October 19, 1976
Cable, Cabinet to the Swedish Embassies in Pyongyang, Peking, and Tokyo, via the Political Department
This document was made possible with support from Kyungnam University
Dispatch[ed by]: Pol 1, ds Hirdman, IB
Matter: North Korean Contraband affair
f k t
Address[ed to]: Swedish [Embassy], PYONGYANG
Copy to: Secretary of State, Cab[inet] Secretary, Permanent Sec., Chief of Police, Chief of Protocol, Ch Pol I, Hirdman
Text: VERY URGENT from Chief of Police
Summary: The North Korean ambassador requested urgently to meet with me this morning. During the conversation, in which Hirdman and a Korean interpreter took part, Kil [Jae Gyong, also spelled Gil Jae-gyeong] admitted indirectly that his employees have been involved in illegal sales. I emphasized that there are strong indications that [redacted text]. We intend to and hope to postpone measures against the Koreans until the departure from Pyongyang of family members [of Swedish diplomats].
First. The ambassador said initially that he was shocked by the reports on Radio-TV last night that he was involved in the contraband affair. As he has already said on three occasions to the Chief of Protocol, he has no knowledge of this affair and has had nothing to do with it. With regards to what happened in Oslo, he said he is not accredited in Norway, but only in Iceland.
Yesterday he summoned his remaining employees and asked them about the affair. As he already told Hedin, six civil servants have already left the country. Since there is no whiskey or foreign cigarettes in North Korea, they asked and he gave his permission, to bring such goods as removal goods. The ambassador did, however, add that he did not know whether they had taken these goods to Pyongyang or if they did something with them in Stockholm.
Finally, the ambassador referred to the good relations between North Korea and Sweden, which he said is better than those with Norway and Denmark, and he expressed hope that the issue could be resolved.
Second. With regards to the Ambassador’s claim that he had nothing to do with this affair and that he was upset about the press, TV and radio reports about his involvement, I brought his attention to the fact that [redacted text] in the preliminary report we received yesterday.
I pointed out that there are strong indications in the report that other civil servants are involved. If these indications turn out to be correct, I find this deeply regrettable and the consequences of this will have for our relationship.
The Ambassador asked to see the detailed evidence for [redacted text].
I replied that we will get in touch when we have received the police’s final report.
He also strongly criticized the conduct of the Swedish press, for example, taking photos of the embassy and its members.
Third. In consultation with the Secretary of State and the Cabinet Secretary, we have made the following assessment.
1. The regard for the safety and well-being of our own staff is our highest priority [underlined by hand]. Since the family members cannot leave Pyongyang before Friday we are trying to – as I mentioned in the introductory summary – postpone the unavoidable expulsion of the ambassador and parts of his staff. This would also give the ambassador the possibility to face the consequences and leave the country on his own accord, before the expulsion.
2. To the press we will say that the ambassador came to see me on his own accord and left certain explanations which we are investigating, while we wait for the complete police investigation.
3. There are no police indictments against the three civil servants at the North Korean embassy. Therefore we will not declare them persona non grata, to avoid disruption in diplomatic relations.
4. We will keep your relatives informed.
5. According to information from Atlas Copco, there are at present no Swedish technicians in North Korea. Thankful for confirmation.
To be filled out by the telegram dispatcher.
A summary of a meeting with the North Korean ambassador in Stockholm. The ambassador denies involvement in the smuggling affair and criticizes the Swedish press. The Cabinet provides instructions and reassurance to the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang.
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