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Digital Archive International History Declassified

1956

REPORT OF THE POLISH EMBASSY’S CULTURE AND PRESS DEPARTMENT

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    The Polish Embassy reports on the signing of the DPRK-Poland cultural agreement and highlights that the Korean press is publishing articles on Poland.
    "Report of the Polish Embassy’s Culture and Press Department ," 1956, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Polish Foreign Ministry Archive, DV Z12 T414 W18, pp. 111-115. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114998
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    http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114998

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[handwriting] DVK 242/7/56

[stamp] Polish People’s Republic Embassy in Pyongyang

[handwriting] No. 416/16/242/56/secret

Report of the PPR embassy presented at Pyongyang’s Culture and Press Department for the first quarter of 1956.

In the first quarter of 1956, the embassy’s Culture and Press Department’s activities were marked by a shift towards a more intensive systematic approach.

The fundamental issue of this period was to prepare the cultural agreement between Poland and the DPRK for signing. This task was particularly urgent due to the fact that the DPRK had had similar agreements with the Soviet Union for 7 years,. Also, cultural agreements had already been signed with the People’s Republic of China and in the pipeline for People’s Republic of Hungary, the CSR (Czechoslovak Republic) and Romania.

In this context, we discussed and agreed on the implementation of the agreement and its financial attachment. The Embassy was informed about the subjects of discussion, about the changes in reports for January and February, and about the code messages. The dates for signing the agreement which were mentioned in the reports were not accomplished. This results from the fact that the discussion and the agreement with regard to the document took more time than expected. Additionally, the handover of the case from the Ministry of Culture and Propaganda to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the mobilisation of all resources in Korea to prepare the 3rd Congress, led to further postponement of the signing of the agreement.

According to the latest reports provided by the Bureau for International Cultural Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Propaganda, the problem was forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Consequently, the Embassy expects the agreement to be be signed in May.

The abovementioned issue was one of the most significant matters in the Embassy’s Culture and Press Department in the reported period.

Information and Culture Propaganda Activities

The main forms of information and propaganda work are:

  1. Publishing a bulletin about Poland in Korean;
  2. Publishing articles about Poland and making them available to the Korean press;
  3. Creating propaganda photo displays;
  4. Publishing an unofficial bulletin about Korea in Polish.

In the course of the reported period, two issues of the bulletin about Poland have been published in Korean. The third issue is currently in print. According to an instruction from Poland, the February issue was changed to a mourning bulletin. Therefore, the printing company was unable to publish the following issue on time.

The bulletin covers a wide range of topics including politics, social and economic issues, business agriculture, science and sports. The bulletin is regarded as a monthly journal oriented towards politics, economy and the society. It is circulated in 1,000 copies, which are distributed to 140 Korean institutions.

The material for the bulletin is primarily obtained from the information bulletins of PPA [Polish Press Agency] in Russian. These are submitted to us from Warsaw and the CPA [Central Photo Agency].

The graphic part of the bulletin is far beyond our expectations. Problems are predominantly caused by the unavailability of good printing paper, which we have been requesting since July 1955.

This January, the Bureau for International Cultural Cooperation requested to forward two articles on Poland each month to the Korean press (see January report).

The Embassy has attempted to provide the Korean press with articles on Poland despite receiving the relevant materials from Poland only at the end of every quarter. Nevertheless, in the first quarter of 1956, the following articles were submitted to the Embassy:

January – “Poland's foreign trade in the last year of the 6-Year-Plan”

February – “The Palace of Culture – a symbol of friendship”

March – “Polish trade unions”

It is difficult to estimate what popularity articles about Poland enjoy. From the individual discussions with Korean comrades, it can be concluded that the Korean society expresses interest in our country. This can be viewed as an incentive to submit more articles to the Korean press than it is currently the case.

The Embassy publishes two propaganda bulletin boards every month. In the event of an important political or economic development, the display is published more frequently.

From this January, the displays have included the following contents:

  1. Warsaw;
  2. The anniversary of the establishment of the Korean Army;
  3. Completion of the 6-Year-Plan;
  4. The 5-Year-Plan;
  5. Polish Women
  6. Signing of the legal tender agreement and the Telephony and Telegraphy agreement between PPR and DPRK;
  7. Boles?aw Bierut.

