JPRI Occasional Paper No. 7 (May 1996)
South Korea's Academic Lobby
by Bruce Cumings

Some aspects of the American relationship with the capitalist countries of East Asia are hidden from view and never subjected to public accountability. One of these is the growing availability of funds for research on Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and other East Asian countries from the very countries being studied. To a significant degree, East Asian governments and institutions are paying for American research on East Asia. Information about the amounts, terms, and effects of such funding is hard to obtain, but insights from the inside are a first step toward such information. By insights from the inside, we mean reports by participants actually engaged in research and in dealing with the concrete problems of donor and recipient. JPRI published its first insider's report as Occasional Paper No. 3, "Fund-Raising in Japan: A Sasakawa Saga," by Hans H. Baerwald. We continue this series with the Occasional Paper below on Korea and invite others with comparable insights to discuss with us possible future commentaries.

Japan Policy Research Institute

American universities and academics have been a major target of Korean lobbyists and intelligence agents for the past quarter-century. Reams of testimony gathered during the "Koreagate" investigation of the mid-1970s document the inception of this effort. After that scandal came and went, however, many Americans acted as if Korean academic lobbying also ended. That is far from the case; instead things have only gotten worse in the past twenty years.

Today nearly all funding for studies of Korea in the United States comes from South Korean sources. Often it is desperately needed funding, given the long-term decline in federal, university, and foundation support for area studies; and if it were not available, many fine young scholars would not be able to pursue their careers. But the money remains tainted by its provenance, since most Korean sources have yet to show their respect for academic freedom and the minimal procedural guarantees necessary to it, and many American scholars have also not seen fit to stand their ground on those same principles. An essential part of the democratization process now underway in the Republic of Korea (ROK) must be respect for basic academic freedom and the institutionalization of proper peer review procedures in the distribution of Korean funding to university programs in the U.S.

These principles have been sorely absent in the past, a past that I know intimately by the nature of my academic career. I regret that much of what follows necessarily involves my own experience with Korean lobbyists and agents. Given that so little attention is ever directed at this corner of the Korean-American relationship, however, I really have no choice but to relate that experience as best I can.

I have taught for many years in the Korean programs at the University of Washington and at the University of Chicago, and I now hold a chair in history and political science at Northwestern. The position I have taken in regard to Korean funding for the past two decades has been to take none for my own scholarship, to oppose its coming into the universities where I have taught, and to urge the same principles on my colleagues in the Korean field. I have lectured at other universities or participated in conferences that have been funded by Korean sources, since to do otherwise would negate much of the collegial contact necessary to scholarship. I recommend my own students for fellowships and jobs supported by Korean monies, while making clear to them my objections to such funding under existing conditions.

Before I arrived at the University of Chicago, the Korean program there had accepted partial funding from an alum who later came to head a large Korean conglomerate. I insisted that my salary be paid from the university budget and advocated that the annual grants to the Korean program be turned into endowment funding that the University would thereafter control. I have no objection to government, foundation, or foreign funding of academic work, so long as the substantive procedures for giving it out reflect proper concern for academic freedom and scholarly peer review, and so long as the appearances are not outrageous (e.g., no one would want to take a grant from something called the Adolf Hitler Foundation). But with Korean funding there are some peculiar problems that cannot be captured in a general formula.

Korea is a divided nation, with two states that compete on a world scale for political and economic support. This half-century struggle has deeply politicized almost all important issues in twentieth century Korean history, especially those involving politics. It has therefore always seemed to me impossible that a book on postwar Korean politics or history should be indebted to financial support from either side in this struggle; a self-respecting scholar simply cannot accept it. Furthermore in a time when American relations with East Asia have been so complicated, with three wars in the past fifty years and frequent trade conflicts with Japan, Korea, and China since the last of those wars ended in 1975, it is difficult to justify taking money from any of those countries for the study of its politics, or its relations with the U.S.

