Libmonster ID: UK-1398
Author(s) of the publication: V. V. TSOI


Keywords: Republic of Korea, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, contacts of scientists of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the USSR, scientific works on Korean topics in Russia, prospects for the reunification of the two Korean states

September 30, 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the day when the Foreign Ministers of the USSR and the Republic of Korea (ROK) signed a joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in New York. This event was preceded by a great deal of work, in which Russian Orientalists also took part.

Yuri Vasilyevich Vanin then worked in the Department of Socialist Asian Countries of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences. At the request of the editorial staff, he shared his memories of this event.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between our country and the Republic of Korea is a big historical topic. I can't reveal it in full. Therefore, I will tell you only about what concerns me and my participation in the events of a quarter of a century ago.


Since the 1960s. The Institute of Oriental Studies constantly raised the question, as it was then customary to say, before high "authorities" about the need to review Soviet policy in the Korean direction. It basically boiled down to the fact that we automatically supported any initiatives of Pyongyang and did not put forward our own initiatives in relation to Seoul, which would correspond to the national interests of the USSR. We usually sent our proposals either to the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee or to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This work was supervised by Doctor of Historical Sciences G. F. Kim (later corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences), who was then in charge of our department. Researchers F. I. Shabshina, V. S. Mazurov, B. S. Sinitsyn, V. D. Tikhomirov, and I. S. Kazakevich actively participated in the preparation of relevant materials.

I did not participate in this work at that time, but mainly dealt with the history of North and South Korea, and worked on materials about the origins of nationalism on the Korean peninsula and other historical studies. In 1985, I became the head of the Korea sector of the Institute, and I had to fully engage in modern topics. We did this especially intensively in the late 1970s and until 1985, when the Institute of Oriental Studies was headed by Academician E. M. Primakov.

At that time, the entire institute was largely "turned" away from traditional, mainly historical, topics in the direction of highly relevant, modern ones, although traditional topics still remained an important and rather respected part of our scientific research. In the plans and current work of the staff of the Department of Socialist Asian countries (North Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), a certain place was occupied by the problems of the Republic of Korea, which did not belong to the socialist camp.

In fact, publications on the Korean theme appeared in the Soviet mass media since 1945. As a rule, they were purely propaganda in nature, and they were prepared not even by Korean scientists, but by Sinologists and Japonists. The topic was rather limited - what kind of policy the United States pursued on the Korean peninsula, how they contributed to the division of Korea, etc. The situation in South Korea was generally viewed from a critical perspective. Mostly they were relatively small, purely propaganda publications, devoid of any scientific analysis.

Only in 1959 the big book " South Korea. Economic and Political situation (1945-1958) " is a collective work of scientists of the Institute of Internal Affairs of the USSR Academy of Sciences under the leadership of G. F. Kim. Actually, with this ra-

page 63

bots we have started a serious academic study of the Republic of Korea. Of course, the work was carried out in the ideological plan that prevailed at that time. But, despite this, they contained a huge amount of objective material depicting the processes that took place in South Korea, reflecting the real progress of the country from yesterday's backward colonial Korea to today's modern one, which in many respects comes to the forefront in the economy, science and technology.

After 1959, quite a lot of works on the Republic of Korea prepared by our department were completed. And, despite, I repeat, the ideological coloring, they gave a more or less real idea of the then South Korea. The fact that our work did not go unnoticed can be seen from one example, which, however, dates back to the period after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

I once made a phone call to one of the leaders of the State Committee for Economic Relations with Foreign Countries (SCEC). And it says: "You know, I am currently studying the book "South Korea in the system of the World capitalist Economy"by your colleague Viktor Ivanovich Shipaev. We are now going to establish economic relations with this country, and I need to figure out what is there and how."

As a matter of fact, apart from the Institute of Oriental Studies, no one in the Soviet Union dealt with the problems of the Republic of Korea. And, for example, in the Academic Institute of the Far East, until the early 1990s, there was no Korean division at all.


Now a few words about yourself. Since 1985, that is, since I became the head of the Korean sector, and especially after 1987, when I headed the Department of Socialist Asian Countries of the Institute of Oriental Studies, I took an active part in the preparation of analytical materials on contemporary Korean issues, which we sent to the Central Committee of the CPSU, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and.

