Biography

Syngman Rhee [President ROK]

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Dr. Syngman Rhee
이승만
biography
1st President of South Korea
In office
July 24, 1948– April 26, 1960
Vice President Yi Si-yeong
Kim Seong-su
Hahm Tae-Yong
Chang Myon

Yun Bo-seon

Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Yun Bo-seon
President of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in Exile
In office
September 11, 1919– March 21, 1925
Prime Minister Yi Donghwi
Yi Dongnyeong
Sin Gyu-sik
No Baek-rin
Park Eunsik
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Park Eunsik
Personal details
Born (1875-04-18)April 18, 1875
Haeju, Hwanghae, Joseon
(in modern North Korea)
Died July 19, 1965(1965-07-19) (aged90)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Nationality Korean
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Seungseon Park (1890~1910)
Francesca Donner (1934~1965)
Children Rhee In-soo Yi In-su or 이인수 - (b. September 1, 1931) - adopted
Alma mater George Washington University (B.A.)
Harvard University (M.A.)
Princeton University (Ph.D.)
Religion Methodism
Signature biography
Wife Donner, Franziska
Syngman Rhee
Hangul 이승만
Hanja 李承晩
Revised Romanization I Seungman
McCune–Reischauer Yi Sŭngman

Syngman Rhee (Korean: 이승만 I Seungman, pronounced[iː sʰɯŋ.man]; April 18, 1875 – July 19, 1965) was a Korean statesman and the first president of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea as well as the first president of South Korea. His three-term presidency of South Korea (August 1948 to April 1960) was strongly affected by Cold War tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Rhee was regarded as an anti-Communist and a strongman, and he led South Korea through the Korean War. His presidency ended in resignation following popular protests against a disputed election. He died in exile in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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General Church (left) being met at Suwon Airfield by (left to right) Mr. E.F. Drumwright, Counselor of the U.S. Embassy at Sŏul, President Rhee, and Ambassador Muccio.

"While defending Suwŏn Airfield, Air Force Lieutenant Orrin R. Fox, 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, scored two Yak9 kills and Lieutenants Richard J. Burns, 35th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, and Harry T. Sandlin, 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, each shot down a Yak fighter. These were the first aerial victories made by F51 Mustang pilots in the Korean War. Interestingly, General MacArthur witnessed the air battle while conferring with Syngman Rhee." 

  Name Rank  Service  Unit Flying Shoot Down Credit
1 Burns, Ricahrd 1Lt USAF 35 Sq F51 IL 10 1
2 Fox, Orrin 2Lt USAF 8 Sq F51 IL 10 2
3 Marsh, Roy 1Lt USAF 8 Sq F80 IL 10 1
4 Sandlin, Harry 1Lt USAF 8 Sq F51 LA 7 1

June 25, 1950

This particular Sunday the return from wince they came did not happen exactly as expected.  In Tokyo when  of the SCAP staff learned from Edith Sebald that something was amiss in Korea, he quickly passed the word to General of the Army Douglas A. MacArthur, who was quartered at the Dai Ichi Life Insurance building.  The General had gotten the word from General Ned [Edward M.] Almond about two hours after the attack began [about 6AM]. FEAF would not learn of it for another three and three quarter hours.  It would not be until 11:30 AM that the whole of FEAF was notified of the incursion.  In the mean time the General of the Army wanted to be alone with his thoughts.  Being so early his wife came in and ask if everything was all right

June 25, 1950

Confidence in the ROK Army was further reinforced that day by MacArthur's G2, Charles Willoughby. It was contained in the first telecon between Collins and Ridgway in the Pentagon and Willoughby in Tokyo. When Collins and Ridgway queried Willoughby about the situation in South Korea, Willoughby conceded that it was a major NKPA invasion aimed at conquering South Korea but that the ROK Army was withdrawing with "orderliness," the morale of the South Koreans was "good," and the Rhee government was "standing firm." Nonetheless, Willoughby "said," GHQ was proceeding with a prearranged contingency plan to evacuate American personnel (women and children first) by ship from Sŏul's seaport, Inch'ŏn, with appropriate air and naval protection.[3-14]

This first telecon contained a historically fascinating sidelight. Without consulting Truman, that day both GHQ, Tokyo, and the Pentagon decided independently to respond affirmatively to Muccio's request for a ten-day supply of ammo for the ROK Army. When he received the request, MacArthur ordered his chief of staff, Ned Almond, to load two ships immediately. In the telecon Collins asked Willoughby if he was correct in assuming Tokyo was meeting Muccio's request. Willoughby replied: "We are meeting emergency request for ammunition." The two ships would be escorted by air and naval vessels. Thus the Pentagon and GHQ, Tokyo, had made the decision to project American military power into South Korea without presidential authorization.[3-15]

June 25, 1950

On the first day of the invasion, President Syngman Rhee, Ambassador Muccio, and KMAG notified United States authorities of the need for an immediate flow of military supplies into Korea for the ROK Army. [05-20] General MacArthur with Washington's approval, ordered Eighth Army to ship to Pusan at once 105,000 rounds of 105-mm. howitzer, 265,000 rounds of 81-mm. mortar, 89,000 rounds of 60-mm. mortar, and 2,480,000 rounds of .30-caliber ball ammunition.

