Overconfidence Shattered: North Korean Unification Policy, 1971-1975

By
Bernd Schaefer

NKIDP Working Paper #2, Overconfidence Shattered: North Korean Unification Policy, 1971-1975,” written by Bernd Schaefer (Woodrow Wilson Center), analyzes North Korea’s unification policy during the early 1970s, a period, as Schaefer argues, when North Korea held its last best chance to unify the Korean peninsula under its own auspices.

Relying on ample documentation from the archives of the former East German Foreign Ministry, Schaefer argues that:

- The inter-Korean unification drive during the early 1970s fueled the international competition between the DPRK and ROK to establish diplomatic relations with other countries;

- Changes in the Chinese-North Korean relationship and the prospect of Sino-American rapprochement in the early 1970s prompted North Korea's increased efforts to oust the U.S. military from South Korea and to peacefully reunify the Korean peninsula;

- South Korean President Park Chung Hee took advantage of the inter-Korean talks to provide grounds for the implementation of the Yushin Constitution in 1972;

- Throughout the inter-Korean dialogue, the DPRK entertained inaccurate and unrealistic perceptions of support for the Northern system in South Korea and wrongly equated sympathy for unification in South Korea with preference for the Northern system.

Appended to NKIDP Working Paper #2 are thirteen translated documents from (East) German archives that allow scholars and students to gain a deeper understanding of North Korea’s unification strategy in the 1970s and the surrounding environment and circumstances which shaped North Korean decision-making.

To download Overconfidence Shattered: North Korean Unification Policy, 1971-1975,” please see the link below.

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DOCUMENT LIST

(click document title to be redirected to the Wilson Center Digital Archive)

DOCUMENT NO. 1
Note on a Conversation with the 1st Secretary of the USSR Embassy, Comrade Kurbatov, on 10 March 1972 in the GDR Embassy

DOCUMENT NO. 2
Note on Information by DPRK Deputy Foreign Minister, Comrade Ri Manseok, on 8 June 1972 for the Ambassadors of the European Socialist Countries (except Albania) (content already reported in telegram of 9 June 1972)

DOCUMENT NO. 3
Note on Information by DPRK Deputy Foreign Minister, Comrade Kim Ryongtaek, on 3 July 1972 for the Ambassadors and Acting Ambassadors of Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Mongolia, Romania, Hungary, and the GDR at 20:40 hours in the DPRK Foreign Ministry

DOCUMENT NO. 4
Note on Information by DPRK Deputy Foreign Minister, Comrade Ri Manseok, on 17 July 1972 between 16:40 and 18:00 hours in the Foreign Ministry

DOCUMENT NO. 5
Note on Information Provided by Head of 1st Department of DPRK Foreign Ministry, Comrade Kim Jaesuk, about 1st Main Negotiation of Red Cross Committees from DPRK and South Korea on 12 September 1972

DOCUMENT NO. 6
Note on Information Provided by Head of 1st Department of DPRK Foreign Ministry, Comrade Kim Jaesuk, [about 2nd Main Negotiation of Red Cross Committees from DPRK and South Korea] on 3 October 1972 during 12:00 and 13:30 Hours

DOCUMENT NO. 7
Note on Information given by the 1st Deputy Foreign Minister of the DPRK, Comrade Kim Jaebong on 19 October 1972 in the DPRK Foreign Ministry for the Embassies of Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Mongolia and the GDR during 17:00 and 19:00 hours

DOCUMENT NO. 8
Note on a Conversation with the 1st Secretary of the USSR Embassy, Comrade Kurbatov, on 18 October 1972 in the GDR Embassy

DOCUMENT NO. 9
Note on Information by the Head of the 1st Department of the DPRK Foreign Ministry, Comrade Kim Jaesuk, on 31 October 1972 for Ambassadors and Acting Ambassadors of the GDR, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria

DOCUMENT NO. 10
Note on Information by DPRK Deputy Foreign Minister Comrade Ri Manseok on 8 November 1972 for the Ambassadors of Czechoslovakia and Poland and the Acting Ambassadors of the GDR in the Foreign Ministry

DOCUMENT NO. 11
Note on Information by DPRK Deputy Foreign Minister Comrade Ri Manseok on 28 November 1972 for the Ambassadors and Acting Ambassadors of Poland, Czechoslovakia and the GDR between 1200 and 1330 hours in the Foreign Ministry

DOCUMENT NO. 12
Note on Information by DPRK Deputy Foreign Minister Comrade Lee Jinmok on 9 December 1972 for the Ambassadors and Acting Ambassadors of Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and the GDR between 1000 and 1125 hours

DOCUMENT NO. 13
Information for the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party about the Talks between Comrades Todor Zhivkov and Kim Il Sung during the Visit of the DPRK Party and Government Delegation to Bulgaria from 2 to 5 June 1975

 

 

 

 

Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Charles Kraus // Program Assistant
  • Roy O. Kim // Program Assistant