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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 31, 1946

REPORT ON THE WORK OF THE JOINT SOVIET-AMERICAN COMMISSION TO IMPLEMENT THE MOSCOW DECISION OF THE THREE MINISTERS CONCERNING KOREA

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    The Soviet delegation proposed procedures for the work of the Joint Commission on Korea and the terms for consultation with parties and public organization; specifically, it called for the Commission to consult and only listen to parties and organizations of Korea that agreed with the Moscow Decision. The American delegation refused this demand, causing lengthy disputes. A list of parties and public organizations from both South Korea and North Korea for the consultation were drawn, but the right-wing parties in the Democratic Chamber, the administrative body of South Korea, opposed the Moscow decision and Joint Commission decision, and the discussion associated with the formation of a Provisional Korean Government was halted.
    "Report on the Work of the Joint Soviet-American Commission to Implement the Moscow Decision of the Three Ministers concerning Korea," May 31, 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/270596
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REPORT

ON THE WORK OF THE JOINT Soviet-American Commission to Implement the Moscow Decision of the Three Ministers Concerning Korea

I.

THE SITUATION IN KOREA IN CONNECTION WITH THE MOSCOW DECISION

The negotiations in the Joint Soviet-American Commission have shown that the Soviet representatives and American representatives regard the Moscow decision of the Three Ministers Concerning Korea completely differently. During the work of the Joint Commission [in the spring of 1946], the Soviet delegation thought and insisted that the Moscow decision be observed meticulously, for the Moscow decision guarantees the Korean people independence and development along a democratic path in a short time.

At the same time, the American delegation has tried to distort the substance of the Moscow decision and frustrate its observance. The American military command and the American delegation have encouraged the Korean reactionaries in every way to oppose the Moscow decision, pointing out ways and methods of how the Moscow decision can be evaded. This can be confirmed by a number of facts. First, on the day of the publication of the Moscow decision, the American radio broadcasted a report which said: “A decision was adopted at the suggestion of the Soviet Union at the Moscow Conference of the Three Ministers to establish a trusteeship over Korea for a period of five years”.

Such a report was no accident, inasmuch as the Americans knew that a desire for independence had been expressed among the Korean public circles. Therefore the report of the American radio about the establishment of a trusteeship over Korea caused a wave of protest against the Moscow decision in the South of Korea.

On 29 and 30 December 1945, protest rallies against the Moscow decision were organized in the city of SEOUL at the initiative of the leaders of right-wing organizations (Kim Gu and Syngman Rhee). The American military command not only did not take any steps to explain the Moscow decision and its defense against Korean reactionaries but, on the contrary, began to sympathize with the reactionaries. In addition, BYRNES, speaking on the radio on the question of the Moscow decision on 30 December 1945, made the following statement about Korea. BYRNES declared “that two military bodies will make up 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! [Translator’s note: SIC. There is an end quotation mark at the end of the previous paragraph, but this paragraph reads like a continuation of the quotation, albeit without any indication of the end of the quotation].

Such a statement by the Secretary provided an opportunity for the American military command in South Korea and Korean reactionaries to oppose the Moscow decision. However, both the Korean reactionaries and the American military command laid all the “fault” for the establishment of a trusteeship on the Soviet Union. The Korean reactionaries unleashed a broad campaign against the Moscow decision and also against the conference of the representatives of the Soviet and American commands convened in accordance with paragraph 4 of the Moscow decision.

As the Seoul press reported a seven-day plan was developed of demonstrations and protest rallies against trusteeship.

At an unofficial meeting with General ARNOLD , he expressed bewilderment and surprise that the American command had allowed such actions, after which this seven-day plan was cancelled by the military administration.

We passed the TASS report published in the Soviet national press pointing out the factual aspect of how the question concerning Korea was discussed at the Moscow Conference of the Three Ministers to the Korean newspaper correspondents and it was published in all Seoul newspapers with the exception of two reactionary newspapers, “The Democratic Party” and “The Independence Party”.

