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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 25, 1956

JOURNAL OF SOVIET AMBASSADOR TO THE DPRK V. I. IVANOV FOR 25 JANUARY 1956

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    Pak Yeong-bin reports to Ivanov about a recent meeting of Party members in Pyongyang. At this meeting Han Seol-ya and others took turns criticizing Soviet Koreans Pak Chang-ok, Pak Yeong-bin, Gi Seok-bok, Jeong Ryul, and Jeon Dong-hyuk for supporting reactionary literature and creating discord within the Party.
    "Journal of Soviet Ambassador to the DPRK V. I. Ivanov for 25 January 1956," January 25, 1956, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGANI Fond 5, Opis 28, Delo 412. Translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/120794
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[CPSU CC stamp:

07504

22 February 1956

subject to return

  to the CPSU CC

  General Department]

TOP SECRET Copy Nº only

22 February 1956

Nº 0286/dv

to the CPSU CC [International] DEPARTMENT

to Cde. I. S. SHCHERBAKOV

We are sending you the journal of Cde. V. I. Ivanov, Soviet Ambassador in the DPRK for the period from 20 through 30 January 1956.

Attachment: the aforementioned on nine pages (incoming Nº 0610s of 20 February, copy Nº 3)

DEPUTY CHIEF OF THE USSR MFA FAR EAST DEPARTMENT [signature]

(S. SUZDALEV)

1 - AS/yus

1 - address[ee]

Nº 426-dv

22 February 1956

[handwritten:

to the archives

informative material

I. Shcherbakov

29 March 1956

[signature]

31 March [illegible signature]

[handwritten: Top Secret

USSR MFA Far

East Department stamp:

incoming Nº 0610s of 2[[0]] February]

SOVIET EMBASSY IN THE DPRK

JOURNAL

of V. I. Ivanov, Soviet Ambassador in the DPRK for the period from 20 to 30 January 1956

Pyongyang

07504

[…]

25 January

I received Pak Yeong-bin. Pak Yeong-bin told about the meeting of the Pyongyang city Party activists on 23-24 January.

After the reading of the 18 January decision of the KWP CC Presidium Han Seol-ya gave a report where he described the history of the struggle on the literary front. He said that some officials (Pak Chang-ok) began to support reactionary writers Ri Tae-jun and others like him, instead of supporting the Party CC. Ri Tae-jun found support among those who worked at that time in the Soviet [SIC] Army newspaper Choson Sinmun (Jo Gi-cheon and Jeon Dong-hyeok), who popularized his works through this newspaper. Gi Seok-bok helped the popularization of these works with his own positive decisions. It was not allowed to criticize the works of Jo Gi-cheon. Then he pointed out that Hegai had come to Korea with the goal of occupying a high post, and had implanted nepotism. When Pak Chang-ok came to the CC after Hegai's death he did not break up this nepotism, and continued it. He talked about Pak Yeong-bin, that the latter had wanted to take revenge on him.

After Han Seol-ya [the following] spoke:

Hong Sun-cheol, Secretary of the Writers' Union, told in his speech about the harm caused by the group (Pak Chang-ok, Pak Yeong-bin, Gi Seok-bok, Jeong Ryul, and Jeon Dong-hyeok), the development of Korean literature, and in particular that Pak Yeong-bin had been seeking the removal of Han Seol-ya from the Supreme People's Assembly.

Pak Jin-ak [SIC] (former deputy of Pak Yeong-bin) said that Pak Chang-ok had spoken against Han Seol-ya, but after returning from the USSR in 1955 Pak Yong-bin had given instructions to use the word aggressor against the Americans in the press and that he regards this as a right deviation.

In his speech Pak Chang-ok admitted his incorrect attitude toward Han Seol-ya, and also his mistakes on the issue of the support of Ri Tae-jun, nepotism, bureaucratism, and a desire to advance himself.

Jeong Ryul and Gi Seok-bok spoke and he, Pak Yeong-bin also admitted his mistakes.

Jeon Dong-hyeok admitted that he had facilitated the popularization of Ri Tae-jun. He then said that Jo Gi-cheon and Ri Tae-jun had actually organized a campaign at that time against Han Seol-ya, in his opinion; it was that Ri Tae-jun, carrying out an assignment from Pak Heon-yeong, was striving to break up the Writers' Union but Jo Gi-cheon was striving to clash with Han in order to occupy the place of chairman of the Union (Ri and Jo were his deputies).

Many others spoke who condemned the behavior of the aforementioned group.

Pak Geum-cheol, who stressed the mistakes of this group, spoke in conclusion. He set the task of correcting the situation on the literary front and helping these officials correct their mistakes. Criticism should not lead to alienation from these comrades.

In the assessment of Pak Yeong-bin, the case of Pak Chang-ok and Pak Yeong-bin, which concerned Gi Seok-bok, Jeong Ryul, and Jeon Dong-hyeok, should have ended with this activists' meeting inasmuch as they had behaved incorrectly at the Presidium meeting [8.]. The KPK will look into their case. It was noted at the activists' meeting that it is necessary to speak of the guilt of each person, regardless of whether a Soviet or local Korean had made mistakes.

Pak Yeong-bin said that he was guilty of much, including the question of an incorrect attitude toward Ri Tae-jun and Han Seol-ya. He had not read the works of either himself but had proceeded in his actions from the assessment of them by Jo Gi-cheon. He thinks that he did not deserve the Party's trust. He is guilty of arrogance and nepotism, and also of not having studied the situation in the DPRK deeply. Without having previously been in such responsible work, occupying an important post, he also worked as he had worked as an ordinary functionary.

He then continued to repeat the mistakes which he could not have made if he had looked into the situation. Such mistakes were: the collection of materials against Han Seol-ya, where he used the testimony of a prisoner; his speech against Seo Hwi (Chairman of the CC of Trade Unions); and also that he had sent his deputy to a meeting of the Writers' Union in 1954 where the latter spoke sharply against Han Seol-ya, accusing him of anti-Soviet acts. He, Pak, now cannot understand why he had sent his deputy there but he had done this incorrectly.

Having returned from Moscow in 1955 he actually told his deputy that the tone of the press against America ought to be changed. When he spoke about this to Kim Il Sung, the latter did not agree with him but his deputy had already put this into practice.

Pak said that Gi Seok-bok, Jeon Dong-hyeok, and Jeong Ryul uselessly resisted admitting their mistakes which actually existed. Therefore it was decided to hand their case to the KPK.

For example, Jeon Dong-hyeok had admitted a number of mistakes only at the activists' meeting, declaring that he had previously denied them, fearing reprimands, and also that his mistakes ensued from their excessive trust in Jo Gi-cheon, whom he considered the founding father of new Korean poetry.

At one time Jeong Ryul also supported Ri Tae-jun and promoted his popularization. As an instructor at Kim Il Sung University he included the works of Ri Tae-jun in 20 of the 30 examination papers on literature and the works of Han Seol-ya in only three.

In reply to the question of how he views conversion to Korean citizenship Pak said that he was the author of a letter sent to the CPSU CC about this issue, and therefore he decided to convert to Korean citizenship and work in Korea in spite of the mistakes [he] has made and also the poor condition of [his] health.

[…]

Soviet Ambassador in the DPRK [signature]

(V. Ivanov)

Four copies printed

drafted by Ivanov

typed by Fokina

Nº 42

1 - to Cde. Molotov

2 - to Cde. Fedorenko

3 - to Cde. Kurdyukov

4 - to file

2 February 1956

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