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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 31, 1952

REPORT FROM THE EMBASSY OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF POLAND IN THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA FOR THE PERIOD OF 20 NOVEMBER TO 31 DECEMBER 1952

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

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    Jozef reports on the progress of the Korean War and improving domestic conditions in North Korea.
    "Report from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of Poland in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the Period of 20 November to 31 December 1952," December 31, 1952, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Polish Foreign Ministry Archive. Obtained for NKIDP by Jakub Poprocki and translated for NKIDP by Maya Latynski. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114937
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Report

Embassy of the People’s Republic of Poland

in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

for the period of 20 November to 31 December 1952

I. Poland-DPRK.

1. In this reporting period a further rapprochement between our two countries took place, especially in the area of culture. […]

2. The increased assistance from our country to fighting Korea, naturally, has a positive influence on our mutual relations. […]

3. The composition of the group of 133 Korean students invited by our government to study in Poland was finally completed in this reporting period. […]

4. The Embassy of the PRL [People’s Republic of Poland] in the DPRK has from the beginning of its creation been represented by the ambassador situated in the capital of the People’s Republic of China […]

To recap, it can be said that the year 1952 was a year of deepening our mutual friendship, a closer mutual acquaintance and efforts to improve our assistance in the direction of greater effectiveness and planning.

II. The domestic situation.

1. Broadened Plenum of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party.

From 15 to 18 December 1952, a broadened Plenum of he Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party convened in Pyongyang, and over 1,000 delegates from the whole country and the army took part in it. The fundamental speech on the subject of “The organizational and ideological strengthening of the Korean Workers’ Party – the foundation of our victory” was given by the Chairman of the CC KWP Kim Il Sung; then, the Secretary of the CC KWP Pak Jeong-ae [Pak Jong Ae] gave a speech about organizational issues. A lively discussion developed after the speeches.

The broadened V Plenum closes the stormy period of the growth of the KWP begun after the IV Plenum: in a short, one-year period, the party grew by 40%, and now has 1,020,000 members in 48,933 basic party organizations. Despite the stormy growth in the numbers of the KWP, the party’s social composition has improved by comparison to the pre-war period. The percentage of workers in the party is now 21%, poor guys 57.9%, middle guys 3.5%, working intelligentsia 16.6%, various 1%. Compared to the pre-war period, the number of workers in the party has grown by 1%, poor guys by 2.7%, working intelligentsia by 1.1%, students by 0.4%, but the percentage of middle guys in the party has dropped by 3.6%, of wealthy peasantry by 0.2%, of merchants, entrepreneurs and others by 1.4%. The strong growth of the KWP in the period of the difficult and long-lasting national-freedom war is the best proof of the power of the party, which stems from its Marxist-Leninist ideology and its tight connections to the masses of the people. The KWP is stronger, more experienced and cohesive today than before the war, its authority has grown and its leadership role in the struggle to liberate the nation and to promote the nation’s development is unquestionable. After the IV Plenum the party dealt with the lefty mistakes by opening its ranks to true patriots of the DPRK heroically fighting at the front and in the rear. During the war, 450,000 new members joined the party; these are comrades who are for the most part not sophisticated politically. The broadened CC KWP Plenum set as one of its main goals the ideological strengthening through intensive party training and putting organizational order into the ranks of the party.

Taking advantage of the presence of party and state activists in Pyongyang, the CC KWP organized 7-day practical courses for the chairmen of district party committees and the National Committees (the equivalent of our District National Councils).

The broadened Plenum launched mass political and economic actions for the period of the winter, aiming to raise the masses to a higher level of consciousness and a greater activism in all the spheres of life, work and struggle.

2. The overall stabilization of the DPRK.

In the third year of the victorious war, despite the constantly growing air raids on the towns and villages of North Korea, the violent firing at the coastline by American warships and the cold winter, the life and work of the DPRK’s population is stabilizing more and more, and the authority of the Korean Workers’ Party and the people’s government is growing.

The setting of the frontline at the 38th parallel and the inability of the American armies to rupture it, despite many attempts, are an important source of strength and faith in the victory of the DPRK. The population knows that the front is holding strong and that it can live and work for the victorious end to this war behind this wall.

