September 30, 2023

When a Czechoslovak diplomat bemoaned the Prague Spring from Pyongyang

Czechoslovakia played a unique role on the Korean Peninsula during the Cold War, rubbing some the wrong way

The Prague Spring of 1968 was one of the most momentous events of the Cold War — a brief period of liberalization in Communist Czechoslovakia that ended when four Warsaw Pact members invaded the country, deposing the reformist government and installing a conservative Communist regime.

As these events were unfolding, a conservative high-ranking Czechoslovak diplomat named Horženevský (sources do not mention his first name) kept tabs from his post in North Korea. In 1968, he was second-in-command at the country’s embassy in Pyongyang, and while he does not appear to have written his true feelings in reports to Prague, declassified Soviet documents show that he spoke frankly to USSR diplomats of his opposition to the liberalizing developments back home.