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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 01, 1951

REPORT FROM THE EMBASSY OF THE POLISH REPUBLIC IN KOREA FOR THE PERIOD OF JULY THROUGH AUGUST 1951

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

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    Deperasinski reports on intensified bombings in Pyongyang, agriculture, women, education, as well as the activities of the Polish Embassy in Korea.
    "Report from the Embassy of the Polish Republic in Korea for the Period of July through August 1951," September 01, 1951, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Polish Foreign Ministry Archive. Obtained by Jakub Poprocki and translated by Maya Latynski. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114933
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Embassy of the Pyongyang, 1 September 1951

Polish Republic

in Korea

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Independent Eastern Department

Head S?UCZANSKI

I am enclosing a report from the Embassy of the RP [Rzeczpospolita Polska—Polish Republic] in the DPRK for the reporting period of July-August 1951 together with 11 annexes.

R. Deperasinski

2nd secretary of the Embassy of the RP in Korea

Chargé d’Affaires ad in.

Korea, Pyongyang 1 September 1951

REPORT

1.- The July-August reporting period in Korea was marked by waiting for the results of negotiations on a truce in Gaeseong, intensified bombardments by the American air force and increased efforts by the working class and peasantry to boost production.

The recently intensified bombing has caused very many victims, for instance, the bombing of Pyongyang and its area alone on 30 July had 10 thousand victims. On 31 July and 1 August they bombed non-stop, and on 1 August they used gas bombs in Yeonan. Also on 7 August they dropped gas bombs in Jin-an province. In both incidents there were 22 poisoned soldiers, of whom 8 died and their bodies turned black. On 14 August, i.e., on the eve of the celebrations of the 6th anniversary of the liberation of Korea from Japanese occupation, some 500 planes bombed Pyongyang nearly all day long. The last daytime air raid was at 17:00 hours. I was in Pyongyang at 19:00. A picture of despair that is impossible to describe. Even though I know the city well already, we could not find the street. It needs to be added that there are very few houses left in Pyongyang, only one-level ones are left, and ruins of one- and two-storey buildings are a rarity. The wounded and corpses were being carried out from under the rubble. We saw scenes of despair, for example, children who were pushing aside the rubble with their little hands in search of their mothers. The bombing of Pyongyang had nothing to do with strategic bombing. They bombed, for example, two bazaars and there were very many victims. They also intensified night air raids in such a way that a plane comes every dozen minutes, and if he notices a light somewhere he bombs or shoots. The Americans are also dropping saboteurs on the territory of the Republic. Here we were officially informed on 31 July that in the mountains that surround our valley there is a larger unit of saboteurs. They communicate by imitating the voices of birds and they give light signs to the air force. We have been forbidden to go outside in the evening without guards, and if we go out even with a guard then we are to have weapons on us. During the day we are also not allowed to go into the mountains without letting the guard unit know.

2.- The beginning of talks in Gaeseong, intensified bombardments and sabotage have had no demobilizing influence on the Korean nation whatsoever. On the contrary, the effort and sacrifices of the nation are getting stronger. This example is characteristic: peasants who have no money, in response to numerous appeals on the radio calling for giving donations for airplanes and tanks bring rice and edible grasses they collect.

Production – the struggle to increase productivity to assist the front.

