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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October, 1966

INFORMATION ON THE KOREAN WORKERS’ PARTY

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    A report summarizing the history of the Korean Workers' Party since the end of the Korean War, touching upon leadership within the Korean Workers' Party and North Korea's foreign relations and foreign policy.
    "Information on the Korean Workers’ Party," October, 1966, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, AQPPSH, MPP Korese, D 10, V. 1966. Translated by Enkel Daljani https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114405
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INFORMATION

ON THE KOREAN WORKERS’ PARTY

In 1925 the Communist Party of Korea was created. But due to the anti-Marxist activity of the factionists and the opportunists, and the prosecution of the Japanese militarists, the party could not hold its ranks and in 1928 it ceased being an organized force.

The anti-Japanese movement from 1930 up until the liberation of the country was not led by an organized party, but only by separate communists with Comrade [General Secretary of the Korean Worker’s Party (KWP)] Kim Il Sung at their helm. This is the reason why the liberation found the country without a leading party.

In October of 1945, in the favorable conditions that were created after the liberation of the country, the Organizational Bureau for North Korea of the Communist Party of Korea was created. This comprises the founding of the Korean Workers’ Party.

The factionist groups that brought about the destruction of the party in 1928 reappeared again later, especially after the end of the war in 1953. At the Plenum of April of 1955, Comrade Kim Il Sung, while speaking about the possibility of the rebirth of factionist elements and groups, showed that one of the facilitators for the reappearance of such a possibility is the lack of a working class party for a long time until the liberation of the country, and another reason was the arrival from abroad—the Soviet Union, China, and the southern part of the country—of various people, which was exploited by the factionary elements for their own factionary intentions. These people, who after the liberation filled important position within the party, became carriers of dogmatism. In the speech that Comrade Kim Il Sung held before the workers of the propaganda and agitation sector in December of 1955 over the liquidation of dogmatism and formalism in the Marxist ideological work, he said that “the people who came from the Soviet Union wanted to develop the ideological work in the military according to the soviet method, while those that had come from China wanted it based on the Chinese.” The signs of dogmatism have also appeared in other sectors of life, especially during the period of the collectivization of agriculture, etc.

The Plenum of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party that was held in August of 1956 and the Party Conference in March of 1958 uncovered and unmasked a group of anti-party factionists who, it is said, had revisionist points of view and links to the soviet revisionists. Notable amongst them are Pak Jeong-ae [Pak Jong Ae], Nam Il, etc. officials of the leadership who had links to this matter. They were left in the leadership afterwards, but only on governmental positions and not in important managerial posts.

With the birth and development of the divergences at the heart of the communist movement, the Korean Workers’ Party commenced the change of its positions. It has tried to keep a neutral position, justifying this through the issue of the division of Korea and the need for her reunification. In other words, on this issue, it has proceeded based in the narrow national interest. The anti-revisionists stance, though in appearance without compromise, that it kept for some time, especially during 1963 and 1964, was more a product of the pressure exerted on it by the revisionists that wanted to force it to openly join their ranks, than it was of a true Marxist-Leninist position. In fact, this position can be better described as simply an anti-Khrushchevian position.

At the beginning of 1962, in the Korean press, a series of articles by Lenin on the struggle against revisionism and opportunism started to get published. Through this, they were trying to achieve several specific objectives: First, they were trying to prepare the masses within the country for any eventuality that could happen with the revisionists; secondly, they were trying to exert some pressure on the revisionists that, arguably, they were ready to proclaim their opposition to them; and thirdly, to show that they were on the ranks of those parties that were fighting revisionism. In public speeches of the leaders as well as on other important articles, both revisionism and dogmatism were considered of the same category. Their famous slogan read, “Fight against revisionism and dogmatism for the preservation of the purity of Marxism-Leninism.”

In 1962, it appeared that the stance against revisionism was becoming stricter. This continued until before the removal of N. Khrushchev. During this time they published around 12 articles on important issues of the time in which they criticized the activities of the modern revisionists, but without mentioning any names.  

