National Geographic : 1969 Mar
Now he sat across from me, in that incongruous social setting, telling me in matter-of-fact tones of the reason for the mission. "We were told," he said, "that by eliminating Park, we would bring chaos to South Korea and inspire fear. We could stop the progress South Korea is making." Kim had been instructed to destroy himself rather than be captured. He knew that his countrymen would now murder him if they could. I asked about his family-his mother, father, two sisters, and a brother. "They are lucky if they are not executed by now," he said. After the interview, Kim was led away. I walked the streets of modern Seoul back to my hotel, thinking about that doomed man, a hero turned-traitor to the North, an assas sin-turned-informer to the South. I thought, too, about what he had said. Communist North Korea's despera tion is born of a simple fact-South Korea today, behind its forgotten battle front, presents a startling pic ture of success and progress. I looked about me at the bright lights, the narrow streets crowded "A fire burns inside him," says the au thor about Park Chung Hee, President of the Republic of Korea. Working an 18 hour day, the 51-year-old former army general pores over production charts and reviews blueprints for highways and in dustrial plants; at a moment's notice he boards one of two stand-by helicopters to make on-the-spot inspections. Because of his personal identification with Korea's progress, President Park lives in con stant danger of assassination by agents of hostile North Korea (page 331). Mirroring the intensity of their Presi dent, 12th-graders study chemistry in Seoul. Their Kyung Gi High School boasts a student body with an average IQ of 130. Learning holds a cherished place in Korea, with a culture rich in arts and invention and a written history at least 2,000 years old.