Workers in factories (the locations of all factories are being kept secret) are straining all their forces in order to increase production. Party Committees are constantly coming up with new methods that would explain as clearly as possible in order to intensify the effort during production. For example, the chief of a railway station, Kim Sun-bae [Kim Sun Bae], in close cooperation with the party organization and with workers increased the safety of transport on his segment. The railway workers of this station are working as they remember the slogan, “let’s quickly send arms and ammunition, which will destroy the enemy, to the front. Because of the bombardments they are working only at night, but during the day they inspect the tracks and the nearest railway bridges, and this way are working faster. With great vigilance, they guard the cars loaded with ammunition at the station from potential sabotage. In their free time, they clear the shattered cars off the tracks. Once a week, the skilled railway workers devote 5 hours per day to teach the unskilled. Once a week, the Party Committee of this station organizes production meetings with the goal of exchanging experiences at work and the experiences of leading workers, announcing their names in wall bulletins, urging competition and imitation of the leaders. This is how the railway workers are fighting the battle to improve transportation. The state, for its part, rewards the railway workers first. On 4 July 1950 railway workers, with the Minister of Railways at the lead, were decorated for their heroic deed and their tenacious work to improve transportation. Factory workers and miners are fighting similarly. A certain coal mine, where Kim Chun-yong [Kim Chun Yong] is the chairman of the Party Committee and Pak Seon-gi [Pak Son Gi] the manager, executed 101% of its plan of extracting coal in the month of May, and then they seriously raised and surpassed the pre-war levels despite unfavorable conditions. The Party Committee played a huge role in this work, it organized the workers and engineers for the joint overcoming of all difficulties. There were great difficulties stemming from a shortage of work force and the insufficient mastering of techniques. Before the war, 20% of the needed workforce was missing, and on the day the war began 40% of the needed workforce was missing. Currently, the missing workers have been replaced by women. At first, the new female miners, unused to this work and not understanding the necessity of this work, had an unwilling attitude toward it. The party took on the duty of increasing productivity. It took on the political and technical training of the new women workers. The secretary of the cell, Yi In-ok [Yi In Ok] organized meetings with women, explained the situation on the front, the importance of the mine to the front, and the duties of the working class toward the front. It taught them to think not only about their family and their husbands, but also with their soldier-husbands and soldier–sons to think of the victory as the most important task. And they all understood it, and since then they have been uneager to work above ground and were raring to work underground in the mine. The skilled miners taught techniques to the unskilled miners, women and men, so that now 41 new women-workers are working on an equal footing with the old miners on the machines. Despite the conditions of hardship, this mine’s Party Committee takes great care of all its workers. When one of the best workers reduced his output, the comrades from the cell visited him at home and it turned out that this worker was living in very bad conditions, which worsened in connection with the birth of yet another child. The comrades immediately organized assistance for his family, and the productivity of this worker’s work rose again. This fact elevated the Party’s authority among the new women-miners and the mine’s successes grew so that it executed 120% of the plan.

In one of the factories a department needed 6 women to perform certain work. The workers reorganized the work and currently only 4 women are needed for it. 2 workers went to different work. This brigade, headed by Jang Byeong-ok [Jang Byong Ok], every day fulfills 16% of the plan. As a result of production meetings, exchanges of experiences, critique and self-critique this factory has obtained a 35% increase in production.

2.- Agriculture. The Secretary of the Party Committee of the Province (voivodship) of Pyeongan explained to me that the peasants who have land in the lowlands deliver 27% of their crops, those who have land on slopes up to 15 degrees give 10% of their crops, and those who have land on slopes of over 15 degrees give the state nothing. He explained to me further that some People’s Committees have not adhered to the principle of the peasants giving the state 27% of crops and took 27% from everyone, not honoring the difference in fertility of the soil. Such incidents were stamped out by the Party and the state and the difference was returned to the peasants. This stand by the Party and state strengthens the peasants’ attachment to the country and increases their effort at work.

The peasants are executing their most active work currently on the eve of the harvest, pulling up weeds. The Secretary of the Party Committee of [North] Pyeongan province told me that, for example, in the town of Goan (Jeongju district) the peasants pulled up 13 tons of weeds on the 6th anniversary of the liberation of Korea. In many localities, the population of cities, the army and Chinese volunteers are helping them in their work. The pulling up of weeds is the realization of the Party’s slogan about increasing harvests, about delivering food for the army and the population.

The peasants of Jagang province have given the state their villeinage of potatoes and barley 10 days earlier than before the war. As for the barely and potato harvest, I have news from some provinces that it was better than had been expected. But rice, corn, millet etc., which had promised to be very good because of the spring sowing campaign, are threatened by the rains that lasted 6 weeks, which at times took on the dimensions of a typhoon.

