Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The only thing missing from the celebration of South Korea's National Day at the Shoreham Monday night was - by one unofficial count - 123 members of the House of Representatives and 98 senators.
Aside from that, it was a swell party.
Nearly 800 people showed up at the Regency Ballroom to descend on the extravagant buffet that included caviar, lobster, crab claws, salmon, sliced roast beef, pate, steak tartare and five open bars - in other words just kind of Washington social function that normally might have drawn a healthy sampling of Congress.
But that didn't happen. Even though South Korean Ambassador Yong Skik Kim insisted. "We have more members of Congress here than we expected. Last year we only had two or three." Kim, however, declined to say just how many had been invited, even though one embassy aide allowed that "usually all members are invited."
Nonetheless, everyone there, including members of the press who did a congressional head count as guests arrived and were announced, were curious to see if members of Congress would stay away because of the current investigations into gift giving to members of Congress by Korean lobbyists.
The first member of Congress to arrive was Rep. Charles Wigging (R-Calif.) followed shortly by Rep. Samuel Stratton (R N.Y.), who said he had come because, "I was invited. Korea is one of our strongest allies. It would be foolish to try and change foreign policy because of the shenanigans of a few . . ."
And he added: "I didn't hear anything from other members aobut them being afraid to show up tonight."
Rep. Robert McClory (R-Ill.), however, didn't quite concur. "I heard most weren't coming tonight, and I guess it's because of their fear about the investigations. And when I left the Capitol I did ask a couple if they wanted a ride over, but they all said they had other engagements. But frankly, I had no other engagements, so I came."
Along with Wiggins, McClory and Stratton, the other representatives there last night included Lawrence McDonald (D-Ga.), Sonny Montgomery (D-Miss.), Arlan Stangeland (R-Minn.) and Edward Derwinski (R-Ill.).
On the Senate side, Edward Zorinsky (D-Neb.) and Robert Morgan (D-N.C.) showed up, even though MOrgan said he was sure the late filibuster going on in the Senate had kept that attendance down.
However, initially, when asked why he had come, Morgan appeared to be a little testy. "I came because I was invited," he snapped. "Nobody mentioned anything to me about not coming, so why shouldn't I? Listen, I lost 27 shipmates defending Korea, and what Tongsun Park did may be unfortunate but it doesn't mean we condemn the whole country because of it." Korean businessman Park has been indicted on 36 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, bribery, racketeering and being a foreign agent.
For his part, Ambassador Kim obviously wanted to play down the whole Korean investigation.
"This is our national holiday. And this party is really just a routine diplomatic function. Please do not say it is more than that. We had people here from all parts of government. We are satisfied."
Asked, however, why the embassy was not co-operating more in U.S. efforts to extradite Park or how he felt about President Carter's plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Korea Kim continued to beg off.
"This is a celebration. I don't want to talk about things like that here."
Questions concerning the Tongsun Park affair drew the same response even though Kim, who took over the embassy last spring, did admit that walking into the Park dituation had been tough. "But facing adversity is always a challenge, yes?"
Other members of the Korean embassy staff were equally as evasive.
"The Tongsun Park situation has not made it more difficult for us to work here in Washington," insisted embassy counselor Kim Sukkuyu. "Of course, we hope this cloud will be cleared up very soon. But listen, even in Vietnam, they declared a cease-fire on Jan. 1st. We are here to have a good time tonight - this is a very auspicious day for us, a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] ally of your country."