In January 1968, North Korea committed an astonishing act of international savagery: A highly trained team of 31 communist commandos crept into Seoul and tried to murder the president of South Korea, Park Chung Hee. Brazenly marching through the streets disguised as southern soldiers, the raiders got within 1,000 yards of Park’s official residence, the Blue House, before a suspicious Seoul cop finally challenged them. South Korean and U.S. security forces killed or captured all but two of the commandos over the next several days. (This photo shows one of the captured North Korean commandos, Second Lieutenant Kim Shin-jo.) The audacious attempt to assassinate their leader left many South Koreans clamoring for revenge against the north. Both countries placed their armed forces on high alert and geared up for war. But no one bothered to warn Pete Bucher and his men of the tense situation that now existed on the Korean peninsula. Just two days after the commando raid, the Pueblo arrived on the last leg of its spy mission near the heavily defended northern port of Wonsan. (Photo courtesy of JoonAng Ilbo.)
JACK CHEEVERS is a former Los Angeles Times reporter. He and his wife, Kathleen Matz, live in Oakland, California.