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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 22, 1948

COMMENTS AND A CONCLUSION ON THE DRAFT PROVISIONAL CONSTITUTION OF THE KOREAN PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC

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    Comments and discussion on several articles of a draft constitution for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
    "Comments and a Conclusion on the Draft Provisional Constitution of the Korean People's Democratic Republic ," May 22, 1948, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGASPI, f. 17, op. 123, d. 1173. Translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114897
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Article 48

Fond 17

Opis' 123

Delo 1173

Comments and a Conclusion

on the Draft Provisional Constitution of the Korean People's Democratic Republic

Comments:

1. There is no explanation why the constitution and the Korean democratic government are called provisional.

2. The wording of Article 2 ought to be changed to the effect that it stresses the importance of the date of 15 August 1945 as the day of liberation of the Korean people from the Japanese yoke as a result of the defeat of imperialist Japan inflicted on it by the forces of the Soviet Army and the creation of conditions for the organization of People's Committees in Korea.

3. Articles 5 and 6, which establish private ownership of land, contradict Article 10 of the current law on agrarian reform which indicates that land being given to peasants according to this law cannot be sold, leased, or mortgaged.

4. Article 7 speaks of where land reform was not carried out (meaning South Korea); this should be carried out on the basis of the land laws in North Korea and ought to moved to the so-called transitional articles, while it is better to refer to the corresponding article of this constitution instead of a reference to the land law [SIC, singular] of North Korea.

5. Section 1 requires a radical reworking with the purpose of more clearly defining the principles of the social, political, and economic structure of the state, reflecting its popular democratic character.

The economic foundations of the state are not defined in the draft of the constitution and the priority of public ownership as the main foundation of the state is not established.

Article 49

The constitution does not define the attitude of the state toward private property as the right of the state resulting from its popular democratic character to limit, expropriate, or nationalize private property in certain conditions. In addition, the wording of Article 6 where it indicates that "ownership of the land of state and cooperative organizations is permitted along with private ownership", essentially takes on the meaning of public ownership in the matter of democratic development [stroitel'stvo].

Article 10 establishes only the economic institutions on which the state relies when carrying out the economic plan. Meanwhile, it is extremely important to reflect in the constitution the role of professional and public organizations in building a democratic state. It ought to indicate that the state relies on these organizations in carrying out economic plans.

6. The constitution does not view labor as the primary socioeconomic factor. Article 6 reflects only the interests of the working peasantry and does not envision the state's concern for other categories of workers and aid to them with economic [and] social policy measures. It is necessary to talk about the latter (the concern of the state) because the state cannot guarantee everyone the right to work at this stage.

7. Article 13 confirms the right of the citizens of Korea to organize democratic political parties, trade unions, and other societies and to participate in their work. It ought to clarify the concept of "democratic parties" to the effect that the organization of these parties does not go against the state and public order [gosudarstvennyy i obshchestvennyy poryadok] established by the constitution and that the law prohibits the creation of organizations which set themselves the goal of fighting against the rights and freedoms won by the people and guaranteed by the constitution.

[Circled in the misusing the church and religion for political purposes". In such a wording the article contradicts the current practice of the United Democratic National Front. It might cause undesirable consequences considering that one of the most influential and mass political parties in the YeDNF [sic] which participates in the struggle for the democratization of Korea is the "Molodye Druz'ya [Young Friends]" Party created from the Cheondo religious society (the Heavenly Way Society). The party platform also contains religious demands along with demands for democratic reforms.

9. Articles 13 and 22, which speak of the guarantees of freedom of speech, press, assembly, and equal rights for women, do not indicate by what measures these rights are ensured. In such a wording these articles are like the corresponding articles of bourgeois constitutions, one of the differences of which, as Cde. Stalin points out, is that they only proclaim the rights of citizens formally.

10. Article 30 indicates that "all citizens are obligated to work". Such a wording can provide grounds for it to be interpreted as a guarantee of a citizen's right to work, although it is known that the current state of the Korean economy does not allow such a right to be proclaimed.

11. In Article 49, point 7, it speaks of the right of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly to award orders and give honorary titles and honors although nowhere before this does it indicate that anyone is given the right to institute an order or establish a title or honors.

[Circled in the

The primary shortcoming of the draft provisional constitutions of the Korean Popular Democratic Republic is that it incompletely and sometimes incorrectly reflects the current socioeconomic relations and level of development of people's democracy in the country.

The wording of a majority of the articles is unsatisfactory. There is no strict interconnection and consistency between them in the exposition of the main issues of the constitution. For example, the issue of land is viewed in identical aspects in Articles 6 and 8. A provision on work found reflection in Articles 15 and 30, but did not result in a complete and clear discussion in them. There is no reflection in the constitution at all of the political activity of the Korean people and the organizations which are joined in the United Democratic National Front.

The draft on the whole (especially Sections 1 and II) require serious reworking in the direction of a clearer definition of the political and economic principles of the form of government of Korea taking into consideration the domestic political and economic situation in the country and the experience of creating a constitution in the countries of the people's democracies of Eastern Europe.

It is advisable to examine the draft constitution again after it is reworked.

"[date left blank]" April 1948

Ye. Kov[al]ev

22.4.48

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