June 25, 1950

On the first day of the invasion, President Syngman Rhee, Ambassador Muccio, and KMAG notified United States authorities of the need for an immediate flow of military supplies into Korea for the ROK Army. [05-20] General MacArthur with Washington's approval, ordered Eighth Army to ship to Pusan at once 105,000 rounds of 105-mm. howitzer, 265,000 rounds of 81-mm. mortar, 89,000 rounds of 60-mm. mortar, and 2,480,000 rounds of .30-caliber ball ammunition.

June 25, 1950 1100

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After the North Korean attack was well under way, the P'yŏngyang radio broadcast at 1100 an announcement that the North Korean Government had declared war against South Korea as a result of an invasion by South Korean puppet forces ordered by "the bandit traitor Syngman Rhee." [03-11] The broadcast said the North Korea People's Army had struck back in self-defense and had begun a "righteous invasion." Syngman Rhee, it stated, would be arrested and executed. [03-12]

June 25, 1950 1200

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A message ninety minutes later gave confirmation. General MacArthur immediately informed Washington and, within a few hours, sent the first comprehensive situation report on the Korean fighting. [04-16]

As the news from Korea worsened later that first day, General MacArthur warned Washington officials, "Enemy effort serious in strength and strategic intent and is undisguised act of war subject to United Nations censure." But he hardly realized how strong it was. His situation report showed only three North Korean divisions along the entire border. [04-17]

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American Ambassador to Korea Muccio conferred with President Rhee, who said that the ROK Army would be out of ammunition within ten days. Muccio quickly cabled MacArthur for replenishment.

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The Ambassador had already directed the acting chief of KMAG, Colonel Wright, to request an immediate shipment of ammunition for 105-mm. howitzers, 60-mm. mortars, and .30-caliber carbines. [04-18]

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Before the day was out, [6/25] General MacArthur ordered General Walker to load the USNS Sergeant George D. Keathley (T-APC-117), then in Yokohama Harbor, with 105,000 rounds of 105-mm. ammunition and 265,000 rounds of 81-mm. mortar, 89,000 rounds of 60-mm. mortar, and 2,480,000 rounds of .30-caliber carbine ammunition. He wanted the Keathley to reach Pusan no later than 1 July. He directed FEAF and COMNAVFE to protect the Keathley en route and during cargo discharge. In his information report to the Department of the Army, MacArthur said that he intended

"to supply ROK all needed supplies as long as they show ability to use same." [04-19]

These actions MacArthur took independently. He received no authority from the JCS to supply the ROK until the following day, at 1330, 26 June. {this appears to be incorrect}

June 25, 1950 1200

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A message ninety minutes later gave confirmation. General MacArthur immediately informed Washington and, within a few hours, sent the first comprehensive situation report on the Korean fighting. [04-16]

As the news from Korea worsened later that first day, General MacArthur warned Washington officials, "Enemy effort serious in strength and strategic intent and is undisguised act of war subject to United Nations censure." But he hardly realized how strong it was. His situation report showed only three North Korean divisions along the entire border. [04-17]

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American Ambassador to Korea Muccio conferred with President Rhee, who said that the ROK Army would be out of ammunition within ten days. Muccio quickly cabled MacArthur for replenishment.

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The Ambassador had already directed the acting chief of KMAG, Colonel Wright, to request an immediate shipment of ammunition for 105-mm. howitzers, 60-mm. mortars, and .30-caliber carbines. [04-18]

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Before the day was out, [6/25] General MacArthur ordered General Walker to load the USNS Sergeant George D. Keathley (T-APC-117), then in Yokohama Harbor, with 105,000 rounds of 105-mm. ammunition and 265,000 rounds of 81-mm. mortar, 89,000 rounds of 60-mm. mortar, and 2,480,000 rounds of .30-caliber carbine ammunition. He wanted the Keathley to reach Pusan no later than 1 July. He directed FEAF and COMNAVFE to protect the Keathley en route and during cargo discharge. In his information report to the Department of the Army, MacArthur said that he intended

"to supply ROK all needed supplies as long as they show ability to use same." [04-19]

These actions MacArthur took independently. He received no authority from the JCS to supply the ROK until the following day, at 1330, 26 June. {this appears to be incorrect}

June 25, 1950 1500

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During the afternoon of 25 June ROK President Syngman Rhee's importunate telephone calls kept Ambassador Muccio occupied. President Rhee believed that the ROK ground troops would offer effective opposition, but he was greatly worried about the Reds' superiority in tanks and aircraft.

