviet and American interests touched had become
increasingly sensitive by the end of World War II. The establishment of the
United Nations Organization in 1945 gave some reason to hope that
Russian-American differences could eventually be settled by reasonable process,
but it produced no immediate magic. The failure of Russian and American
negotiators at the conference table in Korea was symptomatic of doctrinal
differences. Unilateral Russian actions in North Korea extended these
differences into a tangible form. The Soviets had sent forces into Korea with
definite objectives. From the beginning, they sealed off their zone. They
stopped interzonal communication and transportation and set up a solid line of
roadblocks. They emplaced machine guns with fields of fire covering the line
which they chose to interpret as the 38th Parallel, for in actuality parts of
the Russian line were 1,000 to 1,200 yards south of the latitude shown on
American maps. In spite of the Russian guards, a daily flow of 5,000 to 6,000
destitute refugees from North Korea poured into the American zone during the
first few months of dual control.
American attempts to set up liaison in the north proved futile during the
first month of occupation. Suggestions by General Hodge to his Russian
counterpart that interzonal commerce and communication be allowed, even
encouraged, met flat rejection. The major contacts between the Americans and the
Russians in Korea consisted of an exchange of mail trains once every two weeks,
a small Russian liaison mission in Seoul, and a similar tiny American group at
the Russian headquarters in P'yongyang. Telephone communications between zones
were subject to Russian whims and mainly used by the Russians. 
 Statement, Mr. John M. Allison, Deputy Director, Office of Far Eastern
Affairs, Department of State, 81st Congress, 1st Session, 9 June 1949 in House
Report No. 962, Korean Aid, H.R. 5330, June 1949.
Finally, in October 1945, the Soviet commander slammed the door on any
further efforts by Hodge to work out agreements. The Communist official informed
Hodge by letter that there would be no negotiation of any sort at the military
level until decisions were made and relationships established at the top
political level. On 11 October the Russian liaison detachment was withdrawn from
South Korea. 
American and other observers who penetrated North Korea reported some
alarming developments. The Russians were molding North Korea into a model
communist state. Korean political parties which fitted the Soviet design were
being placed in nominal power. Behind a facade of native government the Russians
were communizing North Korea without arousing the storms of critical protest
that met the Americans in their efforts to democratize South Korea.
Russian policy in North Korea was aimed at creating an indigenous government
which would be a replica of the Russian political system and subservient to the
Soviet Union. The ready-made strong Communist organization in North Korea as
well as the area's nearness to Manchuria and USSR territory made the job easy
for the Russians. They brought back to Korea thousands of Korean expatriates who
had lived, studied, and become completely communized in the USSR. A few had held
government or party posts in Moscow.
On 3 October 1945 the Russians introduced into their new nation one of these
Koreans, born Kim Sung Chu but traveling under the alias of Kim Il Sung. The
Russians hailed him as the leading exponent of Korean nationalism. The original
Kim Il Sung had been a famous leader of Korean resistance against the Japanese.
The Russian-sponsored interloper had served as a captain in the Russian Army.
After going to Manchuria in 1930, he became a small-time bandit leader, and
finally disappeared into the USSR in 1941 or 1942. Backed by the Russians, Kim
Il Sung assumed control of the Korean Communist party in late October 1945. At
the same time other Russian-trained Koreans took over key posts in the North
Korean regime. This seizure of power by the Korean Communist party in North
Korea was carried out boldly with complete Russian backing. 
A central North Korean government-the Interim People's Committee-was created
on 12 February 1946. This committee, headed by Kim Il Sung and dominated by
Korean Communist party members, gave wide publicity to Communist measures and
reforms. Within limits defined by the Russians and subject to their advisory
control, the Korean Communists functioned with marked initiative. By mid-1946
the USSR position in North Korea had become sufficiently secure to permit
withdrawal of all but 10,000 occupation troops. Thereafter, the occupiers
further reduced their interference in purely administrative functions. Assured
of reliable leadership, the USSR could supervise developments in North Korea
 Foreign Relations: The British Commonwealth and the Far East,
1945, vol. VI, p. 1071.
 (1) Department of State, North Korea: A Case Study of a Soviet
Satellite, Report No. 5600 (Washington, May 1951). (2) Truman,
Memoirs, II, 320-22.
through a relatively small number of strategically placed Russian personnel.
The United States Seeks a Solution
Communist-inspired riots throughout the southern zone marked the close of the
first year of American occupation. In the fall of 1946, after Korean mobs
overran several police stations and seized arms and ammunition, General Hodge
declared martial law. But he would have been hard pressed had a full-scale
uprising occurred, for he then had only 43,500 soldiers in Korea and the
over-all combat effectiveness of his entire XXIV Corps had dropped to an
estimated 10 percent. Meanwhile, reports kept filtering in from North Korea that
the Russians were training hundreds of thousands of young North Koreans and
forming a native army; and South Korean communists passed the word in the
American zone that the North Korean Army would invade and "liberate" South
Korea. Communists sentenced to prison terms after the October riots shrugged off
the punishment as unimportant since they believed that the Russians would set
them free in six months anyway.
The U.S.-USSR Joint Commission resumed its meetings on 22 May 1947. In
mid-July, General Hodge reported pessimistically, "Based upon performance to
date I feel sure that the U.S.-USSR Joint Commission will fail, with the
break-up coming when the Kremlin gives the order. So far as I can determine
there is no change in the Soviet stand." 27 He charged that the Russian
delegation was under orders to turn Korea into a USSR satellite.
