223. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (Magruder) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Lemnitzer), in Paris0
[KRA] 306. Yesterday, through an indirect approach, I was informed that former Lieutenant Colonel Kim Chong Pil had stated that the entire joint statement as drafted by General Pak Chung Hi and me could be approved by the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction if they were really satisfied that I would not use my operational control in an attempt to break the revolution. I sent back word that I would be glad to talk to Kim.
Former Lieutenant Colonel Kim Chong Pil was perhaps the foremost of the young officers who agitated for the elimination of senior officers after the April revolution that overthrew President Rhee. He was one of the group that waited on Chief of Staff General Song Yo Chan to [Page 467]demand his resignation. He was the moving spirit that activated the group of sixteen officers who waited on Chief of Staff General Choi Young Hi to demand his resignation. Kim did not actually enter Choi Young Hi’s office with the sixteen officers, he brought them to the office and remained outside himself. He was perhaps the foremost of the agitators whose elimination from the ROK Army I have sought over the past year. He was eliminated from the Army in February 1961. I am now informed that he is reinstated as a Lieutenant Colonel although he called on me today dressed in civilian clothes.
Col Kim called on General Meloy and me this morning. Colonel Kim reviewed the justification for the revolution, regretted that the only method of conducting the revolution required a violation of my operational control and assured me of the good intentions of the new government. He said nothing new but followed the same line that the group have pursued in all their propaganda.
I accented to Col Kim that my mission was to defend Korea, not to determine what kind of a government Korea had. I explained each of my important actions in the past based upon carrying out my mission of defending Korea. I sought by implication to make it crystal clear that as long as the revolutionary government took no action that would prejudice the defense of Korea they had nothing to fear from me.
I reviewed the specific actions that the coup group had taken that prejudiced my ability to accomplish my mission and that I therefore opposed, namely:
- They have deprived me of some of the means for accomplishing my mission by withdrawing troops assigned in the forward areas.
- They have weakened my ability to get my orders carried out by relieving and appointing senior commanders without my consent.
- They have weakened the authority of their own commanders by the organization of officers who are loyal to the coup group instead of to their own commanders and who stay ready to act against their own commanders when they feel those commanders are taking actions that would not be approved by the coup group.
Our meeting concluded without any specific conclusions or agreements. I therefore have no idea as to whether Colonel Kim will use his influence to seek reconsideration of the disapproval by the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction of the draft proposed by Major General Pak Chung Hi and myself.1
- Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Korea, Cables, 5/25/61-5/31/61. Secret; Exclusive. Also sent to General Bonesteel in Washington. Lemnitzer was in Paris for discussions at SHAPE Headquarters May 22-26. (National Defense University, Lemnitzer Papers, Journal, L-419-71)↩
- In telegram KRA 309 to Lemnitzer, May 26, Magruder stated that after protracted negotiations with Major General Pak Chung-hui and Lieutenant Colonel Kim Chin-pil, he had agreed to an exchange of letters returning operational control of all ROK forces to CINCUNC and reestablishing consultation on high-ranking military personal assignments. The letters were contained in telegram KRA 309 and were subsequently released to the public in Seoul on May 26. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Korea, General, 5/26/61-5/31/61)↩