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September 23, 1956

Minutes of the KWP CC Plenum Held on 23 September 1956


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Choe Yong-geon, who chaired [the plenum], reports that 62 of the 67 CC members and 33 of the 43 candidate members were present.


Then he announced that the issue of reconsidering the decision of the August plenum about organizational issues was on the Plenum's agenda.


Choe reported that representatives of the Communist Parties of the Soviet Union and China, Cdes. Mikoyan and Peng Dehuai, were present.


Those present greeted this information with applause.


The floor was given to Kim Il Sung.


Kim Il Sung said that in accordance with a decision of the KWP CC Presidium and on the recommendation of the representatives of the fraternal Parties it was being suggested that the decision of the August plenum concerning the punishment of Cdes. Choe Chang-ik, Pak Chang-ok, So Hwi, Yun Kong-hum, and Ri Pil-gyu be reconsidered.


Then Kim said that this measure is necessary to further unify the Party. We approached the reconsideration of this issue simplistically and some haste was made; these comrades at the plenum were suppressed and they were not given an opportunity to state their opinion. Fearing punishment, some of them fled to China. The behavior of these comrades does not mean that they were serving the enemy. This fact says that in the future caution ought to be displayed during the discussion of particular differences in ideological and organizational work.


Then Kim Il Sung spoke of the CC Presidium decision to restore Choe Chang-ik and Pak Chang-ok as KWP CC members, and Yun Kong-hum, So Hwi, and Ri Pil-gyu as Party members. Kim pointed to the need to take appropriate steps to return the comrades who went to China, declaring that it would be a positive factor if Yun, So Hwi, and Ri Pil-gyu returned to the DPRK.


An abnormal situation was created during the discussion of the behavior of these comrades at the August plenum, and we were excited and made the decision in a nervous condition. In the future such methods ought to be avoided during a discussion of differences. If these comrades still have not finally admitted their mistakes we should help them through persuasion to admit the mistakes they committed. He expressed confidence that they will honestly admit them.


Some participants of the plenum might think that a quick reconsideration of the August plenum could reflect on the authority of the Party, but such an opinion would be incorrect. On the contrary, if the decision remained without reconsideration, then it would be worse for the Party.


Kim Il Sung, stressing that in the interests of the Party one ought to approach such expressions with greater caution and patience, declared that CC members needed to be given an opportunity to express themselves, to help them uncover the mistakes which have been committed, and thereby educate them. This is especially necessary when the country is divided into two parts and in the Party the vestiges of factionalism still have an effect.


Kim further said that there are people in the Party from China, the Soviet Union, and Southerners. Therefore the desired unanimity of opinion cannot be rapidly achieved in the solution of a particular issue. In these conditions it is necessary to patiently study the opinion of each comrade and eliminate the roots of factionalism. Consequently, said Kim, the question arises of the creation of conditions for criticism and the development of intra-Party democracy, and the strengthening of ties between the leadership and the Party and the masses.


Kim said that what we have done with respect to these comrades does not do the Party honor. A free exchange of opinions will strengthen the Party organizationally. The principle of democratic centralism needs to be put into practice. We would thereby raise the authority of our Party still higher. The Party is faced with a great revolutionary task, the consolidation of the democratic foundation of the reunification of the country, the consolidation of a national front. The cohesion and unity of our ranks will be achieved with a bold correction of the shortcomings of the Party.


Then Han Sung-do, Chief of the KWP CC Organization Department, spoke.


He said that he fully supports Kim Il Sung's statement. He pointed out that the group of comrades criticized at the August plenum had committed anti-Party acts at a difficult time for our country; they launched factional work against the Party after the departure of leaders from the country. Our homeland is divided, the Americans stand against us, and these factionalists speak against the CC, against the motherland. But the plenum approached their statements inattentively and did not help them correct [their] mistakes. Our million-[person] Party is seasoned, we are not afraid of them, and he think that these comrades can be re-educated. He said that a certain lesson can be drawn from this and the necessary measures be taken in order for such statements and punishments not to take place in the Party any more.


