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USS Pueblo (AGER-2) in port, circa 1967 (Source: Naval Historical Center, photo #USN 1129296)

Perceptional Factors in the 1968 Crises on the Korean Peninsula: North Korean Calculations behind the Blue House Raid and the USS Pueblo Incident

Korea Foundation Junior Scholar Yuree Kim, a PhD candidate in international studies at Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University, will present the results of her research conducted at the Woodrow Wilson Center from January through June 2012.

On January 21, 1968, North Korea sent thirty-one commandos into Seoul in a failed attempt to assassinate President Park Chung Hee. Only two days later on January 23, the DPRK then seized the USS Pueblo in Wonsan Harbor. While many scholars have written about these incidents, the focus has often been upon the United States’ responses to North Korea’s military adventurism. North Korea’s intentions in carrying out these provocations in turn have remained a mystery.

Relying on documents obtained from the archives of North Korea's former communist allies, Kim frames these incidents in terms of North Korea’s calculations and perceptions. While facing complicated challenges both internally and externally, the DPRK assessed that its own security was relatively safe in 1968 and that the U.S. and South Korea did not have the intentions or capacity to attack North Korea. North Korea thus felt confident that it could engage in military adventurism without repercussions.

Joining Kim on the panel is James F. Person, Senior Program Associate for the History and Public Policy Program and coordinator of the North Korea International Documentation Project.

Speakers

  • Yuree Kim

    Korea Foundation Junior Scholar
  • James Person

    Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project