If one looks at this process within the frame of the relations with N. Khrushchev, it is apparent that it has progressed continually depending on the Koreans’ aggravations or softening of relations with him.

The Korean comrades, in various talks, have declared that they are at war with the modern revisionism and they have held that their position toward N. Khrushchev has always been correct. According to them, the only difference between the Albanian Labor Party and the Korean Workers’ Party has been the methods used for the waging of this war, which differ from the specific situation of each country, but which are the same at the principle level.  

After the softening of relations with the soviet revisionists, they started replacing the phrase “modern revisionism” with the word “revisionism.” They started once again placing revisionism and dogmatism on the same category and, sometimes, the latter started receiving a higher importance and appearing as worse. Here are some examples:

  1. In the communiqué of the Plenum of the CC of the Korean Workers’ Party published on June 2, 1965 in the newspaper “Rodong Sinmun,” it is said that, “…the resolute struggle of our party against dogmatism and revisionism for the preservation of the purity of Marxism-Leninism…became a vital guarantee…”
  2. In another article titled “The Korean Revolution and the Idea of the Antecedence of Our Party,” published on September 20, 1965, dogmatism is mentioned ten times, while revisionism is only mentioned two times.
  3. In the cover article dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the party, published on October 5, 1965 in the party magazine “Konlozha” [or Ronlozha], revisionism is never mentioned, but dogmatism and servility are denounced.

In the report that Comrade Kim Il Sung held in the conference of the Korean Workers’ Party, which was held at the beginning of October, the position of the Korean comrades on many issues is presented:

  1. On the position on imperialism

The position of every communist and workers’ party in the present situation is valued on a grand scale by the position it holds against the American imperialism…The socialist countries, even when they keep diplomatic relations with the imperialists, must never cease their struggle or weaken it as a result…It is also a mistake to only scream out against imperialism instead of actually taking steps to stop its aggression. In particular, each should not cause difficulties for the anti-imperialist forces in taking common practical measures to deliver blows to the aggressor American imperialists.  

  1. On the Vietnamese issue

The position on the issue of Vietnam is the test by fire that makes the distinction between a revolutionary position and an opportunist one, between the proletarian internationalism and the nationalistic egoism…The sister parties are not allowed to simply engage in polemics over the Vietnam issue…It is only the Workers’ Party of Vietnam the one that can and must solve the Vietnamese issue…As to the assistance that is given to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam by the brother countries…there can be no one else, besides the Workers’ Party of Vietnam, who can draw the correct conclusions from it and the sister parties must pay attention to these conclusions.…We are prepared to send our volunteers there…whenever this is requested by the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

  1. On the unity of action

It is important that a unified anti-imperialist course of action on an international scale and a unified anti-imperialist front is achieved…This is the most pressing issue before the international communist movement. This would, at the same time, assure the conditions for the gradual elimination of the divergences between the sister parties and for the reintroduction of the unity of the socialist camp and the compactness of the international communist movement…Keeping this in mind, we think that, despite the existence of the divergences in relation to some issues, there exists a starting point for a unified anti-imperialist course of action for withstanding the American imperialist aggression against Vietnam and for assisting the Vietnamese people.

The refusal of the achievement of a unified anti-imperialist course of action does not help the true defense of Marxism-Leninism against revisionism and in the strengthening of the unity of the socialist camp…and it cannot be considered as a position that opposes the American imperialism and assists the struggle of the Vietnamese people…The sending of volunteers to Vietnam by the socialist countries will be the first step toward the achievement of a unified course of action against imperialism.

  1. On the right and “left” opportunism

 For as long as imperialism continues to exist and the class struggle persists, there is room for the birth of both the right and the “left” opportunism. We must fight in two fronts against both the right and the “left” opportunism.  

The modern revisionism still remains a great threat to the international communist movement. It finds its support above all on the weakening of the struggle against imperialism and in the passive stance toward the revolutionary struggle of the peoples.

