Diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were established in 1948. They have a common border with a length of 39.4 km, including 17.3 km of the river along the Tumannaya River and 22.1 km of the sea (Sea of Japan), through which the transport and telecommunication links between the countries are established. How exactly are the relations between these two countries looking at the facts that they have similarities?
After the end of World War II and the expulsion of Japanese troops from Korea, the territory of the Korean Peninsula was divided along the 38th parallel. North of it were Soviet troops and American on the south. In 1948, a pro-Soviet communist government was formed in the northern part of the peninsula, led by Kim Il Sung, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was formed. On October 12 of the same year, the USSR became the first state to recognize the new government. During the war of 1950-1953, the Soviet Union, together with China, actively supported the DPRK. In 1961, a basic bilateral Treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance was signed. Subsequently, during the period of the Sino-Soviet split, the DPRK took a neutral position, maintaining friendly relations with both the USSR and the PRC. In 1984 and 1986, Kim Il Sung made official visits to the USSR, during which new bilateral agreements on friendship, cooperation and trade between the two countries were signed.
The Current Situation
After the collapse of the USSR and the coming to power in Russia of Boris Yeltsin, Russian-North Korean contacts greatly weakened. This was manifested in the fact that the top Russian leadership did not express official condolences to the DPRK on the occasion of the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994, while the leaders of the Western capitalist countries, particularly the USA and France, did so. After Vladimir Putin won the leadership in 2000, the first visit of the head of the Russian state to Pyongyang happened. Then, agreements were reached on intensifying political contacts and developing measures to restore economic cooperation. In recent years, intergovernmental agreements have been signed on multi fields including tourism.
Russia periodically provides North Korea with humanitarian aid. On August 1, 2004, through the World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations, 34.7 thousand tons of wheat worth 10 million dollars was sent to North Korea. In 2009, an agreement was reached on the joint reconstruction of the Tumangan-Najin railway. The construction of a container terminal is planned at the port of Najin.
In May 2014, an agreement was signed on writing off all Korean debts to Russia. Under the terms of the agreement, a balance of mutual obligations (more than $11billion) that has developed in favor of Russia is subject to a 90% discount. The remaining debt – $1.09billion – is repaid over 20 years in 40 equal semi-annual payments by crediting to an interest-free account opened by Vnesheconombank with the DPRK Foreign Trade Bank.
On March 22, 2018, a protocol of cooperation in the field of education, science and transport was signed between the DPRK and the Russian Federation. The Minister of Development of the Far East, Alexander Galushka, proposed the DPRK to simplify the visa regime for citizens of the Russian Federation.
On April 24, 2019, the DPRK leader arrived in Primorsky Krai. This was the first visit of the current head of the DPRK to Russia. The first meeting of President of Russia Vladimir Putin with the leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong-un, took place in Vladivostok on April 25, 2019. They discussed bilateral relations between Russia and the DPRK, issues related to sanctions, relations with the United Nations and the United States, and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The leaders discussed the construction of new power lines, a gas pipeline and an oil pipeline from Russia to the DPRK.
In October 2017, the Russian telecommunications company TransTeleKom, the daughter of JSC “Russian Railways”, built a Friendship Bridge into North Korea through an alternative fiber optic channel of the Internet to provide North Korea with the technology.
Cooperation in the Field of Science, Culture and Sports
Since 2009, the DPRK has successfully operated the “Russian Center” at the Pyongyang University of Foreign Languages (ISU), created by the Russian World Foundation. It holds classes with Korean teachers of the Russian language and students. With the active support of the Russian Embassy, the Center regularly hosts events dedicated to memorable dates and the most important events in relations between the two countries.
Bilateral relations in the field of sports are maintained mainly at the regional level in accordance with the plans for sports exchanges of the DPRK with the Primorsky and Khabarovsk Territories, and the Amur Region. In the fall, in Moscow and Krasnoyarsk, the Committee on Cultural Relations with the DPRK abroad organized exhibitions of photographs, paintings, and applied art products dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and North Korea.
The Friendship Bridge over the Tumannaya River is linking Russia and the DPRK. Passenger train number 7/8 passes through the border with the Pyongyang -Tumangan and 651/652 with the Ussuriysk-Tumangan links. As part of these trains, the direct interchange wagon of the Korean state railways runs the Moscow -Pyongyang message, being re-connected in Tumangan between these trains, as well as two non-stop wagons of the Russian railways with the Moscow-Tumangan message. Passengers of train 651/652 pass customs control at Tumangan station.
The Russian Federation plans to build a bridge that will directly connect the territory of the Far East and North Korea.
Several countries traditionally collaborate in the field of employment, so do The Russian Federation and North Korea. Annually, Russia provides 35,000 jobs for the employment of workers from North Korea. It is safe to say that the relations between the both countries are well established and healthy.