But in the South of Korea, the left-wing organization did not manage to organize explanatory work around the TASS report inasmuch as the American military command had established strict censorship.

At the start of the work of the Commission, that is, at the moment it opened, there was an exchange of speeches by both delegations. General HODGE, opening the meeting of the Commission, did not say anything substantive about the goals and missions which the American delegation had set for itself.

At the same time in its speech, the Soviet delegation laid out the goals and missions which should be achieved by the Joint Commission and expressed its attitude toward the Moscow decision and the reactionary parties which have opposed this decision.

The Korean public reacted this way to both speeches:

“HODGE made a beautiful speech, but said nothing [about] what missions the American delegation was pursuing, while General SHTYKOV laid out the program for the work of the Commission to carry out the Moscow decision.

II.

THE WORK OF THE Commission

At the first meeting of the Joint Commission, the American delegation submitted two documents for consideration.

In the first document, the American delegation proposed taking the so-called democratic chamber which exists under the American command in South Korea as the basis of a Consultative Union, 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 in the Democratic National Front are not invited to consult. In the opinion of the Americans, the Consultative Union should pursue all [its] work to work out a position on a Provisional Government and to draw up lists 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.

The second document is about the creation of a staff for the future Provisional Government. The Americans proposed taking the Korean civilian personnel of the American military administration as the basis of this staff. This same document provided for the immediate, that is, within 30 days, consolidation of the entire economy of Korea, both its northern and southern parts. However, the economy of all of Korea should have been subordinated to the civilian staff of South Korea, actually the American military command.

The Soviet delegation submitted its own proposals.

The first proposal laid out the procedure for the work of the Joint Commission. The second proposal [laid out] the procedure and terms for consultation with parties and public organizations.

After a lengthy discussion, the American delegation agreed to accept our proposal about the procedure of the work of the Commission with small changes which did not have great importance.

As a result, the Joint Commission adopted the following decision.

“The Joint Commission has decided to break its work to fulfill the decision of the Moscow Conference of the Three Ministers of Foreign Affairs Concerning Korea into two stages.

The first stage is to determine the following implementation of paragraph 2 of the Moscow decision concerning Korea.

The second stage, the implementation of paragraph 3 of the Moscow decision.

In the first stage, to define the following program of the work (the agenda):

1. The terms and procedure for consultation with the democratic parties and public organizations.

2. A preliminary drawing up of a political platform and other appropriate measures for the future Provisional Korean Democratic Government.

3. The drawing up of recommendations for the structure and principles of organization of the Provisional Democratic Government and local bodies (a provisional statute).

4. The drawing up of recommendations for the personnel of the Provisional Korean Democratic Government.”

It was decided to create three Subcommissions in accordance with the work program adopted by the Commission.

1st Subcommission – for the study and drawing up of terms and the procedure for consultation with democratic parties and public organizations.

2nd Subcommission – for the drawing up of recommendations concerning the structure of the Provisional Democratic Government and local government bodies.

3rd Subcommission – for the preliminary drawing up of a political platform and other appropriate measures for the future Provisional Korean Democratic Government.

After brief discussions, a list of questions for presentation to the parties and public organizations concerning consultation with them was drawn up in the second and third Subcommissions and approved by the Joint Commission (the text of the approved questionnaire is attached).

The main differences in the Commission arose about point 1 of the program of the work, “Concerning the terms and consultation procedure with the democratic parties and public organizations.”

The Soviet delegation submitted the following proposal concerning this point: “The Joint Commission should not consult with those parties and organizations which oppose the decision of the Moscow Conference of the Three Ministers Concerning Korea”.

Such a proposal by the Soviet delegation was motivated by the fact that the Joint Commission had been created to implement the Moscow decision. Accordingly, the Joint Commission should consult and listen to the opinions and suggestions of only those parties and organizations which agree with the Moscow decision and support it; it cannot be otherwise, for the substance of the work of the Commission is the implementation of the Moscow decision and nothing else.

