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July 6, 1988

Information Note from Dr. Klaus Georg Wieck to International Olympic Committee President on the Issue of Security and Terrorist Threats to the 1988 Seoul Olympics


Dr. Klaus Georg WIECK
Express Emul Rriedweg 27
Federale Republique Allemande

Lausanne, 21st July 1988/ACL/ab

Dear Dr. Wieck,

May I acknowledge your confidential letter dated 6th July 1988 and its enclosure.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank you for this information and you may rest assured that it will be treated with this appropriate confidentiality.

Yours sincerely,

Juan Antonio SAMARANCH

Pullach, den July 6, 1988

Der Präsident

(My Dear Antonio)

enclosed please find an additional paper on the current security situation in the Korean Peninsula, including an assessment of the terrorist threat to the Olympic Games later this year.

Since the contents of this paper are confidential, I would appreciate your handling it accordingly.


An den

Des Internationalen Olympischen Komitees
Herrn Juan Antonio Samaranch

CH – 1000 Lausanne

1. External Security (Relations between North and South Korea)

a) As a result of Korea’s geostrategic location, the balance of power on the peninsula entails constellations of interests for the United States and Soviet Union as well as the PR of China and Japan.

Since 1961, North Korea’s security policy has been backed by treaties of friendship and assistance with the USSR and the PR of China.

Following the Korean War, South Korea has tried to protect its external security in view of the threat from the North by a close military alliance with the US concluded in 1954. There exist no other alliances of commitments. The constant presence of a 40.000-strong US contingent in South Korea is visible expression of common security interests.

b) The former aggressiveness of North Korea’s military policy has abated somewhat due to a shift in priorities resulting from economic constraints. South Korea, for its part, is endeavoring to ease tensions. The long-term aim remains a peaceful reunification.

c) An approximate North/South Korean force comparison in general terms:

-As regards the personnel strengths of the armed forces as a whole and their armed services (except the naval forces) as well as important major equipment items, North Korea has a slight edge over the South, although with a downward trend.

-In qualitative terms, the South Korean armed forces are thought to be a more efficient as a consequence of better training and equipment levels together with systematic modernization programs.

-South Korea’s security policy rests on a solid foundation, resulting from the closely integrated command-and-control structure for the armed forces of South Korea and the United States in South Korea in conjunction with the constant practice of holding combined maneuvers.

d) At present, there are no concrete signs of a deliberate fueling of tensions through aggressive acts by Pyongyang. The politico-military prerequisites do not exist.

e) Given the apparently unbridgeable antagonism between the two Korean states and the continued unpredictability of the communist system in North Korea, the Korean peninsula remains at least a latent source of trouble. There is little likelihood at present, though of an immediate threat to, or violent change of, the status quo in this are through military aggressive acts and combat action.

f) There has recently been some apparent movement in the political dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang: Both sides have tabled proposal for reunification whose common feature is their mutual unacceptability; these proposals essentially reiterate old positions and serve as an alibi for internal and external consumption.

2. South Korea’s Internal Security

a) Domestic Stability

The de-facto tacit truce between government and opposition has so far been observed by both sides. The government seeks to accommodate reasonable demands of the opposition, and the leaders of the opposition, too, cooperate with the government on political issues in the interest of the national cause of the Olympic Games. Attacks on the government and the ruling party tend to be muted at present and have to wait until after the Games.

b) In contrast to last year’s demonstrations, the radical students (with a hard core of about 30.000) are now virtually alone during the plans have been seized by the opposition parties, the students have chosen reunification as a platform for their anti-government demonstrations and combine this with demands for the withdrawal of the US forces from South Korea, whose presence, they claim, was an obstacle to reunification.

Countermeasures by the government:

- By making reunification proposals for its own, the government tires to cap the issue.

- A limited amnesty for political detainees is to demonstrate the ROH government’s willingness to reform (last on 30 June 1988).

- Departing from the earlier policy of reacting to demonstrators, the future line will be an offensive one.

- Preventative measures, such as advancing the beginning of the university term to mid-August so as to keep the student son the campus; tough disciplinary measures in the case of participation in violence.

c) The population is looking forward to the Games and tends to resent attempts at disruption; the influential Catholic Church has called on its supporters to observe political neutrality. The opposition, too, refuses assistance because

-the demonstrators do not count among its followers and voters anyway;

-the latter’s actions are not conducive to its goals; and

-the opposition does not want to expose itself to charges that it plays into the hands of North Korea.

3. Terrorist Scene

a) There is no information whatsoever about a threat to the Olympic Summer Games from European or Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

Among the RAF and the other European terrorist groups as well as the Middle Eastern terrorist scene, the Seoul Olympic Games have not been a topic to date.

b) On the other hand, the Japanese Red Army (JRA) has repeatedly stated that, by actions against the Olympic Games, it could hit the hated axis Tokyo – Seoul – Washington and that it wanted to support the “struggle of the Korean people against its oppressors”.

That the JRA constitutes a serious threat is evident from the Naples bomb attack on 14 April 1988, where at the least some JRA involvement can be postulated. A second attack, planned simultaneously in the United States, was presumably prevented by the arrest of the Kikumura in the New Jersey on 11 April 1988.

c) The biggest conceivable potential threat to the Olympic Games could be posed by North Korea. It could rely, in personnel and logistic terms, on members of the pro-North Korean minority in Japan (about 300.000); the network of North Korean agents suspected to exist in South Korea and Japan (in Japan alone, there are estimated to be more than 500); and members of the JRA as well as the so-called Yodo highjackers (members of the leftist extremist Japanese Red Army Faction, who highjacked the JAL airliner Yodo to Pyongyang on 31 March 1970 and then stayed on in North Korea).

The uncovering and arrest of the Yodo highjaker Shibata in May 1988 in Tokyo as well as contacts between female Japanese supporters of the Yodo highjackers and North Korean agents in Europe suggest covert operations by the North Korean intelligence service, possibly aimed at disrupting the Olympic Games.

Letters exchanged between the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, and Dr. Klaus Georg Wieck on the security situation in South Korea in the lead up to the 1988 Olympics. Wieck's enclosed security report provides details on the South Korean opposition, security preparations completed by the South Korean government, and the potential for terrorist threats or activities during the Olympic Games.

Document Information


International Olympic Committee Archives (Switzerland), SEOUL’ 88, POLITICAL MATTERS 1988-89; SEOUL ’88/ POLITIQUE (JANVIER – JUILLET). Obtained for NKIDP by Sergey Radchenko.


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