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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 23, 1972


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    Kim Jae-bong briefs communist diplomats about a meeting between the co-chairmen of the North-South Coordinating Committee and the declaration of emergency and martial law in South Korea.
    "Note on Information Given by the 1st Deputy Foreign Minister of the DPRK, Comrade Kim Jae-bong, on 19 October 1972 in the DPRK Foreign Ministry for the Embassies of Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Mongolia, and the GDR," October 23, 1972, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PolA AA, MfAA, C 6855. Obtained for NKIDP by Bernd Schaefer and translated for NKIDP by Karen Riechert
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GDR Embassy to DPRK

Political Department

Pyongyang, 23 October 1972

N o t e

On Information given by the 1st Deputy Foreign Minister of the DPRK,

Comrade Kim Jae-bong [Kim Jae Bong] on 19 October 1972 in the DPRK Foreign Ministry

for the Embassies of Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Mongolia and the GDR during 17:00 and 19:00 hours

Present: The Ambassadors of Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Mongolia, Hungary, the Polish Acting Ambassador, Comrade Merten (Ambassador Comrade Everhartz was away in Hamheung) and further diplomats from these embassies.

Based on a written manuscript, Comrade Kim Jae-bong gave information about the 1st Meeting of the co-chairmen of the North-South Coordinating Committee on 12 October 1972 in Panmunjeom and about the declaration of emergency and state of martial law in South Korea on 17 October 1972. Comrade Kim Jae-bong stated the following:

As Kim Yeong-ju [Kim Yong Ju], Head of the Organization and Instruction Department of the KWP Central Committee, was unable to participate in the [Coordinating Committee] talks due to his health, negotiations were led by Comrade Pak Seong-cheol [Pak Song Chol], 2nd Deputy Prime Minister, and on the South Korean side by intelligence chief Lee Hu-rak. During the three months since the publication of the North-South Joint Declaration with its three principles of unification outlined by Comrade Kim Il Sung, a movement toward consent has developed with different parties, various groups, and among the people of South Korea. Efforts for peaceful unification have increased, and the anti-imperialist, anti-fascist struggle in South Korea is on the rise. Especially after the 1st and 2nd Main Negotiations of the Red Cross Committees, an ever growing feeling of respect and veneration towards the venerable and beloved leader, Comrade Kim Il Sung, was on display among the South Korean people. The revolutionizing influence of Juche and the positive example of socialist construction in the Northern part of the Republic steadily grew.

The South Korean authorities use disingenuous tactics, they run a defamation campaign against the DPRK, they are leaning on foreign powers, and they enforce military preparations and anti-communism. The objective of the DPRK during the negotiations was this: To criticize the South Korean side fiercely in order to stop their despicable machinations behind the scenes.

As already known, the dialogue North-South and the struggle for peaceful unification is both an offensive and defensive battle. It is a battle between defenders of the nation and traitors, between Juche and deference, between the united revolutionary forces of internationalism and the united forces of the bourgeoisie, between capitalism and socialism. Given the fact that the struggle for peaceful unification is in essence a class struggle, it was required to criticize the policies of the other side.

Pak Seong-cheol who spoke first criticized the non-compliance with the Joint Declaration of 4 July 1972 by South Korea and bolstered this criticism with many examples. He proved when, where, and with what statements, Park Chung Hee, Lee Hu-rak and Kim Jong-pil acted in South Korea in violation of the principles from the Joint Declaration.

Pak Seong-cheol asked the following alternative questions to Lee Hu-rak: Do you want to support, together with us, the peaceful unification, or do you want to continue anti-communism? If you want to join forces with us, then there must be no more anti-communism. If anti-communism continues to exist, then where will your policy lead to? Lee Hu-rak, who got confused by the force of the evidence, had to recognize this. He stated that he had actively supported compliance with the Joint Declaration. However, due to the complicated domestic structures of South Korea and its society, there was no chance to control the implementation of his instructions with regard to anti-communism.

Pak Seong-cheol: What you are telling us here, is actually stated by a close confidant and personal friend of Kim Jong-pil. You are after all no ordinary people but those who govern South Korea.

Lee Hu-rak: I am innocent.

Pak Seong-cheol: You assert the United Nations is not an external force. We do not understand that.

Lee Hu-rak: The United Nations is indeed not an external force.

Pak Seong-cheol: The American forces in South Korea act in the name of the United Nations and serve in South Korea under the U.N. flag. Isn’t that an external force? The Charter of the United Nations prohibits interference in internal matters.

Lee Hu-rak: If you pose the question that way, then the criticism is justified.

Pak Seong-cheol: At the 15th Anniversary of the foundation of the South Korean army, Park Chung Hee declared that Korea ought to be unified on the basis of a free democracy. This means that he wants to impose the capitalist order upon us. Since we agreed to achieve the unification of the nation without taking into account the differences in our systems, how can his statement be reconciled with this principle? This is anti-communism.

