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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 20, 1963


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    Criticisms of the DPRK are made about Kim Il Sung's personality cult, concealment of socialist countries' support, waning cooperation with socialist countries, intensification of China-North Korea cooperation, and distancing from the Soviet Union.
    "Information About the Policy of the Korean Workers Party from the East German Embassy," June 20, 1963, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, SAPMO. Translated for NKIDP by Bernd Schaefer.
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SED Central Committee

Department of International Relations

Archival Signature: SAPMO-BA, Berlin, DY 30, IV A 2/20/250

Department of International Relations

Berlin, 20 June 1963

I n f o r m a t i o n

about the policy of the Korean Workers Party

(according to assessments from the GDR embassy in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea)

  1. On domestic policy of the Korean Workers Party (KWP)

Most important domestic events during the two recent months were the 6th Plenum of the KWP between 13 and 15 May 1963 and the 2nd Session of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) between 9 and 11 May 1963. Both meetings made abundantly clear that the DPRK is undertaking strenuous efforts to develop and stabilize the economy of the country. The 6th KWP Plenum dealt with the generalization of experiences concerning guidance methods in the party, especially in the industry. It also discussed how to organize socialist mass competitions (Chollima movement) in factories and how to adopt related decisions. Special emphasis was devoted to collective leadership within party committees in the factories and to more active participation by the workers in leading the factories. It is noteworthy that, despite the emphasis on collective leadership, individual guidance by the factory director and a differentiation between portfolios of the factory leadership and guidance by the party committee was hardly addressed. The correct emphasis on collective leadership, on the other hand, is impaired by the increasing cult of personality surrounding Comrade Kim Il Sung. It was noted during some [GDR embassy] factory visits how all directors stressed direct instructions by Comrade Kim Il Sung as decisive for developing production in respective factories. They barely considered their own thoughts and measures.

According to materials of the plenum, the mass competition is geared towards such important tasks as increasing technological knowledge, maximum use of existing equipments, careful and economic use of resources, outlining new working norms, and the systematic lowering of its own costs. Currently about 3 million workers are participating in this movement.

Decisions by the 6th Plenum and the 2nd Session of the SPA illustrate how those measures are supposed to be implemented based on an even stronger application of the nationalist slogan “everything by our own force”. The Minister of Finance, candidate of the [KWP] politburo, did not mention at all in his two-hour speech international cooperation and the aid from socialist states for the DPRK. He declared: “Because our party has built an autonomous national economy, we are able today to produce with our own hands needed machine tools and equipments, and to independently develop our economy; by building new factories and businesses we continuously satisfy the growing needs of the people.” In his speech he mentioned the DPRK could today produce by herself 92 percent of needed machine tools and equipments. At another point he said: “Our solid autonomous economy is the firm guarantee for the national right of self-determination and the political sovereignty of the government of the republic”.

The speech of the Minister of Finance, as well as the selection of speakers at the 6th plenum during the first item of the agenda, made clear how in 1963 the DPRK devotes special attention to developing the primary industry. Compared to 1962, the primary industry now receives about 1.4 times as much in budget resources. In particular increases in mining of coal and ores (ferrous, non-ferrous, and precious metals) are emphasized.

In May a Soviet delegation negotiated with the Korean side about the use of Soviet credits between 1963 and 1965. The Korean side requested to use the credits, for instance, for the expansion of the steel factory in Kimchaek and other projects (building a thermal power plant), and in particular for technological equipment in the mines. The Soviet side agreed to that. Also, the Korean delegation wished to reduce the exports of non-ferrous metal ores for 1963. This invites the conclusion that in 1963 the DPRK will not fulfill the norms of the Seven-Year-Plan, both in primary industry as well as in metallurgy.

  1. Cooperation with the socialist states

Concerning DPRK positions on cooperation with Comecon member states, there have been increasing tendencies in recent weeks to push cooperation on political issues further into the background. In economic regards cooperation is only accepted if it results in clear benefits for the Korean side.

Talks in the Foreign Ministry and with Korean officials show that the DPRK is currently unwilling to support the [GDR] 7-Point-Program [to solve the German problem]. Though the Korean officials listen to our political arguments, in their remarks they do not move beyond general expressions of support for the GDR.

Economically the DPRK fulfills its export obligations to the GDR on time. As of the end of May, 28 percent of Korean exports according to our 1963 bilateral trade agreement were fulfilled. Problems are mostly due to transportation issues. The Korean side provides its goods on time, yet it is us who have to ask for delays due to lacking means of transportation.

Requests from the embassy to receive information or conduct factory visits are usually granted and implemented formally correctly by the Foreign Ministry's protocol department. Yet currently there are no contacts facilitated with social mass organizations.

Korean conversation partners are very reserved in political discussions. They only hold general talks about international problems. They also do not take initiatives to discuss differences in opinion between both sides.

Concerning cooperation with the [socialist] ambassadors [in Pyongyang], it is noteworthy that the Romanian ambassador shows reserve and avoids political conversations with ambassadors as well as acting ambassadors from Comecon member states. In contrast, he is very eager to talk to the Chinese and Albanian ambassadors. The Korean comrades as well demonstrate obvious attention in talking with him.

This June [1963] a KWP delegation headed by politburo member Choe Yong-geon [Choe Yong Gon] will visit the People's Republic of China. The objective of this visit will be to coordinate positions of both parties ahead of the upcoming meeting between delegations of the CPSU central committee and the CCP central committee.

