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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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1988 Seoul Olympic Games

A collection of primary source documents about the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games drawn from the archives of the International Olympic Committee. The collection highlight the relationship between sport and politics and offer an unprecedented window into North Korea's negotiating strategies, inter-Korean relations, and the DPRK’s foreign relations at the end of the Cold War. (Image, fireworks over the closing ceremonies of the Seoul Olympics, 1988, US Department of Defense, DF-ST-90-05038)

  • January 21, 1988

    Memorandum of Conversation between the International Olympic Committee President and Eduard Shevardnadze, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the USSR, regarding the negotiations with North Korea on the 1988 Olympics

    Memorandum of a discussion between IOC President Samaranch and Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shevardnadze. The two discuss other issues for a while before turning to the "Korea question," as Shevardnadze puts it. Samaranch explains the series of discussions and compromises that have already occurred, as well as expresses some doubt that North Korea is serious about making cooperation happen and that he'd need assurance about the "Olympic family" being able to cross the border. Shevardnadze expresses confidence that that wouldn't be a problem.

  • January 25, 1988

    Intelligence Note from West Germany’s National Olympic Committee to the International Olympic Committee on the possibility of North Korean terrorist threats to the 1988 Seoul Olympics

    A letter from Willi Daume, a member of West Germany's Olympic Committee, discussing intelligence that suggested North Korea would attempt to disrupt the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

  • February 16, 1988

    Letter from the International Olympic Committee President to Fidel Castro regarding North Korea’s Participation in the 1988 Olympics

    Letter from the International Olympic Committee President to Castro in response to Cuba's decision not to attend the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

  • February 25, 1988

    Letter from the Central Committee of the National Democratic Front of South Korea (NDFSK) to the International Olympic Committee opposing the 1988 Seoul Olympics

    Letter from the North Korea-supported National Democratic Front of South Korea arguing that South Korea is not an appropriate venue for the Olympics, and claiming the country is a "U.S. colony destitute of independence and sovereignty...[where] human rights are mercilessly violated by the dictatorship."

  • June 04, 1988

    Letter from the DPRK’s National Olympic Committee to the International Olympic Committee on Samaranch’s Proposal to Visit North Korea

    A letter from Kim Yu Sun, President of North Korea's Olympic Committee to the IOC, complaining that IOC President Samaranch did not come directly to them with an offer of visiting Pyongyang and had only done so through third parties. North Korea claimed it had invited him directly several times and had received no response. Still, North Korea expressed positive hopes about being able to sort out an agreement on co-hosting the upcoming 1988 Summer Olympics.

  • June 10, 1988

    Letter from the DPRK’s National Olympic Committee to the President of the International Olympic Committee requesting a Postponement of Samaranch’s Visit to North Korea.

    A letter from the President of the DPRK's NOC, Kim Yu Sun, welcoming the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to visit the DPRK in principle. However, because an agreement to co-host the 1988 Olympic Games had not yet been arranged, Kim requests that Samaranch delay his visit to the DPRK for the time being.

  • June 15, 1988

    Letter from the DPRK National Olympic Committee to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President requesting Clarification on the Comments made by IOC during a Press Conference in Barcelona

    Letter from the President of the DPRK's NOC, Kim Yu Sun, to the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, complaining about Samaranch's most recent press conference held in Barcelona.

  • June 24, 1988

    Note from the President of International Olympic Committee (IOC) to the President of the Olympic Committee, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

    Letter from the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to the President of the DPRK's NOC, Kim Yu Sun, requesting clarification on what the DPRK means when it says to "co-host" the 1988 Olympic Games.

  • June 27, 1988

    Note from the President of the National Olympic Committee, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)

    Letter from the President of the DPRK's NOC, Kim Yu Sun, to the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, on co-hosting the 1988 Olympic Games.

  • June 29, 1988

    Note from the President of International Olympic Committee (IOC) to the President of the Olympic Committee, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

    Letter from the President to the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to the President of the DPRK's NOC, Kim Yu Sun, on free-travel through the demarcation line, Olympic sporting events in Pyongyang, the role of the IOC, and critical remarks about Samaranch from an Ambassador of the DPRK.

  • June 30, 1988

    Letter from the President of the International Olympic Committee to Roh Tae-Woo with a Proposal for Further Initiative Between South and North Korea

    Letter from the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to the President of the Republic of Korea, Roh Tae-Woo, containing a confidential report written by Samuel Pisar of the IOC on South-North negotiations concerning the 1988 Olympics.

  • July 05, 1988

    Letter from US Senator to the President of International Olympic Committee on Reagan and Gorbachev's Support of De-politicizing 1988 Seoul Olympics

    Letter from U.S. Senator Ted Stevens to the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, containing Stevens' correspondences with the U.S. Secretary of State, George P. Shultz, on the 1988 Olympic Games.

  • July 06, 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

    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.

  • July 07, 1988

    Letter from the President of the Olympic Committee, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)

    Letter from the President of the DPRK's NOC, Kim Yu Sun, to the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch. Kim reaffirms that the DPRK would allow free-travel between the demarcation line and explains the context of the remarks made by an Ambassador of the DPRK about President Samaranch.

  • July 19, 1988

    Letter from the President of International Olympic Committee (IOC) to the President of the Olympic Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

    Letter from the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to the President of the DPRK's NOC, Kim Yu Sun, acknowledging receipt of Kim's July 7, 1988, letter.

  • July 20, 1988

    Letter from Roh Tae-Woo to the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on North Korea’s Participation in the Olympics

    Letter from the President of the ROK, Roh Tae-Woo, to the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, on North Korea's role in the 1988 Olympic Games.

  • July 24, 1988

    Note from the President of International Olympic Committee (IOC) to Roh Tae-Woo, President of the Republic of Korea on the 1988 Seoul Olympics

    Letter from the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to the President of the ROK, Roh Tae-Woo, thanking President Roh for his efforts to host a successful Olympic Games in Seoul.

  • July 26, 1988

    Letter from the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly to the National Assembly, Republic of Korea

    Letter from Hyong-Sup Yang, Chairman of the DPRK's Supreme People's Assembly Standing Committee, to Jae Sun Kim, Speaker of the ROK's National Assembly, on the 1988 Olympic Games and inter-Korean reconciliation.

  • July 27, 1988

    Information Note to International Olympic Committee (IOC) from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations Geneva regarding the North-South Parliamentary Meeting on the 1988 Seoul Olympics

    Letter from Ryang Lee on a joint parliamentary meeting of South and North Korea during the 1988 Olympic Games.

  • July 28, 1988

    Note from the President of International Olympic Committee to US Senator Ted Stevens on the joint statement by Reagan and Gorbachev on the safety of the 1988 Seoul Olympics

    Letter from the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to U.S. Senator Ted Stevens acknowledging receipt of Senator Stevens' July 5, 1988, letter.