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The Communists Come to Terms

Back to Truce Tent and Fighting Front

The Foundation of Freedom is the Courage of Ordinary People

History  Bert '53  On Line

Against a backdrop of heightening tension stemming from the bitter opposition of the ROK Government to an armistice, the plenary sessions of the negotiations reconvened at Panmunjom on 26 April.1 The UNC delegates found themselves confronted with the doubly difficult task of reaching an agreement with the Communists in the face of open ROK threats to continue the war alone if the solution failed to satisfy their objections. Doubt over the future intentions of President Rhee and his followers hung like a pall over the UNC truce tents. With the enemy enjoying the United Nations' embarrassment in being unable to control its agitated fosterchild, the delegations assembled to discover whether the last obstruction- repatriation- could be overcome.

The Exploratory Stage

Since the last meeting in October 1952 a large personnel turnover had taken place on both sides. The redoubtable Hsieh Fang with his scurrilous tongue was no longer a member of the enemy delegation and General Pien Chang-wu of the Chinese Volunteer Army and Maj. Gen. So Hui of the North Korean forces had been given other assignments. But the new faces joining Nam Il and Lee Sang Cho were not all unfamiliar. Former liaison officers Chang Chun San and Tsai Cheng-wen had been promoted to general officer rank and elevated to the plenary delegation. Only General Ting Kuo-yu, replacing General Pien, was a newcomer to the negotiations. Both Chang and Tsai had been involved in the conferences from the outset and were thoroughly acquainted with the issues at stake.

The UNC situation at the table was in definite contrast. General Harrison and Admiral Daniel were joined by three officers who had had no previous part in the proceedings. Generals Lee Han Lim, Morris, and McConnell were replaced by Maj. Gen. Choi Duk Shin of the ROK Army, Brig. Gen. Edgar E. Glenn, USAF, and Brig. Gen. Ralph M. Osborne, USA.2 Thus, the experience level of the Communist delegation in the intricacies of negotiations was much higher than that of the UNC group.

UNC Delegates

After the introduction of his new associates Nam Il wasted little time in presenting the Communist proposal for solving the POW question. There were six points in all: (1) Within two months after the armistice agreement became effective, both sides would repatriate all the prisoners desiring to return home. (2) During the following month all nonrepatriates would be sent to a neutral state and turned over to its jurisdiction. (3) Then, for a period of six months, the nations to which the nonrepatriates belonged should have the opportunity and facilities to talk to and persuade them to come back. (4) All prisoners changing their minds during this time would be repatriated. (5) Disposition of any prisoners remaining in the hands of the neutral state at the end of the sixmonth explaining period would be decided by the political conference provided for in the armistice agreement. (6) All expenses of the nonrepatriates in the neutral state would be borne by the nation to which the prisoners belonged.

To the UNC two features of the Communist plan were unacceptable and General Harrison immediately turned it down. There was no justification, he told Nam, for removing the nonrepatriates from Korea to the neutral state for the exorbitant period of six months to persuade the prisoners to go home. Sixty days should be ample for this purpose and the neutral state could take over custody in Korea itself, he went on. Noting that the Communists had not nominated a nation to perform the neutral function, Harrison suggested that Switzerland would be the obvious choice.3

Nam was just as quick in rejecting Switzerland. Since the U.N. Command had already selected this country as one of its nominees on the Supervisory Commission, Nam stated that it would be unsuitable for the neutral nation role. He defended the need for six months to eliminate the prisoners' fears on the ground that these apprehensions were a result of their long detention and time would be required to neutralize them.4

By the end of the second session, the differences betwen the two sides were quite clear. The selection of the neutral power, the place of custody, the duration of the custody, and the disposition of the nonrepatriates after the explaining period remained to be settled. Although the Communists had frowned upon Switzerland, they showed no inclination to produce a nomination of their own. The enemy continued to insist upon a long period of captivity for the nonrepatriates while the explanations went on and preferred to have the prisoners transported out of Korea to the territory of the neutral. If plans of the Communists went off as well as they expected, there would be no further problem with nonrepatriates since, they maintained, once they had an opportunity to talk to the recalcitrant prisoners, all would be willing to go back home.

The U.N. Command held otherwise. After the waiting and uncertainty of the past two years, the UNC did not want to move the nonrepatriates into a strange country and then subject them to another six months of doubt and detention while the Communist persuaders sought to break down their resistance. Sixty days, the UNC argued, was enough time for the enemy to talk and the explanations could be made in Korea.

