February 27, 1968
Memorandum on a Conversation with the Acting Director of the Office of Liaison for the Diplomatic Corps, Comrade Ri Seong-ryong, on 27 February 1968 from 9.00 to 9.40
This document was made possible with support from Leon Levy Foundation
Embassy of the GDR in the DPRK, Pyongyang
27 February 1968
stamped: confidential matter
on a Conversation with the Acting Director of the Office of Liaison for the Diplomatic Corps, Comrade Ri Seong-ryong [Ri Song Ryong], on 27 February 1968 from 9.00 to 9.40.
The conversation took place at the request of the Korean side. The conversation was joined by another staff member of the office and comrade Pak as interpreter of the GDR embassy.
Comrade Ri said, he would like to inform us in the context of the given circumstances that the situation is extremely tight. This is in relation to the arrest of the American spy ship “Pueblo.” The arrest of the ship was a sovereign right of the DPRK. However, the United States and the Park Chung Hee clique are preparing another war. They concentrate troops and arms in South Korea along the demarcation line and also threaten the coast of the DPRK. They state publicly that they intend to attack the North of our country. Comrade Kim Il Sung said about this situation that we don’t want war, but also we are not afraid of it. The people and the army of the DPRK will answer each single action of the enemy with a counteraction and will answer total war with total war. If the enemies start a war despite our warning, we will hit them heavily. Though we already warned them, they still continue their machinations in order to compensate for the defeat in the case of the “Pueblo” and in Vietnam. Therefore the situation is such that a war could break out at any time. The timing of the outbreak of war depends on the USA.
The Korean side considers it necessary - for the reasons explained - that the embassy build an underground shelter. The embassy should choose a location. The Korean side is willing to furnish plans and to grant support for the construction. Concerning the costs, they could only be calculated after Korean specialists have inspected the site chosen by the embassy.
Concluding his remarks, he emphasized how such information should not be interpreted as meaning that a war might break out already tomorrow. It would be possible, though, that the contentious situation might be aggravated further through actions by the U.S.
I thanked him for the information and asked Comrade Ri whether we should build a shelter on the site of the embassy or at another location considered suitable by the Korean comrades. Comrade Ri replied that the Korean side thinks a shelter should be built on the site of the embassy.
In the aftermath of the USS Pueblo Incident, Ri Seong-ryong instructs the German Embassy to build a bomb shelter.
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