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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 15, 1956

TELEGRAM FROM THE USSR AMBASSADOR TO THE DPRK IVANOV ADDRESSED TO MIKOYAN AND SHEPILOV, 'AUGUST PLENUM OF THE KOREAN WORKERS' PARTY CENTRAL COMMITTEE'

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    Ivanov provides a detailed report on the proceedings of the August Plenum of the Korean Workers' Party Central Committee.
    "Telegram from the USSR Ambassador to the DPRK Ivanov addressed to Mikoyan and Shepilov, 'August Plenum of the Korean Workers' Party Central Committee'," September 15, 1956, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, GARF, Fond 5446, Opis 98, Delo 721, Listy 153-164. Translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/120170
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SOVIET EMBASSY IN THE DPRK

Nº 254  Top Secret

15 September 1956   Copy Nº 1

Personal

THE AUGUST KWP CC PLENUM

Two issues were examined at the KWP CC Plenum held 30-31 August 1956: 1. The results of the trip of a government delegation which visited fraternal countries and some pressing Party tasks. 2. The state of and the measures to improve work in public health.

Kim Il Sung gave a report on the first issue and Pak Geum-cheol on the second. Appropriate decisions were adopted based on these reports.

The trip of the government delegation to the USSR and the countries of people's democracy was characterized as an important step on the path to strengthening the international authority of the DPRK and the further development of the traditional friendship between the DPRK and the socialist countries.

It was pointed out in the documents that the enormous economic aid which the socialist countries are giving again is a great contribution to the matter of the development of the economy and an increase of the material and cultural level of the people.

The Plenum approved the discussions between the Government delegation and the governments of the fraternal countries and expressed deep gratitude for the new economic and technical aid given to the Korean people.

The Plenum noted the commonality of the views found in the discussions with the fraternal countries on all the most important international issues.

Touching the issue of the drafting of the first five-year plan for the development of the economy the Plenum pointed to the need to take into account the experience of the fraternal countries in the development of the economy, and to be guided by the principle of the division of labor which exists between the socialist countries.

In connection with this the Plenum clarified several general provisions in the sphere of industry and agriculture advanced by the 3rd KWP congress. Whereas the main task of the three-year plan was to reach the prewar level of industrial production the main task of the first five-year plan was to be the construction of new enterprises, and the rebuilding, expansion, and equipping of existing enterprises with the newest technology. Then it pointed to the need to temporarily defer the construction of large industrial facilities requiring large capital investment and long periods of construction. All attention was to be devoted to the construction of enterprises of those industrial sectors where the country's natural and economic resources could be used with the greatest advantage.

The Plenum noted that the main tasks of the five-year plan in the development of the economy should be done mainly with the personnel and resources of the DPRK. One could draw an assumption from this that a considerable part of the aid which will be allocated by the socialist countries will go to the improvement of the material situation of the workers of the country.

In the area of the improvement of agriculture the Plenum stressed the need to struggle to increase the yield per unit of land, and to increase the land planted for high-yielding crops - rice, corn, potatoes, etc.

The Plenum instructed that measures be developed in the near future to lessen the peasants' obligations to the state in order to further improve the peasants' material interest in agricultural production. An increase in the payment for the use of an irrigation system, the change of the system of procurement, and a partial reduction of the tax in kind for the poorest peasants are being envisioned.

It is also being proposed to again reconsider the procedure for imposing taxes on private businessmen. Private traders will be granted the right to sell state goods to the consumer where there is no state or cooperative trading network. The private businessman is being granted the right to use local materials and the production waste of state enterprises for the manufacture of consumer goods.

The Plenum also directed attention to the need to improve the state social security and insurance of workers.

These measures in the industrial and agricultural sectors basically do not differ from the policy of the industrialization of the country adopted at the 3rd KWP congress. However, some clarifications made at the Plenum and, in particular, the abandonment of the construction of large facilities requiring large capital investment and long periods of construction demonstrates that after the trip the friends began to approach the issue of the rates and opportunities of industrializing the country more soberly, and began to speak more about the improvement of the extremely low standard of living of the country's population.