"We have wasted well over a year on South Korean rehabilitation in attempts
to placate the Russians and to make the Moscow decision work," Hodge claimed,
and he recommended that the United States abrogate the Moscow decision and go it
alone if the Joint Commission failed again. "I have always been aware that Korea
has been low on the agenda of national foreign policy," he said, "but I feel
that the situation here is reaching the point where Washington must become aware
that it may soon reach the point of explosion." He asked that he be given a
definite long-range plan to use if the Joint Commission failed, that "all
concerned" stop commenting about Korean plans in the press until some definite
facts had been established, and that his command be raised to full authorized
In July, acting on advice from the Department of State, President Truman
directed the transfer of the responsibility for civil administration in Korea
from military to civilian control. On 25 July 1947 the War Department notified
General MacArthur that the Department of State would gradually assume civil
affairs responsibility. "In order to facilitate this transfer," he was told, "CG
USAFIK will henceforth report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on political,
economic, cultural, social and nonmilitary operational aspects of the
occupation, the War Department acting as the Executive Agent for the Joint
Chiefs of Staff in all routine matters." The military command relationship be-
 Rad, CM-IN 2987, CINCFE to JCS (forwarding message from Hodge), 18 Jul.
tween the Commander in Chief, Far East (CINCFE), and the Commanding General,
USAFIK, was not to be affected, and CINCFE's military responsibilities for Korea
would remain unchanged. 
The fanatic Korean dislike for trusteeship meanwhile continued to foment
resistance to the Joint Commission, a resistance in which Dr. Rhee was a
principal factor. He kept up a continual attack against communism and against
General Hodge personally. But Rhee need not have concerned himself with opposing
the negotiations toward trusteeship: the Joint Commission got nowhere. In a
direct move to break the deadlock, the United States proposed on 26 August 1947
that the four major powers meet again to decide how the Moscow agreement could
be carried out. China and Great Britain agreed, but the Soviet Union refused.
Consequently, after two years of occupation, and with no arrangement for
unification and independence of Korea yet in sight, the United States placed the
problem before the General Assembly of the United Nations on 23 September 1947
In a draft resolution on 16 October 1947 the United States recommended that
both zones of Korea hold elections before 31 March 1948 under observation of the
United Nations. A United Nations temporary commission would view the elections
and supervise the formation of a national government. When a unified Korean
government had thus been established, foreign troops were to withdraw. 
During consideration of this proposal in the General Assembly, the USSR
representative protested that the United Nations had no jurisdiction over Korea
and that foreign troops must withdraw before creation of a unified Korean
government. His counterproposal was that the occupying powers immediately
withdraw their troops. This was rejected. When the General Assembly, on 14
November 1947, approved a resolution supporting the United States proposal and
establishing the U.N. Temporary Commission on Korea, Russia refused to take part
in the U.N. commission. 
The Russians did more than refuse to co-operate. The main source of
hydroelectric power for South Korea was located in their zone, and in November
1947, upon the formation of the U.N. Temporary Commission, they cut in half the
amount of electricity allowed South Korea.
Elections took place in South Korea on 10 May 1948. The North Koreans did not
participate, nor did they recognize the results of the elections. The U.N.
commission itself was barred from North Korea. But the elections brought out an
estimated 80 percent of the eligible voters in the south who chose
representatives for their National Assembly, and the U.N. commission reported
the results to be valid. 
The new assembly of the Republic of Korea convened for the first time on 31
May 1948 and elected 73-year-old Dr.
 Rad, WARX 82849, WD to CINCFE, 25 Jul. 47.
 Department of State, Korea, 1945 to 1948, p. 5.
 Ibid., pp. 7-8.
 (1) Ibid., pp. 8-9. (2) Testimony, Hoffman, H.R. 5330, 7 Jun. 49.
 (1) Rpt, House Comm. on Foreign Affairs, 81st Congress, 2d Session,
Background Information on Korea, House Report 2495, 11 Jul. 50, pp. 11,
12. (2) Testimony, Hoffman, H.R. 5330, 7 Jun. 49.
Syngman Rhee as its chairman. After considerable debate, the assembly
produced a constitution in July 1948 and on the 20th of the month elected Rhee
President of the republic. Whereupon General Hodge, because of his past
differences with Rhee, recommended his own relief as commanding general, USAFIK.
When Hodge left Korea in August 1948 he was succeeded by his deputy, Maj. Gen.
John B. Coulter, and he left Korea in August 1948. 
 For details of Rhee's biography and his opposition to Hodge, see the
following: Current Biography Yearbook 1947 (New York: H. W. Wilson
Company, 1948), pp. 534-36; Robert T. Oliver, Why War Came in Korea (New
York: Fordham University Press, 1950), pp. 200-203; History of Occupation of
Korea, vol. II, ch. 1, p. 33, and ch. 2, p. 50; McCune, Korea Today, p.
244; Memo, CSUSA, 13 May 48, sub: Replacement of CG USAFIK, in G-3, DA file 091
Korea, sec. V, Case 22/2.
On 15 August 1948, during elaborate ceremonies at Seoul, General MacArthur
proclaimed the new Republic of Korea (ROK), Rhee was formally inaugurated as
President, and USAFIK's governmental authority came to an end. The United States
formally recognized the Republic of Korea on 1 January 1949; and John J. Muccio,
who had been special representative to the republic since August 1948, became
the first U.S. ambassador on 21 March 1949.
