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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 19, 1986

TRANSCRIPT OF OFFICIAL NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN COMRADE ERICH HONECKER AND COMRADE KIM IL SUNG

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    Kim Il Sung and Honecker discuss diplomatic relations between East Germany and North Korea and the domestic economic and political situation in North Korea.
    "Transcript of Official Negotiations between Comrade Erich Honecker and Comrade Kim Il Sung," October 19, 1986, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, SAPMO-BA, DY 30, 2460. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110143
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SED Central Committee

Office of Erich Honecker

Archival Signature: SAPMO-BA, DY 30, 2460

Appendix 1

Pyongyang, 19 October 1986

Transcript

of official negotiations between the General Secretary of the SED Central Committee and Chairman of the GDR State Council, Comrade Erich Honecker, and the General Secretary of the KWP Central Committee and President of the DPRK, Comrade Kim Il Sung, on 19 October 1986 in the Presidential Palace in Pyongyang

Comrade Kim Il Sung:

I welcome you, Comrade Honecker, from the bottom of my heart. Despite the great distance between our countries you have visited us again. Your visit is providing us the opportunity to demonstrate our friendship before the entire world. This meeting is of very high importance for our relationship. I am happy to be able to continue the talks we started in Berlin [in 1984] now. The international situation continues to be complicated.

Comrade Erich Honecker:

Indeed, our countries are very distant from each other. Your country lies far in the East, our country in the West. However, it is a great pleasure for us to visit your country again. Moreover, after my visit to the DPRK in 1977 you have visited us in the GDR in 1984. We are indeed tied together by a very close, cordial, and fraternal comradeship-in-arms.

Obviously we have to make efforts to keep our [time] balance. Back home at our place it is now deep in the night, but it is just a fact that the sun rises in the East.

Comrade Kim Il Sung, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the reception we received yesterday by the people of Pyongyang. We are extraordinarily  impressed. I am just lacking words to describe this event appropriately. These hours will be unforgettable in the life of our peoples.

Comrade Kim Il Sung:

I want to thank you.

I can tell you that the reaction to your visit is very good. Our people are very well informed that you personally have conducted a selfless revolutionary struggle for decades. Yesterday we published your curriculum vitae in our newspapers. I have the impression that our people, our comrades, are sad that such deserving revolutionaries also become older. Yet we do not have to worry. We have done everything for future generations to continue our struggle.

In 1984 we returned from the GDR with the impression that your situation is exactly like ours. Back then we had just crossed the border into the GDR, and we immediately recognized through the welcome by your people that they are full of energy. I will never forget the cordial welcome by the people of Berlin in spite of heavy rain. You will also remember how during the ride to Frankfurt/Oder people cheering us were standing everywhere along the route. I view this as an expression of love from your people to us. The people of our capital have viewed the film about my visit with you many times. Therefore they made a commitment to receive Comrade Erich Honecker in the same cordial fashion. We really have guests here in the DPRK frequently. I know how guests are welcomed here. However, never has it been like yesterday. Our joint ride went through the so far longest line-up of our people just for the occasion to welcome you. This is a testimony on how deep and cordial the friendship between both our peoples actually is.   

Comrade Erich Honecker:

Indeed, the friendship between our two peoples is unshakable due to the power and activity of both our parties. You are correct, Comrade Kim Il Sung, when you said we have become older since 1977. Almost 10 years have passed since then. The grandchildren have grown, but our idea is alive. I again want to express my heartfelt thanks for the fraternal reception here in the DPRK. We are all deeply impressed by this cordial welcome. It serves as an obligation for us to strengthen even more the friendship and comradeship-in-arms between our parties, states, and peoples. Again many, many heartfelt thanks. Please forward my fraternal greetings to the Korean people, especially to the citizens of Pyongyang.

Comrade Kim Il Sung:

I thank you very much. I suggest continuing our conversation we had in Berlin [in 1984] now. Will you please start?