We must fight the “left” opportunism as well as the modern revisionism. The “left” opportunism does not take into account the changed reality of the present and recites singular theses of the Marxism-Leninism in a dogmatic way, while leading the peoples into extremist actions under super-revolutionary slogans.

  1. On the solving of the divergences

The divergences between the parties must not be turned into organizational schisms, but must be solved in every situation through the use of ideological struggle, with the desire for unity as a starting point.

It is our party’s opinion that should there be divergences, one should not hasten to reach conclusions about the sister parties or the brother countries, but they should be reached through careful reasoning and the passage of time…No one should make dramatic or skewed evaluations about any brother countries or sister parties…Our opinion is that a very mature position should be taken in the evaluation of the leadership of a brother country or a sister party.

…We must gradually narrow down the divergences and create an atmosphere that contributes to continued contacts. And when the sufficient conditions are finally created, the sister parties could hold a conference and discuss the issues of the unified anti-imperialist course of action in a concrete manner.

  1. On the relations between parties

The respect for privacy is a precursory and fundamental condition for the unity and cooperation between sister parties…There does not exist a single international organization within the international communist movement that can create a unified direction for the activity of the parties of all the countries. After the dissolution of the Third International there is no “center” or “side” in the international communist movement anymore. That is why it is impossible that the “center” of the revolution be transferred from one country to another. It is impossible for a country to become “the center of the world revolution” or for a party to become “the leader party” of the international communist movement.

But, until now, there have been cases in the international communist movement when some parties have imposed their points of view, their courses of action on other parties, or have exerted pressure on the latter and have interfered in their internal affairs because they have not agreed with them.

* * *

A reorganization of the leadership organs of the party was undertaken in the Party Conference.

After the 4th Congress of the Party, which was held in September of 1961, the Political Bureau had 11 members and 4 candidates. The chairman of the CC of the Korean Workers’ Party was Comrade Kim Il Sung, and there were 4 Vice Chairmen as well. In June of 1964 four more candidates to the Political Bureau were also elected.

During the year of 1965 it appears that 2 members of the Political Bureau (which had changed its name to the Political Committee) were expelled from the Political Bureau, of which one was a Vice Chairman of the CC of the Party, Kim Chang-man, and the other was a candidate to the Political Bureau, former rector of the University, and chairman of the Friendship China—Korea Council, Kim Il Sung. But he was removed from the latter post around the end of 1964.

Now, within the Political Committee, which is comprised of 14 members and candidates, there has also been created a Presidium comprised of 6 members.

There has been a change in the titles of the Chairman and the Vice Chairmen of the CC of the party. Now there is one General Secretary of the CC of the Korean Workers’ Party, who is Comrade Kim Il Sung, and 10 Secretaries of the CC, who all together comprise the Secretariat of the CC of the party.

Aside from those expelled previously, 6 more people from the previous leadership have not been appointed to these posts, among which are Pak Jeong-ae, and Nam Il.

As to the relations of Korea with the Soviet Union, starting since the appearance of the disagreements in the midst of the international communist movement after the 22nd Congress of the CP of the Soviet Union and continuing today, they have developed in a sort of up and down motion. There was a period when they were chilly (1963-1964), but after the deposing of N. Khrushchev a turn toward amelioration commenced.

The Koreans have consistently decided to not sever their relations with the Soviet Union. In the goodbye meeting that Comrade Hasan Alimerko had with Comrade Kim Il Sung at the end of 1962, he had said that “due to the fact that we have to face the imperialism of the USA, we want to keep and do not want to sever the relations with the Soviet Union at the governmental and party level, because should the war restart, we will fight alongside the Soviet Union, and especially alongside the People’s Republic of China.” Two months later, in the meeting that he had with Comrade Siri Çarçani, Comrade Kim Il Sung said, “You fought against N. Khrushchev; you delivered your blows and have passed the hardest phase. Now we are preparing to fight N. Khrushchev. For us, the hardest part will come from now on.”

