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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 31, 1956

MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION WITH GI SEOK-BOK

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    Discusses the attempts to dispel the rumors that Kim Il Sung's cult of personality exists in DPRK.
    "Memorandum of Conversation with Gi Seok-bok," May 31, 1956, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGANI, Fond 5, Opis 28, Delo 410, Listy 222-223. Obtained for NKIDP by James F. Person and translated for NKIDP by Gary Goldberg. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111643
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From the journal of [USSR MFA stamp]: Secret G. YE. SAMSONOV Incoming Nº 2409 Copy Nº 2 3/VI 1956

Memorandum of a Conversation with Gi Seok-bok, Desk Officer of the Ministry of State Control of the DPRK
31 May 1956

I received Gi Seok-bok [Ki Suk Pok], who visited the Embassy at his own initiative.

Gi Seok-bok passed me his letter addressed to Ambassador V. I. Ivanov.

Gi Seok-bok said that he would like to relate an interesting fact conveyed to him by Kim Seung-hwa [Kim Sung Hwa], DPRK Minister of Construction.

During the work of the KWP Third Congress, Ri Sang-jo [Ri Sang Jo], DPRK ambassador to the USSR, twice wrote notes to the Congress Presidium with a suggestion that the cult of personality that exists in the KWP be discussed. However, these notes were not publicized. After the Congress an important discussion was held with Ri Sang-jo at the apartment of Kim Chang-man, Deputy Chairman of the KWP CC. The former was accused of political carelessness and in desiring to mechanically apply the decisions of the CPSU Twentieth Congress to the KWP.

Ri Sang-jo rejected these accusations and in turn accused Kim Chang-man [Kim Chang Man] and officials like him of a reluctance to correctly understand the decisions of the CPSU Twentieth Congress.

Kim Chang-man informed Choe Yong-geon [Choe Yong Gon], [Party Cadre Department Chief] Pak Geum-cheol [Pak Kum Chol], and Han Sang-du [Han Sang Du] of this conversation, who favored recalling Ri Sang-jo from the post of ambassador to the USSR.

Having found out about such an opinion, Ri Sang-jo visited [Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly] Kim Du-bong [Kim Tu Pong] and told him the substance of the matter. The same day Kim Du-bong expressed his disagreement to Kim Il Sung about the proposed recall of Ri Sang-jo and that this step was in no way justified. Kim Il Sung agreed with this and added approximately the following: Ri Sang-jo did not make any mistake, he simply openly wrote what he was thinking.

Only after this, said Gi Seok-bok, was Ri Sang-jo permitted to return to the USSR.

Gi Seok-bok said that the concluding speech of Kim Chang-man, Deputy Chairman of the KWP CC, at a meeting of the Pyongyang City activists convened about the results of the KWP Third Congress contained threats against those who continue to talk about the existence of a cult of personality in the KWP. Kim Chang-man declared, for example, that whoever does not want to understand that there is now no cult of personality in the KWP would end up isolated and be repudiated by everyone.

Gi Seok-bok also reported that some days ago he attended a lecture by Jang Guk-il [Chang Kuk Il], Deputy Minister of State Control, in which he said in particular that Korea was liberated by the partisan detachments of Kim Il Sung, but Gi Seok-bok said that this was a gross distortion of history.

Gi Seok-bok was told that his letter would be passed to the ambassador.

FIRST SECRETARY OF THE EMBASSY
/signature/
/G. Samsonov/

[Distribution list]:
4 copies sent
1-Fedorenko
2-Kurdyukov
3-Solodovnik
4-to file
Drafted by Samsonov
Typed by Fokina
5.6.56