A. north korea—Appointments-North-South relations-Foreign relations

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Keesing's Record of World Events (formerly Keesing's Contemporary Archives),
Volume 33, February, 1987 Korea, Page 34942
© 1931-2006 Keesing's Worldwide, LLC - All Rights Reserved.

A. NORTH KOREA—Appointments-North-South relations-Foreign relations

12th plenary session of sixth central committee of Korean Workers’ Party (Dec. 27, 1986).

Opening session of 8th Supreme People's Assembly (Dec. 29).

Re-election of President Kim Il Sung and announcement of Cabinet changes (Dec. 29).

Adoption of budget reports by fifth session of Supreme People's Assembly (April 9).

Suspension of talks with South Korea (Jan. 20).

Defection of North Korean film director (March 13).

Unsuccessful North Korean proposal for tripartite negotiations (June 17–18).

Bomb explosion in Seoul airport (Sept. 14).

North Korean boycott of Asian Games in Seoul (Sept. 20-Oct. 5).

Dispute over proposed construction of Kumgangsan dam (Nov. 6, 1986-Jan. 17, 1987).

Report from South Korea of death of Kim Il Sung (Nov. 17, 1986).

Proposals for renewal of talks with South (Jan. 10–30, 1987).

Visit by Soviet Foreign Minister (Jan. 19–23, 1986).

Visit to Soviet Union by President Kim (Oct. 22–27).

Signature of friendship and co-operation treaty with Mongolia (Nov. 21).

Visit by Chinese President (Oct. 3–6).

The 12th plenary session of the sixth central committee of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) was held in Pyongyang (the capital of the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK–North Korea) on Dec. 27, 1986, and was presided over by President Kim Il Sung, the general secretary of the KWP. In addition to discussing the economic condition of the country [see below], the session approved the promotion of Mr Yi Kun Mo and Mr Hong Song Nam from alternate membership to full membership of the political bureau of the central committee. [For appointment of Mr Hong Song Nam as an alternate member in February 1986 see page 34363;, for last KWP congress, at which the sixth central committee was elected, in October 1980, see 30991 A.]

In addition to Mr Yi and Mr Hong the full members of the political bureau as of Dec. 29, 1986, were as follows: Mr Kim Il Sung, Mr Kim Chong Il, Vice-Marshal Oh Jin Wu (each of whom retained his post on the three-member presidium of the political bureau, the highest executive organ of the KWP); Mr Pak Son Chol, Mr Yim Chun Chu, Mr Yi Chong Ok, Mr So Chol, Mr Yon Hyong Muk, Mr Kang Song San, Mr O Kuk Yol, Mr So Yun Sok, Mr Ho Dam, Mr Kim Yong Nam, and Mr Kim Hwan. The political bureau also contained 18 alternate members who remained unchanged.

Changes to the central committee secretariat involved the replacement of Mr Yi Kun Mo, Mr Kim Hwan, and Mr Pak Nam Ki by Mr Kang Song San (who was succeeded as Prime Minister by Mr Yi Kun Mo—see below), Mr Chon Pyong Ho, Mr Choe Tae Pok and Mr Yon Hyong Muk (who on Aug. 12 had been replaced as First Deputy Premier by Mr Kim Yun Hyok).

Following elections on Nov. 2, 1986, to determine the composition of the eighth Supreme People's Assembly (SPA–the country's unicameral legislature), the 615-member body met for its first session on Dec. 29. It unanimously re-elected President Kim to a further four-year term of [office for his last re-election, in April 1982 see 32516 A], and Mr Pak Song Chol, Mr Yin Chun Chu and Mr Yi Chong Ok as Vice-Presidents. The Administrative Council (Cabinet), as announced by the (North) Korean Central News Agency on Dec. 29, was as follows [for previous list see 34362 A]:

Mr Yi Kun Mo


Mr Hong Song Nam

First Deputy Premier

Mr Kim Yong Nam

Deputy Premier and Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mrs Kim Pok Sin

