October 27, 1976
Jaakko Kaurinkoski, 'Diplomatic/meetings: Beijing, Wednesday'
This document was made possible with support from Kyungnam University
Beijing, Wednesday. RBs correspondent Jaakko Kaurinkoski.
According to diplomatic sources, the Nordic ambassadors in Beijing have through a series of meetings with their North Korean counterpart Hyun Jun Keuk, centered on the smuggling affair, noted how the North Korean tone has shifted markedly from aggressively defensive to a more humble tone.
Ambassador Hyun initially demanded the retraction of the expulsion notices, and threatened that North Korea would cut diplomatic ties with Denmark, Norway and Finland, according to the sources.
Over time however, the tone changed, and the Ambassador is now expressing gratitude for the visas issued to the diplomats set to replace those involved in the smuggling affair.
Ambassador Hyun has categorically denied that the smuggling was directed by the central government of North Korea. He claims the acts were carried out on an individual basis.
Diplomats in Beijing with knowledge of North Korean affairs have however been skeptical of this explanation. They consider it unimaginable that individual diplomats would take such risks without instructions from above.
Diplomatic/meetings – 2
Ambassador Hyun – who is the doyen of the diplomatic corps in Beijing – has held more meetings with the Danish Ambassador [than with any other diplomat from the Nordic countries]. The last meeting took place Tuesday, according to the sources.
The Norwegian and Finnish ambassadors have held fewer meetings with their North Korean counterpart, and the negotiations between Sweden and North Korea has not taken place in Beijing, but in Pyongyang, where Sweden has diplomatic representation led by a chargé d’affaires.
Diplomats in Beijing say North Korea is a largely isolated country on the global level, and that a severing of ties with the Nordic countries would constitute a major setback for their attempt to attain a higher status internationally.
Another likely outcome of a severing of ties is that the Ambassadors of Norway and Denmark in Beijing would abstain from submitting their accreditations to Pyongyang.
And if North Korea is to reciprocate by expelling diplomats from Pyongyang, only the Finnish trade attaché, Arto Vainiomäki, would be at risk of expulsion.
Sweden, who negotiated a voluntary withdrawal of the North Korean diplomats, would presumably be exempt from any sanctions.
A memo on talks between Nordic ambassadors in Beijing and their North Korean counterpart on the smuggling affair.
The History and Public Policy Program welcomes reuse of Digital Archive materials for research and educational purposes. Some documents may be subject to copyright, which is retained by the rights holders in accordance with US and international copyright laws. When possible, rights holders have been contacted for permission to reproduce their materials.
To enquire about this document's rights status or request permission for commercial use, please contact the History and Public Policy Program at [email protected].