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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 11, 1946

UNTITLED MEMORANDUM ON THE POLITICAL AND MORALE SITUATION OF SOVIET TROOPS IN NORTH KOREA AND THE ECONOMIC SITUATION IN KOREA

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    A Soviet report on the first several months of the occupation of North Korea.
    "Untitled memorandum on the political and morale situation of Soviet troops in North Korea and the economic situation in Korea," January 11, 1946, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Archives of the Russian General Staff, op. 480, 29, st. 5, p. 2, pa. 21, k. 35. Translated by Gary Goldberg. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114893
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Secret

Copy Nº 1

TO MEMBER OF THE MILITARY COUNCIL OF THE MARITIME MILITARY DISTRICT

GENERAL-COLONEL Cde. SHTYKOV

[handwritten: Outgoing [[number]] 03003,

11 January 1946]

I submit the memorandum of Lt. Col. Fedorov about the work of military commandants' offices and the political and morale situation of the troops deployed in North Korea, and also about the economic situation of the population of North Korea.

ATTACHMENT: The aforementioned, on 19 pages, to the addressee only.

CHIEF OF THE POLITICAL DIRECTORATE OF THE MARITIME MILITARY DISTRICT

GENERAL-LIEUTENANT

/signature/ KALASHNIKOV

Two copies printed

________________

1 - to the addressee

2 - to file

Drafted by Chukov

________________

k. n. [possibly "office number" (kantselyarsky nomer)] 74.11.1.46

vr.

SECRET

TO THE CHIEF OF THE POLITICAL DIRECTORATE OF THE MARITIME MILITARY DISTRICT

GENERAL-LIEUTENANT Cde. KALASHNIKOV

MEMORANDUM

Carrying out your assignment to study agrarian relations in Korea, we at the same time interested ourselves in the political and economic situation on the ground. Having visited three provinces during the month and a half in Korea - Hwanghae-do, North, and South Pyeongan - we encountered a number of serious facts which we report below.

I. MILITARY COMMANDANTS' OFFICES

Our provincial, city, and district Military Commandants' Offices are the primary bodies through which our command maintains contact with the North Korea population of ten million. The district commandants' offices are the main ones since there are more of them and they exercise control over two-thirds of the population. However, the operation of a majority of these commandants' offices does not meet the requirements imposed on them. As a rule, the commandants are poorly oriented in both the politics and economy of their region and Korea as a whole and cannot maintain the necessary relations with the local population entrusted to them. The style of their work is nakedly high-handed administrative methods and repression. In addition, the district commandants' offices control only district centers, the cities in which their commandants' offices are located. The commandant's office officials are almost never in villages and rural districts, do not maintain contact with rural district administration, and do not interest themselves in the life and situation of the Korean countryside. There is a lack of interpreters - there are still none in 52 commandants' offices today - which considerably complicates the work of the latter and makes them absolutely powerless in business dealings with local authorities and the population. They express themselves only with [mimicry] and gesticulations.

The overwhelming majority of commandants' deputies for political affairs are not suited for their assignments as political leaders of a district or city. They are mainly junior lieutenants (44 of 74), somewhat familiar with army political work and completely inexperienced in questions of political work among a civilian population, particularly a foreign population. Their complete ignorance of the local political and economic system, national characteristics, public life, not to mention language - the lack of interpreters is felt most here - and also an inability to find the necessary forms and methods of political influence turns the political workers of commandants' offices into powerless appendages of the latter. They are not able to monitor the press; the agitation and propaganda of local political organizations; or the operation of schools, the theater, etc. At best the matter comes down to just persecution and repression. Meanwhile, nationalist and American propaganda from Seoul penetrates widely everywhere and they do not notice it. Finally, in many commandants' offices there simply are no deputies for political affairs. Twenty-eight commandants' offices are not staffed with one. There are 74 and 102 are needed.

The city and district commandants' offices in Korea are little different from ordinary commandants' offices in the nature of their activity. Almost all their work comes down to arresting servicemen who have broken the law and staging support to military groups passing through. A considerable portion of their energy is consumed by work with the local police and also monitoring brothel, hospitals, restaurants, and bars, that is, police functions.

