Korea: Problem Protectorate

January 27, 1960

Report Outline
Election Year in Republic of Korea
South Korea's Economic Handicaps
Unresolved Issue of Korean Unification
Conflicts of South Korea with Japan

Election Year in Republic of Korea

Doubts and Stresses on Eve of Election

On a day not yet specified in April or May, Syngman Rhee, who will then be 85 years old, will go before the voters of the Republic of Korea to ask and almost certainly gain election as President for a fourth four-year term. Rhee, at the helm of his country since it won the independence for which he had fought since his youth, has given it strong leadership through trying times. However, his renewed candidacy has been a source of some misgiving abroad. Age is not the only consideration. The lack of respect for democratic processes that has been evidenced not infrequently during Rhee's tenure has disturbed Western observers. Whether attributable to the difficulties under which the country labored or to its political immaturity, these lapses contributed to a feeling that search should be made for fresh leadership capable of strengthening the R.O.K. as a free nation.

Only massive military assistance from the West enabled South Korea to withstand and survive the Communist attack that hit the republic when it was barely two years old. When hostilities finally ceased, they were succeeded by an uneasy armistice that did not obviate the need to maintain large military forces. Division of Korea into two economically unbalanced parts already had complicated the task of making the R.O.K. self-supporting, and partition had set up political strains that presumably will persist to the remote day when reunification can be realized.

Efforts to improve the country's economic position have not been helped by the animosity shown by Koreans toward the Japanese, who were their masters during most of the first half of this century. Syngman Rhee's marked sensitivity on this score has made for bitter relations with the nation that now is the free world's strongest representative in the Far East. It is on the United States that the R.O.K. relies for the extensive economic assistance and military aid that are essential to its continued existence in freedom

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 19, 2017  North Korea Showdown
Jul. 05, 2011  North Korean Menace
Apr. 11, 2003  North Korean Crisis
May 19, 2000  Future of Korea
Aug. 12, 1977  Relations with South Korea
Apr. 24, 1968  Divided Korea
Jan. 27, 1960  Korea: Problem Protectorate
Aug. 24, 1951  Rehabilitation of Korea
Nov. 01, 1945  Freedom for Korea
Imperialism, Colonization, and Independence Movements
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific