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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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North Korea August 1956 Plenum Incident

This collection of documents examines the post-Korean War disputes and debates within the Korean Workers' Party which culminated in the 1956 August Plenum. (Image, Kim Il Sung visits Moscow, 1949, NARA)

  • September 15, 1956

    Decision of the KWP CC Plenum, 30-31 August 1956, 'Concerning the Improvement of Public Health'

    The resolution describes plans to expand public sanitary facilities and improve the health of the North Korean citizenry.

  • September 15, 1956

    Telegram from the USSR Ambassador to the DPRK Ivanov addressed to Mikoyan and Shepilov, 'August Plenum of the Korean Workers' Party Central Committee'

    Ivanov provides a detailed report on the proceedings of the August Plenum of the Korean Workers' Party Central Committee.

  • September 15, 1956

    Decision of the KWP CC Plenum, 30-31 August 1956, 'The Results of the Work of the Government Delegation which Visited Fraternal Countries, and Some Pressing Tasks of Our Party'

    The resolution discusses economic growth in North Korea and the promises of fraternal aid, while warning of the dangers of factionalism to the preservation of Marxism-Leninism.

  • September 16, 1956

    Cable from Cde. Mikoyan from Beijing concerning the 8th CCP Congress and Conversations with the Chinese Comrades

    Mikoyan reports on a conversation with Mao Zedong concerning purges within the Korean Workers' Party and Kim Il Sung's leadership style.

  • September 17, 1956

    Telegram from A. Mikoyan to the CPSU Central Committee

    Mikoyan reports on an unsuccessful meeting with a number of Korean delegates, who had clearly been prepped for the conversation, making them reluctant to go beyond instructions and provide more detailed responses about the August Plenum Incident.

  • September 17, 1956

    Official Note from A. Mikoyan to the CPSU Central Committee

  • September 17, 1956

    Conversation with the Delegation of the Korean Worker's Party at the 8th CCP Congress

    Mikoyan and Choe Yong-geon dominate the discussion between the two delegations. While Mikoyan tries to learn the exact chronology of the events that transpired at the August Plenum, Choe avoids providing clear replies and instead stresses the gravity of the "conspiracy" planned by the accused.

  • September 18, 1956

    Draft Telegram from A. Mikoyan to the CPSU Central Committee

  • September 18, 1956

    Conversation records between Chairman Mao Zedong and the Soviet Communist Party Delegation, 18 September 1956

    Mao Zedong and the Soviet Community Party Delegation exchanged views on Korean issues and a potential visit by Kim Il Sung to the PRC.

  • September 19, 1956

    Record of a Meeting between the Soviet and Chinese Delegations

    Mao Zedong reveals that several Korean Workers' Party members have been placed under arrest, including Pak Il-u, who is looked favorably upon by the CCP. Sino-North Korean relations have become strained as a result of Kim Il Sung's handling of the August Plenun Incident. Mao admits to Mikoyan that the Korean Workers' Party leadership may not heed their advice, but they decide to send a joint delegation to Pyongyang the next morning.

  • September 19, 1956

    Draft of Record of a Meeting between the Soviet and Chinese Delegations

    Mao Zedong reveals that several Korean Workers' Party members have been placed under arrest, including Pak Il-u, who is looked favorably upon by the CCP. Sino-North Korean relations have become strained as a result of Kim Il Sung's handling of the August incident. Mao admits to Mikoyan that the KWP leadership may not heed their advice, but they decide to send a joint delegation to Pyongyang the next morning.

  • September 19, 1956

    Telegram from A. Mikoyan to the CPSU Central Committee

  • September 20, 1956

    Record of a Meeting between the Sino-Soviet Delegation and the Korean Workers' Party Presidium

    Both Mikoyan and Peng Dehuai strongly urge the KWP Presidium and Kim Il Sung to consider rehabilitating those involved in the August Plenum Incident. Choe Yong-geon suggests that they will be restored to the Central Committee, but not necessarily to their original positions, and certainly not to the Presidium. As for those who fled to China, both Choe and Kim say that they will be allowed to rejoin the party, but not the Central Committee and will not be guaranteed their old positions.

  • September 21, 1956

    Telegram from A. Mikoyan to the CPSU Central Committee

  • September 21, 1956

    Telegram from A. Mikoyan to the CPSU Central Committee

    A meeting with Kim Il Sung reveals the main goals of the Sino-Soviet delegation: to convince the Korean Workers' Party to move away from policies of repression and to repeal the order to expel the group of accused party officials. Kim agrees on repealing the expulsion order, but not for those who fled to China. Mikoyan asks that Sino-Soviet delegation be allowed to sit in on the presidium meeting the next day.

  • September 22, 1956

    Telegram from A. Mikoyan to the CPSU Central Committee

    Mikoyan stresses that the Korean Workers' Party Central Committee needs to repeal the decisions reached at the August Plenum, and instead consider rehabilitating the accused party officials. The Korean Workers' Party commission agrees that a less harsh punishment would eliminate discord within the party.

  • September 23, 1956

    Resolution of the Plenum of the Korean Workers' Party

    The Korean Workers' Party Central Committee decides to rehabilitate those accused of planning a conspiracy against Kim Il Sung.

  • September 23, 1956

    Minutes of the Meeting concerning the Discussion of a Draft Resolution of the KWP CC Plenum

    Record of a meeting attended by senior Soviet officials A.I. Mikoyan and V.I. Ivanov, Korean Workers' Party officials Kim Du-bong, Kim Chang-man, and Nam Il, and senior PRC official Peng Dehuai. Participants discuss making serious amendments to the draft resolution, in light of the August Plenum incident.

  • September 23, 1956

    Telegram from A. Mikoyan to the CPSU Central Committee

    Mikoyan once again assures Kim Il Sung that the Sino-Soviet delegation's only motive in intervening is to help and advise the Korean Workers' Party. Kim vows to include the delegation's suggestions and the content of their discussions in the September Plenum. Mikoyan notes that Kim kept his promise at the plenary meeting that was held the next day.

  • September 23, 1956

    Minutes of the KWP CC Plenum Held on 23 September 1956

    The decision of the September Plenum is to rehabilitate the accused party members instead of removing them from the Korean Workers' Party. The session is attend by Mikoyan and Peng Dehuai.