Comrade Erich Honecker:

Currently the GDR is completely under the spell of our visit here to the DPRK. [12 pages omitted; Honecker reports on situation and achievements of the GDR]

[…]

Decisions of the XI [SED] Party Congress [1986] are the foundation of our work. In this context we also realize the suggestions you made to us in Berlin to improve the relationship between the GDR and the People's Republic of China. Here we can see how our joint efforts bear results. After the stay in your beautiful country, I will pay a visit to the PR China.

Comrade Kim Il Sung: (after a break)

Referring to the high chairs, Comrade Kim Il Sung stated they were specially crafted to deal with his spine problems. Meanwhile, however, his condition has improved somewhat and he is able to fly again. For that reason, he will also travel to the Soviet Union by plane at the end of October.

Comrade Erich Honecker:

In 1984 we had an excellent time. We will never forget your second visit with us.

Comrade Kim Il Sung:

I cannot forget it either.
I have noticed with great pleasure that there are enthusiastic initiatives in the GDR to fulfill the decisions from the XI Party Congress, especially in the area of technological revolution. I want to congratulate you for that from the bottom of my heart.

Your successes are the successes of the entire socialist camp. We view them as well as our own successes; therefore we are extremely excited about them. If you move along very rapidly in mastering scientific-technological progress, we can learn a lot from you and follow you. It will allow us to develop ourselves faster.

What you said, Comrade Honecker, is absolutely correct. The better we make progress in the economic contest of capitalism, the stronger our positions will be in the struggle for peace. I agree with you completely. If you look, for instance, at the entire SDI program: It gets pursued on one hand because the big monopolists want to gain maximum profits. On the other hand, however, it is supposed to demonstrate the scientific-technological superiority of imperialism over socialism on a global scale. This is why we have to put pressure on imperialism by mobilizing all our potential for world peace, for strengthening socialism in every country, and for scientific-technological progress. I think, imperialism will then no longer be able to look down so arrogantly on the socialist countries. We have to fight for expansion of the world peace movement. We must build up socialism faster. In particular, the GDR, as a highly developed socialist country, has to undertake everything to continuously push forward scientific-technological development. This is why I listened to your informative statements with such great joy. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to you for making them. I also want to congratulate you for your successes.

Now I want to make some remarks about the situation in our country. We have now fulfilled the 2nd Seven-Year-Plan and will start with the 3rd Seven-Year-Plan in 1987. We have worked out the project for the new Seven-Year-Plan in a manner, which allows us to complete the 10 perspective plan goals commissioned by the 6th [KWP] Party Congress. We do not enjoy the high level of development like your country. As a developing country, we are confronted with three basic questions. They are: securing to feed our population, solving the housing question and solving the clothing issue.

As far as feeding the population is concerned, we have to see that we only have very few areas suitable for agricultural cultivation. Although we are talking about 2 million hectares of agricultural cultivation areas, we have in fact only 1.5 million hectares at our disposal to grow cereals. The remaining 500,000 hectares are mountain sides difficult to cultivate. You can imagine how complicated it is to harvest 15 million tons of grain from 1.5 million hectares of arable land. We are doing everything for intensification of our agricultural production. We have an average hectare harvest of 7.2 tons of rice and 6 tons of corn. This enables us to produce about 9 million tons of grain per year. I think there are a lot of reserves. We can further increase the quotas per hectare. Still, the overall cultivation area remains very small. Given those circumstances, we are facing some problems we cannot solve by our own force alone. This concerns for instance cattle breeding and sugar production.

At the 6th Party Congress we decided to gain 300,000 hectares of new cultivation areas. Yet this is also anything but easy. We have to wring the soil from the sea. In addition, we have plans for making 200,000 more hectares arable for agricultural production in other parts of the country. I think we will only have ultimately solved the food problem, if our agricultural cultivation area has reached 2 million hectares. We Koreans are eaters of rice. With pride, we can already report today that we do not need to import rice. However, if we want in addition to provide the people with proper amounts of meat and sugar, we definitely need 2 million hectares of cultivation areas. In recent years we have already prepared 500,000 hectares of new agricultural cultivation area. This is a good result. If we solve for the newly gained land the problems of irrigation and application of chemical fertilizers, we can achieve average hectare harvests of 10 tons in comparison to the average 5 to 6 tons we harvest from current cultivation areas. Melioration is the most important issue. For that reason we proposed to visit with you today the Nampo Dam project. The site was completed this June. By building this dam, we can block the salt water streaming in from the sea. This way we gain 2.9 billion tons of fresh water for irrigation. This amount is sufficient to provide water for the new land we have gained.

