The period just after World War 2 has always been fascinating, not only to see the wave of emerging nations from former colonial rule, but also the shaping of the Cold War atmosphere that would be such a part of life for decades after. A pivotal period of time, to be sure.
While the ink on the Surrender documents was still drying, a Conference was held in Moscow by the former Allies to start hammering out a plan for the post-war world. Needless to say, it wasn't terribly successful, but Secretary of State James F. Byrnes did come back with some interesting proposals, which of course never saw fruition, including one for Korea.
Sec. of State James F. Byrnes: “The Administration of Korea has been a trying problem since the surrender of Japan. For purposes of Military operations the occupation of Korea was divided North and South of latitude 38 into Soviet and American areas. The continuation of this division after the surrender has been very unsatisfactory. The movement of persons and goods and the functioning of public services on a nationwide scale has been greatly hampered. Under our agreement at Moscow the two military commands are to form a joint Soviet-American Commission to solve immediate economic and administrative problems. They will make recommendations to the governments of The United States, The Soviet Union, Great Britain and China for the formation of a Korean Provisional Democratic government. They will also make proposals to these governments regarding a four power trusteeship to prepare Korea for its independence within five years.”
Nice words but . . .it didn't happen. In fact the shooting war got started just around the time the proposed Independence time frame was supposed to have taken place.
There's something about looking at history from the viewpoint of "what could've happened, what should've happened and what did happen" that makes it interesting and frustrating at the same time.
And then there's that hindsight thing. . . .
Here is Secretary of State James F. Byrnes' address on the outcome of the Moscow Conference which he delivered on December 30, 1945.