The latter is, for example, the most characteristic of Captain Timofeyev, the commandant district of Sincheon [Sinsen] (Hwanghae-do Province). His usual style of conversations with Koreans summoned to the commandant's office is intimidation with a pistol taken out of the holster and placed on the desk for this purpose. Almost all his time at work is absorbed in sweeps of brothel, registering prostitutes, and monitoring hotels and restaurants. He does almost nothing else. He is not interested in the economic and political situation of his district. He had difficulty answering our question, "Who is the biggest landowner in the district and how much land does he have?" Meanwhile, the biggest landowner there turned out to be the chairman of the local government and the district People's Committee himself who is openly sabotaging all the measures of the new government and Soviet command with the connivance of the commandant. The "People's Committee" he created is composed almost entirely of landowners and bourgeois elements and their yes-men. Commandant Timofeyev has not noticed this nor taken the proper measures. It is therefore no accident that certain events have recently occurred in this district.

It is just such a style of work that is also characteristic of Captain Kaledin, the commandant of Gilju (North Pyeongan Province). He is a very young man, an intelligence officer by specialty, who began the war as a sergeant and was an electrician before he joined the army. His political outlook is quite limited. Police methods are closer and more understandable to him. By the way, he did not yet have a deputy for political affairs.

In our opinion, [the following] are necessary to strengthen the Military Commandants' Offices:

1. Reexamine the staffing of district commandants' offices and also their deputies for political affairs, replacing them with senior officers (no lower than major) who have past experience in government [sovetskaya] or Party work (rayon executive committee or Party rayon committee officials).

2. Increase the monitoring and supervision of commandants by provincial military advisers.

3. Immediately assign 28 additional deputies for political affairs of commandants' offices.

4. Expedite the dispatch of the remaining 52 Korean interpreters for commandant's offices.

II. THE POLITICAL AND MORALE CONDITION OF THE TROOPS

Immoral behavior by servicemen which tarnishes the honor and dignity of our army and country has taken on truly catastrophic dimensions in Korea. Shots are heard at night in cities and districts everywhere our units are deployed. Even in Haeju, where order is relatively better than in other cities, not one night passes without shooting.

Drunkenness, the source of all kinds of incidents and immoral conduct, is observed everywhere. It especially thrives in the city of Sinuiju where one can see drunken servicemen on the street even during the day. Drunken orgies occur in the evening in all hotels and brothels (there are more than 70 in Sinuiju). Drunken officers take turns with privates in using prostitutes with the connivance of commandant's details patrolling in the same location. The tone in all these outrages is set by the personnel of an air division deployed in Sinuiju (whose chief of the political department is TsUNIK). The servicemen of the local rifle regiment headed by its commander Major DEMIDOV are not far behind. For two days beginning Saturday morning until the evening of the following day (8-9 December) the latter continued a drunken orgy with prostitutes in two rooms of the commandant's hotel especially set aside for them (where, by the way, military adviser Colonel Grafov and commandant of the province Lt. Col. Girko live and before whose eyes this occurred). At our suggestion, Major Atyasov, the deputy for political affairs of the provincial commandant's office, tried to influence the drunken Demidov but he replied with abusive language and declared that the rooms in the hotel had been set aside for him "by commandant Girko himself".

The following is also characteristic of the provincial commandant's office in Sinuiju. Major FEDOROV, left [in charge] in place of [Girko], who had gone to a meeting in Haeju for two days, drank himself into a stupor for two days and did not appear at the commandant's office. Only the sergeant on duty remained in it, not a single officer. We found the dead-drunk Fedorov with drunken orderlies at home on the second day and were unable to determine the whereabouts of the remaining officers of the commandant's office. The huge city of Sinuiju was actually left without the oversight of a commandant for two days. Such a situation partly explains the reason for the recent demonstration by Korean nationalists right in Sinuiju.