However, the main thing in the work of the KWP CC Plenum was not the examination of the results of the trip of the government delegation, but the discussion of a serious situation which had developed in the Party.

Dissatisfaction at the KWP CC had recent increased among some senior officials. Choe Chang-ik, Pak Chang-ok, So Hwi, Yun Gong-heum, Kim Seung-hwa and other prominent officials basically correctly think that it is impossible to put up with the big shortcomings in the leadership of the Party and country any longer.

They consider the main shortcomings in the leadership of the Party and state to be that the work of the 3rd KWP congress and the activity of the CC were not permeated by the spirit of the 20th CPSU congress and the CC was not consistently realizing the Marxist-Leninist principles of Party policy. The spread of the cult of personality of Kim Il Sung and the assignment of senior personnel based on the principle of personal devotion has hampered the initiative and responsibility of government and Party organizations. As before, an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion reigns in the Party. Essentially, there is a lack of a collegial working relationship in the work of the CC and Government. A serious economic situation has been created in the country.

Kim Du-bong, Yun Gong-heum, and some others think that such senior officials as Pak Geum-cheol, Jeong Il-yong, Jeong [Dyun Tkhyak], Kim Chang-man, and some ministers promoted by Kim Il Sung are not trained and are not capable officials, and they should be replaced.

At the Plenum it was also proposed to subject the main shortcomings of the activity of the leadership and Kim Il Sung personally to sharp criticism for the fact that he is not opposing the cult of his personality, for his incorrect approach to the selection and assignment of cadre, and for the fact that he does not know the real state of the population's lives. Some of those who were prepared to speak critically think that Kim Il Sung has been ruling the country with the aid of intrigues for the past 10 years. The campaign against Soviet Koreans organized by him at the end of last year was mentioned in this connection.

Dissatisfaction at the situation which has developed in the Party included even some of the senior officials of the army and trade unions. This fact demonstrates the widespread dissatisfaction at the KWP leadership and says that national cadre have arisen in the Party who do not want to tolerate the serious shortcomings and are presenting increased demands to the leadership.

Available information about the situation in the country and in the Party confirms that these senior officials have set as their goal the revelation of the large shortcomings which exist through sharp and bold criticism.

As has been recommended, in the situation which has been created it would be most correct for Kim Il Sung to take charge of the criticism of the shortcomings in work, which would not only weaken, but strengthen the position of the KWP leadership. As is well known, the majority of senior officials who have expressed dissatisfaction waited for Kim Il Sung and hoped that on return from the USSR and the other fraternal countries that he would give a political report in the Presidium and then at the KWP CC Plenum in which a description would be given not only of the new aid, but also of the political life of the fraternal Communist Parties after the 20th CPSU congress, an analysis of the work of the KWP would be given on this basis, and the shortcomings and mistakes in the leadership of the KWP and the country would be revealed.

However, this favorable situation was not used for criticism of the shortcomings and their elimination in the Party and government.

Some facts indicate that Kim Il Sung incorrectly assessed the events which have occurred in the fraternal countries recently. He explained the demonstrations in Poznan in the CC Presidium as a lack of firm leadership in the Party in Poland after the death of Bierut and that the PUWP leaders told the people too broadly about the decisions of the 20th CPSU congress concerning the cult of personality of Stalin.

After returning from the trip Kim Il Sung expressed himself in the sense that mistakes, including the cult of personality, ought to be eliminated gradually, without involving the entire Party in this matter.

In the period of preparations for the next Plenum the KWP leadership was strongly concerned at the situation which had been created in the Party. After the well-known recommendation of Moscow was passed to Kim Il Sung it was considered correct and necessary at this stage to take charge of the criticism of shortcomings in the work of the CC in order to improve the situation.