Withdrawal From Korea
Soon after Rhee was inaugurated, he quoted General MacArthur as having
promised in private conference: "Personally, I will do anything I can to help
the Korean people and to protect them. I will protect them as I would protect
the United States or California against aggression."  But in their postwar
planning to meet Russian aggression American military planners were and had
always been opposed to any concept that included Korea as an area of military
In 1946, the United States was prepared to stay in Korea as long as
necessary, that is, until agreement could be reached with Russia.  In
September 1947, Lt. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer investigated the Korean situation
and reported to President Truman that American troops were still needed there.
He believed that Russian forces would stay until the North Korean puppet
government and armed forces were sufficiently strong to carry out USSR
objectives without the presence of Russian troops. He warned that Russia might
withdraw when conditions were favorable, primarily to force the United States to
 New York Times, October 22, 1948.
 Rad, WAR 87750, WARCOS to CINCAFPAC, May 46
low suit, and that after American troops withdrew the Russians had plans for
North Korean forces to seize South Korea. The USSR delegation on the Joint
Commission suggested on 26 September 1947 that U.S. and USSR troops be withdrawn
simultaneously at the beginning of 1948, and the Russian foreign minister
followed up on 9 October by making the same suggestion to Secretary of State
The USSR proposal was declined, but on 29 September U.S. officials had
decided to try for a Korean settlement which would let the United States
withdraw as soon as possible and with minimum ill effects. Military leaders
concurred inasmuch as the United States had little strategic interest in keeping
forces or bases in Korea, and because forces then in Korea were sorely needed
elsewhere. President Truman, on 8 April 1948, called for every effort to create
conditions which would allow a military withdrawal by the end of the year.
The Department of State held that American forces should remain in Korea
until a strong South Korean military force had been established, and a strong
South Korean government formed. It also desired full United Nations approval of
the withdrawal. But the Army had already started to plan its retirement.
Planning dates, in which the Department of State eventually concurred, set
tactical withdrawals to start on 15 August 1948. The ambassador and a military
mission of sixty-one men and officers would handle United States interests in
A month later than planned, on 15 September, USAFIK units began to leave
Korea. But new political developments in both North and South Korea soon reduced
the American departures. On 9 September the North Koreans had formed a
government, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which immediately claimed
jurisdiction over all of Korea. The Soviet Union and its satellites quickly
recognized this government. On 19 September the USSR notified the United States
that all Russian forces in Korea would depart by the end of the year and
expressed the hope that American troops would do likewise. Both the rise of the
communist state in the north and the Russian eagerness for the withdrawal of all
foreign troops argued against any rapid removal of American forces. Furthermore,
a rebellion within the South Korean defense force in October, although
short-lived, underlined the seething unrest within the republic and prompted an
appeal from President Rhee to President Truman for the retention of American
troops until the complete loyalty of his own forces was assured and until the
latter were capable of dealing with any threat from without or within. 
Although a State Department repre-
 (1) Lt. Gen. A. C. Wedemeyer, Report to the President, Korea, Sep. 47,
pp. 13 and 25. (2) Department of State, Korea, 1945 to 1948, pp. 6-7.
 This Defense-State disagreement may be traced in DA file P & O X091
Korea, sec. V.
 (1) Major Robert K. Sawyer, Military Advisors in Korea: KMAG in Peace
and War, ARMY HISTORICAL SERIES (Washington, 1962) (hereafter cited as
Military Advisors in Korea), pp. 35-37. (2) Department of State,
Korea, 1945 to 1948, pp. 114-15. (3) Rad, ZPOL 1936, COMGENUSAFIK
(Muccio) to Department of State, 20 Nov. 48.
sentative in Korea observed in November 1948 that the "presence of U.S.
troops would have a stabilizing effect locally," earlier withdrawals and normal
attrition had destroyed the ability of American units, even if augmented by
South Korean forces, to repel a serious invasion. The United States had decided
in September not to match the USSR plan to withdraw all forces by the end of
1948, a plan ostensibly carried out, but to consider the removal of foreign
troops as just one facet of the Korean question and to await further action on
the question by the U.N. General Assembly. When that body on 12 December 1948
called for the departure of all American forces, the Joint Chiefs of Staff
ordered the 16,000 troops then in Korea to be reduced to a single regimental
combat team (RCT) of 7,500 men. 
Early in 1949 the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked General MacArthur's advice on
the possible effects of withdrawing and the best time to withdraw these
remaining troops. In response to the first part of the question, MacArthur told
the Joint Chiefs that Russia would never agree to United States proposals on
Korea. North and South Korea would, in his words, "continue quarreling." He
bluntly predicted that the United States could not establish Korean forces in
the south capable of stopping a full-scale invasion from the north. "The threat
of invasion possibly supported by Communist Armies from Manchuria will continue
in foreseeable future," he said, and he entertained a pessimistic view of
Korea's chances for survival as an independent state. "It should be recognized,"
he said, "that in the event of any serious threat to the security of Korea,
[U.S.] strategic and military considerations will force abandonment of any
pretense of active [U.S.] military support." As to the best time to withdraw, he
believed that 10 May would be a suitable date since it was the anniversary of
the Korean elections and "Koreans are much affected by tradition." 
Subsequently, the National Security Council recommended that all U.S. combat
troops be pulled out of Korea by 30 June 1949. President Truman approved this
recommendation, and on the date specified USAFIK's last tactical troops left
Despite the American appraisal of Korea as an area of little strategic value,
the U.S. Government made some provision for its ward. It granted limited
financial aid and laid the foundations of a self-sustaining defense force. In
June 1949, in explaining to a Congressional committee the necessity for giving
$150,000,000 to the South Koreans, Secretary of State Dean Acheson insisted that
failure to provide this economic help portended the loss of all Korea to the
communists within two or three months. He could not guarantee that the Republic
would withstand all pressures. But he believed that the money and the military
assistance then being given to the South Koreans would at least permit them to
hold their own against the North Koreans. 
