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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 13, 1956


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    Ivanov delivers to Kim Il Sung a status report on the Soviet Embassy’s work to grant Korean citizenship to Soviet Koreans. Kim hopes that allowing Soviet Koreans to travel to and from the USSR can be used as a means to strengthen the two countries’ ties.
    "Journal of Soviet Ambassador to the DPRK V. I. Ivanov for 13 January 1956," January 13, 1956, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGANI Fond 5, Opis 28, Delo 412. Translated by Gary Goldberg.
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East Department

Stamp: SECRET  Top Secret

Incoming Nº 0404s        Copy Nº ___

7 February 1956]



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



13 January

Kim Il Sung requested I inform [him] of the work done to transfer Soviet Koreans to Korean citizenship.

In a meeting held on 13 January I reported that conversations between Embassy officials and Soviet Koreans about converting them to Korean citizenship show that this work is proceeding normally. The absolute majority of Soviet Koreans correctly understand the political significance of converting to Korean citizenship. About 90 people visited the Soviet Embassy during this time. The majority of them took application forms, and some of them decided to think and report their opinion later.

A number of other questions have arisen in connection with pursuing work about converting to Korean citizenship which disturb Soviet Koreans and which were raised at the Embassy.

1. The issue of school.

The children of many Soviet Koreans studied from grades 5 to 10 in Russian. They reported that they intend to close the school and ask how are things going to be henceforth with the children's studies?

2. The issue of families.

Many have big family ties in the USSR, and children study in Soviet educational institutions. [If] the head of the family accepts Korean citizenship, how does one act with respect to the family, they ask.

3. In connection with the fact that many Soviet Koreans have big family ties with the USSR will it be possible to visit relatives in the USSR after converting to Korean citizenship?

4. In connection with the mistakes made by individual Soviet Koreans they have been removed from the posts they occupied and sent to new work. Some of them raise the question of whether they can be of the same use as before, and are not needed here anymore. They want to leave for the USSR.

5. Many Soviet Koreans who visited the Soviet Embassy said that that the attitude toward all Soviet Koreans had changed in connection with the critique of the mistakes made by individual Soviet Koreans, a shadow had fallen on the work of all Soviet Koreans, a mistrust had appeared, they are being ignored at work, they discuss Soviet Koreans in general at Party meetings, and in their opinion this work has taken on the form of a campaign.

They ask the question, do the mistakes of individual Soviet Koreans need to connected with the stainless work of all Soviet Koreans?

In the conversation Kim Il Sung said that our Party cannot fail to make an assessment of the great revolutionary work pursued by the Soviet Koreans in the DPRK. However, it needs to be noted that many comrades who have arrived from the Soviet Union did not join the masses, did not win trust, behave too arrogantly, had a high opinion of themselves, and work little to improve themselves. Therefore they have lost respect and authority.

At the present time, in connection with the critique of the mistakes of individual Soviet Koreans we have become convinced that we have poorly pursued political explanatory work among them. After the liquidation of the Party organization at the Soviet Embassy to which they belonged, they did not live a full-fledged Party life in local Party organizations, they rarely attended meetings, and were never subjected to criticism for mistakes. The matter needs to be corrected, the proper Party education given them, to allow them to feel that the matter will not continue this way. Only good will come from this. Time will pass and it will all blow over.

Attempts can be and have been made at the lower levels to slander all Soviet Koreans. Attempts were made to accuse all Soviet Koreans in connection with an inspection of Intourist by the Ministry of State Control, but this was not allowed and was corrected. Chiefs of CC departments understand this matter correctly. The provinces will be given instructions to correct this situation. Only those Soviet Koreans who made mistakes ought to be discussed.

At one time the school was Soviet and was managed by the Soviet Ministry of Education; then it served Soviet citizens and the children of counsellors studied in it. During the war it was evacuated to the city of Harbin and the children of Soviet Koreans were already studying in it. After the return to Pyongyang it also mainly performed this function. The school will not be closed. The older classes will study in Russian and the younger in Russian and Korean.