My situation is yet more peculiar, in that my major work has been a two-volume study of the origins of the Korean War--that is, two long books about the defining experience for the Korean nation and people in this century. North and South Korea remain completely at odds in their interpretations of this civil war (which has never really ended), and both maintain strict ideological lines on all aspects of the war, vetted by central education ministries and propagated in officially-sanctioned textbooks. Both regimes have a complete disregard for primary documents (and have released virtually none of worth from either national archive), and both ruthlessly ignore towering mountains of inconvenient facts. Typically, the North Koreans are worse, but the South Koreans are far worse in this regard than most Americans realize. All this is to be expected in the aftermath of a fratricidal war that killed upwards of fifteen per cent of the 1950 population. But is it also to be expected that American officials, journalists, and scholars will come down wholly on one side of this conflict, often in total ignorance of what the South Koreans teach their own people about this war? Perhaps it is not to be expected that other scholars of Korea, working on less controversial subjects or fields, will feel as constrained as I do about Korean funding. But should they not be concerned about the continuing politicization of Korean monies, and the absence of normal scholarly peer review in giving out the money?

Another complication is that Koreans take the views of scholars far more seriously than do Americans. One of the more admirable elements in the Korean tradition is its veneration of scholars and scholarship, and that makes Koreans deeply attentive to the views of American academics. The cultural attachZÿs of Korean embassies and consulates also have an obsessive concern for the image of their country, and will instantly fax back to Seoul a critical editorial or news story, in order to have a reaction ready the next morning. Given that under Korean foreign exchange laws all grant monies from Korea pass through the government and thus through the consulates, this is not a minor matter. Far more important, however, is the interest Korean intelligence agencies take in the views and activities of American scholars.

The U.S. House investigation of Koreagate (known as the Fraser committee, after its head, Donald Fraser, a Democrat from Minnesota) got hold of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency's 1976 plan for operations in the U.S., which contained a section titled "Operations in Academic and Religious Circles." It called for spreading money around to change the attitudes of anti-ROK scholars in the U.S. The committee concluded that:

the Korean Government attempted to use grants to influence American universities for political purposes. . . .The KCIA played a large role in these efforts.[1]

A South Korean Embassy officer testified under oath and penalty of perjury that Park Chung Hee's original "plan for clandestine operations in the United States" had five major aspects, of which one dealt with Congress, two with business, and two with academe. In his paraphrase of the plan, the latter two sections proposed:

-To organize professional associations and societies of Korean scholars and scientists in the U.S. and American scholars in the areas of Korea, East Asia, and communist affairs studies to extract their support for Park,with reward of embassy entertainments and possibly free VIP trips to Korea.

-To organize indirectly, or to finance covertly scholastic meetings,seminars and symposia of Korean and American professors to rationalize ParkÍs dictatorship or, at least, to curb their criticism.

One example that this officer gave concerned a symposium at Western Michigan University, held shortly after Park declared martial law in October 1972:

The embassy's education attachZÿ who masterminded and paid off for this operation later boasted that, as a result, the organizer of the meeting wrote a letter to The New York Times in support of Park's police state measures.[2]

Harvard was typically more greedy and much smarter, seeking endowment funding in the mid-1970s for a $4 million project to build up Korean studies. Famous alumnus Thomas Jefferson Coolidge led the charge; a descendant of both Calvin Coolidge and Thomas Jefferson, he had served with the CIA in 1957-1961, and later had invested in Korea through his Back Bay-Orient Company. Coolidge wanted to raise $1 million from the Korean Traders' Association Scholarship Foundation (KTSF) and $2.8 million more from American investors in Korea.

A Korean reporter wrote that the real interest of the Park government was "to promote counter-active efforts against those who spearhead anti-Korean government activities like [Edwin] Reischauer and [Jerome] Cohen, thereby to engender a pro-Korean atmosphere at Harvard." Other professors--John King Fairbank among them--were said to have "recently complained to [Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger about Harvard professors' interference in the domestic affairs of foreign countries."[3] The person who "supervised" the gift to Harvard was Han Pyong-gi, the KCIA chief in the U.S. at the time and a son-in-law of Park Chung Hee. Congressional investigations later determined that Mr. Han urged President Park to put the arm on Korean businesses for the $1 million grant--which was duly presented to Harvard in June 1975.[4]

