INT: What was your own feeling when..
HPW: (overlap) We were elated. Just before..
INT: (interruption) Sorry.. you just.. you slightly interrupted me there. I just.. asked you again.. what was your own feeling when the resolution was passed?
HPW: Oh, we were elated. We felt very very good. Very encouraged. We felt, furthermore we felt that probably Korean unification was to come about as a result of the resolution itself.
INT: Why do you.. looking back now, or indeed at the time, what was your feeling about why the Russians didn't return to the Security Council?
HPW: Well, that all.. even today it puzzles me. I read Gromyko's memoirs which was published in America as well, English version, and there's a reference to the Korean War and Gromyko, Andrei Gromyko was saying that he was something like an assistant secretary in the State Department and he said that he had gone to see Stalin and urged him to send the ambassador back to the Security Council telling him that surely there would be a resolution introduced and we ought to be there to veto it, but according to Gromyko, Stalin said nothing to that urging by Gromyko. But even today, I think people are puzzled, but my own guess is that when the Soviet Union was planning the invasion -- and of course North Korea always wanted it -- they knew that the Republic Korea armed forces was very very weak. Even the average Koreans knew at that time that their military strength was something like 3 to 1, but in reality, it might have been even larger than that, lot stronger than we, and I think once they launched the invasion, they thought it would take just matter of few days to finish it all. So why should we send back the ambassador to the Security Council to veto it? There was no need of it. I think that's the kind of thinking they probably had. War was to be over very very shortly. That's my.. even now, that's my guess.
INT: Was there a belief, in the United States, at the time, that the invasion of the Republic of Korea was solely the work of Kim Il Sung or that the invasion had been organised by Stalin?
HPW: No, we at that time.. I felt I was a junior officer, yes, but I suppose.. Ambassador Chong agreed with me it was the Soviet Union who conspired the idea of launching the whole and of course Kim Il Sung had been urging that right along. So there was no doubt that it was a Soviet.. plan, Soviet support and Soviet implementation of the war itself. I have not.. even today I don't have any doubt because their mind was very set to occupy the whole Korean peninsula. They had.. they wanted to take their share in the Japanese occupation and they failed to do so and.. (unintelligible) they emphasise on grabbing Korean peninsula.
INT: I'm going to move on now to the very end of the war.. 3 years later. When the armistice was signed in July 1953, did you celebrate?
INT: Just picking up on that again, Mr Han. When the armistice was signed in July 1953, did you celebrate?
HPW: We were worried actually when the armistice was signed. Our problem was that if the armistice agreement was signed, the troops would be withdrawn, the foreign troops, US troops from Korea and the Chinese troops from North Korea would be withdrawn. But very fortunately, President Syngman Rhee had been able to wangle the US/Korea military alliance before the signing of the armistice itself, and with that.. signing of that, he of course concurred on going along with the armistice itself. But in general, the people's sentiment was a kind of a dismay because they were hoping that the United Nations would go on and.. fight to the end until the North Korean and Chinese troops were smashed and the country was unified. So we were not happy but what could we do? But in a way we were thankful that the US/Korea military alliance was signed.
INT: What was your view at the time of Syngman Rhee as leader of the Republic of Korea?
HPW: Well, he was a very courageous, wise leader. He was wise because it was he who conspired the idea of setting up a separate government in the southern part of Korea because he knew that the Soviet Union's ultimate aim was to had the whole of Korean peninsula with North Korea as its basis. So while the US...USSR conference was going on in Korea before the.. formation of the Republic of Korea, and Syngman Rhee was in Korea then, it was not solving the Korean problem and one way to ensure the Korean independence was to hang onto the second.. southern half of Korea by setting up the government. So you see, in sense, he founded the Republic of Korea. There were other people who opposed to it. He was courageous fighter in the sense that during the dark days of the North Korean invasion, it was he who rallied the people and people really solidly stood behind him. my admiration for him is unbounded.
INT: I remember when we met before, you used the phrase which I think would have a resonance to an American audience, that he was 'the father of the nation'.
HPW: He was. He was always called 'the father of the nation'. In the American Congress, many of the people who knew something about Korea called Syngman Rhee as the George Washington of Korea. And very deservedly so.
INT: Right. I'd just like to go back on one.. question or one issue we.. discussed just now. Again, if you could answer as though you're telling me for the first time. Can you remember at the time, was it your view and was it the United States' view, that the invasion of the South was solely the work of Kim Il Sung, or that the Soviet Union were behind it?
HPW: Well, we never entertained any doubt that it was Kim Il Sung whom invaded. It was the USSR with the help of Kim Il Sung invaded and that idea does not go out of my mind, even today. I think the documents, if they are all revealed, would vindicate what I think and many Americans would have felt the same way. (clears throat)
INT: I'll just ask that again because it was slightly confusing, the answer that you... said, whether it was Kim Il Sung or the USSR, so let me just ask that again, and again, as though you're telling me for the first time. Was it your view, and was it the view of the United States, that the invasion was solely the work of Kim Il Sung, or that Stalin was behind it?
HPW: Well, I don't know exactly what the United States thought about the role of the USSR or of Kim Il Sung himself, but our view was that it was solely the Moscow-based decision which Kim Il Sung happily supported and participated.
INT: Sorry, I'm just going to have to ask you to do that once more, I'm afraid. It doesn't look quite so good on the camera when you lean.. forward. (Instructions) So again, I'm sorry for this Mr Han, just.. as though for the first time, did you believe that the invasion of the South was solely the work of Kim Il Sung or that Stalin was behind it?
HPW: We felt right along then, which we haven't changed even now, that it was the sole responsibility of the USSR for conceiving the idea of taking over the whole Korean peninsula by force. It was conceived by Stalin, it was planned by Stalin, it was implemented by Stalin and Kim Il Sung's role was to be happy and join it and supported it.
INT: Excellent. Right, thank you very much indeed.
END OF I/V WITH HAN PYO-WOOK