The enormous number of cases of looting, violence, and the like committed daily and everywhere by many enlisted men and officers is explained by their impunity. For example, Senior Lieutenant of the Engineer Service MAKSIMOV from the 884th BAO [Airfield Maintenance Battalion] (Sinuiju) systematically looted, for which he was not punished. Passing through the city of Gilju on 6 December in a convoy vehicle, Maksimov stopped for the night at a local Korean hotel with seven of his drivers. The entire group drank all night and rampaged, demanding women, and left in the morning without paying for the room and board. On 11 December, that is, five days later, on the way back Maksimov and the same vehicle convoy again stopped in Gilju. The military commandant suggested that he pay for the previous stay at the hotel. Forced by the commandant, Maksimov handed over the money with great reluctance but, as it later became clear, not yen but Manchurian gobis which are not good there. When leaving this same city at the outskirts Maksimov robbed a passing Korean peasant with one of his submachine gunners and took 180 yen. In reply to our suggestion that the commandant immediately report these incidents to Sinuiju, Maksimov's place of duty, Captain Kaledin, the commandant, declared that he had already reported to the command about Maksimov and about others but without result, and that Maksimov constantly distinguishes himself with outrages when passing through Gilju and other district cities on the way from Sinuiju to Haeju.

We also observed a similar situation in the aforementioned city of Sincheon, where enlisted men and officers from the rifle regiment deployed there commit various outrages with impunity with the connivance of the regimental command and the military commandant's office. We were witnesses to the three following incidents in just one day. A Korean selected and dragged one dead-drunk officer, a lieutenant from the regiment, along the street. The bloodied Korean, beaten by the grip of a revolver by one drunken officer, had complained to the commandant's office that he was not going to tolerate his wife being raped. A group of soldiers from the signals company of this regiment looted a local cotton ginning mill and took away lumber intended for lathes. The soldiers whom we arrested reported that "they had gone for firewood" on the order of their company senior non-commissioned officer. The day before unknown servicemen took away several bales of cotton remaining from this same mill, leaving illegible receipts. All this happened half a kilometer from the commandant's office.

Individual Party and Komsomol organizers of a subunit of the 258th Rifle Division deployed there actively participated in attacks on local residents in the city of  Haeju [Kaisyu]. Junior Lieutenant Chekmarev, the Komsomol organizer of the 991st Rifle Regiment, got off with only spending the night in the commandant's office and a simple reprimand for beating a police officer who had kept him from committing a violent attack in the apartment of a Korean, and declared, "Well, so what? Lenin and Stalin spent time in prison, now I am". The insistent demands to the division political department (the chief is Lt. Col. Sineskov) from Lt. Col. Skutsky, the military adviser, to make an example and punish some Party and Komsomol organizers were ignored.

Some enterprises in the city of Haeju which were put into operation with difficulty with the assistance of our civil administration are again coming to a halt. The owners are refusing to work because unknown servicemen are taking all the production by force. For example, this was the case with a silk-weaving mill where the finished product - silk - was taken by a group of air force officers who paid the owner one yen per meter.

There is no need to speak of the unpleasant influence which such occurrences have on the local population. They are beginning to feed hatred toward our soldiers. In addition, this also reflects negatively on the authority of the local Communist Party which, for example, the secretary of the provincial committee [obkom] told me in Haeju [Kaisyu].

The main reason for all the immoral phenomena is in the example given by senior military commanders. The unworthy behavior of many low-level and senior military commanders - unit and formation commanders - openly committing unlawful acts in front of their subordinates produces mass imitation.

The illegal actions of Colonel Dmitriev, the commander of the 258th Rifle Division, who ordered the chairman of the provincial People's Committee out of his apartment, or the removal of furniture he selected, accompanying his actions with the words, "The Koreans were slaves for 35 years, let them be so a little longer", cannot fail to exert a corrupting influence on the officers and enlisted men of this division. General Morozov, the commander of the 39th Corps, recently took 10 vehicles from Korea with property he had personally seized, including property of a local museum. Attempts by Colonel Gromov, the chief of the POARM [Army Political Department] to restrain similar military commanders through Party channels encountered the opposition of General-Colonel Chistyakov, the Commanding General of the Army. The following case is typical of this. When the chief of the POARM reported to him about your enciphered message in accordance with GlavPURKKA [Main Political Directorate of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army] Directive Nº 003, charging the chief of the POARM with personal responsibility for putting things in order in the troops, Chistyakov said, "Inform the [Military] District that the army has a Commanding General and a Military Council". They confirm that money-grubbing is not alien to the commanding General of the Army himself. Rumors are circulating in Haeju (it has not proven possible for us to verify them) that the local government has allocated Chistyakov 300,000 yen as a fire victim. As is well known, on 16 November the commanding general's house and all his property burned down. It is also known that the fire arose not as the result of "sabotage", as they tried to represent it, but as a consequence on the occasion of drinking bout that went on for 22 hours on the occasion of a sendoff for the commanding general's wife.

