American tanks in downtown Seoul, South Korea, in the Second Battle of Seoul during the Korean War.

Failure in Korea

In South Korea today, 16 years after the United States set out to help instill the art of democratic self-government among its people, we find ourselves in partnership with an openly authoritarian régime. Eight years after the conclusion of a costly and bitter struggle to preserve the infant Republic of Korea against Communist assault from the north the United States faces the possibility that Communism may present the impoverished and police-ridden people of the south with an increasingly attractive alternative. The South Korean military, so carefully nurtured as Asia's finest free-world force, has defied its mentors and destroyed the country's free institutions. Four billion dollars in economic aid has largely healed the wounds of the Korean War and revitalized various industrial, mining and other operations, but it has failed to lift the South Korean economy above bare subsistence levels, has failed even to prevent actual starvation conditions in the countryside. Meanwhile, almost unnoticed, there has been a disturbingly large movement of free people, the Koreans living in Japan, to behind the Iron Curtain.

Until two years ago the magnitude of our failure in Korea was hidden from an indifferent American public by the bland reassurances of U.S. officialdom, by a claque of apologists for the Rhee régime and by the failure of the American press to report fully and frankly on the situation. Since the downfall of the Rhee Government, the recent military coup and the voluntary movement of 70,000 Korean residents of Japan to North Korea, the bleak features of the situation have been writ large for all the world to see. Yet even now, few talk openly in terms of a U.S. failure and fewer still seek to examine its causes.

The facts of the recent crises in Korea have been duly noted in the press, but an assessment of the underlying causes has neither been demanded nor given. When Syngman Rhee was toppled by a wave of popular unrest, culminating many lost years of suffering under

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.

Continue