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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 30, 1949

LETTER, SYNGMAN RHEE TO DR. ROBERT T. OLIVER [SOVIET TRANSLATION]

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Letter from Syngman Rhee translated into Russian. The original was likely found when the Communists seized Seoul. Syngman Rhee urges Oliver to come to South Korea to help develop the nation independent of foreign invaders and restore order to his country.
    "Letter, Syngman Rhee to Dr. Robert T. Oliver [Soviet Translation]," September 30, 1949, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, CWIHP Archive. Translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119385
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continuation of CABLE Nº 600081/sh

“30 September 1949

to: DR. ROBERT T. OLIVER

from: PRESIDENT SYNGMAN RHEE

I have received your letters and thank you for them.

I do not intend to qualify Mr. KROCK [sic] as a lobbyist or anything of that sort.

Please, in strict confidence get in contact with Mr. K. [SIC] and with Mr. MEADE [sic] and find out everything that is necessary. If you think it would be inadvisable to use Mr. K with respect to what Mr. K told you, we can leave this matter without consequences.

In my last letter I asked you to inquire more about K. in the National Press Club.

We simply cannot use someone who does not have a good business reputation. Please be very careful in this matter.

There is some criticism about the work which we are doing. But I have written them that you are working well, so let this not worry you. Be in friendly relations with everyone and continue your work as best [you] can.

The more I think about your work, the more I am convinced that you might be more useful here in Korea. I need a person for my important personal work and am seriously thinking of asking you to come after the period of your service in the university ends. Don’t tell anyone about this, but keep it in mind.

I want you to come here as soon as you are free and come to work in my office. How often I wish that you were here.

From time to time I would like to have the opportunity to present my thoughts about the changing events, both here as well as in America. Up to the present time I haven’t had this opportunity. However, I will try.

Right now I want to briefly tell you about our situation.

I am firmly convinced that right now is the psychologically most suitable moment to take aggressive steps and unite with our loyal Communist army [SIC] in the North in order to eliminate the remaining part of it. We will drive away part of the people of KIM IL SUNG into a mountainous region and exhaust them there with hunger; then our line of defense should be created along the Tumen and Yalu Rivers.

The value of our situation will be 100 per cent better.

The natural line of defense along the river and the Paektu mountains might be made almost impregnable, having a sufficient number of aircraft, two or three high-speed naval craft, and also combat aircraft defending the entire coastline, including the island of [Jeju]. What the Koreans constantly did for 2,000 years, defending their nation from the great invasions of Emperor TANG, Emperor SU [Translator’s note: probably SUI], and the invasions of the Mongols and Japanese.

I think that we are ready to repeat the successful defense of our nation against foreign invaders.

All the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Communist armies in Manchuria and in Siberia can do everything that comes into their heads, but we will be in a condition to beat back their attacks.

We want to act regardless of what foreign countries might launch against us.

I think that the Soviet Union will not be so stupid as to begin an invasion at the present time.

Our people are demanding this.

Our people in the North want us to permit them to act now, but we are taking every step to calm them down, and this is a quite difficult task.

I want you to be very clear and convincingly explain this situation and show this letter to Ambassador TIAN and Ambassador CHO. We will all work quietly, you in Washington and New York together with our two ambassadors and other friends, but we here in Seoul and Tokyo are striving toward one goal: for them to permit us to cleanse the country and bring order in our house. I am citing an old expression which CHURCHILL once used, “Give us the instrument and the work will be done”.

Convince the American government leaders and public opinion to be silent, and agree that we will begin to act and implement our program, and also for us to be given all the necessary material support. The longer we wait, the harder it will be to do this.

The Soviets are winning a victory in their Cold War. First of all they give Communist agitators money, weapons, and propaganda literature in order to incite discord among the people. Then they organize Communist supporters into bands of terrorists, murderers, and thieves, commit murders, burn, and turn all human society into a hell.

As long as they commit robberies they have sufficient money for their activity. They are doing everything possible to create confusion. In acting this way the Communists increase their strength, and expand and deepen their influence. The more they steal the more money they get. With this money the commit murders and other subversive activity. But terrorists cannot be able to count on anyone everywhere. They are forced to use all their capabilities for their own defense and such a situation continues all the time. They cannot continue the struggle. Sooner or later they are forced to surrender. This is just what happened in China and in other places. What the Americans are doing right now, in the so-called Cold War, this is a lost battle, and if we continue to sit with folded arms in these conditions and only beat back the attacks of these bandits, no human nerves will hold out for long. If the Koreans want to rise up and liquidate them one and for all, right now is psychologically the most suitable moment for this.

I am sure that we can solve this problem in a reasonably short time if only we are allowed to do this.

Please present all this in a very convincing statement, carefully get in contact with influential people, and secure their support.

If you could report all the above to President TRUMAN I think this would have the desired success”.

Sent by Gayduk 4 September 1950 at 1400 (25)

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