Activity of Korean Agents in the United States Letter to Congressional Leaders Transmitting a Report on the Justice Department Investigation.
In accordance with Section 28 of the International Security Assistance Act of 1977 (Public Law 95-92), I am transmitting herewith a report concerning the extent to which the Republic of Korea is cooperating with the Department of Justice investigation into allegations of improper activity in the United States by agents of the Republic of Korea.
COOPERATION BY THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA WITH JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATIONS
This report is submitted in accordance with Section 28 of the International Security Assistance Act of 1977 (Public Law 95-92), enacted August 4, 1977. Subsection (a)(2) of Section 28 requests that the President report to the Congress within ninety days of the enactment of the Act concerning "the extent to which the Republic of Korea is cooperating with" the Department of Justice investigation into allegations of improper activity in the United States by agents of the Republic of Korea.
The principal cooperation sought from the Government of the Republic of Korea by the Department of Justice has been the important testimony which could be supplied by Korean businessman Tongsun Park (Pak Tong-son). The Department of Justice considers Mr. Park's verifiable and truthful testimony essential to the full investigation and successful prosecution of illegal acts by U.S. officials in the United States. The cooperation needed from Mr. Park involves both his early interrogation in connection with Grand Jury investigations and his eventual appearance before trial juries in resulting prosecutions in the United States.
The United States Government has sought the full cooperation of the Republic of Korea Government in securing the return of Mr. Tongsun Park to the United States. At the time of this report to the Congress, our two governments are in the midst of active and delicate discussions, and proposals are being considered in an effort to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. The present report is therefore an interim report which will summarize the efforts made by the United States Government to date to obtain cooperation, and the responses of the Government of Korea thereto.
In April, the Department of State, on behalf of and in full coordination with the Department of Justice, initiated discussions with the Government of the Republic of Korea. United States Ambassador to Korea Richard L. Sneider, in a series of meetings with President Chung Hee Park, Foreign Minister Tong-jin Park and other senior officials of the Korean Government, stressed that Mr. Tongsun Park's testimony was critical to the satisfactory conclusion of the Justice Department investigation and urged that efforts be made by the Korean Government to have him fully cooperate. The Korean Government responded that whether Mr. Park cooperated with the Department of Justice investigation was entirely for him to decide as a private person.
In early July, the United States Government delivered an offer by the Department of Justice to grant Mr. Park complete immunity from criminal prosecution if he returned to the United States and testified in a full and truthful manner concerning his knowledge of illegal payments involving U.S. officials. It was explained that the scandal created by Mr. Park's illegal activities in the U.S. could not be resolved without Mr. Park's cooperation.
The Korean Government in July advised the U.S. Government that it was seeking to persuade Mr. Park (who was then in London) to return to the United States to testify under the guarantee of immunity. The U.S. Government was subsequently informed by the Korean Government that Mr. Park would not agree to return to the United States, and that the Korean Government could not force him to return against his will.
On August 18, Mr. Tongsun Park arrived in Korea from Europe. As he was now directly within the jurisdiction of the Republic of Korea, the United States Government intensified its requests to the Korean Government to help it obtain Mr. Park's truthful testimony in order to bring the investigation to a just and early conclusion.
In late August, President Carter sent a letter to President Park expressing grave concern at the effect Tongsun Park's lack of cooperation was having on our mutual interests. The President urged that the Korean Government assist in getting Mr. Park to return immediately to the United States in order that these matters be concluded satisfactorily as soon as possible.
On two occasions the Korean Government provided statements by Mr. Tongsun Park, including a statement to the Seoul District Prosecutor. These statements, however, were not requested by the United States and were totally unhelpful to the Justice Department investigation.
The Korean Government informed Ambassador Sneider in early September that Foreign Minister Tong-jin Park had talked with Mr. Park in an effort to persuade him to return to the United States. According to the Foreign Minister, Mr. Park nevertheless expressed an unwillingness to return to the United States. Furthermore, the Korean Government pointed out that there is no extradition treaty between the United States and the Republic of Korea, and that it had no legal means to force him to return to the United States.
