Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Misrepresenting sources to arrive at a preset conclusion: Critiquing “Neoliberalism and the Gwangju Uprising”

The 1980 Kwangju Uprising and the United States

Part 1: Sources and Historical Background
Part 2: Expectations of US intervention and Chun Doo-hwan’s manipulations
Part 3: Commentary on US involvement in Kwangju and US government responses, 1980-1999
Part 4: Commentary on US involvement in Kwangju, 1998-1999
Part 5: William Gleysteen on the Kwangju Uprising and the rise of Chun Doo-hwan, 1999
Part 6: General Wickham on the Kwangju Uprising and the rise of Chun Doo-hwan, 1999
Part 7: James Young on the Kwangju Uprising and the rise of Chun Doo-hwan, 2003
Part 8: Henry Scott-Stokes, Linda Lewis, and others on the Kwangju Uprising, 1997-2004.
Part 9: Misrepresenting sources to arrive at a preset conclusion: Critiquing “Neoliberalism and the Gwangju Uprising”

In 2006 George Katsiaficas, who had previously written “Comparing the Paris Commune and the Kwangju People’s Uprising: A Preliminary Assessment,” wrote a paper titled “Neoliberalism and the Gwangju Uprising.” The thesis of this paper was “The suppression of the Gwangju Uprising marked the bloody imposition of a neoliberal accumulation regime on Korea.” He used the Cherokee Files in an attempt to argue that neoliberalism, far from being imposed on South Korea following the IMF crisis, was actually imposed in the wake of 5.18, and that economic considerations were the main driver of US relations with Chun Doo-hwan and responsible for US support for him becoming president.

The fact that the author never defined neoliberalism makes it difficult to determine whether the assertion that neoliberal reforms were actually first imposed in 1980 is correct or not, and is not the focus of the criticism that follows. What is clear is that the evidence he provided to prove a link between the suppression of the Kwangju Uprising and the “imposition of neoliberalism” was  lacking. In fact, the (only) two pieces of evidence he offered came close to contradicting his argument, but he obscured this by either not quoting directly from them or by providing only a misleading, partial quotation.

The first piece of evidence appeared in this paragraph:
Whether or not American policymakers intended the global market to have a “magical” effect on democratic reform in Korea, they turned their backs on political liberalization and elevated US economic interests to the center of American policy. At the White House meeting at 4 p.m. on May 22, 1980, suppression of the Gwangju Uprising was approved, but so was the June visit to Seoul by John Moore, president of the US Export-Import Bank, to arrange for US financing of mammoth ROK purchases like US nuclear power plants and expansion of the Seoul subway system. Since economic and security issues were resolved at the same meeting, one can only conclude they were strongly related to each other. A few hours later, i.e., on May 23 in Seoul, Gleysteen advised Korean Prime Minister Park Choong-hoon to take “firm anti-riot measures.” […] Clearly the Carter administration opposed the political liberalization demanded by Gwangju activists, and in retrospect, equally as clear is their surreptitious plan for liberalization of the economy.
Let’s examine some of these assertions.

[…]American policymakers […] turned their backs on political liberalization and elevated US economic interests to the center of American policy.

The US publicly criticized the military crackdown in a statement by the State Department, which read “We are deeply disturbed by the extension of martial law throughout the Republic of Korea, the closing of universities, and the arrest of a number of political and student leaders. […] [P]rogress toward constitutional reform and the election of a broadly based civilian government, as earlier outlined by President Choi, should be resumed promptly.”

The following information can be found in a May 22 cable provided by Tim Shorrock at his website. On May 22, the White House said in a cable to Ambassador Gleysteen that in regard to Kwangju, “we have counseled moderation, but have not ruled out the use of force, should the Koreans need to employ it to restore order.” It also stated that
Once order is restored, it was agreed that we must press the Korean Government, and the military in particular, to allow a greater degree of political freedom to evolve. Dr. Brzezinski summed up the approach: "in the short term, support, in the longer term pressure for political evolution. […]

It was agreed that what we do [after order has been restored in Kwangju] depends in large part on how the situation in Kwangju is resolved. If the situation there is handled well, with little loss of life, we can move quietly to apply pressure for more political evolution. If the situation in Kwangju involves large loss of life, the PRC will meet again to discuss measures to be taken.
After Chun was elected president, Jimmy Carter wrote in his letter to Chun dated August 27, “We regard free political institutions as essential to sustaining a sound relationship between our two countries.” Considering the above evidence, it seems hard to argue that the Carter Administration had “turned their backs on political liberalization.”

At the White House meeting at 4 p.m. on May 22, 1980, suppression of the Gwangju Uprising was approved, but so was the June visit to Seoul by John Moore, president of the US Export-Import Bank, to arrange for US financing of mammoth ROK purchases like US nuclear power plants and expansion of the Seoul subway system. Since economic and security issues were resolved at the same meeting, one can only conclude they were strongly related to each other.

As previously mentioned, the thesis of this article was “The suppression of the Gwangju Uprising marked the bloody imposition of a neoliberal accumulation regime on Korea.” Anyone hoping to find an array of evidence to prove this connection, however, will be disappointed to realize that the above two sentences are all there is. A decision to approve the “restoration of order in Kwangju by the Korean authorities with the minimum use of force necessary” occurred at the same meeting as a decision to tentatively approve a visit by the president of EXIM Bank, and it is asserted that “one can only conclude they were strongly related to each other.” Before moving to the full quotation related to the visit, let’s remember the final sentence of the paragraph:

Clearly the Carter administration opposed the political liberalization demanded by Gwangju activists, and in retrospect, equally as clear is their surreptitious plan for liberalization of the economy.

Moving beyond the stunning oversimplification of the Kwangju Uprising into a mere demand for political liberalization, I leave it to readers to decide if this sounds like part of a “surreptitious plan for liberalization of the economy”:
Visits by US Persons. The question of the visit by EXIM Bank President John Moore was discussed. It was agreed to get Ambassador Gleysteen‘s opinion on that visit, and to make a final decision once Moore has reached Japan. The consensus of the group was that it might be a mistake at this time to send a negative signal to the Koreans by cancelling another visit. (A visit by Llewellen of OPIC [Overseas Private Investment Corporation] has already been cancelled).
It should be noted that at this time the Korean economy was faltering due to inflation and rising oil prices and, particularly amid the turmoil following Park Chung-hee's assassination, US banks were hesitating to offer Korea the medium and short-term loans it needed. The phrasing of the sentence “it might be a mistake at this time to send a negative signal to the Koreans by cancelling another visit” raises the possibility that the visit “by Llewellen of OPIC” may have been cancelled to “send a negative signal to Koreans,” perhaps regarding the slow pace of political development or Chun's appointment as head of the KCIA in mid-April (which had resulted in the US postponing the annual security consultative meeting between ROK and US defense ministers). At any rate, the cable above is hardly indicative of the “surreptitious plan” the author was trying to “uncover.” One should always be suspicious when a piece of evidence meant to be a “smoking gun” is not quoted from at all. As a corollary to that, once suspicions are raised, one should also beware of sentences meant to anger readers that are based around a very limited quotation, as this remaining sentence illustrates:

A few hours later, i.e., on May 23 in Seoul, Gleysteen advised Korean Prime Minister Park Choong-hoon to take “firm anti-riot measures.”

Indeed, the date of this conversation was May 23, which leaves one with the impression that Gleysteen is talking about Kwangju. This is not true. And in this case, the quotation is limited in order to support a shockingly untrue assertion, as a fuller version by Shorrock reveals:
On May 23, hours after the White House meeting, Mr. Gleysteen paid a call on Acting Prime Minister Park to communicate the U.S. position. In the discussion, Mr. Gleysteen reported back, "I said that the policy decisions of May 17 had staggered us." However, the two officials "agreed that firm anti-riot measures were necessary, but the accompanying political crackdown was political folly and clearly had contributed to the serious breakdown of order in Kwangju."
Reading the above paragraph, it becomes clear a) Gleysteen did not “advise[] Korean Prime Minister Park Choong-hoon to take ‘firm anti-riot measures,’” at all and b) his agreement that “firm anti-riot measures were necessary” is, in the context it is mentioned, clearly referring to the May 17 crackdown as far as action taken to contain the student protests, but did not extend to the “accompanying political crackdown” [including the arrest of Kim Dae-jung], which he felt “had contributed to the serious breakdown of order in Kwangju.”

Needless to say, the assertion “Gleysteen advised Korean Prime Minister Park Choong-hoon to take ‘firm anti-riot measures’” is either the result of an inability to read English, a deliberate attempt to mislead readers, or due to myopia caused by higher-than-normal levels of moral certainty.

To reiterate, the sentence “At the White House meeting…suppression of the Gwangju Uprising was approved, but so was the June visit to Seoul by John Moore, president of the US Export-Import Bank” is the only “proof” offered of a link between bringing an end to the Kwangju Uprising and a “surreptitious plan for liberalization of the economy.” The only other section remotely linked to Kwangju-like repression is an assertion about the cause of the post-Kwangju (or post-May 17) purges of Korean society by Chun.

As the author noted, between June and August “431 officials from Korea’s banking sector [were] fired,” “more than 5,000 senior and middle grade officials” were fired, “[m]ore than 10% of the members of the National Assembly were arrested or forced to resign,” “835 people were barred from politics,” and 61 executives and employees of the Korean Traders Association were compelled to submit their resignations. Chun then “shut[] down 172 periodicals by canceling their registrations […] and about 2,000 journalists were required to attend three-day ‘reorientation’ programs,” and then he “ordered some 46,000 ‘hooligans and gangsters’ to be rounded up, more than half of whom were either sent to reeducation camps (“Samcheong Concentration Camps” [where at least 52 people died]), the front lines, or jail.”

