S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Dept. of International Studies (국제학과) Journal of International and Area Studies Journal of International and Area Studies vol.21 (2014)
What Happened Sixty Years Ago?: ROK-US Deep Distrust between President Rhee and Eisenhower
- Park, Tae Gyun
- Issue Date
- Institute of International Affairs, Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University
- Journal of International and Area Studies, Vol.21 No.1, pp. 37-53
- Syng Man Rhee; Eisenhower; John Foster Dulles; Richard Nixon; Korean War; Release of Anti-Communist Prisoners of War; Armistice Agreement
- Many letters were sent between President Rhee Syng-Man and President Dwight Eisenhower
before and after the release of anti-communist POWs which was unilaterally ordered by Rhee.
According to these letters, President Rhee intended to use the release as a means to disturb the
armistice and Ike was furious to the point of devising another plan to replace leadership in South
Korea. According to the letters, the conflict between the two leaders was much more serious than it had
been already assessed by scholars.
Furthermore, Rhee's “March North for Unification” was another controversial issue after the
armistice. It was closely related to the political conference which was a critical provision of the
Armistice Agreement. The conference was to be held three months after the armistice was signed. Rhee
refused to attend the conference and wished to implement his policy in case the conference failed,
whereas the US government strongly opposed any military reaction against the communists. The
controversy continued until the end of the Rhee administration.
What caused these serious conflicts at the critical moment between two countries that in the end
signed a mutual security pact? According to the letters, the cause mainly stemmed from Rhee's hawkish
policy which rejected any peaceful solution of the Korean problem. However, this is a reflection of
Rhee’s disappointment not only at the change in the war policy of the UN and the US, but also at the
vague comments by President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles about Rhee’s request.
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