The increasingly effective and planned assistance from the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China and the Countries of People’s Democracy to a large degree makes it easier for the DPRK government to stabilize the life of the people. The government and the Committee of assistance to the victims of the war distribute food and clothing to the most aggrieved in their persistent concern for keeping, if possible, the whole population alive. The preparations for winter (the building of dugouts and the transport of heating supplies) were basically completed. On 1.XII the early winter did not bring the great losses that had been feared, and the construction of air shelters, initiated by the KWP and the government, also contributed to saving the lives of the population.

The good harvest of rice, its low prices and the government’s additional ration of 1 mal (7.5 kg.) of rice per family of those who work guaranteed every inhabitant of North Korea the ability to eat rice every day.

The fight with bureaucratism and with the leftover ideology of Japanese imperialism that is being conducted under the leadership of the KWP has to a certain degree purged the state and social apparatuses, and mostly brought them closer to the masses, which are feeling with increasing force that this is their own government apparatus, their own people’s government.

The most distinguished soldiers were given leave for the period of the holidays, and usually the whole village greets them with enthusiasm and makes them welcome; apart from this, the Union of Korean Women has organized an action of sending New Year’s gifts to the front, strengthening the ties between the rear and the front. The People’s Army enjoys universal love and support. 23 [sic?] broadened session of the Central Committee of the Unified Democratic Motherland Front was devoted to preparing a ceremonious commemoration on 8.II.1953 because of the 5th anniversary of the creation of the Korean Workers’ Army, a central preparatory committee was chosen and is headed by the CC KWP Secretary Pak Chang-ok [Pak Chang Ok]. This action encompasses the whole country.

Thus, the regime of the people’s democracy, under heavy fire, passed the historical exam in Korea and every day strengthens the power of the people’s government in contrast to the rotting capitalism, which in the south of the same Korea is destroying the nation and increasingly sets the broad popular masses against itself.

a) The strengthening of the people’s government.

The people’s government, backed by the broad masses of the patriotic population, has gelled, and the activities of the state apparatus are increasingly efficient and effective. This can be seen in many areas. In education, for example, the Ministry was able to include up to 85% of school-age children in education. Aiming to keep alive and continue to bring up orphans, a Central Committee for saving the child has been organized, and social women’s organizations have been pulled in, and it places orphans in state orphanages or with the families of a given locality.

The overall industrial production has risen by comparison to 1951 by 119%, cooperatives by 118% and internal trade, thanks to assistance from the Countries of People’s Democracy, with the Soviet Union in the lead, to 232%; the railways carried 113% more cargo than in 1951 and so forth: each of these departments is working better and more productively than in 1951.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was recently merged with the Ministry of Security, leaving as minister the former Minister of Public Security, has also improved its work, which is of great importance for the defensiveness of the country; it has organized, together with social organizations (KWP, Union of Women, the Union of Democratic Youth), self-defense units, which are playing a growing role in catching spies, bandits and saboteurs, in almost all the towns and villages. Recently, a series of public trials of spies and saboteurs took place in Pyongyang and provincial towns, and then those who are condemned to death are publicly hanged, and their bodies are left for a few days on the scaffold. Material evidence, such as parachutes, radio transmitters, weapons, poisons, bacteria and so on, is displayed next to the scaffold. The population accepts the destruction of the enemies with satisfaction and learns how to uncover them.

In the winter, the spies are forced to crawl out of their mountain hiding places and look for shelter and food from the population, and this is why it was recently forbidden to take in anyone for the night without permission from the local national committee.

The Ministry of Health has a lot of experience in fighting the airdrops of disease-bearing bacteria, and it, together with society’s input, organized 9,000 observation points in the whole country, which look out for enemy planes all day and all night to make sure they are not dropping bacteria. According to data from the Ministry of Health, Comr. Ri Byeong-nam [Ri Pyong Nam], the observation is generally good, but there are sometimes belated information and discoveries of concentrations of infected flies, mosquitoes etc.

Concerned with the health of the population, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a resolution about providing health care for free to the whole population. Currently, the Ministry of Health has begun to organize this health service, especially for those who work, transforming medical rooms serving factories into polyclinics. The hard conditions of life during the long-lasting war have had a very strong impact on the health of the population; recently, tuberculosis has been spreading especially powerfully; and so, for example, tests given to stationary patients in one hospital revealed that 20% have tuberculosis, and the testing of the “healthy” in a factory revealed that 15% had TB. In view of the above, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to guarantee 700 gr. of rice and 50 gr. of meat as the daily food ration for those who are suffering from tuberculosis.

