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November 7, 1969

From the Journal of N.G. Sudarikov, 'Record of a Conversation with Pak Seong-cheol, Member of the KWP CC Politburo, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, and DPRK Minister of Foreign Affairs'

This document was made possible with support from Kyungnam University

[CPSU CC stamp:


15 DECEMBER 1969 Korea]



Copy Nº 2



9 December 1969  



from the journal




with PAK SEONG-CHEOL, member of the KWP CC Politburo, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, and DPRK Minister of Foreign Affairs



7 November 1969


Pak Seong-cheol, member of the KWP CC Politburo, Choe Hyon, Minister of National Defense, Choe [In Din], Candidate Politburo member, [Han Sin Su], and several members of the country’s government [came] to a reception on the occasion of the 52nd anniversary of the October [Revolution] at the invitation of the Embassy.


Unlike the usual practice, when representatives of the Korean leadership are at a reception for no more than one and a half or two hours, this time they stayed in our Embassy for more than three hours. Members of the diplomatic corps paid attention to this fact, and they considered it evidence of respect for the Soviet Union.


The talkativeness of Pak Seong-cheol, who more often is silent or limits himself to fragmentary phrases was not completely ordinary.


The following aspects from the conversation held in the course of the reception deserve attention.


[Translator’s note: there is a stamp at the end of the document stating that “the material is informative and the CPSU CC Department has been familiarized with [it]”; [bottom of the text off the page]]. Katerinich”



1. Concerning the Visit of Pak Seong-cheol to the Soviet Union.


Pak Seong-cheol touched on this question himself. He said that the KWP CC Politburo had decided on his trip to Moscow in the near future and that he intended to meet with the Ambassador in these days and talk about the visit in specific terms*. The interlocutor noted the importance of contacts between the leaders of our countries, and expressed satisfaction at the warm reception in the Soviet Union given Minister of National Defense Choe Hyon, and Chairman of the Agriculture Committee Kim Man-geum.


* The second day, 8 November, the Ambassador was invited to a conversation by Pak Seong-cheol, during which Pak Seong-cheol officially told about his intention to fly to Moscow on 13 November.


Choe Hyon, sitting next to [him] confirmed the words of Pak Seong-cheol, saying that he was very satisfied with the attention to him from Cde. A. A. Grechko, and he had a good rest during the 10 days in Moscow.


Pak Seong-cheol and Choe Hyon said that they felt obligated to the Soviet military leaders, inasmuch as the former and present ministers of defense were in the Soviet Union, but the Soviet comrades had not come to the DPRK.


2. Concerning the Problem of Collective Security in Europe.


This question was raised during the conversation at our initiative. I said that, according to our observations, the DPRK sort of stands aside from such an important and acute political problem as ensuring collective security in Europe.


There in no reflection in the Korean press of the steps undertaken by the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries directed at maintaining peace in Europe, and there have been no official statements from the DPRK government.


Pak Seong-cheol reacted to these comments quite excitedly. He said that, “we cannot understand the political substance and direction of the system of collective security in Europe”. If previously it seemed to us that the idea of collective security in Europe was directly primarily against the aggressive ambitions of the US, at isolating the United States, at an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Europe, and at turning Europe into a zone free of atomic weapons, right now it turns out that instead of isolation, the Americans are even invited to take part in the discussion of this question.


The US and Canada are not European powers. Why then are they invited to a conference of European countries?


Pak Seong-cheol declared, we do not want war in Europe, we want there to be peace there, but there won’t be as along as the Americans are there.


Possibly we do not understand or do not have all the necessary information about this question, but we cannot support a particular idea, blindly following others. We have a mind of our own and until we are convinced of something, we will consider it incorrect, we cannot support any proposals, no matter what direction they come from.


For our part, it was said that this was the first time we had heard such statements. Neither Cde. Pak Seong-cheol, nor other Korean representatives had previously said that someone was not clear to them in the problem of ensuring security in Europe. Moreover,  when we handed over some information or touched on questions in conversations on this topic the Korean comrades gave the appearance that it did not concern them and they had nothing to do with this.


We have sufficient arguments and convincing evidence of the advisability and necessity of deciding questions of the creation of a system of collective security in Europe practically. The Soviet Union and the other socialist countries actively advocate convening a conference of European countries for these purposes. We are firmly convinced that the security of Europe affects not only European countries, which is one of the sectors of the common front of struggle against the aggressive ambitions of imperialist and revanchist forces. The Soviet government has completely explicit and specific reasons, not just touching on the problems as a whole, but the ways, forms, and methods of solving them. If the problem is only that the Korean comrades have an unclear idea, misconception, or insufficient acquaintanceship with our ideas, then this shortcoming can be rectified.


