Ambassador at war: John J. Muccio and the Korean War (1948-1952)
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The United States of America sent eight ministers to Korea’s Chosŏn Dynasty and Korean Empire from 1883 until 1905. John J. Muccio was the first Ambassador that the U.S. dispatched to the Republic of Korea. What made Muccio different from the other eight representatives was his country’s changing place in world politics after World War I and World War II. After World War II, the U.S. became a key player in the decision making process with regard to the Korean Peninsula’s fate along with the Soviet Union. The dissertation explores the salient aspirations, dilemmas and experiences of the “dean of diplomatic corps” in the Republic of Korea. Relying extensively on the American and Korean declassified archival materials, this dissertation reconstructs the Korean War from the point of view of John J. Muccio. Muccio was one of the primary proponents of the idea of delaying the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from the Republic of Korea. Immediately after the outbreak of the Korean War, Muccio had to overstep his bounds as an envoy of a foreign nation mainly because of the lack of leadership shown by Syngman Rhee. Muccio became the de facto leader of the civilian opposition against the North Korean onslaught, a position he kept until the relocation of the Republic of Korea to Seoul on September 29, 1950. The political crisis of 1952 was when Muccio yielded to Rhee’s manipulation tactics and it set a precedent for the U.S. to align itself with authoritative figures in Korea instead of supporting democratic processes.