 (1) Rad, STFGGG 1888, COMGENUSAFIK to State Department, 12 Nov. 48. (2)
Department of State, Korea, 1945 to 1948, pp. 22 and 115-16. (3) Sawyer,
Military Advisors in Korea, p. 36.
 Rad, CX 67198, CINCFE to DA, 19 Jan 49.
 (1) Testimony, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Korean Aid, H.R.
5330, 23 Jun. 49. (2) The House of Representatives rejected the Korean aid bill
in a close vote on 19 January 1950, President Truman was very concerned over
this rejection and made a strong public statement to this effect two days after
the vote. A new bill finally became law on 14 February 1950. See Dean Acheson,
Present at the Creation (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1969), p.
Building a Native Defense Force in South Korea
In early November 1945 General Marshall instructed General MacArthur to
prepare plans for raising a police-type force in Korea as the first step toward
reducing the number of U.S. troops in the country. On 28 November General
MacArthur reported plans for creating a Korean national police force of 25,000
by 1 January 1946, and asked permission to use surplus U.S. arms for this force.
He pointed out at the same time that it might be advisable to set up a complete
Korean national defense force.  On 9 January 1946, the Joint Chiefs
 (1) Rad, CM-OUT 80645, Marshall to MacArthur, 3 Nov. 45. (2) Rad, CM-IN
9260, CINCAFPAC to WD, 28 Nov. 45.
of Staff authorized General MacArthur to form a Korean police force equipped
with surplus U.S. weapons. They said that establishing armed forces should await
Korean independence. General MacArthur thereupon reported that South Korean
police forces would comprise 25,000 regular police, 25,000 state police, and a
coast guard for inshore patrol. They would be armed only with rifles, possibly
light machine guns.
The first battalion of this police force, designated the Korean Constabulary,
was activated in late January. General Hodge assigned a handful of American
officers to guide it, and he equipped it with captured Japanese rifles. 
The development of the constabulary was hampered by a lack of equipment, the
language barrier, a scarcity of advisers, and unsettled political conditions.
General Hodge did not press the buildup of the constabulary because he was
concerned about its political reliability. Training went on with little fanfare.
The constabulary received minimum publicity. Fewer than a dozen American
advisers were assigned to work with the constabulary at any one time in 1946 and
1947. By April 1946 its strength had reached only 2,000 men. By the end of
November 1946 the figure had risen to 5,000. But by the close of 1947 the ranks
of the constabulary had swollen to nearly 20,000 men. 
Meanwhile, when the Korean problem was handed to the United Nations, the
question of a South Korean army, as distinguished from a police force, arose
again. In October 1947, Washington told MacArthur that, in view of the probable
U.S. withdrawal from Korea it might be desirable to create a South Korean army
without fanfare, perhaps by expanding the constabulary. Washington authorities
asked whether a South Korean army sufficiently strong to hold off North Korean
communists could be produced in less than a year. They were concerned also about
the optimum size of a South Korean army and how it should be equipped.  The
War Department asked MacArthur to give his views as early as possible since the
United States might be required to withdraw within the next year. MacArthur
turned to General Hodge for answers, and on 22 October 1947 sent Hodge's reply
to Washington. "I believe that a South Korean force sufficiently equipped and
trained to defend South Korea against the armed forces of North Korea could be
formed within one year if equipment can be made available at an early date, and
additional personnel become available to train it," Hodge declared. The minimum
goal must be 100,000 men and officers, organized into an army headquarters,
service troops, and six infantry divisions. Hodge would have recommended twice
as many men, but he felt that there would be considerable defection in North
Korean ranks in the event of a showdown. 
Equipment would be the bottleneck. Excess ordnance equipment, including small
arms, 105-mm. howitzers, and
 For definitive coverage of the Korean national defense forces in the
prewar period, see Sawyer, Military Advisors in Korea.
 Sawyer, Military Advisors in Korea, pp. 17, 23n, 29n.
 Rad, WAR 88572, WD to CINCFE, 16 Oct. 47.
 Rad, CS 56266, CINCFE to DA, 22 Oct. 47.
vehicles, was available in Korea for only about 2,5000 troops. "Complete
organization of 100,000 can be organized and basically trained in from 8 to 12
months if equipment is supplied," Hodge said. "It is believed that the equipping
of 3 divisions and part of Army Service troops could be accomplished in 90 days
from date authority is given provided equipment is available in Japan." Hodge
recommended that, when his forces pulled out of Korea, equipment for a Korean
army of 100,000 be left behind and that small arms for an additional 100,000
also be provided. 
Even though raising an adequate force before an American withdrawal might be
impossible, Hodge recommended that the constabulary at least be brought at once
to its full authorized strength of 25,000 and equipped with 81-mm. mortars and
105-mm. howitzers. He asked for authority to issue it U.S. equipment at once.
