The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct expects to open public hearings next month on South Korea's efforts to buy influence in the Congress.
The committee's special counsel, Leon Jaworski, said yesterday he hopes hearings could be held before the end of October, but did not indicate the specific subjects to be covered. After a closed meeting with Jaworski, committee members said the sessions will deal not with misdeeds of individual members of Congress, but with the general pattern of Korea's effort to win friends and influence on Capitol Hill.
Such hearings would presumably rekindle public interest in the Korean affair and thus increase the pressure on the South Korean government to cooperate with the various U.S. probes of the influence-buying program.
In his statement announcing the hearing, Jaworski complained that "full exposure of the facts . . . does not seem achievable without the unrestricted cooperation of the government of South Korea."
The former Watergate special prosecutor coupled that complaint with an indirect but unmistakable threat that Congress might cut foreign aid to South Korea if it does not provide information sought by the investigators.
Jaworski noted "the feeling of the American people that it is quite incongruous for us to extend . . . aid when reciprocal cooperation in this important investigation is not forthcoming."
The Carter administration has made several attempts to convince South Korean President Park Chung Hee to send back to the United States Tong-sun Park, the Korean businessman who has been indicted on charges that he tried to bribe members of Congress.
Seoul has resisted those efforts.
At the United Nations yesterday, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Tong-chin told reporters "we might have something to say in the next few days" about requests that Tongsun Park be made available to U.S. investigators.
The foreign minister met yesterday in New York with Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance to discuss the case - their second meeting in a week on the matter.
In his statement yesterday, though, Jaworski indicated that the "cooperation" he is seeking is not limited to return of Tongsun Park. He said he has "indications" that the influence-buying effort "may extend to the activities of other citizens of South Korea."
Jaworski went on to say that the policies of the government of South Korea "are not a target of our search."
Two days ago the Justice Department formally implicted the South Korean government in the influence-buying scheme. In an indictment of Hancho Kim, a naturalized American citizen charged with conspiracy, the department said the South Korean embassy here had provided cash used to gain influence with members of Congress.
In the committee session yesterday that followed Jaworski's announcement of the impending hearings, the special counsel won new confirmation of his unfettered right to run the Korean probe independent of committee members.
Both Republicans and Democrats among the 12 committee members expressed frustration about their ignorance of what Jaworski's investigative staff has found and where it is heading. But the committee voted down two efforts to give the members a larger hand in the work.
Rept. Bruce Caputo (R.N.Y.) and Millicent Fenwick (R.N.J.) offered motions permitting committee members access to CIA documents obtained by investigators. Both motions were defeated on 8-to-13 votes.