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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 26, 1980

TELEGRAM FROM THE HUNGARIAN EMBASSY IN PYONGYANG, 'PREPARATIONS OF THE KWP’S 6TH CONGRESS'

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    The Hungary Embassy in Pyongyang reports that Kim Jong Il will be promoted to become North Korea's "number two leader" during the 6th Congress of the Korean Workers' Party.
    "Telegram from the Hungarian Embassy in Pyongyang, 'Preparations of the KWP’s 6th Congress'," September 26, 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/123753
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EMBASSY OF THE HUNGARIAN PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC
Serial number: 275/1980
Produced in 3 copies
Central: 2 copies
Embassy: 1 copy
Typed up by Nemes Gabriella

TOP SECRET!
Pyongyang,
1980 September 26

Subject: Preparations of the KWP’s 6th Congress

The representatives of the parties and political circles of friendly countries are looking forward to the Korean Worker’s Party’s forthcoming 6th Congress with a heightened interest. This goes without saying as it has been 10 years since the last assembly of the highest ranking forum in the political life of the party and the country. Significant changes have occurred during these ten years both worldwide and in the regions neighboring the Korean peninsula: changes in China and its relations with the United States and Japan above all, not to mention those that have taken place in South Korea as well. Judging from our current knowledge however, it seems that there will be no considerable changes in the Korean’s political orientation at the 6th Congress of the KWP, aside from some possible formal elements.

The statement above is especially true for the internal policy. All signs point towards the fact that instead of a “work congress”, this will be a kind of celebratory festival in the spirit of personality cult and the juche ideology, where they will praise the results achieved in the last ten years, especially during the nationwide campaign in honor of the congress, announced as the “hundred-day battle”. This is also supported by the statement of Vice Prime Minister Jon Jun-gi before the journalists of the GDR, where he said, so to speak, that “they have taken the stronghold of ideology” (i.e., the juche ideology has won) and “the fight for the material stronghold is in progress”. He also added that they had produced more until the end of August than during the same time period of the previous year.

The work oriented nature of the congress seems to be also denied by the fact that they have not published the guiding principles of the congress, unless we consider the congress slogans published in June as the directives. Thus there were no possibilities for the party members to disclose their opinions about the principles in the frame of representative sessions or to make their suggestions, therefore the protocol of the congress could not be prepared reflecting the concise opinion of the party members as a whole.

On the other hand, the festival nature of the congress is supported by the ambitious work-race campaign: the “hundred-day battle”, whereby they want to complete the yearly economic plans three months before the deadline, i.e., before the congress. The timing of the congress also corroborates this. They scheduled the congress along with the 35th anniversary of the foundation of the KWP, and for months now they have been preparing a mass demonstration on a scale unprecedented in the DPRK: ordering tens of thousands of youths to the streets and public squares every evening until late night hours.

The “hundred-day battle” requires almost inhuman performances of the workers. This is especially apparent in the capital, where massive prestige constructions are taking place (e.g. the 170-meter-tall Juche Monument, the “Grand People’s Study House”, building roads, and other urban planning actions). They told the local Czechoslovak diplomats that youths working with them go to construction sites after their office hours and work there until 1-2 AM. Thus they are only left with a daily 4-5 hours of sleep. This “undertaking” is generally true almost everywhere and is an irrational outbidding.

They are expecting more than a hundred delegations to the congress and to the party anniversary celebrations following it. They have invited “high ranking” delegations from the parties of socialist countries. Not only communists will be present, but also representatives from all the parties the KWP liaises with. Besides party representatives, representatives of various “juche seminars” and “juche circles” will attend as well. They will be transported by private planes into and back from the DPRK.

Concerning the contents of the congress, the only significant event besides celebrating the achievements seems to be the public appointment of Kim Il Sung’s son, Kim Jong Il, as the number two leader, which is basically just the public endorsement of the current practice. As a Central Committee secretary, he supervises the two most important areas of the party: organization and propaganda work; and acts as the number one executive of the party politics through them. The Korean comrades are unwilling to tell us his official prospective function, so there are only guesses among the local diplomatic circles concerning this. The strongest view is that Kim Il Sung will exercise his “leader” roles as the president, whereas his son will be given the position of general secretary of the party. Our Korean partners refused to either confirm or deny this even after direct questions. In their words, the “Great Leader” holds the ideological, theoretical leadership, while Kim Jong Il controls the execution of party politics, in other words he will be the “executive leader”. It is a fact that the Korean senior officers are talking more and more openly about Kim Jong Il, even in front of foreigners, as “their nation’s Dear Leader”, who is the originator, director, and organizer of the “hundred-day battle” and the preparations for the congress and the anniversary celebrations.

The last ten years prove that congresses do not play any decisive role in the life of the KWP and the DPRK, as they serve only for endorsing the politics created by a narrow political group, and not for discussing, developing, and introducing meaningful political directions suitable for the new circumstances. So it seems probable that the 6th Congress will not change the practice of the KWP’s traditional, bureaucratic leadership scheme either.

Pataki Sándor
Temporary Charge d’Affaires