Whatever was done, he said, must be done in secrecy, for the North Korean
communists seemed eager to invade the south. Although Hodge doubted that the
Russians would instigate an invasion while they still had forces in North Korea,
he considered an attack on South Korea by North Korean armed forces likely if
the Russians withdrew their forces unilaterally. General MacArthur threw cold
water on the whole proposition. "I believe no definite decisions can be made
until action is reached by the United Nations," he told Washington on forwarding
Hodge's views. "Unilateral action by the United States at this time would be
inconsistent with the proposal submitted by it to the United Nations. If the
United Nations accepts the problem, decisions such as the one under discussion
will pass to it."  American planners doubted that a constabulary could be
effective against Russian-sponsored aggression. The Joint Strategic Survey
Committee (JSSC) told the Joint Chiefs of Staff in January 1948:
Present information indicates that the withdrawal of U.S. forces will
probably result in Communist domination, and it is extremely doubtful
if it would be possible to build up the constabulary in time and with
facilities available . . . to prevent Soviet encroachment. Therefore
eventual domination of Korea by the USSR will have to be accepted as
a probability if U.S. troops are withdrawn. However, an augmented
constabulary might be a temporary deterrent to overt acts by North
Korean forces. 
General MacArthur advised against the establishment of a South Korean army
but proposed in February 1948 that the constabulary be increased to 50,000 men,
equipped with heavy infantry weapons from stocks in Korea.  The Joint Chiefs
of Staff authorized this action on 10 March 1948. General Hodge assigned more
American officers to advise the constabulary and set up schools for Koreans in
the use of American equipment. Because the Department of the Army had proposed
early in 1948 that the augmented U.S. diplomatic mission to South Korea include
a military section, and because General MacArthur had concurred in this
proposal, President Rhee formally asked for a U.S. military
 Rpt, JSSC to JCS, 1483/50, 30 Jan 48.
 Rad, CX 58437, CINCFE to DA, 6 Feb. 48.
mission in November 1948.  His reasons were that a constabulary of 50,000
men was entirely inadequate to defend South Korea, that these forces were too
weak to hold back a North Korean Army, and that a U.S. military mission would
immediately assuage South Korean feelings of insecurity and assure the public of
safety and protection.
A military mission already existed in the Provisional Military Advisory Group
(PMAG) established by MacArthur's headquarters on 15 August 1948. It was headed
by Brig. Gen. William L. Roberts. Little more than a grouping of 100 advisers
for administrative purposes initially, PMAG had grown by the end of 1948 to 92
officers and 149 enlisted men. On 1 July 1949 PMAG was redesignated the United
States Military Advisory Group to the Republic of Korea (KMAG). Authorized 472
officers and men, it was assigned to the American Mission in Korea (AMIK).
General Roberts was named chief of KMAG with headquarters at Seoul. His
mission was to develop and train a South Korean force capable of preserving
internal security, preventing border raids and incursions, and deterring armed
attack or other aggression by North Korean forces. Although Roberts was
authorized direct communication with the Department of the Army on military
matters, he was instructed to keep General MacArthur informed of his activities.
 General MacArthur became responsible for the logistical support of AMIK to
the Korean water line and for the evacuation of U.S. nationals from Korea in an
emergency.  During the year preceding the North Korean attack these were his
only responsibilities in Korea.
In late November 1948, the Republic of Korea (ROK) passed the Armed Forces
Organization Act, and on 15 December set up a department of national defense,
which redesignated the constabulary brigades as divisions.
Although the United States had been transferring weapons and equipment to the
Republic of Korea for only 50,000 men, ROK forces by 1 March 1949 totaled about
114,000, including a 65,000-man army, 45,000 police, and a coast guard of 4,000.
When the United States agreed in March to support a Korean army of 65,000 men,
the Republic of Korea moved forward rapidly, and within five months recruited
nearly 100,000 men for the new Army. During 1949 the Army was organized into
eight divisions; and KMAG furnished advisers to most battalions. 
General MacArthur wanted the ROK Army to be strong enough to maintain
internal security within the republic, but no stronger, and he saw no need for a
ROK air force or navy which had no internal security role and which could not
become strong enough to defeat
 (1) Rad, WARX 91520, DA to CINCFE, Jan 48. (2) Rad, CX 58237, CINCFE to
DA, 28 Jan 48. (3) President Rhee and General Hodge signed an interim agreement
on 24 August 1948 providing for American assistance in training and equipping
Republic of Korea security forces. Background Information on Korea, House
Report 2495, 11 Jul. 50, pp. 15-16, (4) Rad, No. 186, Muccio, Seoul, to Secy. of
State, 5 Nov. 48.
 Rad, WX 90992, DA to CG USAFIK, 2 Jul. 49.
 (1) JCS 1483/44, 17 Oct. 47. (2) GHQ, FEC Annual Narrative Historical
Rpt, 1 Jan-31 Oct. 50, app. IV, pt. 1, p. 8.
 (1) Sawyer, Military Advisors in Korea, p. 41. (2) Hist. Rpt, GHQ
SCAP and FEC, 1 Jan-31 Dec. 49, vol. II, p. 26.
North Korean air and naval forces.  The ROK Army, he felt, should be
capable of offering "token resistance" to invasion, but should "be so organized
as to indicate clearly its peaceful purpose and to provide no plausible basis
for allegations of being a threat to North Korea." 
In June 1949, justifying an American withdrawal from Korea, Maj. Gen. Charles
L. Bolte, Director, Plans and Operations Division, Department of the Army,
announced that South Korean forces were better equipped than the North Korean
troops. Bolte drew this conclusion from reports submitted by General Roberts,
the KMAG chief. Largely on that basis, the Army, as the executive agent for the
Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Far East, was not only agreeable to the withdrawal
of American tactical units but was heartily in favor of it. 
