Date of Award


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors








How did the United States transition from ignoring Korea to participating in the partition of the peninsula and using the Republic of Korea as the first Cold War nation building project, which became the basis of a seventy-year military alliance? This paper examines State Department Foreign Relations of the United States documents from 1944 and 1945 pertaining to Korea, along with academic writings by Far East scholars, to gain an understanding of postwar planning for the peninsula. Correspondence between the State Department, Syngman Rhee, and the Korean People's Government (KPG) is examined to understand the lack of attention concerning Korea's future. The distain of State Department officials towards Rhee, KPG leaders, and the Korean people is exemplified in the language used to describe meetings and correspondence with the Koreans, as well as the recommendation that the Allies retain Japanese officials in Korea after Japan's defeat. The decision to divide Korea was made while negotiating Japan's surrender therefore the ensuing occupation of the southern half of the Korean peninsula was a poorly planned, hastily implemented afterthought. These factors are the cause of the ongoing division of Korea, which is the source of instability on the peninsula which requires an ongoing military alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States.


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