125. Telegram From the Embassy in Korea to the Department of State1

912. For Bundy and Berger from Porter. Subj: ROK Internal Security. Ref: Seoul 818.2

Since my arrival I have had an intensive and careful look at the internal security problem here. I have gone into the matter at considerable length with Gen Bonesteel and USOM as well as Emb [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] officers. The CT assessment contained reftel has my full endorsement. I particularly want to underscore [Page 271] the urgency of meeting the problem now and with vigor and ingenuity. The CT elements have a well developed and thoroughly integrated concept of how to deal with the threat and have been working closely with all agencies, civil and military, of the ROKG. The ROKG is moving on the problem and in the right direction. We need to move with them if our help is to be meaningful and timely.
The government, particularly Pres Pak, see the task of dealing with the agent/infiltrator problem as one for which the civilian agencies must be properly equipped and trained and not one which should be permitted significantly to divert the attention and energies of the armed forces from their primary mission along the DMZ and the offshore waters. We have strongly encouraged this attitude at all levels in the government. If this attitude and momentum is to be sustained and the goals achieved, the ROKs will need selective help from us in a timely manner. The help we provide now, though unanticipated when our programs were first developed, can prevent more serious problems later that will be far more costly to eliminate.
In the next few days, USOM will be submitting urgent program changes relating to the Korean National Police (KNP).3 These are critical for the effective development of the police is the key to maintaining the civilian agency orientation in coping with the agent/infiltrator problem that Pres Pak wants. (I understand he talked at great length on this point during the lunch he had with Clark Clifford and Gen Taylor.) I am not urging a normal police improvement program but one with a specific purpose and goal—stopping a serious NK agent/infiltrator threat to the ROK that is on the doorstep and before it moves into the house in serious proportions. It is from this perspective that I urge you and Poats and Bullitt to consider the USOM recommendations. They have my full support.
As part of the effort to equip the KNP field units to deal with agent/infiltrators, ROKG has made KFX available to CAS for the purchase of weapons on an urgent basis. We must have authorization [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] for certain weapon and ammo purchases and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] action to give the ROK request a high supply priority. [2 lines of source text not declassified] I consider fulfilling the ROKG request a matter of the highest priority and that I would be sending you word of my deep concern over the importance of speedily providing the weapons and ammo the ROKG wants and needs for the police.4 To have ill-equipped police [Page 272] teams operating in the mountain areas of this country against the well-trained, well-equipped NK agent infiltrators will only result in serious friendly casualties and invite doubts on the part of the populace as to whether their government can deal successfully with the threat from the North.
I am looking into the training aspect of the KNP effort and will shortly have a recommendation which may need your support.5
On the military side, General Bonesteel has submitted a restatement of his urgent needs for US and ROK forces (COMUS/K msg UK 59745) and his staff and ours are working up comprehensive counter-infiltration concepts with the requirements involved. His restatement has received the endorsement of CINCPAC (CINCPAC 1922092 Aug). I fully support COMUS/K’s request and consider its fulfillment a vital part of the total effort if it is to succeed.6
I cannot stress too strongly the importance of helping Pres Pak to take those measures that are needed to assure his people that the North does not pose a threat to ROK security that the ROKG cannot deal with and, more importantly, to demonstrate concretely that the government has the means to prevent an NK subversive threat of any significance from developing in the ROK. If he cannot create this sense of confidence and assurance, we are likely to find that other objectives of his in which we have a vital interest are severely prejudiced and possibly imperiled. We must do what is necessary now to help Pak if we are to succeed in achieving our other objectives.7
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–7 KOR S. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to the Department of Defense and CINCPAC for POLAD.
  2. Telegram 818 from Seoul, August 18, contains a Country Team message outlining the threat North Korea posed to the ROK and the latter’s attempts to counter it. The message concluded that North Korea’s goal was “to destroy public confidence in ROK, force withdrawal U.S. forces and unify Korea on Communist terms.” It noted that North Korean subversive activities had increased to unanticipated levels and could only be expected to escalate, with large-scale operations expected in the spring of 1968. (Ibid.)
  3. Not found.
  4. At a meeting attended by Bundy, Berger, [text not declassified] on August 31, it was reported that the requested weapons had been obtained and would be delivered to the Korean police as soon as the Koreans paid for them. (Memorandum from Trueheart to Hughes, Denney, and Evans, September 1; Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, East Asia and Pacific General File, East Asia, FE Weekly Meetings, 1967)
  5. Further information on this topic not found.
  6. COMUS/K and CINCPAC messages not found.
  7. In telegram 27837 to Seoul, August 26, Bundy expressed his full agreement with Porter’s and the Country Team’s recommendations and stated that the matters were being given priority attention. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–7 KOR S) Also in late August the Embassy, Department of State, and UN Mission decided to prepare a White Paper documenting North Korean violations of the DMZ for presentation to the General Assembly. Documentation on the UN presentation is ibid., POL 23–7 KOR S, POL 23–7 KOR S/UN, and POL 27–14 KOR/UN. The report submitted to the United Nations on November 2 is in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 788–790.