Thus, the initial positions were assumed and the delegations settled down to the chore of finding out how much the other side was willing to concede. General Harrison felt that the Communists were ready to bargain and wanted the UNC to submit. a counterproposal. But his Washington and Tokyo superiors decided to do nothing until the neutral state was selected. This was the first issue, they believed, and discussion should be confined to eliciting agreement from the enemy on a nation ac. ceptable to both sides.5

On 29 April the Communists gave their first indication of preference by stating that the neutral nation should be Asian, but refused to submit specific names. Nam also revealed that the sixmonth explaining period might be "discussed" in view of the UNC objections to its length. Since the UNC delegation could make no counterproposal until the neutral nation was selected, Harrison came back the following day to prod the enemy. Pointing out that the Communists had "released" large numbers of personnel at the front during the early stages of the war, Harrison suggested that it would now be appropriate and humane to release all the prisoners who desired to remain in South Korea. Needless to say, Harrison's proposal met with no encouragement from Nam Il, but the Communists were apprised of the possibility of eventual UNC action along this line if the negotiations threatened to bog down again.6

The enemy lines held firm until the 2 May meeting when Nam offered the names of India, Burma, Indonesia, and Pakistan as suitable Asian neutrals. Before he would commit the Communists to support any one of these four, however, Nam tried to persuade the U.N. Command to send the nonrepatriates to the neutral state chosen.7 This maneuver failed.

Although the United States would have preferred Switzerland or Sweden, it was willing to accept Pakistan as the neutral state. When the session reconvened on 4 May, Harrison told Nam that the UNC nominated Pakistan.8

It took two more days of fruitless discussion before the enemy became convinced that the UNC would do nothing until the neutral state was selected. Finally, on 7 May, the Communist delegation brought forward an expanded eight-point plan that contained several concessions.

Give and Take

In the new proposal the enemy dropped the earlier requirement that the nonrepatriates be transported physically to the neutral state and reduced the explaining period from six months to four. To handle the nonrepatriates, Nam suggested that a Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission with five members-Poland, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Sweden, and Indiabe set up. Each of these countries would provide an equal number of armed personnel and would share in the task of maintaining custody of the nonrepatriates in their original places of detention. If their plan were adopted, the Communists desired all of its terms communicated to the prisoners.9

Since the Communists had yielded on the most objectionable features of their first proposal, President Eisenhower and some of his top political and military advisors met in Washington to discuss the latest offer. Encouraged by the spirit of compromise reflected in the 7 May plan, they agreed that it represented a significant shift in the enemy position and provided a basis for negotiating an acceptable armistice. They found in the plan close resemblance to the Indian resolution in the General Assembly, but several matters required clarification. Chief among these were fixing a limit upon the length of time to be accorded to the political conference for deciding the disposition of the nonrepatriates and the problems certain to arise from the stationing of Communist troops in the rear of the UNC forces. The President and his counselors did not consider these insurmountable and they felt that the selection of India as the fifth member of the repatriation commission was acceptable if the other four members acquiesced.10 While the political and military chiefs mulled over the broad pros and cons of the enemy proposition, the UNC delegation explored the details. Harrison asked Nam for more information, especially on the connection between the political conference and the final fate of the nonrepatriates and on the manner in which the repatriation commission would operate. In his reply Nam reiterated that once the Communists had opportunity to talk to the nonrepatriates, there would be no problem since all would return. As for the operation of the repatriation commission, Nam felt that it should reach decisions by majority vote and work out its own operating procedures.11

As the arguments developed during the ensuing few days, it became evident that the Communists thought that the next move should come from the U.N. Command. They dismissed the objections and questions of Harrison as small points that could be ironed out later and accused the UNC of employing dilatory tactics designed to block an armistice.12

Actually the two sides were fairly close on most points by this time. On 10 May, General Collins told Clark that if the UNC could secure Communist agreement on the following matters, the United States would be willing to conclude the prisoner of war issue. First, the repatriation commission should conduct its business on the basis of unanimity, except in procedural affairs when a majority vote would suffice. Secondly, a time limit of thirty days should be imposed upon the political conference for settling the nonrepatriates' future. After this period the prisoners would be released and given civilian status. Thirdly, India should supply all the armed forces and operating personnel to handle the custodial task and should act as supply chairman and executive agent of the commission. And lastly, although up to ninety days could be allowed for the Communist explanations to the prisoners, the United States preferred restricting the period to sixty.13