These rains were a real natural calamity, they destroyed roads, tore down bridges and seriously slowed down transportation. For example, on the Cheongcheon river, cars cross on barges as bombs are dropped. No wonder that there are serious losses. During such a crossing, Heo Heon [Ho Hon], chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the father of the Minister of Propaganda and Agitation (a woman) perished. The roads have been damaged to such an extent that vehicular access to the Embassy, which lies on a side road, was impossible. The lake’s banks broke, the water tore up the road, in some places 2 meters deep, and made a channel for itself out of this road.

3.- Women. Korean women are being broadly pulled into work in factories. During the month of July alone, 150 women were promoted to factory directors or upper-level factory workers. Women are also working as engine drivers on the railroads. According to data of the Korean Central Telegraph Agency, alone in the province of North Hamgyeong during the anniversary action, 19,000 women were pulled into industry. It needs to be added here that the Korean woman was exceptionally oppressed during the Japanese occupation, so the current pulling them into industry is a great achievement of the Korean woman and a gain of new forces to strengthen the rears. Women, as part of the anniversary action of the 5th anniversary of equal rights, in northern Pyeongan province created 2 creches. Women alone take care of the wounded and they work hard and selflessly. Walking to Pyongyang, one can see them carrying the wounded on their backs to ambulatory stations and from there by a variety of random means of transportation. The Korean nurses follow the example of the nurses of the Soviet Red Cross. Here is the latest fact of 2 August. An ambulance was driving from the front to Pyongyang, a Soviet nurse was in it with the wounded, and she did not abandon them when the car was attacked by an American airplane and she perished together with them. This fact was widely discussed. A monthly has been published entitled “Korean Women.”

4.- Education and culture. The preparatory action to open schools on 1.IX.51 is being widely planned. A preparatory course for teachers of 5-grade people’s schools has been created, and it lasts from 1 March to 1 September, 4,600 teachers are training. In July a 2nd course of this type was opened for 3,200 teachers with a deadline of finishing in November. In Sinuiju, a Pedagogical Institute has been created, where 280 teachers are training for elementary middle schools (end of middle school exam). At the same time 590 professors are being prepared for high schools (end-of-high-school exam) and technical schools. Following a directive from the Ministry of Education, 25 thousand teachers and professor for different types of people’s schools, high schools and universities are undergoing 3-month training. They are old, professional teachers. The preparation of the buildings themselves is being performed by the population of cities, towns and villages. The slogan has been issued: “Our school that is built by us.” The peasants are building schools with their own efforts, thus they bring wood from the forest, offer smaller building materials, pioneers are collecting old nails, the peasants are working for free and often donate their last savings. During meetings and rallies, calls are issued to make an effort to build schools. The People’s Committee stated that one of the peasants offered materials, which he had saved for his adolescent son, for the construction of a 4-room school. Pioneers in the same province collected 50% of the needed nails, and thus by 20 July they had executed 90% of their commitments. Half of the rooms are being built underground in shelters, so that during alarms lessons can be conducted. Teams of Chinese volunteers are assisting in the construction of the schools, especially the shelter-schools, just as they are helping with harvests or with pulling up weeds, and so on. The Chinese-Korean brotherhood and friendship can be noticed everywhere. On the 24th anniversary of the existence of the Chinese People’s Army, workers and Korean women sent many letters and gifts to the Chinese volunteers.

The opening of schools on 1 September is a courageous and difficult undertaking of the DPRK Government. The Minister of Education has told me that the difficulties that are emerging in connection to the opening of the schools fill many people with pessimism. Later in our conversation, he implied that he is counting on Poland to help school youth of the DPRK materially. Then he presented the issue of education in numbers. Before 25 June 1950, 1.5 million children of 7-13 years of age went to school. Now, the register conducted by 1 July yielded the number of 1,080 thousand children. There are 7,600 orphans among children of school age. Minister Baek Nam-un [Paek Nam Un] said that they must immediately provide clothes and, what is most important, shoes for 450 thousand children, and apart from that he fears that during winter in freezing temperatures many children will have to interrupt school for lack of clothing. To print school text books, they immediately need 200 tons of paper. They also need 11,230 thousand notebooks, 2.5 million dip pens with nibs, 15 million pencils and the same number of erasers for pencils, chalk for writing on blackboards, school bags, ink. Korea itself can deliver only 50% of chalk, ink and school bags. Further, they need towels, handkerchiefs and medicines for first-aid cases. The minister also told me that supplementary feeding of children in schools needs to be organized, and for now no one knows where they can get the appropriate amounts of products for supplementary feeding.

