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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 26, 1964

MEMORANDUM OF A CONVERSATION WITH THE SOVIET AMBASSADOR TO THE DPRK C. V.P. MOSKOWSKYI.

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    Moskowskyi reviews the conversation between the Korean Ambassador Ri Song-un and Khrushchev.
    "Memorandum of a Conversation with the Soviet Ambassador to the DPRK c. V.P. Moskowskyi. ," February 26, 1964, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, State Central Archive, Prague. Translated by Adolf Kotlik. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116744
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             On February 26, 1964, one day after his return from the CPSU CC Plenary in Moscow, the USSR Ambassador c. V.P. Moskowskyi visited me and informed me in advance about the CPSU CC Plenary and the CPSU account of the struggle for unity of the ICM, which was delivered at the Plenary by c. Suslov.

Further, c. Moskowskyi talked about visits of the Korean Ambassador in Moscow in conjunction with his departure from the Soviet Union. He is said to have visited number of Soviet comrades; all his requests for audience were granted. There was also a conversation with c. Andropov and another with c. N.S. Khrushchev. The Korean Ambassador Ri Song-un [Ri Song Un] started his visit with c. Khrushchev with a question what the situation was in Soviet agriculture. C. Khrushchev replied that all materials about this issue have been widely published. He said that last year, there was poor harvest in the Soviet Union; however, steps taken to remedy the situation guarantee that everything will be all right this year and there will not be any problems. Then he briefly talked about a prognosis of the USSR agriculture and national economy till 1970.

C. Khrushchev then asked, how was rice harvest in the DPRK. The Ambassador Ri Song-un said that the DPRK already had a second good harvest. C. Khrushchev said that they in the USSR learned to cultivate rice as well. Allegedly, he was in Uzbekistan where they harvest up to 50 – 60 metric cents from a hectare, and 45 metric cents in Ukraine. Cooperatives keep what they produce over the planned quota. He also said that Soviets are not used to eating rice, and it is not their staple. Then c. Khrushchev asked what and how is being said in the DPRK about the Soviet Union. Ri Song-un said everything was all right; the only difference was in the approach to the issue of national liberation fight, which the DPRK pays more attention to than the Soviet Union. C. Khrushchev countered that Soviet comrades are concerned there are no signs of fight in South Korea. He said Korean comrades advised Soviet comrades that there were some forces in the South for such a fight; in reality though, there are none. A completely different situation exists in South Vietnam where a heavy fight is going on. Ambassador Ri Song-un agreed with this conclusion, and in response to c. Khrushchev’s question why it was like that, he said that allegedly, there was hunger, poverty and unemployment in South Korea. To another question of c. Khrushchev, how can the decrease of national liberation movement in South Korea be explained, whether by liberalization, repressions from the South Korean regime, or by fatigue, Ri Song-un mustered only a statement that Americans brought nuclear cannons to South Korea. C. Khrushchev then stated that there were no nuclear cannons in South Korea. Americans had them deployed only in West Germany but they withdrew them even from there as this weapon was obsolete and did not offer any advantage. Only missiles are important today. However, even if there were nuclear cannons in South Korea, they would be only paper tigers compared to the unified effort of South Korean people. There are no nuclear cannons in South Korea, though, and there could not have been a nuclear shell explosion there.

The Ambassador commented that as long as there was no party in the South, there could be no struggle. However, c. Khrushchev said that at the time when Soviet-Korean relations were still good, Kim Il Sung informed the CPSU that his people were even in South Korean government. Today, though, the KWP does not inform about these matters anymore. Previous information turned out to be false because there was nothing like that in South Korea. Ri Song-un only remarked that they do have a party organization in South Korea but it is weak and does not do anything. Current situation in South Korea warrants caution, though, because the danger is that the party could be destroyed completely.

