Divided Korea

April 24, 1968

Report Outline
New Belligerency of the North Koreans
Struggle Over Divided Korea After 1945
Contrasts Between the Two Koreas
Special Focus

New Belligerency of the North Koreans

Johnson-Park Agreement on Threat From North

President johnson, concluding an all-day conference at Honolulu, April 17, with President Chung Hee Park of South Korea, made it clear that the United States was determined to help that country “repel armed attacks” by North Korea. The joint communique issued by the two heads of state referred to the “increasingly belligerent and aggressive actions” of North Korea. In particular, it cited the attempt by an infiltrating commando force to assassinate President Park, Jan. 21, 1968, and the seizure by North Korea three days later of the U. S. intelligence ship Pueblo in the Sea of Japan. “Further aggressive actions by the North Korean Communists,” the two presidents declared, “would constitute a most grave threat to peace.”

Almost at the time Johnson and Park were conferring, three South Korean soldiers were killed in an attack near the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. That attack followed an Easter Sunday ambush that had taken the lives of two American and two South Korean soldiers. The fourth incident in eight days came on April 21 when a U. S. 2nd Infantry Division patrol engaged in a fierce fire fight with North Korean troops east of the Panmunjom truce village. One U. S. soldier was killed and three others wounded, bringing the number of American casualties since April 14 to three killed and six wounded.

The quickening succession of the firing exchanges, combined with new moves by the United States looking toward negotiations with North Viet Nam, evidently caused serious concern in Seoul. The concern was reflected by President Park's assertion, in the Honolulu communiqué, that “a continued American presence” in Asia was “essential to a just and lasting peace.” President Johnson sought to reassure Park by voicing the firm American intention to continue efforts in behalf of stability and security in Asia “in accordance with the desires and aspiration of the Asian peoples.” Specifically with regard to Korea, Johnson reaffirmed United States support of a declaration made in 1953 by the 16 nations that contributed armed forces to the United Nations Command in South Korea, pledging to go again to that country's defense in the event of renewed aggression by North Korea.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jul. 05, 2011  North Korean Menace
Apr. 11, 2003  North Korean Crisis
May 19, 2000  Future of Korea
Aug. 12, 1977  Relations with South Korea
Apr. 24, 1968  Divided Korea
Jan. 27, 1960  Korea: Problem Protectorate
Aug. 24, 1951  Rehabilitation of Korea
Nov. 01, 1945  Freedom for Korea
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