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U.S. Department of State
Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
Press Statement

October 30, 2000

Release of Foreign Relations, Volume XXIX, Part 1, Korea Region, 1964-1968

The responses of the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson to a series of potentially disastrous conflicts and crises in South Korea at the height of the Cold War in Asia form a major theme of Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, volume XXIX, Part 1, Korea, which the Department of State released today. The volume in particular shows how the administration encouraged South Korean concessions to anti-government demonstrators in 1964, discouraged Republic of Korean military retaliation for North Korean attacks in 1967-1968, and how President Johnson drew South Korea into the war effort in Vietnam. In addition, following the North Korean seizure of the U.S. intelligence-gathering vessel USS Pueblo and its crew on January 23, 1968, Johnson and his advisers won the return of the crew after almost a year of captivity and helped to bring together two key Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, to resolve long-standing differences. Part 2 of volume XXIX will document U.S. bilateral relations with Japan.

The volume released today is presented in three chapters. The first documents bilateral relations between South Korea and the United States and underscores two main themes: The search for stability in the Korean peninsula and the Republic of Korea's growing self-confidence. Student anti-government riots in 1964, followed by the imposition of martial law, threatened South Korean stability. President Park Chung Hee reluctantly accepted U.S. advice to defuse the crisis by removing some of his senior advisers.

South Korea also faced external threats from the North, which escalated in 1967. In January 1968 a group of North Korean saboteurs assaulted the presidential palace, the Blue House, in the hopes of assassinating President Park. Although the attempt failed, the bold attack left Park and other government leaders angry and insistent on retaliatory military actions against the North. The United States interceded and sent Cyrus Vance as President Johnson's personal envoy to reassure President Park and to advise against retaliation against the North.

In part, Vance's success and the strengthening U.S.-South Korean relationship were due to the Republic of Korea's willingness to support U.S. policy in Vietnam and to contribute increasingly large numbers of troops and support units to the war effort in Southeast Asia. South Korea became the principal military supporter of South Vietnam after the United States, and Presidents Johnson and Park formed strong personal bonds.

The second chapter of this volume documents the Pueblo incident, which became a major hostage crisis for the Johnson administration. North Korea insisted that the Pueblo had violated its territorial waters and justified retention of the ship and incarceration of the crew. The volume documents U.S. policymakers' initial contingency discussions and the realization that the use of force was impossible. The United States was left with tortuous negotiations at Panmunjom, supplemented by diplomatic efforts in the United Nations, contacts with the Soviet Union, and a restrained show of force on the Korean peninsula and the Sea of Japan. In the end, on December 23, 1968, the United States signed, but promptly repudiated, a text of admissions that won release of the crew of the Pueblo.

The third and final chapter of the volume is devoted to Japanese and Korean efforts to settle differences remaining from World War II and to enter into a new era of mutual cooperation. The United States, convinced that a bilateral treaty would enhance regional stability and cooperation, encouraged both sides to agree on the terms of a settlement and worked to promote ratification of the treaty. On June 22, 1965, a Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea was signed; after ratification it went into effect on December 18, 1965.

A number of volumes in the Foreign Relations series cover the East Asian-Pacific region for the 1964-1968 period: Volumes I-VII document the Vietnam war; volume XXVI covers Indonesia, Malaysia-Singapore, and Philippines; volume XXVII covers regional issues, Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand; and volumes XXVIII and XXX document Laos and China, respectively. All these volumes have been published or will be later in 2000 or in 2001.

The Office of the Historian has prepared a summary of the volume. For further information, contact David S. Patterson, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series at (202) 663-1127; fax: (202) 663-1289; e-mail: history@state.gov. The texts of the volume, the summary, and this press release will soon be available on the Office's Web site: www.state.gov/www/about_state/history. Copies of volume XXIX, Part 1, can be purchased from the Government Printing Office. Please use the form below or order from Government Printing Office Bookstore.

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