C. Khrushchev said that it was necessary to evaluate the situation in South Korea thoroughly because there is not a revolutionary situation there, and he supported that with an example when Fidel Castro asked the Soviet Union for weapons for Venezuela, claiming there was a revolutionary situation there. The Soviet Union sent weapons there but nothing came out of it and the weapons fell into enemy’s hands. Revolutionary situation cannot be provoked from the outside. C. Khrushchev said about South Korea to the letter: “There are no nuclear cannons there, revolutionary situation is not ripe, and you will not awaken it there.”  C. Khrushchev also emphasized strongly: “If the North starts war against the South again, then unlike in the first Korean war, nuclear weapons will be used this time.”

The Ambassador then said that an American plane has been shot down over the DPRK territory, and to c. Khrushchev’s question how did the DPRK achieved that, he replied that it was with artillery. C. Khrushchev then praised the DPRK artillery.

During further conversation, c. Khrushchev talked about national liberation movement. He said the KWP only talks about national liberation struggle but it does not know what the Soviet Union does for this struggle and how it supports it. He stressed that the CPSU does not consider the national liberation movement for the main and crucial revolutionary force. The main force is the socialist system, the socialist camp. To illustrate what aid the Soviet Union is providing to the national liberation movement, c. Khrushchev mentioned number of concrete examples (USSR submarines at West Irian [West Papua], weapons and USSR and CSSR pilots in Egypt, aid to Mali, Guinea and others). “You know nothing about all this but when the fight is over, you talk a lot”, were c. Khrushchev’s words. As for the internal situation in the Soviet Union, c. Khrushchev stressed that the Ambassador knew everything very well because he was free to travel wherever he liked. He could not tell him anything about this year’s crop in the Soviet Union though, because it is evaluated only after the fall harvest in the USSR, unlike in the DPRK where they already know today what the crop will be. Further c. Khrushchev touched upon issues of Soviet Union’s international trade and said it was fine. He mentioned number of examples of successful trade of the USSR with capitalist countries. The situation is worse with Soviet-American trade relations where Americans wish for the destruction of the Soviet Union.

When talking about the situation in the CPSU, c. Khrushchev emphasized the unity of party membership. The CPSU is concerned only about the policy of Chinese representatives. About Soviet-Korean relations he said that they deteriorated. “Earlier you lived and acted by your own will, today you follow the Chinese. We thought c. Kim Il Sung would learn from the failure of the “three flags” but now he himself is carrying out Chinese politics in the interior as well as foreign policy. C. Kim Il Sung knows very well that we had conversations with Mao Tse-tung who then called him a Nazi and a fascist. However, we supported Kim Il Sung and defended him. We used to be in agreement on all issues. It is not like that today and we regret that”, said c. Khrushchev. To that c. Moskovskyi asked how it was possible and why Chinese won him over despite of his “tainted past”. To Korean reproaches that the Soviet Union is not helping the DPRK, c. Khrushchev said that after Stalin’s death, he himself arranged that Soviet timber could be harvested for free by the DPRK who has been benefiting from this for ten years. He then mentioned extensive aid of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. “All that has been forgotten and the talk is that the DPRK achieved everything by its own efforts. It is painful to listen to it”, said

c. Khrushchev.

To this the Ambassador could only say that the DPRK is pushing for cooperation even today and is trading with the Soviet Union. C. Khrushchev remarked: “You are confusing two things; we trade with capitalist countries”.

Later c. Khrushchev mentioned that Kim Il Sung invited him for a visit to the DPRK; when he replied that he accepted the invitation, he did not get any further response. That was not by a chance. His portraits were removed throughout the whole Korea and were shamefully stomped over. Evidently, nobody asked for these portraits to be displayed. However, it is not a matter of a private person but a party and government representative. When portraits of a country representative are stomped over, it shows the attitude towards that country and party. That offends our country and our people. “We know full well what fight is being waged against us and who suffers for it. You suffer for it. I don’t know to what extent it is possible to improve our relations and introduce the good old ones. That is up to you. Tell this to c. Kim Il Sung. Do not listen to Chinese. You were able to live by your own wits, now you live by those of Chinese. With these words, c. Khrushchev ended the conversation with the Ambassador Ri Song-un.