On 2 July, a so-called war industrial school was opened in North Pyeongan province. It is called “war” because so far only war invalids or the sons of those who fell defending the motherland can go to it. Five military schools were recently opened in the territory of the DPRK.

Kim Il Sung, in his speech directed to writers and artists, said that in their daily work they should in writing demonstrate numerous examples of the heroism of the Korean nation, demonstrate the manliness and heroism of the army. In writing about heroes to demonstrate their working class or peasant origins. To write and show the barbarism of the Americans and Syngman Rhee-ites. The writers’ and artists’ appearances and works should be characterized by sacred patriotism. Writers and artists should utilize criticism and self-criticism. As they write, they should model themselves on the works of the leading country, the Soviet Union, and the people’s democracies.

5.- National Holidays and Celebrations/ The July-August reporting period was rich in numerous celebrations and national holidays. Taking into account that before the outbreak of the war there were only 3 diplomatic posts in Korea, and now there are 7, this was the first time that such populous and ceremonious commemorations took place for in Korea.

On 1 July, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China organized a banquet on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Chinese Communist Party. About 40 persons were present. Politburo member, minister of finance Choe Chang-ik [Choe Chang Ik] (he was in the delegation to Poland in the month of March of this year) spoke on behalf of the Workers’ Party. Present were representatives of all diplomatic posts. The DPRK government was represented by the vice-premier, minister of propaganda and minister of security. The Chinese ambassador gave a 15-minute speech, then representatives of the diplomatic posts in turn took the floor and raised toasts to honor Mao Zedong, Stalin and Kim Il Sung.

On 11 July at 21:00 hours, the Embassy of the Mongolian People’s Republic put on a ceremonious celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Republic. Some 200 people were present. The reception took place in the hall of the CC Workers’ Party. There was not a single speech, which looked a bit strange in view of the importance of the celebration. Present were: the whole Government, Pak Jeong-ae [Pak Jong Ae], a few members of the CC of the Party, representatives of the press, Lab[or] Un[ions], Women’s, Youth Un[ions] etc.

On 22 July, the Embassy of RP [Polish Republic] in the DPRK organized in the CC of the Party hall in Pyongyang, deep underground, a celebration of the National Holiday of the Rebirth of Poland. The room was decorated with: portraits of President Bierut, Stalin and Kim Il Sung, flowers, little flags of the countries of people’s democracy whose representatives are present in the DPRK, so the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, the Mongolian People’s Republic, the People’s Republic of Hungary, People’s Republic of Romania and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, stood on the main table. Little Polish flags and a lot of flowers stood on all the tables.

Over a hundred people were present, including the whole Government with president Kim Du-bong [Kim Tu Bong] and vice-premier and minister of foreign affairs Pak Heon-yeong [Pak Hon Yong] in the lead, members of the CC of the Party, Pak Jeong-ae, members of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army, Chinese volunteers, members of the Central Council of the Council of Lab[or] Un[ions], Un[ion] of Dem[ocratic]Wom[en], Youth, labor heroes, peasants’ delegates, artists, the press, the Korean Central Telegraphic Agency and the diplomatic corps. The presence of the Ambassador of the Soviet Un[ion], Razuvaev, who apart from our reception was present only at the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Mongolian People’s Republic and the 6th anniversary of the liberation of Korea from Japanese occupation. Kim Il Sung was absent, as during all the celebrations, but his secretary, Mun Il, apologized twice for Kim Il Sung’s absence, adding that he had wanted very much to come especially to the Poles’, but the arrival of Gen. Nam Il from Gaeseong because of a [no number]-day break impeded him. I made a 10-minute speech in Russian to open the reception. In the middle of the reception, which lasted 4 hours (receptions last a long time here) the film “Wide Road” was shown. After the film I invited all the guests for black coffee, fruit liqueurs and sweets. Polish ham, vodka, cigarettes and sweets were greatly appreciated. The evening ended in a joyful mood with the singing of revolutionary and national songs.