In 1988, the political and economic process called "perestroika" began in our country. No matter how we feel about it now, we must admit that it has given rise to new approaches to a number of aspects of international relations, including relations with the Republic of Korea. In addition, 1988 was the year of the Seoul Olympics. It was impossible to ignore the fact that hundreds, if not thousands of Soviet people would go to the Olympics - in these conditions, it was necessary to adjust our relations with this country and give the guests of the Olympics from the USSR a more accurate assessment of the socio-economic processes taking place there.

It is true that some of our people have come to South Korea before, although we had, let's say, hostile relations with it. It was considered the springboard of American policy in the Far East, supported this policy in every possible way, and did quite a lot to increase military and political tensions on the Korean Peninsula. However, there were still some" official " relations between us. Various international political or scientific events were held in this country, to which Soviet representatives were invited, among others. Guests from South Korea came to us for the same events. There were also relations through third countries. For example, we sometimes received scientific literature from the Republic of Kazakhstan through the University of Hawaii or through Honolulu.

Even on the eve of the Olympics, one of the leading Soviet newspapers, Komsomolskaya Pravda, published an article in which the question was raised" in plain text " that it was time for us to establish direct diplomatic relations with South Korea. Its author was V. I. Shipaev, one of those scientists who deeply and comprehensively dealt with the problems of the Republic of Korea. He wrote something like this: do not be like Buddhist monkeys who have closed their eyes, covered their ears, clamped their mouths - I can't see anything, I can't hear anything, I won't say anything. There is a country that has fairly broad international relations, which is very active in various aspects, and we need to establish relations with it. Soon other materials on the same topic appeared in our press.

At the end of September 1988, I once again prepared a large, about 30 typewritten pages, analytical note, where I also argued that from all points of view it is necessary to develop closer relations with South Korea. My main argument was this: in the early 1920s, the USSR was also not recognized almost all over the world, but we said: whether you like us or not, we exist, and we need to establish relations with us. I used a lot of factual material to show how it is politically and economically advantageous for us to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea. In particular, if we find ourselves in Seoul, it will be easier for us, by the way, to help both Koreas meet each other halfway.

According to the rules of that time, such materials sent to the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Foreign Ministry (I sent them to the Foreign Ministry) had to be accompanied by an "accompanying document" - a recommendation document signed by the leadership. I prepared such an "accompanying letter" and went to the director of the Institute, M. S. Kapitsa, an experienced diplomat, previously a long-term Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. He looked at my material and said angrily: "I won't sign anything. You will achieve with this kind of thing that we will not get the South of Korea, and the North will lose." But on-

page 64

against it was the office of G. F. Kim, the first deputy director. Since the time of E. M. Primakov, we have had a rule that the first deputy director has the same right to sign documents as the director. Under M. S. Kapitsa, this rule was preserved.

I went from one door to another. Georgy Fyodorovich made a couple of stylistic amendments, signed a document that went to the Foreign Ministry. Some time passed, and one day the phone rang at my house, Kapitsa called. He had a somewhat friendly manner of address: "Yura, don't worry about anything, we copied your material and sent it to the Central Committee of the CPSU." In fact, why should I have bothered? It turns out that the Central Committee found out about this material and requested it for themselves.

On October 21, a closed-door meeting in a narrow format was held in the Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU, which, without exaggeration, can be called historic. It should be mentioned here that the Central Committee of the Party at the end of the Soviet period had two international departments. One was called the International One, headed by B. N. Ponomarev. He was involved in relations with the communist parties of capitalist countries. And it was simple-a department focused on socialist countries, as well as not only on North Korea, but also on South Korea.

The meeting was held under the leadership of V. M. Falin, Secretary of the Central Committee and Head of this Department. Present were: his deputies-V. P. Tkachenko, who was then in charge of Korean problems in the Central Committee," from science " - Academician E. M. Primakov, then director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), First Deputy Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies, corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences G. F. Kim, and I, an ordinary department head, invited as the author of a document that apparently got on the table of the meeting participants. Everyone was unanimous that it was time to establish direct relations with South Korea.

A week later, a second meeting was held in a broader format, to which several more Korean experts were invited. It was conducted by the Head of the Foreign Policy Planning Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs V. P. Lukin, later better known as a human rights activist.

