Syngman Rhee heard the news of Japan’s surrender through a radio broadcast at 11 p.m. on August 14, 1945, at his home in Washington, DC . To his comrades gathered at his house that night, he said, “I am worried about how the Soviet Union will come out. “If the United States does not handle it wisely, blood may be shed between nationalists and communists on the Korean Peninsula,” he expressed concern.
On August 8, two days after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Syngman Rhee sent a letter to the White House requesting to return home. To return to Korea, which was an area of military operations, Syngman Rhee needed three levels of approval from the U.S. government. First of all, he had lived as a stateless person ever since his exile to the United States in 1912 and had to obtain an exit passport from the State Department. He also had to obtain permission to travel to the area of operations from the US-ROK Command in charge of the Korean Peninsula and the US Army Command Pacific District. Finally, he had to obtain permission to use a military aircraft to enter Korea. Syngman Rhee’s return to Korea was only possible if Lieutenant General Hodge, Marshal MacArthur, and the State Department all agreed.
Lieutenant General Hodge, who needed a solution to the left-wing political situation in South Korea, supported Syngman Rhee’s return to Korea. However, the State Department’s unfriendly attitude toward him was a problem. Just three months ago, Syngman Rhee pushed the U.S. government into a corner by exposing the so-called ‘Yalta secret agreement’ to the media, saying, “The United States sold Korea to the Soviet Union at Yalta.” For the State Department, which desperately needed support and cooperation from the Soviet Union in order to end the Pacific War early, Syngman Rhee, a staunch anti-communist and anti-Soviet person, could not help but be an irritant.
Syngman Rhee applied to return to the Ministry of War on August 10 and the State Department on August 28. As expected, the State Department remained uncooperative. Still, as a man known as a ‘stubborn old man’, Syngman Rhee silently and repeatedly persuaded the U.S. government until he was granted permission to return to Korea. He sent five telegrams and letters to the White House in August alone. Colonel Goodfellow, the current Deputy Director of the OSS ( predecessor of the CIA ) , who assumed the role of Syngman Rhee’s unofficial political advisor, visited the State Department several times and protested, asking, “Why are you not allowing Syngman Rhee to return to the country?”
The State Department, which had been hesitant, issued a passport to Syngman Rhee only on September 5, 20 days after the end of the war. However, shortly afterwards , Rhee Syngman’s passport was canceled, saying that the title of ‘ High Commissioner of Korea to the United States’ listed on the travel permit to the US military operation area could not be recognized. Syngman Rhee visited the State Department and said, “I don’t need any position, so please let me return home quietly,” and had his passport reissued. On September 29, MacArthur gave final permission for Syngman Rhee to enter Korea. This was an exceptional measure taken by MacArthur, who had denied all applications for entry by Korean Americans requested by the State Department. On the night of October 4, Syngman Rhee boarded a flight from New York to San Francisco as a ‘Korean returning to Korea’, leaving
Francesca behind in Washington, DC . He arrived in Tokyo on the 12th via Hawaii and Guam. MacArthur greeted Syngman Rhee, who was five years older than him, with courtesy. Syngman Rhee Washington DCIt was the utmost hospitality that I had never experienced before. In accordance with Syngman Rhee’s arrival in Tokyo, MacArthur called Hodge to Tokyo and arranged a meeting with Syngman Rhee.
Both Syngman Rhee and MacArthur were anti-communist and anti-Soviet. Additionally, both of them received the most elite education in the United States and had many mutual friends. Romulo, MacArthur’s political advisor and a powerful figure in international politics from the Philippines, was a special friend of Syngman Rhee. Romulo lived next door to Syngman Rhee in Washington, D.C. and became like his family. In Tokyo, Syngman Rhee met with MacArthur twice in his capacity as ‘former chairman of the Korean Committee and provisional president in 1919’. MacArthur instructed Hodge to welcome Syngman Rhee as a ‘returned national hero.’
On the morning of October 16, Syngman Rhee departed Tokyo on a military aircraft provided by MacArthur and arrived at Gimpo Airport at 5 p.m. It was his return to Korea 33 years after exile to the United States in 1912. Although he returned home only two months after liberation, it was the fastest return among overseas independence activists. This was thanks to his extraordinary persistence and the extensive contacts he had built in American politics and the military during the diplomatic independence movement. Because his return was kept secret, no one came to welcome him at the airfield. Thanks to Haji’s consideration, Syngman Rhee was allowed to stay at the Chosun Hotel, which was used as a lodging for high-ranking U.S. military officers.
The news of Syngman Rhee’s return to Korea was made public the following day through a press conference for domestic and foreign media arranged by the US military government authorities. Lieutenant General Hodge personally led Syngman Rhee to the press conference room in the old Government General Building. Syngman Rhee alternated between English and Korean, saying that he returned to Korea as a ‘commoner’ and that he emphasized bipartisan unity for independence스포츠토토. At 7:30 that night, Gyeongseong Central Broadcasting Station broadcast Syngman Rhee’s voice-recorded return statement. “It is my hope that all political parties and factions will cooperate to achieve complete independence for our Joseon.”
Before his return to Korea, Syngman Rhee had been appointed as the supreme leader not only on the right but also on the left. On September 14, Syngman Rhee was elected as ‘President’ in the ‘North Korea (Artificial) Cabinet’ organized under the leadership of Park Heon-young, responsible secretary of the Communist Party of Korea. The Democratic Party of Korea (Korea Democratic Party), which was founded on September 16, was also named as one of the ‘Seven Leaders.’ All political factions made efforts to recruit Syngman Rhee as supreme leader, but the Korean Communist Party’s efforts were unusual.
At 2 p.m. the day after his return to Korea, the artificial leadership, including Yeo Woon-hyeong (Vice President), Heo Heon (Prime Minister), Choi Yong-dal (Minister of Security), and Lee Kang-gook (Acting Minister of Posts and Communications), visited Syngman Rhee at the Chosun Hotel and informed the President about the domestic situation since August 15. and artificial establishment process were reported and related data were submitted. Soon after, the Central People’s Committee announced the ‘Speech welcoming Syngman Rhee’s return to the country.’
“Dr. Syngman Rhee, President of the People’s Republic of Korea, has finally returned to Korea. The whole country is overflowing with cheers as he has been the object of reverence and longing for 30 million people. (…) The elevation to the position of President of the People’s Republic of Korea is the general will of the Korean people, and in this sense, liberated Joseon offers its loyal gratitude and a warm welcome to the great leader who led to independent Korea.” (‘Maeil Shinbo’ October 18, 1945)
The communists promoted Syngman Rhee as an artificial president in order to take advantage of his reputation as he was gaining support from the entire nation. However, Syngman Rhee was well aware that if he took office as the artificial president, he would become a prisoner of the communists. In a letter to Professor Oliver (October 21, 1945), Syngman Rhee wrote: “The funniest thing of all is that the Communist Party has formed a government with me as its head. “I told them that it was truly an honor for the Soviet Union to make me, whom they accused of being anti-communist, the leader of the Communist Party.”
Syngman Rhee refused to be the leader of a specific political faction and said, “Let’s cover up and unite!” He appealed to all political factions to unite to build an independent nation. He distanced himself from both the Korean Democratic Party and the People’s Party, organized the Central Council for the Promotion of Independence, and began an arduous journey that was doomed to failure to encompass the left and right factions.