As the UNC labored to fashion its counterproposal, developments in South Korea took a serious turn.14 Syngman Rhee had become disturbed by the trend of events that pointed toward the probable conclusion of an armistice in the near future. With agitation mounting in the ROK Government and demonstrations reaching new peaks of intensity in South Korean cities, Clark decided to see Rhee in person. On 12 May he flew to Korea and had a frank discussion with the ROK President. From the conference two facts emerged that Clark reported to Washington. First, Rhee was "in dead earnest" about his rejection of the release of the Korean nonrepatriates to another state or group of states, particularly if any were controlled by the Communists. And second, Rhee did not consider India to be a neutral state and did not want Indian troops to set foot on any part of South Korea. In the light of Rhee's strong feelings and in sympathy with his position, Clark urged the JCS to allow the UNC delegation to propose that the Korean nonrepatriates be released as soon as the armistice was effective. He felt that this would be the only solution to the problem and that the Communists would accept it if the UNC supported it firmly. Release of the Korean nonrepatriates would also lessen the number of custodial personnel required to care for the non-Korean nonrepatriates and might eliminate some of Rhee's opposition.15

Although the response from Washington was swift, it granted Clark permission to present release of the Korean nonrepatriates as a tentative position only. In the meantime, the policy makers would study the question further.16

Thus, when the U.N. Command disclosed its counterproposal on 13 May, release of the Korean nonrepatriates was included. In addition, it advocated that India supply the chairman and operating force of the repatriation commission; that the explaining period be limited to sixty days; and that all non repatriates remaining at the end of the explaining period be released.17

The enemy's reaction to these points was less than warm. Having yielded on several controversial issues, the Communists evidently expected that their adversary would reciprocate. Instead the UNC had taken a leaf from the Communist book, accepted the concessions, and then pressed for more. Nam and his fellow delegates moved in to attack this "incooperative" attitude of the UNC and were particularly critical of the attempt to secure release of the Korean nonrepatriates. This was "a backward step" and another effort at "forced retention," Nam charged. When Harrison again referred to the 50,000 UNC personnel that the Communists had released at the front, Nam dismissed his remarks as groundless, irrelevant, and unworthy of refutation.18

Since the Communist response was not unexpected, Harrison marked time until 16 May. By then, the military and political leaders in Washington and in the Far East had begun to concentrate on the preparation of the final UNC position. While they readied this last offer, Harrison first asked for a four-day recess and when this proved insufficient he requested and secured a five-day extension to 25 May.19

In the event that the enemy did not accept the final terms and another long recess developed, Clark laid plans to expand air operations, to remove Kaesong's immunity, and to engage in limited ground operations around Kaesong later on. He also urged his superiors to agree to the unilateral release of the 35,000 North Korean nonrepatriates if the stalemate at Panmunjom remained unbroken.20

Clark felt that the time had come to take positive steps to make the Communists choose between accepting an armistice or demonstrating their bad faith. In his comments of 16 May on the content of the final UNC position, he urged that the five-nation repatriation commission be dropped and that either Sweden or Switzerland be given custody of the nonrepatriates. Possibly an Asian neutral might be added, if the Communists insisted, to take charge of the Chinese nonrepatriates either in or outside of Korea. At the end of ninety days of explanations, the political conference would be given an additional thirty days to reach agreement on the disposition of the remaining nonrepatriates. If it failed to meet or reach an agreement, the prisoners would be released. Clark believed that the U.N. Command should present this proposal on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. He would then recess unilaterally until the enemy accepted or came up in writing with a new plan in detail.21

On 23 May the policy makers in Washington completed and forwarded their conclusions to the U.N. commander through the JCS. Other considerations and pressures evidently had exerted a great influence upon their decision, for it bore little resemblance to Clark's plan. In the first place, they did not want the UNC to imply that this was to be final or an ultimatum. Therefore, Harrison was to present the proposal at a closed, secret session. Secondly, since the United States had supported the Indian resolution of 3 December, its allies had applied "intensive pressure" upon the U.S. leaders to adhere closely to the principles embodied therein. Hence the UNC final offer would embrace terms in general consonance with the Indian resolution, so that if the enemy rejected them, the UNC would be in the "strongest possible position to terminate negotiations."

