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Digital Archive International History Declassified

August 01, 1960

REPORT, EMBASSY OF HUNGARY IN NORTH KOREA TO THE HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY

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    Hungarian Ambassador Károly Práth emphasizes the difficulties experienced by repatriated Koreans from Japan.
    "Report, Embassy of Hungary in North Korea to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry," August 01, 1960, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, MOL, XIX-J-1-j Korea, 5. doboz, 5/ca, 004238/1/1960. Translated for NKIDP by Balazs Szalontai. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113409
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In recent days, the 30th group of repatriates has arrived from Japan, and with them, a total of as many as 31,000 Koreans have already returned home. The repatriates—as I already related in my previous report—get jobs and can work right after they have settled down. Nevertheless, their adaptation to life here is not smooth. For one thing, their circumstances of life were better in Japan [than in the DPRK], and they are not completely satisfied with the conditions here. According to what the repatriates say, there were more opportunities for entertainment in Japan. Initially, the [North Korean] way of life, which is fundamentally different from what they got accustomed to under capitalism, is certainly foreign to them. They have not heard about concepts like voluntary work, meetings, and pledges up to now. As a consequence, they are loath to participate in them. When the official working time is over, they try to go home immediately in order to change their clothes and seek opportunities for entertainment.

They also have difficulty complying with work discipline. […] The government and the party ensure them a privileged position. […] a substantial part of the repatriates have considerable professional skills. In addition to industrial experts, I primarily mean those professional skills which have existed only in a very rudimentary stage in the DPRK, e.g. ladies' hairdressing, gentlemen's and ladies' tailors, shoemakers, and so on.

Apart from formalities, the Korean workers do not like the repatriates very much. They have several reasons for that: 1) A great number of people have been removed from their flats so as to provide adequate flats for the repatriates; 2) In the factories, they get strikingly high wages; 3) They occupy a privileged position in food-supply; 4) Work discipline is less binding on them (at least they are not taken to task in the same way as others); 5) In respect of clothing and way of life, they are different from the local people.
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Károly Práth
Ambassador