The National Holiday of the Rebirth of Poland met with lively interest in the DPRK. The Korean press ran many articles in which it presents the history of the liberation of Poland as well as achievements in industry, agriculture, construction etc. to its readers. (We will include a translation into Russian of an article from the central organ of the Workers’ Party, Rodong.) Our film “Wide Road” won great recognition. A few days later, I was told that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs put on a special discussion evening devoted to this film.

On 1 August a celebration of the 24th anniversary of the creation of the Chinese People’s Army took place. About a hundred people were present, including numerous representatives of the Chinese volunteers and of the Korean People’s Army. Present were all diplomats, apart from the Chargé d’Affaires of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. On that day, Pyongyang and the surrounding area were powerfully bombarded. Because of the bombardments and the poor state of the roads, the reception began 1.5 hours late. The Chargé d’Affaires of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic did not come to the reception, explaining that one should not be late. The hall was decorated with a large number of photographs illustrating the fighting of the Chinese volunteers in Korea. During the reception, a documentary film about the celebration of the creation of the People’s Republic of China was shown. The Chinese Ambassador, and no one of the military people, was the host of the reception.

On 15 August, the 6th anniversary of the liberation of Korea from Japanese occupation, was celebrated solemnly.

The working class and the peasantry have documented with their anniversary actions that they are prepared for further fighting to defend the sovereignty of their country. The government gave numerous awards for service to raise the output of work, increasing assistance from the rears to the front and for various heroic deeds of the civilian population on the 6th anniversary of the liberation of Korea from Japanese occupation. Railway workers were decorated first of all, already on 4 July, then social workers, [industrial] workers, peasants, writers etc. 150 railway workers, 101 social workers and 1,251 others were decorated.

The decorations are as follows: (1) Order of the National Flag, I, II and III class, (2) Order of Labor, (3) Freedom and Independence Order, (4) Order of Heroic Fighter, (5) Medal for Heroic Deed, (6) Medal for Service.

The central celebration of the anniversary took place in Pyongyang. The celebration of the anniversary was to comprise 3 parts: an exhibition of the achievements and accomplishments of the DPRK, a celebration and a reception. The organization of the exhibition was begun formally and practically on 1 August. The exhibition was to have a section on the countries of people’s democracy. The Ambassador of the RP [Polish Republic] in Korea gave photographs, books in Polish about Korea, propaganda materials, 2 films (“Wide Road” and “Chronicle”), a state flag and portraits. For their part, the Koreans also gave examples of Polish gifts to Korea to the exhibition. The exhibition was to be opened on 14 August. On that day, Pyongyang experienced the most powerful bombing since the beginning of the war. The exhibition was bombed, and 13 people, employees of the Ministry of Propaganda and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who were busy preparing the opening of the exhibition, perished. The solemn commemoration took place on 14 August at 20:00, and 800 people were present. The commemoration took place in a newly built theater 40 meters underground. The roster of those present included: Kim Il Sung, [Kim] Du-bong, all members of the Government, representatives of the army, a numerous delegation of Chinese volunteers, representatives of social organizations, the diplomatic corps, and so on. Kim Du-bong opened, Kim Il Sung made the programmatic speech, all the representatives of diplomatic posts and army also spoke. The commander of the 4th Army spoke on behalf of the army. At the end of the official part, telegrams were sent to Stalin, Kim Il Sung and Mao Zedong. After the official part, artistic performances took place and the film “Young Partisan” was shown. On the 15th in the evening at 19:00 a reception took place. 400 persons were present. During the reception, telegrams from Stalin and Vishinsky arrived. The reception lasted until 4 in the morning.