When USAFIK withdrew from Korea in 1949, it transferred to the ROK, under the
Surplus Property Act through the Office of Foreign Liquidation, military
equipment that originally cost the United States approximately $56,000,000 and
that had a 1949 replacement value of about $110,000,000. The ground force
equipment was sufficient for a force of 50,000 men. It included 100,000 small
arms, 50,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, more than 2,000 rocket
launchers, more than 40,000 vehicles of all types, and a number of light
artillery pieces and mortars with over 700,000 rounds of ammunition for them.
Individual organizational equipment for an additional 15,000 men subsequently
arrived in Korea from American stocks in Japan. Although the United States
Government made plans for further material aid to the Republic of Korea and
allotted Military Defense Assistance Program funds for that purpose, low
priorities, administrative red tape, and procurement difficulties prevented this
aid from reaching Korea before June 1950. 
President Rhee sent an almost frantic request for greater support to
President Truman in August 1949. He said:
Unless I and my government with the aid of our friends, do find
solutions, the immediate future for our nation is bleak and
bloody.... Some American advisors assure us that the Communists will
never attack in force, and therefore we may rest easily defended by
our brave army. We Koreans believe that the Communists, under Soviet
direction intend to attack in force, that they will do so, and if
they do, it is we, the Koreans, civilian and military, who will pay
the price, not the good-willed American advisors.... American
officers tell me we have sufficient ammunition for two months of
combat; my own officers tell me it is only sufficient for two days.
He asked for more equipment and ammunition and for M2 howitzers to replace
M3's of limited range. On 26 September 1949, President Truman assured Rhee that
KMAG would continue
 GHQ, FEC Annual Narrative History Rpt, 1 Jan-31 Oct. 50, app. IV, pt. 1,
 Memo, signed Maddocks for CSUSA, 7 Mar 49, sub: Strength of SK Armed
Forces, Tab A, in G-3, DA file 091 Korea, sec. I-G, Case 11.
 (1) Testimony, Maj. Gen. Charles L. Bolte, Korean Aid, H.R. 5330,
Jun. 49, p. 120. (2) J. Lawton Collins, War in Peacetime (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1969), p. 42.
 Senate Comm. on Armed Services and Senate Comm. on Foreign Relations,
82d Congress, 1st Session, Hearings on Military Situation in the Far East and
the Relief of General MacArthur, 1951 (hereafter cited as the MacArthur
Hearings), pp. 1992-93.
to make recommendations for the equipping and support of the ROK Army and
that, when Congress appropriated more military aid funds for Korea, Mr. Muccio
would so advise him.  The triumph of the Communists on the mainland of China
in late 1949 apparently had little effect on expediting further military aid to
In October 1949, the ROK Minister of National Defense asked for 189 M25
tanks. Col. William H. Sterling Wright, acting for General Roberts who was in
Japan at the time, advised General J. Lawton Collins, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army,
against fulfilling the request. The rough terrain, poor roads, and primitive
bridges, he said, militated against efficient tank operations. 
At almost the same time that Colonel Wright was minimizing the usefulness of
tanks in Korea, Col. John E. Baird, acting chief, KMAG, in the absence of both
General Roberts and Colonel Wright, informed Ambassador Muccio that the type and
quality of materiel available to South Korea were inadequate for war. On 26
October 1949, he warned that the South Korean Army was outnumbered in all
weapons except individual arms and that the Russians had given North Korea much
better armament. North Korean artillery had 112-mm. howitzers with a maximum
range of 12,980 yards as against the South Korean 105-mm. howitzer M3 which
could reach only 7,600 yards. During border clashes, North Koreans placed their
artillery just beyond maximum range of the 105-mm. howitzer and shelled at will.
They also had the 120-mm. mortar. "The presence in North Korea of high
performance aircraft of fighter and bomber type, artillery of medium range and a
preponderance of mortars are matters seriously affecting the spirit of the
Security Forces." Colonel Baird recommended F-51 aircraft for the Republic of
Korea, saying, "It is imperative that Korea be given some means of defense
against air attack." But the only aircraft the Republic of Korea received were
twenty liaison-type planes. 
The U.S. and ROK Governments signed a military assistance agreement on 26
January 1950. This authorized substantial aid to the new government and
formalized the establishment of the military advisory groups. The final
stipulation of this agreement came on 15 March 1950, when the United States
promised the Republic of Korea a total of $10,970,000 in military aid. Of this,
only a few hundred dollars' worth of signal wire reached the peninsula before 25
June, although signal equipment and spare parts worth $350,000 were en route
from San Francisco. 
North Korea Prepares
President Rhee's fears of attack from the north were not unreasonable. The
Soviet Government was developing a strong native army in North Korea.
 (1) Ltr., Rhee to Truman, 20 Aug. 49. (2) Ltr., Truman to Rhee, 26 Sep.
49. Both in DA file P & O 091 Korea, sec. I-E, Book I, Case 16, Incl. 1.
 Memo, Minister of National Defense, Seoul, for Gen. Collins, 20 Oct. 49,
in G-3, DA file P & O 091 Korea, sec. I, Case 18.
 Ltr., KMAG to Mr. Muccio, 26 Oct. 49, sgd Col. John E. Baird, CMP, Actg.
Chf., KMAG, in DA file P & O 091 Korea, sec. I, Case 18.
 MacArthur Hearings, pp. 1992-93.
