541 Shann to Burton

Minute CANBERRA, 17 December 1947


The first meeting of the Korean Commission is expected to be held in Seoul on 12th January.

2. The two primary functions of the Commission in the terms of the Assembly's two resolutions on the question are:-

(i) to consult with the representatives of the Korean people on the question of the freedom and independence of Korea; and (ii) to observe the conduct of the election of a Korean National Assembly, which is to establish a National Government of Korea.

3. In view of the Soviet attitude to the Assembly's recommendations on the Korean question, which are not binding upon the parties, it is most unlikely that the Commission will be permitted by the Soviet occupation authorities to exercise its functions in Northern Korea.

4. There is a danger that, in the event of Soviet refusal to co- operate, the Commission will attempt to put the Assembly's proposals into effect in the Southern Zone only, thereby perpetuating the division of Korea. The first object of all interested parties in Korea was claimed to be the attainment of unity and independence. It was the intention of the Assembly's recommendations to assist in the attainment of this object.

5. It is suggested that, if the Commission finds it impossible to work on a national basis, it should report to the Interim Committee before proceeding with action in the Southern Zone, which might prejudice the attainment of eventual unity. The Australian representative [1] might be instructed to this effect.

It should also be pointed out that the Commission is not in a position to exercise any compulsion towards the Soviet authorities in Korea, and any attempt to do so might succeed only in weakening its position. [2]

1 S.H. Jackson, Counsellor at the Australian mission in Tokyo.

2 Burton approved Shann's proposal.

[AA : A1838,552/20/4, i]