In order to make the work of the administration more efficient, adhering to a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly decided on 22.XII.1952 to eliminated the existing communities, which remain from the old Japanese administrative system, as an unnecessary intermediate step between a village and a district, which only makes the administrative apparatus more bureaucratic. By decision No. 330, the Cabinet of Ministers on 29.XII. established a commission with the task of preparing a plan for new administrative units.

The struggle against bureaucratism and leftovers of the ideology of Japanese imperialism, as well as criticism, self-criticism and mass actions to make growing strata of the population more active, and, most of all, the correct policies of the KWP and the government – these are the levers which constantly fortify the people’s government of the DPRK and make it possible during the long war to strengthen the front and the rear.

b) The countryside.

Because of the rich harvest and the raising of the consciousness of the peasant masses, the payment of in-kind tax is going well, and many districts have delivered 100% of what they need to. The payment of the tax without any particular pressure from the administrative apparatus, but only by the influence of mass actions and a growing sense of patriotism, is the best evidence that the authority of the people’s government has grown and the consciousness of the peasant masses has increased.

The Korean Workers’ Party has increased its activities in the countryside during the winter period. The transmission of the party to the countryside translates into over ½ million peasants, party members, into the Union of Peasants, the Union of Women and the Union of Democratic Youth, and so the population of the countryside is becoming increasingly active.

First of all, in every village during general meetings there are discussions of [illegible word, added by hand] this good harvest and what needs to be done to attain the same or better outcomes next year. People decide not to waste food, to save it and to buy working cattle and agricultural tools. During meetings, peasants have addressed the demand to cooperatives producing agricultural tools that the tools be adapted to the work of women, who currently dominate the countryside. The peasants’ meetings are characterized by seriousness and a feeling of responsibility for delivering food to the whole nation, and especially to the People’s Army.

The KWP and the government have been paying a lot of attention to the preparations for spring sowing and a good crop. According to the directives of the Plenum of the CC KWP, the overall production of seeds should reach 105% in 1953, by comparison to 1952, which will surpass even the best year 1948 by 150 thousand t. The Cabinet of Ministers devoted a special session to this question, and is adopting several resolutions proposed by the CC KWP, which are to make it easier for the peasantry to execute the undertaken task.

The existing Ministry of Forests and Agriculture was renamed the Ministry of Agriculture, and I don’t know yet who will take care of the forests. The peasantry is learning to choose the best seeds for sowing, and the government has given the peasants 20 thou[sand] t. of artificial fertilizers delivered by the Soviet Union to prepare sowing, and this is of enormous importance for future crops; also, the action organized by the party of collecting and preparing natural fertilizers continues, and it is yielding good results; some peasants have already prepared up to 200 t. of this fertilizer.

The party and the government are conducting a sharp critique of the activities of the peasant bank, which in 1952 gave out 60% of credit to various organizations, instead of to the poor, and this led to the development of usury in the countryside, which forced the government to take care of the indebted poor and to issue a ruling that regulates the paying off of these debts fairly.

In late December in Pyongyang, the party and the government organized a congress of peasant activists, the so-called peasants of rich harvest, with the aim of exchanging experiences and further broadening this patriotic movement. A good agricultural exhibition was organized at the congress, and many activists were rewarded for their model work. After the congress of activists ended, a conference of the Union of Peasants will take place, and then agricultural exhibitions will be organized in every village to teach how to attain high yields.

Apart from the above-mentioned actions, a broad action to raise the political consciousness of the peasant masses is being conducted. Schools for adults are working very intensively, a large number of white-collar workers have been directed to the countryside to serve in the above-mentioned schools. Lessons are being conducted on the national-liberation war, about the roots of past victories over the enemy, the government’s fair people’s policy, the systematic and selfless help from the Countries of people’s democracy, educating the masses in the spirit of internationalism and so on.

In 1952 the standard of living in the countryside rose, the peasants approach the people’s government with full trust and are becoming increasingly active and conscious citizens of the DPRK.

c) Learning and culture.

