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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 11, 1982

HUNGARIAN EMBASSY IN THE DPRK, REPORT, 11 MARCH 1982. SUBJECT: NORTH KOREAN ACTIVITIES IN THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT.

This document was made possible with support from the ROK Ministry of Unification, Leon Levy Foundation

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    "Hungarian Embassy in the DPRK, Report, 11 March 1982. Subject: North Korean activities in the Non-Aligned Movement. ," March 11, 1982, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, MOL, XIX-J-1-j Korea, 1982, 80. doboz, 10, 002796/1982. Obtained and translated for NKIDP by Balazs Szalontai. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116016
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From the beginning of this year to virtually the present day, a surprisingly high number of delegations traveled from the DPRK to various countries. The delegations were headed by party and state functionaries ranging from deputy ministers to the vice-president. With one or two exceptions, the majority of the delegations traveled to non-aligned countries. According to the information that was leaked and spread within the DC [diplomatic corps] in Pyongyang, the objectives of these numerous and high-ranking delegations may be summed up as follows:

  1. To move the location of the [7th] summit of the Non-Aligned Movement from Baghdad to Pyongyang, and to gain the support of as many countries as possible to this idea;   
  2. To prevent South Korea from joining the Non-Aligned Movement;
  3. To gain support to the DPRK’s conception of national unification, and explain why the DPRK rejected the proposals which South Korea had made so far;
  4. To invite the maximum number of delegations—the higher ranking, the better—to the 70th birthday of Kim Il Sung.

To increase and strengthen the international prestige of the DPRK, it would be extremely important to hold the summit of the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement in Pyongyang. Namely, this would be its only chance to offset the international advantage that South Korea gained over the DPRK by obtaining the right to hold the Olympic and Asian Games in Seoul. In parentheses, we would like to note that South Korea is making very active efforts to ensure that the maximum number of cultural, sports, and other international competitions be held in Seoul. For instance, in this September the matches of the World Baseball Championship, while in 1983, those of the “C” group of the World Ice Hockey Championship will be held there [emphasis in the original]. The groups of both world championships will include socialist countries as well; for instance, Hungary will also be present at the latter one [emphasis in the original].

The Baghdad summit also causes difficulties to the DPRK for the reason that Iraq broke diplomatic relations with the DPRK because of the military and other support that the latter had provided to Iran. In its official utterances, the DPRK cautiously dodges the question of changing the location of the summit. Instead, their publications use foreign delegations—mainly non-aligned countries—as mouthpieces to express their desire, by saying that “Baghdad is a dangerous place, the safety of the foreign heads of state is not sufficiently guaranteed, the war with Iran would enable Iran to carry out air raids and acts of sabotage, etc.” Concerning this issue, it is worth mentioning that Deputy Foreign Minister Ri Jong-mok recently also made such statements at the dinner that the Czechoslovak embassy gave in his honor. Iran has already unequivocally declared that it would boycott Baghdad, and it would do its best to achieve that the summit be held in some other country. In the light of the very good relations between the DPRK and Iran, one may draw the conclusion that if the location is not modified, Iran will presumably disapprove of the DPRK’s participation in Baghdad.

The aforesaid objective of the delegations is closely related to the previous one, for the DPRK will be presumably unable to prevent South Korea’s admission to the Non-Aligned Movement unless the [8th] summit is held in Pyongyang. Otherwise, it is very likely that South Korea will be admitted, which would mean that two-thirds of the countries of the world de jure recognize the existence of the two Koreas. This might scuttle the foreign policy that the DPRK has hitherto pursued with regard to this issue, for it would be no longer able to present its conception of national unification at any international forum—including the UN—with any chance for success. Needless to say, the recognition of the two Koreas might also cause confusion in the domestic politics of the DPRK. Of course, Seoul, due to its own interests, is making very active efforts in favor of holding the summit in Baghdad. Similarly to the DPRK, South Korean delegations of various level travel to the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement. One may raise the question of whether the fact that American troops are stationed in South Korea might, in the light of the fundamental principles of the movement, preclude its admission. Concerning this question, it must be taken into consideration that in a legal sense, there are still “UN troops” on South Korean soil, and thus the Americans are stationed there under the aegis of the UN flag. This is pro forma an argument against the charges about South Korea’s “aligned” status and South Korea’s consent to the establishment of military bases. It would be difficult to predict the chances of either North or South Korea, for both parts of the country are willing to make substantial financial sacrifices in order to achieve their foreign and domestic political aims. If the various pieces of information circulating in the DC [diplomatic corps] can be given credence, the DPRK has already spent over $100 million in order to achieve the aforesaid aims.

The third objective of the DPRK delegations is also related to the subjects covered above, since [the policy of persuading] the non-aligned countries to accept and support Kim Il Sung’s conception of national unification is just as important for the DPRK as the aforesaid two issues. For the time being, one can observe only soundings on the part of the DPRK, because South Korea—thanks to its latest proposals for national unification, which are supported by the majority of the Third World countries—has gained an advantage over the DPRK. In contrast, many countries have failed to respond to the DPRK’s proposal for national unification because of the doubts [they harbored] about its practical applicability. For this reason, these countries politely evade discussing this question by saying that “this is Korea’s internal affair.” If the DPRK wanted to raise the Korean question at the summit or at some other international forum, this would be certainly grist to Seoul’s mill, for up to now [North Korea] has merely rejected the South Korean proposals, and made no effort to investigate the possibilities of a compromise solution.

Concerning the delegations to be invited for the 70th birthday of Kim Il Sung, one can hardly expect that a high number of high-ranking delegations will arrive in the DPRK. According to the information available for us, the leaders of most countries politely evaded [accepting] the invitation.

The Havana conference of the foreign ministers of the [non-aligned] countries will throw light to the issue of how successful the DPRK’s activities have been in the Non-Aligned Movement. There is good reason to raise the following question: If the DPRK is going to hold the [8th] summit, and will be the chair of the movement for a few years, what can the community of the socialist countries expect? Namely, up to now the DPRK has failed to represent the interests of the socialist community within the movement. On the contrary, in certain important international issues—e.g., in the case of Vietnam—it joined the reactionary wing of the movement.    

In such a situation, the leader of the DPRK, as chair of the movement, would be able to visit countries of different social systems, consult them, and so on. However, on the basis of the activities the DPRK has hitherto conducted, one can rightly fear the prospect that the DPRK will not exert influence on these countries (which would serve the interests of the socialist countries) but rather the other way around. This might mean that the DPRK will become even more detached from the community of socialist countries.

Our report was prepared on the basis of exchanging views with Indian, Egyptian, Algerian, Vietnamese, Soviet, and Cuban diplomats.    

Sándor Pataki

chargé d’affairs ad interim