Deputy Premier and Chairman of the External Trade Commission

Mr Kim Chang Chu

Deputy Premier and Chairman of the Agriculture Commission

Mr Kim Yun Hyok

Deputy Premier and Chairman of the Building Materials Commission

Mr Chong Chun Ki

Deputy Premier

Mr Choe Kwang

Deputy Premier

Vice-Marshal Oh Jin Wu

People's Armed Forces

Mr Pak Nam Ki

Chairman of the State Planning Commission

Mr Kye Hyong Sun

Chairman of the Metal and Machine Industry Commission

Mr Cho Chang Tok

Chairman of the Mining Industry Commission

Mr Yi Kil Song

Chairman of the Transport Commission

Mr Yi Chi Chan

Chairman of the Power Industry Commission

Mr Kim Hwan

Chairman of the Chemical and Light Industry Commission

Mr Choe Pok Yon

Chairman of the Fisheries Commission

Mr Kong Chin Tae

Chairman of the People's Service Commission

Mr Kim Ung Sang

Chairman of the Stat Construction Commission

Mr Yi Cha Pang

Chairman of the State Scientific and Technological Commission

Mr Pyon Yong Nip

Chairman of the Educational Commission

Lt. -Gen Paek Hak Nom

Public security

Mr Kim Se Yong

Natural Resources Development

Mr Cho Hak Kun

Atomic Industry

Mr Yi Sok

Shipbuilding Industry

Mr Pak Yong Sok


Mr Kim Yong Chae


Mr Cho Chong Kun

Foreign Trade

Mr Chong Song Nam

External Economic Affairs

Mr Kim Chae Yul


Mr Kim Pong Ul

Labour Administration

Mr Yun Ki Chong


Mr Chang Chol

Culture and the Arts

Mr Yi Chong Yul

Public Health

Mr Han Chan Kun


Mr Yong Sung U

President of Central Bank

Mr Kim Kyong Pong

President of the Academy of Sciences

Mr Yi Pil Song

President of General Central Materials Firms

Mr Kim Yu Sun

Chairman of Korean Central Physical Education Guidance Commission

*New appointment.

Newly created portfolio.

**Appointed .

It was also announced that Mr Sin Kyong Sik and Mr Chong Mun San had been appointed as Director of the Central Statistical Bureau, and Director of the Administrative Bureau of the State Administrative Council respectively. Vice-Marshal Oh, who was rumoured to have been seriously injured in a car accident in mid-1986, was not named in the broadcast but was subsequently referred to as “Minister of the Armed Forces” in a Pyongyang radio report of Jan. 9, 1987.

In his address to the SPA on Dec. 29 President Kim praised the achievements of the second seven-year plan (1978–84) as having “equipped all sectors of the national economy… with modern technology and economic might”. He stressed, however, the government's determination to modernize further the industrial and agricultural base in accordance with the stated aim of constructing a “self-reliant socialist national economy” as dictated by the country's official philosophy known as Chuche. It was suggested that the third seven-year plan would be adopted during the course of 1987 and, although targets were yet to be finalized, that it would aim to double industrial output and to increase agricultural production by almost 50 per cent.

At the fifth session of the seventh SPA on April 7–9, 1986, Mr Yun Ki Chong had reported on the budgets for 1985 and 1986.

Revenue for 1985 was stated as 27,438.9 million won, an increase of 4.3 per cent over 1984 (US41.00=won 0.94 as at April 10, 1985), and expenditure as 27,328.9 million won, an increase of 4.5 per cent on the previous year. A total of 51.6 per cent of investment in productive capital construction was allocated to the mining and rail transport sectors whilst investment in environmental projects (particularly land reclamation) increased by 110 per cent compared with the previous year. Defence expenditure accounted for 14.4 per cent of the total, whilst expenditure on education and public health increased by over 4 per cent.

Revenue and expenditure for 1986 were estimated at 28,481.6 million won with investment increases of 12 per cent in the power industry; 13 per cent in the metallurgical sector; 10 per cent in mining; 9 per cent in rail transport; and 20 per cent in the chemical industry. Defence spending was set at 14.1 per cent of total expenditure. The delay in adopting the third seven-year plan, the reorganization of economic ministries and changes of personnel undertaken in late 1985 and early 1986 [ibid]. and an estimated revenue increase in 1986 of only 3.8 per cent over the previous year, however, led outside observers to conclude that the economy continued to show signs of serious stagnation.

The SPA concluded its session on April 9 by expressing its unanimous approval of the budgets and by adopting a code for environmental preservation and improvement within North Korea.

