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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 08, 1967

MEMORANDUM FROM THE BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY, REGARDING RELATIONS WITH NORTH KOREA

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    A memorandum listing the Bulgarian Communist Party's explicit interest to rebuild relations with North Korea, which dissolved in 1962 following the North Korean students incident and the declaration of the Ambassador as "person non grata."
    "Memorandum from the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, Regarding Relations with North Korea," June 08, 1967, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Sofia, Fond 1-B, Opis6, A.E. 6770, p. 66-69. Obtained by Jordan Baev and translated by Greta Keremidchieva. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/165251
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    https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/165251

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TO CC BCP [Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party] POLITBURO

MEMORANDUM

It is known that since 1962 relations between the People’s Republic of Bulgaria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have not been normal. During this period, there have been no contacts between the two parties, except for participation of delegations from the Korean Workers’ Party in the VIII and IX Congress of BCP. Several attempts were made from our side to resume relations. We started participating with more people at higher level in events organized by DPRK and its representative offices in our country and abroad. We increased the volume of materials about Korea in the press, radio and television. We suggested exchange of specialists in the areas of science, culture, sports, etc. We voiced our willingness to give aid amounting to 5-10 million Rubles to build industries in Korea, to enhance trade, scientific and technical and cultural cooperation, etc. Our organizations issued invitations to Korean organizations on different occasions – congresses, symposia, celebrations and holidays. During official talks, including talks with Korean delegations at the VIII and IX Congresses of BCP, we raised the question of improving our relations.

All our efforts remained futile. Every time, the Korean side stated that relations shall not be normalized unless we send the students back and apologize for declaring their ambassador persona non grata.

Korean students have repeatedly stated their unwillingness to return to Korea (one of them married a Bulgarian citizen). Korean representatives in our country, including the Korean delegation at the IX Congress of BCP, were offered to meet them and convince them to go back home, which they refused to do.

Representatives of some fraternal countries have claimed in front of Korean representatives that the past shall be left behind and relations shall be normalized. For example, Comrade Chimidorzh, Deputy Foreign Minister of Mongolia, stated during a visit of Korean Foreign Ministry delegation to Deputy Minister Sok The [sic] in the context of Bulgarian-Korean relations that “it is in the interest of common goals to leave behind small differences and combine efforts in the face of common enemy – imperialism.” His Korean counterpart did not reply.

Bulgarian-Korean relations were a topic of discussion during the visit of Korean Foreign Ministry delegation to Hungary. Our Hungarian comrades tend to interpret raising this issue by Korean comrades as searching for a solution. There have been other cases when Korean comrades were not supported for their position and they kept insisting on sending the students back and apologizing.

We shall mention the fact that right after the appointment of a new Head of Foreign Policy and International Relations, the Korean Embassy Charge d’Affaires requested a meeting to present the case with the students and to insist on some response to their demands (apology and return of the students), since other socialist countries believed that Bulgaria was willing, while DPRK was not willing to improve relations. He pointed out that the ousting of the Ambassador was taken as a personal insult by Comrade Kim Il Sung, who had been friends with him since 1930.

Taking into account the recent enhanced process of rapprochement with the European socialist countries and withdrawal of the Korean Workers’ Party from the line of the Chinese Communist Party, as well as the obligation of our Party to contribute to strengthening of the socialist community and international communist and workers movement, we believe that we shall continue our efforts to normalize relations with the Korean state and party.

In this context, we suggest that the Head of „Foreign Policy and International Relations” department at the CC of BCP summon the Korean Charge d’Affaires in Sofia and reiterate our willingness to normalize relations. He shall explain that following our conversation with him, we once again advised the students to return to Korea. With regard to the Ambassador, he shall state that in the current situation we acted hastily by declaring him persona non grata; we apologize and suggest exchange of new ambassadors. He shall be informed that in case their country finds this response satisfactory, our Charge d’Affaires will formalize it to the Korean Foreign Minister and we shall consider the issue settled.

In case these talks remain without any positive consequences, we suggest:

1. The Foreign Minister shall ask the Hungarian Foreign Minister Comrade Janos Peter for “a favor’ - to raise this question to the Korean Foreign Minister, who will visit Hungary this summer.

The Foreign Ministry shall inform socialist countries about our position and ask them to assist in normalizing our relations with DPRK.

2. The students shall be advised to connect with the Embassy via letters, and explain that the Bulgarian authorities have been advising them to return to their country. They shall also be advised to look for opportunities to settle in other countries.

3. We shall continue our policy towards DPRK through encouraging state and public organizations, specifically the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the Committee for friendship and cultural relations with other countries, to offer their Korean counterparts new initiatives.

4. We shall increase the Bulgarian support to DPRK in United Nations and other intergovernment and non-government international organizations.

Our press shall publish more materials on what our country does in support of DPRK interests in these organizations.

More materials shall be published on the successes of DPRK and against South Korea.

We shall not conduct international events in Bulgaria discriminating DPRK, where we are obliged to invite South Korea.

8 June 1967

Minister of Foreign Affairs:

[signature]

/ Ivan Bashev /

Head of CC BCP "Foreign Policy and International Relations" Department:

[signature]

/ Konstantin Tellalov /

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