12 August 1948
U.S. Recognizes South Korea
In the May 1948 the United States sponsored elections in South Korea, under the supervision of the United Nations. The Soviets objected to this, claiming that in the absence of agreement over the fate of all of Korea the peninsula should continue to be governed by U.S. and Soviet occupying forces. Therefore the Soviet government instructed left-wing parties in the south to boycott the elections.

Thanks to this boycott, the winner of the 1948 election was Syngman Rhee. Rhee, who had an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a PhD from Princeton, had been an exile during the years of Japanese occupation. A professed Christian and a dedicated anti-communist, the Soviets saw his election to the presidency as a slap in the face. They quickly declared that Kim Il-Sung, a Korean communist who had spent much of the war in Moscow, would be prime minister in the North.

Eager to be rid of its commitments in Asia, the U.S. government announced its recognition of Rhee’s regime in the south as an independent republic. Arrangements quickly got underway for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region.

- Preliminary Activities, up to 25 June 1950