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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 12, 1980

TELEGRAM FROM THE HUNGARIAN EMBASSY IN PYONGYANG, 'THE KOREAN WORKERS’ PARTY’S 6TH CONGRESS'

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    "Telegram from the Hungarian Embassy in Pyongyang, 'The Korean Workers’ Party’s 6th Congress'," November 12, 1980, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, MNL OL XIV-J-1-j Korea 25-001140/1980.Obtained by North Korean Materials Archive, IFES, Kyungnam University, and translated by Imre Májer. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/123750
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EMBASSY OF THE HUNGARIAN PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC
Serial number: 301/1980
Produced in 3 copies
Central: 2 copies
Embassy: 1 copy
Created by Pataki Sándor
Typed up by Nemes Gabriella

TOP SECRET!
Pyongyang,
1980 November 12

Attachments:
1)  A short review of the report of the Central Committee
2)  Exposition of the comments
3)  List of members of the leading body elected at the congress
4)  External policy part of the congress’ decree
5)  Exposition and assessment of the juche ideology

Subject: The Korean Worker’s Party’s 6th Congress

I. 

The Korean Worker’s Party held its 6th Congress from 1980 October 10 to 14. Celebrations were also held at the same time on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean sister party. (1945 October 10)

The agenda of the congress:

1)  The report of the Central Committee;
2)  The report of the Central Control Committee;
3)  Report on the modification of the Party Rules;
4)  Election of the leading organs of the party.

The congress was attended by 3062 members with the right to vote, and 158 members with the right to debate. For this occasion, the Korean sister party sent out invitations not only to sister parties of socialist countries, but invited all parties from developing, non-aligned, and Western European countries that the KWP liaises with as well. Besides these, the representative of the International Juche Alliance, the DPRK-sympathizer Koreans living in Japan, etc. were also invited. Furthermore, representatives of other parties of the DPRK, certain South Korean organizations that operate abroad, and juche circles were also present. More than 170 delegations from some 120 countries were present at the event.

The delegations of the socialist countries – aside from some exceptions – were led by Politburo members. Li Xiannian Chinese delegation leader, the Guinean president Sékou Touré, the Zimbabwean Prime Minister R. Mugabe, the leader of the Romanian delegation Ilie Verdeț, the leader of the Soviet delegation Comrade Grishin, and the Secretary General of the Spanish Central Committee S. Carillo were enjoying a distinguished reception.

The Hungarian party delegation was led by Comrade Méhes Lajos, member of the HSWP (Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party) Central Committee Political Bureau, and the first secretary of the Budapest Party Committee. Members of the delegation were: Comrade Varga István, the deputy department head of the HSWP Central Committee’s Foreign Division, and Etre Sándor, Hungary’s ambassador to Pyongyang.

II. 

The Korean Worker’s Party’s 6th Congress differed from other congresses held by sister parties both in formalities and in regard to its contents.

Formalities: This congress was not ruled by a work-oriented atmosphere, but rather by one with a festival nature almost always from the beginning until the end. Already weeks before the congress and the anniversary, procession practices stretching into late nights were taking place, in which hundreds of thousands were participating next to their exhausting jobs that they undertook as part of the production campaign offered in the frame of the congress. The festival nature was further underlined by the fact that foreign delegations only attended the opening ceremony, the report of the Central Committee, and the closing ceremony. (In spite of the specific request of the Hungarian delegation, attendance at the other work programs of the congress was not allowed. According to our knowledge, besides the KWP’s congress delegates, only the Koreans from Japan, and the foreign juche circles could participate on those.)

The height of the festival was the procession in the spirit of the congress, with hundreds of thousands of participants. (According to the official Korean report, there were a million people marching, which means that for this occasion they also mobilized and transported hundreds of thousands of people from country towns to the capital!) Our sources told us that all essential question were discussed and decided on before the official opening of the congress.

Content: In the history of the Korean Worker’s Party (and most probably in the history of the international communist movement as well), this was the first communist party congress where there was not even a single mention of Marxism–Leninism, unless we consider the half-sentenced references to the so far not modified (presumably due to pragmatic reasons) organization rules. They talked all the more however about the maverick philosophy of the KWP: the juche ideology (or as they were spoon-feeding it to foreigners: “Kimilsungism”)! We have to note here that ten years ago, during the 5th Congress, Kim Il Sung stated that the juche ideology is a version of Marxism–Leninism applied to Korean circumstances and that the KWP “views itself as Marxist–Leninist party”. During the last ten years in the DPRK however, there was a qualitative change in the interpretation of the juche ideology: the classics of Marxism–Leninism chose their answers correctly for the problems of the world in their time, but since then the world has changed – so to speak – and only the juche can answer correctly to today’s issues. This way the propaganda of the DPRK elevates the juche ideology above Marxism–Leninism and claims it to be the highest-level ideology of our, and of all times.

The Central Committee report of the 6th Congress, and the approved decree describes the juche ideology as the only correct worldview. Using the words of Kim Il Sung: “There is no place for any other ideology in our party besides the juche”, furthermore “The party organizations have to educate their members so that they know of no other ideology than the juche”. (The essentials of juche and its brief evaluation is contained in the attachment of our report.)

