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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 22, 1955

JOURNAL OF SOVIET AMBASSADOR TO THE DPRK V. I. IVANOV FOR 22 DECEMBER 1955

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    Nam Il explains that all Soviet Koreans are facing hostility from local Koreans due to the mistakes of a few individuals, who he says have warranted condemnation by failing to assimilate properly to political and private life in the DPRK. The two also discuss recent developments in Sweden's and Switzerland's efforts to reorganize the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission.
    "Journal of Soviet Ambassador to the DPRK V. I. Ivanov for 22 December 1955," December 22, 1955, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGANI Fond 5, Opis 28, Delo 412. Translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/120779
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ref 01089[3-4 illegible letters]

[USSR MFA Far

East Department

Stamp: SECRET  Top Secret

Incoming Nº 0404s        Copy Nº ___

7 February 1956]

SOVIET EMBASSY IN THE DPRK

JOURNAL

of Cde. V. I. IVANOV, Soviet Ambassador in the DPRK for the period from 20 December 1955 through 19 January 1956

Pyongyang

[…]

22 December

I visited Nam Il and reported that additional information had been received from the Polish friends on 14 December about the position of Sweden regarding the Neutral [Nations] Armistice [Supervision] Commission in Korea.

Swedish Envoy [von] Post visited Ogrodzinski, the Director of the PNR MFA Department and, referring to a conversation held recently at a reception in the Finnish mission, touched on the issue of a reorganization of the Commission.

Post stressed in categorical form that only two alternatives exist for Sweden: either Sweden's proposal about the reorganization of the Commission will be accepted or Sweden will be forced to leave the Commission. In addition, he said, Sweden cannot agree to the possibility of such a reorganization which would provide for leaving even one inspection group in the South or North of the country.

Post privately stressed that there exist differences in the Swedish parliament and government regarding Sweden's participation in the activity of the Commission. Unden’s proposal about the reorganization of the Commission is associated with keeping his position.

Nam Il expressed gratitude for the information and said that the MFA will submit a proposal to the Political Council on this issue in a few days. The MFA's opinion comes down to the DPRK government not being able to agree to the reorganization of the Neutral Commission which Sweden is proposing. We cannot agree to a revision of the accepted agreements concerning the Neutral Commission. We could agree to further concessions only with regard to a reduction of the personnel of the inspection groups located at the debarkation points, but this should be within the framework of the accepted agreements.

As regards the Swedes' threats, Nam Il said that they would hardly take on the responsibility of violating the conditions of the Korean armistice. If they leave the Neutral Commission then all the responsibility will fall on them, or their inspirers, the Americans, which in the current international situation would also be to the Americans' disadvantage.

Nam Il said that this opinion of the MFA will be sent to the Political Council for consideration and a decision will be coordinated with the Chinese friends; then the Soviet government will be given the response.

Then Nam Il touched on the issue of the Soviet Koreans. He said that the more I think about this issue the more I am convinced that our comrades are themselves are at fault for the difficult situation which has developed for the Soviet Koreans at this time.

What could have happened that the Soviet Koreans have not found support in 10 years in the DPRK, have not won the trust of the local comrades, and have not won the masses to their side?

At the present time such a situation has developed in Pyongyang that when individual Soviet Koreans who are senior officials have not become leaders, kept to themselves, become withdrawn, or pushed subordinates away from themselves, and a dislike was taken to them. In the 10 years they have been in the country these Soviet Koreans have not had close relations [with], but a reserve and even hostility [among] local officials.

[Translator's note: I've had to supply some prepositions in this sentence due to grammatical errors in the original, e.g. "…i dazhe vrazhdebnost' v  mestnymi [SIC] rabotnikami."

The problem is that some Soviet Koreans who have come to the DPRK have set their goals incorrectly. They decided that once they came from the Soviet Union they were insured against any trouble and misfortune.

Many senior officials, instead of blending in with the local population and becoming a leader, they began to blend individually and formed quarters in Pyongyang during these years which comprise a separate part of the city populated by Soviet Koreans.

In addition, in order to blend in with local Koreans they began to close themselves off into an isolated bunch, to meet to get drunk together, and to spend time apart from local Koreans.

At first, after arriving in the DPRK, the Soviet Koreans were offered senior positions as long as there was a shortage of cadre in the republic. They decided that it could not be otherwise, managerial work is their only business, a rule of life.

Many of the current senior officials in the DPRK came from the USSR without having the necessary revolutionary tempering and experience of Party, government, or economic work. In the DPRK they studied the domestic and foreign situation poorly, improved their level of political ideology and business skills badly, and they command, use high-handed methods, and exacerbate relations with local senior officials and subordinates.

When Pak Chang-ok became a member of the Political Council and Deputy Premier he started to command and verbally abuse ministers in such a manner that, according to their statements, they had not been abused under the Japanese, called wreckers, threatened with removal, etc. He lost authority, respect for himself, and according to the statements of many officials they began to hate him.

Pak Yeong-bin worked as a teacher in the Soviet Union, and on arrival in the DPRK he was appointed a Deputy Minister of Education. After working for some time he was promoted to the post of Chief of the KWP CC Organization Department, and they also made him a member of the Political Council. Many local officials who knew Pak Yeong-bin from work expressed doubt that he was being deservedly promoted for management of the country without having Party or life experience. According to the comments of Nam Il, Pak Yeong-bin is a minor person who has built his work on intrigues, spoke a lot of slander against Soviet Koreans, and he did not rise to a leader of the Party and state, and that his advancement in work by Pak Chang-ok is a mistake.

The Soviet Koreans working on the ideological front, Gi Seok-bok and Jeong Ryul, having received instructions in the CC that after liberation it was necessary to support writers of the South, began to praise reactionary writers who had come from the South and criticize local proletarian writers, without having looked into the situation in Korean literature. After the denunciation of these writers as traitors they did not admit their mistakes, but in response to the comments of the local writers they started to threaten them, accusing them of anti-Sovietism.

Nam Il expressed the opinion that as a result of the atmosphere which is developing around the Soviet Koreans some are losing heart and plan to leave for the Soviet Union. Condemning this, he declared that we should correct our behavior, win over the masses, and show that those are not right who make use of the mistakes of individual Soviet Koreans, and they intend to slander all Soviet Koreans, and show their devotion to our revolutionary cause.

I agreed with the arguments of Nam Il.

[…]

Soviet Ambassador in the DPRK [signature] (V. Ivanov)

Four copies

1 - to Cde. Molotov

2 - to Cde. Fedorenko

3 - to Cde. Kurdyukov

4 - to file

drafted by Ivanov

typed by M/B [SIC]

Nº 94

21 January 1956

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