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

557. Ref: Embtels 551 and 553.2

After courtesy call by Senator Monroney December 21 I took President Pak aside and said that I had thought over very carefully what he had said to me on December 18 about return of Kim Chong-p’il.3 I nevertheless continued to feel that it would cause a great deal of trouble for ROK-Japan negotiations and for political stability in [Page 56] Korea if KCP returned before the ROK-Japan negotiations were ended. I said that I wanted him to know that what I had said to him on Saturday was not only my own personal opinion but that I had conveyed to him this message by specific instructions of the Department of State.4
At these words, the President drew in his breath sharply, looked down at the floor for some time, shook his head and said: “I understand.”
At the door the President said that he could not force KCP to stay away but that he would try to find some way to advise him very strongly to do so. He could not say that it was because the US wanted him to stay away. Some other reason would have to be found. I agreed it would be a very great mistake if KCP were told that he would have to stay away because that was what Americans wanted. This was a Korean decision and I was simply giving the President, as a friend of his and a friend of Korea’s, the advice that a friend would give when asked. I repeated that it would be a great mistake to attribute KCP’s exile to pressure from the US. The President said he hoped that the US would not continue its opposition to KCP’s return.
Above represents progress and indicates that President Pak got more of my message on December 19 than Yi Hu-rak indicated and had been thinking about it. But this battle is by no means yet won. I therefore renew recommendation para 2 Embtel 553.5
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 30 KOR S. Secret; Limdis.
  2. In telegram 551 from Seoul, December 19, Brown reported on his meeting with Pak concerning the return of Kim Chong-pil, and in telegram 553 from Seoul, December 19, stated that the arguments made to Pak had not affected Pak’s view that “Kim’s return is now ‘set in concrete.’” (Both ibid.)
  3. On December 18 Pak told Brown that he had no direct contact with Kim, that he heard from others that Kim planned to return, and that he could do nothing if Kim decided to come back to Korea. Pak also claimed that Kim’s return would not affect the talks with Japan, since “Kim Chong-pil was not all that important.” (Telegram 551 from Seoul, December 19; ibid.)
  4. Brown explained to Pak that Kim’s “mere presence in the country would create controversy” and instability within Korea at a time when internal affairs and the talks with Japan were going well. He reminded Pak that student demonstrations earlier in the year focused on Kim’s involvement in the negotiations with Japan and asked him if he wanted to risk a return of that situation by allowing Kim to reemerge in Korea. (Ibid.)
  5. In telegram 553 Brown suggested that the Department of State hold a high-level meeting with Ambassador Kim to inform him that the U.S. views Kim Chong-pil’s return as having a negative impact on all concerned and to instruct him to relay that message to Pak. In telegram 586 from Seoul, December 30, the Embassy reported that Kim’s return was “an accomplished fact,” that Pak had reneged on his commitment to keep Kim out of Korea for at least one year, and that even the anti-Kim opposition found that “accommodation was easier than struggle.” (Ibid., POL 12 KOR S)