August 28, 1969
From the Journal of N.M. Shubnikov, 'Record of a Conversation with Janos Lewandowski, Director of the 2nd Department of the PNR MFA'
This document was made possible with support from Kyungnam University
SOVIET EMBASSY IN THE DPRK SECRET
2 September 1969 Copy Nº 2
CPSU CC stamp: 29788
5 September 1969 Korea]
from the journal of
N. M. SHUBNIKOV
RECORD OF A CONVERSATION
with JANOS LEWANDOWSKI, Director of the 2nd Department of the PNR MFA
28 August 1969
I received J. Lewandowski together with J. Drygans [sic], PNR Ambassador in the DPRK, at their request.
Lewandowski reported that he had come to the DPRK at the invitation of the Korean comrades to consult with the DPRK MFA about various international questions, Asian problems most of all. He said, the official talks actually ended in one day. The sides presented their views on a number of questions, however the Korean comrades read out a previously-prepared written text. During the remaining time they drove him throughout the country and acquainted him with Korean reality.
[Translator’s note: there is a stamp at the end of the first page stating that “the material is informative and the CPSU CC Department has been familiarized with [it]. [To the] archives. Katerinich. [[one additional unreadable signature]].15D/6, 20 November 1969”].
In Lewandowski’s opinion, his meeting with Pak Seong-cheol who, unlike the other Korean comrades expressed himself more definitely and boldly, was important. For example, Pak Seong-cheol’s comments about Soviet-Chinese relations were of interest. He said that it was hard for them to understand who was at fault in the dispute between the USSR and China. [Translator’s note: the previous sentence was highlighted in the left margin]. Both sides accuse one another of provocations, border violations, etc. Pak Seong-cheol stressed that there is no unity between the socialist countries right now, and things have even gone as far as armed conflicts, and expressed the need for strengthening the unity and solidarity in the socialist camp.
Lewandowski thinks that from the conversations with the Korean comrades that their striving to justify domestic economic policy, the policy of the independence of development of the country (the so-called juche idea), and also the special position of Kim Il Sung in the Party and country deserve attention.
The Korean comrades tell of their own economic difficulties associated with the tense situation as a consequence of the division of the country and the provocations from the Americans and South Koreans. They asked that their requests of an economic nature be regarded with understanding. Some don’t understand us, they said, and continue to exert pressure, demanding and increase of deliveries of non-ferrous metals. But for the time being the DPRK produces a small assortment of machines, equipment, and other products which could go on the foreign market, especially in trade with capitalist countries. In foreign trade the DPRK conducts an unchanged policy of the development of relations with primarily socialist countries. Their share is 70% of the total DPRK trade turnover. The remaining 30% is occupied by trade with capitalist countries. As industry develops and the production of export products increases the DPRK will expand trade with the socialist countries, gradually reducing the level of trade with capitalist countries. Right now non-ferrous metals and other hard-currency goods are delivered to capitalist countries. That is why it is hard for the DPRK when the socialist countries demand an increase of deliveries of non-ferrous metals from it.
Referring to the decision of the KWP CC June plenum about the development of the fishing industry the Korean comrades have persistently sought for the Polish side to deliver a fish processing plant, a factory ship, to the DPRK as quickly as possible. In the opinion of Lewandowski, it is obvious that this question will have to be decided favorably, possibly even next year, although he told the Korean comrades that it would be impossible to grant this request before 1972 since there are already orders for enterprises for several years ahead. Of course, he added, we will deliver a factory ship to the DPRK through a clearing house or on credit, but we will certainly have to demand non-ferrous metals and other goods of interest to Poland for it.
Lewandowski said that the trade turnover between the two countries for 1969 is 20 million rubles. This year the Polish side has to deliver 50,000 tons of coke to the DPRK. The Korean side is fulfilling its obligations extremely unsatisfactorily. In the seven months of the current year only 35% of the goods of the contracts which have been concluded have been delivered to Poland. Special steels, magnesite clinker (160,000 tons), and some other goods comprise an important position in the export of Korean goods. Poland is also buying metal-cutting tools, which are used in repair shops. Lewandowski expressed concern in connection with the fact that the Polish metallurgical industry is 80% tied to supplies of magnesite clinker from the DPRK.
The Korean side very often delays deliveries of clinker, and this disrupts the rhythm and cyclical nature of Polish metallurgical enterprises.