It was decided to postpone the convening of the CC Plenum from 2 August to the lasts days of the month in order to prepare themselves. Besides Kim Il Sung, we explained in detail to Pak Jeong-ae and Nam Il the need for the KWP leadership to take charge of the criticism and the elimination of the shortcomings and thereby strengthen the position in the Party and the country. However, the KWP leadership did not reckon with the opinion of Moscow, did not follow the path of criticism, and took every step in order to isolate those who intended to criticize the shortcomings and mistakes. All prominent officials about whom it was known that they intended to speak critically at the Plenum were summoned especially by Kim Il Sung, Choe Yong-geon, Pak Geum-cheol, Kim Il, and Pak Jeong-ae.

The frank and bold opinions about the situation in the Party expressed by people who had been summoned by the KWP leadership, gave it a pretext to class all those dissatisfied in the category of a "hostile anti-Party group". This formula was then also employed at the CC Plenum.

The issue of the cult of personality was covered in the report in connection with an examination of shortcomings in ideological work.

It was recorded in the Plenum decision that the measures to overcome the cult of personality and its consequences adopted by the CPSU are a great lesson and example for all Marxist-Leninist Parties. The Plenum admitted that the cult of personality existed in the KWP to some degree but this did not exert a negative influence on the principle of collective leadership or on the political line of the Party, and that the CC had taken serious steps to eliminate manifestations of the cult of personality, in connection with which it was decided to republish works on history, textbooks, and handbooks in which particular issues are considered from a position of a cult of personality.

It points out in the decision that, taking into account the difficult experience and lessons of the CPSU associated with the cult of personality of Stalin, the KWP should continue to educate Party members in the spirit of a complete eradication of the cult of personality. However, neither in the report nor the decision of the August Plenum does it frankly or in a Party way speak of the cult of personality of Kim Il Sung.

Other very important issues of Party and government life of the DPRK which trouble the broad Party masses were not discussed at the Plenum. Such painful issues in the Party as the revival of the Leninist principles and norms of Party life, the develop of collegiality in the leadership, the elimination of the combining of Party and government posts in the same hands, the elimination of suspiciousness and mistrust among senior officials, and the observation of legality have not found their solutions. The Plenum also said almost nothing about the improvement of the living and financial conditions of the people.

The report of Kim Il Sung, not having exposed the shortcomings of the Party leadership, naturally could not satisfy the participants of the Plenum, especially those who had met to criticize these shortcomings.

Thirteen people took part in the discussion of the report.

Minister of Trade Yun Gong-heum declared that the spirit of the 20th CPSU congress was almost not felt at the 3rd KWP congress, that the KWP CC was not putting the ideas of Marxism-Leninism into practice consistently, and that senior cadre were being incorrectly selected and assigned. He cited as an example the promotion, with a violation of Party democracy, to the post of Deputy Chairman of the KWP CC of Choe Yong-geon, who was the leader of a petit bourgeois party for 10 years.

Yun's speech caused a heated reaction from the CC leadership. His speech was interrupted by Kim Il Sung and by especially rude and insulting retorts from Choe Yong-geon and other leaders.

Yun's speech was characterized as anti-Party and provocative. He was deprived of the opportunity to continue his speech.

All the succeeding orators touched on Yun's speech in one way or another, characterizing it as hostile, and Yun himself was characterized as a morally corrupted person.

Choe Chang-ik spoke in defense of Yun's speech. In the words of some of the Plenum participants he said that the KWP policy is correct, but that it was necessary to talk about the cult of personality, a painful issue of the Party, and about the mistakes committed by the KWP CC. Choe was asked many questions, from which it became clear that he was being considered an ideologist of a factional group and he was deprived of an opportunity to end his statement.

Pak Chang-ok spoke of some shortcomings in the work of the KWP CC and pointed in particular to the fact that the December Plenum had adopted an incorrect decision with respect to him, and he denied his connection with the "anti-Party group", not considering the group of dissatisfied people to be such. Pak also was not allowed to speak by the retorts from the Presidium and the hall.

