The South Korean government continued to deny yesterday that it had any connection with Tongsun Park, the central figure in a South Korean influence-buying scheme on Capitol Hill.
In doing so, however, Chung II Kwon, speaker of the National Assembly, said in Seoul that he was a "casual acquaintance" of Park only during the time he served as ambassador to the United States from 1960 to 1963, and Park was a college student.
In fact, Chung and Park have visited together in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo and traveled together to Taiwan during the last few years.
C. Wyatt Dickerson, who accompanied Park on a trip to Tokyo in 1975 as a consultant to Park's Pacific Development, Inc., said yesterday that Park introduced him to Chung at a cocktail party for high-ranking Japanese and Korean officials.
"They are very, very old friends," Dickerson said. "At least that's what Tongsun always said. And when I saw them together, it substantiated everything Tongsun said. Tongsun considered him to be his best contact and his highest contact in the Korean government."
In addition, Donald L. Ranard, head of the State Department's Korean desk in the early 1970s, said yesterday that Park showed up at the airport to greet Chung during a visit to Washington in late 1970, shortly after Chung had stepped down as prime minister, a position that he held in the late 1960s.
Later during that visit, Park arranged a meeting for Chung with then-Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, after Ranard had turned down the request. Ranard said he learned later that then-Rep. William E. Minshall (R-Ohio), a close friend of Park, had arranged the meeting with Laird at Park's request.
Documents and photographs in possession of The Washington Post also show that Tongsun Park accompanied former Rep. Otto E. Passman (D-La.) to meetings with Chung in South Korea in the early 1970s.
At the time, Passman was chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that approved foreign aid funding. Park was the South Korean government's sole agent for buying U.S. subsidized rice.
In addition, documents and photographs show that in 1974, Tongsun Park traveled to Taiwan with Speaker Chung. One photo shows Park wearing a badge describing him as an official member of the South Korean government delegation.
And in May, 1975, according to a telegram from Tongsun Park's Washington office, he and Chung were planning to be in Tokyo at the same time.
Justice Department and congressional investigations are focusing on allegations that Tongsun Park spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, gifts and entertainment for U.S. congressmen over the past several years as part of a campaign to ensure continued American support for the regime of South Korean President Park Chjng Hee.
The South Korean government consistently has denied that Tongsun Park was acting as its agent. Over the past few days, though, Kim Hyung Wook, director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency from 1963 to 1969, has broken a long silence and told reporters that Tongsun Park was a KCIA operative.
A South Korean government spokesman in Seoul yesterday repudiated Kim's remarks as "utterly untrue" and attacked the former spy chief personally.
In a separate statement, National Assembly Speaker Chung denied Kim's contention that Chung had introduced Tongsun Park to President Park.
Chung went on to say that he knew Tongsun Park only casually during Park's days as head of a South Korean student association in Washington in the early 1960s.
Tongsun Park's visit to Taiwan with Chung in 1974 was commemorated by a gold-embossed leather photo album presented to Park by Shen Changhuan, the Republic of China's foreign minister.