In its work, the Commission should depend on and take into consideration the opinions and suggestions of those Korean parties and organizations which fully support that program of the revival of an independent Korean country which was put on record by the Moscow decision. Only on such a condition will our Commission be able to have guarantees that the Moscow decision with respect to Korea will be implemented and that the future of Korea as an independent country be guaranteed.

The American delegation began to object to the proposal of the Soviet delegation, declaring that this contradicted the American understanding of democracy, that such a condition (concerning the necessity of support for the Moscow decision) for parties and organizations with which the Commission should consult is not mentioned and not implied in the Moscow decision, that the American delegation views the use of this condition as an overstepping of the authority by the Commission, and that it does not see any need to demand the parties and organizations to support the Moscow decision on the condition that the parties with which the Commission will consult be actually democratic in their goals and methods and ready to cooperate with the Commission to support it in fulfilling its missions.

The American delegation thinks that a hostile attitude toward paragraph 3 of the Moscow decision, where it speak about a trusteeship, is a completely natural reaction of every Korean patriot and, subject to the faithful obedience on his part to the decisions of the Commission and a desire to put these decisions into effect, nothing more is required from him.

A lengthy discussion then developed.

The American delegation categorically refused to impose any conditions on the parties and public organizations which would make a demand of them to support the Moscow decision.

In one of the meetings, the head of the American delegation, General ARNOLD, declared that “inasmuch as our democratic principles are different, we cannot come to an agreement in the Joint Commission [underlined by hand]. And furthermore, I fear that the differences in the understandings about the systems of the political parties caused by the existence of a one-party system in the Soviet Union and a multi-party system in the US could lead to more fundamental differences.”

Further, concerning trade unions, ARNOLD declared: “here, what is more, our mutually differing notions of the role of different forms of public organizations such as trade unions will cause fundamental differences that are as difficult for resolution, if resolvable at all, as the problem of elimination facing us”.

And , “our mutually differing notions about democratic practice will give us completely different ideas about the type of governmental structure which we will propose. If you have any doubt on this question, I would advise you to compare the American Constitution with the Stalinist [one].”

In reply to this statement, the Soviet delegation told the American delegation that the differences of our political systems cannot serve as an obstacle to the implementation of the Moscow decision concerning Korea, for the Soviet delegation is not guided by its Constitution and does not desire to establish Soviet ways in Korea and that the American delegation ought not be guided by the American Constitution in the implementation of the Moscow decision. The task of the Joint Commission is to meticulously implement the Moscow decision.

The American delegation again began to insist on creating a Consultative Union of Koreans who, they say, know Korea better than the representatives of the American and Soviet commands and therefore allows them to prepare their own proposal themselves about the personnel composition of the government and drawing up a provisional statute of the government.

The Soviet delegation insisted on their own proposals.

Convinced that the American delegation was categorically refusing to give their agreement to removing the parties which had opposed the Moscow decision from participation in consultation and desiring to move the negotiations off the deadlock, the Soviet [delegation]… [Translator’s note: some words were apparently lost between pages]…compromised and, with the permission of Moscow, made a proposal containing a concession that the Commission could consult with all parties, including with parties which opposed the Moscow decision, on a condition that they adopt a decision of their governing body to support the Moscow decision of the Three Ministers Concerning Korea and publish it through the press.

We also warned the American delegation that the Soviet delegation would categorically object to these parties assigning as their representatives for consultation in the Commission people who had compromised themselves by statements against the Moscow decision, and would also not allow them to take part in the government being created.

After our proposals, the American delegation again began to object, arguing that no conditions needed to be imposed on parties and organizations in the form of demands for support of the Moscow decision.

A lengthy discussion sprung up, as a result of which a decision was nevertheless reached which provided for the parties or public organizations desiring to take part in consultation with the Commission signing statements of support for the Moscow decision.

