16 OCTOBER 1953, Page 4

Sitting on Rhee

The temperature in Korea has for the moment been lowered a little. President Eisenhower and Mr. Dulles have stirred themselves to mollify India in its thankless task as chairman of the neutral commission; the wild old man who rules South Korea has been told sharply to restrain himself; and there is to be a meeting with the Chinese and North Koreans (if they agree to the date suggested by the State Department, as they probably will) at Panmunjom on October 26th. So far, so good; but the fat may be in the fire again before the pre-political conference conversations, which are sure to be raucous in any case, begin. The United Nations Command has completed the building of the permanent booths in which the Communist " explainers " are to interview the 22,500 anti-Communist prisoners in the care of the neutral commission, and if all goes according to plan the " explana- tions " will have started by the time this is in print. It is still feared, though, that the prisoners will refuse " explana- tions," demonstrate against the " explainers," and, if pressed, work up to that break-out which the Indians have already said they could not prevent. An infinity of tact and persuasive- ness will be needed to see the absurd experiment through without any such incidents as might give Synghman Rhee an excuse for running wild. The mixture has never been more inflammable. Nothing matters more than that Synghman Rhea should be kept from putting a match to it. Better an endless, acrimonious, and apparently hopeless exchange of discourtesies at Panmunjom than a resumption of hostilities engineered by Synghman Rhee, and the total war with China which could all too easily flare out of such a situation.