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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 19, 1985

STATEMENT BY TODOR ZHIVKOV ON VISIT TO THE DPRK

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    General Secretary of the Bulgarian Communist Party, Todor Zhivkov reports on his visit to North Korea, describing discussions with Kim Il Sung on North-South Korean relations and the growing concern of capitalism in China.
    "Statement by Todor Zhivkov on Visit to the DPRK," June 19, 1985, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Sofia, Fond 1-B, Opis68, A.E. 590, p. 49, 61-65. Obtained by Jordan Baev and translated by Greta Keremidchieva. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/165253
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Top Secret!

STATEMENT

of Comrade TODOR ZHIVKOV about his visits to the Soviet Union and Japan and on the official friendly visits of the Bulgarian party and government delegation to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the People’s Republic of Mongolia, presented at Politburo’s session on 19 June 1985

TODOR ZHIVKOV:

Comrades, while presenting our visit to Japan, [North] Korea, Mongolia and the Soviet Union let me proceed chronologically.

[…]

Now I proceed to Korea.

We shall point out that the reception and attention towards our delegation were exceptional, much bigger than during my official visit 12 years ago. We were met 10-12 km in advance. This was a spectacle organized by their demeanor and their style. This was a theater play. They have reached great mastery in making shows on the streets. There was a crowd of 250,000 people. A similar reception was organized for the Chinese leader, however with fewer participants. Interestingly enough, no one moved, aligned like soldiers and no one moved. Our people are not able to stand that long. But all of this, comrades, is sad as well.

Our delegation was treated with great respect. Kim Il Sung was accompanying us all the time and was very attentive.

In the information he presented during the meeting of the two delegations he emphasized their goals.

1. They will continue building hydropower plants. They have a lot of water and opportunities and they are aiming at building hydropower plants.

2. They will acquire an additional 300 hectares of new lands. For Korea this is a huge task. This is irrigated land where they grow rice. They have about 20 million acres. This is a big thing for them.

3. They are going to develop non-ferrous metallurgy, exploitation of non-ferrous ores. They are rich in non-ferrous ores.

4. They will speed up the development of food industry.

This is the main focus of their efforts.

Their economy is generally developing extensively. They are far from the problems we, European socialist countries, have.

Next question he touched was the question of South Korea. He elaborated on their work and their assessment of the South Korean development, and more specifically of their position towards a peaceful and democratic unification of the two Koreas.

What can we say about this position? It is unrealistic. Unification of the two Koreas is impossible in a peaceful and democratic way under the current situation: first, because there are two Koreas – one is going along the capitalist way, the other is developing in the socialist way; second, the difference between the economies of South Korea and North Korea is from heaven to earth. South Korea has been developing quickly lately. It is second in Asia after Japan in its economic development and economic potential. South Korea is already threatening and competing with Japan and many other countries in international trade. Most importantly, it has the right policy. They are developing research-based industries, especially in the area of electronics. They are developing extremely fast.

Thus, this position is unrealistic. I asked him about his opinion, can we say that there is a military-political union, even though implicit, between US, Japan and South Korea. He replied: “Yes, yes, they conduct joint exercises in South Korea.”

Taking into consideration that in fact there is a military-political union between US, Japan and South Korea, at this stage we shall support this idea, which is nationalistic and unrealistic in order to suppress China. Why? Because western countries and the USA are willing to create two Koreas, the UN shall accept two Koreas. China is also supporting this, but while supporting the positions of democratic Korea, they are maneuvering. Kim Il Sung said he pointed to them that they bought South Korean goods from Hong Kong and from the other two countries.

Then, I told him in private that I would like to continue our conversation about China. I asked him: “What is your assessment of the current situation in China?” What did he say? He said: “I am concerned about several facts:

First, they are open to capitalism and they are moving towards capitalist countries, give them territories, free zones. Economic results are still implicit; however, ideological outcomes are tangible in China.

Second, they divided the land in villages among private owners and capitalism is on its way there, bourgeoisie. Small factories in towns were also given to private owners, which facilitates the birth of bourgeoisie, of capitalists.

Third, the fate of old cadre, proven cadre. Some of them were liquidated, ousted by the party, repressed during the Cultural Revolution. But for those who have stayed, they are creating communities and in fact are taking them away from active party work, as they did in the Central Committee – they organized the old cadre in communities.”

I asked who the first leader was. He replied without hesitation: “This is Deng Xiaoping.” He talked to some of the people. They said: “It is difficult to be a communist in China now.”

This whole situation is of great concern to him. By the way, this explains the turn in the relations with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries.

As far as we are concerned, I repeat, they and he personally demonstrated exceptional attention, he even invited me together with my granddaughter to the place where he lived, which happened for the first time.

We need to say that Korea is a strongly centralized country led by Kim Il Sung and his son. His son came to meet us. They say this happened for the first time in Korea.

Taking into account his words that in the future he would not be able to visit Europe, I invited his son to come to Bulgaria. He said: “I will come, this time by airplane.”

There are huge opportunities for economic and other presence in Korea. Their disposition is extremely large and explicit.

Of course, during the talks I touched the question of communist movement and the question of our socialist community that we need to consolidate, etc. He did not object any topic, he just listened and approved.

This is about Korea.

[…]

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