47. Memorandum From James C. Thomson of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson1


  • Your Meeting at 5 p.m. today with President Park

President Chung Hee Park has come to Washington for one paramount reason: he seeks the strongest possible indication from us, both through our courtesies to him and through tangible evidence of continuing U.S. assistance, that we have no intention of abandoning Korea to Japanese control in the wake of a Japan-Korea settlement. Whatever [Page 95] reassurance we can give him will ease the severe problems he faces in gaining the support of his people for the ratification and acceptance of such a settlement.

Personal Factors: Park is a shy, intelligent man born of a farm family, he has spent most of his life in his nation’s armed forces. He is said to be self-conscious of his height and therefore initially rather formal and stiff; he can respond to informality, however, once he feels at ease. His one form of recreation is horseback riding.

As you know, you met Park when he came to this country in November 1961 shortly after seizing power by a military coup: you met him again when he came to President Kennedy’s funeral.

In the attached memorandum2 (which you have already seen) State has suggested certain topics that might arise in your talks. Here is a brief review of the major points:

Japan-Korea Settlement: Both parties have made great progress, and a basic treaty has been initialed; it should be signed within a few weeks, and ratification will probably come in July. We are deeply gratified with this progress, and Park’s determination has been the chief ingredient. A settlement should bring a new and mutually productive relationship between two complementary economies and two natural allies.
Assistance to Vietnam: The Koreans now have 2,200 troops in Vietnam (including a military hospital unit, 10 karate instructors, an engineer battalion, a LST, and an infantry battalion to provide security for these forces). We are deeply grateful for this assistance—given despite strong opposition from Park’s political opponents. The GVN has now asked for further Korean troops. It is our judgement that a decision on such additional forces should be delayed until Park overcomes the acute problems he currently faces in pushing through a Japan-Korea settlement. (For your information: the Koreans had hoped to use the question of further troops in order to pry major additional concessions out of the U.S. Government during the Park visit; for this reason we should avoid specific discussions at this moment.)
U.S. Aid to Korea: Park will want all the reassurance we can give him on our continued economic support. We propose to include in the communique a general aid pledge: to finance Korea’s essential imports, to make available $150 million in development loan funds over the next few years, to continue technical assistance and training, and to keep up our Food for Peace aid. (Walt Rostow returned from Korea deeply impressed with their economic progress.)
U.S. and Korean Force Levels in Korea: The Koreans have wanted a very specific commitment from us to maintain our forces in Korea at their present level. They also seek our commitment to maintain sufficient assistance to keep their 600,000 troops at the present level. All we can say in response is that our commitment to their defense is absolute under the 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty, and that we would certainly consult with them on any changes in force levels which might be dictated by our regional and global requirements.
Map Transfer Problem: The Koreans have been disturbed by our “MAP transfer” program since 1960—an effort to transfer the procurement there from the MAP to the Korean budget on materials that are obtainable on a commercial basis in Korea. Although we have delayed and softened certain aspects of this program, we cannot meet the Korean request in toto but are willing to indicate in the communique that certain adjustments have been made in order to ease the impact on the Korean economy.

Other Items:

Park will urge that we move towards a speedy conclusion of a Status of Forces Agreement. We are very close to such an agreement under a formula modeled on our agreement with Germany; and we can assure him that we share his desire to see this matter speedily resolved (but not during the course of his visit). Park may also raise the issue of Korean unification. Here our position is his, namely that unification will be possible only through the U.N. formula of free elections under U.N. supervision.

James C. Thomson, Jr. 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Korea, Park Visit Briefing Book. Secret.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 46.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.