We have very strong armed forces. Due to the policies of the South Korean rulers we have no other choice. Now we have made a decision: Provided we do not have to fight a war with these many soldiers, we will deploy parts of them for the construction of major projects. The Nampo Dam was built by 300,000 soldiers. If we can use the newly cultivated land completely for growing cereals, we will have solved the food problem and provide the people with the goods they need.

As far as the clothing issue is concerned: The problem is that we have no cotton. Thus we have to produce primarily chemical fibers. In the 1960s we did already build a factory to produce Vinalon fibers at annual capacity of 50,000 tons. Now we are in the process to build a new plant in Suncheon with an annual production of 100,000 tons of chemical fibers.  

Production in the first plant, which produces Vinalon from limestone and Anthracite coal, goes well. Together with the new factory we will produce 150,000 tons of Vinalon. In addition, we are producing 15,000 tons of viscose fibers from wood, and also Anilon and Movilon fibers. All in all, we will be capable of producing 200,000 tons of synthetic fibers annually. This amount is sufficient to fulfill the perspective planning goal commissioned by the 6th Party Congress, which stipulates the production of 1.5 billion meters of cloth per year. This would amount to 83 meters cloth per capita of the population annually. This way the clothing issue in our country can be basically solved.

You have talked a lot about the housing problem. This is our third problem. We want to build 150,000 to 200,000 residential units annually. We need a lot of residential space. Our people have already gained great experience in construction. We had to build up everything from ruins. Today we built in monolith as well as in prefabricated construction mode.

       

With the Seven-Year-Plan we finally want to have solved these three basic problems. This is the foundation of all our work. We must achieve this first.

We want to move toward completion of the three big revolutionary processes, namely the ideological, the technological and the Cultural Revolution. Since we are directly confronted by imperialism, for us the ideological problem is a basic issue. All members of our party are firmly united around the Central Committee and the people [are united] around the party. We can state a general mobilization of our people for communist education and the construction of socialism.

The main task of the technological revolution consists for us in liberating the people step by step from hard manual labor. Obviously, we are not in a position to start from a comprehensive application of robot technology. Our challenge lies in semi-automatization and automatization of production processes. I already told you in Berlin that it constitutes a great success for us to have 1.25 million of university and technical college cadres today. Currently the decisive question is about raisingthe special knowledge and scientific-theoretical level of these cadres. Especially regarding the solution of this question we want to learn a lot from you, as well as from the Soviet Union.

The Cultural Revolution in our country runs a successful course as well. For some time, we have 11 years of mandatory schooling in our country. All the people in our country who are up to 60 years old have experienced this education process. Only those over 60 do not have such school education. In school education as well, the most important current task is  to raise quality.

We have commissioned us to educate the entire people to become intelligentsia. Hereby we mean that each citizen of our country has to complete at least a special education at a technical college or university. We are of the opinion, the construction of socialism and communism needs people with a very high level of education.

Currently we have in our country 5 million spaces in day care centers and primary schools. Without this much facilities, we would be unable to include the women into working processes. However, we can achieve our far-reaching goals only with the inclusion of women. We are not going to make it just with men.

45 percent, this is more than 8 million people in our country, are in the process of education. This costs us a lot of money. Yet only this way we can raise the cultural and ideological level of our people; only this way we can instill collective thinking into them. We are following the slogan: “The entire people must learn, all party members must learn, the entire army must learn, everybody must learn.”

The three great revolutions move along successfully.