He said that in the recent period the KWP has achieved great successes in the Marxist-Leninist education of Party members, but that there are still many vestiges of the old ideology of factionalism in the Party, and therefore there will still be much work to expose these manifestations and to educate Party members by persuasion, and not by punishment. Methods of punishment cannot strengthen the Party ranks. and they create poor moods. We will ensure the moral unity of our Party with these methods.


We need to rebuild Party work, use the administrative-and-command system less, and persuade more. We are always rushing to decide complex issues, and this is a shortcoming of ours. It is necessary to use punishments only in exceptional cases. We need to monitor Party members so that they observe Party discipline. There should not be two disciplines in the Party. These people did not observe Party discipline, and went against Party decisions. So Hwi prohibited carrying out CC decisions in a primary Party organization, and many Party members tolerated these phenomena. The Pyongyang City Committee is also guilty in this.


Some leaders are poorly connected with the Party masses, and criticism is poorly developed, especially criticism from below. All this says that political education work has been unsatisfactorily arranged in the Party. It is necessary to strengthen the leadership of the Pyongyang city Party organization.


Ho Dong-suk, Minister of Culture and Propaganda, supports Kim Il Sung's speech and the recommendations given by the fraternal Parties about the need to reconsider the decision of the August plenum. Transferring the experience of fraternal Parties strengthens the KWP. The Korean people trust the Party headed by Kim Il Sung. The KWP applies the experience of the CPSU to Korean reality, using Marxism-Leninism creatively. The KWP has unswervingly fought all the tendencies in the Party, ideologically and organizationally strengthening its ranks. The 3rd congress of the KWP opened a new stage in the life of the Party, outlining a program of building socialism in North Korea and reunifying the entire country.


Choe Chang-ik, Pak Chang-ok, and others opposed Party unity, damaged it [the Party], set some leaders against others, displaying special activeness in a period when the leadership was absent. They said they were for the Party but in fact were against it.


They underestimated the achievements of the Party during the past 10 years, saying that the Party had achieved nothing during this period. This was essentially a discrediting of the Party. The people believe in the KWP leadership, trust the KWP and the Soviet Union. Ignoring the successes of the KWP makes all Party members indignant, and one cannot talk about this calmly.


Pak Chang-ok and the others say that the Party is not concerned about the welfare of the people, but in fact the people's lives are improving. Seizing on individual facts from the country's life, they draw incorrect conclusions from them, thereby playing into the hands of hostile propaganda. At a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers Choe Chang-ik opposed the proposal to increase manual laborers' and officer workers' wages by 35%, but elsewhere spoke of the need for a fundamental improvement of the workers' situation.


This group made an accusation that the KWP allegedly does not support the decisions of the 20th CPSU congress, but they themselves first spread the cult of personality, and especially Yun Kong-hum. They well know that the Party is fighting to overcome the cult of personality, but they want to undermine the people's trust in Kim Il Sung with continuing discussions about the cult of personality. They are essentially echoing the Americans and South Koreans, who slander the KWP, saying that there is supposedly demoralization in its ranks.


In the past these people were factionalists. The people do not like them. As a result of their dirty work we do not have the real history of our Party, which was disbanded. We need to wage the fiercest struggle with them. A mistake was made in promoting them to important posts. They are fighting for portfolios. At the August plenum they wanted to sow doubt with respect to the correct line of the CC under the flag of the struggle against the cult of personality, raising the issue of the initiators of the Korean War and those guilty of its serious consequences.


Kim Il Sung threw out a rejoinder that it is not necessary to talk about what is already known, it need not be repeated.


These people need to be educated in all respects. These people are petty bourgeois and morally dissolute elements who have wasted enormous amounts of state money. We workers in the arts know about their moral degradation best of all.


[Hen Dyon Min], Chairman of the KWP Committee of the province of South Hamgyong.


[Hen] said that he supports the decision of the CC Presidium and the advice of the fraternal Communist Parties about reconsideration of the August decision. This was an ideological discussion, and we should not approach them like enemies. These comrades need to be educated in spite of the fact that they opposed the CC, and underestimated the successes in the political, economic, and cultural life of the country. As a CC member, he had approached the proposals to expel the people from the Party who had mistakes lightly. The fates of these comrades ought to be approached more thoughtfully. He expressed gratitude to the central committees of the CPSU and CCP for the correct recommendations.