After the Harvard effort Columbia University sought similar funding from the Korean Traders, but failed temporarily because of faculty and student outrage precisely over published details of the Harvard case. Provost William Theodore DeBary, a leading expert on East Asia, had solicited the money, and answered criticism by saying that "there is nothing improper about soliciting these funds so long as no strings are attached."[5] At the University of California at Berkeley, however, strings were attached. According to the Fraser report, Professor Robert Scalapino "conducted all negotiations for Korean funds" in the 1970s, and was seeking an endowment of $1 million. The KTSF later provided $75,000 for three years; one faculty member told the Fraser investigators under oath, but anonymously, that "it was Berkeley's understanding that topics involving Korean politics were to be avoided."[6] The Korean Traders' Association was almost always listed with the Justice Department in the 1970s and 1980s as a registered agent of South Korea, although never (to my knowledge) were its gifts to American universities included in reports of its activities.

In 1978 I wrote Professor Scalapino after an organizer of one of his Korea-related symposia had invited me to attend. "We need you for political balance," the organizer had said. "The Korean organizer at the Seoul end is packing the delegation with regime stooges, and making sure no dissidents get aboard." I told Scalapino I found the implication that I might "balance" such people "demeaning," and that I therefore declined to attend. Scalapino wrote back, denying what his organizer had just told me and assuring me that the Koreans who funded the conference "vigorously deny that they have any connection with the KCIA" and that the funds had "no strings attached." He then suggested that I was soft on North Korea, and closed his letter as follows: "You are at the beginning of what I trust will be a long and fruitful academic career. This is a matter which I hope you will review seriously."[7]

The University of Hawaii has been the place most blessed with Korean money, including a fancy Korean-style pagoda that houses its Korean center. The money for Hawaii was initiated by a letter in 1969 from David Steinberg, then at the Asia Foundation and acting on behalf of Harlan Cleveland (President of the University), which went to South Korean Prime Minister Chong Il-gwon--one of the two or three most important southern generals before and during the Korean War, and a figure of legendary corruption.[8] Sometimes, of course, the Korean Traders merely handed out individual grants. For example, a listing of their grants for 1979 includes $25,000 to Donald Zagoria (said at that time to be from Columbia University) for research on "the Soviet Role in Asian Security." Somehow Professor Zagoria failed to acknowledge that support when he published Soviet Policy in East Asia in 1982.[9]

The Fraser investigation concluded that "making or encouraging grants to U.S. universities in support of Korean studies was the most conspicuous and costly measure undertaken by Korea in its attempt to influence American academic opinion." The KTSF, it determined, was not an independent organization: once the government had designated it as the vehicle "to take charge of all the tasks assisting Korean studies abroad," the KTSF "was compelled to make the donations." Furthermore, "the KCIA played a large role in all these efforts."[10]

Of course, Korea had its share of entrepreneurs in addition to the KTSF. A person calling himself "Alexander Kim," otherwise Kim Chong-won, was named an "agent-of-influence" before Congress in sworn testimony taken in connection with Koreagate. In the spring of 1973, Alexander Kim dropped by to chat with a professor at "a leading Eastern university" and offered him $50,000 if he could arrange "to have Time magazine or Newsweek run a picture of Park Chung Hee on the cover."

The first evidence I had that the Korean government was concerned with my work came in 1976, when I was teaching at Swarthmore College and was invited to testify before Congressman Lester Wolff's East Asia committee. After the list of panelists was published, staffers for Mr. Wolff got anonymous calls saying I was a dangerous radical. The staffers called back to verify that I was a Swarthmore professor. A woman named Julie Moon also called me up, and said that she had arranged for me to testify: therefore I should be careful not to say anything favorable about North Korea, lest she get into trouble. I called the staffers again, and they said Ms. Moon had nothing to do with the committee. When I finally testified, a flush-faced Congressman from Florida, apparently fortified with lunchtime martinis, launched ad hominem attacks on me and kept asking me if North Korea was "a tolitarian [sic] state." Meanwhile, Julie Moon still appears at gatherings related to Korea in Washington, and lately has been going back and forth to North Korea.[11]

A couple of years later the University of Washington obtained a grant from the Luce Foundation, enabling it to create a "soft-money" position on twentieth century Korea. I was hired for that job in 1977. Subsequently I learned that the Korean Consul-General in New York had taken a high officer of the Foundation out to lunch to ask him why the foundation was supporting a person like me.[12]

