Viet Nam News
Việt Nam highly values its relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and wants to develop them, contributing to peace, stability and development in the region and the world, former Vietnamese Ambassador to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Dương Chính Thức told Việt Nam News.
Can you tell us about your time in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and you views of the country’s situation?
I first went to North Korea in 1964 and spent seven years studying there. I went back in 1975 to work at the Vietnamese Embassy. In 1992, I was appointed Vietnamese Ambassador to the DPRK.
The DPRK’s economic development was stable in the 1960s thanks to the support they received from socialist countries. In the early 1980s, they basically completed their industry expansion plans. They were able to build large trucks, tanks, tractors and locomotives. And as we already know, they have been able to manufacture missiles and nuclear weapons.
Education in the country is universal. It is reported that the literacy rate in North Korea is 99 per cent.
One thing that I was very impressed with about the North Korean people is that they are just like the Vietnamese; they are extremely proud of their country.
Since the 1990s, they have been pursuing a nuclear programme and focusing on military capacity development, which has led to sanctions from the United State and other countries, even though they have been trying hard to maintain stability in their society.
How has the relationship between Việt Nam and the DPRK developed?
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam established formal diplomatic relations very early in 1950. In 1957, President Ho Chi Minh visited North Korea, while North Korean leader Kim Il-sung visited Viet Nam in 1958 and 1964.
In 1966, the Korean Labour Party adopted a resolution to support Viet Nam’s revolution, and then provided substantial economic and military aid to us. In 1967, North Korea sent a fighter squadron to Viet Nam to back up the revolutionary forces.
Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nông Đức Mạnh paid an official visit to the DPRK in 1997, and President Trần Đức Lương in 2002.
In return, Viet Nam has supported North Korea by donating rice during difficult times.
This year, sixty one years after Chairman Kim Il-sung last visited Việt Nam, his grandson, Chairman Kim Jong-un, is visiting us. I believe the relationship between the two countries will further develop, contributing to peace, stability and development in the region.
Can you share some good memories of your time in North Korea?
I remember the image of Vietnamese diplomats grilling beans with North Korean farmers and eating in the field. During the harvest season, the diplomats and the people worked enthusiastically on the vast, peaceful fields.
When I first went there to study, the Government arranged for North Korean students to be allocated to us in a shared room to help us. I was also touched when Chairman Kim Il Sung visited Vietnamese students at our dorm at the college – he was very down-to-earth and friendly.
The second DPRK-US Summit is taking place in Hà Nội. What are your expectations for the event?
I think the DPRK has made positive policy changes. In 2017, the Labour Party prioritised economic development, a shift from the previous year’s target which was to focus on military development. This might indicate that North Korea may have taken some practical steps at the request for denuclearisation.
The first summit between the two sides in Singapore was an “ice-breaker” as they confirmed their major stances and principles. At this second one, I believe the two sides will go into more detail. Of course, one hand cannot clap without the other. The fact the two leaders are meeting again shows the two sides have reached some agreements during the recent meetings in the US and Sweden, and they have a need to maintain progress.--VNS