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Report of Delegation of Central Committee of RCPB (ML) to North Korea: North Korea Forges Ahead on its Chosen Path

First Published: Worker’s Weekly, Vol. 27, No. 19, November 29-December 6, 1997.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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The importance of the achievements of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in following its own chosen system was vividly brought out in a public meeting with the above title organised by RCPB (ML) on November 23 at Marx House in London.

The meeting was held following the first visit of a delegation of the Central Committee of RCPB(ML) to the DPRK. This had taken place at the invitation of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea from October 18 to November 4. The visit was significant not only in strengthening the bilateral ties and the understanding between the Workers’ Party of Korea and RCPB(ML), but it was important as a component part of developing the ties and friendship between all the progressive forces in the two countries. Furthermore, it is particularly important at this time when US imperialism and other big powers of the “West” are exerting brutal pressure that every country should bow the knee to the US dictate and submit to the capitalist “free market” and “liberalisation” that the stand of countries such as North Korea which have heroically pursued their own chosen path should receive the utmost support from the democratic and progressive forces. One of the greatest desires of the entire Korean people is for the peaceful reunification of their country and the meeting underlined the importance of supporting and popularising this cause.

In this connection, RCPB(ML) gave a call at the meeting for all progressive people to demand that the government recognise the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and move swiftly to full diplomatic relations, and work for the immediate withdrawal of US imperialism and its nuclear arsenal from south Korea as the main block to the peaceful reunification of Korea. The Party called on the Blair government to change its policy towards Korea, to come out from behind the coat-tails of US imperialism and to take an independent stand based on the equality of all countries and the right of all people to follow their own chosen system.

The meeting was well attended, and Party activists and supporters were joined by a number of representatives of organisations and individuals who have popularised the cause of friendship with the DPRK over many years. A special welcome was given to a representative of the Mission of the DPRK to the International Maritime Organisation in London. After the report on behalf of the delegation, which was listened to with very great attention and interest, an extremely lively discussion and question and answer session took place. It was announced during this period that a meeting would be held the following week to establish a new Korean Friendship and Solidarity Campaign and a call was given for all friends of Korea to attend and support it. A report of this meeting will be carried in the next issue of Workers’ Weekly.

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Below is the edited text of the speech reporting on the visit from October 18 to November 4 of the delegation of the Central Committee of RCPB(ML) to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the invitation of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, given by Chris Coleman, the leader of the delegation, at the Public Meeting held at Marx House in London on November 23:

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The first thing which must be said is that it was an immense pleasure for our Party to visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the first time. The visit of our delegation enabled the Party to have direct talks at the International Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea on matters of common interest, to see at first hand the achievements of the WPK and the people, and to strengthen the ties between the two parties. It underlined the Party’s view that even within this present period of retreat of revolution opportunities have arisen to further the people’s cause. One of these is that there is now one communist movement. Each party has had to find its bearings in the new situation following the end of the bipolar division of the world, and it has now been possible for parties who previously had been divided or not even known each other to develop relations, not basing these relations on some dogmatic criteria, not basing them on jumping to conclusions on superficial observation, not allowing any ideological differences to divide the movement, but basing the relations on building political unity against imperialism and social democracy. Our Party has always supported the heroic struggles of the Korean people but our two parties never came into contact in the previous period. It is a great joy that ties are now being strengthened.

Our Party also considers the visit to have been of great importance in that it further strengthens the ties between the progressive forces in the two countries. In a situation where imperialism, especially US imperialism, is exerting brutal pressure throughout the world to impose its “free market”, political pluralism and human rights based on private property on everyone, labelling any country who refuses to bow the knee a “rogue” state, our Party thinks it of the greatest importance to support the heroic stand of those countries such as the DPRK and Cuba who have stuck to their own chosen path. It is especially important in the case of the DPRK, at a time of intense military provocation around the Military Demarcation Line by the US imperialists and their south Korean puppets, and faced with the serious consequences of recent natural disasters and the attempts of imperialism to use these disasters to undermine their system.

Having been warmly welcomed at Pyongyang airport our delegation was immediately driven into the city. We had been warned not to be surprised at the modernity and beauty of the city. Yet we were still startled. Wide tree-lined avenues, plentiful parks, diverted waterways, the architectural quality of central and residential quarters, the calm atmosphere as thousands of people went about their business, all made a deep impression. When later we saw photographs of Pyongyang in 1953 laid completely waste by American bombing and read of American boasts that it would take 100 years to rebuild the city, it became very clear what a great achievement was the rebuilding of this city with its population of two million, what a tribute to the heroic Korean people and their party and leaders, what a symbol of their pride and independent spirit. Any lingering remnants in the mind of media distortions of a poor, isolated, oppressed people were blown away.

