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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 04, 1962

STATEMENT BY TWO NORTH KOREAN STUDENTS IN COMMUNIST BULGARIA, ADDRESSED TO TODOR ZHIVKOV

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    Two North Korean overseas students in Communist Bulgaria write to Todor Zhivkov and the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party requesting political asylum. The statement details events of abduction, torture, and eventual escape from the North Korean embassy in Bulgaria.
    "Statement by Two North Korean Students in Communist Bulgaria, Addressed to Todor Zhivkov," October 04, 1962, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Sofia, Fond 1-B, Opis91, A.E. 380, p. 9-15 https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/165336
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Personal. Top Secret!

Subject to return to CC BCP [Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party]

TO COMRADE TODOR ZHIVKOV

FIRST SECRETARY OF CC OF BCP

STATEMENT

by Lee Jang Jik - student at the University of Forestry

Lee Sang Jong – student at the University of Chemical Technology

Comrade Zhivkov,

We are writing to you on behalf of four Korean students who were detained at the Korean Embassy; however, two of us managed to escape.

We have been studying in Bulgaria for six years[1] under the continuous maternal care of the Bulgarian Communist Party.

During this time, we were able to become aware and study the decisions of the 20th and 22nd CPSU [Communist Party of the Soviet Union] Congresses, the 7th Congress of BCP and the April Plenary session[2]. We are fully convinced that your way is the only right, Leninist way, which will lead people to the happy future of mankind – to the luminous peaks of communism.

Some leaders of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP), led by Kim Il Sung, could not learn their lessons from the decisions of the 20th and 22nd CPSU Congresses; on the contrary, they increased repression against real communists who actively support the new line of CPSU.

Many genuine communists were expelled from the Party just because they wanted Lenin’s norms in party life.

People in Korea are not aware of the decisions of the 20th and 22nd Congresses of CPSU for the simple reason that the press does not give any information, except for a few titles from the Party Program.

For a long time, Radio Moscow broadcasts have been terminated in Korea, and Soviet newspapers and journals are forbidden to read. [Korean] Students in socialist countries are not allowed to talk about the 20th and 22nd CPSU Congresses; those who disobey are pursued as “anti-party” and “modern revisionists.”

In the wake of the March Plenary session of KWP, they increased their campaign against European socialist countries, except for Albania.

The new KWP secretary here – the third secretary in the Embassy, started anti-Soviet and anti-Bulgarian propaganda, in support of Albanian leaders. We were advised to read Enver Hohxa’s disgraceful speech against USSR, while our leaders supported his repressions against honest communists, including the murder of a pregnant woman. Ambassador Lim Chun-chu [sic] personally stated that your criticism, Comrade Zhivkov, toward Enver Hohxa regarding the attitude of the Albanian Labor Party toward CPSU is “international sectarianism,” therefore the Korean Workers’ Party does not criticize Enver Hohxa and his supporters.

With regard to foreign policy, the USSR was accused of the fact that Soviet struggle for peaceful co-existence of countries with different social order hampers the unification of Korea and the liberation of the island of Taiwan; USSR does not support the national liberation movements in Asia and Africa, while China renders material assistance.  

Kim Il Sung claimed that “in order to receive just one machine from the Soviet Union, he had to bow before Khrushchev at least ten times; therefore, we are forced to develop our own national economy.”

Comrade [Anastas] Mikoyan’s visit to Korea in 1956 provoked the formation of anti-party groups in KWP, and thus the Soviet Union is interfering with Korea’s home affairs (according to Ambassador Lim’s words).

Korea’s refusal to be a member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) was explained with unwillingness to be “dependent” as other countries.

Party secretary Sim Sang-il [sic], who toured North Bulgaria, at a meeting with local party leaders asked his interpreter, student Ko Zhun Hun [sic], to translate that revisionism from Yugoslavia is already penetrating Bulgaria. The student, however, said something different.