Choe Chang-ik is an obvious factionalist; he was always dissatisfied with Party policy, and opposed its decisions about improving the economic circumstances of the people. They embarked upon the path of a conspiracy. In spite of everything these actions of theirs cannot be considered as malicious.


Then [Hen] spoke about the need to improve work on the assignment of people and criticized So Hwi, whom the masses do not respect. He ought not to have been promoted to important leadership work. So Hwi is a bureaucrat, aloof from the people, and wasted the people's money. [Hen] called for the elimination of formalism in the selection of cadre.


The statement of [Hen Den Chon], Chairman of the People's Committee of the province of North Pyongan.


He supports Kim Il Sung's statement and the recommendations of the fraternal Parties about reconsideration of the decision of the August plenum.


These comrades put their personal interests above the state's. They opposed the Party, creating factions to attack the CC in order to seize power into their own hands. Grossly exaggerating the situation of the workers, which also was not so terrible in wartime, they essentially played into the hands of hostile propaganda. They attracted discontented people to their side. At the August plenum Kim Il Sung spoke the existence of a cult of personality in the KWP, especially on the ideological front, which had not caused the Party any harm. The factionalists wanted to make use of this in order to set our Party to quarreling with the CPSU and CCP. Their mistakes are serious and if they admit them honestly then they ought to be helped to correct themselves. He said that, in reconsidering the August decision, they are not weakening, but strengthening the unity and cohesion of the Party. [Han] [SIC] welcomed the arrival in the DPRK of the representatives of the two fraternal Parties.


Pak Jeong-ae, who was chairing the [plenum], reminded that it was necessary to talk about the substance of the proposal which had been offered, and not retell well-known facts.


Ri [Chen Bok], a corresponding member of the DPRK Academy of Sciences.


These comrades have made serious mistakes, discrediting the Party; they said that the line of the KWP was not in accordance with the line of a Marxist-Leninist party, but, said Ri, they need to be persistently and patiently educated in spite of this.


He criticized Choe Chang-ik as an old factionalist and Marxist-Leninist [ehmelovets]. Pak Chang-ok mechanically transferred the methods of the ideological work of the Soviet Union to Korean reality. He was aloof from the masses and sympathized with the factionalists. He also criticized Yung Kong-hum and So Hwi. It ought to be demanded that they admit their mistakes. The KWP should not let the activity of the factional groups revive. Choe Chang-ik caused definite harm to science, but the scientists of Korea did not follow him. He called for support to the proposal of the Presidium concerning the reconsideration of the decision of the August plenum concerning organizational issues.


Ri [Yu Min], Chairman of the People's Committee of the province of South Hamgyong.


He supported the statement of Kim Il Sung. He criticized So Hwi, Yun, and  Ri Pil-gyu as corrupted people. He said that if the question had not been about the restoration of these people in the Party, but about their acceptance in the Party as new members he would have been opposed to acceptance. The KWP is strong and can help them correct the mistakes they made. They can be reeducated inasmuch as they have not gone over to the enemy. He was very excited at the August plenum and voted like all the others for the punishment of Choe Chang-ik and the others, although they should have been treated more carefully. He considers the CC Presidium proposal about the reconsideration of [decision of] the August plenum to be correct.


Ri [Son Uk] - Chairman of the Pyongyang KWP City Committee.


He supported the proposal of the CC Presidium concerning reconsideration of the decision of the August plenum concerning organizational issues. He agreed with the criticism of comrades who were punished at the August plenum, and supports the opinion of the need to educate them.


Ri wanted to talk about the mistakes of these comrades, but Kim Il Sung interrupted him, noting that [they] ought not talk about this here. However, he nevertheless dwelt on the mistakes of Pak Chang-ok who, in his opinion, had discredited the decision of the December CC plenum. He was striving to sow mistrust toward the Party among the people. He criticized Yun, who wasted 1,600,00[0] won, So Hwi, and Ri Pil-gyu, who raped women and squandered state money, and Choe Chang-ik, who thought that factionalism does not represent a danger to the KWP.