Lee Hu-rak: I acknowledge that mistakes have been made. When I wrote speeches for Park Chung Hee I did not use such words. It is very likely that journalists added such lines to reports on their own.

Pak Seong-cheol: What kind of dialogue is this when Park Chung Hee speaks on one hand in the spirit of anti-communism, and on the other hand supports the dialogue between North and South?

Lee Hu-rak: I cannot assume responsibility with regard to the statement that the United Nations does not constitute an external force, and that unification ought to occur on the basis of free democracy, as well as for other words of Kim Jong-pil.

After this exchange, there were discussions about the establishment of the Coordinating Committee. Our proposals had already been turned in earlier. So we were interested to hear what the South Korean side was thinking about them. The South Koreans suggested having a Coordinating Committee with five members from each side. We stated that we do not mind, and the number of members is actually of not much relevance. We agreed to return to the problem of the levels to be represented in the Coordinating Committee later on.

Lee Hu-rak posed the question, with reference to a quote from Kim Il Sung, what we actually envisage by a confederation? Pak Seong-cheol replied that, under preservation of the different systems in North and South, a Supreme National Committee should be established with a unified position in public and the task to solve internal questions through joint effort.

Lee Hu-rak: If you would expand the Coordinating Committee, would it serve as a nucleus for the establishment of a confederation?

Pak Seong-cheol: There is the possibility to do it this way. Yet important is a statement of will from the masses that have to decide this question on a democratic basis.

Lee Hu-rak: I have understood everything. You should trust me. I am in favor of not fighting against each other in the future but living together in coexistence between both systems.

It was agreed to hold the next meetings of the co-chairmen in turn in Pyongyang and in Seoul. The 2nd meeting will be held on 2 November 1972 in Pyongyang, the 3rd on 20 November 1972 in Seoul.

On 15 October there arrived a proposal from South Korea via telephone to convey a meeting between representatives from North and South on 16 October. The meeting took place. The South Korean representative asked to submit the following messages to Kim Yeong-ju:

1. We want to achieve unification at any cost as long as Kim Il Sung and Park Chung Hee are still personally in power, i.e. during the 1970s.

2. The content of the North Korean speeches during the 1st Meeting were not fully comprehended. After repeated listening to the tapes, we can now say that the criticism voiced [by the DPRK] is justified. We have committed mistakes. Therefore it is necessary to launch new measures from our side.

We asked: What kind of measures?

The South Korean side responded: Park Chung Hee and Lee Hu-rak want to unify the country. Yet many in South Korea are against this. Therefore order must be established. On 17 October Park Chung Hee will publish an important declaration to which North Korean should listen to attentively. If it has comments, it can ask questions about it.

Then Comrade Kim Jae-bong continued:

One hour before the publication of Park Chung Hee’s declaration there came a phone message from South Korea that it will be made public at 1900 hours. Also it was proposed to have a meeting on 18 October. On 17 October the extraordinary declaration of Park Chung Hee about the state of national emergency became public. On 18 October a meeting between representatives from North and South Korea took place.

The following message was transmitted from Lee Hu-rak to Kim Yeong-ju:

The situation in Asia has very much changed in the Seventies. In particular there are changes in the bipolar USA-USSR system, and also in relations between the four powers USA-USSR-China-Japan. Given these circumstances, we hold the opinion that we have to solve the national question through our own means without the reliance on the United States and Japan.

That is the reason why the Joint Declaration of 4 July was published and the dialogue between North and South began. After this declaration became public, there were many groups formed in South Korea that were against it. There have been many accusations against the government that the Joint Declaration has violated the [South Korean] constitution. This was behind Kim Yeong-ju’s criticism of the current disturbances in South Korea against the line of peaceful unification. The opposition existing in South Korea has interfered with the implementations of obligations [from the Joint Declaration of 4 July], and the extraordinary declaration [of 17 October] to impose a state of national emergency aims at changing the constitution. The current constitution was written under the influence of a bipolar situation. It is based on a doctrine of anti-communism, and there are no options for compromise.

The current South Korean constitution does not correspond to the peaceful unification of the country. Therefore we want to adapt the new constitution according to the new conditions. The United States and Japan are against these intentions. Yet we have nonetheless made the decision to solve these questions on the basis of Juche and in the spirit of the principles of national self-determination. Although the United States and Japan are against this self-determination, we still have the intention to create a system that serves the purpose of dialogue between North and South and which will have a President in its center after the amendment of the constitution.

We asked this question: Why was the state of national emergency and martial law declared? What kind of new system is this supposed to be?