When Park Chung-hee took over the country in a military coup in 1961, he carried out social purification by arresting hundreds of gangsters, people engaging in ‘secret dancing,’ and members of other targeted groups and sending them to work camps. When Chun Doo-hwan took control of the Korean military, he quickly carried out a purge and replaced many officers. When he took over the KCIA, he carried out a similar purge. But, after all but taking over the country on May 17, the author argues that the wide-ranging purges Chun carried out were not part of this established pattern. Instead, they resulted from Chun’s “zeal to guarantee the stability demanded by US businessmen and Embassy officials” because the largest US banks were hesitating to offer Korea medium and short-term loans and the US government was calling for “implementation of sensible economic policies.” The “proof” for this connection of US bankers and the purges is offered in the following paragraph:
On July 11, [Deputy Secretary of State Warren] Christopher cabled Seoul that US bankers were in a titter about Korean political dynamics: “We have been informed by one of the large US banks that during the visit of Bank of Korea Governor Shin this week Shin was given a blunt message. Shin was informed by the U.S. bankers that if Korea did not get its political house in order swiftly then it would be exceedingly difficult to get necessary funding beyond this year.”
Again, the full paragraph, found, ironically, in a Power Point presentation posted online by the author, not only calls doubt upon this assertion, it contradicts it. Cited as Gwangju Democratization Movement Materials IX: 583: Department of State telegram, 11July80 State 182038, it reads:
[Part] 5. U.S. Bankers warn Korea of financing difficulties

We have been informed by one of the large New York banks that during the visit of Bank of Korea Governor Shin this week Shin was given a blunt message. Shin was informed by the U.S. bankers that if Korea did not get its political house in order swiftly then it would be exceedingly difficult to get necessary funding beyond this year. Moreover, even if the handling of Kim Dae-jung were acceptable in Korea, the authorities were proceeding as if the rest of the world did not exist -- a dangerous course for Korea in view of its external financing needs. Shin may be able to pass on the lecture effectively. While in New York he received word that he is to be the new minister of commerce.
The author argued that this call for Korea to “get its political house in order” was responsible for all of the purges and the related ugliness that followed. But the above cable, when seen in full, makes it clear that Korea getting its political house in order included the handling of the Kim Dae-jung case in a way that would be acceptable to “the rest of the world”; otherwise, its external financing might be threatened. What this suggests, then, is that the very banks that the author tried to portray as the inspiration for repression in Korea were in fact pressuring Korea to act moderately, at least in regard to Kim Dae-jung’s case.

As quoted above, the author also wrote that "On June 21, Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher wrote to Richard Holbrooke ... that Chun needs 'implementation of sensible economic policies.'" The cable, which was actually to Gleysteen, is reprinted in full in Gleysteen's book and instructed him on what to tell Chun at a future meeting. What the author does not include is the context of the above quotation:
Having concluded that General Chun Doo Hwan…and his colleagues have successfully established military control of the Korean government and that the army is presently united behind the measures being taken, we have determined that we must at the present stage focus our influence on moderating the regime’s unacceptable behavior and moving it toward constitutional government, a reduction of military involvement in politics and administration, implementation of sensible economic policies, and restraint in dealing with political opponents. Simultaneously, we seek to avoid over-identification with the present Korean regime and its excesses and indicate that we are waiting to see whether its actions will warrant a fully normal US-ROK relationship.
The same cable suggested Gleysteen convey the following to Chun Doo-hwan:
Korea’s long-term economic well-being depends heavily on the confidence of international bankers, investors, and traders. They believe that a healthy economy with stable growth prospects can only be forged with the unified support of the Korean people.
The author wrote that in early September, “Gleysteen huddled with Chun two days after his inauguration, seeking to rein in the government’s attempt to execute Kim Dae Jung lest international investors again panic because of Chun’s impulsive behavior.” Though he glossed over the investors’ worries and tried to portray this as being part of the embassy’s dastardly plan (which, rather neatly, turned the saving of Kim Dae-jung into something that was just part of a plot to neoliberalize the Korean economy), it seems clear that these worries by “international bankers, investors, and traders” came up more than once. The possibility that investor pressure was a force for good in Korea suggests that the relationship between actors in the financial, diplomatic, and military realms and the application or lifting of political repression in Korea was far more complex than the author portrayed it. It seems, however, that this kind of complexity was not something the author wanted to explore. He laid out the tale of perfidy and woe he was set on weaving in another section of the paper, after previously noting that “Both Wickham and Gleysteen were conveniently absent from Korea” when Chun became president:
In the case of Korea in 1980… the month of August stands out as a decisive moment. […] Wickham audaciously endorsed Chun and left Korea the next day. While both Gleysteen and Wickham were out of the country, Chun took care of all his business that month, putting Kim Dae Jung on trial beginning on August 14, getting Acting President Choi to resign on August 16, and, after getting himself promoted to four-star general, quitting the military—so he could be elected president as a civilian by the electoral college on August 27. […]

As I brought together my research notes dealing with this time period, I came to the conclusion that the unfolding scenario of Chun’s assumption of his new hegemonic position was so closely coordinated and synchronized that his choreographer must have watched the movie The Godfather and borrowed from it the elaborate orchestration of Michael Corleone’s killing of all his family enemies while he was in church.
How is anyone supposed to take this seriously? The author then summed this up with an excerpt of Carter’s letter to Chun that omitted any reference to the calls for democratic development and concern over Kim Dae-jung’s fate that made up over half of its text so as to highlight the “true” nature of American collusion with Chun Doo-hwan:
President Carter’s congratulatory letter to President-Elect Chun couldn’t have put it better: “As you assume your responsibilities as president of the Republic of Korea, I want personally to assure you of our desire to maintain the basic economic and security interests of both of our nations.”
For one last example of the author’s bias, the endnote for his description of Wickham’s interview with Terry Anderson and Sam Jameson [mentioned in Part 2], which he portrayed as part of a plot to support Chun (he conveniently failed to mention Chun’s role in unmasking Wickham as the source of the off-the-record interview), assured readers that the “best account of Wickham’s endorsement of Chun” was not the eight pages Wickham devoted to the incident in his book Korea on the Brink, nor the four pages Gleysteen devoted to it in Massive Entanglement, Marginal Influence, nor journalist Sam Jameson’s account of his interview with Wickham and Chun’s manipulation of it in Korea Witness, but rather this single paragraph written by Lee Jae-eui on page 39 of The Kwangju Uprising: Eyewitness press Accounts of Korea’s Tiananmen:
Under a joint-command structure set up with the U.N. during the Korean War, Wickham was the general in command of most of South Korea’s 600,000 soldiers. Nominally, a U.N. commander, he was, like others who hold the post, first and foremost an American general. It was to him that Korean military people looked, to give them a lead. Meanwhile, Wickham, for his part, needed someone to deal with, it really didn’t terribly matter who that person was, he had to be there. Chun was there. When he walked into a room, heads turned. He had a certain physical magnetism. Other Korean soldiers looked to him . . . Wickham responded to that. Once the Kwangju uprising had receded - in the summer of 1980 - Wickham let it be known that he expected Chun to step up into the presidency, displacing his puppet acting president (Choi Gyu Ha). He let his views come out through the American press - at an interview he gave to two of the contributors to this book, Terry Anderson of the Associated Press and Sam Jameson of the Los Angeles Times. Wickham gave that interview on condition that it was sourced only to a senior U.S. official, not himself by name. However, on the following day, Chun, meeting with Henry Scott-Stokes and Shim Jae Hoon of the New York Times, let it be known that he appreciated Wickham’s endorsement. Weeks later Chun made himself president. [Ellipsis in original.]
This version, which does not contain Wickham’s assertion that it was an answer to “one last question” as the reporters were getting up to leave, the threat Chun’s unmasking of him posed to his career, the way it was disavowed by the State Department and Pentagon, or even a date, was described by the author as the “best account” because it accorded with the author’s belief that Wickham’s actions were all part of a plot to place Chun in the Blue House.

All of this is unfortunate, because the article does make it clear enough that the desire to bring about changes related to Korea’s economy, particularly so as to make it more attractive to US investors, was a focus omitted from the 1989 White Paper and Gleysteen, Wickham, and Young’s books. In his Power Point presentation that is online, he posted an excerpt of the following telegram:


Needless to say, this is not something that makes the embassy look very good (it should have known that "mistreatment" of prisoners was more than merely "possible"), and it suggests that the topic of US-ROK economic and financial relations at this time should be looked into in more detail and placed in the context of security and diplomatic considerations. As the examples noted above make clear, however, Katsiaficas is not the person to do it. For critical readers, his paper suggests a gap in the scholarship that needs to be filled in, but it will require someone less determined to arrive at a preset conclusion and less willing to engage in misrepresentation of sources to carry this out.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Henry Scott-Stokes, Linda Lewis, and others on the Kwangju Uprising


Part 8: Henry Scott-Stokes, Linda Lewis, and others on the Kwangju Uprising, 1997-2004.

A number of books were released in the early 2000s which were either focused on the Kwangju Uprising or on US-ROK relations. Among them were The Kwangju Uprising: Eyewitness Press Accounts of Korea's Tiananmen, edited by Henry Scott-Stokes and Lee Jae Eui, Laying Claim to the Memory of May: A Look Back at the 1980 Kwangju Uprising by Linda Lewis, and Ryu Shimin and Jung Sangyong’s Memories of May 1980: A Documentary History of the Kwangju Uprising in Korea.