The second information publication of the Embassy is the bulletin about Korea which is published in Polish with a circulation of approximately 100 copies. Its target audience is constituted by the Poles in the country of the embassy’s competence [i.e. Korea]. This bulletin is published every five days, containing miscellaneous news from both North and South Korea.

Contacts

Due to the character of our needs, contacts are of a specific nature. They are either permanent contacts or individual meetings ([meeting a person]once or twice) for discussion of topics, which are of concern to both parties.

It [the concern abovementioned] is expressed in creating new contacts and expanding permanent cooperation in the frames of the existing contacts with various cultural organs and Korean institutions. Also [it is expressed by] permanent co-operation and experience exchange with the activities of other embassies’ of the country of competence.

The contacts were made with institutions of varying nature, such as:

  1. Culture and Propaganda Ministry - Bureau for International Cultural Cooperation;
  2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs – 3rd Department;
  3. Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Press and Information Department;
  4. Education Ministry – Higher Education Department;
  5. Kim Il Sung University;
  6. DPRK Broadcast Committee;
  7. Printing management;
  8. National City Council;
  9. DPRK cinematography circles;
  10. Editorial offices of trade unions' journals;
  11. Culture and press departments of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovak, Hungarian, GDR and Romanian embassies (which have significantly extended the scope of work).

Another aspect of the Culture and Press Department's work is constituted by meetings with Korean comrades. In such meetings, a selected number of Korean cultural issues is discussed. Further,  they serve as an opportunity to provide Korean comrades with materials sent from Poland, as well as with materials prepared by the Embassy.

Following issues were discussed during meetings with Korean comrades in the first quarter of 1956: sports film production in the DPRK (February report), the education system and the sealing of the mutual cooperation pact between the city councils of Pyongyang and Pozna?.

A more significant number of meetings aimed at the provision of Korean comrades with the following material: photo material destined for the Women’s Day exhibition, a (photo?) album from the Central Council of the Trade Unions of the Workers of the Car and Air Transport, books about Mickiewicz, etc.

Remarks from the Embassy’s Culture and Press Department

The Culture and Press Department intends to modify its working style in the next quarter. The change will aim to provide a more insightful review of the cultural life development in the DPRK. Moreover, reporting methods will also be amended in order to supplement the provided information with current news on cultural issues in the country of competence.

Due to the expanded scope of responsibility compared to last year,  the staffing bottleneck in the Culture and Press Department is now more significant. The situation will continue to worsen after the signing of the agreement between Poland and the DPRK.

At an earlier date, the Embassy asked the Foreign Affairs Ministry to transfer one further employee to the Department. However, no response has been given as yet.

The second problem to be introduced in the report for the 1st quarter of 1956 is the Culture and Press Department's request for assistance from the [Polish Foreign Affairs’] Press and Information Department. Such assistance would involve detection of mistakes, provision of examples from experiences of other institutions, ensuring that requested materials are submitted in a timely manner, etc. The Culture and Press Department seeks this spport from the Press and Information Department in order to improve its working style. The latter would lead to a braver approach to communicating our country's achievements. Also, such an improvement would result in more effective propaganda of the extensive information regarding the cultural development in the country of competence.

From the perspective of our department, there is the need to highlight the problem of sending a press correspondent to the DPRK. This is what the Embassy has requested from the Press and Information Department on several occasions over the past two years.

With the message numbered DPI 2654/8/Kor/56/secret from 24th April 1956, the Press and Information Department informed us that the issue of sending a press correspondent to the DPRK in 1956 in not being considered any longer.

Due to this development, (following a consultion of the individual concerned) the Embassy enquired about the possibility of granting DPRK accreditation to Mr. Jerzy Lobman, PPA’s representative and “People’s Tribune” correspondent, who is currently accredited in China,

The Press and Information Department has not voiced its position yet. However, preliminary solutions have already been implemented by the Embassy itself: As mentioned above, the suggestion had been discussed with Mr. Lobman. Furthermore, it should not be overlooked that the information flow from the Chinese territory to Poland would not be disrupted during the period of Mr. Lobman's stay in the DPRK. Mr. Lobman’s wife, also a journalist, would temporarily fill in his position.

Jerzy Siedlecki [sign]

PPR’s ambassador in the DPRK

7 copies:

6 copies – Foreign Affairs Ministry

1 copy - archival