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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 06, 1946

REPORT FROM GENERAL-COLONEL T. SHTYKOV TO CDE. I.V. STALIN AND CDE. V.M. MOLOTOV

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    Shytkov concludes that the Soviet delegation cannot back down from its demands for the parties in Korea to support the Moscow decision. A reversal of this position, Shtykov writes, would lead to the domination of US-backed, right-wing parties to take control over the Provisional Government of Korea.
    "Report from General-Colonel T. Shtykov to Cde. I.V. Stalin and Cde. V.M. Molotov," December 06, 1946, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation (AVP RF). Contributed by John Kotch and translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/270595
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to Cde. I. V. STALIN

to Cde. V. M. MOLOTOV

The negotiations of the joint Soviet-American Commission to Implement the Moscow Decision Concerning Korea took place in Seoul from 20 March through 6 May 1946. In the course of the negotiations of the Joint Commission, it turned out that the Soviet-American command and, accordingly, their delegations regard the Moscow decision of the three ministers of foreign affairs concerning Korea in different ways.

The American command has tried to discredit the Moscow decision concerning Korea and provoke Korean reactionaries to fight this decision under the slogan of “opposing trusteeship and for an immediate granting of independence to Korea.” Such an attitude toward the Moscow decision by the American military command and American delegation can be explained by the following.

1. During the Conference of the three ministers of foreign affairs in December 1945, the draft decision regarding Korea offered by the Americans was rejected, while the draft offered by the Soviet delegation was adopted. The American delegation could not object to the Soviet draft inasmuch as it had taken into consideration the national interests of the Korean people, for objections to the Soviet draft could compromise the Americans in the eyes of the Korean people. Inasmuch as the Americans were not able to push through their draft, they changed their policy with respect to Korea. Instead of establishing a trusteeship, as they had proposed, they began to make a statement about the possibility of immediately granting full independence to Korea. On the day of the publication of the Moscow decision, the American radio broadcast a report for Korea in which it said: “A proposal was adopted at the suggestion of the Soviet Union at the Moscow Conference of the three ministers to establish a trusteeship of five years over Korea.” After the American radio report on 29 and 30 December 1945, protest rallies against the Moscow decision were organized in Seoul at the initiative of the leaders of right-wing organizations (Kim Gu [Kim Koo] and Syngman Rhee). Instead of explaining the Moscow decision and its protection from Korean reactionaries, the American military command began to sympathize with the reactionaries and encourage its actions. Furthermore, speaking on the radio on 30 December on the question of the Moscow decision, Byrnes made the following statement about Korea: “Two military bodies will comprise the Joint Soviet-American Commission to solve immediate economic and administrative problems. The Commission, acting jointly with the Provisional Democratic Government of Korea, can establish that one can do without a trusteeship. Our goal is to hasten the day when Korea will become an independent member of the family of nations.” Such a statement by the Secretary provided an opportunity for the American military command of South Korea and the Korean reactionaries to oppose the Moscow decision.

We passed the Korean correspondents the TASS report published in the Soviet national press that in reality, the question of Korea was discussed at the Moscow Conference of the three ministers and published in all the Seoul newspapers with the exception of the two right-wing ones. But in the South of Korea, left-wing organizations were not able to organize explanatory work around the TASS report inasmuch as the American military command had established a strict censorship.

At the first meeting of the Soviet-American Joint Commission, it became evident that the American delegation would not try to implement the Moscow decision meticulously. At the first meeting, the American delegation presented two documents.

In the first document, the Americans proposed a consultative body (a Union [Soyuz]), taking the so-called democratic chamber which existed under the American command in South Korea as a basis of the consultative body, adding to it from the representatives of the democratic parties of North Korea. According to the American draft, the left-wing parties of South Korea are not invited to the consultative body to consult; in the opinion of the Americans, the consultative body should pursue all [its] work to work out a position about a Provisional Government and draw up a list of members of the Provisional Government. The Commission would be left to only approve these proposals and submit [them] for the approval of their governments.

In the second document, it spoke of the creation of a staff for the future Provisional Government. It provided for taking the Korean civilian personnel of the American military administration, created from pro-Japanese and reactionary elements, as the basis for the future governmental staff. These same documents provided for the immediate (within 30 days) consolidation of the entire economy of Korea, both its northern and southern parts; however, the economy of all Korea was to have been subordinated to the civilian staff of South Korea, actually the American military command.

The Soviet delegation did not agree with the American proposal and submitted its own proposals. The first proposal laid out the procedure for the work of the Joint Commission, and the second proposal the procedure and conditions for consultation with parties and public organizations.

After lengthy discussion, the American delegation agreed to adopt our proposal about the procedure for the Commission’s work. As a result, the work of the Joint Commission was broken into two stages. In the first stage, the formation of a Provisional Government in accordance with paragraph 2 of the Moscow decision, and in the second stage, the implementation of paragraph 3 of the Moscow decision.

Big disputes and differences in the Commission arose about the proposal of the Soviet delegation concerning the terms and procedure for consultation with the democratic parties and public organizations. The Soviet delegation submitted the following proposal: “the Joint Commission should not consult with parties and groups which oppose the Moscow decision of the three ministers concerning Korea”. Such a proposal by the Soviet delegation was motivated by the fact that the Joint Commission was created to implement the Moscow decision. Accordingly, the Joint Commission should consult only with those parties and organizations which agree with the Moscow decision and support it.

The American delegation began to object to these proposals, declaring that such a condition was not mentioned and not implied by the Moscow decision. The American delegation thought that a hostile attitude toward paragraph 3 of the Moscow decision, which spoke of a trusteeship, is the conclusion of a natural reaction of every Korean patriot. A lengthy discussion developed.

