127. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Mr. Bundy’s Meeting with Mr. Colby, September 15, 19672


  • Messrs. Bundy and Burke for EA; Messrs. Colby, Smith [name not declassified] for CIA; Mr. Stuart for INR/DDC and Mr. Fleck of EA for the Korean item


[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said that the infiltration of North Korean agents across the DMZ, or by sea on both the East and West coasts, is the major current problem for the Republic of Korea.3 [2 lines of source text not declassified] Present plans calls for the establishment of 123 nine-man teams which would be trained in the establishment of information networks and the setting up of ambush points. The teams would be equipped with some automatic weapons and radios. There would be some cross training so that if one or two members of the team were killed the team could still carry out all its functions. It was hoped that by March 1968 the number of teams could be doubled. The eventual ceiling for these units would be in the neighborhood of 3,000 men. The program is now handicapped by the failure of the Korean government to budget for the increased expenses of equipping the teams and by the inability of American radio companies to supply satisfactory radio equipment fast enough. What had once been a major problem, the question of military as against police control of the units, had been resolved favorably in [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] view; that is, in favor of the police.

[1–1/2 lines of source text not declassified] said that agents that had been captured had made it clear that current infiltrations were to test out South Korean defenses and that the agents were to find the “soft spots” [Page 275]and then return to North Korea in September and prepare for an intensified effort next Spring.4

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] had surveyed briefly several of the new economic development projects in South Korea and had come to the conclusion that most of these projects were highly vulnerable to North Korean sabotage. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] had recommended stationing of security units from the Korean armed forces at all of these developments.5

Mr. Fleck questioned [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] with respect to the alleged North Korean espionage net among South Korean students in Europe and the United States. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] replied that there appeared to be a valid case against some 68 teachers and students who had been arrested. The North Koreans appear to have concentrated on medical doctors who were trained abroad. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] added that the North Korean object did not appear to be purely espionage but that long range political action working toward the eventual reunion of North and South Korea was also involved.

[1 paragraph (4 lines of source text) not declassified]

[Here follows a discussion of operations on Taiwan.]

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, East Asia and Pacific General File, East Asia, FE Weekly Meetings, 1967. Secret. Drafted on September 19. Sent to Hughes, Denney, and Evans.
  2. Agenda at Tab A. [Footnote in the source text; attached but not printed.]
  3. Reports indicated that in 1967 there were “more than 300 DMZ incidents compared with 42 in 1966” and “nearly 300 US/ROK casualties compared with less than 70 in 1966.” (Research Memorandum REA–40, September 17; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69,POL 23–7 KOR S) In addition, “there were more DMZ firefights and by far more United Nations Command casualties in August [1967] than in any other month since the armistice.” (Memorandum from the Defense Intelligence Agency to McNamara, September 11; Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD/OASD/ISA Files: FRC 72 A 2468, X-Korea 370–64)
  4. INR intelligence analysts attributed the increased activities to North Korea’s desire to force unification under terms favorable to Communist rule, a diminishing possibility in view of South Korea’s enhanced political and economic position and improved military capabilities. They also pointed to the influence of the Vietnam war, arguing that increased border activity was intended to discourage the ROK from sending additional troops to Vietnam. (Research Memorandum REA–40, September 17; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–7 KOR S; and ibid.)
  5. The Korean Minister of National Defense called a high-level military conference on September 14 to discuss ways to intensify security in the ROK in the wake of two incidents of sabotage perpetrated on South Korean train lines. Proposals included building a barrier across the DMZ, assigning military units to guard railways, power plants, and similar facilities, and strengthening security forces by adding unemployed veterans to their ranks. (Telegram 1371 from Seoul, September 15; ibid., POL 23–7 KOR S)