The House commitee investigating South Korean influence-buying in Congress officially asked the Korean embassy late last week to make accused agent Tongsun Park available for secret questioning here immediately after his current Justice Department interrogation in Seoul.
Peter A. White, deputy special counsel to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, said yesterday that the State Department delivered a letter to the Korean embassy making the request. Kim Su-doc, the embassy spokesman, said last night his government was studying the proposal.
"The Korean government can do this now in an accommodating way or later under our terms," White said, referring to committee promises to subpoena Park if necessary when he returns to testify in possible criminal trials.
The committee is "just as interested" in obtaining the testimony of other Koreans, such as former Ambassador Kim Dong Jo, also accused of making cash payments, White added.
The Korean government has been resisting the idea of having Park appear publicly before the House committee, apparently because of fear he would come off as a sort of oriental John Dean, detailing the misdeeds of his alleged Korean CIA superiors for a national television audience.
The former Washington businessman is now undergoing several days of lie-detector-checked questioning by Justice Department officials in Seoul in preparation for later trial testimony. In return a 36-count felony indictment against Park will be dropped.
Dispatches from American reporters in Seoul said over the weekend that Park had testified to having passed cut more than $750,000 much of it in cash to several members of[WORDS ILLEGIBLE]
White said the committee was proposing[WORDS ILLEGIBLE] questioned first in executive session and later in public, if such testimony is necessary because of disciplinary proceedings against members.
Rep. Bruce F. Caputo (R.N.Y.). a member of the committee who observed the first few days of Park's Justice Department interrogation in Seoul, said on his return to New York late Sunday that he was unhappy that the U.S. prosecutors did not press Park about his ties to the Korean Central Intelligence Agency.
Such testimony would be important to the House committee in seeking to discipline members who took favors from Korean representatives, such as Park allegedly was.
The committee is even more interested in the names of members who took cash from Ambassador Kim and other Korean diplomats, special counsel Leon Jaworski said in a phone interview yesterday from Houston.
"Kim Dong Jo is immeasurably more important than Tongsun Park to our investigation," he said. "And the Korean government should just stop kidding itself and let us have all the facts."
Jaworski criticized the Justice Department agreements with the Koreans, as he has before, for seeming to accept less than access to the full story of the influence-buying campaign.