WITH PUBLICATION of the Fraser subcommittee's report on the South Korean "influence campaign," it becomes possible to draw a bottom line on "Koreagate." Frankly, it wasn't what it was once cracked up to be. First to ensure that American support would not wane in the wake of Vietnam, then to gild the authoritarian regime in Seoul, the Koreans undertook to influence key Americans. The techniques, ranging from routine to sordid, pretty much reflected what the CIA used to do. The Koreans, diligent students of American ways, ably learned them there.
The difference was that the Koreans did their act just as the United States was ending its and entering an intense phase of criticism of precisely those tactics the Koreans were trying to emulate. Few Americans had foreseen this development; it would have taken a very prescient Korean to anticipate it. So the Koreans walked into a trap. Their campaign was exposed.
Rep. Donald Fraser (D-Minn.), who investigated for 20 months, suggests that Seoul's campaign was "born in overreaction and died of counterproductivity." Not even the exposure undermined American aid for Korea, though it did curdle relations for several years. That aid was sustained was a relief for all those who feel, as we do, that the United States has a continuing interest in the stability of East Asia.
We wish the Fraser report had made this point better. As it is, the report criticizes Seoul for having contemplated exporting arms and (in the past) making its own nuclear bomb - as though a small fearful client with a shaky patron were not entitled even to weigh greater self-reliance as a partial security alternative. The report also suggests suspiciously that Korea has become too formidable an economic competitor - an unworthy rebuke of a country that, after all, followed precisely the path of economic development laid out for it by the United States.
The activities of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon come in for heavy comment in the Fraser report. He is still active in a way that the official Korean influence campaign is not; his approaches to young people are of particular concern. The report indicates that the Moon "organization" has violated numerous laws, and if this is so, it should be brought to account.