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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 18, 1986

REPORT ON A ERICH HONECKER'S VISIT TO NORTH KOREA, OCTOBER 1986

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    During the meeting with Kim Il Sung, Honecker talked about economic deployment in the GDR and German foreign policy. Kim Il Sung explained Korea's economic problems and objectives, as well as Korea's external position. Treaties for economic cooperation were signed.
    "Report on a Erich Honecker's visit to North Korea, October 1986," October 18, 1986, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Foundation Archive of the Parties and Mass Organizations in the Federal Archive [Berlin] (SAPMO-BA), DY 30, 2460. Translated by Grace Leonard. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110758
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Report

On the official friendship visit by Comrade Erich Honecker, Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party and Chairman of the State Council of the GDR, to the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea from 18 to 21 October 1986.

I.

The visit occurred at the invitation of Comrade Kim Il Sung, Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party and President of the DPRK. Resolution no. 02 347 12/86 of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Social Unity Party of 8 July 1986 was fulfilled.

The official talks (Attachment 1) took place in a very friendly, open, and constructive atmosphere. They offered an opportunity for a detailed exchange of information and views on the international situation and policies, social development in the GDR and DPRK, and on the structure of bilateral relations.


In Pyongyang there were meetings between Comrade Günter Mittag and Comrade Ri Jong-ok [Ri Jong Ok], member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party and Vice Premier of the DPRK; between the Foreign ministers, Comrades Oskar Fischer and Kim Yeong-nam [Kim Yong Nam], Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party and Deputy Chairman of the Ministerial Council (Attachment 2); between Comrades Gerhard Beil and Choe Jeong-geun [Choe Jong Gun], the Ministers of Foreign Trade; and between Comrades Günter Sieber and Hyeon Jun-geuk [Hyon Jun Guk], member of the Central Committee and Director of the Department of International Relations of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party (Attachment 3).

Comrade Erich Honecker was warmly welcomed by 100,000 residents of Pyongyang and Nampo. He saw for himself the proof of the success the DPRK has enjoyed in building socialism and visited sights in Pyongyang, Mangyeongdae, the heavy machinery construction collective combine in Daean, and the West Sea barrage and locks complex. There was a major presentation in Pyongyang, with more than 150,000 participants. This was followed by a major athletic exhibition by 50,000 athletes, which took the form of a political manifestation of the close and friendly relations between the two Parties, nations, and peoples.


Comrade Erich Honecker placed a wreath at the memorial grove of revolutionaries in Pyongyang.


II.


Comrade Erich Honecker explained the tasks that are to be undertaken in the GDR in accordance with the resolutions of the XI Party Congress in the qualitatively new segment of further structuring the developed socialist society and the foreign policy of the GDR. The Socialist Unity Party has become involved, at the right time, with the requirements for further developing productivity and socialist production. He stressed that the economic strategy has made it possible to permit intensification to become the critical foundation for the increase in performance and to ensure the required continuous economic growth, in particular by mastering key technologies.

Comrade Erich Honecker stressed that the Socialist Unity Party will hold steady in the future its course of unifying economic and social policy as the main battlefield for successful development of the GDR. The results of the national elections on 8 June have affirmed the will of the workers to continue this policy with new initiatives.


The focus of Comrade Erich Honecker’s remarks on foreign policy was a detailed assessment of the international situation, which has become extremely critical due to the policies of the most aggressive circles of US imperialism and their allies in NATO, and an explanation of the initiatives of the SED and GDR, which are intended to maintain peace and assure security, in concert with the agreed peace strategy of the USSR and other Warsaw Pact member countries. Comrade Erich Honecker said that it was not until now that it was worthwhile to take the opportunity and fight to decide the issue of war or peace, in favor of peace. This is why the GDR also supports the path Comrade Gorbachev laid out in Reykjavik to achieve that which was shown to be possible there. He made assurances, based on historical responsibility that war will never again issue from German soil, only peace, that the GDR will work with all forces of reason and realism and seek a constructive, results-oriented dialogue. In this context, he welcomed the foreign policy initiatives of the DPRK, especially efforts to create a nuclear-free peace zone on the Korean peninsula.


III.


Comrade Erich Honecker and Comrade Kim Il Sung praised the excellent state of fraternal relations between the two Parties, states, and peoples, which have reached a qualitatively new level since both leading representatives met and since the treaty on Friendship and Cooperation was signed in 1984. The further deepening of relations between the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and the Korean Workers Party, as well as the active exchange of delegations and experience, had a particularly stimulating effect overall.

Comrade Erich Honecker invited Comrade Kim Il Sung to visit the GDR. The invitation was accepted with great joy and sincere thanks.


