Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

History Speaks

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

History Speaks

Article excerpt

HORST BRIE, STILL STRIKINGLY TALL AND faintly bohemian-looking at 85, was one of the few Europeans in Pyongyang when North Korea was preparing to seize the USS Pueblo off its coast on January 23, 1968. As the East German ambassador to North Korea, Brie had sent his superiors cable after detailed cable laying out conditions in that most secretive of communist countries. He had been watching the North Koreans ratchet up pressure on South Korea, and recognized immediately that the seizure of the Pueblo was a North Korean provocation.

Kang In Deok, who oversaw North Korea intelligence for the South Korean spy agency, knew in advance that something was up. To little avail, he warned his government that an attack by North Korea was imminent. Sure enough, on the eve of the Pueblo's capture, 31 North Koreans who had infiltrated the South tried to assassinate President Park Chung Hee in his home, which was adjacent to the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. That they failed, Kang says now, had more to do with luck than good intelligence.

Brie and Kang, along with 26 scholarly researchers and American and South Korean intelligence officers and diplomats who participated in the dramatic events of 40 years ago, were brought together in Washington in September for an exercise in "critical oral history"--an effort to fill the gaps in the historical record by consulting those who were present when history was being made. Critical oral history has developed over the past decade as a way to understand events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the assassination of Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba by going to living sources. Convened by the Wilson Center's North Korea International Documentation Project, directed by Christian F. Ostermann, in conjunction with the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, the conference was designed to clarify the historical record and gain insight into the behavior of the North Korean regime. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.