The events that took place after this period showed that the fight never took place. At most, this was a period more or less of a chill in the relations between the Korean Workers’ Party and the soviet revisionists. As a result, the Korean press rarely gave any information on the Soviet Union, while the exchanges in different fields fell to a minimum. But the fact is that this chill in the relations was not due to principles, because during this time the Korean Workers’ Party did not wage any open struggle in the ideological, political, or organizational sense against the revisionists and N. Khrushchev. The following facts attest to this:

  1. People like Pak Jeong-ae and Nam Il, who were known to be N. Khrushchev’s people, were allowed to remain in the Political Bureau.
  2. In Korea there were still some soviet specialists, though in small numbers, despite the fact that the Koreans were saying they, specifically, were engaging in sabotage.
  3. Despite the fact that the volume of relations and work between the two countries had decreased during this time, the soviet embassy in Pyongyang kept a very large number of employees, of which 20 were diplomats.

The removal of N. Khrushchev was received and popularized by the Korean comrades as the beginning of the possible changes within the Soviet Union, because, allegedly, signs of a very correct course, of an anti-imperialist course, etc. could be seen in the new soviet leaders. It was not by chance that Comrade Kim Il Sung said to our ambassador in Pyongyang on the occasion of November 29, 1964 that “the revisionists (of other countries) are exerting pressure to the Soviet Union to follow the course of N. Khrushchev.” With this he was trying to convey that the new soviet leadership was not revisionist.

This position was followed later by continuous initiatives by the Koreans for a further closeness with the Soviet Union. On the occasion of the holiday on November 7, 1964 a delegation of the party and government led by Comrade Kim Il, Vice Chairman of the CC and the First Deputy of the Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers went to the Soviet Union. Despite the fact that no preparations had been made in Korea on the occasion of November 7, two days before it measures were taken and all strings were pulled that it be celebrated solemnly. In the daily Korean press and in the public speeches the mentioning of the phrase “modern revisionism” started to gradually be removed and information about the Soviet Union, as well as the publishing of the abstracts of the speeches by the soviet leaders, started to increase.

During the period of 1965 and 1966, two important delegations led by Kosygin and Shelepin went to Korea. At the same time, the exchange of delegations of other levels has been even more frequent.

The Korean Workers’ Party sent to the 23rd Congress of the CP of the Soviet Union a delegation headed by Comrade Choe Yong-geon [Choe Yong Gon], Vice Chairman of the CC of the party. In the meeting that the Chinese ambassador had with Comrade Pak Geum-cheol [Pak Kum Chol], Vice Chairman of the CC of the Korean Workers’ Party, to present to him the copy of the letter that the CP of China sent to the soviets, through which they refused their invitation to take part in the Congress, Comrade Pak Geum-cheol told him that “the Korean Workers’ Party, in the struggle against revisionism has at its essence a similar position with the CP of China. The only difference is the approach, which is determined by the specific situation of each party. This is related to the needs of the struggle for the reunification of Korea…” Nevertheless, the greeting that the delegation delivered to the Congress was cool. The Korean press has given regular updates on the development of the Congress’s proceedings. The newspaper “Rodong Sinmun” published one page from the report by Brezhnev and a part of the report by Kosygin.  

Last year, an important military delegation went to the Soviet Union where it concluded an agreement on the military assistance that the Soviet Union agreed to give to Korea. According to the conversation that Siri Çarçani had with the Chinese ambassador in May of this year, he had said that the relations between Korea and the Soviet Union are widening rapidly; there is an exchange of declared and undeclared delegations. The armaments that the Soviet Union is giving to Korea are not transported through China, but by a different route. In June of this year, a three year (1967—1970) trade agreement between the two countries was concluded. According to the published communiqué the circulation of the goods for this period will increase immensely. The Soviet Union, amongst other things, will also assist Korea on the construction of a petrol refinery. It is quite likely that this is the refinery, foreseen in the 7 year plan, with a capacity of 2 million tons of petrol and which from 1967 would refine 1 million tons of petrol. Until now, the work for its construction has yet to start. It seems that after the cooling of the relations, the soviets had withdrawn from this.  