There were six important elements that the President desired to have presented at Panmunjom when the conference resumed on 25 May. The U.N. Command would accept the fivenation custodial arrangement if all armed forces and operating personnel were provided by India. This represented no change from the 13 May proposal. However, the UNC would discard its insistence upon the immediate release of the Korean nonrepatriates when the armistice became effective and instead would agree to turn these prisoners over to the repatriation commission.22 In matters requiring decision by the repatriation commission, the UNC would consent to the Communist argument for a majority vote rather than unanimity. The treatment of the prisoners while they were in the custody of the repatriation commission was a fourth field of interest. To insure that no threats or coercion were used, limitations were to be imposed upon the number of Communist explainers permitted access to the prisoners. In addition, the UNC observers were to be present at the interviews along with members of the repatriation commission. As for the period allowed to the persuaders, the President desired to hold it to ninety days. Lastly, the UNC would agree either to turn disposition of the nonrepatriates over to a political conference with a thirty-day time limit and then release them, or alternatively let the U.N. General Assembly determine their final fate.

If the Communists failed to accept the UNC proposal or to provide a basis for further discussion, the JCS informed Clark, the negotiations would be terminated and the immunity granted the conference area withdrawn. But, they continued, such a decision should and would be made in Washington, if it proved necessary, and not by Clark or Harrison.

In defense of the administration's abandonment of support for the release of the Korean nonrepatriates, the JCS explained that the measure "is not an essential element of our position on no forced repatriation and has failed to command any support outside Korea. It is not an issue on which we can permit negotiations to break down." Only in the case that the Communists rejected the UNC plan and negotiations were terminated would all the nonrepatriates be promptly released.23

There was little doubt that Syngman Rhee and his government would be highly disappointed with the concessions contained in the final position and especially with the provision turning over the Korean nonrepatriates to the repatriation commission. Therefore, Clark and Ambassador Ellis O. Briggs received instructions to meet with the ROK President on the morning of 25 May to inform him of the contents of the UNC proposal and to attempt to soften the blow.24 This promised to be a delicate matter, since each effort to placate the Communists was certain to increase the intensity of ROK opposition. Even if the enemy could be induced to reach agreement on the issues remaining, there was still no guarantee that Rhee would permit the fighting to cease.

A Goal Is Reached

Despite the risks involved in attaining rapprochement with the enemy on the armistice terms at the cost of alienating its strongest supporter in the conflict, the United States was determined to make a serious effort to end the Korean commitment. When the negotiators met at Panmunjom on 25 May, Harrison asked that the meeting be conducted as a closed or executive session "to reinforce the solemn, nonpropaganda character of the proceedings." After a brief recess, the Communists consented.25

Harrison prefaced his remarks by emphasizing the UNC intention to adhere firmly to the concept of no forced repatriation, then launched into a discussion of the four major concessions that the U.N. Command was now willing to make. In consenting to the enemy arguments for turning Korean nonrepatriates over to the repatriation commission, for allowing more time for the explaining period, for submitting the disposition of nonrepatriates to a political conference after the explaining period, and for permitting decisions on the repatriation commission to be by majority vote, Harrison maintained that the UNC had done all that it could to reach agreement with the Communist proposal of 7 May. However, there were certain matters that remained in dispute, which he proceeded to set forth. There must be no force or threat of force used against the prisoners and India must supply all armed forces and operating personnel. Only go days would be permitted for the explanations and the political conference would be given but 30 days to dispose of the nonrepatriates. Thus, Harrison concluded, 120 days after the custodial force assumed control of the nonrepatriates they should be released or the problem should be turned over to the U.N. General Assembly.

After an hour-and-a-half break, Nam and his associates returned. They limited their comments to the UNC proposition that either nonrepatriates be released after 12o days or the question of their fate be given to the General, Assembly. Neither of these solutions was permissible, since the former was still "forced retention" while the latter was "inconceivable" since the United Nation was one of the belligerents in the affair. The other provisions of the UNC offer required further consideration, Nam went on, and he suggested meeting again on 29 May. But Harrison insisted that the enemy give the proposal thorough study and take until 1 June to insure full consideration. Nam finally agreed.26

