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April 16, 1956

Report from B. Vereshchagin to the CPSU CC, 'The Korean Armistice Agreement and talks on the Korean question'

Secret. Copy Nº 1





[[10]] May 1956]

The Korean Armistice Agreement and talks on the Korean question


The Korean Armistice Agreement was signed on 27 July 1953. The troops of both sides were withdrawn two kilometers from the demarcation line and separated by a demarcation zone four kilometers wide.


The Armistice Agreement stipulated that within three months from the date the Agreement entered into force the governments of the interested countries would convene a political conference for negotiations on the withdrawal of foreign troops from Korea and a peaceful settlement of the Korean question.


The issue of the convening of this conference was discussed at the 7th UN General Assembly session in August 1953, and then at bilateral negotiations at Panmunjom from October to December 1953. The negotiations were broken off by the Americans, and the political conference did not take place.


Subsequently at the initiative of the USSR the question of a peace settlement in Korea was discussed at the Geneva Conference from April to June 1953, where delegations of the USSR, PRC, and DPRK proposed a program of a peaceful reunification of Korea on the basis of Korea-wide elections held by the Koreans themselves, which should be preceded by a withdrawal of all foreign troops from the territory of Korea. These proposals were rejected in view of the opposition of the US and other Western powers and no agreement on the Korean question occurred.


[Handwritten note at the bottom of the first page:

to the archives

The material was used in information in connection with the arrival of a DPRK government delegation.

[[illegible signature]]

I. Shcherbakov

15 June 1956]


Breaking off the negotiations on the Korean question in Geneva, the 16 countries which intervened in Korea submitted a declaration which offered the following two principles as obligatory conditions for a settlement of the Korean question: recognition of the legality of the actions taken by the UN with respect to Korea, and holding elections under UN observation. This declaration was approved by the 9th UN General Assembly session (the resolution of 14 December 1954).


At the 10th UN General Assembly session in the autumn of 1955 the Soviet delegation defended the proposals on the Korean question offered by our delegations in Geneva, emphasizing the establishment of ties and closer relations between North and South Korea.


Measures of the DPRK government for the peaceful reunification of the country


The Korean friends have undertaken the following steps in development of this position:


31 October 1954 - an appeal from a session of the DPRK Supreme National Assembly with proposals about convening a conference of representatives of North and South Korea in 1955 to discuss the question of the peaceful reunification of the country, the establishment of economic and cultural ties, and also the freedom of movement and correspondence between the population of both parts of Korea;


1 December 1954 - appeal of the DPRK Ministry of Communications with a proposal to establish telegraph, telephone, and postal communications between the North and South;


25 and 27 May 1955 - statement of the DPRK Ministries of Internal Affairs and the Fishing Industry about the possibility of letting South Korean fishermen into North Korean waters;


14 August 1955 - a speech by Kim Il Sung in which it was proposed to convene a Far East conference with the broad participation of Asian countries to develop a plan for the peaceful reunification of Korea and also for the governments of both parts of Korea to commit themselves not to resort to military force to solve contentious issues.


All these proposals of the DPRK government were systematically ignored by the South Korean authorities.


The Commission of Neutral Countries


Monitoring of the observation of the armistice conditions in Korea is done by a bilateral armistice commission and also a Neutral Armistice Commission consisting of representatives of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, and Switzerland. Initially this Commission had 20 inspection groups, of which 10 had permanent locations (five points each in the North and South), and the rest were mobile.


On 1 October 1953 an agreement was signed about the mutual defense of the US and South Korea directed at the militarization of South Korea.


On 17 February 1955, the number of permanent inspection groups was reduced from 10 to six at the insistence of the Swedes and the Swiss.


On 10 November Unden, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, proposed eliminating all permanent inspection groups, and turning the Commission itself into a meditation bureau in Panmunjom, leaving only the mobile inspection groups at its disposal.


In agreement with us and the DPRK the Chinese friends replied to the Swedes and Swiss that they consider it possible to reduce the number of permanent inspection groups to two and the number of mobile [inspection groups] to one, without changing the functions and status of the Commission.


Brief data about the state of the DPRK economy (was not published).


The territory of the DPRK is 22,100 square kilometers (the territory of South Korea is 98,700 square kilometers). [SIC; per Wikipedia the territory of North Korea is 120,540 square kilometers].


The population of the DPRK is 8,528,000 (current information at the end of 1955, less the army), but of South Korea - 21,526,000 (official data as of 1 November 1955). Information about the population of the DPRK has not been published, but it has been pointed out that 2/5 of the population of Korea lives in the DPRK.


The gross production of state and cooperative industry (in comparable prices): in 1955 was 51,119,000,000 won, or 156% of 1949 (30 won = one ruble).


The gross production of the private sector is 570,000,000 won, or 1.1% of the gross production of the state and cooperative sector.


The revival of the production in various sectors has proceeded irregularly. For example, compared to the 1949 level the level of production was exceeded: in crude lead - by 4.4 times; brick - 13.6 times; tile - four times; commercial timber - 162%; cotton yarn - 4.9 times; and the fish catch - 114%.


At the same time the 1949 level was not achieved in a number of the most important industrial sectors. The production of electric power was 53% of the 1949 level, of hard coal - 80%, of coke - 78%, of cast iron - 67%, of steel - 95%, of rolled metal - 89%, of crude copper - 80%, of mineral fertilizer - 21%, and of cement - 67%.


Agriculture. Cultivated land was 97.4% that of 1949, including: 94.4% of that of grain crops, and 120.7% of that of irrigated rice.


The gross harvest of grains in 1955 was 2,442,400 tons, including 1,311,200 tons of rice, against 2,795,000 tons of grains in 1949, including 1,241,000 of rice, that is, 87.4% and 105.6% respectively. It is necessary to have in the range of three million tons of grains to satisfy the country's needs.


The size of the cattle herd is considerably lower than the 1949 level. For example, at the end of 1955 there were 445,500 head of cattle against 788,700 in 1949 and 440,800 pigs against 659,600 in 1949, that is, 56.4% and 66.9% respectively. The number of horses was increased from 8,800 to 13,400 and of sheep and goats from 12,700 to 49,900 with the aid of the MNR [Mongolian People's Republic].


By the end of 1955 the tractor pool had reached 2,382 (15-horsepower) tractors. There are 45 machine rental stations. In 1955 tractors plowed 370,000 hectares of arable land (converted to soft plowing).


The leaders of the DPRK. The Chairman of the DPRK Cabinet of Ministers of Kim Il Sung. The Chairman of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme National Assembly is Kim Du-bong.


The DPRK Minister of Foreign Affairs is Nam Il.


The leaders of South Korea.


President of South Korean - Syngman Rhee

Vice President Ham Tae-young

Minister of Foreign Affairs Jo Jeong-hwan

of South Korea


1st SECRETARY OF THE DVO [signature]

[Far East Department]



16 April 1956

ref. Nº 550/dv

Report that provides an overview of the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement. It describes the role of neutral states in monitoring the armistice conditions and lists the steps that the DPRK government has been taking so far to achieve peaceful reunification on the peninsula.

Document Information


RGANI Fond 5, Opis 28, Delo 412. Translated by Gary Goldberg.


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