In 1997 a book which collected accounts by foreign journalists of the Kwangju Uprising, titled Kwangju in the Eyes of the World: The Personal Recollections of the Foreign Correspondents Covering the Kwangju Uprising, was published. It can be read here. Most of these accounts later appeared, alongside accounts by Korean journalists, in The Kwangju Uprising: Eyewitness Press Accounts of Korea's Tiananmen, which was published in 2000. One account which did not was that of Henry Scott-Stokes, titled "An Observer Reports: Kwangju & U.S. Moral Responsibility." Stokes ended up playing a role as a the conduit of a request from the student leader Yun Sang-won to US Ambassador Gleysteen to mediate a settlement, though, as mentioned previously, Yun did not expect this to happen, and made the request to buoy the spirits of the others in the provincial hall so they would make a last stand with him:
Would we go to Ambassador Bill Gleysteen in Seoul with a request for him to halt the violence and declare a truce? That was the Spokesman's request that afternoon to us three, as earlier that day to Brad. I was deeply unhappy about this and I still am. A reporter is not supposed to become the story. On the other hand, how could such an appeal not be transmitted? I decided that I would do it via my story--my editors would have the last say in New York, when they received my piece which, I now saw, Jae would have to carry out of the city and dictate to Seoul (all phone lines out of Kwangju had been cut off). I would remain in Kwangju without Jae. This was, at the best, an unpalatable course of action. On the other hand if I had phoned Gleysteen myself, he or anyone who took the call would be unable to act immediately, as officials. They would not know who they were dealing with in Kwangju. And, meanwhile, the feeling in the air in Kwangju that after- noon was that the city and its few armed students--tank-less, artillery-less, machine gun-less, helmet-less--was there for the taking, whenever Chun decided it. These people I was talking to had their lives on the line. And I was not finding a way to help them. 
Sometime about 5 pm that afternoon we finished our meeting, I finished my story and Jae and Philippe departed. I was left to fend for myself, Jae having found me a guesthouse about 200 yards down a narrow street from the students. [...] At one point in the evening, about 8 p.m., there was a great clumping of boots in the corridor outside my room and one of the students appeared. He was clad in uniform, without a hat. He was thickset, a rugby player build. But the innkeeper, the man in charge, popped up and led him away. He had come, if I understood the innkeeper's poor English, to make one more appeal to me to get to Gleysteen--I couldn't do that--or somehow intervene in the situation.
He also noted the role he and the New York Times played in the events leading to Park Chung-hee's assassination:
My NYT coverage of the Kwangju period--and before it for a year and after it for two years--is open to criticism on the grounds that I neglected security issues. Seventeen years later, I see that. We appear to have helped to stir up trouble, as a newspaper. 
An interview that Jae and I did with Kim Young Sam in the early autumn of l979 led to his expulsion from the National Assembly. Need we have been so provocative? Mr. Kim's expulsion was followed by the outbursts of violence in Pusan and Masan that preceded the assassination of President Park. I had helped to raise the temperature. Some in Korea felt that we had stirred up emotions--our reports were immediately relayed back to Korea by phone by Korean Americans in the U.S.--and that we were (not so indirectly) responsible for Park Chung Hee's demise. There were repercussions.
He also commented on the incorrect intelligence the US Embassy was getting.
My concern at this point--and I may be in a tiny minority of querulous press people--is that the U.S. Embassy in Seoul was badly informed, both at the time of Kwangju and before and after. If you read Bill Gleysteen's dispatches to the State Department from Seoul, which we can now as they were declassified, you can see that at crucial moments he got the situation right the first time round only to muddy the waters shortly afterwards.
[...]
Immediately after the events of May l8-l9 in Kwangju, Gleysteen reported to Washington that Korean troops had been bayoneting civilians on the streets. Correct. This was the issue. Yet within days--and just before a crucial May 22nd meeting was held at the White House to decide policy on Kwangju--Gleysteen changed the whole weight of his reporting to emphasize how the situation was unraveling, and how by implication a threat existed to the whole body politic in South Korea. l50,000 people were on the loose. Property was being destroyed. Here was a hopelessly inaccurate picture of Kwangju by that time, judging by what I and other journalists saw down there.
If the last two paragraphs highlight once again the role incorrect intelligence offered by the ROK military to the US played in the ending of the uprising, the previous two paragraphs highlighted the role an American journalist played in these events, reminding us that of the various roles played by Americans beyond the US government.


If I had to recommend only one book about the Kwangju Uprising, Linda Lewis’ 2002 book Laying Claim to the Memory of May: A Look Back at the 1980 Kwangju Uprising would likely be the one. A former Peace Corps volunteer who was doing ethnography in Kwangju as a graduate student in 1980, she witnessed the uprising, and her book examined how the uprising unfolded and how it has been memorialized. On a number of occasions in the book she commented on the expectation that the US would intervene (looked at here) and on how she was in regular contact with David Miller, the head of the American Cultural Center (ACC, also known as US Information Service, or USIS), and was passing on information to him (and he to her), but her homestay ‘father’ didn’t believe he was reporting to the US Embassy, because otherwise the US would have been intervening to stop the bloodshed.

The Embassy first learned of the situation in Kwangu from Miller on the morning of May 19 “when he told of reports that the paratroopers were responsible for numerous casualties and even some deaths,” but because this contrasted with the atmosphere in Seoul and contradicted the assertions of Martial Law Command and Korean government officials, the Embassy assumed Miller must be exaggerating. As well, “Miller's information was scanty because he was ordered, for security reasons, to remain indoors” and official Korean sources “either denied there was any particular problem in Kwangju or downplayed the seriousness of events there.”

As Lewis put it,
The apparent outlandishness of the hearsay, suppositions, and allegations about the paratroopers that flew about in those first days mirrored the incomprehensibility of what people saw taking place around them. Even to those who experienced it, the savagery was unbelievable. And if the vision of a soldier bayoneting a student on Kŭmnamno was beyond the imagination of my [homestay] ajumŏni, who witnessed it with her own eyes, how could such a story be credible to her fellow countrymen in Seoul - or, for that matter, be a realistic, even probable, scenario in the minds of the chronically out-of-touch diplomats in the U.S. Embassy?
After the uprising, she documented the international attention Kwangju was receiving:
I saw a rather constant flow of visitors to Kwangju throughout the summer and early fall [of 1980]: journalists, human rights activists, representatives of church groups, Korean specialists, assorted friends, and even a professor of mine from Columbia University - all, in one way or another, with their own agendas concerning 5.18.
As she noted, however, while “most of us in the foreign community who had been in Kwangju in May felt an obligation to bear witness to what we had seen and to what we knew had happened,” “many of those who made the pilgrimage to Kwangju that summer came with their own ideas about the meaning of 5.18 and already knew what they wanted to hear.” As she wrote in her field journal on October 10, “I’m tired of finding things out [for people], then being treated like the information wasn’t important.” When people did not like what foreign witnesses told them, they tended to dismiss the informant. “The problem was particularly acute with reporters and with anyone connected with the U.S. government.” On October 2, she stopped by the ACC and found, as she wrote in her field journal, that
Val [the new Center director] was feeling really blue - she had had some bigwigs [US Embassy officials] down the day before from Seoul. She had some [Korean] staff over for dinner, and the bigwigs said - so what do people down here think? At which point, they got honest answers. Of course, all the Kwangjuites were accused of being emotional, too involved, etc. Val was quite disillusioned. Well, welcome to the club - it is hard being from here. People pump you, then when they don’t agree, make you feel like shit. She should have been here through the incident; then she’d really know what it felt like to be an overwrought, unobjective source. Of course, embassy personnel are beyond belief. ... I wonder if the people in Iran [in the US Embassy] were as deserving candidates for their fate as the people here would be, should a similar event take place.
Lewis's voice is similar to a number of Americans who were in Kwangju, including missionaries and Peace Corps volunteers, who worked in the 1980s to highlight the human rights abuses in South Korea. As missionary Martha Huntley put it, “I wanted to share how our missionary work of 16 years in Korea had taken a radical turn, to explain that my husband, Betts, and I had not so much ‘become involved in human rights’ as we had been trapped in a situation of human wrong.” “We have seen too much, we have hurt too much to be silent.” She elaborated further:
When your friends and Christian coworkers are carted off to jail as ours have been, when your neighbors and your students are shot in front of your eyes as ours have been, when you attend 24 funerals in a single day as I have done - you are involved. This involvement is not politics; it is gospel. As eyewitnesses, we feel it is urgent that we share what we have seen and experienced. There is no way our government can respond properly if it doesn’t have the facts; neither can our church work or pray properly if it doesn't know the truth.
One other story Lewis related was that of the above-mentioned new director of the ACC, Valerie Steenson, who had planned to host a dinner for a number of local professors and civic leaders in late July 1980 but was forced to cancel it because most of the people on the guest list had been arrested.


Gathering facts and figures from official investigations like the 1988-89 National Assembly Hearings into the Kwangju Uprising, Ryu Shimin and Jung Sangyong’s Memories of May 1980: A Documentary History of the Kwangju Uprising in Korea is an invaluable source for anyone wanting to understand the uprising, but its treatment of American involvement in the uprising suffers from use of questionable sources.

Arguing that “the new military group succeeded in drawing cooperation from the U.S. government to justify the armed subjugation of the Kwangju Uprising,” it quoted two American press releases from May 22. The first was the State Department’s:
The United States expresses deep concern with regard to the revolt in Kwangju in southern Korea and urges all parties to seek peaceful solutions through maximum self-restraint and dialogue. Outside forces may make dangerous misjudgments if the condition of insecurity prevails and the violence continues to be heated. The government of the United States reemphasizes that, based on the obligations the Mutual Defense Treaty between the ROK and the U.S., it will react strongly to any attempts by outside forces to take advantage of the current situation in Korea.
If phrases like “continues to be heated” sound awkward, it is because the source cited is not an English language source but a Donga Ilbo article from May 22. Oddly enough, this immediately follows numerous examples listed in the book of the way in which the military-censored media was distorting the situation in Kwangju. While caution should be exercised when using translations of censored Korean newspapers as sources (since, censorship issues aside, it was translated into Korean before being translated back into English), in this case the report as it appeared on the front page of the Donga Ilbo on May 23 – along with 2 other articles about the US - does include all the main points of the English press release, though the line “When calm has been restored, we will urge all parties to seek means to resume a program of political development as outlined by President Choi” appears separate from the rest of the text, which could be why it does not appear in the book (as excerpted above).

