U.S. Policy Change toward South Korea in the 1940s and the 1950s

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Park, Tae-Gyun
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서울대학교 국제학연구소
Journal of International and Area Studies, Vol.7 No.2, pp. 89-105
After 1945, American policy makers designed two different policies toward Korea: one was the trusteeship propelled by the State Department, the other was the plan of “an executive and administrative governmental agency” designed by the United States Military Government in Korea. In spite of the fact that the two policies had different meanings from the viewpoint of negotiations with the Soviets, the aims were same: a new Korean government that would maintain an amicable relationship with America and that would have effective control over the whole Korean Peninsula.

This purpose was not changed until the Korean War. Moreover the Economic Cooperation Administration plan for South Korea was designed in order to allow Korea to rebuild its economic system. Us. policymakers considered the ECA plan as the means for the improvement of South Korea"s viability and the containment of communism in the Free World as well as on the Korean Peninsula. Yet, Us. policy to make the Korean economy closely connected with the Japanese was not designed until the end of the Korea War.

After the Armistice Agreement in 1953, us. policy toward South Korea was changed. The changes came from the East Asian system as well as the world situation. Because of Japan"s successful economic reconstruction and China"s rise in Asia during the Korean War, American policy makers began to regard South Korea not only as a economic appendage to Japan, but also as a buffer zone between the Communist World and the Free World.

Accordingly Korea"s military role was gradually strengthened, whereas its economic role was weakened. Despite the fact that the US. tried to reduce grants and the size of the Korean and American militaries in South Korea, the significance of South Korea from the viewpoint of security continued to be stressed throughout 1950s. Therefore, the "unified policy" and the economic recovery plan were eliminated after the Korean War.
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Dept. of International Studies (국제학과)Journal of International and Area StudiesJournal of International and Area Studies vol.07 (2000)
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