In the fall of 1977 the Korean Traders' Scholarship Foundation offered to support a position in Korean literature at the University of Washington.[13] James B. Palais, the senior historian of Korea, and I were disturbed about this and circulated evidence from the Koreagate investigation about Seoul's academic lobbying effort. Professor Palais was opposed on moral grounds to taking any money from the militarists then ruling Seoul. I agreed with him, but thought the proper way to convince our colleagues was to fight on procedural grounds. After all, the Koreans had never allowed bona fide American scholars to decide who would get grants (as most other foreign foundations did). So there was no need to get into moral arguments, I thought, because we could win on procedural issues. However, neither the Koreagate evidence, nor the moral argument, nor the procedural issues swayed our colleagues or the administration: "The money has no strings attached," they claimed.

An anonymous kind soul came to our rescue, by leaking to the student newspaper a letter that a Vice-Provost had written to the ROK Consulate in San Francisco, requesting money for the University's Korean program, and offering this helpful thought:

My idea would be that if we could have the assistance of the Korean government in helping us select a senior professor from Korea in Korean Language and Literature, or some related field, who could fill this position. . .[14]

That leak killed the deal (if not the idea, which returned annually): it forced President John R. Hogness to tell the Koreans that their money was inappropriate "at this time." To my knowledge Washington was the only university to turn down KTSF grants. The leak also verified that Korean funding sources and consular officials frequently assume that American academics will be interested in their opinions as to who should--or should not--fill openings that they fund, or indeed any openings in Korean studies.[15] Meanwhile, Yale recently turned back a $20 million gift from the Bass family of Texas, amid allegations that a certain Bass had offered suggestions as to who might or might not be hired for positions created by the grant.

The University of Washington case did not end there, unfortunately. Washington state was then presided over by Governor Dixie Lee Ray. The Korean Traders and their local allies went to her and threatened that the unfriendliness of the University might result in a disruption of the trade then building up between Washington state and Korea. Here are my notes about this episode:

August 23, 1978: I just came from Ken Pyle's office where . . .Ken told me, with Don [Hellmann] present, that Governor Ray had put 'tremendous pressure' on Hogness. . . .Dixie intervened several times. The point of it all was Korean trade with the state of Washington, Ken related.[16]

Subsequent to this 1978 brouhaha the Korean Consul-General in Seattle told the Provost of the University of Washington that he thought Palais and I were "anti-Korean," and should not be allowed to participate in a local Batelle Institute seminar on Korean affairs.[17] To this day Professor Palais has not accepted a penny of Korean government funding, while continuing to train most of the Korean historians now teaching at North America's best universities (Harvard, UCLA, the University of British Columbia, and Indiana University, to name a few), and while being far more productive than other historians who have accepted large amounts of Korean funding. Furthermore the largest and best Korean program is now housed at UCLA, which also has not taken Korean funding.

In 1977, I was invited to serve on the Joint Committee on Korean Studies of the Social Science Research Council, and did so for several years. For many years it was one of the few sources of non-Korean funding for U.S. scholarship on Korea. Year after year, however, Palais and I had to beat back attempts to fund this committee from Korean sources. For example I wrote to Ron Aqua, staff assistant for the Korean committee of the SSRC, who was thinking about getting money for the committee from semi-official South Korean sources:

I remain opposed to seeking or taking funding from official or unofficial sources in both halves of Korea on the factual (i.e., not moral) grounds that both governments have systematically destroyed academic freedom in their own countries and have sought to use every means at their disposal to influence the views of people regarding the two Koreas on a worldwide basis. . . . This is not a question of 'strings' attached to such moneys; the Koreans . . . are content to let the money work its subtle influence on the people who receive it.[18]

Not long thereafter Mr. Aqua signed on as an officer with a newly-created foundation to support Japanese studies, with a nest egg of some $50 million from Sasakawa Ryoichi--Class 'A' war criminal, bankroller of the Moonies and the World Anti-Communist League, and many other similar operations.[19]

During the course of my career thus far, I have been asked several times to consult with the Central Intelligence Agency, or to offer my views on Korea to their agents. I have never done so, except in forums where CIA people may be present among various other specialists and which do not require security clearances to attend (such as conferences at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington). I have thought that the necessary security clearances would tend to undermine a scholar's claim to independence and objectivity, either in substance or in the appearances.

