The Ambassador of the DPRK to the Soviet Union reports on the mishandling of critics during the August and September Plenums, and testifies "to the existence of the most negative consequences of the cult of personality in the DPRK."
September 5, 1956
From the Journal of N.T. Fedorenko, 'Reception of the DPRK Ambassador to the USSR Ri Sang-jo'
FROM THE JOURNAL Top Secret Copy Nº 6
OF N. T. FEDORENKO 5 September 1956
of DPRK Ambassador in the USSR RI SANG-JO
5 September 1956
I received Ri Sang-jo at his request.
1. Ri Sang-jo addressed a request to pass his personal written statement to N. S. Khrushchev about the situation in the KWP in connection with the plenum which was held. Ri Sang-jo then added that if N. S. Khrushchev is not in Moscow at the present time then he requests his statement be passed to A. I. Mikoyan.
Noting that the statement he passed contains a request for him to be received by N. S. Khrushchev or A. I. Mikoyan, Ri Sang-jo said that in the event such a conversation took place Kim Seung-hwa, a KWP CC member who had arrived in Moscow to study at the Higher Party School, could interpret it.
I promised to send this document as intended (the original of the letter is attached to the copy of Cde. A. I. Mikoyan).
Ri Sang-jo expressed the hope that the CPSU CC and KWP CC would help the Korean Worker's Party in the difficult situation which had been created as a result of the hasty and unjustified repression conducted by the KWP CC leadership against comrades who had expressed criticism.
2. Ri Sang-jo ask whether it was correct that the CPSU CC had supposedly sent instructions to Nam Il through Ambassador Cde. Ivanov forbidding criticism of Kim Il Sung in view of the fact that this would damage the authority of Kim Il Sung and signify criticism of the political line of the KWP. In reply to my question, when and where did Nam Il speak of such an instruction, Ri Sang-jo replied that Nam Il referred to the existence of this instruction at meetings of the Presidium and at the KWP CC plenum.
I replied to Ri Sang-jo that I knew nothing about such a CPSU CC instruction.
3. Ri Sang-jo again said in indignation that Nam Il and Pak Jeong-ae had fraudulently used the name of the CPSU CC in order to help Kim Il Sung and Choe Yong-geon in taking revenge on the comrades who had criticized the KWP CC leadership.
He added that a situation of threats and terror had been created in the Party. For example, Kim Il Sung told Pak Ui-won that there is much compromising material against him, Pak Ui-won, and threatened to put these materials in circulation if Pak Ui-won expressed criticism against the KWP leadership.
4. Ri Sang-jo said that, as he had heard, at the KWP CC plenum it was admitted that there have been several manifestations of the cult of personality in the area of propaganda in the DPRK, but at the same time Kim Il Sung and Choe Yong-geon had declared that the cult of personality had no harmful consequences in Korea. Ri Sang-jo pointed out that such an assertion was sharply contrary to the facts. For example, they have arrested [people] in the DPRK for portraits of Kim Il Sung being printed on insufficiently good paper or carelessly, and there were cases of arrests for a person wrapping a book in a newspaper with a portrait of Kim Il Sung. More than one thousand people have been arrested for cases of this sort.
All this, stressed Ri Sang-jo, speaks of the existence of the most negative consequences of the cult of personality in the DPRK.
5. Ri Sang-jo said further that he had received a second summons to Pyongyang and evidently he would have to go there after some time. Meanwhile he has informed the DPRK MFA that he is ill. Ri Sang-jo added that the issue of stopping in China for some time has still not been resolved. He did not explain how the Chinese comrades are viewing such a request of his. Ri Sang-jo added that he had decided to return to the DPRK, although he knows that reprisal awaits him there. In Ri Sang-jo's words, Kim Il Sung has given instructions that any measure of punishment, up to execution, might be employed against any citizen for any action if there is the testimony of two witnesses.
In reply to my question about the possible date of his departure Ri Sang-jo said that he intends to wait until finding out the CPSU CC's attitude toward his statement.
Counsellor of the DVO B. N. Vereshchagin was present at the conversation.
Attachment: a copy of Li Sang-jo's letter to Cde. N. S. Khrushchev.
DEPUTY USSR MINISTER
OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
30 copies printed, ng
5 September 1956
Addressed to Anastas Mikoyan, this diary entry records a conversation between Fedorenko and Ri Sang-jo concerning the August Plenum incident.
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