As regards the fact that the Korean comrades have their own ideas, then this is possibly not a bad thing; it is always necessary to have one’s own opinion and think with one’s own head, but in the process of so doing to consider that others their heads and also have their own ideas. A serious approach to the matter requires taking into consideration not only one’s own subjective ideas, but listening to the opinions of others, checking one’s own opinion with practice, looking at events broadly, and seeing the broad horizons. Emphasizing one’s own opinion, ignoring the interests of other countries is not the best approach to complex international problems.


Pak Seong-cheol, evidently not wanted to talk further on this topic, limited himself to the statement that this question was a big one and probably he would have an opportunity to exchange views about it in Moscow.


3. Concerning the Idea of Collective Security in Asia


For our part, it was said that this idea was offered by the Soviet side in a well-known statement by L. I. Brezhnev. It evoked great interest in many countries and widespread responses from world public opinion.


No responses appeared in the DPRK, although Korea is an Asian country and the situation on the Korean peninsula can hardly be considered completely calm.


Pak Seong-cheol stated that this idea is also not completely clear to them. They do not understand why it is being offered right now and against whom it is directed. If this question is not clear to us, declared the interlocutor, then we do not consider it necessary to express ourselves about it.


For our part, it was said that that if something is not clear to a particular person and he wants to make the unclear clear, then try and do this. We on the Soviet side are ready to give the necessary explanations.


(It ought to be noted that on the part of Pak Seong-cheol and other Korean representatives in all cases when the question arises about ensuring collective security in Asia, they prefer to limit themselves to the statement that this idea is not completely clear to them. At the same time it is felt that the position of the Chinese constrains them).


4. Concerning the Expansion of the DPRK’s Foreign Policy Relations


Pak Seong-cheol said that they had recently taken some steps to step up their relations with some Scandinavian countries. The DPRK Ambassador in Moscow had gone there, and in the near future Deputy DPRK Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim [Cheh Bong] would be sent to Finland and Sweden. The Deputy Minister has instructions to sound out the question of concluding a trade agreement with these countries and, if there is an opportunity, to arrange for the creation of trade missions or something of this kind.


The Minister asked that Kim Cheh-bong [sic; proper Korean spelling unknown] be given possible assistance from the Soviet Side during his stay in the Scandinavian countries.


For our part [I] said that, as always in such cases such assistance would be given by us.


5. Concerning the Further Development of Economic Ties and Cooperation Between the USSR and the DPRK.


Pak Seong-cheol said that the DPRK government regards the development of trade and economic ties between our countries in a meaningful way.


This cooperation has been actively developing in recent years. Pak Seong-cheol declared, we understand that we are indebted to the Soviet Union and we can barely fulfill our obligations for the deliveries of goods this year. Things were bad in the country in the first half of the year with electrical power, the metallurgical and machinebuilding enterprises operated with interruptions, and they did not fulfill the plans. The Korean side is searching for opportunities  to make up the shortfall in deliveries, and is thinking of searching for new kinds of goods specially designated for delivery to the Soviet Union.


Pak Seong-cheol stated that in they years to come they will be ready to sharply increase the deliveries of fruit to our country, particularly applies. The interlocutor said, apple orchards planed six or seven years ago are growing in Korea right now, and Korea will be able to deliver 150,000-200,000 tons of applies to the Soviet Union. We could also considerably expand the deliveries of early vegetables for the Far East. To do this we will need to get a transport aircraft from the Soviet Union on credit. He asked how the Soviet side regards this.


We said that the delivery of fruit and vegetables from Korea is of interest to the Soviet Union and obviously opinions could be exchanged through foreign trade organization channels about the prospects for an expansion of these deliveries of goods from Korea.


During the entire reception Pak Seong-cheol and partly Choe Hyon behaved quite animatedly. They spoke in good tones about the development of Soviet-Korean relations and sympathies toward our country. All the members of the diplomatic corps and especially the PRC chargé Wang Peng, followed the conversation closely. The Chinese demonstrated his irritation with his posture and gestures.



(N. Sudarikov)



1 – to Cde. A. A. Gromyko

2 – to Cde. K. V. Rusakov

3 – to Cde. V. I. Likhachev

4 – to file

Nº 804

2 December 1969


After reporting on economic developments between the Soviet Union and the DPRK, Pak Seong-cheol criticizes the nature of collective security in Europe since it does not target the US any longer.

Document Information


RGANI, fond 5, opis 61, delo 463, listy 298-304. Contributed by Sergey Radchenko and translated by Gary Goldberg.


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Memorandum of Conversation


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Kyungnam University and Institute for Korean Studies, Ohio State University