Some time ago the Korean side raised the question of the possibility of building a large powder mill in the DPRK in one year with Polish aid. The competent organizations of Poland who have looked into this question have come to the conclusion that such a mill can only be built in four years. In their opinion, this mill would completely meet the peacetime needs of the DPRK. The Korean comrades remained dissatisfied with this conclusion of the Polish specialists, inasmuch as they had insisted on the need for a very rapid construction of the mill, stressing the tension and the complexity of the situation on the Korean peninsula. Then the Poles invited Korean military specialists and showed [them] similar enterprises in Poland. They managed to convince the Korean comrades of the enormous scale of this construction, and the Korean side has not given a reply for the time being. According to available information, said Lewandowski, the Koreans have held talks with Hungary about the construction of such a mill. It would be good, he added, if they had come to agreement among themselves about this question, for Poland is not interested in such construction, both from the economic point of view and from the military and political [point of view].
In Lewandowski’s words, the Korean comrades also requested an expansion of the activity of “Chopol’”, the Korean-Polish steamship company, and raised the question of getting two cargo ships in Poland for use in the work of this joint company. They also requested technical assistance be given in the development of a shipbuilding industry in the DPRK. Lewandowski noted that the Korean comrades also buy ships in capitalist countries; in particular, they got a large ship in the Netherlands and turned to the Polish side with a request for help in transporting it to one of the Korean ports, inasmuch as they fear provocations from the Americans and South Koreans. They suggested performing this operation under the Polish flag and with a Polish crew, but the Polish side did not agree with this suggestion and proposed its own alternative. The Korean side was to independently transport the ship from the Netherlands to the port of Gdynia, where a fictitious purchase of this ship by the Polish side would occur with the registration of all the documents and the observance of international laws. After this the Polish side would deliver the ship to a Korean port, where it would again sell it to the DPRK. About six months have already passed since this suggestion, but the Korean comrades have not yet given a final answer.
As regards cultural ties, said Lewandowski, frankly speaking the Polish side is not interested in developing them. The Poles cannot accept Korean exhibits and artistic collectives for the present time, inasmuch as their program and content is saturated with ideas which are advocated in the DPRK. Well, how are we to explain to our people the cult of Kim Il Sung, for example, or the idea of the so-called independent development of the country, he asked. Our people will not understand this and will demand an answer from us. If censorship of all these events is introduced, he said, then the Korean side will just be offended, and all this will aggravate relations between our countries, which we don’t want to do.
Lewandowski reported that the Korean comrades favored the development and strengthening of ties and contacts between the ministries of foreign affairs on any level. They also stressed the need to also develop cooperation between the two countries through other channels. The Korean comrades recently invited the Polish minister of defense to the DPRK, but he declined a visit this year in view of a number of circumstances. The Polish side in turn invited the DPRK minister of national defense, and the latter agreed. The interlocutor said, apparently in October a DRPK military delegation headed by Choe Hyon, the minister of national defense, will visit the Polish People’s Republic.
The Korean comrades, continued Lewandowski, also invited a Polish parliamentary delegation to the DPRK, and when they did this they asked for it be headed by Politburo member and PORP CC Secretary Cde. Kliszko. He said, this suggestion of theirs was connected with their wanting to actually see a Party delegation in the DPRK; however, they are afraid to talk about this openly.
In connection with the proposed parliamentary delegation which will possibly be headed by Cde. Kliszko, said Lewandowski, the PNR MFA will evidently have to do much work in order to prepare material for the conversations with the Korean comrades We are thinking of expressing our opinion on a number of the most important principal problems of contemporary world development to the Korean comrades frankly and openly. This question is a serious one, and needs to be carefully prepared so that the visit is successful and helps the cause of strengthening the solidarity of the socialist camp. Therefore a parliamentary delegation of Poland will probably not be able to carry out a visit to the DPRK this year.
Lewandowski reported that recently the DPRK Ambassador in Poland visited Cde. Gomulka and delivered a letter of Kim Il Sung to him in which the latter justified the KWP’s non-participation in the Moscow Conference of Communist and Worker’s Parties, referring to the special conditions of the DPRK. Cde. Gomulka was extremely irritated and in a sharp tone told the Korean Ambassador that the Americans do not intend to launch any war in Korea, for they are also stuck up to their ears in Vietnam, and the American public is exerting strong pressure on Nixon, demanding an end to the war in Vietnam. Therefore the Americans do not want to launch any conflicts in another place. Cde. Gomulka stressed, are you really not convinced that no desire is being observed right now on the part of the Americans to launch a war against the DPRK [?] The incidents with the Pueblo, with the American reconnaissance aircraft which was shot down, and other things demonstrate this. When the Americans moved their fleet up to the shores of Korea the Soviet Union vigorously demanded they withdraw it from Korean waters. The Americans did not want to exacerbate the situation, and the situation normalized. This again confirms that the DPRK has real friends, and at a difficult moment they will give aid to the Korean people.
