12. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


FYI, Marshall Green thinks ROK rioting quite serious.2 Pak will probably impose martial law, which we oppose. We fear it will only bottle up popular resentment, which will burst out even more violently sometime later. [4 lines of source text not declassified]

We’re worried lest we be over-identified with yet another repressive campaign by one of our Asian clients. This may also spell the end of ROK-Jap settlement hopes this year.3 It’s regrettable that irresponsibility of a minority of the students, egged on by an irresponsible opposition, is undermining the ROK’s real future hopes. This country isn’t ready for democracy yet, any more than it was for Rhee-style dictatorship in the Fifties. Our Korean policy has been a mess from the beginning, except for the war period itself.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Korea, Memos, Vol. I. Secret.
  2. Green’s views derived from his meeting with Yum Suk Heun, Minister of the Korean Embassy, on May 29. Green informed William Bundy that “Yun predicted that, unless immediate steps are taken to get rid of Kim Chong Pil and improve the Government’s standing before the people, the populace led by the students would topple Park Chong Hui’s Government within a matter of weeks.” (Memorandum from Green to Bundy, June 1; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15 KOR S)
  3. Yun also informed Green that popular opposition to a settlement was “not because of hatred of Japan but because Kim Chong Pil and company are obviously turning these negotiations to their own personal financial profit,” making a settlement impossible. In Yun’s view, if his government attempted to conclude an agreement with Japan, “the lid would blow.” (Ibid.)