The response from the South Korean side: Since our domestic questions are irresolvable by normal means, we want to guarantee the drafting and acceptance of a new constitution through a state of national emergency. This way we avoid chaos in our country. When we draft a new constitution, we have to ascertain that no new misunderstandings occur. If you have questions about this, we are ready to answer them. [end of quote]

Currently there are many opinions in South Korea. The rightist elements think those emergency measures are directed against them. Others do not know where this 17 October declaration will lead South Korea. There are questions whether this might be a pro-communist turn and a non-abandonment of dialogue [with the North]. There are also discussions whether this new development might signal a turn toward the right. The new constitution is said to fully address the question of unification. A National Assembly is supposed to be established that could guarantee a peaceful dialogue between North and South. There are intentions to amend the constitution in such a way that it will serve as a legal basis for the process of dialogue. Amending the constitution does not mean to abandon dialogue but to enforce it.

The Political Committee of the KWP Central Committee has examined and analyzed all aspects of the situation in South Korea. So far we have not arrived at final conclusions. For now we can say, however, that the current situation in South Korea is very complicated.

After the publication of the Joint Declaration, aspirations of the South Korean masses for peaceful unification have grown. Activities by the opposition parties and within the population increased. This is unsettling for the South Korean government. They are afraid. According to our information, after the publication of the Joint Declaration of 4th of July, 90 progressive cadres were arrested in South Korea. Anti-communism continues to exist. The South Korean economy is currently facing major problems. Small and medium businesses are going bankrupt. The agricultural situation is bad. There will be a poor harvest. People’s suffering is on the rise. Currently Park Chung Hee pursues the so-called “New Village Movement.” This movement is about the forced creation of new villages. Peasants are putting up resistance against it. The implementation of “agricultural reform” has resulted in a numerical increase of large landowners, as well as in corruption and so forth. Currently the situation in South Korea is similar like in the old China under Jiang Jieshi. Therefore the hope for socialism, like in the North, is growing among the South Korean people. Up to the publication of the Joint Declaration there was a standstill in the students’ movement. After the 4th of July the movement became jolted again. Park Chung Hee is much afraid of the opposition parties, the people’s masses and the students. This is why parliament has been dissolved, the activities of all political parties have been suspended, and the universities have been closed.

After the 19th of April, Park Chung Hee has implemented a militaristic-fascist upheaval. At the end of last year a state of national emergency was declared. Now a state of martial law has been added. Why did Park Chung Hee declare a state of national emergency and of war? Park Chung Hee thinks the opposition parties will go against him if, in the current situation, he wants to have dialogue and political meetings with us just on his own. [If opposition parties would join], then the score in those meetings would not be 1:1 but 2:1 in favor of the North. This is why the opposition parties, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press have been abolished and Park Chung Hee is establishing a one-man-rule.

This is an enforcement of militaristic-fascist dictatorship, an attempt to repress the revolutionary movement, and to secure the further stay of Park Chung Hee in power. This way he will have the monopoly to conduct the dialogue with us, and the score is back to 1:1. Park Chung Hee fears a military conflict. Therefore he wants to solve the unification question peacefully. His objective is to create a system that is favorable to dialogue and peaceful unification.

Park Chung Hee is acting from an autonomous position. However, what kind of autonomy does he have if, on the other hand, he is dependent on the United States and Japan and wants to receive their aid? Park Chung Hee is afraid of his own army. By declaring a state of martial law, he barred all airplanes from flying over South Korean territory. Military employees were barred from leaving the barracks. Those on leave were prohibited from moving around. All army movements have been banned.

What is now our position? If we do not do anything, it will mean we are closing our eyes to the repression of the people [in South Korea]. Therefore we must not remain passive. If we stay passive, we remain silent in the wake of South Korea becoming anti-communist.

We will take up the two following measures:

1. We publish an article in our newspaper and prove that repression of the South Korean people under the pretext of peaceful unification is unjustified and wrong. The more the masses will participate in peaceful unification, the better.

2. There will be a statement published in the name of all political parties to unmask the reasons behind the dissolution of the South Korean parliament. A similar statement is supposed to be issued in the name of the students of North Korea concerning the closing of universities in South Korea. In all that, we will conform to the polite form common so far.

Park Chung Hee’s extraordinary declaration contains an interesting passage we will have to analyze in the near future: “Our measures will lead up to a referendum. If the new constitution will not be accepted, it will mean that the South Korean people do not want the dialogue between North and South. Then it will be necessary to look for new steps toward unification.”

In conclusion, Comrade Kim Jae-bong asked everybody in the attendance to forward this information to the politburos of their respective parties.

Signed: Gensicke, Attache

Initialed: Merten


1x Comrade Fischer [Deputy Foreign Minister]

1x Comrade Markowski [Central Committee, Department IV]

1x Comrade Schneidewind [Foreign Ministry, Far Eastern Department]

1x Comrade Grunert [Foreign Ministry, ZID]

1x Embassy, Political Department


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