The relations of the Koreans with the other revisionist countries, which had also receded previously, are now improving continually. This is apparent from the size of interchange in many fields, especially in the economic and cultural fields. Their best relations are with the Romanians and the Cubans. This is also apparent in the similarity of the positions they have in many different important issues. In an interview that the Korean ambassador gave in Havana before his departure, he said, “The relations between Korea and Cuba are at their highest. This is thanks to the correct positions of both parties.” He delivered many praises to Castro presenting him as an exceptional leader. A symposium of Fidel Castro’s speeches of the period of 1963—1965 has been published in the Korean language.

In the report that Comrade Kim Il Sung held at the beginning of October at the Party conference, while speaking for the Cuban Revolution, amongst other things he said, “the Communist Party of Cuba knows the Cuban issues better than anyone else and it is the CP of Cuba, and no one else, who can create the correct position for dealing with the practical conditions in Cuba.…There should be no other attempts at exerting pressure on the CP of Cuba and for the division of the revolutionary forces in Latin America.”

The relations with the Communist Party of Japan have been and remain good. Both sides support each other’s positions. This is apparent, amongst other things, also in the simultaneous publishing of various important materials. In the article of the newspaper “Rodong Sinmun,” dated August 12, 1966, it is written, “We have fully supported and continue to support the correct position of the CP of Japan, which, by taking a stance against the interference in internal affairs and by insistently defending independence, leads with correctness the revolutionary movement in its country and gives a contribution to the issue of compactness within the international communist movement.”

On the issue of the relations between the Korean Workers’ Party and the CP of China, and as a result between the two countries, it must be noted that at the period of 1963—1964 they were developing and increasing. This was apparent in the widening and the strengthening of the economic, cultural, and military cooperation between the two countries, in the frequent exchange of delegations of all fields, etc.

But even in these conditions it seems that the relations were not what they appeared on all issues and that there have been some reservations:

  1. The Korean Foreign Affairs Minister himself told Comrade Siri Çarçani that, “…we have not carried out or supported the theses of the 20th Congress of the CP of the Soviet Union even at a time when the Chinese comrades had yet to come out against them.”
  2. On the conversations that Comrade Liu Shaoqi has had with the Korean leadership on the occasion of his visit to Korea in September 1963, the Chinese ambassador said that “in the conversations and the meetings we have had with the Korean leadership comrades, our points of view on the major issues are in full unity,” leading to believe that there have also been opposing points of view on other issues.
  3. The Koreans have shown much reservation for the publishing of Chinese articles. They have only published one of them. The others are broadcast in the bulletins of the telegraphic agency.
  4. The Koreans have mentioned and publicized the volunteers of the Chinese people that fought in Korea very little.

After the amelioration of the relations between the Koreans and the Soviets, there seems to be a deterioration of the ones between the Koreans and the Chinese. This could be gradually seen in the exchange of the delegations in all the fields. It is conceivable that an issue that has served as a pretext and has hastened the cooling of the relations has been the fact that the Koreans have asked the secret of the atomic bomb from the Chinese.

There is now indication that the Korean comrades are now taking these relations toward further cooling:

  1. In the university circles of Pyongyang there circulate anti-Chinese and pro-soviet slogans between the students and the professors. They are saying that the assistance to Vietnam is being hindered by the Chinese, etc.
  2. The Chinese ambassador has told Comrade Siri Çarçani that the Koreans are increasing their anti-Chinese, anti-Albanian, and anti-communists activities with the pretext that the Chinese are following an incorrect course and are also trying to impose this course to the Koreans. The slander that the Western press agencies are spewing against China and Albania is being published in their internal bulletins and is then commented by them as true. The members of the Korean Workers’ Party of Chinese ethnicity are being expelled from the party for no other apparent reason.
  3. In the article, “Protecting Our Independence,” published in the main newspaper “Rodong Sinmun” on August 12, 1966, while speaking about the intervention of the great powers in their internal affairs in support of the factionists, the Koreans are making open allusion to the Chinese as well. In another article about the anti-revolutionary theories of the “leftist” opportunists published around the middle of September, they take an openly opposing stance against the Cultural Revolution under development in China today. On this issue, in his speech at the Party Conference, Comrade Kim Il Sung also said, “…The “left” opportunism does not take into account the changed reality of the present and recites singular theses of the Marxism-Leninism in a dogmatic way, while leading the peoples into extremist actions under super-revolutionary slogans.”

