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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 13, 1988

INFORMATION ON THE BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER, GEORGI ATANASOV'S VISIT TO NORTH KOREA

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    Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Bulgarian Communist Party, Georgi Atanasov reports on his visit to Pyongyang to celebrate the 40th anniversary of North Korea.
    "Information on the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Georgi Atanasov's Visit to North Korea," September 13, 1988, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Sofia, Fond 1-B, Opis101, A.E. 1904, p. 1-9. Obtained by Jordan Baev and translated by Greta Keremidchieva. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/165352
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INFORMATION

on the visit of the Bulgarian party and government delegation to DPRK

By the invitation of CC [Central Committee] of the Korean Workers’ Party and DPRK government, a Bulgarian party and government delegation, led by the member of Politburo of CC of BCP and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of PRB, Comrade Georgi Atanasov, visited DPRK from 7 till 11 September this year to take part in the celebrations on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of DPRK.

At the Korean capital airport, the delegation was met and seen off by the member of Politburo of CC of the Korean Workers’ Party and Chairman of the Administrative council of DPRK, Comrade Ri Kun-mo [sic] and other officials.

According to Korean data, over 300 delegations from 120 countries arrived for the celebrations; some of them were led by presidents and prime-ministers. The Soviet delegation was led by the member of Politburo of CC of CPSU [Communist Party of the Soviet Union] and Chairman of the State Security Committee Viktor Chebrikov; the Czechoslovak – by President Gustav Husak, etc. The Chinese delegation, led by Yang Shankun, Chairman of the PRC, received special attention – they were welcomed by hundreds of thousands citizens in the streets of Pyongyang.

It is interesting to note that Kim Il Sung’s son, Kim Jong Il, met only the Soviet and Chinese delegations.

Some high level delegations were welcomed by the Secretary General of CC of KWP and President of DPRK Kim Il Sung. Leaders of the other delegations attended a meeting with Kim Il Sung. It is worth noting that Kim Jong Il attended only the meeting between Kim Il Sung and Viktor Chebrikov, demonstrating his close relations with the Soviet comrades. Supposedly, this demonstration of attention toward the Soviet delegation aimed at receiving recognition for Kim Jong Il as the real first leader of DPRK.

Kim Il Sung presented a comprehensive report at the celebration on the occasion of the 40th anniversary. The report made an assessment of the social-economic development of DPRK in the past 40 years. It highlighted the successes achieved as a result of the unity between party and people under the “Juche” ideology – for independence in defense, foreign policy and economy. The main goal was the “total construction” of socialism and building of communism. Social-political development of the country was seen from the position of “permanent revolution.”

The report barely touched the problems of international situation, mainly through the prism of DPRK foreign policy and the situation in the Korean peninsula. It noted that DPRK supports the struggle for peace and the initiatives for nuclear disarmament. It was stressed that nowadays the main contradiction is between imperialism and countries struggling for independence, “Juche” ideology and DPRK foreign policy are universal, a model for development of the countries struggling for autonomy. The report said that the unification of Korea is a strategic focus of DPRK foreign policy.

The report did not mention any difficulties in the social-economic life of the country. There was no word about economic or other cooperation with socialist countries. At the end, Kim Il Sung stated that DPRK will work for the consolidation of friendship and cooperation with socialist countries, with the movement of non-aligned countries, as well as for the development of good neighbor and friendly relations, for economic and cultural cooperation with capitalist countries which respect their sovereignty.

There were no congratulation addresses on behalf of foreign delegations. Some delegations, including the Bulgarian, were given the opportunity to take part in bilateral meetings with working people.

On 9 September, an impressive manifestation with over 1 million citizens was organized on the central square in Pyongyang; mass gymnastic performances took place on the central stadium; in the evening, there was a reception for foreign delegations.

All festive events were well organized, lavish, underlining the cult to the personality of Kim Il Sung. Obviously, the aim of the report and other events was to demonstrate to the Korean people and the world the high authority of DPRK and its leadership.

The Korean comrades tried to show foreign delegations the “façade,” the best they have. It was highlighted that all big successes were accomplished by themselves.