After the indictment of Mr. Park by the Grand Jury in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, Ambassador Sneider informed the Korean Government that Mr. Park was now considered a fugitive from U.S. justice. Therefore, his return was even more urgent.
On September 12, President Park responded to President Carter, expressing hope that an early resolution of the problem could be effected within the principles of national laws and international practice. President Park stated that the Korean Government could not compel Mr. Park to go to the United States.
On September 21, Secretary of State Vance and Korean Foreign Minister Park met in Washington. The Secretary expressed strong disappointment at the failure of the Korean Government to respond to the U.S. request. In view of the evidence which was available to the United States Government, the Secretary noted that Mr. Park's situation was different from that of purely a private citizen. The Korean Government's failure therefore to persuade Mr. Park to return to the United States to testify was not the response expected of a close ally. His absence was impeding the course of justice in the United States.
Several further high-level meetings occurred in the days following the Foreign Minister's meeting with the Secretary of State, in the course of which the Korean Government proposed that United States Justice Department officials go to Seoul to discuss the problem with Korean Justice Ministry officials. On September 30, following a second meeting in New York between the Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Park, the two governments simultaneously announced agreement that: "... representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice will go to Seoul and meet with Korean Ministry of Justice officials to discuss satisfactory terms and conditions for communicating with Mr. Park Tong-son."
Assistant United States Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti and two other officials of the Department of Justice proceeded to Korea under this agreement and met in more than 30 hours of direct discussions with Korean Ministry of Justice officials from October 17 through October 20, 1977. The Korean side in the talks was headed by Vice Minister of Justice Chong Won Lee.
During these discussions, the United States proposed interrogation of Tongsun Park in a third country under conditions which would provide verification of the truthfulness of his testimony. If sufficient evidence were thereby gained of indictable offenses by United States officials, Mr. Park's later appearance would be required in the United States for trial testimony. The United States proposed that, if Mr. Park faithfully completed these steps, the Justice Department would seek dismissal of the indictment against him. The basis of these U.S. proposals was the need to secure truthful and effective testimony for successful prosecutions at trials in the United States.
The United States proposals were rejected by the Korean side, which advised that Mr. Park was determined not to go to a third country or return to the United States.
The Korean representatives proposed that questions be submitted to Mr. Park through a Korean prosecutor or court, with U.S. prosecutors present only as observers. In making this proposal, the Korean representatives cited their understanding of the arrangements which had been made in the United States at the request of the Japanese Government in the case of the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. The United States representatives stressed that these Korean proposals were inadequate to the requirements of the present case.
In view of the absence of any agreement on either the fundamental issue of direct examination of Mr. Park under circumstances of trustworthiness, or on his eventual availability to testify at trials in the United States, these negotiations were terminated on October 20 and the U.S. representatives returned to Washington.
Following its analysis of the negotiations between Justice officials in Seoul, the Government of the Republic of Korea on October 31 transmitted to the United States Government an important new proposal relating to interrogation of Mr. Tongsun Park. Active discussions between our two governments are underway in connection with this proposal for cooperation. It is therefore inappropriate and premature to characterize in detail our negotiations at this point. The United States position, however, continues to be guided by the necessity to be able successfully to prosecute illegal acts in the United States in court trials.
In accordance with Public Law 95-92, a further report will be transmitted to the Congress on this matter on or before January 31, 1978.
Note: The report to the Congress was enclosed with identical letters addressed to the Honorable Walter F. Mondale, President of the Senate, the Honorable Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Honorable Robert C. Byrd, majority leader of the Senate, the Honorable John Sparkman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Honorable Clement J. Zablocki, chairman of the House Committee on International Relations.
The texts of the letters and the report to the Congress were released on November 5.
Jimmy Carter, Activity of Korean Agents in the United States Letter to Congressional Leaders Transmitting a Report on the Justice Department Investigation. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242550