On 20 July this year, we were tasked to study the biographies of the 17 persons who were promoted to leaders’ positions after the April Plenary session of Central Committee of BCP.

All these facts as well as many others are connected with Kim Il Sung’s personal rule; thus, we disagree with him and his followers.

All of us, the students in Bulgaria, with very few exceptions, supported the new course of the Bulgarian Communist Party. The three of us, Choi Dong Sung, Lee Jang Jik and Lee Sang Jong, openly defended the policy of CPSU led by Comrade Nikita Khrushchev and BCP, led by you, Comrade Zhivkov.

In the wake of the 20th CPSU Congress, Comrade Choi Dong Sung [sic] was the only one to comprehend and help us correctly understand the line of all communist parties after the 20th CPSU Congress.

Comrade Lee Jang Jik [sic], an active propagandist, and Comrade Lee Sang Jong [sic], a youth secretary and political informant, always gave the right information about the 20th and 22nd CPSU Congresses.

When the Embassy was aware of all this, they started to accuse and persecute us as being “anti-party activists and revisionists.”

Comrade Zhivkov, Choi Dong Sung lost his father in a Japanese prison before he was even born. Comrade Lee Jang Jik also lost his father in a Japanese prison where he was with a life sentence, and lost his brother during the Fatherland war. Lee Sang Jong’s father took part in the Fatherland war.

We know how our parents, brothers and sisters hope to see us return to our country as well-qualified specialists from fraternal Bulgaria. We have not forgotten our home place where we grew up. But first of all, we are thinking about the fair cause and we are deeply convinced that sooner or later the ideas from the 20th and 22nd CPSU Congresses will triumph in Korea, the way it happened in Bulgaria.

Comrade Zhivkov, on 25 July this year, the Korean government recalled all students studying in fraternal socialist countries with the promise that they will go back to complete their studies. We know the aim of this recall and we know what will happen to us.

For the above mentioned political reasons, we have firmly decided to refuse to return to Korea. At the moment, we were 13 students. Most comrades extended the term of their graduation theses, hesitating to ask for political asylum in Bulgaria. However, at the decisive moment the lies, deceit, strict pursuit and threats coming from the Embassy forced them to leave for Korea. In spite of all, the four of us - Choi Dong Sung, Lee Jang Jik, Lee Sang Jong and Choi Dong Jun - firmly refused to return to Korea.

On 28 July, in the afternoon, we left Sofia and headed for Vitosha mountain to hide.

About our refusal to return to Korea we informed you personally, Comrade Zhivkov, as well as the Chairman of the Presidium of the Parliament Comrade Dimitar Ganev, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Comrade Anton Yugov, Foreign Minister Comrade Karlo Lukanov, Minister of Interior Comrade Diko Dikov, Comrade Nacho Papazov – Minister of Education and Culture, and Comrade Ivan Abadzhiev – First Secretary of the Youth Communist Union.

At the same time, we sent a letter to the party committee in the Korean Embassy to inform them about the reasons for our refusal to return to Korea.

During our one-month concealment in Bulgaria with the support of our colleagues and friends, we were constantly wanted by the Korean Embassy to be forced back in Korea.

In the afternoon of 27 August this year, in front of cinema “Dimitar Blagoev,” seven men from the [North] Korean Embassy, instructed by Ambassador Lim, arrested the four of us in a Barbarian and uncivilized way, grossly violating the law, sovereignty and international law. They presented us as “drunkards” and “hooligans” to the Bulgarian militiamen and Bulgarian citizens, taking advantage of their diplomatic status, abusing the confidence Bulgaria provides them with.

We were forcefully taken to the Embassy, where they tied our legs, hands and waist first with wire, then with rope. We were arrested in pairs in the two rooms on the third floor of the Embassy. All Embassy employees guarded us. Two investigators were sent via Romania especially for us three days after our arrest. Led by Ambassador Lim Chun-chu, investigators Kim and Lee (they concealed their names), Third secretary Sim Sang-il [sic], commerce advisor Park Nin Hak [sic], commerce employee Kim En-il [sic] and others continuously interrogated us without being ashamed to use any methods including torture and sleep deprivation.

