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October 23, 1949

Cable Telegram no. 59363 from Kovalev to Stalin, containing a message from Mao Zedong

[handwritten at the top: to Cde. Stalin]


[letterhead of the Second Main Directorate of the USSR Armed Forces General Staff] [Translator’s note: which is the GRU]



CABLE Nº 59363


Copy Nº 1 to Cde. Stalin

Copy Nº 2 to Cde. Stalin

Copy Nº 3 to Cde. Molotov

Copy Nº 4 to Cde. Malenkov



received at 2300 23 October 1949

Copy Nº 2


[stamp: 4th unit of the VKP(b) CC OS [[special sector]]

incoming Nº 36261/shs of 24 October 1949]


to FILIPPOV [Stalin]




I am sending you information received by our information organization in TIANJIN:


1. On 25 June the Fatherland Front of KOREA made a decision about holding general elections in the country on 20 October.


This decision was made at a moment when peace talks between the CPC and the Kuomintang were broken off, but units of the PLA had forced the Yangtze River and occupied the cities of SHANGHAI, NANKING, etc. These events raised the mood and morale of the population of South KOREA.


At the same time the democratic leaders of North and South KOREA thought that this political offensive is a precondition of a military offensive which should be conducted in October. Their leadership also thought this was its strategic goal and therefore planned their work in this direction and sent large groups of cadre to South KOREA to perform underground work in order to prepare an action [vystuplenie] in October.


The Worker’s Party of KOREA has actively mobilized the popular masses to support this struggle. The population of South KOREA also thought that the time was already ripe to display its loyal attitude. Thus both the progressive and also sympathetic elements were inspired to take part in the struggle. They either sheltered and protected revolutionary leaders or gave active support – they prepared for the action on time. At that time this fact forced SYNGMAN RHEE to abandon the forcible implementation of the military service law.


2. However, only minor clashes occurred during July at the 38th parallel, and by October complete calm was observed.


A fourth session of the supreme council of the popular assembly was convened in North KOREA in October at which a fundamental amendment to the previously planned line was introduced.


Explanations were made about this among senior officials that the goal of the political offensive had already been achieved, and inasmuch as South KOREA is not acting, therefore it is also not right for North KOREA to make the first shot. But this explanation was not made among low-level officials.


3. The population of South KOREA was extremely disappointed as a result of all of this. Many think that the Worker’s Party had deceived them.


The majority of officials sent to South KOREA from North KOREA were unmasked [or] compromised. The unworthy of them went over to the side of the enemy, but the sympathizers drew back.


The reactionaries began reprisals in South KOREA beginning with the second half of October: almost all the members of the city committee of the Worker’s Party in SEOUL were arrested, thus its main position in South KOREA collapsed.


The majority of the remaining senior officials from the CC of the Worker’s Party were also arrested except PAK [HYUNG-SIK] and some other people who sold out to the enemy.


4. At the present time discussions about the political line have begun inside the Worker’s Party and the Fatherland Front.


Both the revolutionary officials as well as sympathizers in South KOREA as well as sympathizers and people who took part in this struggle complain that the political slogans are not being implemented in practice. Now a loss has been inflicted by the enemy which has increased the difficulty in the matter of the unification and incorporation of South KOREA. It is especially sad that almost everything that the officials sent to South KOREA have been lost right now.


I don’t know whether the above information corresponds to reality. But if it does then we ought to pay serious attention to this.


[Translator’s note: the following paragraph was highlighted in the left margin:] This spring I gave advice to a representative of North KOREA then visiting us that at the present time they ought to take a defensive position and that they ought not wage an offensive for the time being. Evidently they were hasty and did not think over how to follow my advice.


MAO ZEDONG 21 October 1949”


Nº 234 KOVALEV 23 October


Deciphered by Finenko at 0840 24 October

Printed by Doronchenkova at 0920 24 October

Five copies printed, copy Nº 5 to file

Nº 6998

Verified by the shift chief – [illegible signature] 1100


Mao details the actions of the Worker's Party of South Korea, its attempted actions and its repression by state authorities in the last month, and reiterates that he advised against offensive action.

Document Information


RGASPI, f. 558, op. 11, d. 333, ll. 0049-0051. Contributed by Sergey Radchenko and translated by Gary Goldberg.


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