Finally, the statement of the army commanding general about the recent events in Sincheon that he "would hang half of Korea" in the event the residents of Sincheon  carried out threats is evidence of his political shortsightedness.

Bringing things in order in the troops and the political and morale situation in units of the 25th Army in accordance with GlavPURKKA Directive Nº 003 require the adoption of the most urgent and vigorous measures. An increase in political and indoctrinational impact should be accompanied first by the sternest measures of repression. When this is being done some major military commanders, unit and formation commanders, should firstly be subjected to exemplary punishment. The punishments should become known to the entire army via orders, otherwise, as current practice has shown, they will have no effect. In addition, several instances of executions of privates and sergeants for violence against the local population [inserted by hand: need] to be widely publicized in the army and local Korean press as, by the way, the Americans did in Seoul. It is also advisable to conduct a partial purge of army personnel who have become semi-corrupted [polurazlozhivshiesya] from a long period abroad and return them to the USSR.

III. THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE POPULATION OF NORTH KOREA

The continuing devastation in the economy - industry and transportation - adversely affects the population's situation, manual laborers and other workers of the cities first of all. There is almost no production and influx of goods, and existing goods constantly disappear from the market. Prices, including those for food, are climbing catastrophically with each day. There is inflation. Occupation currency is becoming more common and it is almost impossible to buy anything with it except food. As long as speculative elements, and also landowners and the upper part of the peasantry, profit from this, agricultural products for sale[will be] profitable at wildly inflated prices.

Most factories, mills, and mines are idle. Workers are become declassed. Mineworkers, for example, in the districts of Sainei (Hwanghae-do Province) and Gilju (North Pyeongan Province) are starving and scattering. (By the way, rare and very valuable ore is mined in the mines of the district of Gilju: uranium, tantalum, and beryllium).

The largest metallurgical plant in the city of Haeju [Kaisyu] stands idle because of a lack of a market for the finished product. The plant is supplied with reserves of raw material, ore and coal, created back during the time of the Japanese but is not able to operate.

Wages for employed manual laborers and white-collar workers are extraordinarily low. They have been set at the previous level by order of our command, that is, those which existed before the Red Army arrived, but in view of the increase in prices they do not provide a living wage.

The situation of the rural population, especially the tenant masses (comprising up to 70% of all peasants), which had noticeably improved at first in connection with the 40% reduction of the rent payment to the landowner and the rise in food prices, is now beginning to worsen. The reason is the grain purchases being conducted by order of our command. The grain purchasing campaign which we announced was not carefully thought out to the end. As a result the grain and meat delivery plans were incorrectly drawn up without considering real capabilities. In a number of districts the delivery plan was greatly increased, equal to the gross harvest, and even exceeding it for some crops. For example, in the district of Hakusen [sic] (North Pyeongan Province) the entire gross harvest of rice is 142,000 sak (one sak = about 150 kg), but the planned purchase there was 133,000 sak. It was proposed to purchase 2,326 sak of wheat in this district when the harvest was 2,205 sak at a time when almost all of it had frozen before being harvested. Meanwhile, 80,000 sak of grain plus 3,000 sak of seed stock are required annually to feed the 70,000 population of the district, a total of 83,000 sak. The remainder after grain purchases is only 9,000 sak. The district is threatened with famine.

The meat delivery plan was increased in other districts. It is 10% of all the livestock on average, but in places it is considerably higher and hits the most sensitive thing for a Korean village without draft animals - the work stock. The peasants are forced to send the[ir] last bull. (In a Korean village an overwhelming number of tenant [farmers] do not have work stock and have an average of one bull for three or four farms).

A similar situation is causing intense displeasure among the peasants in places, who say, "The Japanese took less".

The peasants have become embittered to no less a degree by the methods of purchasing grain. Representatives of the army quartermaster service, who are the purchasers along with the district commandants, have themselves often forced grain delivery on each peasant through the chief local authority by nakedly high-handedly administrative methods, threats, and repression. A unique competition was announced in the army quartermaster service - whichever grain purchaser fulfills the purchase plan first would receive leave to the Soviet Union. The purchasers accordingly tried everything.