On December 13, 1978, I was happy to receive a letter from President Hogness of the University of Washington, putting me on a tenure-track line for the first time in my career. Coincidentally, the telephone rang that same day:

This is Helen Louise Hunter of Professor Thayer's office, and we wondered if you would like to come to a conference on North Korea, to be held in Washington for the government community.

A week before a man had called long distance and simply asked for my birthday, without identifying himself. I gave it to him, since it isn't classified information, and he hung up. "Professor Thayer" was Nathaniel Thayer, a Japan expert at Johns Hopkins University, but at that time, the CIA's chief for East Asia.

"Isn't Professor Thayer in the CIA?" I responded. Ms. Hunter did not reply, but assured me that the conference was open to everyone in the government community. "Does the conference require a security clearance?" I asked. "No," she replied, and then remarked that the other twelve or thirteen scholars she had phoned had all accepted the invitation. "Then why did someone call and ask for my birth date last week?" Silence. "What's the subject of the conference?" I asked. "It's called 'Whither North Korea.' We'll talk about the North Korean military buildup, things like that." "Oh," I replied, "you assume that there has been such a buildup." More silence. I then asked Ms. Hunter to send me a written invitation, while I thought about it. "We never send written invitations." "Call me back in a few days," I said.

The next day I wrote to Ms. Hunter, declining the invitation on the grounds that the CIA had stated publicly that it would not be bound by recent university guidelines on academic-CIA contacts, and that I had not been assured that the seminar was a truly open one. When the other scholars arrived at National Airport, I later learned, they were packed onto another plane, the shades were drawn, and they were flown to some undisclosed "safe house" for this "open" conference--which consisted of massaging them with reinterpreted satellite photography, allegedly demonstrating a major North Korean military expansion (one of many ploys that the bureaucracy used to torpedo President Carter's attempted troop withdrawal from Korea).

In the mid-to-late 1980s the United States Information Agency office in Seoul invited several historians to lecture on the Korean War, thus to counteract the influence of "revisionist historians like Bruce Cumings" (according to FOIA documents in my possession). These included James Matray and Michael Schaller, historians at the University of New Mexico and the University of Arizona respectively, and John Merrill, of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence Research. All of them had published books dealing with the Korean War, but Matray and Schaller cannot read the massive amounts of Korean-language materials I used in my study, and Merrill cites a relative handful of Korean sources, while having privileged access to intelligence materials. None of them are in a position, therefore, to comment on the accuracy of the sources I used, and one of them is not a scholar protected by academic freedom, but an intelligence official. Nonetheless Merrill caused the USIA some worries as to his reliability:

Some risk accrues from Merrill's balance and his willingness to concede points to revisionist historians like Bruce Cumings, whose views are popular among Korean dissidents. That is, if taken out of context some of his observations could be cited to support the arguments of our Korean critics. If Merrill delivers his views personally, however, he can provide the proper context.[20]

Is the USIA an advocate of American interests, or an adjudicator of debates among Korean citizens about their own civil war, and a judge of scholarship done by American professors?

The Asia Society has also received funding from Korean sources, although I cannot document how much because the Society, after agreeing to send me this information, never did so. The Society also assists the Koreans in shaping the acceptable field of "Korea specialists." In a 1992 publication, for example, they list at the end ten specialists on South Korea, which include three academics trained in Korean studies, two former diplomats (Ralph N. Clough and William H. Gleysteen, Jr.), and five think-tank or university people not trained in Korean studies and without Korean language skills (Scalapino, Lawrence B. Krause of the University of California at San Diego, and three others).[21]

Another such listing came in an August 1988 report for the Asia Society's "Media Relations Program," entitled "The Politics of the Seoul Olympics," where 27 "American specialists on Korea" included John Bennett, Director of the registered-agent Korea Economic Institute, Marshall Bouton of the Asia Society, retired American commander in Korea General Edward Meyer, Clough and Scalapino, Japan expert James Morley, William Watts of Pacific Associates (a lobbying firm in Washington), former Ambassador to Korea Richard L. Walker, and twelve people who would be recognized as bona fide Korean studies specialists. Neither Palais nor I were listed, nor were several other scholars who have been critical of the ROK's human rights record.