On 13 August at 13:00 a solemn women’s Celebration took place in Pyongyang. All the women from the diplomatic corps were invited. Pak Jeong-ae was present. After the Celebration, a film about the 2nd World Peace Congress in Warsaw was shown, in Russian translation. Pak Jeong-ae said that she had received this film as a gift from the Soviet Embassy.

On 22 August a celebration of the 2nd anniversary of the constitution of the People’s Republic of Hungary took place in the hall of the CC of the Party. About 100 persons were present, including 25 Hungarians (18 doctors and 7 people from the dipl[omatic] mission.) The Hungarian envoy, Pastor, made a 3-minute speech. Of the most important personalities, present were: Kim Du-bong, Pak Heon-yeong and Pak Jeong-ae. The Hungarian health team formed a chorus and made the evening pleasant with the singing of national and revolutionary songs.

The Hungarians possess a hospital for 3,000 people in Korea with its own full equipment, ranging from bedroom slippers and dressing gowns to surgical tools and x-ray machines. The hospital is systematically supplied with necessary medicines by Hungary. A part of the hospital with 1,000 beds is located at a dozen or so kilometers from Pyongyang. They are closing down the hospital they have in Manchuria and developing the hospital they have near Pyongyang. The whole Government, party and state activists use the care provided by this hospital.

Recently, a delegation of Hungarian women came from Hungary, and with them 2 journalists and one film operator. Apart from them, a Hungarian reporter arrived in Gaeseong.

The Hungarian Diplomatic Mission is richly supplied with means of transportation, gasoline, it also possesses an [?] and so on.

On 23 August in the hall of the CC of the Party a celebration of the national holiday of the People’s Republic of Romania took place. Over a hundred people were present, including the whole Government, President Kim Du-bong and many other personalities. In the middle of the reception, 2 Romanian documentary films were shown, one about an exhibition about Korea in Romania and the second about the celebration of the national holiday in 50 in Romania. Both films were received by those present with great interest.

The Romanians possess in Korea, in Sinuiju, a hospital for 3,800 people, fully equipped with their own inventory, drugs, operating rooms and so on, and staffed by a Romanian health crew of 22 people, including 8 surgeons. The hospital is supplied systematically with necessary medicines by Romania. According to a statement by a Romanian doctor, mortality in this hospital is 0.5%.

6.- Activities of the RP Embassy in Korea. […]

7.- Offers: a. They are again sending signals about the great need for clothing in Korea. The situation has worsened even more because of the typhoon which struck Korea. Thousands of people are being incessantly tormented by bombardments, which, apart from human losses, take away roofs over their heads and their whole, already miserable, belongings. Right now, the typhoon has taken the homes and total belongings away from more thousands of people. The typhoon destroyed many agricultural fields and brought huge losses in production because many factories, which are usually located underground, have been flooded. In Pyongyang, a bomb destroyed a dam and the water flooded parts of the city. The situation of the population is very difficult. Half-naked people and naked, haggard children are nesting in caves in the hills.

b) I suggest that we take care of the school-age children, so help with clothing, shoes, writing materials, medicines and food.

c) I suggest that because of the great shortage of transportation we send ambulances for the health service. I believe that we must continue to send all medicines, and especially vaccinations against tetanus.

d) I suggest sending spades, pickaxes and hoes because I have seen myself many times how in Pyongyang following bombardments people removed the rubble with their hands. The need for these tools also stems from conversations I have conducted with various employees of ministries. I also suggest sending pneumatic hammers and drills. Shelters are still being built in Korea for various goals and tools that they are using in construction are the hammer and steel cutter. Building a shelter with such tools requires a lot of time and many hands.

e) I believe that there should be a permanent ambassador in Korea. All the diplomatic posts, except for the Polish and Czechoslovak ones, are staffed by ambassadors or envoys. Comrades from the Soviet Union and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have questioned me whether an ambassador has been nominated yet.

Deperasinski [signature]

R. Deperasinski

2nd secretary of the Embassy of the Polish Republic in Korea

Charge d’Affaires ad in.

List of Enclosures.

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