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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 02, 1949

TELEGRAM FROM SHTYKOV ON PREPARATIONS FOR AN ATTACK ON NORTH KOREA

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

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    Soviet Ambassador to North Korea Shtykov reports that South Korean forces were being expanded with US assistance and that the government of President Syngman Rhee was taking steps to increase the combat readiness of its army.
    "Telegram from Shtykov on Preparations for an Attack on North Korea," May 02, 1949, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Archive of the President of the Russian Federation, List III, pages 41-44. Translated for NKIDP by Kathryn Weathersby. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/118662
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Ciphered Telegram                                                  Strictly Secret

From Pyongyang

I report the results of the investigation I have organized of the information about the preparation for the withdrawal of American troops and the preparations of the South Korean army for an attack on North Korea, which were pointed out in your telegram. This information was received by the department of political security of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is occupied with intelligence gathering in the South.  However, this information, which was received by Korean intelligence at the beginning of April was not reported either to the chief of counterintelligence, who is the deputy minister, or to the minister of internal affairs, and consequently was not sent to the Korean government.

The materials received were transferred by the chief of the department of political security to our military intelligence, through which, apparently, they were also received by you.

Since this information was not reported either to the minister of internal affairs or to Prime Minister Kim Il Sung, or to our adviser at the ministry of internal affairs, I was also not informed of it.

I consider such facts intolerable, I am taking measures toward their elimination and toward putting things in the necessary order.

According to the information of our agents and the broadcasts of Seoul Radio, at the present time American and South Korean authorities are conducting negotiations about the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea.  The UN Commission is also participating in these talks, which is obvious from Rhee Syngman’s statement of 16 April, which stated: “…Representatives of the government of the Korean Republic and the government of the USA are presently conducting negotiations about the withdrawal of American troops from Korea.  The UN Commission on Korea has been informed of this.  Consultation with it will be a big help in these negotiations.”

According to the statement of American ambassador Muccio on 19 April, the negotiations “will be concluded in the course of several months.”  The establishment of a precise time period for the withdrawal of American troops, according to Rhee Syngman’s statement of 19 April, “will depend on how much time is needed to prepare the army of the Korean Republic.”

The minister of national defense of the South Korean government stated to correspondents that the South “has a sufficient number of troops to maintain order in the country after the withdrawal of American troops and, moreover, if North Korea attacks the South, the Army of National Defense not only can withstand it, but can also inflict a perceptible blow.”

In connection with plans for a military intrusion into the North, South Korean authorities are increasing the size of the “Army of National Defense.”  According to the reports of our agents, the South Korean Army has increased from 53,600 soldiers as of 1 January 1949, to 70,000 as of the end of the first quarter [of the year].

Special attention is paid to the technical, mechanical and special troops, which have grown by 2-4 times.  Measures have been taken to purge the army of ‘unreliable’ soldiers and officers.  Military units are being reinforced by reactionary-minded youths.  Americans are transferring to the South Koreans a significant quantity of various types of weapons and ammunition.  South Korean authorities are taking measures to receive weapons on a much larger scale.  This is the main purpose of Cho Byung-ok’s mission in Washington.

South Korean authorities have concentrated a large number of troops in areas adjoining the 38th parallel.

According to the information received, the total number of troops in this area has reached 41,000 persons.  The South Korean authorities are paying special attention to the Pyongyang direction.

According to the report of the commander of a South Korean battalion, who is connected to the North’s intelligence service, the number of troops in the Pyongyang direction will be increased to 30,000.  The plans for the operation against the North have been worked out and in the first brigade they have already been passed to the battalion commanders.  The actions are supposedly planned for the month of June.  In connection with these plans the South Korean authorities are taking decisive measures to suppress uprisings in the South and to defeat completely the democratic movement.

Agents of the South have set up terrorist and subversive groups in every province in the North, which are ordered to recruit new members, conduct espionage, and draft plans for uprisings.  In case military operations begin, they must carry out diversion, terror and organize an uprising.  These groups receive grenades and guns from the South, and, as arrested persons confess, in May they will receive additional weapons.  Such groups have been uncovered in Pyongyang (2), Haeju (1), and Sinuiju (1).

I had meetings with Kim Il Sung and Pak Hon Yong regarding all these questions and agreed on carrying out the necessary preliminary measures.

Measures have been taken to raise vigilance and strengthen the army and police of North Korea.

                                                                                 2/V-49  SHTYKOV