To underline the importance that the U.N. Command attached to this offer, Clark followed it up with a letter to Kim and Peng on 27 May. After strongly urging the two leaders to accept the terms put forward by the UNC as a "just solution to the prisoners of war question," Clark finished on a note of warning. "I believe you are aware that it is not our purpose to engage in prolonged and fruitless repetition of arguments. It is our earnest hope that you will give urgent and most serious consideration to our delegation's alternative proposals regarding the sole issue on which an armistice still depends. If your Governments' stated desire for an armistice is in good faith, you are urged to take advantage of the present opportunity."27

It was not until 4 June that the plenary sessions reconvened, for the Communists had requested a three-day extension of the recess for what they called "administrative reasons." In the meantime, the ROK delegate to the conference, General Choi, had expressed his opposition to the 25 May formula publicly and the tenor of feeling throughout South Korea was being fanned to fever pitch by the ROK Government. Despite this ominous trend, the Communists showed that they were ready to conclude the armistice. It was true that Nam had a revised version of the UNC proposal which he presented on 4 June, but basically it did not differ greatly from the original.

There was, however, some question over the exact meaning of the Communist provision for the nonrepatriates left over after 120 days. It read: "Thereafter, according to the application of each individual, those who elect to go to neutral nations shall be assisted by the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission and by the Red Cross Society of India." In Harrison's mind this phrasing did not make clear whether the Korean nonrepatriates could stay in Korea, but the Communists refused to amplify this sentence. Clark's superiors, in commenting on the enemy revision, advised him to assume that the text meant what it said and that the UNC should not seek clarification at this time.28

In Washington, it was the consensus of the State and Defense Department policy makers that the Communist proposal afforded the Chinese a facesaving device to cover their actual acceptance of voluntary repatriation. Except for several items relating to the number of explainers that would be permitted access to the prisoners refusing to go back and the number of communications personnel that the enemy intended to introduce into South Korea, the StateDefense group felt that the Communist plan was satisfactory.29

During the next two meetings at Panmunjom the negotiators worked on the last important points at issue. The Communists had asked for a total of ten explainers for each thousand nonrepatriates, arguing that it would take this number to talk the prisoners out of their ingrained fears of repatriation. Although the UNC would have preferred the more modest figure of five per thousand, it was willing to settle for seven. After surprisingly little haggling the enemy agreed. As for the size of the communications team that would service the Communist personnel at the prison camps, the enemy stated that one team of six men would suffice for each location where the explaining representatives were quartered. If all the nonrepatriates were brought together in one place, then a maximum of two communications teams would be adequate.30

On 7 June the staff officers were given the task of straightening out the final details of the terms of reference for handling prisoners of war.31 Since the remaining differences were minor and the disposition on both sides now favored a quick settlement, the staff officers were able to finish their assignment and to present the document for the signatures of the chief delegates on 8 June.32

After a year and a half of debate, in and out of the conference tent at Panmunjom, punctuated by the long recess during the winter of 1952-53, the troublesome question of the right of a prisoner of war to determine whether he would return home or not had been settled. Regardless of how it was disguised or negatively acknowledged in the final instrument, the principle of no forcible repatriation had been recognized on the international level by the Communists. Previously they had used the concept when it had been to their interest and ignored it when their own nationals had been involved, as in World War II. The establishment of the precedent had been a long and costly venture for the U.N. Command, since thousands of casualties had been suffered in the interim in the fight to protect the defectors from communism. On the other hand, the UNC had kept faith with the nonrepatriate prisoners and won a psychological victory. The efforts of the Communist prisoners to discredit the UNC approach through disobedience, riot, and rebellion had taken some of the luster from this victory, but the Korean example of permitting prisoners to decide whether to go home or not was bound to have an influence upon future conflicts and their settlement. The concept of no forcible repatriation now became a part of the body of international law and the next time a similar situation arose, Korea could be invoked and argued as a case in point. Whether the Communists would yield a second time on the principle remained moot, but, at least, their armor, once pierced, might henceforth prove to be more vulnerable.


With repatriation resolved there seemed to be little standing in the way of bringing the war to an end insofar as the enemy was concerned. The rising rumblings of discontent from the ROK Government gave warning of serious trouble ahead, it was true, but in the effort to complete the negotiations, both sides chose to ignore the threat.