The book, however, quotes another statement printed in the May 22 Donga Ilbo, this one by “Department of Defense spokesman Thomas Ross”:
Commander in Chief of the United Nations Command and the ROK/US Combined Forces Command John Wickham has accepted and agreed to the request by the Korean government to allow the use of certain selected Korean armed forces under his operational control in operations to subdue the crowds. […] No movement or evidence has been found of an attempt by the North Korean army to take advantage of the current situation in South Korea. [Unlike the previous statement, this one was not indented in the book.]
While the previously-quoted statement was similar enough to the English-language version, the one above, with lines like “to subdue the crowds,” sound rather unlikely, and I have never come across anything similar in English at that time. (While the first statement was in the New York Times, the second one is not.) I surmised that it may have originated at ROK martial law command, not the Department of Defense. But a look at this article in the May 23 Donga Ilbo reveals that the first part was paraphrased by the reporter, while the second sentence (and one other) appeared as direct quotations. That the authors of the book turned reported speech into a direct quotation for a sentence stating that Wickham was “allow[ing] the use of certain selected Korean armed forces under his operational control in operations to subdue the crowds” is, to say the least, irresponsible. The fact that the units were not under his operational control at that point is something one would expect the Defense Department to be well aware of, making it a fair assumption that they never issued this statement. If that could be clarified, we would have a better idea of just how the ROK military was manipulating the media.

(Unlike the citation in the book, these statements appear in the Donga Ilbo on May 23 at the Naver News Archive. it is possible, however, there was an evening edition on May 22 that the site did not archive.)

Moving on, the book then notes the way in which, at the White House meeting on May 22, it was decided to dispatch planes from Okinawa and the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea to Korea to deter possible military action by North Korea. It then asks:
Why did the U.S. administration, "with no evidence whatsoever of an attempt by North Korea to take advantage of the political instability in South Korea,” not mention a single word about the causes of the Kwangju incident, but instead "agree to the use of” the 2O“" Division "under the operational control” of the Combined Forces Command to ”subdue the crowds” …?
It then turned to the 1989 White Paper’s explanation of how withdrawing units from CFC OPCON worked, including the sentence “In the event of notification, the Commander of the Combined Forces Command can neither approve nor disapprove, but can only point out the effect such removal.” What follows is this response:
However, this is an obvious lie. It is recorded in an operations document dated May 16, 1980, regarding a request to transfer the operational control of the 20th Division, that when the Army Chief of Staff requested the Commander of the ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command to transfer the operational control of the 20th Division “to maintain order in the metropolitan area where the riots have been aggravated,” the Commander of the Combined Forces Command confirmed receipt of the request document and stated: “Your request is approved.” The new military group naturally made an inquiry on this matter to the Combined Forces Command as it dispatched the 20th Division, not to the metropolitan area, but to Kwangju. However, this was an inquiry on the transfer of units, not a notification to remove operational control.
Though the book quoted from the 1989 White Paper twice, the authors somehow missed this statement:
Also on May 16, military authorities notified CFC officials of their intent to remove the 20th Division's artillery and its 60th Regiment from CFC OPCON. The CFC received the Martial Law Command'S OPCON retrieval notification while General Wickham was in the United States on official duties. CFC Deputy Commander, Korean four-star General Baek Sok Chu, responded for the CFC[.]
While it is interesting that General Baek responded with “Your request is approved,” it was not written by Wickham. Withdrawal of units from CFC OPCON had only been used twice before this in October 1979: First to subdue the Busan-Masan uprising and then after Park’s assassination. It would be worthwhile to see the terminology used in the previous notifications. The authors also do not state whether “Your request is approved” was written in English or Korean (something worth noting considering their use of Korean-language versions of US statements that appeared in the censored media). Another request was made at this time, however, when Wickham would have been present:
The falsity of the U.S. administration's claims is also apparent in a separate instance where the ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command released one battalion of the 33“ Division from its operational control clearly for the suppression of the uprising in Kwangju. On May 23 the Army Chief of Staff sent a military cooperation telegram to the Commander of the ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command requesting the transfer of the operational control of one battalion of the 33rd Division by noon on May 23 “in preparation for an escalation of the riot and for the maintenance of order in the Kwangju region.” In response, the Commander of the Combined Forces Command immediately sent a telegram to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Army Chief of Staff “approving the request to transfer the operational control of one battalion of the 33rd Division.”
The unit was ultimately never sent to Kwangju. Again, the source used (Army Headquarters, “Army Reference Material,” (operations orders and directions), Army Headquarters Chaksangjon No. 0-232) begs the question of what language it was in.

The book goes on to quote from the White Paper about the US deciding that use of the 20th Division would be preferable to use of the SWC troops if negotiations to bring about a peaceful resolution failed, and its comments on terminology, to which the book responds:
The explanation by the U.S. administration is mere sophistry and nothing more than a play on words. The U.S. government confounded the issue of releasing the 20th Division from its operational control with the issue of the 20th Division, already released from its operational control, moving to Kwangju to suppress the Kwangju Uprising in spite of the original goal of “maintaining order in the metropolitan area,” and patched this up as a matter of terminology. On May 16 General Wickham received a request to release the 20th Division from the operational control of the Combined Forces Command and approved the release. Then, ‘asked’ on the 20th whether the 20th Division could be dispatched to Kwangju for riot-suppression operations, unlike the original purpose, he agreed “after consulting with his own superiors in Washington.” Moreover, they claimed to have stated that it would be preferable to replace the Special Warfare Command units with elements of the 20th Division if “negotiations failed,” but this is merely a cunning lie fabricated to evade responsibility, since it was only slaughter by paratroopers, not negotiations, that was sweeping the streets of Kwangju until the night of the 20th when Major General Pak Chun-byong received orders to move to Kwangju; and since the evacuation of the airborne forces was decided only on the morning of the 21st.
Amid the “mere sophistry” and “cunning lie[s],” the authors ignore (again) that Wickham was not present on May 16 and the fact that by May 22 (23 in Korea), when the White House agreed to use of the 20th Division, negotiations had begun. It does ask the pertinent question: Why was the ROK military asking if the US opposed use of the 20th Division in Kwangju when it already had OPCON and could do what it liked with those units? So intent are they on finding evidence of American duplicity, it never seems to cross the authors’ mind that the ROK military’s manipulations may have extended beyond that of Korean media reports of US statements.

The book ends its examination of the US role in Kwangju with the following paragraph:
The U.S. administration's continuous warnings that an aggravation of the Kwangju incident might lead to an invasion of South Korea by North Korean forces, even though there was absolutely no such indication, and its speedy dispatch of early-warning planes and an aircraft carrier, also created an atmosphere that led to public anxiety over the Kwangju Uprising, thereby promoting the political isolation of Kwangju and helping to justify the armed suppression. Since the power of the minjung emerged at the political forefront in the Kwangju Uprising, unlike the coup d’etat of December 12 which was a power struggle within the pro-American leadership, the U.S. administration cannot avoid criticism that it actively supported and defended the new military group. Moreover, since these steps were taken not according to spontaneous judgments by individuals such as General Wickham or Ambassador Gleysteen, but by “superiors in Washington” - including the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the PRC of the National Security Council - they elicited political consequences that were to be expressed radically throughout the 1980s. The new military group, the U.S. government, and the press - which became the propaganda machine of the new military group - formed a trinity and concentrated on isolating Kwangju politically and ideologically from the rest of the nation.
Though the book argues that US military moves in the region “created an atmosphere that led to public anxiety over the Kwangju Uprising, thereby promoting the political isolation of Kwangju and helping to justify the armed suppression,” Wickham’s book suggested otherwise. Considering the worry and tension among ROK military leadership over Kwangju that Wickham depicted in his book, American actions to deter North Korea may have helped reduce the pressure they were feeling and provided breathing room so negotiations could take place, rather than the military rushing back in to retake the city.

The above selections from this book are useful for highlighting the ROK’s military censorship and possible issues with the terminology used by the CFC, but the writers’ analysis is biased by use of Korean-language sources which themselves were designed by ROK military, via their censors, to convince Koreans that the US unequivocally backed them. Ironically, these writers who championed the struggle of the minjung against the military dictatorship ended up parroting the same narratives used by that dictatorship in regard to US responsibility for 5.18. The analysis also suffers from the authors’ cherry picking of information from the White Paper, making it appear that in writing this section of the book they worked their way backwards from an already-arrived-at conclusion. The next part will examine more closely another paper constructed in the same manner.