In his opening address to the eighth SPA on Dec. 29, 1986, President Kim emphasized that the “peaceful reunification of the country” was “the most urgent task” facing the government of the DPRK. He proposed the “founding of a confederal state which would make neither side the conqueror or the conquered” as a long-term solution to the problem of the divided Korean peninsula. To achieve this end “in conformity with the will of the Korean people” it was proposed that a joint conference be established to facilitate “a national dialogue” between the ruling political parties and other representative organizations from both North and South Korea.

President Kim's statement was widely interpreted as an attempt to improve bilateral Korean relations which had deteriorated throughout 1986.

During 1985 progress had been achieved through three separate channels: economic co-operation negotiations, inter-parliamentary contacts and Red Cross talks, these last having led to reunions of families which had been divided during the 1950–53 Korean War [see 34165 A]. The North Koreans announced on Jan. 11, 1986, a unilateral suspension of large-scale military exercises, but nine days later North Korea suspended all negotiations, the South Koreans having announced on Jan. 18 that the annual Team Spirit joint military exercises with the USA, involving a total of over 200,000 troops, were to begin on Feb. 10.

On April 24 it was announced by the DPRK that negotiations would be resumed only if the South indicated a change in its attitude to future military exercises and displayed greater tolerance and conciliation towards those campaigning for greater democracy [see 39880 A]. On the same day a South Korea warship sank a North Korean vessel which had allegedly opened fire when challenged but which the North had claimed was an unarmed trawler. The North condemned the “bestial piratical act”, in which at least one crew member was killed, as contrary to international law and as a premeditated provocation.

Bilateral relations were further strained by revelations made in Washington on May 15 by the South Korea film director Mr Shin Sang Ok and his wife Ms Choi Eun Hee who claimed to have been abducted in separate incidents in Hong Kong in July and January 1978 respectively and forcibly held in North Korea for eight years on the orders of Mr Kim Chong Il, allegedly an admirer of the director's work. Mr Shin, who had had his licence to direct films revoked by the South Korea authorities in 1977 after suspicions of involvement in the dissident movement, had announced on April 12, 1984, at a press conference in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, that he had defected voluntarily to North Korea. His subsequent claim was that after five years of imprisonment and regular “brainwashing” sessions the couple had acceded to Mr Kim's demands to participate in the North Korean film industry. After making several award-winning films he and his wife sought asylum in the US embassy in Vienna on March 13, 1986. Mr Shin admitted that he had appropriated up to US$ 3,000,000 provided by Mr Kim Chong Il to finance a Korean-Hungarian joint venture for a film about Genghis Khan.

On June 17, 1986, Vice-Marshal Oh contacted the South Korea Defence Minister, Gen. Lee Ki Baek, and Gen. William Livsey, the US commander-in-chief of UN forces in South Korea, to propose a joint tripartite meeting with the aim of halting military exercises and reducing the armed forces within the Korean peninsula. His offer was summarily dismissed on the following day as “a propaganda ploy” to divert criticism for the North's decision in January to close the existing channels of communication. Throughout August there were reports of the exchange of small arms fire across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on either side of the mutual border of the two countries.

North Korea announced on Sept. 1 that it would not participate in the 10th Asian Games which were to be held in Seoul (the capital of South Korea) from Sept. 20 to Oct. 5.

The “impure political aims” of the games, according to this announcement, included their use as a focus for anti-communist propaganda and as an opportunity for the further expansion of the South Korea armed forces which had been deployed to resist any attempt by the North to disrupt the proceedings.

On Sept. 15, a bomb exploded at Seoul's Kimpo International Airport killing five people and injuring 26. A ministerial statement issued in Seoul on the following day suggested that the explosion had been perpetrated by “a spy of the puppet North or by an impure left-leaning element instigated by it” in an effort to damage the Asian Games. North Korea denied all responsibility for the incident.

Amid tight security the games went ahead without further incident but the explosion was widely interpreted as having undermined the North's case for co-hosting the Olympic Games due to be held in Seoul in 1988. A co-hosting proposal made on June 11 by the President of the International Olympic Committee provided for the archery and table tennis events and elements of the soccer competition and bicycle races to be held in the North. This had been approved conditionally by North Korean delegates on July 3, although it was reported that they were continuing to press for a greater share of the remaining 19 events.

On Nov. 13, 1986, the US Defence Department and the US Eighth Army command in South Korea officially announced that a battery of Lance missiles would be deployed in the vicinity of the US second division near the DMZ.