Comrade Erich Honecker stressed that the successful development of economic relations between the GDR and the DPRK was in complete accord with the political interests of the Party and government. It could therefore be established at the XI Party Congress that a qualitatively new level of relations of friendship and comradely cooperation had been achieved with the DPRK.

The positive results obtained in economic cooperation and in trade, and the further conditions created for dynamic development of economic, scientific/technical, and trade relations between the two countries, were appraised as the successful realization of the Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation and the Agreement on the Development of Economic and Scientific/Technical Cooperation in the period up to 1990. Important industrial objectives in the DPRK, such as the automation equipment plant in Pyongyang, the textile plants in Ganggye, Hyesan, and Anju, were met with machines and equipment from the GDR and are important components of the economy of the DPRK.


Comrade Kim Il Sung agreed with Comrade Erich Honecker’s remarks on the link between strong socialism and peace. He stressed the need to draw more and more resources into the peace movement.

Comrade Kim Il Sung explained that the focus of the third seven-year-plan, which begins in 1987, is to resolve the food issue and to provide residential living space and adequate clothing.


This means expanding the amount of land cultivated for grain by 500,000 to 2 million hectars and guaranteeing comprehensive irrigation of the areas, creating 150,000 to 200,000 residential units annually, and, due to a lack of cotton, creating new production capacities for synthetic fibers from domestic raw materials (limestone, anthracite) from 50,000 tons to 150,000 tons annually as a foundation for a total of 1.5 billion meters of material.

It has turned out that only 8.5 to 9 million tons of steel are adequate for domestic demand, rather than the originally planned 15. Instead, the amount of aluminum produced from limestone and alumina must be increased. It is necessary to further raise the training level of the people to satisfy the new tasks.


Comrade Kim Il Sung mentioned important resolutions by the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party that are meant to achieve the technical level of developed countries in a short period of time by accelerating the scientific/technical revolution.

In order to achieve the 10 planned development goals of the VI Party Congress, it will be necessary in particular to modernize available technology based on rapid development of mechanical engineering, electrotechnology, and automation technology, including in particular technology for finding and exploiting raw materials and fuels and other energy carriers, raising the technological level of production, scientific penetration into production methods and operational activities.


In this context, Comrade Kim Il Sung stressed the importance of cooperation with the GDR in implementing economic objectives and particularly providing scientific/technical know-how. This cooperation will become extremely important in the next few years. Comrade Kim Il Sung asked that the GDR review its ability to provide machines and equipment for the vinalon textile plant.

As to the situation in South Korea, Comrade Kim Il Sung stated that the anti-American mood has grown even more among the population, and in religious circles. But no rapid change in relations among the powers is to be expected.


The US rejected proposals made by the DPRK for reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula because it [would] lose its reason for remaining in South Korea if the initiatives were realized.

Comrade Kim Il Sung affirmed that the DPRK does not intend to attack South Korea, nor could it. More than 1,000 US nuclear warheads are stored in South Korea, ostensibly for defense, and it would take only two of them to destroy the DPRK. The DPRK supports the proposals made by Comrade Gorbachev in Vladivostok and Reykjavik. Many problems could not be resolved with South Korea. Progress in relations between the Soviet Union and the US would also help to resolve the Korea problem.


Comrade Kim Il Sung welcomed Erich Honecker’s upcoming visit to the People’s Republic of China. He characterized the trip as good for Socialism and told him about views expressed to him by high-level Chinese politicians, who praised Comrade Honecker’s work and who had great expectations for his visit.

Comrade Erich Honecker and Comrade Kim Il Sung stressed their complete agreement on the issues they addressed and determined that there were no differences in views between the two Parties.


Comrade Erich Honecker welcomed the DPRK’s foreign policy initiatives, especially the proposal to convert the Korean peninsula into a nuclear-free peace zone and the international conference held in Pyongyang on this, as important contributions by the country to ensuring peace and security in Asia. He considered the withdrawal of 150,000 DPRK army troops from the front line at the demilitarized zone to be a most important step for decreasing tensions on the Korean peninsula. Comrade Erich Honecker supported the DPRK’s demand that US troops withdraw from South Korea and that Korea be peacefully reunited.

Comrade Kim Il Sung repeatedly stressed the DPRK’s determined resolution to work more closely with the USSR, the GDR, the other states in COMECON, and with the Warsaw Pact.


During his visit, Comrade Kim Il Sung openly and repeatedly spoke in favor of the comprehensive initiatives Comrade Gorbachev proposed for preventing a nuclear war, in favor of transforming the Asia/Pacific region to a peace zone, in favor of cooperation, and in favor of the proposed halt to the nuclear arms race and averting the danger of a nuclear inferno. He characterized the Soviet proposals as responsible and evidence of a peace-loving foreign policy. In this context, he advocated comradely solidarity and development of friendship and cooperation between socialist nations as an important pledge in the war against imperialism and for socialism.