Until the Kim Young Sam government was inaugurated in February 1993, all Korean funding for academic work in the U.S. was provided by the Korean government, the KTA and its "scholarship foundation," the chaebol groups, or wealthy individuals, with all the Korean funds being funneled through Korean government agencies under the Foreign Exchange Law. In 1992-93, however, various individuals argued that a new Korea Foundation (Han'guk kukje kyoryu chaedan, literally Korean International Exchange Foundation--KF), modeled on the Japan Foundation, was going to be different.

In some respects it was. This foundation was established on January 1, 1992 and absorbed the International Cultural Society (formerly a registered agent). In addition to the KF there is still a "Korean Research Foundation," which gets funding from the Korean government budget and is administered by the Ministry of Education. It spends about ten percent of what the KF spends, but in practice it is often not clear which organization provides funding. The KF disbursed $13 million in 1992, and $15 million in 1993.[22]

Since the Japan Foundation has an advisory committee of established American scholars, and since the money for the Korea Foundation came from a new tax levied on passports, it seemed to me that the procedural objections to funding from Korea might be overcome (although the substantive ones would remain). In 1992 and 1993, I corresponded with the foundation's first president, Son Chu Whan, about setting up such a committee. (Twenty years before Son had been fired from the opposition newspaper Tonga ilbo, and I had helped organize a petition drive in the U.S. on behalf of him and other fired journalists; I thought therefore that I might get a hearing from him.) Mr. Son was interested, and indeed at one point wrote to me that the KF planned to set up an American committee that would be "advisory,"--a bit short of real peer review but better than nothing, it seemed to me.

In this period I accepted, as usual, various invitations to speak around the country about Korean affairs. Most such lectures, I learned, were now funded by the new Foundation. At Michigan State University, for example, my lecture title was "The Korean War and Korean Reunification." When I got to the lecture room, four or five stolid, middle-aged Korean men were sitting in the room, having arrived early. When the time came for questions, the first came from one of them, identified as "Ambassador Pak," who asked, "Who started the Korean War?" The second question came from an equally stolid Mr. Kim, who announced that I was a very controversial person. If the Foundation funds an event, local consular officials seem to show up to monitor the content and no doubt report back to the home office.

At the annual spring meeting of the Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies in 1992, a colleague of mine from Chicago who was then President of the AAS was astounded to hear, when he sat in on the NEAC meeting, that Korean sources were quite reluctant to fund anything in the U.S. these days, because Cumings had been hired at Chicago. He took violent exception to this, and some months later the Korea specialist on NEAC wrote me that he had not quite said that at the meeting, but instead had said the following:

My remark was that South Korean money of course came with expectations/strings whether they were explicitly stipulated or not. For example, I observed, [Cumings] had been hired with Korean money at Chicago and they [the Koreans] had subsequently been very much upset. Professor Najita interjected that I had just calumniated the University of Chicago and that there was absolutely no Korean money involved in [Cumings'] appointment.[23]

In March and April 1992 Mr. Ahn Young Mo, Executive Director of the Korea Foundation, toured various American universities, stopping at most of the major centers--but not at Chicago. At that time Harvard had an opening in modern Korean history, and some months earlier a Harvard faculty member had solicited my application for the opening. After several people had told me that when Mr. Ahn visited Harvard, he told Korea-related faculty that if they hired me, "not one cent" of funding would be forthcoming, I wrote to the faculty member concerned. He denied that Mr. Ahn had said this; rather, during their meeting Ahn "commented that you [i.e., me] were soon going to be joining the Harvard faculty and said he did not agree with the conclusions of your work." This professor then said that it was not at all clear that I would be joining said faculty, and that he did not want "to debate the merits" of my work. When he asked if the chance of getting Korea Foundation funding for Harvard "would be negatively affected" were I to join the faculty, Ahn declined to comment.[24]