As a result of the first meeting, a document was drawn up in the name of A. N. Yakovlev, who was in charge of foreign policy issues in the Politburo. The document was "polished" a little - corrected and supplemented-and he already went to the Politburo. On its basis, a decision was made to move first to direct economic relations between the USSR and South Korea.

They started in 1989. On our part, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) was in charge of these relations. And in the Republic of Korea - a special organization for the support of foreign economic relations - KOTRA. A few months later, these two organizations - CCI and COTRA - were granted consular powers.


The year 1990 arrived. There was a question about how to build relations with the Republic of Korea in the future. Unfortunately, there was no strict consistency in our official line. During one of the visits of North Korean representatives to the USSR, a joint declaration was adopted, in which, among other things, it was stated that the Soviet Union supports the DPRK's policy and is not going to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea. I then turned to one of the high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a question: "Why do we need such a categorical statement? It is known that we will inevitably come to the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Republic of Kazakhstan, and you say that we are not going to...?" He said something like this: "We're not going to meet today, but we'll see what happens tomorrow."

The Institute of Oriental Studies at this stage also did not stay away from building bridges with the Republic of Kazakhstan. V. P. Lukin, an employee of the Institute of Oriental Studies, V. I. Shipaev and I also took part in the big meeting that I mentioned above and argued that it was time to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Kazakhstan. Another employee of the Institute, F. I. Shabshina, an authoritative scientist who has lived in Korea for many years and is internationally known, wrote an article about this at the same time, which I, after a little refinement, helped publish in the Izvestia newspaper.

The article was titled " How to untie the Korean Knot." Fania Isaakovna explicitly stated in it that we need to move on to diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea. Some time later, she received a letter from Pyongyang from Kim Seok-hyun, director of the Institute of History of the Academy of Social Sciences - the main "ideological club" of the DPRK's historical science. The letter is ugly, openly abusive...

By giving these examples, I want to show that the establishment of relations with the Republic of Kazakhstan was not easy. And there were influential conservative forces in our country, loyal to the old views, and focused exclusively on North Korea. There were plenty of objections on their part.

Meanwhile, South Korea showed great interest in the upcoming establishment of diplomatic relations with the USSR. This country needed access to the socialist camp, which had not yet completely collapsed, and to the largest" component " of this camp - the Soviet Union, which was of great interest to the Republic of Kazakhstan both in the economic and political sense.

This was particularly evident in the support provided to the Institute of Oriental Studies by the COTRA representative office in Moscow.

page 65

The USSR was led by its then director, Cho Seongwoo. With his help, we received scientific journals and books from the Republic of Kazakhstan upon our requests, and he helped organize meetings with delegations from South Korea who visited the USSR.

In September 1990, even before the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, V. I. Shipaev and I visited the Republic of Korea for the first time with the help of Cho Sung. We were met "at the highest level". In particular, we were received by the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, future President Kim Yong-sam. We felt that we were representatives of a country with which we were extremely interested in all-round relations.

Now about what happened at the same time in our country. In the same September, Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze visited Pyongyang. He went to explain to the leadership of the DPRK the goals for which we are going to establish direct and full-scale relations with the Republic of Korea.

More recently, Shevardnadze repeatedly assured the Northerners that we would not make contact with the South. And, of course, when he arrived in Pyeongyang, he was reminded of all this, and the conversation, apparently, was unpleasant. This, of course, inflamed him, and therefore the mutual recognition and establishment of diplomatic relations, planned, if I am not mistaken, for November, took place much earlier - on September 30, 1990.


After September 30, 1990, all relations between the Institute of Oriental Studies and scientists from the DPRK practically ceased through scientific contacts. Although back in the late 1980s, two meetings-essentially bilateral scientific conferences - were held in Pyongyang and Moscow on issues of peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia. In 1990, the third such meeting was to be held in Pyongyang. However, a telegram arrived at the institute: "Due to circumstances, the conference cannot be held."

Since then, our contacts have been kept to a minimum. However, in 1999. I went to Pyongyang at the invitation of the DPRK Academy of Social Sciences and visited several scientific institutes. But as far as I know, there have not been any joint events, exchanges of delegations, literature, etc.between our country and the DPRK since then.