Among the matters intrinsic to the truce that still had to be settled was the setting up of the line of demarcation and the demilitarized zone. When the original line was established back in November 1951, it was agreed that it would be valid for thirty days. If the rest of the armistice terms were completed within that time, the line would not be redrawn. On the other hand, if the discussions dragged on for more than thirty days, the line would be renegotiated prior to the signing of the armistice. Shortly before the agreement on prisoners of war was reached, General Harrison suggested to the Communists that since the changes that had taken place in the battle line during the preceding year and a half were relatively minor in nature, the old line of demarcation should be retained. This would simplify and expedite the task of concluding the armistice, Harrison pointed out.33 But the enemy delegation was noncommital and indicated only that it would study the UNC proposal.34

On 9 June the Communists expressed their views. In keeping with the November 1951 agreement, Nam stated, his side desired to have the line revised and brought up to date so that it would correspond with the current battle positions. However, Nam continued, the Communists were willing to postpone the actual revising of the line until after the armistice was signed. Harrison quickly demurred. If the enemy wished to negotiate, the UNC was ready to go ahead with the task at once. He appointed the capable and experienced Colonel Murray of the Marine Corps to head the UNC staff group for determining the line of demarcation. After a mild effort to secure reconsideration of the Communist suggestion, Nam consented the next day to the immediate initiation of work on the project by the staff officers. He named Col. O Hung Song of the Korean People's Army and Col. Huang Chen-chi of the Chinese Volunteers as the Communists' representatives.35

On the night of 10 June the enemy opened up a limited offensive principally on the ROK II Corps front in Central Korea with the evident intention of improving the Communist positions.36 It was against this background that the staff officers met on 11 June and sought to reach agreement on a new line of demarcation. In the areas where the battle line was stable, they had little difficulty in compromising their differences. The fluid portions of the front where the action was taking place occasioned more discussion. As Colonel Murray told his counterparts on 15 June: "Attack begets counter-attack, and counterattacks in turn lead to further counterattacks. The action of any one side in seeking to improve the position during the negotiation of the Demarcation Line could easily lead to a situation which would delay the determination of the line indefinitely. We think it preferable to settle the line on the basis of the present dispositions."37

By 16 June the Communist offensive came to a halt and the staff officers were able to finish their task. All in all, the altercations had been minor and a spirit of give and take had prevailed. The bargaining had indicated that when the Communists wanted to come to terms, they could unbend and compromise.38 On the following day the plenary conference met and ratified the line of demarcation that the staff officers had fashioned. The latter were given a word of praise by Nam Il and then were instructed to go ahead and delimit the demilitarized zone.39

The imminent conclusion of the armistice meanwhile focused attention upon the necessity for securing the quick acceptance of the nations agreed upon for membership on the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission and on the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission. On g June, Sweden had announced that it would serve on both commissions, but Switzerland had proved to be less eager. The Swiss Government did not want to send its citizens into Korea unless all the belligerents, including the Republic of Korea, agreed to observe the terms of the armistice. In rebuttal, the United States pointed out to the Swiss authorities that the ROK forces were under the command of the U.N. commander who had full authority to negotiate an armistice with the Communists. Furthermore, all of the prisoners of war were held by the UNC and not by individual belligerents. After some hesitation, the Swiss Federal Council voted to accept membership on the two neutral nations organizations. Switzerland's agreement arrived on 13 June and was based on the proviso that Swiss members would be allowed to carry out their functions satisfactorily by both sides.40

In view of the ROK actions which were demonstrating the strong antiarmistice feeling prevalent in the country in early June, Clark and Ambassador Murphy called in the Indian Ambassador to Japan and informed him of the problems that would face India if it decided to serve as chairman of the repatriation commission. ROK hostility to India as a member of the commission and to any introduction of Indian troops into Korea had been unmistakably expressed in this period and Clark and Murphy felt it only fair that the Indian Government have adequate warning of the potential explosiveness of the situation. Despite the threatening signs, however, the Indians conveyed their official acceptance of the difficult assignment confronting them to the State Department on 13 June. Two days later the Polish and Czech Governments also signified through their embassies in Washington that they were willing to become members of the repatriation commission.41

Once all the acceptances had been received, the main question became when and how the neutral personnel could be transported to Korea. The gathering together of the military and civilian staffs depended entirely upon the five neutral nations, of course, and the United States could only recommend that these be assembled as quickly as possible so that they could assume their responsibilities when the armistice was concluded. In the days following the signing of the prisoner of war terms of reference there was a sense of urgency and concern on the part of Clark and his staff lest there be too much of a gap between the beginning of the truce and the arrival of the members of the supervisory and inspection teams. If the Communists were given considerable time free of both UNC air observation and inspection by the neutral nations groups, they might easily build up their airfields, stocks, and the like. On 11 June Clark asked that the United States make every effort to expedite the arrival of the supervisory commission staffs, since there was a serious risk involved in having an armistice without the inspection teams being in place and ready to carry out their duties.42

