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

505. Subj: ROKG Concern about Opposition Nominee’s Trip to U.S.

Luncheon with Prime Minister today was almost entirely taken up by his recital of ROKG fears that Kim Tae Chung will see important people in United States. He said that there are many rumors in Seoul that Americans were paying for Kim Tae Chung’s trip and were pledging to support him. He reached peak of this remarkable statement by urging me to issue public statement to effect that U.S. is absolutely neutral in matter of ROK elections “despite rumors that we are supporting opposition.” I tried to deal lightly with his fears but he would not change subject. I urged him to get a briefing on my statement to President Park last November2 and our comments to Lee Hu-rak to effect that if they had facts to discuss, we would be willing to hear them. As to his request for “statement of neutrality” in response to rumors, I commented that would not be practical measure, because anyone could start new rumors that presumably would require another statement, etc.
We would make appropriate appointments for Mr. Kim as we do for other ROK Assemblymen who visit U.S. He said we should guarantee that Kim did not see “important people,” that Kim is only ordinary Assemblyman.3 I inquired why ROKG feels so intensely worried about Kim’s trip. Was it because govt feared that Kim would receive great publicity here? Only time Paek Tu Chin laughed during interview was at that point. He said “That will never happen.”
Contacts between American and ROK officials here, in which latter have raised their worries about American support for Kim Tae Chung, indicate that concerted effort is under way to put us in defensive frame of mind.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 KOR S. Confidential; Limdis.
  2. See Document 75.
  3. As reported in a memorandum of conversation, December 28, 1970, Korean Ambassador Kim Dong Jo pursued the same subject with Under Secretary Johnson. Ambassador Kim stated that if Kim Dae Jung was to call on the President, Vice President, or the Secretary of State, “it would be very embarrassing for the Korean Government. Other legislators in Korea have not been granted audiences at such official levels in the U.S.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 KOR S)