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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 19, 1959

REPORT, EMBASSY OF THE HUNGARIAN PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC IN THE DPRK TO THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF HUNGARY

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    Report from Ambassador Károly Práth to Budapest on a conversation he held with Deputy Foreign Minister Yu Changsik. Topics discussed included the sixth session of the DPRK’s Second Supreme People’s Assembly, the mechanization of agriculture in the DPRK, the need to increase quality in North Korean industry and the revisionism and consequent failures of Yugoslavia.
    "Report, Embassy of the Hungarian People’s Republic in the DPRK to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary," November 19, 1959, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, MOL, XIX-J-1-j-Korea-5/c-006836/1959 6.d. Translated by Jószef Litkei. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113384
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    https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113384

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The Embassy of the Hungarian People's Republic.

Top Secret.

Pyongyang, 19 November 1959.

Subject. Conversation with Deputy Foreign Minister Yu Chang-sik on the Korean reaction to the CPSU Seventh Congress and some important questions concerning Korea's foreign and domestic policies.

Comrade Yu Chang-sik was recently appointed deputy foreign minister. He leads the work of the F[oreign] M[inistry]'s No. 1. Political Department, the Protocol Department, and the DCSO [Diplomatic Corps Supply Office]. He is a young man aged approximately 35 to 38. During the Korean war, he fought on the front as a political officer. He was sent from the front to study in the Soviet Union. He graduated from the College for International Relations in Kiev. As a former war veteran and college student, he spent one month in Hungary in 1952 and participated for approx. one week in the building of Sztálinváros. Before his appointment as deputy foreign minister, he worked as the deputy head of the Party's CC International Department. He speaks Russian well. He gives the impression of being a talented, pleasant, and serious man.

[Translator's Note: In the following two paragraphs, the ambassador reports on the first part of their meeting, which dealt with the composition of the Korean delegation to be sent to the forthcoming Seventh Congress of the HSWP.]

Upon my inquiry, Comrade Yu Chang-sik briefly informed me about some important questions of Korean foreign and domestic political life.

The Sixth session of the DPRK's Second Supreme People's Assembly was convened upon the personal initiative of Comrade Kim Il Sung. It was Comrade Kim Il Sung's initiative as well which placed the question of Korea's peaceful unification on the agenda. They are convinced that they did so at the most appropriate time. Today, tension is abating in the international situation. Peoples of the world everywhere honestly wish for peace. They [the Koreans] think that the socialist countries and all the peace-loving people of the world reacted positively to the Korean parliament's appeal. Their aim with their appeal to the parliaments of the world was to direct the world's attention to the Korean question during a favorable period of international relations like this, so that they could achieve the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea as soon as possible, start negotiations and economic and cultural relations between North and South Korea, and realize the peaceful unification of the country as soon as possible. In the name of his government, Comrade Yu Chang-sik expressed his thanks for the support that the Hungarian People's Republic offered so far in this issue and emphasized that they are counting on this support also in the future.

Talking about the domestic situation, Comrade Yu Chang-sik informed me that they will convene the Korean Workers' Party CC Plenum in the near future, which will be similar to the December 1956 plenum in its significance. In Korea, the December Plenum is considered to be a plenum of historic importance. In the words of Comrade Yu Chang-sik, this plenum gave the push to the emergence of the “Chollima” movement. It was the 1956 December plenum at which they again debated and closed the Choe Chang-ik and Pak Chang-ok faction group affair. While at the August plenum of that year they uncovered this faction and excluded its leaders and several members from the party, they were on the other hand re-admitted to the party at the September plenum, where Comrade Mikoyan also participated. At the December plenum, these faction leaders were finally excluded from the leading organs of the party and government and were allegedly sent for the time being to factories in the countryside. Comrade Yu Chang-sik did not say anything concerning the latter. The main questions that the forthcoming party plenum will discuss are the question of the economic plan for the year 1960 and of developing the planting of trees into a popular movement.

One of the most important national economic tasks of the year 1960 is the mechanization of agriculture and bringing the technical revolution of agriculture to victory. In January of this year, at the first congress of producer cooperatives, Comrade Kim Il Sung set the task of accomplishing the mechanization of agriculture within one to two years. Comrade Yu Chang-sik emphasized that the DPRK will be able to achieve this, since it already has a developed industry that is able to produce tractors and other agricultural machines. In order to increase the production of agriculture, modernize animal husbandry, and deliver more and a greater variety of food products to the workers' table—all issues which were discussed by this year's February and June party plenums— they need more work and, first of all, more working hands. The DPRK's national economy, and especially agriculture, suffers from a great labor shortage. This shortage of labor will be compensated for by [the use of] machines, which will be able to accomplish work of both greater quantity and a more perfect, higher quality than human hands. The mechanization of agriculture will concern primarily the provinces of South Hwanghae and South Pyeongan. These provinces provide more than the half of the country's agricultural gross yield. If they manage to mechanize agriculture in these two provinces, then it can be said that the mechanization was basically completed in the whole country. It is not by accident that Comrade Kim Il Sung recently visited several cities, villages, agricultural machine factories, and machine [and tractor] stations in South Hwanghae province on 12, 13, and 14 November. Others with him were Pak Jeong-gae vice chairman of the CC, the head of the Planning Office, the Minister of the Engineering Industry, the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Agriculture, and the Minister of Trade.