The news from Washington was not encouraging on this score. Although the Department of State was urging the Swiss and Swedish Governments to send their representatives as quickly as they could, the advance parties would not be able to leave until 21 June and the main bodies would follow about 1 July, all on U.S. air transports. Since both groups would travel via the United States, the prospects of their arrival in Korea before 8 July were small. Clark estimated that it would take another week before the Swedes and Swiss became briefed and oriented, which would mean that 15 July would be the earliest date that their inspection teams could be prepared to go into action. However, it appeared that the Poles and Czechs would not be on hand until approximately the same time anyway; therefore it would not make much difference whether the Swedes or Swiss arrived earlier or not.43

By this time-mid-June-Clark had changed his mind about the dangers of having a hiatus between the signing of the armistice and the advent of the supervisory personnel on the scene. In the interests of securing an earlier truce, he was now willing to take the risk that the enemy might bring in reinforcements in the interim. In explaining his volte-face to the JCS, the United Nations commander commented: "As I see it, the matter is largely academic. The Communists could easily circumvent the provisions of the armistice agreement, particularly with respect to aerial reinforcements, even if the Neutral Nations Inspection Teams were in place and functioning. Furthermore, if the Neutral agencies were to detect Communist reinforcements of personnel and materiel including air forces, it is unlikely that such violations of the Armistice Agreement would result in a resumption of hostilities." Under the circumstances, he requested permission to accept an interval of up to twenty days between the cease-fire and the inception of inspection.44 Although the U.S. leaders in Washington agreed to this contingency, later developments were to make the question "largely academic.45

With the Communists behaving in an almost agreeable fashion and the end of the war apparently within hailing distance, the focus of attention shifted dramatically in mid-June to the last roadblock in the way of the armistice. The oft-mentioned opposition building up in the Republic of Korea was about to reach its climax and to cause the member nations of the UNC some uneasy moments. Faced with the possibility of a truce contrary to the aspirations of his young republic, the formidable Syngman Rhee found himself in a difficult situation that appeared to call for desperate measures.


1 An account of the ROK efforts to prevent or delay the armistice will be found in the next chapter.

2 General Glenn had been chief of staff to Maj. Gen. Claire L. Chennault and the Fourteenth Air Force in China during World War II and had had considerable experience as an air attach? in Latin America. General Osborne had been director of the Research and Development Division, Army Services Forces, in World War II and served later as Assistant Chief of Staff, G?, in Washington. General Choi had been Commanding General, 11th ROK Division; Commandant, ROKA Infantry School; and Deputy Commanding General, ROK I Corps, before being appointed as liaison officer between the ROK Army and the U.N. Command in December 1952.

3 Transcript of Proceedings, 128d Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 26 Apr 53, in FEC Main Delegates Mtgs, vol. VI.

4 Ibid., 124th Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 27 Apr 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol, VI.

5 Msg, HNC 1647, CINCUNC (Adv) to CINCUNC, 28 Apr 53. (2) Msg, C 62139, CINCUNC to CINCUNC (Adv), 28 Apr 53. Both in UNC/FEC, Comd Rpt, Apr 53, incls 1-256 to app. I, incls 205 and 206.

6 Transcripts of Proceedings, 126th and 127th Sessions of Mil Armistice Conf, 29 and 30 Apr 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VI.

7 Transcript of Proceedings, 129th Session of Mil Armistice Conf, z May 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VI.

8 (1) Msg, DA 938041, G-3 to CINCFE, 2 May 53. (2) Transcript of Proceedings, 130th Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 4 May 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VI.

9 Transcript of Proceedings, 133d Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 7 May 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VI.

10 Msg, DA 938429, CSUSA to CINCUNC, 7 May 53. General Hull attended the meeting with the President on 7 May and reported its conclusions to Clark.

11 Transcripts of Proceedings, 134th and 135th Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 9 and 10 May 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VI.

12 Ibid., 136th and 137th Sessions of Mil Armistice Conf, 11 and 12 May 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VI.

