The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, under the direction of the General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant U.S. diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the U.S. Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded. The editors are convinced that this volume meets all regulatory, statutory, and scholarly standards of selection and editing.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that document the most important issues in the foreign policy of the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. This volume, which documents U.S. policy toward Korea from 1969 until 1972, is part 1 of a larger volume that will include a compilation on U.S. bilateral relations with Japan. Part 2 of this volume, on Japan, was submitted [Page IV] for declassification review in 2003, and will be published when the review is completed.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XIX, Part 1

During the first Nixon administration, Washington confronted an array of difficult foreign policy questions concerning the Korean peninsula. Between 1969 and 1972, U.S. policymakers responded to North Korean hostility with circumspect countermeasures. At the same time, the United States supported the South Korean economic “miracle,” and offered military assistance to increase the preparedness of the South Korean armed forces. In 1971, Washington withdrew 20,000 American troops from Korea, an expression of the Nixon Doctrine accomplished with limited damage to bilateral goodwill. Concurrently, the U.S. Government sought to moderate KoreanPresident Park Chung Hee’s dictatorial tendencies, encourage democracy, and promote human rights without undermining other foreign policy goals. These issues produced disagreements within the U.S. Government and between officials in Seoul and Washington. South Korean and U.S. officials also struggled to settle textile trade issues, and labored to update their bilateral partnership to fit the changing Cold War landscape. But on the whole, U.S.-Korean relations during these years strengthened the alliance that had begun immediately after World War II.

The preponderance of documents published in this volume concerns security issues. As in earlier years, U.S. policymakers continued to deal with North Korean provocations between 1969 and 1972, the most serious being the North Korean Air Force’s destruction of a U.S. surveillance (EC–121) airplane over the Sea of Japan in April 1969. The documents in this volume show how the Nixon team balanced diverse and sometimes competing inclinations to meet the North Korean challenge. The U.S. military presence in South Korea also surfaced as an important topic. During Nixon’s first term, the United States reduced its forces in Korea from 63,000 to 43,000 American servicemen. At first,President Park aggressively opposed the American drawdown, insisting that the U.S. reduction should be small, and that any military realignment should be accompanied by a sharp rise in U.S. military assistance to the Republic of Korea. Seoul’s objection to the U.S. plan related to its unflattering appraisal of Vietnamization and its fear of North Korean aggression. Although Park failed to prevent the removal of 20,000 U.S. soldiers, he did extract from his U.S. counterpart a massive package of aid to modernize the South Korean military. Other records in this publication relate to the deployment of South Korean combat forces in Vietnam. The Republic of Korea maintained two divisions in South Vietnam; during a 1972 battlefield crisis President Nixon personally called on President Park to employ these troops in [Page V] the central highlands. Notwithstanding the overall South Korean commitment to the Vietnam campaign, the Park administration found it politically difficult to maintain its foreign military presence there, particularly in light of Washington’s scaled back commitment to Asia. Beyond issues directly related to South Korean defense, this collection therefore reveals the bilateral dimensions of Korea’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict.

Washington’s work to redefine Cold War international relations, with all its attendant consequences, surfaces here in many forms. For years before 1969, U.S. officials had pressed Seoul to become a more confident international actor. This installment of Foreign Relations depicts U.S. satisfaction when the Republic of Korea increasingly did just that during the early 1970s. The new South Korean attitude grew from both economic prosperity and political stability. Since the mid-1960s, South Korea’s real gross national product, industrial output and general exports had increased dramatically; meanwhile, as Park “slowly achieved dominance of South Korean political life and the acceptance of his countrymen by virtue of solid accomplishment,” his government provided the republic with a prolonged period of political stability (Document 80). This volume demonstrates South Korea’s new confidence. When Tokyo and Pyongyang moved to improve their relationship, for example, Seoul (trusting neither country) unleashed a campaign to foil Japanese-North Korean reconciliation. Park eventually won Nixon’s support on this front, and South Korea and the United States convinced Japan to cool its relationship with North Korea after 1972. Also that year, self-assured South Korean officials made their own contact with the North Korean Government. Although those discussions ultimately yielded few tangible results, the North-South dialogue did promote regional stability; symbolically, the meetings captured Seoul’s willingness to confront the North Korean threat. The remarkable change in attitude notwithstanding, South Korean confidence still had its limits, exposed during Nixon’s remaking of the Chinese-American relationship, when President Park and his advisors feared that the U.S. move might compromise South Korean interests. American diplomats worked to dispossess South Korean officials of these misgivings, albeit with mixed results. In the end, the episode, when combined with the records of bilateral textile trade negotiations, illustrate the continuing limits of South Korean influence.