  

Our relations with Korea have been relative. In every case of a meeting between our comrades and the Korean leaders, they have supported the position of the ALP in its struggle against the modern revisionism. “We know that the Albanian people, under the leadership of the party with Comrade Enver Hoxha at its helm,” declared Comrade Kim Il Sung at a meeting with our ambassador in December of 1962, “fights bravely against the capitalist and revisionist enemy…” Furthermore, Comrade Pak Geum-cheol, Vice Chairman of the CC of the Korean Workers’ Party, in the conversation he had with Comrade Aranit Çela when he went for a vacation in Korea on October 1963, said that “We are in full agreement with the whole position of the ALP.” He reiterated that as to the method of the struggle against revisionism, there may be differences between us according to the differing conditions of one country or the other. He said that, “For example, the ALP method of the struggle differs from that of the Korean Workers’ Party, but the main thing is that on all the primary issues we have a unified stance.”

Despite these things they have said, the Koreans have had and continue to have reservations toward our party. This is apparent in the concrete stance and relations that they have kept with us. When the ALP was attacked at the 22nd Congress of the CP of the Soviet Union, they did not rise in its defense, even though Comrade Kim Il Sung said to Comrade Hasan Alimerko that “when they (the soviets) openly attacked Albania, we were not in solidarity with them.”

The Korean comrades have not published the soviets’ materials where they attack our country. For this reason they also censured the Moscow Radio program that was broadcast through Radio Pyongyang. At the same time they also censured the distribution of our ideological brochures in Korea. So, since the time when it seemed that the relations between us were better, they had us equated with the revisionists.

No important article of the “Voice of the People” [ALP newspaper] has ever been published in the Korean press. Only during 1963 and partly during 1964, when the relations with the soviets were cool, some of these articles were being published in the bulletins of the telegraphic agencies. During this period, on the occasion of our anniversaries, there were articles written about Albania, which would mainly talk about our successes in the economic field. They would also point out the struggle of the ALP against the modern revisionism.

When the Korean press has published articles where the revisionist and antisocialist positions and the signs of chauvinism of a large country toward some other countries have been criticized, it has never spoken openly about these positions toward Albania, but always with allusions.

The process of the position of the Koreans toward our country has in general developed depending on their relations with the revisionists. Though they always try to leave the impression that their position has not changed, this has been apparent in many cases.

  1. In the past, in the order of the publishing of the telegrams—an order, which in the protocol custom of the country is an indication of the level of the relations—we used to occupy the fourth place and now have been lowered down to eighth place.
  2. Presently, in public speeches or in published articles where the issue of the struggle against revisionism is mentioned, the struggle of the ALP is either completely removed from mention or it is replaced with a watered down version.
  3. From the information we have from some of our missions, such as the ones in China, Cuba, Warsaw, etc. the comrades of the Korean missions in these places keep a cool stance toward the comrades of our missions.
  4. According to the information that we are getting from our embassy in Pyongyang, a Korean student told one of our students that she had been criticized that she had not learned one word of Albanian. She also told her that she had been instructed to spy on what the Albanians were doing.

During the period of 1963—1964 four comrades have gone to vacation in Korea and four Korean comrades have come to our country. During the period of 1965 to 1966 we did not extend any invitations and the Koreans did not extend any either.

During the present year we have sent to the CC of the Korean Workers’ Party the copy of the letter we sent to the Polish, as well as the open letter of the ALP CC.

Our press has written during the past as well as this year several editorial and opinion articles on various issues in support of the DPR of Korea. We have also published a declaration of the Government of the Peoples’ Republic of Albania that denounces the ratification of the Japanese South Korean Treaty.

October 1966