Continue to Part 9

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

James Young on the Kwangju Uprising and the rise of Chun Doo-hwan

The 1980 Kwangju Uprising and the United States

Part 1: Sources and Historical Background
Part 2: Expectations of US intervention and Chun Doo-hwan’s manipulations
Part 3: Commentary on US involvement in Kwangju and US government responses, 1980-1999
Part 4: Commentary on US involvement in Kwangju, 1998-1999
Part 5: William Gleysteen on the Kwangju Uprising and the rise of Chun Doo-hwan, 1999
Part 6: General Wickham on the Kwangju Uprising and the rise of Chun Doo-hwan, 1999
Part 7: James Young on the Kwangju Uprising and the rise of Chun Doo-hwan, 2003
Part 8: Henry Scott-Stokes, Linda Lewis, and others on the Kwangju Uprising, 1997-2004.
Part 9: Misrepresenting sources to arrive at a preset conclusion: Critiquing “Neoliberalism and the Gwangju Uprising”

Part 7: James Young on the Kwangju Uprising and the rise of Chun Doo-hwan, 2003

In 2003, Eye on Korea: An Insider Account of Korean-American Relations by James V. Young was published. Young was one of the first to be trained as an area specialist in the US military and spent 14 years in Korea. A fluent Korean speaker, Young served as a military attache at the US Embassy in Seoul in 1979-80, acting as a liason between the ROK Army and the Embassy. As a result, the book, as its blurb puts it, “straddles the line between military and diplomatic history,” but also, because he was a rather anonymous participant with no reputation to buttress for posterity, offers a more critical view of American actions in 1979 and 1980. He also commented on the difficulty of sifting through intelligence back in Washington:
My experience in Washington gave me an appreciation for American intelligence gathering that I could not have developed otherwise. Information was available from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), State Department, and other sources that could be analyzed rapidly. Often desk officers and analysts in Washington or in other major headquarters knew more about a situation than the commanders and ambassadors in the field, for they had a lot more information available and more means with which to analyze it. I formed the opinion then that you could probably find enough reporting information to reach almost any conclusion, including one that totally contradicted another. There was simply an enormous amount of reporting coming in—often too much. Each morning there was a large stack of intelligence reports just in my Northeast Asia area alone at least several inches of paper every day. Later, when some individuals claimed they had had no prior warning about such events as occurred in Korea in 1979-80. I had to believe that the warning signs had been there in intelligence reports all the time, if someone had been doing proper analysis. But such scrutiny was not easy, given the volume and diversity of evidence available.
When he served as a military attaché at the U.S. Embassy in 1979, his “duties were to inform the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency of all appropriate matters concerning the Korean military situation and to keep the Washington intelligence community informed on the Korean situation in general.” His immediate superior was the embassy's defense attache, and he was especially expected to work closely with the Special Assistant's Office and Political Section, and with U.S. Forces Korea. He considered Bob Brewster, special assistant to the ambassador, the strongest of the senior embassy staff. He did additional research in early 1978 before his posting and submitted a lengthy report, which he paraphrased:
There is now a growing division in the ROK Army, which while not yet serious, may be so in the future. The senior leadership of the army, which is composed of those officers commissioned during the Korea War, is mostly from Class 7 and earlier. These officers will soon be leaving, but their departure will not significantly improve the promotion prospects for the youngest and perhaps most capable officers, those from Class 11 and later. These officers, who are only now reaching General officer rank, are increasingly frustrated. They see themselves as better educated, more seasoned, and more modern in their outlook and behavior than their predecessors, yet the path to the top is blocked. 
Most of the Class 11 and later groups’ frustration is aimed at Class 8. This group, many of whom have been General Officers for many years, is well organized and powerful. Their primary sponsor is Kim Jong Pil, and they are presently concentrated at the two-star level. The Class 11 and younger group sees Class 8 as a direct challenge and impediment to their career progression. If they are forced to wait until this group has had its opportunity to lead the army, they will be approaching normal retirement age without having the chance to reach their full potential. This factor alone seems to indicate that there will ultimately have to be a solution to this issue.
Another section of the report read:
There are several leaders of the Class 11 group who will likely play a major role in this process. Major General Chun Doo Hwan, presently commanding the 1st ROK Division near Munsan is one. Others include his classmates Roh Tae Woo and Chung Ho Young. As the leaders of the four-year KMA graduates, this group bears responsibility to see that those who follow them, and themselves, of course, are treated fairly in the future promotion process.
After Park Chung-hee’s assassination,
it was obvious to even the most unsophisticated observer that the focus of power in South Korea remained with the military. Yet the State Department and the U.S. Embassy felt they had no real choice but to deal with the legal government of President Choi, who, although first in the line of succession to Park under the Yushin Constitution, was a career bureaucrat with weak credentials for top leadership. U.S. diplomats ignored the opportunity to expand direct contacts with the ROK military, seeking instead to use every opportunity to convince the Choi government to make sweeping changes even though it had no real power to do so. Some of us believed that a better choice would have been to accept the power situation as it really existed by opening up a more direct channel. It was clear that under martial law Choi was only a figurehead. Even after martial law was lifted, the military would still hold the ultimate political power. Yet the State Department continued to play the charade that it was making progress on the political reform issue through the “legitimate authorities.”
Young suggested the idea of establishing a direct channel with ROK Army chief of staff Chung Sunghwa, who seemed a moderate and “had a reputation as a thoughtful, well-read, nonpolitical, and conservative officer.” However, “the plan was disapproved after objections by the Political Section, objections supported by the ambassador.” Young assumed this was because of Chung’s associations with Park’s assassination (he was present in another building that night but was not involved) and perhaps because the use of the intelligence channel rather than the diplomatic channel may have caused concern at the State Department that it “would lose control of what it viewed as an essentially political matter.” As a result, however, a “channel to the military moderates was never opened.”

Because of his presence the night of Park’s assassination, Chun, as the head of Defense Security Command (DSC), was under pressure to investigate Chung. The DSC was “Park’s watchdog to prevent coup attempts and had agents in every military unit” and “was even more powerful under martial law.” When he heard from the State Department that they didn’t know who Chun was (though the CIA and DIA did), he worried about Washington’s “superficial understanding of the situation.”

On the night of the 12.12 coup by Chun, Wickham was at first told by his ROK counterparts that all ROK troops were in place, but later amended this to say several units had moved towards Seoul, leaving Wickham “visibly angered.” He quoted the State Department statement in response to 12.12:
During the past few weeks we had been encouraged by the orderly procedures adopted in the Republic of Korea to develop a broadly based government following the assassination of President Park. As a result of events today in Korea we have instructed our Ambassador and the Commander of U.S. Forces in Korea to point out to all concerned that any forces within the Republic of Korea which disrupt this progress should bear in mind the seriously adverse impact their actions would have on the ROK's relations with the United States.At the same time, any forces outside the ROK which might seek to exploit the current situation in Seoul should bear in mind our warning of October 27.
As Young put it,
From a practical standpoint, this statement had almost no effect. Since the embassy had no control over the local media, which were controlled by the ROK military, the only course of action was to release the statement in Washington. Few if any people in Seoul were ever aware of the position of the U.S. government, a condition that would continue and even grow worse during the days ahead. Indeed, to the average Korean. It even appeared that the United States was actually favoring the renegade generals since there was no evidence of disapproval expressed in the Korean media.
He wrote, “For all the concern expressed and effort expended on the American side, it was apparent that we had had little influence on the outcome” of 12.12, and argued that if the ROK, with far more resources on hand than the US, could not prevent the coup, there was little the US could have done.

In the aftermath of 12.12, General Wickham and his staff were left suspicious of their counterparts and the coup “reduced the general’s own credibility in Washington. In my personal opinion, General Wickham was a fine officer and true gentleman, but his effectiveness as CFC commander was probably diminished as a result of 12/12.” The other result was Chun’s purge of the army:
On December 14 sweeping changes were announced in the ROK Army hierarchy. Officers loyal to Chun were placed in key commands and staff positions, particularly in those units that were politically sensitive and might have the capability to launch an attempt at a countercoup. For example, 9th Division commander Major General Roh became commander of the Capital Defense Command, which included most of the combat forces in the Seoul area, and other classmates or trusted officers were placed in command of the Special Warfare Command, Third ROK Army, and several other units. In turn, these new commanders ensured that officers loyal to themselves were placed in command of subordinate regiments and battalions. Officers from Korean Military Academy Classes 11 and 12 moved ahead of their seniors in certain key staff positions as well. 
Widespread and wholesale retirements were ordered by the end of the month, especially among Class 8 officers. It was clear that the army was being purged and that Chun and his followers would now be in total effective control. To my way of thinking, the events of December 14 were more significant than those of December 12 for at least three reasons. First was the consolidation of the army under Chun's control. Second and more importantly, these actions provided the first indication that Chun might have more on his mind than simply carrying out his investigatory responsibilities under martial law. After all, if his intention on 12/12 had been only to investigate President Park's assassination, why was it necessary to take complete control of the army? Third, it was confirming evidence, if indeed any was necessary by now, that the Choi government was incapable of exerting control over the new army leadership. Clearly Ambassador Gleysteen’s meeting with President Choi [the day after 12.12] had had no positive effect. From that point on it was obvious that civilian control of the military was a pipedream.
There was debate over whether or not to meet Chun, but Ambassador Gleysteen finally decided to meet him. “He expressed the U.S. government's deep concern over the events of 12/12. Much of his rhetoric was directed at the factionalism and disunity in the army, which invited North Korea to take advantage of the situation.” As well, he “stressed the importance of maintaining constitutional order and continuing the democratic reforms that would result in political liberalization.” Chun replied to these concerns and said that the movement of troops had not been pre-planned, it was not a coup, and he had no personal ambitions outside the army. As Young put it, however,
This meeting remained somewhat controversial even after it was finished. From the American perspective, we could now send a cable to Washington indicating that Chun had heard directly from the ambassador of our deep concerns and had been suitably warned and American concerns “put on the record." But I believe that in retrospect the meeting was more useful to Chun than to the United States. This was because Chun was now able to go back to his supporters and say that he had personally met with the US. ambassador and that his explanation of events had been understood and accepted. Of course it was true that his reasons had been understood, but they certainly were not accepted. Nonetheless. Chun used this meeting to suggest to his followers and others that the U.S. Embassy was now not opposed to his power move; perhaps he even implied that the United States supported him. In the days ahead, many Koreans approached me and other embassy staff asking if it were true that the U.S. government now supported Chun, and if not, why had Chun and Ambassador Gleysteen had such a "cozy" meeting? The fact that the meeting had taken place had unfortunately become more important than what was said at it, especially given the inability of the U.S. Embassy to get its message out to the public through the government-controlled Korean media.
Chun also requested a meeting with General Wickham, but Gleysteen asked him not to. Young assumed this was because Chun was recognized as the real power and the embassy wanted to run the show.