The Central Committee report and the approved decree essentially contains the summary of the views that were conceived in the last ten, but especially during the recent years with regards to ideology, politics, and as such, internal policies, international life, and the international objectives and activities of the KWP and the DPRK.

-   From the economic point of view, it is novel that – compared to the 5th Congress – there are barely any mentions on the issues of the control and planning system. It would seem as if everything was completely alright, and thus based on this fact, they can set up those ambitious objectives that since the congress they label as “the 10 great goals of the 80-s”. (Respective attachment.) The report and the decree focus heavily on foreign trade, yet there are absolutely no references on how the problems that arose in the world economy might also affect negatively the economic life of the DPRK. This in itself makes the reality of the goals questionable (oil problem, negative changes to international exchange rates, etc.), not to mention the present issue of the DPRK’s indebtedness.

-   There are only few substantive elements in the Central Committee report and the congress decree regarding military compared to the documents of the 5th Congress. Military questions are discussed only in a quasi-hidden manner, whereas they assigned a separate chapter for this issue during the 5th Congress. Among the tasks awaiting the people’s army, the emphasis is on the leading role of the party, the enhanced “juchefication”, and the armed protection of the accomplishments of the party and the revolution.

-   There are no separate chapters on improving the standards of living neither in the Central Committee report nor the congress decree, whereas this was also a separately discussed topic during the 5th Congress. The documents of the 6th Congress only tangentially outline the issue of living standards, not as one of the main objectives.

-   The new formulation of the reunification policy deviates significantly from the language used in the documents of the 5th Congress. There, they refused the “deceitful propaganda for peaceful reunification” of the South, and proposed financial and moral support for a possible revolution in the Southern part of the country. Here, the Central Committee report summarizes the suggestions of recent years in ten points, in which the Korean comrades envision the unification of the country in a confederative framework. (See our attached summary of the Central Committee report!) Concerning the reality of the ten-point proposal however, the Korean comrades themselves also have little hope in it for the time being. At least, this seems to be indicated by the statement of Kim Il Sung in front of the leader of the Bulgarian congress delegation, in which he stated that they cannot currently expect any meaningful results from the negotiations with the South Korean authorities, but the South Korean masses will not be unaffected by the ten-point proposal.

-   The congress documents discuss the KWP’s and the DPRK’s foreign policy views and objectives in the already known manner. Without including any Marxist class views, they talk about non-aligned movements, the “rivalry of superpowers for establishing their respective spheres of influences”, how this endangers world peace, the issue of military blocs, “dominationism”, etc.

-   We also must mention the newest and singular manifestation of cult of personality amidst the international communist movement: the elevation of the son of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, to the number two leader, and the adoring reverence of his role in the remarks during the congress. (See the comments of Ji Jae-jong, Lee Gil-seon, Jeong Jon-hyeok, and O Geuk-ryeol in the attachments!) It was not phrased formally in the documents, but the view that Kim Jong Il will be chosen as the “successor of the leader” is still maintained in the internal propaganda. The authenticity of the long-term plans concerning him are further supported by his publically announced functions in the party, the organizing and governing activities attributed to him in state, party, and remarkably in military life, and lastly the constant bowing around his presence (as seen in television broadcasts and documentaries).

III. 

Changes in the top body of the KWP as a result of the 6th Congress compared to those appointed during the 5th Congress are the following (List attached!):

1)  After creating the institute of general secretary, the KWP Central Committee’s Politburo Standing Committee was established, which consists of five members with Kim Il Sung at the top. The other members are: Kim Il, O Jin-u, Kim Jong Il, and Lee Jong-ok. This body had already existed before the 5th Congress.)

2)  The members of the KWP Central Committee Politburo was increased from 11 to 19. Seven members remained from the old one, thus the number of the new Politburo members is 12. (In reality however, many of them had become Politburo members between the two congresses.)

3)  From among the KWP Central Committee secretaries, Kim Jong Il is in the first place, and only Kim Jung-rin remained from the secretaries elected during the 5th Congress. (Many of the Central Committee secretaries acquired their position also between the two congresses in this case as well.)

4)  The number of alternate members of the Central Committee’s Politburo was increased from 4 to 15.

5)  The KWP’s Central Military Commission was reinforced. During the 5th Congress it consisted of one chairman and three vice chairmen. The list of the members was not publicized. Currently the Central Military Commission consists of one chairman and 18 members. (The names of the vice chairmen were not published.) Among the members, the highest ranked is O Jin-u Defense Minister followed by Kim Jong Il, and then the rest of the personnel with the most important military posts.

In summary, we can determine that the KWP’s 6th Congress was a “juche type” party congress, with which the KWP took further qualitative steps in its departure from Marxism–Leninism with the actual endorsement of the congress. The juche ideology already in its current interpretation, but by also taking its inevitable further evolution into account, could become the source of conflict between the KWP and the Marxist–Leninist parties. At the same time, due to its features representing thick nationalism, and its pragmatic ambiguity, it could become a common denominator in the unprincipled bargaining with the South. Even so, because the expression with its nationalistic content can often be found in columns of the press in South Korea as well.

Etre Sándor
Ambassador