On 1.XII.1953 the Korean Academy of Science began to work normally. For the first time in the history of the Korean nation, an academic center has been created, which will develop academic research according to a plan and serve the nation. The working masses received the news about the creation of the Academy of Science and the awarding of academic degrees to excellent Korean scholars with pride and joy.

The party and government are attaching a lot of importance to the development of learning, science and the arts, hence Kim Il Sung University and all universities not only are open, but are currently accepting more and more students for courses of study, even pulling them in from the front.

The Korean nation is very musical, it likes signing and music, and so, even despite the war, two good-quality symphony orchestras have been organized. The 1953 plan anticipates the construction of another underground theater hall in Pyongyang, also to serve as an air-raid shelter for the population, as well as 4 underground theaters in the provinces.

Film makers can also mark new achievements in their creations. They have released a new film entitled “Defenders of their Fatherland” and, together with Chinese cinematography, a documentary about bacteriological warfare.

1952 was a year of difficult struggles between the DPRK and the imperialist invaders and the domestic enemy. The people’s government, directed by the Korean Workers’ Party, with help from the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China and the Countries of People’s Democracy, has been able to stabilize life in North Korea, significantly strengthen the rear and to gather a huge majority of the population around the KWP and the government in the struggle for national liberation and the people’s-democratic revolution. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is entering the third year of a bloody war more cohesive and stronger than it was at the beginning of the war.

III. South Korea

Syngman Rhee’s situation has become even more difficult because of the American rabble rousers’ persistent push to reduce their losses on the front and to achieve the quickest possible substitution of the American units by others. It is clear to realistically thinking politicians that only Japanese units could potentially replace the Americans [sic] at the front, and for this a Japanese-Korean “alliance” is needed. I have already written in an annex to my previous report that this would mean a repeat occupation of South Korea by the Japanese and the possibility of uniting the whole Korean nation in an anti-Japanese war. In this situation Syngman Rhee is dying to prove that his “government” is capable of manning the front with South Korean units, and the Americans could just protect the rear. On 25.XI.1952, as he accepted the new letters of credence from the newly appointed ambassador of the USA Eliks Briks [sic], who was previously the USA ambassador to Czechoslovakia, Syngman Rhee declared that the South Korean army is now stronger than before the war, that it is fighting on the fronts alongside the American units, that two million young Koreans are burning with eagerness to enter its ranks and that only equipment and the USA’s assistance are needed.

The Americans have nothing against increasing the numbers of South Korean units, especially since the Korean soldier is 28 times less expensive than the American one, and the arming of one South Korean division costs only ca. 8 million American dollars, while the 1-month pay of an American division alone costs over 5 million dollars. An increase in the South Korean army creates the opportunity of an instant deployment on the front in the period of preparing Japanese units, and possibly also Chiang Kai-shek-ist ones to be used in Korea, and later also on a wider front. This is why Eisenhower demanded during his inspection of Korea, on the one hand, an enlargement of the Syngman Rhee army and, on the other hand, reaching a quick agreement between Syngman Rhee and Japan.

Since December 1952, army recruitment in South Korea has been very intensive and daily yields 1,100 people, according to the New York Times, and Syngman Rhee’s units with very young recruits have indeed appeared on the front. At the same time, Syngman Rhee, executing Eisenhower’s order, declared that on 5.I.1953 he is going to Japan to meet with Clark and activists of the Yoshida government, so it is clear that the Americans, breaking the resistance of the Korean bourgeoisie, are pushing it to reach an “alliance” with Japan quickly. Attempts at resistance coming from the Syngman Rhee group have been sharply attacked by the American press, and for now everything has “quieted down” and the USA’s order is being executed. This matter must be followed closely since it carries the germ of future increased fighting of the whole Korean nation against their eternal enemy, Japanese militarism, linked with the USA’s imperialism. The KWP realizes the significance of working in South Korea and, despite the bloody terror, is increasing its broad activity, mobilizing the masses to resist and to fight the invaders and the Syngman Rhee-ites.

IV. The military situation.

For the whole period of 1952, the war in Korea was a positional war, and the several attempts by the American command to disrupt the front failed with large losses for the so-called UN troops. The strengthening of positions did not cease for the entire year, but in this reporting period it became especially intensive, and both sides’ increases in forces are equally intensive.

