The South Korean military has virtually taken control of the powerful Korean Central Intelligence Agency in the wake of President Park Chung Hee's assassination, according to reliable sources here.
A top Army general has been named director of the KCLA, giving the Army command almost total control of an apparatus the numbers thousands of agents throughout the country.
Army counterintelligence agents even took over the routine surveilance of dissidents and political opposition leaders who were formerly looked after the KCLA agents.
The Army move came four days after Park's death, said by the government to have been planned and carried out by the director of the KCIA.
The Military moves, which have not been announced formally here, give the Army command overwhelming influence although the government nominally is being directed by a civilian acting president, Prime Minister Choi Kyu Huh.
Two prominent military leaders are said to be in positions of greatest influence. One is Defense Minister Ro Jae Hyun and other is Gen. Chung Sung Wha, the Army chief of staff who is also martial law commander.
The acting president theoretically could have named a civilian leader of the now-disgraced KCIA, whose former director, Kim Jae Kyu, allegedly shot President Park in a KCIA dining room last Friday.
Instead, the massive surveillance and counterespionae apparatus was turned over to Gen. Chung's deputy chief of staff, Gen. Lee Hie Sung, the sources said.
Meanwhile, thousands of South Koreans gathered here in the capital and in other cities yesterday to mourn Park. Government and military leaders met to discuss the situation along the border with North Korea and an official, investigation continued into some of the unexplained circumstances of Park's death.
Businessmen and bureaucrats, old women in long black gowns and schoolchildren trooped to altars set up in front of a former capital building in downtown Seoul.
They burned incense and said prayers while ancient Korean music was played in the background. Many wept and kneeling women sobbed as they prayed before 15 large photographs of Park, slain Friday night.
Park's body lay in state in the presidential mansion, the Blue House, where special guests paid their last respects. He will be buried Saturday.
Although no immediate threat has come from the communist North following the assassination, the Pyongyang government ordered its Army on alert and today said South Korea was facing "a growing crisis."
But acting President Choi, after meeting with military and Cabinet officials, confirmed today, that the country remained calm under martial law, which had been imposed over most of the nation Saturday.
"Everything is in order," Choi said after this morning's meetings.
Opposition leaders have supported official appeals for unity and the United States has stressed several times since Friday its unwavering support of the Seoul government.
The 38,000 U.S. troops that support the South Korean Army have been on increased alert since Saturday. In addition, Washington has sent two airborne warning and control aircraft to South Korea and today moved the helicopter carrier USS Blue Ridge, already on station between Japan and Korea, closer to the Korean coast.
U.S. assessments have agreed with Acting President Choi that there is no sign of imminent threat from the North.
Meanwhile a special investigative group continued probing the events of Friday night when, in addition to Park, five of his bodyguards were killed and another wounded.
After first saying the president had been "incapacitated" in the shootings, a second government account insisted he had been accidentally shot when a quarrel broke out between KCIA director Kim and Park's chief bodyguard and close aide Cha Ji Chul.
But in an "interim report" on the killings released yesterday the government confirmed widely held suspicions that Park had been the victim of an assassination plot organized by Kim and involving at least five members of his staff. The report said Kim was afraid he was going to lose his job and knew he had fallen out of favor with Park, who had come to distrust his judgment and his handling of recent antigovernment demonstations.
The investigative task force, under supervision of martial law authorities, was reported today to be questioning many KCIA bureau chiefs to determine whether director Kim had attempted to enlist them in a broader conspiracy.
The major remaining mystery involves what Kim did and whom he saw during the night after the killings.
The government says he was arrested by martial law authorities, but has given neither the time nor the place where he was taken into custody.
One version being widely circulated here is that Kim sought out high-ranking military officers after the killings, hoping to enlist their support and approval for his acts.
The Los Angeles Times today quoted Korean sources as saying that Kim was not disarmed and arrested until at least three hours after he assassinated Park. Kim and the five KCIA officials who acted with him were arrested at the Defense Ministry, the sources told the Times.
[At lease two members of Park's Cabinet, which was called into emergency session at the Defense Ministry, were reported to have seen Kim there before he was apprephended, the Times report added, also noting that a revolver was taken from the KCIA chief as he was arrested.]
Communist governments had their own theories about the slaying.
China's leading newspaper, People's Daily, suggested that South Korean martial law authorities may be "protecting" Kim Jae Kyu because "they dare not disclose the truth of Park's death."
The North Korean Communist Party newspaper Rodong Shinmun charged today that Park's murder may have been "a preventive action by certain behind-the-scenes forces" to "prevent the overthrown of the fascist regime as a result of popular uprsising."
The Soviet news agency Tass, in a dispatch from Tokyo, said the assassination was executed by the "South Korean Secret Police acting directly under the guidance of the U.S. CIA." It said the dictatorial president had become "too odious a figure even for Washington," which was frightened because U.S. interests in South Korea were threatened by the recent unrest.
[In Washington, State Department officials categorically denied the Tass allegation.]