Trained by Russian officers and equipped with material furnished by the
Soviet Union, the North Korean Army grew into a powerful and efficient striking
force between 1946 and 1950. The North Koreans began recruiting their Army in
August 1946 and built it up by the end of that year to a force of 20,000 men. In
conjunction with its political consolidation of North Korea during 1948, Russia
provided weapons for 60,000 men. Total mobilization was declared in 1949, and
the addition of 40,000 draftees, 20,000 Koreans who had been serving the Chinese
Communist Army, and several thousand men trained for three years in the USSR as
cadres for air and tank corps doubled the size of the military force. All units
received additional Soviet equipment and training programs were intensified.
Early in 1950, the tempo of military expansion increased sharply. The Army
expanded to 135,000 men with the addition of new conscripts and 10,000 more
returnees from the Chinese Communist Army. Civilians received basic military
training. In April and May 1950, large shipments of arms coming from the Soviet
Union re-equipped the Army and Air Force. North Korea received heavy artillery
prime movers, armor, automatic weapons, and propeller-driven aircraft in
considerable quantity. 
The organization and training of the North Korean Army remained under the
close control of the Russians. Key army commands fell only to men completely
amenable to Russian direction. Russian advisers accompanied North Korean Army
units from the first, but gradually decreased in numbers as trusted North Korean
officers were developed. In 1948, 150 Russian advisers worked with each
division. The number dwindled to twenty per division in 1949 and from three to
eight per division by 1950. But Russian control remained strong because of North
Korea's dependence on the USSR for training in critical military skills and
supplies and also for weapons. Japanese rifles were gradually replaced by
Russian pieces, and gasoline was allocated to the North Korean Army on a monthly
basis that was closely watched. 
The North Korean Communists used every conceivable means, including
propaganda and armed violence, to instigate the overthrow of the South Korean
Government. Agents and terrorists from Communist-dominated political groups in
North Korea infiltrated the south and carried out subversive actions, for
example, opposing the rice collection program instituted by the American
military government to bring food into the cities.  General Wedemeyer
reported in late 1947, "Current political and economic unrest in Southern Korea
is aggravated by Communistic terrorism and by Communist-inspired riots and
revolutionary activities in the occupied area."  The elections in South
Korea were preceded by violent communist activity. Between 29 March and 10 May
1948, 589 persons were killed and 10,000
 (1) Dept. of State, North Korea: A Case Study of a Soviet
Satellite. (2) For detailed information of the North Korean Army prior to
1950, see Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, Chapter II.
 Dept. of State, North Korea: A Case Study of a Soviet Satellite,
 Rad, C 54133, CINCFE to JCS, 18 Jul. 47.
 Wedemeyer, Report to the President, pp. 13, 24.
arrested.  When the American troops began to withdraw from Korea, even
more serious attempts to seize control developed.
Just before the last American forces left Korea, North Korean communists
launched their first open attack across the 38th Parallel. On 3 May 1949, they
struck across the border in the Kaesong area. ROK units repulsed them, but a
mass defection of two battalions of the ROK Army resulted, the ROK battalion
commanders moving their units into North Korea and surrendering their men and
equipment. About half of these troops returned to South Korea later.
In July 1949, North Korean units again crossed the parallel near Kaesong,
only to be thrown back. Hundreds of small-scale assaults occurred in the next
year. In every case the ROK Army pushed the invaders back. While most skirmishes
were confined to small-arms fire fights, some involved artillery duels and
inflicted heavy casualties on both sides. 
A strong and effective guerrilla movement in South Korea, subsidized and
directed by the North Korean Government, was also functioning under orders to
overthrow the Republic of Korea. A series of uprisings on the island of Cheju-do
spread to the mainland by late 1948, and keeping the guerrillas under control
became a major task for the ROK Army, but, by June 1950, the ROK Army had
virtually stamped them out, in some cases after full-scale battles. The ROK
Government claimed that its forces had killed 5,000 guerrillas in South Korea in
the period from September 1949 to April. 
Situation in Korea-June 1950
Korea in 1950 was quite different from the country entered by the Allies late
in 1945. Two political entities with widely divergent forms of government
existed on one small peninsula separated by an artificial boundary. Each
government existed only through the support of opposing major powers. Indigenous
industrial and economic development remained impossible for either of the two
portions of Korea. Political unity seemed out of the question, and bitter
hatreds had developed between them.
From the autumn of 1949, the North Korean Government had intensified its
"hate" campaign against the Rhee Government. Increasing stress was placed on
service in the national defense as the highest duty to the communist state. By
June 1950, the North Korean military machine was ready and the populace was
psychologically prepared for war. As part of this build-up, the communist regime
conducted a "peaceful unification" campaign. During the spring of 1950 it made a
last effort at a guerrilla-led overthrow of the Republic of Korea, but failed.
At this juncture, under cover of two unification proposals to the Republic of
Korea, offered on 7 June and 20 June 1950, the final steps for invasion were
taken, as the main body of the
 George C. McCune, "The Korean Situation," Far Eastern Survey XVII
(8 September 1948), 197-202.
 KMAG, Semi-Annual Rpt, 31 Dec. 49, sec. IV, p. 22.
 Statement by Ambassador Muccio, Hearings Before Committee on Armed
Services, MDP 1950, 81st Congress, 6 Jun. 50.
North Korean Army moved to positions along the parallel. 
The current estimates of ROK intelligence agencies on 25 June 1950 set the
strength of the North Korean forces at 10 infantry divisions, 1 tank division, 1
air force division, and an antiaircraft gun regiment-120,000 infantry soldiers,
34,000 constabulary troops, 5,000 armored troops, and 2,000 air force personnel.