The content of the decision is as follows:

“The Joint Commission will consult with Korean democratic parties and public organizations, which are actually democratic in their goals and methods, to sign the following statement:

“We…declare that we will support the goals of the Moscow decision concerning Korea as is presented in paragraph 1 of this decision, namely the restoration of Korea as an independent country, the creation of conditions for the development of the country on democratic foundations, and the fastest possible liquidation of the long Japanese occupation of Korea. We will further support the decision of the Joint Commission to implement paragraph 2 of the decision regarding the formation of a Provisional Korean Democratic Government. , we will assist the Joint Commission in its development of proposals regarding the measures envisioned by paragraph 3 of the Moscow decision with the participation of the Provisional Korean Democratic Government.

Signature: representatives of the parties or organizations.”

After the adoption of this decision, the 1st Subcommission began the development of the consultation procedure, the compilation of lists of the parties and public organizations, and the drawing up of a document regarding the procedure for consultation with democratic parties and public organizations.

Our draft proposals were taken as the basis during the drafting of the document about the consultation procedure with the parties and public organizations (the document is attached).

Big disputes erupted about point two of this decision.

The Soviet wording of point 2 is as follows:

“After the approval of the lists of Korean democratic parties and organizations, the Joint Commission notifies the national bodies of these parties and public organizations with an official letter that their parties or organizations are invited to consult, for which they are to select their representatives from among party or public organization members who have not compromised themselves with active opposition to the Moscow decision or to the Allies.

The parties and public organizations provide the representatives they have selected with the proper authority and officially notify the Commission of the selected representative or

representatives, reporting their first and last names, places and years of birth, and the positions that they occupy in the party or public organization.”

The American delegation objected to the following words in this point and demanded their exclusion: “from among members who have not compromised themselves with active opposition to the Moscow decision or to the Allies.”

The lengthy discussion which developed both in the Subcommission as well as in the meeting of the Joint Commission did not yield positive results.

The American delegation insisted that, inasmuch as we had agreed to allow parties which had opposed the Moscow decision to participate in consultation with the Commission on condition they sign a statement of support of the Moscow decision, no other condition ought to be imposed on the parties, and the Commission should allow any leader to consult with whoever the parties select, regardless of whether they have opposed the Moscow decision or not.

The American delegation submitted its own following draft of point 2 with the stipulation that it not be published in the press:

PROPOSAL OF THE AMERICAN DELEGATION

  1. May 1946

A. In connection with the document of the Joint Commission regarding the consultation procedure with the democratic parties and public organizations, and paragraph 2 in particular, we agree to the following:

B. If a representative chosen by a democratic party or public organization does not satisfy one of the delegations because of the dubious legitimacy of his right to speak for the party which he claims to represent, or because of its attitude toward the Moscow decision or toward one of the Allies (the US or USSR), the Joint Commission will decide on the possibility of asking the democratic party or public organization to appoint someone else for consultation with the Joint Commission.

C. This agreement is made at the request of the Soviet delegation, which says:

“If any democratic party or public organization appoints a representative who has compromised himself with active opposition to the Moscow decision of the Three Ministers of Foreign Affairs and one of the Allies (the US or USSR) the Soviet delegation declares that it will protest the Commission consulting with them.”

D. The American delegation declares that “in its opinion, any representative whose attitude toward the Moscow decision matches the attitude of his party or organization can be involved in consultation as indicated in the declaration on consultation published in Communiqué Nº 5.”

E. This agreement will not be published.

As is evident from this draft, the American delegation created an advantageous position for itself and had an opportunity to decline to take part in consultation for representatives of democratic parties and public organizations, at the same time demagogically declaring that, in its opinion, any representative can be involved in consultation regardless of whether he opposed the Moscow decision or not.

The Soviet delegation could not agree with this draft and insisted on the adoption of point 2 in its wording.