The Ambassador himself tortured physically our comrade Lee Jang Jik, who refused to return to Korea. When the latter replied to the Ambassador that he was struggling for the right, Lenin’s party line, the Ambassador ordered that he be moved to the lavatory without any food. He accused us of being more dangerous than imperialist agents and threatened us all the time. They told us Bulgaria will accept us in order to use us against Korea and later will throw us out like dogs without any opportunity to live like all Bulgarians. After long torture, we were forced to sign a “promise to return to our country.” Signing this declaration, we planned to get out of their hands and run away when taken to the airport or the railway station.

During the past week, we were forced to confess that we visited you personally, Comrade Zhivkov, and the Soviet Ambassador in Sofia, and we were forced to write that you gave us instructions not to return to Korea. Thus, blaming you they wanted to blame the BCP. However, we did not confess what was not true.

During our arrest, in spite of our insistence, we were not given any Bulgarian or Soviet newspapers or journals, just Kim Il Sung’s works.

Once again, we could see ourselves where the truth was. From the very beginning we were trying to find a way out to continue our fair work.

Our room was on the third floor. There was always an investigator in it; next door was the guard room with six Embassy officials; next one always had two guards. All doors and windows were locked, door handles were removed, they put double curtains to prevent seeing from outside. All the time, we were planning how to escape and inform you what was happening in the Korean Embassy.

On 27 September this year, at 11.00 p.m. when everyone was at a meeting next door, using a 2-stotinki coin (as a screwdriver) and a razor (to cut sheets and curtains), we managed to escape through the window with the help of a rope made of sheets and curtains.

Comrade Zhivkov, the aim of our escape was:

- To prove to the Korean Embassy that we acted by our own conviction, and not by the instructions of BCP leaders;

- To expose the vicious methods, they applied to us and to millions of honest people in Korea;

- Not to give our young lives before the great ideas of the 20th and 22nd CPSU Congresses triumph in Korea.

Now, when we are free and taken care of by our friends and colleagues, our eyes and thoughts are directed to the Korean Embassy building where our friends are still unlawfully detained. It is likely that they will be forced to go back to Korea, where they will be liquidated without trial, just because they want our people to live happily like the people in the Soviet Union and Bulgaria.

Comrade Zhivkov, one of our friends, Choi Dong Sung, had serious health problems even before his arrest; as a result of excruciation and torture his health has seriously deteriorated. Nevertheless, the Embassy does not take any medical care to improve his physical condition, but has left him in the hands of fate. Therefore, we beg you, Comrade Zhivkov, and we beg the Bulgarian government to help our friend. If he is left alone, he may very soon, maybe in a month’s time, lose his young life, and we need him.

Finally, in order to become as soon as possible members of the Dimitrov’s Youth Communist Union, we request political asylum and Bulgarian citizenship. We would like to contribute as engineers to the construction of socialism in the People’s Republic of Bulgaria.

We modestly promise and give you our word of young communists that as long as we live in Bulgaria, we are going to work, study and live by the rules of communism, and we are ready to be sent where the Bulgarian Communist Party needs us.

We deeply hope that the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party, led by you, Comrade Zhivkov, will understand us and will help us.

With communist regards,

Lee Jang Jik

Lee Sang Jong

4 October 1962

Sofia

Duplicated in 20 copies

for CC BCP Politburo and Secretariat members

11 October 1962

[1] Choi Dong Sung arrived in Bulgaria in 1955, while Lee Jang Jik, Lee Sang Jong and Choi Dong Jun – in 1956.

[2] Following the decisions of the 20th CPSU Congress in February 1956, CC BCP April Plenary session (2-6 April 1956) denounced the personal cult toward the former Secretary General and Prime Minister, Valko Chervenkov, and strengthen the political power of the new political leader, Todor Zhivkov.

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