Democratic government

The minor powers were also involved in the operations and programs of the commission. In the plenary sessions of the United Nations General Assembly, held from September 22, 1948 to December 12, 1948, it was noted that the minor powers also influenced the operations of the commission, although this was first restricted in the session halls of UN. In a draft resolution (A/C. 1/367), a proposal was made by some countries to invite the delegation of DPR Korea.

This was subsequently rejected by a vote of 38 against to 6 in favor of the resolution (Communist countries). Czechoslovakia (Communist state), for example, also proposed another resolution inviting a delegation from DPRK. China proposed a resolution inviting a delegation from the Republic of Korea. This “invitation” play was not a matter of unifying Korea under a democratic government; rather it involved the issue of legitimacy.

“Inviting” meant as recognition of the right to exist of that government (its right to govern a country – the right to sovereignty). It should be noted that China wanted to invite the delegation from the south, recognizing the fact that it did not support any government under the influence of the USSR (it was in ideological conflict with this country after WWII). In short, initially, the role of the minor powers in the operations of UNTCOK was limited to determining the frame of action of the commission.

The USSR used its “pawn/satellite” countries in the United Nations to block any move for the establishment of a democratic government in Korea. The US did the same. The minor powers though at the onset of the Korean War (like France, Turkey, Canada, and Australia) were the main components of the UN peace-keeping force. Hence, the operations and programs of UNTCOK became only successful in the south. It was able to form a democratically elected government for the south.

Nonetheless, democratic channels like elections were also instituted. The success of UNTCOK was only a shadow success for it enabled the magnification of conflict in the Korean peninsula. The north refused to join in the national elections (since they were engaged in ideological battle). The USSR continued to oppose resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly for the final unification of Korea under democracy. Hence, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the fact that UNTCOK failed in its general objectives. To quote

“Noting that the activity of the Commission, which undertook the functions of observing the elections … not only did not contribute to the carrying out of free elections, but, on to contrary, resulted in the elections in southern Korea taking place in conditions of police constraints and repression … the existence of the Commission is being used for the purpose of concealing an anti-democracy policy and the establishment of a reactionary anti-national regime … and also for the purpose of dividing Korea and of suppressing the democratic forces of the Korean people, contrary to the principles and purposes of the United Nations, Resolves to terminate the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea” (UN General Assembly Resolution A/790 – December 1948, 2007: URL cited). There are significant factors that contributed to the failure of the operations of UNTCOK.

Here are as follows: 1) the absence of a withdrawal date for US and Soviet forces prior to the proposed national elections for Korea, 2) rising cynicism of Soviet and US delegates in the United Nations General Assembly over the political future of Korea, 3) the propaganda strategies employed by both the Soviet Union and the United States in north and south Korea respectively, and 4) the refusal of the Soviet Union to grant the right of passage as well as observation to members of the UNTCOK.