Lieutenant General John Reed Hodge was one of the most important people in recent Korean history. He served as the commander of the U.S. military occupation of southern Korea from September 1945 to August 1948, although he was far from being a prominent U.S. Army officer during World War II. His personal and professional background had a direct and negative impact on his implementation of instructions and his dealings with the Korean people and their political leaders. This article provides evidence that President Harry S. Truman's decision to appoint Hodge as occupation commander was a serious mistake. His narrow experience and lesser command responsibilities caused him to make decisions that greatly increased political polarization in the divided country, creating the circumstances that would result in the outbreak of the Korean War.