"Indelible Memories:

Close Bonds of Kim Il Sung with Chinese Leaders"

By Zhang Tingyan

 On the occasion of the 90th birth anniversary of the late President Kim Il Sung which falls on April 15, "The People's Daily" of China in its Internet edition in English carried reminiscences of Kim Il Sung authored by a Chinese career diplomat Zhang Tingyan, titled "Indelible Memories: Close Bonds of Kim Il Sung with Chinese Leaders." The commemorative reminiscences refer to the Korean leader's close relations with China and its leaders such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, and to his personality. The following is the full text. Subtitles are ours--Ed. 

Unforgettable memories 

 One must have many unforgettable memories of things experienced in his past. I was fortunate as I was favored in my early life as a diplomat and interpreter with opportunities to see President Kim Il Sung many times.

 Since April 1950, President Kim Il Sung had made over 30 visits to China during his lifetime and these had brought him into close relationship and profound friendship with Chinese leaders of three generations. His lifelong contacts and association with Chinese leaders, as I have come to know, have formed indelible and lasting memories in my heart. 

Ties with Mao Zedong & Zhou Enlai 

 In October 1970, China put an end to its decade-long chaos which ravaged the Chinese land during the "cultural revolution." Kim Il Sung made an informal visit to China, put up at Diaoyutai in Beijing. Chairman Mao went in person to see this Korean leader soon after his arrival. The two leaders had a long handshake when they met downstairs at Building No.18 of the state guesthouse in Diaoyutai. That day the two leaders had a very long talk and a profound exchange of views on developments of the international situation prevailing at the time, which continued into the feasting time. The following day also saw Premier Zhou Enlai making a call on the Korean leader at the guesthouse. They had a long talk and an exchange of views on wide-ranging issues of the time. As the day happened to be the 25th anniversary day of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea, Premier Zhou Enlai saw to it when he was told this that all possible preparations were made. A grand banquet was hosted in honor of President Kim Il Sung and his retinue at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to mark the great day of the Korean Workers' Party. After the "cultural revolution" scourge came to an end, President Kim Il Sung was seen again back on his China "family visits," as he had made in the years before the "cultural revolution"--at least once or twice or more every year. He would go to make a China visit to renew his friendship with Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai in Beijing.

 In April 1975, President Kim Il Sung was invited by the CPC Central Committee and the Chinese Government to make a formal visit to China. Deng Xiaoping, then vice chairman of the CPC Central Committee, was entrusted with the duty of playing host to him. Deng went to the airport to meet this great Korean friend of the Chinese people upon his arrival. Back in the mid 1960s, Kim Il Sung and Deng had once met in Pyongyang. Then, 10 years later, they again happily met in Beijing. Deng accompanied him and went with his guest directly to see Chairman Mao waiting at Zhongnanhai and Premier Zhou Enlai who was then hospitalized. Deng gave a toast to the Korean state leader at a grand banquet and accompanied the guest on a visit to Nanjing and on a tour of the Yangzi River. But people didn't expect that Mao and Zhou would pass away soon after meeting their Korean guest for the last time in Beijing. 

After Mao and Zhou 

 Kim Il Sung was all tears on learning of the death of Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou Enlai. He went in person to the Chinese Embassy to express his heartfelt condolences over the death of the two Chinese leaders. In consoling the Chinese peoplefor the dead, he saw to it that a bronze statue was erected in memory of Premier Zhou in Hamheung Chemical Fertilizer Factory Zhou had visited. After completion of the statue, Kim Il Sung specially invited Deng Yingchao (Zhou Enlai's widow) to visit and joined her in the unveiling ceremony of the statue. There have thus far been no other statues on the Korean land but this one to Premier Zhou Enlai that has been erected in memory of a departed foreigner. 

Deng Xiaoping 

 September 9, 1978 was the day to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). A Chinese Party and government delegation was organized under Vice Chairman Deng Xiaoping. That day Deng, as head of the Chinese delegation, left for Pyongyang to extend his congratulations. A rousing welcome ceremony was held upon his arrival with the Chinese delegation in Pyongyang. Accompanied by Vice President Pak Song Chol, Deng with his retinue was driven directly from the airport to the Presidential Palace of Kim Il Sung and received a warm welcome by President Kim Il Sung who had been waiting already at the gate of his palace. Kim Il Sung embraced Deng and shook hands with him most warmly and hosted a luncheon in honor of Deng. Many foreign guests were found there, including some state leaders who were there to attend the Korean celebrations. But to the Korean leader, Deng's visit was special as he saw to it that Deng was specially arranged to be by his side on every occasion to make his presence known to the public on those gala days. Kim Il Sung had had a day out specially to have long talks and an exchange of views with Deng. Moreover, a warm grand welcome was held when Deng visited Hamheung, and he was greeted by over 100,000 local people, who lined the streets. On the day of the departure for home of the Chinese delegation, Kim Il Sung went out specially to meet Deng at the guesthouse to bid farewell to him. At the parting, Deng on his part didn't forget to request Kim to make a trip to his birthplace in Sichuan Province. In September 1982, as promised four years before, Kim Il Sung visited China, when Deng was once again in company with Kim Il Sung on board a train bound for Chengdu in Sichuan. 

1990s: Jiang Zemin's Era 

 In March 1990, General Secretary Jiang Zemin made a formal visit to the DPRK at the invitation of President Kim Il Sung. He was warmly welcomed and was received with great hospitality. In October 1991, Kim Il Sung again visited China. Then, Deng Xiaoping was advanced in age and was in complete retirement. However, in spite of his old age, he met Kim Il Sung and had more than an hour's talk with his Korean friend. General Secretary Jiang hosted a welcoming banquet in honor of President Kim Il Sung on his arrival. He had accompanied him on a tour of Yangzhou. Though Kim Il Sung was in his eighties, he still showed great interest in making a visit to Nanjing and Jinan and a tour of Mt. Taishan and Qufu. He spoke highly of the great achievements China had made in socialist construction. Before departing for home, the Korean leader had left word that he would make a new visit to China when he got time. But no one expected then that the Korean leader had made the last visit to China. 

Kim Il Sung Loved China 

 Kim Il Sung cherished a deep love for Chinese culture and art. Whenever a Chinese art troupe was visiting Korea, he would have time out at its performance. Once when a Chinese art troupe went to Korea from China's Shanxi Province staging the art piece "Tale of the Silk Road," President Kim Il Sung spoke highly of its high ideological and artistic level on which the work was created and staged. Whenever he was in Beijing, if his time allowed, his Chinese host would arrange special art performances to entertain him. He would find great enjoyment in Chinese dances and Beijing operas. 

Modest and Respectable Korean Leader 

 Kim Il Sung was a modest and respectable state leader, with a kind heart for the people. He inquired me oftentimes about things in China and about my work as a diplomat and interpreter on our bus ride. Whenever he found a question or problem he would check things out from every side. Every time before ending his visit, he would receive the whole working group on the Chinese side and had a photo taken with them. Late in the 1980s, I worked for the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang. Kim Il Sung used to say hello to me on every occasion when I accompanied a Chinese delegation going to meet Kim Il Sung, and these have become lasting memories to me to this day. 

[Zhang Tingyan was a diplomat at the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang in the 1980s and a Chinese ambassador to South Korea from 1992 to 1998.]

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