At the present time this situation has apparently outwardly changed. Grain purchases have been abolished and a compulsory grain purchase through local governments has been announced. However, essentially nothing has changed. As before, the delivery plans from each district and village are in effect with the only difference being that now our purchasers do not come down to the village themselves. This is done for them by the local authorities, the People's Committees. A majority of the latter are being hampered by sabotaging landowner elements and their supporters and as before they shift all blame on the Red Army when explaining their actions to the peasants. It is not hard to see that this feeds the propaganda of the Americans and the nationalists who are hostile to us.

The situation with grain purchases is becoming intolerable and demands the intervention of the command of the military district since it is fraught with serious political consequences.

The representatives of provincial People's Committees (in Haeju [Kaisyu] [and] in Sinuiju) suggest limiting grain purchases to just the needs of the Red Army, which is about 30% of the entire plan. Let the People's Committees themselves [conduct] grain purchases to supply cities without the intervention of the Soviet command. These suggestions seem to us to be the most correct and reasonable.

The lack of fertilizer might be threatening to the countryside by the spring of 1946. This might sharply reduce next year's rice harvest. The largest fertilizer plant is in the city of Hamheung [Kanko], but up to now it has been idle. They promise to put the plant into operation in the near future through the efforts of General-Major Romanenko's group, however not at full capacity, with the production of [2]0,000 tons a month instead of several hundred thousand tons. This is a drop in the bucket.

The Japanese civilian population is in an exceptionally disastrous situation. It has been herded to certain areas in the cities where terrible overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and cold are prevalent, and the main thing, hunger. There is no work. Major specialists - professors and engineers - [will do] any dirty day labor for a handful of rice. In Haeju they take dozens of bodies from the Japanese barracks every day. They are not managing to dispose of the bodies and they continue to remain on the same premises. Cold and hunger add to the humiliations of the Japanese from the Korean population. The Japanese are afraid to appear on the street [or] in the markets, where Koreans take from them with impunity their last rags which they sell for food. The commanding general of the army has turned down the suggestion of General-Major Romanenko and political adviser Cde. Balasanov to release 30,000 tons of spoiled captured rice for the Japanese population, explaining this as, "the rice has already been accounted for by the quartermaster". Meanwhile, this rice is being eaten up by worms and in normal conditions is almost not fit as food.

The attitude toward the Japanese population on the part of the senior army command is expressed by the frequently expressed simple formula, "let them die".

According to Cde. Polyansky, the Soviet Consul-General in Seoul, the Americans in the South are vigorously evacuating the Japanese population to their homeland, furnishing transports. Not many Japanese still remain in South Korea. The Americans are thus strengthening the concern of the Japanese government itself for its own subjects. In our own zone of occupation the local Japanese population and, in particular, the Japanese refugees from Manchuria, are doomed to die this winter if appropriate steps are not urgently taken.

IV. THE POLITICAL SITUATION

Encountering representatives of various strata of the population, public organizations, and local government bodies in the course of our work, we have had an opportunity to become closely acquainted with their political sentiments. The urban bourgeoisie, especially the merchants are the most optimistic. The unchecked increase in prices and the speculation serve as sufficient reason for this. They are mainly concerned by one thing: when will the 38th Parallel [boundary] be eliminated so that the flow of goods might gush from the South? In the meantime these goods come from there through smuggling, and in quite large quantity. For example, American cigarettes and knitted goods are sold even in the northern regions (North Pyeongan). By the way, Seoul newspapers, Korean and American, get there in large numbers and are openly sold on the street as however in other cities, Haeju in particular.

Like merchants, industrialists also are the least pinched by the new reforms and are eager to apply their capital to production. However, this often runs up against obstacles which are difficult to overcome: the lack of [inserted by hand: local (na meste)] raw material and the main thing, transport, but for heavy industry and mining there is one more thing, the [lack of a] market. Transportation, rail and automotive, is very much in a bottleneck [samoe uzkoe mesto]. There is complete disorder [razrukha] on the railroads. Train crews are scattering from whistle stops because of a lack of coal and food. Automotive transport, including that belonging to Korean businessmen, has for some reason almost completely become "war booty". Often a Korean factory owner has nothing on which to transport a finished product or to bring in raw material and fuel. The only truck, not to mention automobile, has been removed by either a military unit or the commandant's office as "war booty".