Voices from the Presidium: all this is known, speak more specifically.


Ri said further that the matter of the comrades exposed at the August plenum needed to be approached more carefully.


Response from the hall: it is known how you approach people carefully, you put officials in prison without identifying guilt and without identifying opinion.


He, Ri, knows that some workers demanded these people be shot.


The leadership of Party organizations needs to be strengthened, for five people interfered in the GK [City Committee] in this matter, and one has already been expelled from the Party, but there are still many people associated with them who have not been identified.


Ri [Ckhan Ok], Chairman of the Kaesong City KWP Committee.


He supported the proposal of the KWP CC Presidium concerning reconsideration of the decision of the August CC plenum. He told of the recently held meeting of Party activists of Kaesong city concerning the results of the August plenum, pointing out that the activists completely supported these decisions concerning organizational issues, considering that the plenum had acted correctly with the anti-Party group. He compared the decision of the August plenum with the operation of a doctor to remove a bad tooth.


The comrades indicated in the decision were actually opposing Kim Il Sung and the CC under the flag of fighting the cult of personality. Mao Zedong, as an outstanding Marxist who is always oriented toward the masses, implements the principles of collective leadership. However, nothing is being said in the CCP about the cult of personality. Real unity was achieved at the 7th CCP congress because the Chinese comrades applied Marxism to Chinese reality creatively. Ri drew a parallel between Mao Zedong and Kim Il Sung. The factionalists in our Party are against Kim Il Sung being at the head of the Party, they want to tear him away from the people so that the people do not love the leaders. Kim Il Sung noted that this comparison is unnecessary and that if they, the Korean leadership, are worthy disciples of Mao Zedong then this is a great honor for them.


Pak [Hun Il] - Chief of the KWP CC Agriculture Department.


He said that the arrival in Korea of the representatives of the CPSU and CCP demonstrates the seriousness of the situation which has developed in the KWP, and this plenum should be decisive for strengthening our Party.


He did not agree with the statements of some comrades at the plenum, and in particular with the incorrect statement of Ho Dong-suk, who spoke more about the offenses committed by the comrades and their pardon, although they wanted to put them in prison, but not about measures to educate Party members.


Unity is the most important factor for the life of any political party and especially for the KWP, which has and will have many difficulties. Recent events in the Party demonstrate the need for a serious strengthening of Party ranks and for rallying the people around the Party.


Pak thinks that some senior officials, including Pak Geum-cheol, Pak Jeong-ae, and Han Sung-do have incorrectly approached the issue of the aforementioned comrades at the August plenum. Recent events have shown that there are many different tendencies in our Party and the leadership is making many mistakes and is governing the country incorrectly.


Essentially, at the August plenum the issue was not raised of educating the comrades but of fighting them. Every fault which existed and did not exist was applied to them. The situation at the plenum was red-hot and the plenum took place in a disorderly fashion. For example, Yun was not allowed to express himself. There was also a tense atmosphere in the Party after the August plenum, and even the senior officials of the Party were subjected to interrogation with the object of identifying who, when, and for what reasons they had met with the people being discussed at the August plenum.


He pointed out that Pak Jeong-ae had held such a discussion with him.


They tried to accuse him of ties with the aforementioned people. He stressed that he had meetings with someone and had conversed. For example, with Ri Pil-gyu, to whom he openly said that he was behaving incorrectly. He spoke with Kim Il Sung and other senior officials about individual questions of their behavior. At this place Pak [Hun Il], struck the rostrum with a fist, and shouted excitedly, on what basis do they want to repress him. Everyone knows that he had participated in the revolutionary struggle for 28 years, was devoted to the Party, and time will unquestionably confirm this.


A response from the hall by Ri [Khyo Sun], Chief of the CC Personnel Department: why do you raise your question, talk about others and about Party work.


Pak [Hun] Il said that by the expulsion of some comrades from the CC and Party they had incited a hatred of them, which they did not deserve. Enemies can make use of such an atmosphere in the Party.


Kim Il Sung noted from the Presidium for Pak to speak more quietly and not to be excited.