At a full scale policy review in Washington, a number of options were considered. “[T]roop withdrawal, pushed by those who wanted to return to Carter’s original plan to withdraw troops and saw another chance, was briefly considered, but was discarded as a viable option.” They also considered cancelling or postponing the annual security consultative meeting, but “the Defense Department was strongly opposed to canceling or postponing the annual meeting […and] made an aggressive argument that it was a mistake to link security policy with our political objectives to expand democracy in Korea”; this option was also rejected. Economic sanctions were also considered, but rejected because “any actions that would make the [economic] situation worse would likely cause additional social unrest, more demonstrations, and ultimately result in an even more severe crackdown by the military.” Thus it became clear that the US “had very limited options to influence the situation.”

The policy adopted was little different from that prior to 12.12.
- Attempt to preserve momentum toward a broadly based democratic government under civilian leadership.
- Continue to deter North Korean aggression.
- Strive to keep the new ROK military leadership focused on its primary role of defending the country against attack.
The US military instituted a gag order under which officers were not to discuss 12.12 with Korean counterparts and avoid political discussions in order “to demonstrate the non-political nature of the military and set the example of a professional officer corps.” Unfortunately, this let them think all was well and it was once again “business as usual” and cut Korean officers off from a source of accurate information amid intense censorship. “The true situation at the time was that some of these men were opposed to Chun Doo Hwan and his group, and others might have been if they had known the full story.” Young was also approached by a Korean officer who raised the possibility of a countercoup, something the US refused to support.

Despite 12.12, the constitutional order had been preserved, some political prisoners had been released, controls were relaxed on campus political activities, and Kim Dae-jung’s civil rights were restored. As well, “Chun himself was quite skillful at convincing the US Embassy that democracy was still possible. By late January 1980, Bob Brewster had established direct contact with Chun” and met “often enough for Brewster to form some opinions as to future developments” which seemed “generally optimistic.” Wickham finally met Chun in February:
The American and Korean sides had somewhat different accounts of this meeting. The Americans felt that it had been generally satisfactory, although Wickham reported later to Washington that he was not certain that he had made any positive impression on Chun. The Korean version of the meeting was that it was dominated by Chun, who despite his status as the junior officer, lectured Wickham about the realities of the Korean peninsula, dismissed his concerns somewhat abruptly, and was condescending and almost arrogant in his manner. I was not personally present, but from discussing the meeting with others, I tend to believe that the Korean version is more accurate. At any rate, the talk was hardly a success from any perspective and probably only served to make worse the personal relationship between the two men, which was not good to begin with.
As Young put it, perhaps if they had met in December, they “could have worked more closely together, and Wickham might have had more influence on Chun’s actions. But by Feb it was too late.”

On April 14 Chun was appointed KCIA director and quickly “began purging many positions at the KCIA in the same manner he had done in the army during the days following 12/I2.” As it was clear that Chun's ambitions had expanded, “the prevailing feeling in Washington was that it would be necessary for the US government to take positive action in order to oppose this move.” A move to cancel the security consultative meeting was opposed by the Defense Department, so as a result it was indefinitely postponed. While this was meant to “demonstrate that failure to implement political reform, and further attempts to consolidate power by Chun would have a negative effect on U.S.-ROK relations,” the watered-down nature of the postponement “gave the correct impression that the U.S. government was not united in its desire to punish Chun.” Young argued that this “move by Washington was totally ineffective: indeed, it served to make Chun stronger. It also tended to split the embassy and USFK, since USFK blamed the State Department and by extension the embassy for supporting the postponement.”

Young also described the difference of opinion that arose between the embassy and the military as to the prospects for political development. When Gleysteen met Chun on May 8, he came away feeling optimistic due to Chun’s calm demeanor and his playing down of the student demonstrations and assertion that the use of troops to suppress them would likely not be necessary. On the same day, however, Young was invited to see Roh Tae-woo, who argued that no patriotic officer could allow instability in the name of political freedom due to the threat from North Korea. Young noticed that his troops, while not on full alert, seemed ready to be deployed in short order. He wrote a report which caused some controversy since it contradicted Gleysteen’s hopeful predictions. When Wickham met Chun on May 13 and Chun spoke of communists organizing the students and argued North Korea was moving to take advantage of this; Wickham quickly stated there was no evidence of such North Korean moves. As Young put it, “by this time the relationship between Chun and Wickham had deteriorated to a point where neither man had much influence on the other.” As well, “For the first time, Wickham stated his frank opinion that Chun intended to use these arguments as a pretext to take those steps that would allow him to move directly into the Blue House.” Young spent that same day at the intelligence center in the Yongsan bunker, personally monitored DPRK forces, and came to the same conclusion. As he put it, “it was clear that the stories about North Korea were being cooked up in order to justify further domestic crackdowns and related activities.”

After the crackdown of May 17, rumors began to trickle in of violence in Kwangju on the 19th. On the 20th, because the Korean authorities were not sharing any information, Young turned to another source to find out what was happening in Kwangju:
In the afternoon I dropped by unannounced at the office of a Korean Army lieutenant colonel who was a native of Kwangju and had formerly been on the staff of Chun Doo Hwan. This officer took me aside, and we walked outside together to the parking lot, where he told me what was happening in Kwangju. Earlier he had called his home there and had received a firsthand report from his parents. They had said the situation was terrible and that the special warfare soldiers had lost control. His parents had seen several bodies, including one almost on their own doorstep. He told me that the Ministry of National Defense and official ROK military sources were concealing this information from U.S. officials and were downplaying the extent of the problem. He also said there were other riots and violence in the cities of Mokpo and Naju. I had known this officer well for several years and believed him to be trustworthy and truthful. His close association with Chun meant that he was taking a big chance in giving me this information. “Please have your government get this stopped,” he pleaded.
Despite his reporting immediately on this as soon as he returned to the embassy, “there was some disbelief that things could really be that bad. It was the next day before the true dimensions of what had happened were fully accepted.” The next day, he tried to take action:
On the morning of May 21, I proposed to Colonel Blottie that I go personally to Kwangju to assess the situation and see what we could do to help. We had arranged for a U.S. military aircraft to fly me into the U.S. air base, and from there I would try to enter the city, which was blocked off by ROK Army forces. This mission was given some consideration but eventually disapproved by Gleysteen, who was concerned about the danger. To me, it was just part of being a soldier and certainly no more dangerous than what I had experienced previously in Vietnam, but I respected the ambassadors wishes. Soon thereafter the embassy ordered a total evacuation of all American citizens from Kwangju.
Young provided background on Special Warfare Command troops whose brutality set off the uprising:
Although these troops were highly trained for the behind-the-lines operations directed at North Korea and, therefore, should logically have been under CFC authority, the Korean leaders had consistently resisted such suggestions. Quite frankly these forces were considered by most serious Korea-watchers to be earmarked for political-type activities such as anticoup protection. Also, they were often among the first units called out during martial law. The special-warfare commander was always personally approved by the president as were the heads of the Defense Security Command and Capital Defense Command. In I980 these commanders were all close associates of Chun Doo Hwan.
He also commented in detail on the use of the 20th Division:
In later official statements on this, the U.S. government maintained that it had no power to refuse the use of the 20th Division because, under the terms of the CFC charter, either country could withdraw its own forces upon notification—no approval was necessary or required." This is technically and legally true, but in this case my recollection is that we participated very much in the decision process.

Indeed, I believe that it was the preplanned intention of Chun and his followers to involve the United States as much as possible in the events in Kwangju. As a result, the same Korean military authorities who a day or two before were concealing information from us now were eager to share every detail concerning the 20th Divisions movements and operational plans. They went so far as to directly ask the U.S. leaders if they objected to use of the 20th.

After consultations with Washington, both General Wickham and Ambassador Gleysteen agreed to its deployment. I do not mean to imply in any way that the American side "ordered" or "approved" this decision, but it has always seemed to me that, in later attempts to explain this issue, we tried to hide behind technical and legal provisions of the CFC charter, when ethically and morally we were obligated to explain this situation more frankly to the Korean people. The fact was that we were consulted in great detail on this issue and reached the same decision, although perhaps more reluctantly, than ROK authorities.
As Young critically described the episode in which the ROK army failed to distribute leaflets with the US position on them in Kwangju,
We had the capability to deliver leaflets and handbills independently, but we instead depended on the martial-law authorities and official government outlets to deliver a message that was directly against their own interests and then complained when they failed to pass it along to the people.
The ROK military instead spread rumors that the US had approved the initial crackdown, but, Young criticized,
in many cases we let distortions of our position remain unchallenged. We also failed to keep an accurate account of these false stories and. by the summer of 1980. had lost almost any official record of exactly what tales were being spread. Even the most ridiculous and unbelievable account will eventually gain some credibility if no one denies it. yet this was the situation we allowed to happen.
They also did not make their feelings clear with the international community in Seoul. A series of policy meetings continued in Washington into late June but were hamstrung because "[t]he Carter administration did not want to send any signals that would imply support for Chun and the generals, yet it was reluctant to take the type of firm actions that were necessary to express direct opposition." One reason these meetings produced
such a mild and ineffective result was the manner in which they were conducted. Because any decision on our Korea policy would necessarily involve security, foreign policy, economic, and other considerations, several departments of the government were involved. [...] The customary approach was that when one agency objected to a particular course of action, it was usually “watered down." [...] This is what happened in the aftermath of Kwangju, and it resulted in a continued weak and ineffective Korea policy.
Gleysteen met Chun three times in June and early July, each time arguing Chun should drop martial law and move toward elections. During the last meeting he complained about Chun abusing the ROK-U.S. security relationship in order to advance his own political ambitions. As Young put it, “There is no evidence that any of these meetings resulted in any positive results from the American viewpoint. In fact, since the American ambassador was now meeting him regularly, they tended to legitimize Chun’s authority.”

