118. Editorial Note

On June 8, 1967, Koreans voted to elect 175 members of the National Assembly. Although several splinter parties participated in the campaign, the contest focused on candidates from the two major parties, the Democratic Republican Party and the New Democratic Party. When the results were tallied, the Democratic Republican Party won a majority of 130 seats, while 44 seats went to the opposition New Democratic Party. The Masses’ Party, the sole successful splinter party, won a single seat.

Since the Democratic Republican Party’s margin of victory, giving it better than a two-thirds majority in the Assembly, was unexpectedly large, the opposition New Democratic Party charged that the Democratic Republican victory had resulted from illegalities and fraud. The charges of corruption spurred student unrest and demonstrations, which intensified post-election dissatisfaction. Opposition party leaders sought to nullify the election results by demanding a new election, [Page 255] and newly elected opposition members refused to take their seats at the start of the Assembly session on July 1. Those circumstances produced a serious political crisis.

Both parties acknowledged election irregularities, but the Democratic Republican Party and President Pak denied the opposition’s charges that the election had been manipulated from Seoul. The Embassy also reported that irregularities, in fact, stemmed from lack of central control, allowing local candidates and local officials willingly to engage in or encourage malpractices and to ignore election rules. Post-election investigations identified persons who had engaged in such practices, leading the Democratic Republican Party to expel nine of its newly elected Assembly members from the party immediately after the election and an additional eight members in September and October.

Fearful that the Democratic Republican Party would use its majority to change the Constitution, thereby enabling President Pak to serve a third Presidential term, and concerned about future election prospects, opposition party leader Yu Chin-o demanded that 1) President Pak publicly apologize for rigging the election, 2) the election results be nullified and a new election held, 3) those responsible for the irregularities be punished, and 4) guarantees be instituted to prevent future election irregularities. Largely because of disarray within the New Democratic Party and because of conciliatory moves made by the Democratic Republican Party, both sides negotiated to end the impasse, which officially ended on November 29 when all but two elected Assembly members took their seats. (Airgram A–33 from Seoul, July 20; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69,POL 14 KOR S; and INR Intelligence Note No. 960, December 1; ibid., POL 15–2 KOR S)