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The invasion of South Korea

TOP SECRET

Mr Malling

MINISTER

SITUATION IN KOREA

Background

While the war against Germany and Japan was still going on in the United States, British and Chinese Governments, meeting in Cairo in 1943, proclaimed their intention of separating the territory of Korea from Japan (which had annexed it in 1910) and giving it full independence. Later Russia subscribed to the Cairo proclamation and later still it was proposed that Korea should be placed under four-Power trusteeship for five years in order to fit it for independent life. When the day came, however, all Korean political groups, except the Communists, were violently opposed to a period of tutelage, and the Western Powers themselves had many doubts about the wisdom or the practicability of it, especially if Russia were to be one of the trustees. Korea was therefore simply divided into spheres of occupation – Russia taking the Northern part, with only about 8m[illion] inhabitants but with most of Korea's industrial resources, and the United States the Southern part, with about 20m inhabitants, most of them peasants. Both Russia and the United States withdrew their occupation forces from Korea some time ago, but both have kept their advisers and technicians there – the Russians in the North and the Americans in the South. As far as the Americans are concerned, I understand that the American Military Mission comprises about 500 personnel.

Present Situation

According to American sources I understand that the present situation is as follows. Troops from North Korea crossed the 38th parallel, which is the boundary between the two states, early yesterday morning. The attack consisted of a force of three Infantry Divisions supported by Artillery and seventy tanks. In addition to the main attack across the frontier subsidiary attacks were made at four points along the East coast. The only aircraft which so far have been engaged are three Yak fighters which attacked an airfield near Seoul, the capital of Southern Korea. It is considered that the military object of the present operation is to achieve a quick break through to Seoul the capital. A Soviet destroyer has been identified off the East coast.

I understand that the Government of South Korea are standing firm in their determination to resist this attack and that the morale of the people is high. Martial law has been proclaimed in all cities in South Korea.

Evacuation Plans

The evacuation of American civilians from South Korea is beginning today. The Foreign Office have instructed British Consul at Seoul to the effect that should he consider that the fighting places the British community and the Legation...

/Staff

 
 
 
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