As indicated above, many businessmen are hindered in setting up production by the lawless actions of individual servicemen who take manufactured goods from them at gunpoint.

The most diverse sponsorship [samaya raznoobraznaya opeka] and aid from the Soviet command are required in order to put any water plant or tobacco mill or any other enterprise into service, beginning with transport and ending…with submachine gunners to protect his enterprise from looting servicemen.

Landowners are the part of the population most hurt by the new regime. They have already suffered "losses", having received 30% of the harvest instead of 50% as the rent payment. In addition, they are concerned for the fate of their own landholdings. They do not speak or write about agrarian reform in Korea since no one, including the Communist Party, is seriously preparing for it. But the landowners feel that something ought to happen. Many of them are hurrying to sell their land but no one is buying. The price for land has fallen sharply.

Landowners are the most reactionary part of the Korean population. The Nationalist movement is relying chiefly on them. And, as before, they keep the landless tenants, who are dependent on them, in fear.

The Korean peasants, as everywhere in the Orient, are the poorest, most oppressed, and obscure part of the population. They are afraid to speak openly in a discussion on land. There are no Communists in the villages. There is no social movement among the peasants if one does not count the "Peasant Union" (or "committees") created by the Communists here and there in district capitals. These unions are still small in number and do not have influence among the broad masses of tenants. They are considered "Communist" and this alienates the peasants from them. The new trend has still not reached the countryside directly with the exception of the reduction of the rent payment. By the way, the latter fact has noticeably decreased the marketability of agriculture, since the peasants have begun for the first time to eat their fill and the main thing, rice, which they did not eat under the Japanese.

The near-destitute landless tenant [farmer] considers it a sacrilege to infringe on the landholdings of the landowner, his benefactor", in any way. He does not permit himself the thought of "offending" the landowner in any way. "He did nothing bad to us", declare the peasants. At best, it seems fair to them "not to offend" the landowner, to buy land from him, paying full price. "It would be good if [it were] cheaper", but in no event to get land for free. "Then I won't consider it my own, I will not be the owner", say the tenants. But how to buy it, and where to get the money? None of them is able to answer this question.

It needs to be noted that the peasant psychology "to not offend the landowner" has even penetrated the environment of the Korean Communists who, by the way, have no entire idea about land reform. In conversations with us Cdes. Kim Il Sung, O Gi-seop [O Ki Sop], Kim Yong-beom [Kim Yong Bom], and others proposed nothing but police means of accomplishing agrarian reform. They think that it is enough to declare a few more landowners and peasant owners "enemies of the people and redistribute their land among poor peasants and thereby accomplish "agrarian reform". The Communists are still only planning on going to the countryside and, in their words, to rouse "a powerful peasant movement for land" there.

In the present situation of the Korean Communist Party this plan is problematical at the very least. In the Korean Communist Party there is still no order in their own house. Organizationally it is still a very loose and motley mass choked with alien elements, requiring a serious purge. There are almost no manual laborers in it and no peasants at all. As before, a fierce intra-Party struggle is taking place. Yet another new "workers'" opposition has arisen against Pak Heon-yeong [Pak Hon Yong] in Seoul, accusing him of "having sold himself to the Americans". In Haeju only now were they forced to make public Kim Il Sung's affiliation with the Communist Party, which has caused a lot of damage to the overall democratic movement. [Typed above the line as an insertion: The leaders] of the Democratic Party headed by Jo Man-sik [Jo Man Sik] declare that if they had known earlier that Kim Il Sung headed the Communist Party they would not have created the Democratic Party under his [Translator's note: presumably Kim's] ideological leadership. The concealment of Kim Il Sung's Communist affiliation from the Korean public was foolish from the very beginning and in no way justified; although, however, it [Translator's note: the Democratic Party] was excellently informed about this from Seoul, it was a stupid political mistake which has caused certain damage.