Pak spoke of the need to create conditions for the development of Party democracy, providing an opportunity for everyone to freely express his own opinion. The KWP leadership ought to devote serious attention to this. The masses ought to speak of the leadership's shortcomings, and the KWP leadership should reveal their own shortcomings and mistakes more courageously. It is necessary to educate, and not punish, Party members, to look more carefully into mistakes, and to find out whether they were made intentionally or not. It is necessary for the CC, when speaking of successes, to reveal shortcomings and mistakes in the government of the country, restructure ideological work, get rid of command administrative methods in the Party, and eliminate shortcomings in the selection of personnel.


Pak [Hun] Il supported the CC Presidium decision and spoke of the need to eliminate the atmosphere of hatred created around the people discussed at the August plenum. He said that Pak Geum-cheol, Kim Chang-man, and Han Sung-do need to change the methods of their work.


Pak Geum-cheol retorted that they will discuss their shortcomings another time.


Pak [Hun] Il ended his statement with the words that Pak Geum-cheol, Kim Chang-man, and Han Sung-do should be released from the posts they occupy in the interests of the matter.


Pak Jeong-ae, who was in the chair, pointed out that seven more people had signed up to speak, however no one had spoke against the proposal of the Presidium, therefore she was proposing the discussion be halted and it be adopted unanimously.


Responses from the hall:


Pak [Hun] Il said that he had waged a revolutionary struggle for 28 years, but said nothing [about] what harm the factionalists had caused. Therefore he needs to be counted in this group and educated.


It is necessary to talk about Pak [Hun] Il and discuss his behavior.


Kim Il Sung said that with a discussion of Pak we would get off the main issue; [we] can talk about Pak [Hun] Il separately.


Kim Il Sung made closing remarks.


He noted the unanimity on the issue under discussion and expressed satisfaction that the proposal of the Presidium found general support.


In adopting a decision with a softened punishment we are not seeking a complete relaxation of the situation in the Party. He warned that some misinterpretations could be made when the decision of this plenum is implemented. Measures ought to be provided so that does not happen. It is necessary to expose shortcomings more boldly and not exhibit unnecessary pride. When the resolution is adopted it needs to be carried it out, to explain to the comrades the need for these measures if doubts arise among any of them of their advisability.


Kim Il Sung said that Pak [Hun] Il criticized the CC Presidium at the plenum, that it this not bad and even useful. If someone has shortcomings then it is necessary to talk about them, whether it is the chairman of the CC, his deputies, or Presidium members. If the criticism is incorrect then this should be explained to the comrade. Kim said that Pak [Hun] Il is mistaken in many respects, [but] he ought not to be criticized in revenge.


Kim pointed out that before the August plenum the CC Presidium decided to adopt soften measures with respect to these comrades. But at the plenum the situation became heated and a severe decision was adopted. The proposal of Pak [Hun] Il about the release of Pak Geum-cheol, Kim Chang-man, and Han Sung-do from the posts they occupy is incorrect. They are not sacred people and have shortcomings, and they need to be corrected. The proposal of Pak [Hun] Il can be put to a vote.


Pak [Hun] Il stated from [his] seat that he will remove his proposal.


Kim then said that Pak Chang-ok and the others need to be given the time and opportunity to correct their mistakes. He considers it correct and necessary to relax the tense situation in the KWP. Repressive measures cannot be taken, and persistent educational work needs to be pursued. These comrades, as CC members, ought to be given appropriate work in order to provide them with an opportunity to prove themselves. Party democracy needs to be strengthened, drawing correct conclusions from recent events.


Then the floor was given to Kim Chang-man to read the draft resolution.


The resolution was adopted unanimously (the resolution is attached).


The plenum concluded its work with this.


Recorded by Embassy interpreter [signature] (V. Kovalev)


The decision of the September Plenum is to rehabilitate the accused party members instead of removing them from the Korean Workers' Party. The session is attend by Mikoyan and Peng Dehuai.

Document Information


GARF, Fond 5446, Opis 98, Delo 721, Listy 31-43. Translated by Gary Goldberg.


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