In December 1992, the Korea Foundation sponsored a conference on the funding of Korean studies at the University of California, Berkeley, chaired by Professor Scalapino. According to Professor Joyce Kallgren, the conference was paid for by the Foundation, which rented Alumni House from the University.[25] No one from the Korea program at the University of Chicago was invited to this conference, although every other program in the country was represented. The tentative invitation roster in September 1992 listed 31 names, including Gleysteen, Clough, Krause, and Japan experts like Hellmann and Pyle (University of Washington), and Gerald L. Curtis (Columbia University), in addition to the usual invitees (Donald Zagoria for example). Former Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Kyung Won also attended, but was not on the original invitation list. James Palais was invited, but protested the exclusion of the Chicago program and refused to attend the conference himself.[26] He sent his letter of protest to several other invitees. So far as I know, everyone else who was invited went ahead and attended.

In January 1993 the Korean Foreign Ministry appointed Ko Chang-su as South Korea's "first ambassador for international cultural cooperation to promote Korean studies abroad." He had previously been Consul-General in Seattle. The article announcing his appointment said that the Education Ministry spent about $3 million in 1992 to promote Korean studies in other countries, "but the project [has been] handed to the Korea Foundation," and Ko Chang-su "will now take charge of the project."[27] That change coincided with the inauguration of the ROK's first democratically-elected president, who quickly became much more of a reformer than anyone had expected--which seemed encouraging for putting Korean funding on a proper basis.

In the spring of 1993 Palais and I felt that we still could get no satisfaction from the officers of the KF. So we circulated a petition to various faculty in the Korean field, requesting signatures on a statement that "the Foundation establish a committee of scholars who are citizens of North America and teaching in universities," the committee's positions to be appointed by reputable scholars in Korean studies in North America; and that this committee be allowed to process applications for funding and decide who gets what according to normal peer review standards. We succeeded in getting sixteen signatures, but faculty at Columbia, Harvard, and Berkeley declined to sign the petition.[28] We duly sent it along to the Foundation. Unfortunately, as of 1996 there still is no such committee.

At about the same time a new agency-of-influence appeared, called the "U.S.-Korea Society," a private, non-profit, non-governmental organization chaired by Donald Gregg (ex-CIA and former ambassador to Korea). This agency resulted from a merger of the Korea Society in New York and the Washington-based U.S.-Korea Foundation. It is "committed to deepening the bonds of awareness and understanding between Koreans and American on all levels."[29]

So it goes, and so it has gone since the early 1970s. Korean funding sources now blanket the American field of Korean studies, and the resultant intellectual blight is clear. All it would take to change things would be for the field to stand up to Seoul, on what one would think are the most basic grounds of academic freedom, proper procedure, and independence. There is no better time than now, with a Korean president courageously settling accounts with the Korean militarists. But twenty-five years of my career have taught me that few scholars will do that in the absence of American funding for the field--and that is still nowhere in sight.


[1]. U.S. House of Representatives, International Relations Committee, Subcommittee on International Organizations, Investigation of Korean- American Relations (Washington, D.C., October 31, 1978), pp. 263-300. Hereafter, Fraser report.

[2]. Testimony by Jai-Hyon Lee, Congressional Record (June 2, 1975), p. E3111. For the letter, see Professor Andrew Nahm, "Korea Needs 'Sympathetic Understanding,'" New York Times, Dec. 15, 1972. Mr. Lee subsequently told me that he was resettled in Macomb, Illinois, a town small enough so that people would notice if KCIA thugs jumped off the train looking for him.

[3]. Richard Halloran, New York Times, December 15, 1976. See also Kim Yong-hzÿi, (Washington correspondent), Chungang ilbo, March 12, 1975; Halloran's article paraphrased this article, but did not identify the newspaper. So far as I know, Coolidge never came close to raising another $2.8 million from Americans.

[4]. Halloran, New York Times, Nov. 30, 1976.

[5]. Richard Halloran, New York Times, August 14, 1977.

[6]. Fraser report, p. 280.