But relations with scientists of the Republic of Korea have been very actively developing. The Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences was visited by delegations of various research centers of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and young South Korean scientists came to us for internships. We also went to this country more than once on business trips. With the financial support of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Institute of Oriental Studies has published a ten-volume series "Russian Korean Studies in the Past and Present". A number of other scientific papers on Korean topics have also been prepared.

Recently, Russian-South Korean scientific contacts have been somewhat reduced due to financial difficulties. Nevertheless, in May 2014, our Institute was visited by representatives of the Institute of History of the Republic of Kazakhstan. By the way, the delegation included my former graduate student, now Professor Ki Kwang So. Thus, our relations with scientists of the Republic of Korea continue, although not as intensive as before.


2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Korea. Naturally, I, like all Korean scholars, painfully experience all the difficulties and failures that both the DPRK and the ROK face in their development. At the same time, I am happy about the success, including any small progress in inter-Korean relations. But, unfortunately, there are still few reasons for optimism. Both the North and the South have repeatedly expressed their desire to achieve national unity. At one time, the President of the Republic of Korea, Kim Dae-joon, expressed that it would be a shame in front of future generations if we left Korea dismembered. Kim Jong Il also said about the same thing.

Peace and mutual understanding between the two parts of Korea should be based primarily on their economic relations. Only through them can mutual understanding be achieved, without which there can be no progress towards each other.

In the half-century since 1945, hostile relations between the two Koreas have created distrust and even hostility towards the South in the North. I said at the time, and I repeat it now: I agree that Kim Dae-joon won the Nobel Peace Prize. But I am convinced that Kim Jong Il also deserved this award. Because it wasn't any easier for him to make his way to mutual understanding, and maybe even harder, than Kim Dae Joon.

The issue of Korean reunification is important for both parts of the country. But he is not indifferent to their neighbors. Russia and China are unlikely to want to allow US hegemony in a unified Korea. Therefore, there are many complex circumstances that "bind the hands and feet" of the Koreans themselves. If it weren't for such external factors, they probably would have reached an agreement faster. Although over the past decades, several generations have developed that are quite satisfied with the current state of affairs.

However, it is extremely important that the two Koreas unite sooner or later. Then a very dangerous source of tension in the Far East "in the underbelly" of us and the Chinese will disappear.

Recorded by V. V. TSOI, Candidate of Technical Sciences


Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LGreat Britain LWorld Y G


Jack DowlyContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

V. V. TSOI, HOW THE "BRIDGES" BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES WERE BUILT // London: British Digital Library (ELIBRARY.ORG.UK). Updated: 01.12.2023. URL: (date of access: 22.05.2024).

Found source (search robot):

Publication author(s) - V. V. TSOI:

V. V. TSOI → other publications, search: Libmonster Great BritainLibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
Jack Dowly
London, United Kingdom
41 views rating
01.12.2023 (172 days ago)
0 subscribers
0 votes
Related Articles
Catalog: Other 
63 days ago · From Jack Dowly
Catalog: History 
66 days ago · From Jack Dowly
return. but how?
Catalog: Geography 
74 days ago · From Jack Dowly
Catalog: Military science 
76 days ago · From Jack Dowly
Catalog: Economics 
77 days ago · From Jack Dowly
Catalog: Other 
79 days ago · From Jack Dowly
Catalog: Sociology 
79 days ago · From Jack Dowly
Catalog: Political science 
79 days ago · From Jack Dowly
Catalog: Political science 
80 days ago · From Jack Dowly
Catalog: Economics 
80 days ago · From Jack Dowly

New publications:

Popular with readers:

News from other countries:

ELIBRARY.ORG.UK - British Digital Library

Create your author's collection of articles, books, author's works, biographies, photographic documents, files. Save forever your author's legacy in digital form. Click here to register as an author.
Library Partners


Editorial Contacts
Chat for Authors: UK LIVE: We are in social networks:

About · News · For Advertisers

British Digital Library ® All rights reserved.
2023-2024, ELIBRARY.ORG.UK is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Keeping the heritage of the Great Britain


US-Great Britain Sweden Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of affiliates, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. Once you register, you have more than 100 tools at your disposal to build your own author collection. It's free: it was, it is, and it always will be.

Download app for Android