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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 05, 1983


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

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    Sándor Etre summarizes North Korea's diplomatic activity in the lead up to the 7th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in New Delhi.
    "Hungarian Embassy in the DPRK, Report, 5 March 1983. Subject: The DPRK’s activities before the 7th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. ," March 05, 1983, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, MOL, XIX-J-1-j Korea, 1983, 78. doboz, 81-10, 002438/1983. Obtained and translated for NKIDP by Balazs Szalontai.
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The DPRK showed very great activity before the 7th summit of the non-aligned countries, which is to be held in New Deli, in order to achieve its aims within the movement. Delegations of various levels traveled to the African and Asian countries with the intention to obtain support to [the following objectives]: holding the 8th summit in Pyongyang, placing the Korean question on the agenda [of the conference], and, in connection with the latter issue, condemning and “isolating” South Korea, and preventing it from joining the movement. On the basis of the information available to us, the visits yielded less success—as far as the enumerated [aims] were concerned—than the DPRK had expected.   

At the time of the preparation of our report, the conference’s resolution on which country will be entitled to hold the 8th summit has not become known yet, but the DPRK has little chance against the earlier candidates (Iraq, Syria, Libya). Despite these odds, they are trying to improve their chances in an extremely persistent way, taking advantage of every opportunity and using all means of influence.

If the Korean question is not covered in the agenda of the summit or in its final resolution, this will be a substantial loss of prestige for the DPRK, because no such event has occurred ever since it became a member of the Non-Aligned Movement. For this very reason, they made every possible effort—including diplomatic, economic, and personal influence—to [persuade] both the host country and the current chair of the movement that the Korean question be mentioned at least in one document of the conference. For instance, the Indian chargé d’affaires was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in every three or four days to ask him to call his government’s attention to the importance of placing this question on the agenda. To lay further emphasis on this request, a Korean delegation headed by a deputy foreign minister travelled to New Delhi. (Judging from what an Indian diplomat told us, the Korean question will not be placed on the agenda, or mentioned in the resolution, unless consensus is reached on this issue.)

At the start of the joint US-South Korean military training exercise called Team Spirit ’83, the DPRK declared a state of “war alert,” all armed forces were mobilized, and the holding of exercises of blackout and air raid precautions was announced. All this was presumably done—in addition to the other reasons—in order to call the attention of the world (and primarily the non-aligned countries) to the DPRK and the “warlike” situation on the Korean Peninsula, by which they sought to lay additional emphasis on the importance of the Korean question. (A similar situation had been created in the DPRK as early as 1976, before the Colombo summit and after the well-known incident in Panmunjom.) At the same time, this was also aimed at drawing attention to South Korea, by providing the non-aligned countries with evidence about the militarist and warmongering policies of South Korea, which is in close military alliance with the USA and Japan.

The domestic situation of the DPRK also provided a useful pretext to Kim Il Sung, who, on this ground, once again declined to participate in the summit. As early as before the meeting of the foreign ministers, the Koreans had presumably became aware of that their preliminary ideas and plans could be only partly accomplished, and even these results would not be the ones they strove for.

The fact that the South Korean foreign minister had visited India early this year presumably also played a role in that the Korean question was not included in the preliminary agenda. According to an Indian diplomat, South Korea’s foreign policy toward the Non-Aligned Movement is aimed at biding its time and pursuing a step-by-step policy. As the aforesaid [observations] demonstrate, its first substantial step turned out to be successful, and if it also managed to achieve that it could participate in the conference as an observer, this would give it a significant advantage over the DPRK. For the time being, it postponed applying for admission to the movement until it could be certain that the great majority of the non-aligned countries would support it—to which point, by the way, it is already quite close.

On the basis of the information available to us, the DPRK asked the Indian government to assist it in retaining its membership in the Coordinating Bureau. This is essential for it to preserve at least the position that it has so far gained in the movement. It also asked for support to the idea of holding the South-South conference in Pyongyang, preferably before the 8th summit if Pyongyang will not be able to host the latter. According to the Vietnamese, Cuban, and Indian diplomats, this proposal is not popular, because the majority of the countries that belong to the movement are industrially underdeveloped, and the development of their agriculture has also failed to reach the desired level yet. These countries need substantial economic aid, rather than theoretical debates, and this is the attitude they adopt toward the proposal. The proposal Iran intends to make at the conference—i.e., the idea that the countries of the movement should establish a financial fund which would be independent from the developed countries and from which the poorest countries of the movement could obtain credit—presumably resulted from consultations with the DPRK.    

On March 5th, a 50-member Korean delegation headed by Vice-President Pak Seong-cheol [Pak Song Chol] departed for New Delhi, still maintaining the hope that the Korean question would not be ignored at the conference.   

Still, in the period of preparations it has become increasingly obvious that the DPRK’s role and influence within the movement failed to undergo any additional increase, since, all their activities notwithstanding, in those questions that are so important for them they do not receive any support, or only a partial one, from the countries of the movement.

This fact should inspire the leaders of the DPRK to think over that it is time to implement certain positive changes in their foreign policy.

Sándor Etre