After the break-off of talks in Panmunjeom and the UN’s passing of the so-called Indian resolution, rejected by the DPRK and the PRC, and also Eisenhower’s and his allies’ statements about the need to increase supplies of airplanes, ammunition and so forth to the front in Korea, it is becoming clear that rough fighting at the front may begin, and here I would like to stress that the front is not only the 300-kilometer line of trenches, but a very long coastline, which requires constant alertness and can almost only count on defense from the land, since the DPRK does not possess a fleet, and the mining of the coastal waters takes place from wooden fishermen’s boats.

The American command has increased air raids on the cities, roads and railroads, and especially all types of warehouses and the mining industry, even more. The air raids are massive, every day 800-1,000 American planes roam the skies over North Korea, and they are currently bombing in the day and at night. The appearance of reactive airplanes at night, which approach before one can hear them, is a new thing, and it is impossible to see them in the night, hence the difficulty of defense. The Americans are heralding further intensification of the terrorist air raids and, as the UP announced on 13.XII, the deputy minister of defense of the USA Patrick announced that until now it was possible to send only 666 planes per month, but in the new year it will be possible to add 750 airplanes per month to the aviation.

The front line has for a month now been intensively covered by aviation with heavy bombs and artillery, hence the need to dig into the earth and the rocks more deeply; apart from this the americans [sic] are executing massive airdrops of disease-bearing bacteria, especially on the eastern front; and so on 24.XI.1952 in Goseong district of Gangwon province, flies, mosquitoes, spiders and fleas infected with paratyphoid fever “A”. On 25.XI. flies and spiders with streptococcus were discovered in Huchang district, on 1.XII. infected fleas were airdropped in Ongjin district, Seongnam village, on 10.XII infected flies and mosquitoes were dropped in the city of Wonsan, and so on. The airdrops of bacteria are spreading now also in the area around Pyongyang.

There is great fear of a mass use of what so far has been sporadic and experimental, chemical weapons and gases, with the goal of potentially breaking up the front or destroying human resources. An American prisoner-of-war Lieutenant Henri [sic] Peters testified that there are little flags with “gas” written on them to mark places infected with fighting gases or chemical warfare in every American [sic] fighting unit, as well as similar little flags with “bacteriological bomb” written on them.

Since Eisenhower’s inspection, the American command has been trying even more insistently to push the Syngman Rhee-ites into the first line. For 1.XII.1952 the Americans [sic] kept at the front 2, 3, 7, 25, 45 divisions and the 1st sea division, and the Syngman Rhee-ites 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 11 divisions. Seoul radio broadcast that South Korea currently has 12 divisions and is aiming to double them.

According to data of 15.XII.1952 from the Supreme command of the Korean People’s Army, losses suffered by the so-called UN armies in November amounted to:

American  9,728

English     880

Syngman Rhee-ite 20,203

Depression is so widespread among the American troops that every USA personality who inspects the Korean front tries to give them encouragement. V[ice]-minister [sic] of defense of the USA Rosenberg promised to send them blondes to play with for the new year; Eisenhower stated that the Americans are thinking about them and that they are not fighting a ‘forgotten” war; finally, Cardinal Spellman came to Korea in order to bless them in the noble deed of defending the American way of life; it is a fact that the American soldier is tired by the war and does not want to die in Korea. To show the particular situation in the Syngman Rhee-ite army I am enclosing an order from the Commander-in-Chief of the KPA Gen. Kim Il Sung to decorate a former Syngman Rhee-ite lieutenant, Guk Jong-am, who crossed over to the Korean People’s Army with an airplane.

Under fire, the Korean People’s Army has grown into a powerful force; it has grown not only quantifiably but also qualitatively; its supplies are becoming better and richer, it is characterized by mass heroism, which shows constantly in the fight against the enemy. By 1.X.1952 the title of “hero of the DPRK” was awarded to 398 soldiers and officers, of whom 228 are alive; tens of thousands of soldiers and officers have been decorated with top medals and about 300,000 medals for valor. The Korean People’s Army has grown into a dangerous force, whose strikes the enemy has felt on his own skin.

V. The diplomatic corps.

[…]

VI. The situation of the Embassy.

[…]

[signature]

Góra Józef

Charge d’Affaires a.i.

of the Embassy of the PRL [People’s Republic of Poland] in the DPRK