[7]. Cumings to Scalapino, Aug. 8, 1978; Scalapino to Cumings, Aug. 17, 1978. Scalapino was an old hand at shaping conferences. In 1967 he and John P. Roche, then a Special Consultant to Lyndon Johnson, drew up a list of participants for a Vietnam War conference in such a way, Roche wrote to LBJ, as "not to eliminate 'dissent' but to insure that all (whatever their tactical differences, e.g., about 'bombing') share the same fundamental outlook." See Richard Dudman's article, "The 'Eyes Only' Committee for Lyndon's War," The Nation (Dec. 23, 1978), p. 695.

[8]. Fraser report, p. 265.

[9]. For the listing, see Sanhak hyopt'ong, no. 23 (Seoul, March 25, 1980), p. 17. Professor Zagoria was the only person listed (among many institutional grants) for an individual grant. The subsequent book is Donald S. Zagoria, ed., Soviet Policy in East Asia(Yale University Press, 1982). At that time $25,000 was higher than many grants being given to universities around the world. The list also includes a grant of $37,000 for research on Korean-American relations to Potomac Associates--the home of Richard Allen, and from time to time a paid lobbying organization for South Korea.

[10]. Fraser report, pp. 277, 296-99.

[11]. Richard Halloran, New York Times, December 15, 1976; Halloran does not name Kim in the article, but later told me he was referring to Kim Chong-won. For an article critical of Ms. Moon see Korea Herald, June 26, 1977.

[12]. An official of the Luce Foundation later told me this.

[13]. Many of the details are in the student newspaper, The University of Washington Daily, September 30 and October 5, 1977. This foundation was subscribed to by most of the big conglomerates in Seoul, now familiar brand names to Americans: Hyundai, Daewoo, Sunkyung, etc. See Fraser report, p. 273n.

[14]. The University of Washington Daily, Sept. 30, 1977 and Oct. 5, 1977.

[15]. This has happened so often in regard to my own career and the positions I have held, that I hope anyone who denies it will hold a court hearing and thereby give me the opportunity to testify under oath.

[16]. Kenneth Pyle, an historian of Japan, was then Director of the School of International Studies. I also have a copy of Hogness' letter of August 17, 1978, to a Korean close to the local Consulate, which starts, "Governor Ray has asked me to reply to your letter . . ."

[17]. Cumings and Palais to George Beckmann, Oct. 8, 1979.

[18]. Letter, Bruce Cumings to Joint Committee on Korean Studies, May 4, 1982.

[19]. Pacific Research and World Empire Telegram, v. 5, no. 6 September-October 1974), drawing on several sources in regard to Sasakawa's background and activities. At this writing Mr. Aqua is still with that foundation.

[20]. FOIA case #93-06F, "BT," Seoul to USIA Washington, September 6, 1988; "BT", Seoul to USIA Washington, January 24, 1990.

21. Donald S. MacDonald, "South Korea's 1992 Election: Milestone in Political Progress," (New York: The Asia Society, 1992).

22. "Korea Foundation Program Outline," Seoul, 1993, and discussions with Young Mo Ahn, June 29, 1993.

23. Letter, NEAC representative to Bruce Cumings, Nov. 16, 1992.

24. Letter, Harvard faculty member to Bruce Cumings, December 6, 1992.

25. Letter, Joyce C. Kallgren to Bruce Cumings, November 19, 1992. Dr. Kallgren kindly responded to my inquiry about who funded the conference.

26. Letter, James B. Palais to Hyuck-in Lew, President, Korea Foundation, Nov. 30, 1992. After this protest and after Mr. Ahn's March-April 1992 visit to the U.S., Mr. Ahn sent me a letter dated June 10, 1993, saying he would like to visit the University of Chicago--a visit that occurred on June 28-29, 1993.

27. Seoul, Yonhap News Service, Jan. 9, 1993.

28. Various letters to and from the author in my possession, dated spring 1993.

29. Prospectus letter, signed by Donald P. Gregg and Kathleen Harrington, July 16, 1993.

BRUCE CUMINGS is John Evans Professor of International History and Politics and Director of the Center for International and Comparative Studies at Northwestern University. He is the author of ten books on the history and politics of modern Korea, including The Origins of the Korean War (Princeton University Press, 1981-1990), two volumes. His newest book is Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History (W.W. Norton, 1997, forthcoming).

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