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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 11, 1967


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    Kim Jae-seok reports on North Korea's stance regarding China's Cultural Revolution.
    "Report, Embassy of Hungary in China to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry," April 11, 1967, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, MOL, XIX-J-1-j China, 1967, 59. doboz, 1, 001136/6/1967. Translated by Balázs Szalontai.
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At a luncheon given in his honor, Korean Chargé d’Affaires Kim Jae-seok [Kim Jae Sok] had a long conversation with our counsellor. During this he fully agreed with our evaluation of the Chinese situation, repeated in his own words what had been said by our counsellor, and added some examples of his own. He agreed with that the destruction of the Communist party could not be a means to construct socialism, and he particularly approved of that view of ours that the Chinese effort to force the person of Mao and his so-called thoughts on the peoples of the world was by no means compatible with the principles of internationalism.

In the opinion of Comrade Kim, one of the serious errors of Chinese policy and a cause of the chaos created by the „Cultural Revolution” is the improper method that they [the CCP leaders] rely on the masses solely in slogans; in reality, it is the subjective will of one or two persons that decides everything. „The chaos of the events makes one feel,” Comrade Kim said, „that the Chinese leaders have no program or definite conception, and they do not steer [the country] purposefully, on the basis of principles.”

With regard to individual leaders, he mentioned that there were still much more people behind Liu Shaoqi than it was usually believed. For instance, to their [the North Koreans’] knowledge the organization called „Committee for the Unity of Action” is actually a substantial armed unit with a membership of approx. 12,000, which is opposed to Mao. As for Zhou Enlai, both the attacks launched on his deputies and certain articles of Red Flag [Hongqi] and Renmin Ribao, which attack those who focus on economic issues, are actually directed against Zhou Enlai.

Comrade Kim agreed with that evaluation of ours that the majority of the Chinese people was opposed to the policy pursued by Mao, and this was the main cause of that the Cultural Revolution was still dragging on. As an example for the manifestation of opposition and its repression, he said that in the course of the recent demonstrations against Liu Shaoqi, some 500 railroadmen hurled abuse at the internal security forces in front of the main entrance of the government district. The soldiers surrounded the group and forced them to read quotations from Mao on their knees and with their heads bowed. When a leader of the railroadmen was not willing to continue this and stood up, the soldiers pounced on him and beat him up.

As for the general evaluation of the Chinese internal situation, the Korean Chargé d’Affaires repeatedly emphasized that the situation was very confused and dangerous. He made [the Hungarian counsellor] feel that it was the outbreak of civil war that he meant by danger.

With regard to the economic situation, he remarked that Chinese data were unreliable and it was very difficult to form an accurate notion of [the situation]. As for crop prospects and a possible famine, he referred to a placard, according to which [Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China] Chen Yi had declared that peasants had nothing to eat. He added that to his knowledge, there were serious problems in industry as well. The main cause of all this was that there was no plan, no economic program, and the workers themselves also felt uncertain, they were afraid of the future.

With regard to the international effects of the Cultural Revolution, the Korean Chargé d’Affaires declared that the peoples of the world had no need of such a Cultural Revolution. Over there, in Korea this would be inconceivable, for their principal problem was the division of the country and the constant threats of the American imperialists.

As for Sino-Korean relations, he told [the Hungarian counsellor] the incident caused by the glass-case of the [Chinese] embassy in Pyongyang, which had been known to us, and emphasized that unfortunately the Chinese comrades did not submit themselves to the general rules. He agreed with that evaluation of ours that this was a manifestation of Chinese big-power chauvinism. He condemned the Red Guards’ attacks on Kim Il Sung in a very sharp tone, stressing that although Korea was only a small country and it was also in a difficult situation, they could not tolerate such attacks. He said that their ambassador to Beijing had received his approval long ago, but then the Red Guards’ attack on Kim Il Sung came up, and thus for the time being the ambassador would not come. In an indignant voice he said that during the demonstrations against the Soviet embassy to Beijing, [the Red Guards] had torn off the flag from the car of their ambassador as well, stuck a lot of slogans on another car of theirs, and when they protested, the Chinese dismissed their protest. To characterize Sino-Korean relations, he said that the Chinese viewed the relationship between the two countries in a way similar to the [human relations] that had existed under feudalism, when a weak man, if slapped by a strong one, was required to turn the other cheek so as to get a second slap.

Trade relations between the two countries are stagnating, it happens more and more frequently that there are problems concerning the deadlines of Chinese shipments. Cultural and scientific-technological cooperation practically stands still.   

According to the evaluation of Comrade Kim, one of the negative effects of the Chinese Cultural Revolution was the fact that the American imperialists, taking advantage of the faults of Chinese policies, intensified both their aggression in Vietnam and their South Korea-based provocational activity that was directed against the DPRK.

It is shown also by the aforesaid conversation how the Cultural Revolution alienates former friends from China. It was evidently because of the anti-Korean attacks of the Red Guards that the previously cautious behavior of Chargé d’Affaires Kim has become almost militantly anti-Chinese.

                                                                                                                          András Halász