ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Two Koreas.

Weekly Note from Volume X, No 20, May 17, 1958.

The question of Korean re-unification has opened up again wit h t he new Chinese moves to pave it s way. China has commenced a wit hdrawal of its “volunteers” from North Korea in the hope that by so doing it can shame the Americans to withdraw from the South. At the same time in obvious consultation with Peking, North Korea is cutting down its army to 80,000 in the expectation that Dr Syngman Rhee will agree to prune his own armed forces to 100,000. In addition China has declared its intention of calling an East Asian conference to settle the terms of reunification. Its own present proposals are that they should be settled by the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the whole of Korea and the holding of a free election for a new parliament... A lot more correspondence will, no doubt, be exchanged before these and other points are finally cleared to the satisfaction of all concerned; but the issue, at least, is moving along promising lines.

The unhelpful factor is still the obduracy of Dr Rhee, who, as it happens, has just won another general election in South Korea though the victory is not unmixed. The Opposition has won far too many seats to enable him to govern the two-thirds majority in the House which he needs to amend the Constitution. At 83, Dr Rhee was particularly anxious to change the constitutional provision that the vice-President steps into the President’s shoes if the latter dies before completing his term. The present vicePresident is a member of the Opposition.

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