In his meeting with Comrade Günter Mittag, Comrade Ri Jong-ok, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party and Vice Premier of the DPRK, expressed the conviction that the official friendship visit by the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Social Unity Party and Chairman of the State Council of the GDR would result in a broad impetus for deepening and expanding economic relations.


The economic policies of the Korean Workers Party, which are aimed at qualitative factors of economic development and intensification, offer favorable conditions for developing economic cooperation with a highly industrialized nation such as the GDR. Both sides agreed to examine further objectives of economic cooperation. A statement on this between the Ministers of Foreign Trade, Gerhard Beil and Choe Jeong-geun, was signed on 21 October 1986.

The Annual Statement on Mutual Imports and Exports between Comrade Gerhard Beil and Comrade Choe Jeong-geun was signed on 20 October 1986. It provides for a 37.5 percent increase in foreign trade over 1986. This created the foreign trade policy basis for export and import tasks for above-average and dynamic development of exports and imports. Including objectives for economic cooperation for the first time in the annual statement for 1987 assured the supply of work and professional clothing to the GDR in the amount of 32 million M/VGM.



IV.

Summary assessment:


1. The trip to the DPRK was an impressive and powerful demonstration of the friendship and fraternity between the two Parties, states, and peoples. It promoted closer cooperation between the Socialist states and will stimulate confident cooperation at all levels for a long time.

The official friendship visit and the meetings with leading comrades from the DPRK significantly improved the conditions for coordinating policies, for intensification, and for further improving the sharing of experiences on all sides. At the same time new conditions were created for quantitative and qualitative improvement of relations in all areas, especially in the economic and scientific/technical realms.


The broad exchange of information and experience on policies of both countries while building socialism, on raising the standard of living of the populace, on performing political/ideological work, and, last but not least, on the activities of the Party, represents an increase in knowledge for building and strengthening socialism.

2. The first meeting with Comrade Kim Il Sung since his official 1984 friendship visit to the GDR pointed out additional opportunities to deliberately strengthen the process of rapprochement and of cooperation between the nations of the socialist community and the DPRK.


3. Comrade Erich Honecker’s official friendship visit to the DPRK resonated strongly with the public in the DPRK and in the media.

Particularly stressed were:

•  the trusting relationship of the two leading representatives;

•  the great mutual understanding and constructive approach of both sides in managing relations;

•  the effectiveness of past cooperation between the two Parties and nations.

V.


Conclusions:

1. Comrade Kim Il Sung will visit the GDR at some future time to be agreed upon.

For action: Comrade Oskar Fischer
Comrade Günter Sieber


2. Relations between the GDR’s Chamber of Deputies and the DPRK’s Supreme People’s Assembly shall be taken to a higher level by exchanging views and experience.

For action: Comrade Horst Sindermann

3. The existing consultation mechanism with the Korean Workers Party and the DPRK shall be qualified and employed in a deliberate manner for mutual procedures for reconciling and further coordinating foreign policy activities.

For action: Comrade Hermann Axen
Comrade Oskar Fischer


4. The official visit by the Foreign Minister of the GDR to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at a time to be agreed is approved.

For action: Comrade Oskar Fischer

5. Relations with the DPRK in the areas of economy, foreign trade, and science and technology shall be expanded and deepened based on the talks conducted and on existing agreements and treaties.


Foreign trade relations shall be expanded based on proposals made, the Governmental Agreement on the Exchange of Goods for 1986 - 1990, and the signed Annual Statement for 1987. The potential for supplying machines and equipment for a vinalon textile plant shall be examined.

For action: Comrade Günter Mittag
Comrade Gerhard Schörer
Comrade Gerhard Beil

6. The initiatives of the DPRK and its youth organization for conducting the XIII World Games of Youth and Students in Pyongyang are supported.

For action: Comrade Eberhard Aurich


7. Cultural/scientific relations to the DPRK shall be expanded. A cultural working plan shall be prepared for the years 1987 - 1990.

For action: Comrade Kurt Hager
Comrade Oskar Fischer
Comrade Hans-Joachim Hoffmann
Comrade Hans-Joachim Bühme

8. Concrete proposals for sending study delegations from the Party and appropriate ministries and high-ranking study delegations to the DPRK shall be presented to the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Social Unity Party for further developing bilateral relations in the realization of determinations made during the Erich Honecker’s official friendship visit.

For action: Comrade Günter Sieber
Comrade Oskar Fischer