Our delegation arrived at a time when the Korean People were celebrating the election of Kim Jong Il to the post of General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea. It was made clear immediately that it was highly appreciated that the delegation was one of the first foreign delegations to bring congratulations and, as is the custom, to bring gifts. The esteem in which the Korean people hold their great leaders and the character of those leaders themselves is so vilely slandered in the bourgeois media that is worth dwelling on this point. Through our visits to historic revolutionary sites and museums, our observations and discussions with many people, our delegation was amply confirmed in the Party’s view of Kim Il Sung as a towering figure of 20th century history, not just for the Korean people but for the struggling people of the whole world. For centuries Korea, bordering China and Russia and close to Japan, was prey to the attentions of these and other great powers, including the United States. Its rulers always put approval from one or other of these in the forefront. It was the great leader Kim Il Sung who answered the call of the centuries to lead the Korean people to attain their cherished aspiration of freedom and independence. He from his teenage years had led them in the liberation struggle against the cruel colonial rule which the Japanese imperialists imposed from the 1905-10 period until 1945. Then when freedom and independence and the opportunity for social progress beckoned, when the country was liberated from the Japanese and People’s Committees were established throughout Korea by those who had led the anti-Japanese struggle, US imperialism by military force maintained the Japanese colonial administration and police south of the 38th Parallel, staffed them with those who had served the Japanese, suppressed the People’s Committees and massacred the people. It blocked the legitimate attempts to form the DPRK throughout the entire peninsula, and failed to genuinely withdraw its military personnel as international agreements dictated and as the Soviet Union had done from the north. From 1950-1953 it launched with its allies, including Britain, a war of aggression which must rank as one of the great crimes against humanity of the 20th century, leaving the country, especially the north, devastated and some four million Koreans dead. The ceasefire which ended hostilities in 1953 remains the situation to this day, with no peace having ever been agreed. It was Kim Il Sung who led the successful defence of the DPRK above the 38th Parallel and succeeded in defeating the attempts of the US imperialists to enslave the entire peninsula. And it was Kim Il Sung who led the post-war reconstruction of his ravaged country, the unyielding defence of independence, the building of a socialist system, and ceaseless efforts to bring about peaceful reunification. No wonder he is revered as the “father” of his country.

Kim Jong Il, now the General Secretary of the Party, has in fact been leading the Party, the army, aspects of the state and various fields including culture, as well as carrying out important theoretical work, for more than 20 years. Since the sad passing of Kim Il Sung in 1994 he has, under the most difficult conditions, led the Korean people without wavering along the path laid down by Kim Il Sung of firmly defending independence, continuing to build socialism and striving for peaceful reunification of the homeland. If one considers the question of the succession after the death of a great leader in other countries, for instance Stalin in the Soviet Union, it would seem no mean achievement that such as thing has been accomplished successfully and smoothly in North Korea in such a turbulent period. It is thus for this record of achievement, not some “stage-management” as the enemies claim, that Kim Jong Il is held in such esteem. What we witnessed in the celebratory mass cultural performances, both live and on TV, and in many other ways, was a genuine outpouring of joy.

Our delegation had an intense programme of visits. As previous visitors to the DPRK had told us, the Koreans want to show you everything, such is their pride in their achievements. These achievements bear testimony to the determination to stick to their own path, to refuse to have foreign models imposed by “friends” or foes, and to build a society dedicated to the wellbeing of the people. In Britain and other such developed countries it is proclaimed that there can be no alternative to the drastic cuts in education, healthcare and different types of social provision, not to mention culture and sports. Even the concept that society has some responsibility to the wellbeing of its members is being withdrawn. It is therefore little short of miraculous that the DPRK is still able to provide such facilities for the people despite the fact that its population is only 20 million, the peninsula is divided to give the most unfavourable geographical conditions, and that it is under constant blockade, faced with the necessity for military preparedness against a million strong hostile force south of the Military Demarcation Line bristling with weapons of mass destruction. Such an achievement is a tribute not only to the Korean people, but to the human spirit itself.

Our delegation saw at first hand some remarkable accomplishments. A six-day kindergarten for 4-6 year old children of mothers with busy jobs. A creche on a state farm. A middle school with rooms full of computers, a music room with a harmonium for each of the 24 pupils, and a 25m swimming pool, standard in Korea. An after-school Schoolchildren’s Palace with huge facilities for music, arts, science and sports, one of 130 such institutions of different sizes countrywide. A central library, the Grand People’s Study House, with 30 million books, seating for 5,000, a professor on each floor to answer questions and assist studies, 120 full-time translators providing such services as a Korean language audio-cassette with every foreign scientific journal, public lectures and conferences advertised weekly on TV. Sports facilities which included a 120,000 seater stadium, a sports village with a separate vast centre for each sport. Cultural performances, some highly professionalised like high-wire acrobatics but most with mass participation, especially of the children, of high artistic quality, vibrant and showing the release of enormous talent. A general and teaching hospital whose most up-to-date facilities left some healthworkers here on the delegation’s return incredulous. Vast constructions such as the West Sea Barrage across the estuary of the River Taedong and the dams up-river to prevent tidal flood, reclaim land and provide irrigation for large areas.

In visits to the museums and on film, as well as from discussions, the delegation learnt of the heroic armed struggles of the Korean people for their independence, against Japanese colonialism and later against the US led aggression of 1950-53. In its visit to Panmunjom it saw the determination of the government, army and people of the DPRK to defend their hard-won independence, in the tense situation caused by the current “Foal Eagle” exercises of the US forces and their south Korean puppets near the Military Demarcation Line – exercises claimed to be “defensive” but concentrating on amphibious landings and river crossings.