On the 2nd of November this year we will hold elections for the Supreme People's Assembly. After the election we will have new state organs. In January or February 1986 a new session of the Supreme People's Assembly will be convened. Soon we will hold a meeting of the Central Committee. There we will decide the numbers for the new Seven-Year-Plan, which will be forwarded to the Supreme People's Assembly as a plan to pass.

There are some changes compared to the 10 perspective planning goals passed at the VI Party Congress. For instance, we had decided to produce 15 million tons of steel. Currently, however, we are just producing 8.5 million tons. Yet since the demand for steel products sharply fell on the world market, 8.5 to 9 million tons are sufficient for our own demand. Instead we have to increase aluminum production in relation to the planning numbers. We do not have bauxite. For the purpose of aluminum production we will therefore use limestone and alumina as base materials, both of which we have plenty in our country. We need the aluminum to increase the production of light metal products. This way we are going to improve the structures of our country's metallurgy. All other tasks will remain as decided by the 6th Party Congress.

So much for the general situation in our country.

Tomorrow we will talk about the situation in the South of the Korean peninsula in a private conversation. South Korea is completely dependent on the United States. However, the anti-American sentiment among South Korea's population is growing. You can say the time of adulation and admiration, as well as of fear, for the United States is over. Once the United States was viewed as South Korea's liberator. Now they are considered as aggressors. Once American capital was seen as helpful to the economy. Today it has become clear that South Korea is exploited by the American and Japanese monopolists. There are permanent demonstrations going on in South Korea. Just yesterday 15,000 students were demonstrating. The slogans of the demonstrators are very interesting. Over and over again they are demanding: “Americans out of Korea!” Yesterday they also included Japan in this slogan. The students chanted: “Out with the Americans, down with the military dictatorship pursuing the policy of the Americans. We want national liberation of the country”. Yesterday's demonstration was inspired by the appearance of a South Korean member of parliament on the day before. He had demanded that priority be given not to anti-communism but to the struggle for unification of the country. Most interesting currently is a new tendency according to which religious forces, traditional beliefs as well as Christians, join the anti-American propaganda. Demand for unification is not just strong among democratic forces but also among  students, the intelligentsia and journalists.

Still, there is no expectation for a rapid change of the balance of power in South Korea. The American forces are still stationed there. The Americans are concerned about the situation in South Korea. Some years ago already we had proposed three-party negotiations. The Americans do not want such negotiations. They torpedoed any movements towards third-party talks. This is why we proposed in 1985 to begin with talks between both [Korean] parliaments, respectively representatives from both parliaments, and agree on a declaration of non-aggression. We did propose this, since it was constantly claimed by the South we would harbor an intention to attack the South.

However, we have repeatedly stated we have no intentions to invade South Korea. We are not able to do it, and we will not do it. This is why already at the 6th Party Congress we made the proposal to create a Confederation of Goryeo.

We proposed to the Americans to change the current armistice agreement into a peace treaty. Yet the Americans do not want that. They want to maintain the military dictatorship in South Korea. They are in need of a pretext to justify their future staying in South Korea. Yet the signing of a non-aggression treaty between North and South would pull the rug under the stationing of American troops in South Korea. Here we have the exact reason for American resistance against our proposals.

We have ended any official negotiations with South Korea on various levels. We told the South Korean administration, it first has to cease its military exercises if it wants to have official negotiations with the North. Yet it [South Korea] does not want to do this either.

In South Korea there are more than 1,000 nuclear warheads deployed. Two of them would be sufficient to turn our country into complete rubble. Why then do they need 1,000? They are directed against all socialist countries. Currently new arms depots are built in South Korea. Therefore, Comrade Honecker, I am also waiting for the success of Soviet-American [nuclear disarmament] talks. This is why we welcomed [those talks in] Geneva. We also completely agree with the position outlined by Comrade Gorbachev in Reykjavik. We especially have high regards for Comrade Gorbachev's speech in Vladivostok. We support his proposals and do think that progress in Soviet-American relations will also lead to progress with regards to solving the problems on the Korean peninsula.