13 Msg, DA 938571, CSUSA to CINCUNC, to May 53.

14 See Chapter XX, below.

15 Msg, HNC 1678, CINCUNC (Adv) to JCS, 12 May 53, in UNC/FEC, Comd Rpt, May 53, incls 1-194 to app. I.

16 Msg, JCS 938704, JCS to CINCUNC, 13 May 53

17 Transcript of Proceedings, 138th Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 13 May 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VI.

18 Ibid., 139th Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 14 May 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VI.

19 (1) Msg, C 62435, CINCUNC to American Embassy, Pusan, 15 May 53. (2) Msg, C 62449 same to same, 16 May 53. (3) Msg, CX 62496, CINCUNC to CINCUNC (Adv), 19 May 53. All in UNC/FEC, Comd Rpt, May 53, incls 1-194 to app. I.

20 Msg, C 62419, CINCUNC to JCS, 14 May 53, in JSPOG Staff Study No. 495.

21 Msg, CX 62456, Clark to JCS, 16 May 53, DA-IN 268196.

22 The United States preferred the term "custodial commission" to "repatriation commission," but to save possible confusion "repatriation commission" has been used throughout.

23 Msg, JCS 939673, JCS to CINCUNC, 23 May 53.

24 See Chapter XX, below.

25 Nam presented the replacement for Maj. Gen. Chang Chun San after the recess. This was Rear Adm. Kim Won Mu of the North Korean Navy who had served an earlier tour on the delegation in 1952.

26 Transcript of Proceedings, 142d Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 25 May 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VII.

27 Ltr, Clark to Kim and Peng, 27 May 53, no sub, in G-3 Misc Material, Jan 53-Dec 53.

28 (1) Transcript of Proceedings, 143d Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 4 Jun 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VII. (2) Msg, DA 940674, CSUSA to CINCUNC, 4 Jun 53.

29 Msg, DA 940728, CSUSA to CINCUNC, 5 Jun 53.

30 Transcripts of Proceedings, 144th and 145th Sessions of Mil Armistice Conf, 6 and 7 Jun 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VII.

31 The complete terms of reference will be found in Appendix C.

32 Transcript of Proceedings, 146th Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 8 Jun 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VII.

33 In a message to the JCS on 18 April, Clark had informed them that the line of contact at that time was south of the November 1951 line in twelve places by from one to two-and-a-half kilometers and north of the line in only one place by one kilometer. See Msg, C 61971, Clark to JCS, 18 Apr 53, DA-IN 258819.

34 Transcript of Proceedings, 145th Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 7 Jun 53, in FEC Main Delegates, Mtgs, vol. VII.

35 Transcripts of Proceedings, 147th and 148th Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 9 and 10 Jun 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VII.

36 See Chapter XXI, below.

37 Transcript of Proceedings, Fifth Mtg of Staff officers To Renegotiate the Military Demarcation Line, 15 Jun 53, in G-3 File, Transcripts of Proceedings To Renegotiate the Military Demarcation Line .... Jun-Jul 53.

38 The 11-16 June meetings of the staff officers will be found in the G-3 file mentioned in the previous footnote.

39 Transcript of Proceedings, 149th Session of Mil Armistice Conf, 17 Jun 53, in FEC Main Delegates' Mtgs, vol. VII.

40 Hq UNC/FEC, Korean Armistice Negotiations (May 52-Jul 53), vol. 8, pt. 2, pp. 425 ff.

41 Ibid., pp. 431-34.

42 Msg, CX 62984, Clark to DA, 11 Jun 55, in UNC/FEC, Comd Rpt, Jun 53, Source Papers, 1-150, incl 34. See also: (1) Msg, V 0399, FEAF to CINCFE, 14 Jun 53, incl 96; (2) Msg, COMNAVFE to CINCUNC, 14 Jun 53, incl 97; (3) Msg, G 6069 KCG, Taylor to Clark, 16 Jun 53, incl 98.

43 (1) Msg, DA 941357, G-3 to CINCUNC, 13 Jun 53. (2) Msg, DA 941369, G-S to CINCUNC, 14 Jun 53. (3) Msg, CX 63109 CINCUNC to DA 16 Jun 53, in UNC/FEC, Comd Rpt, Jun 53, Source Papers 1-150, incl 104.

44 Msg, CX 63109, CINCUNC to DA, 16 Jun 53, in UNC/FEC, Comd Rpt, Jun 53, Source Papers 1-150, incl 104.

45 Msg, JCS 941491, JCS to CINCFE, 16 Jun 53. See Chapter XX, below.

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