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North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam established formal diplomatic relations on January 31, 1950. In July 1957, President Ho Chi Minh visited North Korea; North Korean leader Kim Il-sung visited North Vietnam in November-December 1958 and November 1964. In February 1961, the two governments concluded an agreement on scientific and technical cooperation. During the Vietnam War, North Korea provided substantial economic and military aid to North Vietnam (1966: 12,3 million rubles; 1967: 20 million; 1968: 12,5 million; 1969: 12,5 million). In 1968, approx. 2,000 Vietnamese students and trainees received education for free in the DPRK. As a result of a decision of the Korean Workers' Party in October 1966, in early 1967 North Korea sent a fighter squadron to North Vietnam to back up the North Vietnamese 921st and 923rd fighter squadrons defending Hanoi. They stayed through 1968; 200 pilots were reported to have served. In addition, at least two anti-aircraft artillery regiments were sent as well. North Korea also sent weapons, ammunition and two million sets of uniforms to their comrades in North Vietnam. Kim Il-sung is reported to have told his pilots to "fight in the war as if the Vietnamese sky were their own". From 1968, however, relations between Pyongyang and Hanoi started to deteriorate, for various reasons. Anxious to keep the United States bogged down in Vietnam, North Korea disagreed with North Vietnam's decision to enter peace negotiations with the U.S., and reacted negatively to the Paris Peace Accords. During the Cambodian Civil War, North Korea approved the Chinese plan to create a "united front of the five revolutionary Asian countries" (China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia), whereas North Vietnam rejected it on the grounds that such a front would exclude the Soviet Union and challenge Vietnamese dominance in Indochina. During the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, the North Korean leadership condemned the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, refused to recognize the People's Republic of Kampuchea, and allowed the exiled Norodom Sihanouk to stay in the DPRK. In the 1990s and 2000s, North Korean-Vietnamese relations underwent a further decline due to investment and trade disputes. The former Vietnamese ambassador to South Korea is a graduate of North Korea's Kim Il-sung University. The son of a former staff member in the Vietnamese embassy in Pyongyang, who also attended Kim Il-sung University between 1998 and 2002, gave an interview in 2004 with South Korean newspaperThe Chosun Ilbo about the experiences he had while living there. North Korea may be setting out on the path of economic reform. While its giant neighbor China is one obvious example to follow, experts say Vietnam is seen as a far better model by Pyongyang.
^Kook-Chin Kim, An Overview of North Korean–Southeast Asian Relations. In: Park Jae Kyu, Byung Chul Koh, and Tae-Hwan Kwak (eds.), The Foreign Relations of North Korea (Boulder, CO:Westview Press, 1987).