Comrade Gorbachev has presented very good proposals. Yet Reagan is nothing else but an errand boy of the big American monopolists. Just by himself he cannot do anything. The United States have stated clearly that they want to have “Star Wars”. Only this way the big American monopolists can make profits. Imperialism is the executor of the monopolists' interests.

Of course, the struggle we are fighting is very difficult. Yet when all socialist countries, and all the forces for peace, are supporting the proposals of Comrade Gorbachev, then there is a chance for the success of this policy. I can assure you, Comrade Honecker, that in the future as well we will consequently continue the fight for a nuclear-free zone of peace on the Korean peninsula. We will support the peace movement with all our power and make our contribution to the preservation of peace.

This is why I extraordinarily welcome your visit to the People's Republic of China and congratulate you to this decision. How beautiful this is, how good  this is for socialism. If the individual socialist countries will develop their relationships with the PR China, then some day we will again have good Chinese-Soviet relations.

The President of the PR China, Comrade Li Xiannian, visited our country this year from October 3 to 6. He told me that you will be expected in China with high hopes. Comrade Li Xiannian has already met you in Romania. He has a very good opinion of you, and he is hoping for excellent talks with you.

Since I had been to Europe in 1984, I had many meetings with Chinese comrades. In May 1985 Comrade Hu Yaobang came to our country for an unofficial visit. He stated as well that he holds you in very high regard and that he desires a meeting with you.

I wish you lots of success. Your visit to the PR China will be a good opportunity to demonstrate the unity and comradeship-in-arms of the socialist countries.

I just have one more economic question. When we build the Vinalon factory in the 1960s, we received all automatization equipment we needed from the GDR. Those were the times when many specialists from the GDR provided our country with active support. This is why I want to ask today for your support for building our new plant in Suncheon by delivering us respective equipment. If we will receive this equipment from you, the construction of our plant will move forward very rapidly.

Comrade Günter Mittag:

We will talk about this problem tomorrow at my meeting with Comrade Ri  Jong-ok.

Comrade Kim Il Sung:

Unfortunately we do not have time left. I therefore want to conclude my remarks. I think there are no differences in opinion between our parties. I am absolutely convinced that relations between both our parties and states will further deepen through your visit.

Comrade Erich Honecker:

I want to reiterate again my deep satisfaction about our reception and our talks. We are in complete agreement on all issues discussed. It is absolutely obvious that we are together on all issues and will remain so in the future. I was provided with an overview about the development of our economic relations. Therefore I know what we have realized already, and what we are still planning. You, Comrade Kim Il Sung, do know very well yourself how we have expanded our cooperation during the last five years. I want to thank you for complying with your obligations from back then, including the delivery of sintered magnesia.

We have acted jointly with regard to the big political issues. We have proposed the unity of the socialist countries and the inclusion of the PR China in our struggle. I am looking forward to my meetings in Beijing with great expectation, and I am convinced the visit in the PR China will be successful. In the meantime our relationship with the PR China and the Chinese Communist Party has developed.

I congratulate you to your successes in fulfilling the 2nd Seven-Year-Plan. These are really gigantic achievements. When I just compare the Pyongyang of today with the one from seven years ago, I have to say I am deeply impressed by the visible successes everywhere. We have already talked about the usefulness of sending to you some construction specialists from the GDR in order for them to gather experiences for our own residential construction.  

As far as your request for support in building the new Vinalon factory is concerned: Tomorrow Comrade [SED Politburo member and Central Committee secretary for the economy Günter] Mittag and Comrade [Minister of Foreign Trade Gerhard] Beil will talk about this with your comrades. We agree to support the automatization of this factory. The comrades should negotiate about this.

I do not want to conclude, Comrade Kim Il Sung, without cordially inviting you to pay another visit to the GDR in the name of the Central Committee of our party, of the Council of Ministers, and of all our people.

Comrade Kim Il Sung:

I am thanking you from the bottom of my heart and gladly accept this invitation. There are no problems, as I now have again permission to fly.