U.S. Ambassador William Gleysteen left for Washington today on State Department orders recalling him for consultations to protest the expulsion of opposition leader Kim Young Sam from South Korea's National Assembly.
A spokesman for Kin's New Democratic Party said party leaders will hold a caucus Monday to decide if all party members in the assembly should resign to protest the expulsion.
Kim's party, South Korea's leading opposition party, also ordered all branches throughout the country to fly party flags at half-mast to mourn "the death of democracy in Korea."
Korean President Park Chung Hee's ruling democratic Republican Party voted unanimously in closed session Thursday to expel Kim because of alleged antigovernment statements.
Government lawmakers voted to oust Kim from the single-chamber Korean parilament on grounds that he had tried to disrupt constitutional order and sought foreign interference in Korea's internal affairs.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Kim said the United Sates should end support for President Park's "minority dictatorial regime" and pressure Park in order to "bring him under control."
The State Department ordered Gleysteen home on Friday, saying it deeply regretted Kim's expulsion and found it "inconsistent with the principles of democratic government.
"There were other steps, such as censure, that they could have taken. This was extreme," said one Washington official, who asked not to be identified.
Officials in Washington said Gleysteen would return to Seoul next week after he has meetings at the State Department.
State Department officials also said Friday that there was no consideration of fundamental changes in the U.S.-South Korean military relationship because of the incident.
Kim, despite his expulsion from the assembly and a recent court order suspending his powers as part president, went to his office at party headquarters building today as usual.