Correspondence Between President Park Chung-hee & UN Secretary General U. Thant

PDF with President Park’s letter in its original Korean.

March 9, 1970: Official English translation of President Park Chung-hee‘s letter to UN Secretary General U. Thant whose reply is included below.


On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Korea, I have the honour to extend to you my warmest greetings and to reaffirm the cordial relationship that has been existing between the United Nations and the Republic of Korea.

It is most gratifying to note that, under your inspiring leadership, the United Nations has made great contributions to the world peace and security and to the betterment of human welfare throughout the world. I would also like to express to you my sincere appreciation for the valuable efforts by the United Nations for the achievement of its objectives in Korea, i.e, to bring about, by peaceful means, the establishment of a unified, independent and democratic Korea under a representative form of government, and the full restoration of international peace and security in the area.

Availing myself of this opportunity, I wish to draw your special attention to the recent incident in which a civil commercial aircraft (YS-11) of the Korean Airlines (KAL), with 47 passengers and four crew members onboard, was hijacked to North Korea by an armed North Korean Communist agent disguised as a passenger during its regular flight service from Kangnung to Seoul.

In the recent years, North Korean Communists have been intensifying their aggressive and subversive acts against the Government and people of the Republic of Korea. The KAL incident is but the latest among the many and continuous provocations perpetrated by the North Korean Communists.

As you may be aware, 39 persons out of 51 passengers and crew members were returned through Panmunjom on February 14, 1970 after 65 days of detention in North Korea.

It is revealed that, of the 12 persons remaining in North Korea, seven passengers and four crew members, with the exception of the culprit, were being held against their free will. According to the information made available to my government, there is no doubt these 11 innocent and hapless civilians are eager to be reunited with their families in the Republic of Korea and that they are deprived of their right to return and freedom to do so.

The hijacking of a civilian aircraft in flight and forcible detention against their free will of the passengers and crew members as well as the aircraft and cargo are a serious violation of the principles of international law and practices and humanitarianism.

In doing so, the North Korean Communists are behaving in total disregard of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution No. 2551 (XXIV) of December 12, 1969 concerning hijacking of civil aircraft in flight and the resolutions on “Reunion of dispersed families” adopted at the International Conferences of Red Cross in 1953, 1957, and in 1965.

With appreciation and gratitude once again for your valuable contributions to the peace and security of the world, I look forward to your continued concern and cooperation for an early release and return of the 11 detainees, as well as the aircraft and cargo, to the Republic of Korea.

Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.

Park Chung-hee

March 24, 1970: Reply from General Secretary U. Thant:

Mr President,

Your Permanent Observer, His Excellency Mr Yong-shik Kim, brought to me personally yesterday your letter dated 9 March. I am most grateful to your for your reference to me personally and for your personal support to the United Nations.

I have taken note of the information you have given regarding the recent incident involving the “hijacking” of a civil commercial aircraft of the Korea Airlines. As you are no doubt aware, I have no means of influencing the authorities in North Korea in regard to the release of the seven passengers and four crew members as well as of the aircraft and cargo, which are still retained in North Korea. I was, however, glad to learn from Ambassador Kim that you are seeking the good offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in this connection.

Accept, Mr President, the assurances of my highest consideration.

U. Thant




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