Choe Yong-geon sharply attacked Yun, Choe Chang-ik, and Pak Chang-ok, pointing out that Yun had submitted a full-fledged program against the Party and government to the Plenum in which the history of the Party, the economic situation of the country, the issue of the cult of personality, and [the issue] about the assignment of cadre in the Party were distorted. The factional activity of the group of Choe Chang-ik and Pak Chang-ok is a continuation of the dirty work of the group of Pak Il-u, who worked out a program of action against Kim Il Sung at one time.

Kim Il Sung spoke twice in connection with the criticism of the KWP CC leadership at the Plenum. In the opinion of participants of the Plenum, he did not speak of the intra-Party issues which had come to a head, devoting the main attention to the "anti-Party group" headed by Choe Chang-ik and Pak Chang-ok which, as he thinks, set as their goal the overthrow of the current leadership and the seizure of power into their own hands. He again repeated the story spread by them that a representative of the CPSU had come to the Soviet Embassy with the object of establishing order in the KWP. There is hardly a need to talk about what, in Kim Il Sung's words, he does not believe himself.

At Kim Il Sung's suggestion, the Plenum decreed that So Hwi, Yung Kong-hum, Ri Pil-gyu, and Kim [Gan] were to be expelled from the Party for anti-Party activity. Choe Chang-ik was expelled from the Presidium and the CC and Pak Chang-ok [was expelled] from the CC, and the Party commission was instructed to examine the issue of their Party-mindedness. Both of them were released from the posts of Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Pak Chang-ok was sent to logging and Choe Chang-ik to a pig farm. The families of these people were put under the strictest police surveillance and removed from material allowances and medical service.

Yun Gong-heum, So Hwi, Ri Pil-gyu, and Kim [Gan], feeling the threat of reprisal hanging over their heads, crossed the Chinese border without waiting for the end of the work of the Plenum. In the opinion of the Chinese Ambassador in the DPRK the crossing of the four senior leaders into the PRC complicates relations between the two countries.

Deputy Minister of Defense Kim [Won Sun], Deputy Chief of the Military Academy Ri [Ur Gyu], and Chief of the Political Department of the Naval Directorate of the KPA Ri [Yn Ho] are being called to account concerning the case of the "anti-Party group". Two deputy chairmen and the chief of the organization department of the Pyongyang KWP City Committee have been removed from the post they occupied. Ambassador Ri Sang-jo, who is accused of ties with people who conducted espionage for Britain, has been recalled from Moscow and it is also intended to hold Kim Seung-hwa and Minister of Communications Kim Chang [Hyp] responsible in connection with this as co-participants of the "anti-Party group".

Yun Gong-heum, Choe Chang-ik, Pak Chang-ok, and others basically made correct criticism of the shortcomings of the KWP leadership for which they cannot be classified with the anti-Party group.

One cannot agree with the opinion of Kim Il Sung that now the unity and solidarity of Party ranks have been achieved and the complex issues of intra-Party life have been solved. It is unlikely that the big shortcomings in the Party can be eliminated and the leadership strengthened with repressive measures. There are grounds to suppose that some of the senior KWP officials are expressing serious doubts of the correctness and need to employ measures of a repressive nature against those who are dissatisfied. Kim Il Sung is also expressing fear of what political assessment they might give in the Soviet Union about his position in the solution of intra-Party issues and whether the position he takes will be assessed as nationalist. Nam Il told about these fears of Kim Il Sung.

The situation in the KWP continues to remain complex. During the time the KWP has existed a well-knit leadership nucleus has not developed in it. The selection and assignment of cadre in the KWP occurs according to the principle of devotion to Kim Il Sung. In recent years issues about a struggle with a different type, "anti-Party and factionalist groups", have often arise in the Party. Kim Il Sung and his close entourage are not taking vigorous steps to correct the mistakes in the KWP.

[We] think it advisable to discuss the situation in the KWP together with the friends at a conference of representatives of a number of fraternal countries.

SOVIET AMBASSADOR IN THE DPRK [signature]

(V. IVANOV)

Three copies printed

1 - to Cde. Mikoyan

2 - to Cde. Shepilov

3. - to file

Drafted by Samsonov

Typed by Sarycheva

Nº 939

14 November 1956

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