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 Unable to contact General MacArthur, Rhee telephoned an urgent plea to Muccio. Give us ten F-51 aircraft, with bombs and "bazookas" (rockets), he begged. Deliver them before dawn on 26 June to Korean pilots who will be waiting at Taegu. Unless these planes are received, Rhee warned, it will be very difficult to meet the northern attack. Rhee also asked for heavier artillery which could disable or destroy Communist tanks, specifically 75-mm. antitank guns, 105-mm. howitzers, and 155-mm. howitzers.#21

Ambassador Muccio relayed these requests to Tokyo and reported to the U.S. Secretary of State that Rhee was most concerned about his lack of air capabilities.

"As Department doubtless aware," Muccio cabled, "Rhee and other Korean officials will look to United States for air assistance above all else. Future course of hostilities may depend largely on whether United States will or will not give adequate air assistance." #22  

June 25, 1950 1500

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Thereafter throughout the day the two men (Ambassador Muccio and ROK President Syngman Rhee's) were in constant communication with each other on the direct line they maintained between their offices. Most of the messages to Tokyo during 25 June came to the U.S. Air Force from Kimp'o Airfield, and there was a constant stream of them. By 1500 in the afternoon both Crabb and Wright were convinced that the North Koreans were engaged in a full-scale invasion of South Korea. [04-2]

June 25, 1950 1700 3AM Washington

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But at 1700 hours the Yaks returned. Two. of them strafed Kimp'o, hitting the control tower, a gasoline dump, and an American Military Air transport Service (MATS) C-54 which was grounded with a damaged wing. Four other Yaks strafed the Sŏul Airfield and damaged seven out of ten trainer airplanes which the ROK Air Force had there.

At approximately 1900 hours six other North Korean fighters again strafed Kimp'o. This time they completely destroyed the hapless MATS transport.#20

American Ambassador to Korea Muccio conferred with President Syngman Rhee, who said that the ROK Army would be out of ammunition within ten days. Muccio quickly cabled MacArthur, for replenishment. The Ambassador had already directed the acting chief of KMAG, Colonel Wright to request an immediate shipment of ammunition for 105-mm. howitzers, 60-mm. mortars, and .30-caliber carbines. [04-18]

June 26, 1960

Congress is hesitant to urge the president to send troops to South Korea until many of the leading newspapers around the country write editorials backing the use of fighting forces. Among the newspapers are the N.Y. Times, Atlanta Constitution and Los Angeles Mirror.

-- Gen. Douglas MacArthur announces from Japan that 10 P-51 Mustang fighter planes and other supplies will be sent to the South Koreans. South Korea President Syngman Rhee says it is "too little, too late," and the planes will be useless because no Korean pilots are trained to fly them.

-- A U.S. Air Force fighter pilot shoots down a Russian-built North Korean Yak fighter near Kimp'o Airfield while covering transport planes evacuating Americans to Japan.

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Despite the stand of the 1st ROK division, the USAF official line still stands that the  ROK's were ready to bail.

 

On 26 June, the second day of hostilities, U. S. forces worked at evacuation while the North Korean attack continued southward. FEAF fighters covered two vessels evacuating personnel from Inch'ŏn, and during the morning two 68th All Weather Fighter Squadron F-82's were attacked over the port area by a pair of North Korean fighters. The F-82 pilots, still a bit uncertain as to whether they should return fire, took evasive action and resumed patrols.

 

Evacuation progressed smoothly; in the afternoon a Norwegian ship Reinholte left Inch'ŏn carrying 682 civilians. During the day the North Korean Air Force made a substantial number of sorties in support of their ground troops, but offered no concerted air action. Ground fighting on the 26th gave little encouragement to the hope that the ROK army might be able to withstand the North Korean onslaught, and although Ambassador Muccio tried to dissuade him, President Rhee announced his intention to evacuate the ROK government to Taejŏn. The KMAG reported widespread defeatism among ROK troops, and Muccio added that he held no more than "faint confidence that the Koreans may hold out."

June 24, 1950 1330

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American Ambassador to Korea Muccio conferred with President Rhee, who said that the ROK Army would be out of ammunition within ten days. Muccio quickly cabled MacArthur for replenishment. The Ambassador had already directed the acting chief of KMAG, Colonel Wright, to request an immediate shipment of ammunition for 105-mm. howitzers, 60-mm. mortars, and .30-caliber carbines. [04-18]