In late June as well he began to hear rumors of a possible countercoup, this time coming from younger officers, including SWC officers who “felt that their leadership had misled them about the Kwangju situation and the motivation of the resistors. Now their national leaders were not supporting them adequately while the special warfare units were being widely criticized.” This was ultimately handled within the ROK army.

Of the US attempt to save Kim Dae-jung’s life, he wrote that Chun was “successful in blackmailing the United Slates, and from that time forward our relations were essentially normalized.”

To summarize his criticisms of Carter Administration policy, he thought it was too focused on North Korea and maintaining stability so as to not create opportunities for invasion. There were also fears among some in Washington that Korea might disintegrate the way Iran had, so Washington was “prepared to live with another military regime before they would take a chance of further instability. In this regard, the Kwangju incident had truly shaken the confidence of the Carter government.”

He also thought that “USFK's considerable influence with the ROK military was never used to its full potential - perhaps because of institutional jealousy and the embassy's desire to be “in charge" of some- thing that it could never really control.” Additionally, he thought Wickham was largely “out of the loop” and criticized the embassy for rarely consulting experienced Korea hands such as Spence Richardson in the political section and himself. He concluded with the following:
Had we had a more focused administration in Washington and less-cautious leadership in Korea, we might have made a stronger attempt to work closely with the military moderates after the Park assassination, taken a stronger anti-Chun posture immediately after 12/12, or even as late as the end of May, 1980, in accordance with the plan suggested by some of the younger embassy members. [… H]ad the United States chosen a bolder course, democracy might have blossomed nearly a decade earlier than it actually did. At the very least the United States would have communicated its views to the Korean people in a manner that would have averted many of the hard feelings that linger to this day.
Continue to Part 8

Monday, June 11, 2018

General Wickham's account of the rise of Chun Doo-hwan

Part 6: General Wickham on the Kwangju Uprising and the rise of Chun Doo-hwan, 1999

In 1999, General John Wickham's book Korea on the Brink: A Memoir of Political Intrigue and Military Crisis, was published. It covers ground similar to that of Gleysteen’s book. At times, such as when he covers his being approached by a Korean officer suggesting a counter-coup after 12.12, as well as the use of the 20th division during the Kwangju Uprising, he provides less detail than Gleysteen. What he does provide is a close-up look at relations with, and the attitudes of, officers of the Korean military.

It should be noted that Wickham's first meeting with Chun after the 12.12 coup did not come until late February. However, on the day after the coup, he met Defense Minister Rho at the bullet-pocked Ministry of Defense where Rho openly tape recorded their conversation, which Wickham assumed was because “Chun and his clique wanted to hear firsthand what the American commander had to say.”

The 12.12 coup had been carried out by Chun and other generals in part because they wanted to replace the older generation of generals who were blocking their advancement. As the first class at the 4 year Korean Military Academy, Chun, Roh Tae-woo, and other generals of  the KMA's Class 11 believed they were better educated and more deserving of command roles. After leaving the US bunker at Yongsan against Wickham’s advice, Defense Minister Rho had been seized by the officers carrying out the coup and forced to retroactively approve the arrest of martial law commander Jeong Seung-hwa (in part because he planned to transfer Chun). After hearing the excuses Rho made for Chun's coup, Wickham replied to him:
I told Rho that his explanation was duly noted, but entirely implausible and unconvincing. The actions initiated by the group of generals not only jeopardized the political progress of recent weeks, they also threatened the internal stability of the republic and opened very real risks of a North Korean attack. Thereby, they raised deep concerns about the future relationship between the United States and the Republic of Korea. Those concerns could lead to a full review of all American policies toward Korea, including policies concerning troop withdrawal, technology transfer, missile development cooperation, foreign military sales of U.S. equipment to the ROK, economic assistance, and several current proposals to increase the authority and responsibility of the Combined Forces Command.
Rho was shocked by this response and insisted it was all a misunderstanding. After the meeting, Wickham cabled Washington:
It is clear that we are in a hard ball game with professionals who feel they can run the country better than their peers and are flush with the first round of victory. In my judgment the course of political events has been fundamentally and unalterably changed. We now must work closely with the emerging leadership to see how much of the recent political progress can be restored, and to assure that internal political as well as military stability is maintained thereby denying North Korea any incentive to intervene.
Chapter 4 of his book, in which he was approached by a Korean officer who told him a countercoup to oust Chun was being planned, can be read here. In short, he quickly told the officer the US would not support any coup, as “it would have been wrong to meddle in our ally’s political fate. We could protest and cajole, but a direct intervention or an alliance with an internal conspiracy was out of bounds.” Jeong Seung-hwa, the former martial law commander arrested in the coup, may have been saved from execution, however, by Wickham's “meddling” when he sent, as was his practice, a birthday card to his colleague Jeong [Chung] :
My note to Chung reached him in prison. According to eyewitnesses Chung and his wife wept after reading the note. For them the note meant that a “lifeline” existed to an important military friend and government. […Chun also perceived it as a message that he] could not deal harshly with Chung. In fact, Chun became so incensed with the note’s import that he went to see Ambassador Gleysteen and complained bitterly about my “upstart action.” Chun said that I was interfering with the Korean legal process and that I had absolutely no right to communicate with someone Koreans regarded as a “non-person in prison.” Bill brushed off Chun’s complaint with the explanation that my note was merely a personal birthday greeting and that, as a matter of fact, if it were Chun who was in prison instead of General Chung, that perhaps he would have received a similar note. Chun was not at all amused.
Wickham also related a number of meetings with retired General Mun Hyong-tae, chairman of the National Assembly Defense Committee and a former Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman, who sought Wickham out to offer his help. Mun told him he had lectured Chun and the generals and explained the threat to foreign loans their actions might have caused and otherwise urged moderation. At a later meeting he communicated to Wickham that he had heard rumors Wickham was to be replaced due to the 12.12 incident. Wickham was surprised but wondered if this rumor was started by Chun’s side in the hope Wickham would be replaced by someone more pliable.

By this point Wickham had discovered Chun was writing letters to a number of US generals who had served in Korea, including General Vessey (Wickham’s predecessor) in the hope Chun would be invited to the US or that they would visit him in Korea, and even sent a personal emissary to the US. When Wickham asked JCS Chairman Rhu about this, he said he was irritated by it since it bypassed the chain of command. One US general (Stillwell, though he is not named) did visit in May when Wickham was in the US and “left a trail of venom” as he “excoriated the current US leadership in Korea.” General Mun’s response to the letter-writing campaign was to shake his head in disgust and to criticize the move because “it violated established channels of authority and reflected gross ignorance by Chun about the role played by the US Ambassador and CINC in Korea.”

 Mun warned Wickham that when 370,000 students returned to campuses in the spring there would likely be protests in response to Chun’s coup, all while the economic situation looked bleak. He worried that North Korea might instigate an incident to cause international concern so as to dry up foreign investment. Mun also was troubled by the sight of “many senior officials trooping to Chun and showing abject deference to him,” which Chun seemed to enjoy. Though Wickham noted that Mun was one of the officials visiting Chun, he concluded that “Like everyone in Seoul in those days, he was trying his best to walk a straight line on a curvy road. He knew Chun could not be stopped and was worried that America might try to punish the ROK by lessening its support for his country’s defense.”

Wickham related the following about his meeting with Chun in late February 1980:
In preparation for this meeting, Steve Bradner* gave me a remarkable memorandum of conversation (memcon) between a former CINC, General Carter Magruder, and Lieutenant Colonel Kim Jong-pil. The latter, as mentioned earlier, had been the mastermind behind the coup staged in May 1961. It was not clear whether Kim had been summoned by Magruder or had come of his own volition. In any event Kim was there to explain the actions of the coup leaders, including Major General Park Chung-hee, who eventually dominated the coup group and became president. A feeling of déja vu came over me as I read the memcon; virtually all of the reasons given for the coup in 1961 were reflected in what Chun and his associates said about their actions.

In the conversation, Kim apologized to Magruder for violating the chain of command by using ROK forces without CINC authority. Kim respectfully explained that the coup leaders had no political goals; their actions were to oust the corrupt, aging military leaders who blocked promotion opportunities of more able officers, and to “clean up” the government, which had grown so inefficient and corrupt that the people were not well served. Kim assured Magruder that after he and his associates had achieved their limited objectives, they would return promptly to the barracks. “Trust us,” said Kim. The thought crossed my mind that I could change the date of Magruder’s memcon and use it as a record of my discussion with Chun.
Wickham included this excerpt of his report to Washington of his meeting with Chun:
Chun impressed me as a ruthlessly ambitious, scheming and forceful man who believes he is destined to wear the purple. His manner was cocky and self-assured despite extreme nervousness in smoking almost a pack of cigarettes. I found him unsophisticated in his knowledge of the United States and of the international consequences that could result from instability in his country. There is a hint of anti-U.S. attitude in his intensely nationalistic and conservative views. Without lecturing him, I reaffirmed U.S. concerns over the December 12 incident and the fact that we would not tolerate further instability from any group. In addition, I made it clear that the best course of action for the ROK military would be to stay out of politics entirely and devote themselves to defending the nation. After reflecting carefully on the lengthy meeting I remain suspicious of Chun. He is on the make, has a taste for power, knows how to use it, and does not strike me as a man to be trusted. He recognizes that he will have to earn our trust by actions, not rhetoric.
(In the next post reference will be made to this meeting from Chun’s point of view.)