In this context, participation in the KWP delegation [to China] by KWP politburo member Comrade Ri Hyo-sun [Ri Hyo Sun] (who also headed the KWP delegation to our [1963 SED] party congress) is of special importance. His participation (he is responsible within the politburo for work vis-a-vis South Korea) might also indicate further coordination between PRC and DPRK towards South Korea. It has been especially striking recently how the slogan about independent reunification is emphasized.

  1. On KWP policy towards South Korea

Despite the corrupt machinations of the Park Chung-hee government there is certain economic progress in South Korea. It is especially visible in the industrial build-up within the state-capitalist sector with the help of foreign credits. Apparently the DPRK is closing its eyes from this development. There is no doubt that it enabled Park Chung-hee and others to corrupt certain parts of the South Korean population (after all, 78.6 percent of voters opted at the referendum of 17 December 1962 for a new constitution they expect to improve their situation). This is why propagandistic attempts to influence the South Korean people do not bear much fruit, though the DPRK correctly points, especially via radio broadcasts, to the example of socialist build-up of its industry, agriculture, and in the field of culture. Apparently, right now this influence is overall very low.

Though there is no doubt that the existing democratic potential of certain parts of the South Korean population could focus on fighting the corrupt policy of South Korean ruling circles, and the DPRK could influence politics in Korea through them, a revolutionary party does not exist [in South Korea]. Thus the remark by the Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army made at the occasion of its 15th anniversary that the U.S. imperialists and their minions are completely isolated from the [South Korean] people, is apparently a wrong assessment.

Influences by the DPRK and KWP on South Korea, especially on those groups being against Park Chung-hee, are very weak. This is the case mainly because there exists apparently no exact concept. There is no clear idea on which forces the DPRK is supposed to rely on in South Korea. In addition, there are apparently no contacts with oppositional groups in South Korea, as there exists no exact analysis of class forces in South Korea.

At the 5th KWP Plenum in December 1962, measures were adopted showcasing the slogan “Let us arm the entire population and turn all of the country into a fortress”. This was not helpful to move forward proposals on peaceful reunification made at the 11th Session of the SPA in July 1962, which were even expanded in Kim Il Sung's government declaration of 23 October 1962. Apparently the DPRK did not receive the echo it expected. Thus in mid-January 1963 a statement by the “Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland” propagated this mission: “The only path to change the current situation in South Korea, and to save the people's masses from the brink of disaster, is to expel the American aggressors from South Korea and work toward the peaceful reunification of the country by the own force of the Korean people”. It continues, there is no enemy in the entire world able to defeat the united people's masses and the Park Chung-hee clique must be destroyed. At the same time, however, the previous proposals from the 11th Session of the SPA are repeated as a solution for all problems – troop reduction in North and South, establishing national unity through economic and cultural cooperation, and exchange between North and South Korea.

The following reasons might have induced the DPRK party and government to return to another slogan used some time ago: “First destroy the military-fascist regime in South Korea, then negotiate”:

  1. In the crisis in the Caribbean [Cuba], the Soviet Union did prove how you can maintain world peace only through a policy of peaceful coexistence. Now leading KWP comrades came out against any negotiations and compromises, accusing the Soviet Union to give in to the imperialists;
  2. DPRK party and government leaders have moved completely to Chinese positions in ideological regard. They do not view a policy of peaceful coexistence as the general line of their foreign policy.
  3. The intended prolongation of the military dictators' rule in South Korea has created such political problems that the DPRK is apparently no longer interested in negotiations with the Park Chung-hee regime.

The slogan “reunification by our own force” would be correct in the sense that reunification is a matter of the Koreans themselves. However, in the current context this nationalist slogan is also directed against closer cooperation with the socialist fraternal countries in order to avoid any impression of “dependency” on them. This slogan is now dominating all areas of life, especially in the economy as well. Thus it will become increasingly more difficult for the DPRK in the future to preserve its current technological standard, improve it, and thus serve as a model for South Korea. Ultimately, this will also have to have negative consequences for reunification policy.


27x SED Politburo

7x Central Committee, Department for International Relations

[Excerpts from draft material in this document:]

[DPRK reunification policy] [Previously] joint commissions and a peaceful path were propagated. Now, the slogan “everything by our own force” was also applied to reunification policy. Due to the permanent variations, the sincerity of those proposals is questionable. Apparently there were made to gain favor with the young nation states [in the Third World], since a military confrontation [in Korea] is unrealistic and baseless, given the fact that DPRK propagandist attempts to influence the South Korean population were unsuccessful.

The DPRK foreign policy course is characterized by an agreement on positions by the DPRK and PRC leaderships. This foreign policy centers on the following issues:

  • Overemphasis on the role of Asian socialist countries, in particular the PRC and the DPRK.
  • Unleashing an anti-Soviet campaign.
  • Unleashing a campaign against the Moscow Treaty and against detente.
  • Reducing bilateral relations with socialist countries in Europe, except for Albania or Romania.
  • Increasing expansion of relations with states in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (establishment of diplomatic relations in 1963 with Uganda, Yemen, and the United Arab Republic; opening of a trade representation in Uruguay) at the expense of relations with Comecon states. Countries mainly focused on are Indonesia, United Arab Republic, Cambodia, Burma, Ceylon, Algeria. As the first non-socialist country, Indonesia established a General Consulate in the DPRK.
  • Increasing efforts to establish and expand economic relations with Japan, England, the Netherlands, West Germany, France, and Australia at the expense of economic relations with Comecon states.
  • Ever closer cooperation and coordination with the PR China.