Korea in the Postwar World

Courtesy Reuters

THE declaration on Korea made at Cairo by the heads of the United States, British and Chinese Governments reminded the world of a problem which it had almost forgotten. Freedom for Korea is not an issue invented by the Allies to weaken Japan. During the 34 years that have passed since the Japanese annexed their country the Koreans have waged an unceasing struggle for independence. The Japanese "Annual Report on Administration of Chosen" for the years 1937-38, the latest available, spoke of "wholesale arrests" at that time of members of secret organizations aiming at liberation, of a force of at least 16,000 Korean soldiers fighting the Japanese along the Manchurian-Korean border, and of the formation of a provisional Korean government in free China.

But although the people of the western nations are once more aware that the majority of the people of Korea have refused to accept Japanese rule, they know little else about the situation there. The wording of the Cairo declaration is itself somewhat obscure, for it merely promises that Korean independence will be restored "in due course." This would seem to mean that, following the defeat of Japan, Korea must pass through a period of tutelage to prepare her for self-government, during which time one or several Powers will exercise a mandate of some sort. Various questions arise when we try to decide whether it is true that Korea is not ready for independence. Has she the economic resources to stand alone? What are her internal problems? Does she have the necessary experienced leaders? Then there is the final question, granted that a mandate over Korea is desirable, as to the country or countries which could assume it.


The Korean people form a distinct nationality in the Korean peninsula. In language, traditions and culture they differ sharply from their neighbors, the Japanese and Chinese. The Korean language, like the Japanese, has assimilated a great number of Chinese words, but it is a separate language. Moreover, though there are certain

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