Weapons strength, according to ROK figures, amounted to 1,600 artillery pieces,
50 T-34 tanks and SU-76 self-propelled (SP) guns, 211 YAK-9 fighters and IL-10
attack planes.  A State Department report from Seoul as of 11 May 195O, at
some variance with these estimates, credited the North Korean Army with 103,000
soldiers and constabulary troops of all types (excluding 25,000 provincial
police), 65 tanks, including some T-34's, 296 light and medium artillery pieces,
780 medium and heavy mortars, and 356 45-mm. antitank guns. Aircraft attributed
to the North Korean Air Force were set at 100 YAK aircraft, 70 IL-10 attack
planes, and 10 reconnaissance planes. Later reports, believed more accurate,
gave the North Korean Army 135,000 men organized into 8 infantry divisions, 1
armored brigade, 2 half-strength divisions, 1 separate infantry regiment, and 1
motorcycle reconnaissance regiment. Many of these troops were veterans from the
armies of the USSR and Communist China. In addition to large amounts of
artillery, the North Koreans possessed 150 T-34 Russian-made tanks and 180
high-performance combat aircraft. 
In March 1950, General Roberts still believed that the ROK Army was stronger
than its potential opponent in the north, but he feared the air capability of
North Korea. Pointing out that the Russians had given their proteges about 100
combat-type high-performance aircraft, General Roberts said:
If South Korea were attacked today by the inferior ground forces of
North Korea plus their Air Corps, I feel that South Korea would take
a bloody nose. Again, then, knowing these people somewhat, I feel
that they would follow the apparent winner and South Korea would be
gobbled up to be added to the rest of Red Asia. 
The United States Government received a clear warning that the ROK Army was
not strong enough when Ambassador Muccio, in the same month South Korea was
attacked, told the Senate Committee on Armed Services that the materiel
superiority of the North Korean forces, particularly in heavy infantry support
weapons, tanks, and combat aircraft which the USSR had supplied, would provide
North Korea with the margin of victory in any full-scale invasion of the
republic. Ambassador Muccio told the legislators that it was vital that the ROK
Army be maintained on an effective defensive level of equality in manpower,
equipment, and training, in relation to those forces which immediately
threatened it. 
 Dept. of State, North Korea: A Case Study of a Soviet Satellite,
 ROK Army, Military History of Korea, translated from Korean, by HQ, U.S.
Army Forces, Far East, Military Intelligence Service Group, p. 9, copy in OCMH.
 (1) Rad, No. 683, State Dept., Seoul, to Secy. of State, 11 May 50. (2)
Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, p. 11.
 Ltr., Gen. Roberts to Gen. Bolte, 8 Mar 50, in G-3, DA file OPS 091
Korea, sec. I-B, Book I, Case 4.
 Statement, Mr. Muccio, Hearings Before Committee on Armed
Services, MDP 1950, 81st Congress, 6 Jun. 50, p. 80.
In opposition to Ambassador Muccio's testimony was that of William C. Foster,
then deputy administrator of the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA),
given before the Senate Appropriations Committee one week later. Speaking about
the ROK Army, Mr. Foster said:
The rigorous training program has built up a well-disciplined force
of 100,000 soldiers, one that is prepared to meet any challenge by
North Korean forces, and one that has cleaned out the guerrilla bands
in South Korea in one area after another.
If American legislators were somewhat confused at this point they could
scarcely be blamed. 
By June 1950, the ROK Army reached a strength of 95,000, the bulk of which
comprised eight infantry divisions and a cavalry regiment. But only four of the
divisions were near full strength of 10,000 men each. In artillery, the South
Koreans owned 91 105-mm. M3 howitzers, and in armor, had about two dozen armored
cars and about half that many half-tracks. To oppose the 180-plane North Korean
Air Force, the ROK Air Force had a dozen serviceable liaison planes and ten
Meanwhile, in South Korea, elections for a new National Assembly had been
conducted during May 1950. The U.N. Temporary Commission on Korea supervised the
elections in which 130 seats went to Independents, 49 to parties supporting
Syngman Rhee, and 44 to other parties. In the north, these elections and the
presence of the U.N. commission were loudly condemned, and the campaign for a
unified assembly was revived. On 20 June the "Supreme People's Assembly" passed
a decree which demanded the establishment of an all-Korean legislative body to
draw up a constitution and organize a government of the republic. The decree
designated leading figures of the South Korean Government as national traitors,
called for the unification of military and security forces, and demanded the
withdrawal of the U.N. commission.
John Foster Dulles visited Korea as a special representative of the President
in the middle of June 1950. After inspecting South Korean defenses, which he was
assured were adequate, Mr. Dulles addressed the National Assembly of the
Republic of Korea on 19 June 1950. He told the legislators that the American
people granted them their support ". . . consistent with your own self-respect
and primary dependence upon your own efforts." He said that the United States
considered the Republic of Korea a part of the United Nations and ended saying,
"You are not alone; you will never be alone, as long as you continue to play
worthily your part in the great design of human freedom." 
 (1) MacArthur Hearings, p. 2009. (2) See also Collins, War in
Peacetime, p 43.
 (1) Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, pp. 12-17.
(2) KMAG Semi-Annual Rpt, 15 Jun. 50, sec. V, p. 16, and Annex X. (3) Sawyer,
Military Advisors in Korea, p. 110.
 Speech, John Foster Dulles to ROK National Assembly, 19 Jun. 50, quoted
in MacArthur Hearings, p. 2020.