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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 29, 1962

MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN SOVIET AMBASSADOR TO NORTH KOREA VASILY MOSKOVSKY AND NORTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER PAK SEONGCHEOL

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    The refusal of the North Koreans to publicly announce the preparation of a KWP plenum raises Soviet Ambassador’s suspicions about whether the loyalty of the Korean leadership stands with the Soviets or with the Chinese.
    "Memorandum of Conversation between Soviet Ambassador to North Korea Vasily Moskovsky and North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Seongcheol," December 29, 1962, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, AVPRF, fond 0102, opis 19, papka 97, delo 4, listy 3-5. Obtained and translated for NKIDP by Sergey Radchenko. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110491
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    https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110491

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29 December 1962

[…] Tonight [I] visited a reception hosted by the Romanian ambassador. During the reception [I] had brief exchanges with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, comrade Pak Seong-cheol [Pak Song Chol]. […]

Pak Seong-cheol evaded the question of why the Korean leadership did not inform the ambassadors about the recent plenum, and then, as if [he found] an excuse, declared that is was difficult for him to speak Russian […]. I remarked that his Russian was not worse than comrade Kim Il Sung's, and comrade Kim Il Sung can speak and understand us without an interpreter. Pak Seong-cheol replied that he studied the Japanese language in his childhood and youth, and later – Chinese. He knows Japanese well now, and Chinese to a lesser extent, but comrade Kim Il Sung knows the Chinese language better than Russian. [I] did not understand whether a hint was dropped here that their leader understands the Chinese better than the Russians or whether this was simply an answer to an exchange regarding the knowledge of languages.