As regards the families, they can have dual citizenship as they see fit. Young people who have recently arrived to work in the DPRK can also have dual citizenship. It is important to us that senior officials be Korean citizens. The political importance of this issue is important to us, but the families can act as they want.

Of course, there can be no objection to visits to relatives located in the Soviet Union. It is very good for us that ties between the USSR and DPRK will be strengthened with the aid of this channel.

As regards the Soviet Koreans who have made mistakes and have received a Party or other punishment here, it would be better if they stayed and corrected their mistakes in practical work. But if some insist, they can be let go. This issue will be decided on an individual basis.

I expressed the opinion in the conversation that it was advisable to take appropriate measures with respect to Soviet Koreans who committed offenses in each individual case, as with respect to other Korean officials, without making a distinction between Soviet and other Koreans.

Then Kim Il Sung expressed the following views of the Korean friends on the question of holding elections in the DPRK.

The Korean friends think it necessary to do everything possible for the target figures during the elections to be no less than the preceding ones when the voter turnout and voting for the nominated candidates is 99%. Careful preparation and carrying out a number of serious economic measures is necessary in order to do this.

It is necessary to carry out much work to strengthen the political situation in the country, and also to improve the material situation of the population both in the cities and in the countryside.

There are many agricultural cooperatives in the countryside right now and new cooperatives are being created. Time is needed for these cooperatives to grow strong and show the advantages of a large cooperative farm over small single-owner [farms].

The construction of the Anju irrigation system and also networks of local irrigations systems will already be complete next year. In 1958 it will be possible to give agriculture 300,000 tons of mineral fertilizer, which will exceed the prewar level. A task is being set to abolish the ration card system for food products in 1958, for which 2,900,000-3,000,000 tons of grain are needed. It is proposed that in 1958 the gross grain yield will be raised to 2,850,000 tons; this is the most that can be expected. The rest will be bought from friends. By this period the stabilization of the foreign currency holdings and raising it to 300,000,000 rubles is also planned, which will expand the foreign trade commodity turnover. Work being done at the present time will provide an opportunity to increase the production of fabric and clothing for the population. All these difficult issues require decisions.

Serious work is also needed to bolster the situation in the districts which were taken from South Korea according to the Armistice Agreement. The laws on agricultural taxes in kind and income taxes adopted by the December session of the Supreme People's Assembly and the adoption of other special measures to improve the situation of the population of these regions should have a positive effect on an improvement of the political situation in these regions.

Then Kim said that 1956 will be for conducting a series of important political events. In January it is planned to hold a conference of construction workers, then congresses of trade unions, the youth league, and [a congress] of writers will be held. In March and April a conference of representatives of agricultural cooperatives and peasants will be held concerning issues of preparing for the spring planting. In February and March Party conferences of districts and provinces will be held with reports of managerial bodies and elections of managerial bodies and delegates to the 3rd Party Congress.

All these events will require much energy and time and at the same time serious preparation for holding elections to local government bodies and the VNS [Supreme People’s Assembly]. Elections to local government bodies (ri and districts) will be held in the spring of 1957. A decision about this issue will be made at the next session of the VNS.

If elections to these local government bodies go well then elections will be held in the autumn of 1957 to provincial government bodies and the VNS. If our lack of readiness is revealed then elections will be held only to provincial bodies and elections to the VNS will be postponed to 1958.

In reply to a comment that elections have already been held in the south twice since the war and a further delay of elections in the DPRK has its dark sides, Kim said that the Americans are actually shouting that we have no democracy, but we ought to prepare for such a serious matter comprehensively.

Kim Il Sung turned to me with a request for help with six or seven Soviet specialists for four or five months who could look into the system of wages, issues of prime cost, and wholesale prices.

The elaboration of these issues is necessary in connection with the drafting of the five-year plan. Kim Il Sung asked that an opportunity be identified to send specialists for this purpose so that he can turn to the Soviet government with this issue.

I promised to identify such an opportunity and report the results later.


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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