Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Spring 1980: The Yongsan Golf Course incident

An article in the Korea Times written for Yongsan Legacy discusses the Yongsan golf course that was once located where the National Museum now stands. It reminds me of a story I did not include in my series "The 1980 Kwangju Uprising and the United States," but is worth sharing, revealing as it does another example of the antipathy between Chun Doo-hwan and U.S. General John Wickham. This is from James V. Young's book Eye on Korea: An Insider Account of Korean-American Relations, page 92:
This relationship [between Chun Doo-hwan and General Wickham] grew worse after an incident on the Yongsan Golf Course in early spring [1980]. Chun, by now a three-star general. had arrived at Yongsan for lunch and a round of golf. In those days, since he was concerned about his own safety. Chun traveled with an impressive number of body- guards.When the minister of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, or other senior Korean officers used this facility, they arrived with a single aide and driver. Chun, in contrast, had an entourage fit for a king. At one point he had a security detail and personal staff of almost twenty people, and several cars were necessary to transport them all. General Wickham either saw or was told of the size of this group and apparently was upset by the ostentatious display. He directed that Chun’s large detail not be allowed to use the clubhouse and other facilities until such time as they were reduced to a level consistent with other officers of his rank and position. Wickham made it clear that Chun himself was welcome, though with a reduced staff. This was a reasonable request, but either through misunderstanding or an unwillingness to comply, Chun was infuriated. He and his group left in a big huff, never to return. The feelings between Wickham and Chun had reached a new low point.
And on the topic of Yongsan Legacy, I rather enjoyed Nam Sang-so's story about the mural US soldiers left behind in a Gyeongsangbuk-do town during the war and its enduring influence.

1 comment:

Judith said...

I loved the story about Blondie. Thanks for the link! So much more like what cultural exchange should be than the golf course event.