As regards the KWP’s non-participation in the Conference, Cde. Gomulka called it a mistake of the Korean comrades, which cannot be justified. Lewandowski thinks, the Korean Ambassador did not dare to report to Pyongyang so frankly about this conversation, therefore in discussions with the Korean comrades he, Lewandowski, repeatedly hinted that the Korean Ambassador in Poland had recently had a very important meeting with Cde. Gomulka.
Lewandowski said, the Korean comrades strenuously explained to him the so-called ideas of juche in discussions, and they stressed that these ideas are necessary for the independent development of small countries. Pak Seong-cheol, for example, stressed that small countries cannot do without independent development; independence should concern all aspects of the life and activity of a state, including the strengthening of the defense capacity of the country. As if making clear that the ideas of juche are also necessary for Poland, he asked, “But what would you do if West Germans attacked Poland? Who would help you? You need to count on your own resources in this matter first and foremost. When each country has the capability to rebuff an aggressor then it will be able to help one another. For example, if the Germans attack you, then we Koreans could help you, and if the Americans attack us, you could help us”.
Lewandowski said, that inasmuch as he had the task of establishing closer ties with the DPRK MFA, he tried not to argue with the Korean comrades about such pointed questions. He explained to them the position of the Polish side, and noted that in relations between countries the main things were the principles of proletarian internationalism, cooperation, and mutual aid, and stressed the decisive role in this matter of the Warsaw Pact, which serves as a reliable guarantee of the security of all the socialist countries. In Lewandowski’s opinion, the so-called juche ideas are nothing other than a purely nationalist policy having nothing in common with the ideas of internationalism.
The question of the reunification of Korea was an important topic of discussion between Lewandowski and the Korean comrades. He believes that the Korean comrades were convinced that they will not succeed in solving the problem in the near future and are relying right now on a development of the revolutionary movement in the South. The Korean comrades have asserted that by such a method they will be able to prepare the South Korean popular masses for revolutionary action, the overthrow of the reactionary regime, and the establishment of a progressive government with which talks can then be held about the peaceful reunification of the motherland. It is also not excluded that in the process of such a development of events the DPRK might come to the aid of the South Korean people. Nevertheless, said Lewandowski, in certain conditions the Korean comrades will nevertheless try to force events with the reunification of the country, in particular, making use of any conflict in another region of Asia. He noted, the Korean comrades’ inconsistency in the Vietnamese problem deserves attention in this connection. It seems to him that in this question they stand closer to the Chinese, who favor continuing the war in Vietnam. He said, it is interesting that in their propaganda the Korean comrades almost never vigorously demand the withdrawal of the South Korean troops from Vietnam. Sometimes they simply mention these troops as cannon fodder of the Americans. In fact, South Korean soldiers are a large force in Vietnam; they are distinguished by fanaticism and brutality.
Lewandowski told about his trip to Panmunjom. A meeting of the Military Armistice Commission was going on at this time where the incident with the American military helicopter shot down over DPRK territory was being discussed. General Adams, the head of the American mission at the Commission meeting, apologized to the North Korean side for the violation, promised to conduct a careful investigation, and said that this would not be repeated in the future. Other American representatives confidentially told members of the Polish mission in the Neutral Commission to Observe the Armistice in Korea that the incident with the helicopter occurred through the fault of the American pilots, who actually committed a rowdy [khuliganskiy] act while drunk. The pilot had decided to show the demilitarized zone to two newly-arrived servicemen, and evidently went off course. The helicopter was not a combat [helicopter], but an ordinary one, unarmed. The North Korean representatives demanded an explanation from the Americans, but Adams was obviously not ready to answer and said that they do not know with what purpose the American pilots made this flight. The North Korean side made use of this and stated that the Americans were resorting to tricks. Therefore, when they would be ready to give a reply to the question which was raised, a new meeting would then occur. The DPRK representatives
did not answer the Americans’ question, were the pilots from the downed helicopter alive.
A. D. Putivets, Second Secretary of the Soviet Embassy in the DPRK, was present at the conversation.
USSR Chargé d’Affaires in the DPRK
[signature] (N. Shubnikov)
1 – to Cde. V. V. Kuznetsov
2 – to Cde. K. V. Rusakov
3 – to Cde. V. I. Likhachev
4 – to file
Nº 571, 1 September 1969
After discussing economic relations between the DPRK and Poland, Lewandowski states that DPRK’s absence in the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ parties cannot be justified. He denounces Juche ideology as a purely nationalist policy which has nothing to do with the ideas of internationalism.
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].