When drawing up the lists of parties and public organizations for consultation, the American delegation demanded that the list of parties and public organizations be drawn up in common, that is, the democratic parties and public organizations of South Korea and the democratic parties and public organizations of North Korea.

We sent Commission member General LEBEDEV, who was charged with drawing up a list of parties and public organizations of North Korea and getting the parties to sign statements of support for the Moscow decision, to Pyongyang.

On 25 April, the Soviet delegation delivered to the American delegation a list of parties and public organizations and their statements.

The American delegation submitted only a list of parties and public organizations, referring to the fact that the compilation of the list of parties did not at all require their statements of support to the Moscow decision. However, in the list submitted by the American delegation for South Korea, only three left-wing parties and organizations of the 20 parties were included. Such very large organizations as the ?personnel union? [kadprofsoyuz], Peasant’s Union, the Democratic League, the youth league, and others were not represented, while six religious organizations were represented in the 20 parties and organizations.

The Soviet delegation, guided by the 17 April decision of the Joint Commission, demanded that the American delegation submit a list with statements of support of the Moscow decision by the parties and public organizations.

At the 25 April Commission meeting, a final deadline of 30 April was set to send in the statements.

On 27 April, left-wing parties in the Democratic National Front sent their statements of support for the Moscow decision to the Joint Commission.

At the same time, right-wing parties in the Democratic Chamber did not submit these statements by 30 April.

The reason for the delay for right-wing parties sending in statements was that after the publication of Communiqué Nº 5, which presented the decision of the Commission demanding the parties and public organizations sign statements of support of the Moscow decision, the right-wing parties opposed this decision and refused to give such statements to the Commission.

The Democratic Chamber held five meetings in which the question of whether to sign this statement was discussed. Only on 1 May 1946 was the following decision of the Democratic Chamber adopted:


“After a lengthy discussion of Communiqué Nº 5, we have come to the conclusion that signing statements means joint actions with the American-Soviet Joint Commission in the matter of creating a Provisional Government and that after the creation of a government, we can oppose trusteeship, so HODGE told us about this.

The Democratic Chamber permitted its political parties and public organizations to act together with the American-Soviet Joint Commission.

1 May 1946 The Democratic Chamber”

After the decision of the Democratic Chamber, the right-wing parties and public organizations handed in their statements on 1 and 2 May.

After the publication of Communiqué Nº 5, the right-wing parties continued to oppose both the Moscow decision and the 17 April 1946 decision of the Joint Commission. The American military command in the person of General HODGE , also distorted the substance of the Moscow decision in their statements, declaring that if the Koreans are against trusteeship, then there could not be one.

The 1 May decision of the Democratic Chamber directly indicated that the right-wing parties should take part in consultation to join the government and then again opposed the Moscow decision and trusteeship.

In connection with such a position of the American representatives and the Democratic Chamber at a meeting of the Joint Commission, the Soviet delegation stated that, inasmuch as the decision of the Democratic Chamber contradicted the decision adopted by the Joint Commission on 17 April and was actually directed against the Moscow decision, the Soviet delegation did not consider it possible for the Commission to consult with the parties and public organizations in the Democratic Chamber.

Then, at the 6 May meeting the American delegation made the following proposal:

“Halt the discussion of the question associated with the formation of a Provisional Government and move to the solution of the 2nd question about 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 and we insisted on top priority to the formation of a Provisional Korean Government and not the economic unification of Korea.

Then General ARNOLD made the following proposal:

“The preceding statement of the American delegation is clear. Since the Soviet delegation refuses to discuss the question of reunification in accordance with paragraph 2 of the Moscow decision concerning Korea, then before the question of consultation is clarified there is nothing left for the Commission to do except to close the meeting”.

We explained to the American delegation that there is no question of the economic consolidation of Korea in paragraph 2, but it talked of the formation of a Provisional Korean Government.

However, inasmuch as the American delegation did not desire to discuss the question of the formation of a government then therefore at the suggestion of the American delegation, the meeting of the Joint Commission was closed.

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