According to the press, the total sowing area of grain in South Hwanghae province is 286 thousand chongbo. On 58 percent of this, work (plowing, sowing and threshing) is already done with machines. The province has 16 machine [and tractor] stations.

In the seat of the province, the city of Haeju, a new agricultural machine factory was put into operation this July. Besides this, there is already another engineering factory in Haeju. Comrade Kim Il Sung visited both factories on 12 November, and had conversations with the workers. Here, in the engineering factory in Haeju, he announced that the building of a factory of machine parts necessary for irrigation plants will be terminated and a food industrial plant will be built instead. The parts necessary for irrigation plants will be produced in the machine factory in Haeju. The province has at the present 900 tractors. Next year they will give one thousand tractors and more trucks to the province. In this way, they will be able to cultivate 80 to 85 percent of the province's sowing area with machines. Parallel with the progress of motorization, the total crop of grain in the province will be raised to 1 million tons within the next few years. The 17 November issue of the “Minju Choson” wrote that during his November visit to the countryside, Comrade Kim Il Sung criticized the work of the ministry of agriculture, since the latter does not devote enough care to promoting the cause of mechanizing agriculture.

Comrade Yu Chang-sik emphasized that the reason why the question of mechanizing agriculture became such a central issue is that the problem of irrigation has been basically solved. The extension of the system of irrigation plants was put on the agenda of the September 1958 plenum. Then, Comrade Kim Il Sung set the task of making 1 million chongbo of arable land irrigable in the next 3 to 4 years. By the end of the sixth month after the September plenum, they already achieved making 80 percent of the planned arable land—that is, 800 thousand chongbo—irrigable. This year, they completed all irrigation system constructions. Next year's plan does not schedule the building of further irrigation plants. Since in this way 1 million of arable land [sic.] will potentially become irrigated next year, they will increase the sowing area of wheat and corn as well.

Following this, Comrade Yu Chang-sik spoke on the issue of forestation. At the present, there are orchards in the DPRK on a territory of 70 thousand chongbo. The overwhelming majority of this consists of apple gardens. [During their occupation,] the Japanese destroyed a vast number of trees in Korea. The mountainsides were almost entirely devastated. The party plenum to be convened in the near future will make planting trees into a movement that embraces the entire population. They plan primarily to plant apple, sweet chestnut, and poplar trees, which can be well utilized in the national economy in a relatively short time, that is, within a maximum of ten years. Fruit-trees will provide fruits that can be utilized both in natural form and as canned food, thus increasing the foodstuff stocks. Poplar grows quickly and constitutes an important raw material in producing both paper and artificial textiles. These trees will be planted primarily on the slopes of mountains, hillsides, and along roads. Besides providing important raw materials for light industry within the next ten years, the propagation of these tree species will decorate the Korean soil and the Korean landscape.

Finally, Comrade Yu Chang-sik mentioned that since the enlarged session of the Party CC Presidium in August, the issue of widening the local people's committee's sphere of authority and the network of local small scale industry is very much in the forefront for the DPRK. At the same time, the issue of increasing the quality of production came even more to the forefront as well. Comrade Yu Chang-sik emphasized several times that all changes that occurred or are planned in every field of the national economy originate from the personal initiative of Comrade Kim Il Sung.

The Yugoslav question was also mentioned in the sense that I remarked that while the national economies of socialist countries develop and rise year by year, the economic development in the capitalist countries, and characteristically in Yugoslavia, has become stuck or is even falling back. In Yugoslavia, animal husbandry and consumption of meat is on the level of the year 1931. Comrade Yu Chang-sik's apt response was that here is the result of revisionism, which is a lesson for all communist parties and all people building socialism. Deviation from the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism leads to the deterioration of the standard of living of the working masses.

In my opinion, Comrade Yu Chang-sik made special preparations for this meeting, since at the dinner given in honor of Comrade Li Donggeun I informed him that parallel to the party congress we will have a ministerial conference in Hungary.

After thanking him for the information he gave me, I asked him to have more such useful conversations in the future.

The above conversation lasted for almost two hours.

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Ambassador Károly Práth