58. Editorial Note

On August 13, 1965, the Korean National Assembly began deliberating the proposal to dispatch a combat division to Vietnam. Assembly members of the opposition People’s Party decided to walk out or abstain from voting, even though many supported the proposal. According to the Embassy many regarded “any sign of cooperation with ROKG as political kiss of death at this critical juncture.” (Telegram 123 from Seoul, August 4; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66,POL 27 VIET S) On August 13 the Assembly authorized sending combat troops to Vietnam by a virtually unanimous vote: 101 for the proposal, 1 against, with 2 abstentions. Opposition members were not present for the vote. (Telegram 154 from Seoul, August 13; ibid.) President Johnson responded by sending President Pak a message of thanks for “this further demonstration of the devotion of the people of Korea to the spirit of liberty and independence.” (Telegram 171 to Seoul, August 13; ibid., POL 27–3 VIET S) The text of the President’s letter is in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1965, page 781.