Convinced that the American delegation was categorically refusing to give its agreement to remove from participation in consultation the parties which have opposed the Moscow decision and desiring to move the negotiations from a deadlock, the Soviet delegation decided to make some compromises and, with the permission of Moscow, introduced a proposal containing a concession that the Commission might consult with parties which opposed the Moscow decision on condition that the party make a decision of its governing body to support the Moscow decision of the three ministers concerning Korea. A decision was reached as a result of a lengthy discussion which provided for the parties or public organizations desiring to take part in consultations with the Commission to sign a statement of support of the Moscow decision. After publication of the 17 April decision about the necessity for the parties to sign a statement of support of the Moscow decision, right-wing reactionary parties opposed this decision of the Joint Commission and refused to sign any statement, demanding the immediate granting of independence to Korea and the right for Korean parties and organizations to form a government themselves. The left-wing parties of South Korea and also the democratic parties and organizations of North Korea made statements of support for the decision of the Joint Commission and began to sign the text of a statement and hand [it] in to the Commission. A decision of the Commission set a deadline of 30 April to give a statement. The right-wing parties in the democratic chamber signed and handed in statements only on 1 and 2 May after the decision of the democratic chamber was adopted.

Inasmuch as the decision of the democratic chamber contradicted the decision of the Joint Commission and was directed against the Moscow decision, the Soviet delegation refused to consult with the parties in the democratic chamber. Then, at the 6 May meeting, the American delegation made the following proposal: halt the discussion of questions connected with the formation of a new government and switch to solving the second question of the economic consolidation of Korea and the elimination of the 38th Parallel, declaring that if the Soviet delegation did not agree to discuss the question of the 38th Parallel, then we have no alternative other than to close the meeting. We gave a detailed explanation to the American delegation about its statement and we insisted on the overriding priority of the formation of a Provisional Korean Government and not the economic consolidation of Korea. The American delegation declared that since the Soviet delegation refused to discuss the question of consolidation in accordance with paragraph 2 of the Moscow decision concerning Korea before the question of consultation [with] the Commission is clarified, nothing remains except to close the meeting.

The Soviet delegation replied that, inasmuch as the American delegation did not desire to discuss the question of the formation of a government and had suggested closing the meeting itself, the meeting of the Joint Commission was closed.

CONCLUSIONS

1. Division occurred among the democratic and political parties of Korea in connection with the adoption and publication of the Moscow decision concerning Korea. The genuinely democratic parties and public organizations (left-wing) supported the Moscow decision as a decision which guaranteed Korea development along a democratic path and the gaining of independence. The right-wing reactionary parties opposed the Moscow decision and, with the support of the American military command, strived to take the political power of Korea into their own hands and not allow progressive left-wing elements in there. They unleashed agitation against the Moscow decision, the Soviet Union, and against the Red Army on the pages of the press.

2. Supporting and inspiring the fight of the reactionary elements, the Americans counted on them being able to achieve a reconsideration of paragraph 3 of the Moscow decision with respect to the establishment of a trusteeship, as a result of which two advantages would be gained; 1) the reactionaries which led the fight against trusteeship would in the eyes of the Koreans seem like genuine patriots of Korea fighting for and achieving a reconsideration of the Moscow decision with the support of the Americans; 2) this circumstance would facilitate the United States winning itself the sympathies in Korean circles as a country supporting the Koreans in their battle for immediate independence. And, on the contrary, the Soviet Union would seem like a power objecting to the immediate grant of independence to Korea and insisting on a trusteeship.

3. A reconsideration of paragraph 3 of the Moscow decision would put all the left-wing parties and public organizations in a difficult position which advocated unconditional support of the Moscow decision, completely understanding and seeing in it a guarantee that Korea would be ensured development along a democratic path and the establishment of independence.

4. In the process of all the work of the Joint Commission, the American delegation sought to ensure the right-wing reactionary parties no less than 2/3 of the Provisional Democratic Government of Korea, giving only 1/3 in this government for the democratic parties of North Korea and the left-wing parties of South Korea. In gaining such a government, the American military command counted on raising the prestige of America in the eyes of the Korean people with the aid of such a government. Such behavior in the Joint Commission by the American delegation and its persistent defense of the reactionaries in Korea were in complete accord with the policy which the American government is also pursuing in other countries at the present time. For American militarists, Korea is an advantageous strategic point, and for American capitalists, a profitable place where their capital can be invested in unlimited amounts. The American command is taking steps in connection with the interruption of the work of the Joint Commission to strengthen the right-wing elements in the South of Korea and organize a fight against the left-wing organizations, and is trying to break up the Democratic National Front, and isolate the Communist Party of South Korea from other left-wing democratic parties and organizations.

Taking the above into account, the Soviet delegation could not retreat from the positions it took during the negotiations in the Joint Commission, for we have insisted on the precise observance of the Moscow decision concerning Korea. Any retreat by us or concession would lead to a strengthening of the right-wing reactionaries, parties which are hostile to the Soviet Union, and their domination in the Provisional Government. A government composed of reactionaries would be a rubber stamp in the hands of the Americans, especially considering the fact that the capital of Korea, Seoul, is in the zone of occupation of the American forces. Such a government, created of reactionaries, would only harm our interests in Korea and strengthen the position of the Americans.

In connection with the situation which has been created in Korea and in order to strengthen our influence in North Korea, I consider it necessary to adopt a VKP(b) CC decision, a draft of which I attach.

GENERAL-COLONEL [signature] (T. SHTYKOV)

[handwritten: 12.6.46]

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