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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 12, 1981

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

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    The Soviet Union continues talks with the DPRK regarding economic issues. The Soviet Union extends North Korea's credit, yet continues to defer the construction of the repeatedly requested power plant. Sino-Korean relations are also criticized.
    "Report, Embassy of Hungary in North Korea to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry," March 12, 1981, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, MOL, XIX-J-1-j Korea, 1981, 86. doboz, 103, 002477/1981. Obtained and translated for NKIDP by Balazs Szalontai. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110136
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Having returned from the congress of the CPSU, Comrade Soviet Ambassador informed me about, among others, the following:


[…]


The Korean Workers’ Party’s delegation to the congress was headed by Premier Ri Jong-ok [Ri Jong Ok], a Politburo member. The other members of the delegation were Kim Yeong-nam [Kim Yong Nam], a Politburo member and CC secretary; CC member Kang Hui-won [Kang Hui Won], the secretary in charge of North Hamgyeong province; deputy CC member Gil Jae-gyeong [Kil Jae Gyong], the deputy head of the CC Department of International Relations; and deputy CC member Kwon Hee-gyeong [Kwon Hui Kyong], the DPRK ambassador to Moscow. The accompanying staff was composed of fourteen persons.


The discussions with the KWP delegation took place in a friendly atmosphere. They behaved in a correct way, there were no demonstrative gestures. (At the congress the Korean delegates also rose from their seats during the welcome of the Cambodian delegation, though they did not join the applause.)


[…]


Comrade Tikhonov received the entire delegation and had talks with it. The friendly discussions covered mainly economic issues. The Korean side requested that the Soviet side should speed up the reconstruction of the Kim Chaek metal combine and extend the enterprise, whose present capacity is one million metric tons, to a capacity of 4.1 million metric tons by 1985. The Soviet side referred the request to the level of experts, i.e., it promised to deal with the issue.


At the request of the Koreans, they [the Soviets] agreed that of the previously extended credit of 700 million rubles, which was to be repaid by 1985, 400 million rubles would be repaid after 1985. However, the Soviet side stipulated that after 1985 the Korean side should pay an interest rate of 4 percent instead of the previous 2 percent. This surprised the Korean delegation, but the Soviet side justified its request by referring to the actual value of the credits that had been given in the sixties. The Korean side expressed its readiness to cooperate in the exploitation of coking coal in Siberia.


The bilateral agreement on lumbering in the Far Eastern districts of Siberia will expire in March 1982. At the request of the Korean side, the Soviet side will give its consent to the extension of the agreement, probably under the present conditions.


The Korean side also submitted requests for special technology. Comrade Tikhonov promised that the competent authorities would examine the Korean request.


The premier of the DPRK also raised the issue of the DPRK’s request for the delivery of a nuclear power plant. The Soviet side let them know that this was a complicated request belonging to the category of long-term planning. It also described the conditions under which [the Soviet Union] was cooperating with Czechoslovakia and other European socialist countries in this field, namely, that the beneficiaries [of the cooperation] also had to contribute to such investments. The Korean side could not give any genuine answer to this.


With regard to the political aspects of the discussions between the two premiers, there was a substantial difference between the messages of the two sides. Comrade Tikhonov, among others, outlined the so-called “hot spots” in international relations, of which he dwelt on the Southeast Asian region, China’s hegemonic aspirations, and the dangerous character [of these Chinese aspirations]. He expressed that the policy the DPRK was pursuing in Southeast Asia was incomprehensible to the Soviet Union. The DPRK’s behavior toward Sihanouk was similarly incomprehensible. He also expressed his disapproval that a book by Sihanouk that contained abusive comments about the Soviet Union had been published in foreign languages in the DPRK. (According to information received from Soviet diplomats in Pyongyang, Sihanouk’s book has not been on sale in Pyongyang since March 6.) Ri Jong-ok and the Korean delegation pretended not to have heard of the existence of such a book. The Korean side also tried to explain the essence of the visit by Sihanouk and his surroundings in Pyongyang by claiming that this was merely [a manifestation of North Korean] hospitality. [It tried to justify it by saying] that the leaders of the DPRK were grateful to Sihanouk because he had been the first head of state who broke off diplomatic relations with South Korea.


The political information given by the Korean side did not cover the international situation. It was confined to a description of their own situation and an analysis of bilateral relations.


[…]


Sándor Etre
ambassador