The third time he met Chun, on May 13, 1980, was after Chun had been made head of the KCIA. Wickham wrote that upon arriving there, “The thought crossed my mind that it was almost like a visit with the president in the Blue House.” He also wrote that “It did not escape my notice that he was speaking for the government.” Interestingly, when it came to the student protests, “Even Chun’s son was telling him that the peer pressure was so strong that he had no choice but to join the protests.” Wickham then left Korea on May 14 for the US for meetings and his son’s graduation, and returned May 19. During that time he was absent for the declaration of emergency martial law on May 17. Upon his return to Korea, unaware of what was happening in Kwangju, he met Defense Minister Chu.
Chu mentioned a secret meeting he held with more than 40 senior generals and admirals on May 17. These officers had voiced bitterness over the “drift in the Korean society and the absence of effective leadership in the government.” They had been very critical of efforts to foster political liberalization. In their words: “Democratic values cannot be achieved all at once, and we have been trying to go too fast, partly by pressure from the United States.” In their view, the military was the only organized body which was capable of providing crisis leadership, and it was time to take strong measures to preclude instability.
In his cable to Washington that day, he discussed the implications of the military takeover of May 17:
We must recognize the reality of control by Chun and his associates. It is clear now that the group’s ultimate objective is total power. The only issues are the speed of consolidating power and the form in which it takes place. The form could be the facade of a civilian government and controlled elections, or it could be a military council chaired by Chun. We have to accept this reality of control by Chun and work with it because we are in no position to unhorse Chun and his group.

While we can work with Chun in shaping political development that is minimally acceptable to the United States, we must recognize the limitations on our leverage and therefore resist adopting actions which could jeopardize fundamental U.S. security interests in the ROK. [...] In short, then, our leverage is relatively limited and we must take care how it is used, lest we undermine our ability to communicate openly and effectively with Chun who today controls power, and tomorrow may overtly run Korea.
Days later he reiterated the danger of trying to “unhorse” Chun, arguing that it would “probably would beget us only another Chun and the black eye of meddling in Korean affairs.”

Upon hearing about fighting in Kwangju, on May 21 he talked to chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Rhu Byong-hyun, who gave him a rather skewed description of events in Kwangju:
Rhu told me that the number of casualties was still unknown, but that the number of fatalities should be low because the soldiers had avoided shooting. He said that rioters had broken into homeland defense force armories and explosive storage bunkers and were in possession of more than 2,000 military weapons as well as a supply of demolitions. Considerable destruction had already occurred, and mobs were directing particular violence against Special Forces soldiers, whom the mobs were mocking as “Chun Doo-hwan’s troops.”
Wickham passed over the use of the 20th Division with little comment, writing “My permission to withdraw these units was neither sought nor required under the terms of the CFC agreement” Rhu told him he was trying to moderate the generals “panic” and desire to retake the city and was trying to work out a ceasefire. The next day, May 22, he told Wickham that
His plan for moderation seemed to be working, although Kwangju was still in the hands of local residents, and there had been some shooting and property destruction during the night. He told me that eyewitnesses had been reporting shooting by youngsters and drunken men, and that large crowds and vehicle movement were also jamming the streets. [...] Rhu estimated that as many as 60 civilians were dead and more than 400 seriously injured and said the numbers could rise. Four soldiers and four policeman had also been killed. 
Rhu then confided to me that the martial law command was developing a contingency plan to assault the city with several infantry regiments, in the event that the violence could not be contained. He told me that Chun and his group wanted such a plan, just in case events turned sour. We discussed the concept of an assault on the city, reviewing the dangers peculiar to urban hostilities, where block-to-block fighting inevitably would result in many casualties on both sides. [...] Any plan to undertake such a high-risk operation would have to be carefully organized [. ...] Rhu agreed with me that all of this detailed preparation would lake time and acknowledged the wisdom of delaying an assault on the city. He also agreed that such an operation would require great restraint lo avoid a major confrontation between the army and Korean citizens. I told Rhu that a large number of casualties would have serious implications for the rest of the country, and that Bill Gleysteen and I strongly urged a restrained approach.
He wrote back to Washington that
voices of moderation seem to have prevailed over Chun and his group. [...] Chun and his generals appear willing to heed Rhu’s advice, at least for now. This is encouraging. Naturally Chun and his group feel very threatened by the Kwangju situation which could escalate and unseat them[. ...] Fear is one reason why they have been arguing for hawkish, swift solutions. Minister Chu told me that he too is trying to emphasize the rule of reason and moderation. But Chu does not inspire confidence for he seems emotionally distraught, probably reflecting Blue House and Chun’s anxiety. Rhu on the other hand appears cool and confident and is exercising thoughtful initiative in a reasoned, moderate way. Bill Gleysteen and I have been trying to reinforce Rhu in this restraining role.
On May 23 he met Rhu again, who told him that “While events in the city were relatively quiet, there appeared to be some friction between the radical and moderate groups in the city. Some of the radicals were escaping. In one instance, a truck filled with weapons and explosives ran into a military roadblock, 17 civilians were killed as a result. In the city itself, citizens were organizing restoration committees, and cleanup work was already underway.” The 17 dead in a truck likely refers in a very twisted way to one of the city buses upon which the military opened fire on the outskirts of the city.

On May 25 Wickham was told that
Late on the 24th, more than 10,000 rioters had demonstrated near the capitol and radical elements forcibly turned away citizens trying to turn in weapons. The radical group now consisted of student leaders, including some from Seoul, criminals, and poor people who had little to lose. The hardcore radical group was estimated to number about 500. They were wearing army fatigues, were heavily armed, and were quite willing to shoot. The group had begun to organize a city-wide control mechanism and were employing intimidation, in the form of kangaroo courts and quick sentences, to force innocent people into complying with their directives. Rhu said the police were hopelessly inadequate against the rioters. The capitol had been occupied by the radicals, and provincial leaders had fled for their lives. It was estimated that some 5,600 weapons and more than 350,000 rounds of small arms ammunition were unaccounted for, so a dangerous situation existed. […] Rhu told me that local citizens were clamoring for the government to return with superior military force to restore law and order.
By May 26 it was clear to Wickham that the patience of Chun and other generals had been exhausted, and that they feared that the instability in Kwangju could spread, threatening their positions. He was told stories of communists controlling the radicals there but was reassured that the army would be magnanimous in paying reparations and offering amnesties to offenders. He was also told the 20th Division would carry out the operation to retake the city, and that they would only shoot in self defense. The Special Forces units that had set off the uprising would be held in reserve only.

[It is worth noting that none of these promises were kept. The SWC troops, wearing 20th Division uniforms, were used to storm the provincial office (where they fired on journalists in a nearby building), and hundreds of survivors and other participants were hunted down in house to house searches, imprisoned, and tortured.]

The formation of the Special Committee for National Security Measures was explained to Wickham as a necessity, legal under martial law, and not at all a power grab; the next president would be popularly elected. Wickham referred to this as “just talk” that he’d heard repeatedly. But as he put it, “Our leverage was limited because of our security commitment, and because the Koreans, particularly the military, were increasingly intolerant of U.S. intervention in their domestic affairs.” He also wrote, “We probably had little if any real influence over ROK internal developments, and we were little more than helpless bystanders as Chun shrewdly maneuvered toward total power.”

Wickham went on to describe his ill-fated interview (mentioned here) and the fallout from it, such as finding out about it upon arriving in Washington for meetings and being diverted to Hawaii on his way home all the while fearing for his career.

In addition to his description of events from the US and ROK military's point of view, he also quotes in full (or at least "fuller" than elsewhere) pertinent quotations, such as the Korean government’s statement about Martial Law on May 17:
When we review the situation at home, the maneuvers of the North Korean Communists have been stepped up with each passing day to communize the South by taking advantage of continuous social disturbances. . . . They are maneuvering to create a decisive moment for a southward invasion by inspiring and agitating disturbances on the campuses. 
At this critical moment the irresponsible rash attempts and blind behavior of some politicians, students, and workers have converted this society into a lawless one of chaos, disorder, agitation and subversion. Moreover, the aftermath of social disturbances has resulted in slowing down of exports and creating an economic depression, thus increasing labor disputes and unemployment and further increasing social unrest. Our country is faced with a grave crisis.
He also provided a full(er) quotation from a statement made by President Carter about Korea at an August 21, 1980 press conference:
We have been deeply concerned about Chun and some of the policies he’s put forward. I understand now he might step down as general to become president. We also are concerned about the upcoming trial of Kim Dae-jung. Under the new leaders in Korea our influence is limited, and we’ve got the option of expressing our extreme displeasure by withdrawing our forces, which might destabilize that whole region of Asia, or accepting some political development of which we disapprove. We would like to have a complete democracy with full and open debate, free press and elected leaders. The Koreans are not ready for that, according to their own judgment, and I don’t know how to it explain it any better.
The book ends with a reprint of the 1989 White Paper.


* Stephen Bradner's fascinating career is detailed here. He played an important role in keeping the US out of the April 19 student protests in 1960:
In 1960, he was an eyewitness to the popular uprising against Syngman Rhee, the authoritarian and deeply corrupt South Korean president. On 18 April of that year, Bradner shinned up a tree to see what was happening and spotted US military police patrolling in Seoul alongside South Korean military police (MPs). “I was worried that our MPs would be dragged into fighting against Korean student protesters for democracy if any violence broke out,” Bradner told this writer many years later. “So, I went to see the commander of the US intelligence unit on the US Army base in Seoul, and told him of my fears that something was about to happen.”  
That officer not only listened to Bradner, but persuaded the military police commander to order his men to return to barracks. The next day, 19 April, was a milestone in Korean history. Thousands of university and high school students swarmed the streets of cities to protest against Rhee. Police opened fire. Bradner was a witness to the tragedy. As police bullets cracked past, he dashed to the British Embassy and heaved himself over its protective wall to escape the fusillade. But dozens of students were killed; many more were wounded. But there was no US military involvement – thanks in part, to Bradner’s counsel.
Continue to Part 7