This volume also deals with South Korean internal political affairs. President Park believed that South Korea faced a serious crisis, in which the country needed his leadership to negotiate a threatening era. The South Korean president insisted that the U.S. departure from Vietnam and the reordering of relations between global powers endangered the Republic of Korea. In 1970 Park and his party amended the Korean Constitution to permit his election to a third term as the [Page VI] country’s president. The following year, the two titans of late twentieth century South Korean politics, Park Chung Hee and Kim Dae Jung, competed for the presidency. Department of State officials endeavored to demonstrate balance by making themselves available to both candidates and advising Park and Kim on topics related to democratic politics. U.S. diplomatic assessments printed in this volume convey contemporary perspectives on the South Korean political experience. One government analyst described Kim as “a proven vote getter with a persuasive manner and an eloquent, oratorical style” who “likes to be called the ‘Kennedy of Korea’” (Document 83). While Kim’s New Democratic Party was disorganized and “short of money,” Park was superbly organized and brought in two of the most skillful politicians in Korea to bolster his effort, Kim Jong Pil to be his Prime Minister and Lee Hu Rak to be Korean CIA Director. When Park, victorious in the 1971 election, declared martial law in October 1972, the U.S. Government expressed frustration. In a meeting with South Korean Ambassador Kim Dong Jo, Under Secretary of State U. Alexis Johnson declared, “all those in the US Government who had been closely associated with Korea were deeply disappointed. While it was not for the US to tell Korea how to run its affairs, he was apprehensive over the future and sorry for Korea” (Document 163). An airgram from the Embassy in Korea to the Department of State described a dilemma that troubled many U.S. officials: “our long-term presence here and continuing relationship with the ROK associate us, at least tacitly, with the ROKG. It is clear that no mere wrist slapping will deter Park from his political designs. He and those around him are committed to establishing a severely controlled society. This we can deter only by direct and drastic intervention which would threaten Park’s hold on power, create instability and deepen our involvement in the ROK internally” (Document 170).

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversation are placed according to the time and date of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the chief technical editor. The documents are reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents in the limitations of modern typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are [Page VII] retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the documents are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the original text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount and, where possible, the nature of the material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines of pages of text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed by headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. All brackets that appear in the original document are so identified by footnotes. All ellipses are in the original documents.

The first footnote to each document indicates the source of the document, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers read the document.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts has been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

The numbers in the index refer to document numbers rather than to page numbers.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Advisory Committee does not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and reviews volumes, as it deems necessary to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

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Presidential Records and Materials Preservation Act Review

Under the terms of the Presidential Records and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 (44 USC 2111 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The requirements of the PRMPA and implementing regulations govern access to the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, the PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA formally to notify the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the release of Nixon historical materials in which they were a participant or are mentioned. Further, the PRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Project are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Nixon White House Tapes

Access to the Nixon White House tape recordings is governed by the terms of the PRMPA and an access agreement with the Office of Presidential Libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration and the Nixon Estate. In February 1971, President Nixon initiated a voice activated taping system in the Oval Office of the White House, and, subsequently, in the President’s Office in the Executive Office Building, Camp David, the Cabinet Room, and White House and Camp David telephones. The audiotapes include conversations of President Nixon with his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger, other White House aides, Secretary of State Rogers, other Cabinet officers, members of Congress, and key foreign officials. The clarity of the voices on the tape recordings is often very poor, but the editor made every effort to verify the accuracy of the transcripts produced here. Readers are advised that the tape recording is the official document; the transcript represents an interpretation of that document. Through the use of digital audio and other advances in technology, the Office of the Historian has been able to enhance the tape recordings and over time produce more accurate transcripts. The result is that some transcripts printed here may differ from transcripts of the same conversations printed in previous Foreign Relations volumes. The most accurate transcripts possible, however, cannot substitute for listening to the recordings. Readers are urged to consult the [Page IX] recordings themselves for a full appreciation of those aspects of the conversations that cannot be captured in a transcript, such as the speakers’ inflections and emphases that may convey nuances of meaning, as well as the larger context of the discussion.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, conducted the declassification review for the Department of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2003 and was completed in 2009, resulted in the decision to withhold 1 document in full, excise a paragraph or more in 5 documents, and make minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 17 documents.

The Office of the Historian is confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume, and as a result of the declassification review process described above, that the documentation and editorial notes presented here provide an accurate and comprehensive account of the Nixon administration’s policy toward Korea from 1969 until 1972.


The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration (Archives II), at College Park, Maryland. The editors wish to express gratitude to the Richard Nixon Estate for allowing access to the Nixon Presidential recordings and the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace for facilitating that access. Thanks are due to the Historical Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, who were helpful in arranging full access to the files of the Central Intelligence Agency. John Haynes of the Library of Congress was responsible for expediting access to the Kissinger Papers. The editors were able to use the Kissinger Papers, including the transcripts of telephone conversations, with the kind permission of Henry Kissinger. The editors would like to also thank Sandy Meagher for her valuable assistance in expediting the use of files of the Department of Defense.

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Daniel J. Lawler and Erin R. Mahan collected and selected documentation and edited the volume under the supervision of Edward C. Keefer, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series. Craig Daigle, Richard Moss, and Scott Wilson transcribed the conversations from the Nixon White House Tapes. Moss and Anand Toprani reviewed the transcripts in consultation with David Nickles. Chris Tudda coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of Susan C. Weetman, Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division. Kristin Ahlberg and Aaron W. Marrs did the copy and technical editing. Juniee Oneida prepared the index.

Ambassador Edward Brynn
Acting Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs

April 2010