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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 04, 1984


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    Polish and Soviet officials discuss the latest developments in North Korea. They state that the internal situation in DPRK is stable. In addition, in order to solve economic hardships, the DPRK seeks enhanced cooperation with the Soviet Union.
    "Stanisław Kramarz, 'Record of a Conversation of the Embassy Councillor-Minister Com. A. Juniewicz with Deputy Director of the Far East Department of the MOFA of the USSR, Com. Fadeev'," March 04, 1984, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, AMSZ, Department II, 30/87, w. 5. Obtained by Marek Hańderek and translated by Jerzy Giebułtowski.
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Com. Nowicki WZG DII Korea 240-1-84

Photocopies: * Pyongyang

Embassy in

Mission at Panmunjom

4 March 1984


of a conversation of the Embassy councillor-minister com. A. Juniewicz with deputy director of the Far East Department of the MOFA of the USSR, com. Fadeev

1. The internal situation of the DPRK is stable. After the Fifth Congress of the Korean Workers’ Party (1970), which finally consolidated Kim Il Sung’s position, there were no signals about any important difference of opinion in the leadership. Also, the recent replacement of the prime minister and foreign minister are no proof of such differences. These replacements are related to preparations for a leadership succession and a consolidation of Kim Jong Il’s position, and it is for him that a new leadership is being formed. Both the new prime minister and the foreign minister are close to Kim Jong Il.

In a similar vein, there are changes at the lower levels of the party and state apparatus. Their scope is considerable, particularly in the economic leadership. The fact that they promote men who have the reputation of able organizers shows that efforts are made to significantly improve the economy.

In view of the inevitable succession of power and the economic hardships the country is going through, such changes are only natural and logical. They do not seem to herald radical changes in domestic and foreign policy, but rather some correction to be made. This is the nature of a certain liberalization of cultural policy that manifests itself in a more toned down attitude to historical tradition (whatever preceded Kim Il Sung is no longer called “archaic”). This is how we should construe the activation of foreign policy, both with respect to socialist and capitalist countries.

2. DPRK’s economic situation is hard. Despite the authorities’ assurances, food supplies have not improved. According to official figures, last year 9 million tons of grain were harvested, but Soviet estimates speak about 7.5 million tons. There is not enough food to cover the assigned food rations. Nevertheless, there are no signs of popular discontent.

The most difficult situation is in the mining, energy, and transport industries. There are coal shortages, electricity production is not insufficient to meet the demand, with results in stoppages of industrial production. One serious problem, is the country’s 1 billion roubles debt to the USSR and much over 1 billion dollars to the West. As a result of cash-flow problems only ¾ of petroleum rectification capacity is utilized (estimated at 4 million tons).

The planning system is rather inefficient. Indicators that were adopted at the beginning of a period are corrected before it is over. Substantial expenditure is allocated to massive, prestigious construction projects, which undermines a number of material balances. The ascetic lifestyle that is officially promoted does not allow to utilize financial incentives that are aimed at stimulating increased productivity.

As a consequence, economic growth indicators have fallen substantially. According to Soviet estimates (the authorities did not publish their own), in 1983 DPRK industrial production grew only by 2–3%.

So the distance between the two Koreas is growing, with South Korea’s GDP rising by 9% in the last year. The political consequences of this state of affairs are increasingly worrying for the DPRK. They have probably played a key role in the decision-making process to undertake initiatives aimed at activating, relations with socialist countries. In the Soviets’ assessment, socialist countries should seize the opportunity and show some initiative on their part.

3. This year Kim Il Sung will certainly visit the USSR. Initially, the visit was scheduled for late last year. The Koreans were very interested, who were very sceptical about the Soviets’ arguments regarding the need to reschedule the visit (due to com. Andropov’s health). The last time Kim Il Sung visited the Soviet Union was in 1961.

This year, com. Zhivkov is visiting the DPRK.

4. At the end of last year the DPRK launched a large-scale initiative to expand economic and scientific cooperation with the Soviet Union. Among others, it includes a cooperation proposal in the light industry, as well as an offer to send a large group of Korean workers to the Soviet Union (50,000) and increase the number (from under 100 to 700 a year) of graduate and Korean Ph.D. students at Soviet universities. These proposals are currently examined by the Soviet side. The Korean side insists on starting substantial talks at the deputy prime ministerial level.

What one can see is also the improved climate for cooperation in science and culture. DPRK mass media began to devote more and more space to the USSR and the socialist countries.

5. In Soviet assessment the object of DPRK’s latest proposal regarding talks with the USA and South Korea seems to be the desire to counter the more propagandistically effective South Korean initiatives.

Made by: Stanisław Kramarz - First Secretary of the Embassy

Moscow, 20 February 1984


Com Piątkowski L.

Com Kucza

Com Frąckiewicz

Com Kulski

Com Majewski

Com Jurasz

Warsaw, 24 February 1984

(–) J. Smoliński


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