Although it was acknowledged that the missiles were capable of carrying nuclear warheads, US military sources refused to confirm whether they would be so equipped. On Jan. 29, 1987, it was reported that the Soviet Union had agreed to provide North Korea with SS-21 missiles which were considered comparable with those deployed by the USA.

A further source of tension between North and South Korea during 1986 arose as a result of the proposed construction of the Kumgangsan hydroelectric dam on a northern tributary of the Han river approximately 10 km north of the DMZ.

On Nov. 6, Gen. Lee warned that his country would be forced to undertake “self-defensive measures” unless work on the dam ceased immediately. He claimed that the dam would pose a grave military threat to the South because of its capacity to store up to 20,000 million tonnes of water which, if released, would be capable of submerging much of central Korea. The South Korea Minister of Construction, Mr Lee Kyu Hyo, announced on Nov. 26 that work was to begin imminently on a dam of equal size to protect Seoul against the possibility of flooding from the north.

On Nov. 28 Mr Lee called unsuccessfully for bilateral talks on the use of shared waterways. A North Korean government White Paper, released on Dec. 25, contested the South Korea claims and stated that the dam was capable of containing only 2,624 million tonnes of water, and that the entire capacity of the Kumgangsan power plant project was less than 5,000 million tonnes. Mr Lee disputed the statistics in a statement issued on Jan. 17, 1987, in which he renewed his call for joint talks on energy supply issues and for an end to work on the dam.

Reports of death of Kim Il Sung

A statement by the South Korea Defence Ministry, released on Nov. 17, 1986, suggested that President Kim had been assassinated in a power struggle within the KWP several days earlier. The report quoted its sources as Japanese “intelligence information” obtained on Nov. 15 and North Korean loudspeakers positioned on the DMZ which were alleged to have broadcast the news of President Kim's death on Nov. 16.

A “class-A” military alert was declared in Seoul as further reports from the South Korea Defence Ministry claimed that official mourning had begun in the North, although this was vehemently denied by North Korean sources. The confusion was heightened by South Korea claims that further reports from the DMZ during the night of Nov. 17–18 had reported the succession of Mr Kim Chong Il as president, whilst others had stated that Vice-Marshal Oh had seized power.

On Nov. 18, however, President Kim attended a public ceremony of welcome at Pyongyang airport for an official Mongolian delegation. The South Korea Defence Ministry accepted that President Kim was still alive but claimed that reports of his death signified either a deliberate disinformation campaign by the North or the existence of a power struggle within the upper echelons of the KWP. The absence from the ceremony of Vice-Marshal Oh and Mr Kim Chong Il was cited as evidence supporting the latter hypothesis, although on the following day Mr Kim Chong Il was seen attending official duties with his father. The continuing state of military alert in South Korea led to charges by the North that the rumours of President Kim's death had been manufactured to provide justification for domestic repression in terms of a perceived threat to national security [see 39880 A].

Although the South Korea Defence Ministry released detailed transcripts of the alleged broadcasts from the DMZ, it was claimed on Nov. 20 that “strong winds” had rendered unsuccessful the repeated attempts made to record them. It was reported, however, that no US units stationed near the DMZ had heard the broadcasts. It was suggested that the failure to provide firm evidence arose from the South's desire not to reveal its interception and decoding of North Korean military communications, and that the alleged assassination attempt had been undertaken by discontented elements within the armed forces. Later reports, however, suggested that the rumour might have originated from an error by a US monitor of North Korean radio which had misled the South Korea Defence Ministry.

Renewed initiatives in early 1987 for resumption of negotiations

Following President Kim's address to the eighth SPA [see above], Mr Yi and Vice-Marshal Oh on Jan. 10, 1987, proposed that high-level political and military negotiations should begin on Jan. 27, in an effort “to achieve a breakthrough for peace and peaceful reunification” with South Korea. In response the South Korea government on Jan. 12 reiterated its position of rejecting the creation of new channels of communication whilst those previously established remained inoperative. President Chun did, however, suggest that he would be willing to meet with President Kim for summit talks in the course of 1987. The North Korean initiative was repeated on Jan. 30 in conjunction with a demand that Team Spirit 87 (which had been announced as beginning on Feb. 19) be cancelled or postponed.

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