South Korea's new military chiefs issued a manifesto today suggesting their determination to play a decisive political role despite a pledge that they would return to national defense matter as soon as possible. a
Their vague statement, urging a purification of South Korean society, condemned corruption in public and private affairs and threatened a war on "flunkyism," which usually means toadying to Amercan influence.
Among the obstacles that need uprooting, the generals said, is what they described as self-serving agitation by dissident groups.
The military chiefs said they would return to their original military duties "upon completion of the mission."
Coupled with this list of objectives, however, was the seemingly contradictory promise that they will stay out of politics.
Apart from stating their objectives, the new military leaders moved to consolidate their hold on the armed forces through a series of appointments designed to place loyal officers to key commands.
The statement provided the first glimpse into the thinking of the group of generals who last week arrested the martial law commander and began putting their own imprint on the South Korean government. It was issued by Sen. Lee Hui Sung, the new martial law commander.
The promise to keep out of politics was interpreted as a response to American pressure warning the generals not to interfere with the political reform movement started since president Park Chung Hee was assassinated.
Despite its verbal reassurance on that point, the statement also contained a phrase indicating the generals have their own ideas about whom politics should be left to. It said it should be left to politicans "who have patriotic minds and good intelligence."
The generals already are deep into politics, having demanded and won three seats in President Choi Kyu Hah's new Cabinet, and are almost daily trying to win more influence over civilian life.
It was learned today that the generals had pushed to have Sen. Cha Chu Hwan named director of the politically powerful Korean Central Intelligence Agency, which has the vast surveillance power over civilians.Relable sources said that had been resisted by Prime Minister Shin Hyon Hwack, who insisted on a civilian KCIA chief and the military backed down. Gen. Cha is one of the four or five generals who plotted last week's military seizure.
The generals' promise to weed out corruption in public and private life confirmed earlier reports that part of their motivation is a desire to remove some prominent individuals who allegedly have prospered illicitly.
Their statement promised to "correct" a situation in which the public interest had suffered by violations of "business ethics." Rumors have flourished the past few days that several rich businessmen would be forced to retire because they profited at public expense.
Such a move might find support among South Koreans struggling with high inflation. Public opinion polls have shown a large majority of the people angry also at the sight of many persons getting rich quickly because of their government connections.
The generals attack on "flunkyism" was so vague that it was impossible to determine their targets. Many South Koreans resent the American "big brother" role in their country and the term "flunky" usually means those who cater to U.S. interests to advance themselves.
The generals may have directed it against opposition political leaders, Kim Young Sam and Kim Dae Juns, who frequently appealed for American support in limiting repression under the Park regime.
The generals also condemned public officials who "try to rise above the people or bring about distrust" by involving themselves in irregularities or corruption. It named no names.
Some of the generals' concerns were baffling. At one point they objected to the use of North Korean Communists' terminology, something which had never become an issue before in this anti-Communist country.
Another passage warned against persons who, ostensibly pursuing social justices, try to advance their own personal purposes by indulging in harmful "propasanda and agitation."
That might be construted as an admonition to small dissident groups working to raise wages and improve working conditions of thousands of low-paid workers in South Korea.
There was no indication from the statement how the generals planned to carry out their purification plan. Their strong military base gives them wide powers and they are believed to control both the home minister, who supervises the huge national police force, and the justice minister, who can order persecutions for all major national crimes.