The main thing that Korean Communist need at the present moment is ideological tempering. Marxist teachers and literature are needed for this, particularly "The Short Course of the History of the VKP(b)". All these are needed as soon as possible to help the Korean Communist Party.

Local governments, the so-called "People's Committees", are a parody of government bodies. The same picture is observed in every People's Committee without exception. All the bureaucrats headed by the Committee chairman sit around a cast-iron stove, smoke, and talk animatedly. The entire workday continues this way with a break for lunch. At a set time, 4 [P.M.], there is not a soul remains in the Committee. We did not encounter one energetic bureaucrat behind a desk engaged in any work in the dozens of People's Committed which we visited in all three provinces. According to our observations this brazen inaction has an underlying political motive. As a rule, bourgeois landowner elements, whom no one has elected, predominate in almost all People's Committees. There are almost no, or very few, genuine representatives of the people in them at all. Being unwilling to take responsibility for everything that is happening today with the Red Army in the country, these Committee members simply serve their time, awaiting different times. It is also possible that this unique ubiquitous sabotage is being led and directed from one particular center, from the capital.

Our Directorate for Civil Administration Affairs, the so-called "group of General-Major Romanenko", is handling its important task with great difficulty, overcoming a large number of all sorts of obstacles. One of the main difficulties is that there are very few officials in this group. In addition, until recently there were no interpreters, and even now there are not enough. Meanwhile this is essentially a question of administering an entire country with a population of 10 million, that is, three times larger than Finland and almost equal to Hungary. The multi-faceted government, political, and economic activity of this group undoubtedly requires a much larger number of officials, including major specialists in all fields of nation-building and the economy. It is sufficient to say, for example, that there is not one specialist in agrarian problems in the group while Korean is a predominantly agrarian country. There are also not many other experts. As a result such extraordinary cases occur, for example. Officials of a group inspecting a province arbitrarily categorize peasants into "kulaks, middle peasants, and poor peasants", that is, mechanically transferring Soviet concepts to the landless tenant masses of the Korean countryside, in the process using the most ridiculous criteria. Or, [take] another case. The chief of staff of the group prepared a technically ignorant order for commandants to carry out an overall land census, naively thinking that a land census could be carried out through just one administrative order.

In the political arena the work of the group is being duplicated by the work of the army Political Department. For example, both the group and the POARM (the 7th section) deal with all political parties and public organizations at the same time. An unnecessary two centers of authority result, which complicates oversight. In addition, it leads to excessive mistakes. For example, Major Kondratyuk, the censor of the 7th section of POARM, who was uniformed about the situation in the South, passed a report in a local Korean newspaper about the arrival in Seoul of Kim Gu. This would not have happened if all political work, including press and censorship, were entirely directed from one center, either the POARM or the Group. In the last case it would have been well if the 7th section of POARM had been lent the group, since both the group (Colonel Ignat'yev) and the 7th section were engaged in essentially the same work.

As regards the press, the directive of Cde. Bulganin about freedom of the local press is only nominally being implemented. Excessive caution is being permitted on this issue. Nominally all publications are permitted but essentially they cannot publish because of censorship difficulties. A very complex and cumbersome prior censorship of all publications has been introduced while subsequent censorship of some newspapers could be permitted. This would unfetter local publishing initiative more extensively. Fines and other censorial repression would completely prevent undesirable propaganda. Finally, the risk would be small: Korea is not a Soviet country, but a bourgeois democratic one and today it is considerably easier to get a Seoul newspaper in any Northern province than to expect a local one to be published.

The problem with publishing, especially in the provinces, is complicated further by the lack of a Korean printing industry [baza]. The majority of printing shops have been declared our war booty.

The main difficulty in the work of General-Major Romanenko's group is, in our opinion, a lack of full contact with the command of the army. Invested with great authority to govern the country, the group essentially does not have any real rights [prava] and is completely dependent on the commanding general of the army. The latter is not always distinguished by political farsightedness in issues of governing the country. The fundamental resolution of this issue with the object of putting the government of North Korea in order requires the immediate separation of civil administration from command of the army, with the former being immediately subordinate to the Military Council of the [Military] District.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL /signature/ FEDOROV

MAJOR /signature/ LIVSHITS

29 December 1945

One copy printed - to the addressee

63.29.XII.45 vr.

ORIGINAL SCAN PDF

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