The Bulgarian delegation received a lot of attention from the Korean comrades; it was well respected. The delegation took part in all festive events. In addition, the delegation laid a wreath on the grave of dead Korean revolutionaries in Wonsan, visited Kim Il Sung’s native home in Mangyeongdae [Mangyongdae], and the chemical plant in Suncheon [Sunchon]. Some 300 kinds of chemical products will be produced in the chemical factories. Korean comrades intend to turn these plants into the fundament of chemical industry. They will rely on them for clothing, food and housing. We think that the machines and facilities are at relatively low technological and technical level.

It was agreed that the next session of the joint Bulgarian-Korean Consultative commission for economic and scientific and technical cooperation will take place in November this year, where the protocol for trade and payments in 1989 will be signed.

On 10 September, our delegation was received by Kim Il Sung. During the warm friendly visit, we conveyed wholehearted regards from CC of BCP, the Bulgarian government, and from Comrade Todor Zhivkov personally. We thanked for the invitation to attend the celebration and confirmed our full support to DPRK proposals for peaceful unification of the country.

Kim Il Sung thanked and sincerely wished the Bulgarian party and state leadership and personally Comrade Todor Zhivkov more successes in the development of socialism. The Korean leader highly assessed the Bulgarian policy for building confidence, understanding and cooperation in the Balkans and in Europe.

During our visit to DPRK, we had a meeting with the operational staff in our Embassy in Pyongyang.

During our short stay in DPRK we got the impression that the political situation in the country was stable. The events demonstrated unity between party and people. Success in economy has been achieved. Construction is fast, with high quality and perspective – especially houses and public buildings in Pyongyang, festival facilities.

The population is educated in the spirit of loyalty towards Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, loyalty to “Juche,” discipline and readiness for sacrifice. Kim Jong Il is promoted as the natural successor. His role of “heir” and actual leader was not thrust to the foreign guests, however, but implicitly demonstrated. We noticed that except for the manifestation, he did not attend other events, not even the meeting, although he is a member of the Permanent committee of Politburo and Secretary of CC of the Korean Workers’ Party.

In spite of the difficulties in the economic development of the country, the Korean leadership will obviously continue to follow the principle of “self-support,” which leads to weak participation in the international distribution of labor. This will hamper the intensive development of economy and structural and technological advance in industry and agriculture, which are in high demand. Indecisive steps are being taken to stimulate investments in foreign capital and building joint factories, but there is no comprehensive concept for the development of economy, the social or political sphere. They barely talk about material incentives. Reconstruction is lagging behind in the social and political life in the country and DPRK will go with its specific way of development.

It is likely, though, that processes will start in the country that will create some social and political difficulties. DPRK cannot avoid the influence of reconstruction in socialist countries and gradual “opening” of the country toward the world. This might lead to controversies with the existing political system and ideology and its stereotypes. Processes of social differentiation will accelerate, and the Korean society is not ready for them.

In the sphere of foreign policy, the Korean leadership still stands on nationalist positions related to the situation in the Korean peninsula. The slogan for unification of the country will not be removed although there is understanding about its difficult realization, and that unification of the North and South in any form is not realistic yet. Particularly taking into account the presence of strong US military contingent and huge economic progress of South Korea. This slogan, however, is playing its role in the political system of the country.

Talks proved that DPRK reacts painfully to establishing any direct contacts between socialist countries and South Korea. This will generate a number of foreign policy problems both for the Korean leadership, and for the fraternal socialist countries.

In our opinion, the Bulgarian party and government delegation visit to DPRK was successful and beneficial. It is of high importance for maintaining high level of political relations between the two countries and finding new ways and approaches for solving the problems in trade and economic cooperation and its further enhancement.

During the talks and meetings with Korean leadership, both sides highlighted the importance of personal friendly relations between Comrade Todor Zhivkov and Comrade Kim Il Sung for the development of relations between our two countries, parties and peoples.

01.00-46

13 September 1988

Head of the delegation:

[Signature] [Georgi Atanasov]

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