Relations with South Korea

August 12, 1977

Report Outline
Changing American Commitment
Proposed U.S. Troop Withdrawal
Government Bribery Inquiries
Special Focus

Changing American Commitment

Deteriorating Relations in Last Few Years

America's relations with South Korea have been close and friendly for almost three decades. American military and economic assistance has provided critical support for South Korea and has played the dominant role in helping the nation recover from the devastation of the 1950–1953 Korean War. For its part, South Korea has become a firm ally of the United States, generally supporting U.S. foreign policy. South Korea sent far more troops to Indochina—300,000 altogether—than any other American ally in the Vietnam War. And some 40,000 American troops are now stationed in South Korea, the only American military presence on the Asian continent.

Relations between the two nations have nevertheless deteriorated somewhat in the past few years. There has been unhappiness in this country with the repressive nature of the government of South Korea's President Park Chung Hee, who assumed power in a 1961 military coup and has led the nation ever since. Differences between the two countries have come into clearer focus since Jimmy Carter became President. Two Carter policies—his proposed withdrawal of American ground troops and his call for a “new morality” in U.S. foreign policy—have been at the center of South Korean disenchantment with American policy.

Also heavily affecting relations are investigations of alleged influence-buying of members of Congress by agents of the South Korean government. Allegations that a network of Korean government representatives, including agents of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), conducted a wide-scale, illegal effort to influence U.S. policy have been widely reported in the American press since October 1976. At least five official U.S. government investigations currently are taking place—three in Congress, one by the Department of Justice and another by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Aug. 12, 1977  Relations with South Korea
Apr. 24, 1968  Divided Korea
Jan. 27, 1960  Korea: Problem Protectorate
Aug. 24, 1951  Rehabilitation of Korea
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