Our delegation also learnt of the efforts of the DPRK to bring about the peaceful reunification of the homeland. As far back as 1972 agreements were signed by north and south to proceed to reunify the country independent of outside interference, peacefully and based on national unity. In 1973 Kim Il Sung put forward the just and far-sighted proposal for a Confederal Republic of Koryo (Koryo being the name of the first ancient united state) based on one state, one nation, two regional governments and two systems, not aligned with any blocs. Since then the DPRK has made some 200 proposals regarding peaceful reunification. Yet always the US and their puppets have stalled under such pretexts as the “threat of invasion from the north”. In 1993 a new provocation was created: “the nuclear threat from the north”, which claimed that the north was to manufacture nuclear weapons using the waste from its power stations and therefore a “pre-emptive strike” should be considered. When the DPRK responded sternly and unequivocally, the US changed its tack. It sent Jimmy Carter to make peaceful overtures and offered light-water reactors. Possibilities existed for progress. Sadly Kim Il Sung passed away. The South Korean authorities launched attacks on the students and those wishing to express condolences. No progress was made or has been made since. Now talks are to restart in Geneva on December 9 between the DPRK, China, the United States and the south Koreans. The US through Madeleine Albright’s comments about a “long, hard road” have already indicated that the US will do everything to drag out the process and will not willingly cede its strategic position of threatening Asia from the Korean peninsula. General elections are due in south Korea in December and it is widely predicted that the government of Kim Young Sam may fall. So new possibilities for progress may arise.

We should also like to speak about the question of the recent natural disasters caused by a combination of typhoon, abnormal tidal floods and drought. While reports in the media are from what we heard and saw highly exaggerated, the information given to the delegation was that a very serious situation does prevail. The prime source of such problems it must be emphasised is the division of the country, which leaves the mountainous north with only 20% cultivable land, too little even to feed the population according to “world experts”. By intensive farming methods this has been overcome but it still leaves the country vulnerable. Another factor is the blockade and the end of barter trade with the countries of Eastern Europe. Then there are the natural disasters themselves. We were informed that party and government in the DPRK are sparing no effort to overcome the problems. Foreign aid is welcomed, including what has come from the USA, but the problems are being overcome primarily by their own efforts and they will in no way allow foreign aid to be used to undermine their sovereignty or chosen system.

All in all, it was clear to our delegation that the great achievements of the DPRK brought about by the Party and people are based first and foremost on relying on their own thinking, using their own heads, following their own chosen path. Support for the DPRK, in our Party’s view, should not be primarily a question of supporting their ideology, although the Juche principles and ideas formulated by Kim Il Sung from revolutionary experience and developed by Kim Jong Il, which have served the Korean people so well, are of the greatest interest to Marxist-Leninists and deserve profound study. It should not be primarily a question of supporting their socialism, although again their experience provides profound lessons for all socialists and communists. It should not be a question of simply admiring their achievements, although we think it a duty to widely publicise them. It is not that the Korean experience can be transplanted anywhere else. In our opinion, support should be on the basis that the struggle for independence, for the sovereignty of the people and the nation, for striving for a society dedicated to the wellbeing of the people, for which People’s Korea provides such a brilliant example, is the common cause of all progressive humankind, and is what we all are fighting for in our own countries, and in which we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Party and people of the DPRK. This is the basis of our support.

Our Party considers it vital to take political action in support of the DPRK. The new Labour government, in its quest to “Make Britain Great Again”, to mobilise the workers behind the monopolies for success in the globalised market, is on the path of disaster, of world conflict and world war. It is especially courting disaster in seeing advantage in being the most loyal junior partner of US imperialism on the world stage. This is so as regards Korea as on all other fronts. Tony Blair should remember that it was a Labour government who took Britain into the Korean war of 1950-53, sacrificing the lives of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish young men in a criminal cause. The government’s policy towards Korea should change. If the government is to follow a “humane” foreign policy as it claims it should show some humanity. Britain should take its own independent stand based on the equality of all countries and the right of all people to choose and follow their own system. It must come out from behind the coat-tails of US imperialism. It should take a positive stand for peace on the Korean peninsula. It should recognise the DPRK and take steps to develop full diplomatic relations with it. It should work for withdrawal of the US and its nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula, thus removing the main block to peaceful reunification of north and south. Our Party calls on all progressive forces and individuals in Britain to demand and work for such a policy.

Finally, we should like to repeat that it was an immense joy for the Party delegation to visit North Korea for the first time. It was very warmly received and enjoyed the warm hospitality for which the Korean people are renowned. It left Korea with warm good wishes for the Party’s work. It brought greetings from the Korean comrades to all the friends and well-wishers of People’s Korea in Britain. The delegation returned home with an indelible impression of a people justly proud of their achievements in building a society serving the wellbeing of the people, genuinely united behind their Party and its leadership, with independence and the independent spirit a way of life and providing inspiration to the struggling people of the world.

Thank you.