Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Marshall Green
The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project
AMBASSADOR MARSHALL GREEN
Interviewed by: Charles Stuart Kennedy
Initial interview date: December 20, 1988
Copyright 2000 ADST
Q: Mr. Ambassador, we are now coming to 1961. Could you describe the situation as you saw it at that time, that led to the coup of 1961?
GREEN: Yes. 1961 was an even more tumultuous year for me and, I might say, for Korea, than 1960. It contains many memories that are both bitter and sweet. On March 10, Ambassador McConaughy received word that he was going to be assigned to Washington as Assistant Secretary of State for the Far East, which meant that I would be taking over the job as charg� d'affaires, not knowing who the new ambassador was going to be. When McConaughy left, which was in mid-April, he was leaving in my hands a rather dicey situation.
The Chang Myun government had been in power for about nine months, during which there had been considerable accomplishments. On the other hand, these accomplishments were largely pressed upon them by us and entailed a number of political risks, especially for Prime Minister Chang Myun. For example, he agreed to the institution of a realistic unitary exchange rate. This was not going to be popular. Secondly, he took measures to raise transportation and power rates, cutting out subsidies. Thirdly, he took measures to normalize AID procedures, so that the Republic of Korea took on more of the responsibilities for funding infrastructure costs of our military and ROK military in Korea than it had previously. Fourthly, Korea was assuming more of the costs of their own defense, yet continuing to observe Status of Force agreements that clearly gave the United States more rights in this situation than are usually present. We were engaged in Status of Force negotiations, which never bore fruit during my years in Korea.
Q: What was our role? You mentioned the various reforms and Status of Force. Were we calling the tune?
GREEN: Yes, we were.
Q: Were there any pressures? How did you operate?