Year 2000 No. 169, October 10, 2000
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Commemorating the Founding of the Workers Party of Korea
Summary of Report of Delegation of CC of RCPB(ML) which Visited the DPRK, Given at KFSC Commemoration
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A public meeting was organised at the Conway Hall in London on Saturday, October 7, by the Korea Friendship and Solidarity Campaign (KFSC) on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea, which falls on October 10.
Opening the meeting, Keith Bennett, Chairman of KFSC, outlined the significance of the anniversary and the characteristic features of the Workers' Party of Korea as a party with deep roots among the popular masses, a party strong in ideology, and an internationalist party.
The main part of the meeting consisted of a report given by members of the delegation of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) who returned from Korea at the end of September. The report was presented to the meeting by Chris Coleman, Spokesperson of RCPB(ML), who had led the delegation. He began by saying that he was very pleased to be joining with other friends of Korea to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Workers Party of Korea and to report on the recent visit by the Partys delegation to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. The detailed report highlighted the ongoing achievements of the Korean people, led by the WPK and General Secretary Kim Jong Il, in every field. A summary is printed below. Michael Chant of RCPB(ML) in his contribution underlined the significance of the visit of the delegation undertaken to the background of the preparations for the 55th anniversary of the WPK. Among other things, he emphasised how the visit was a concrete expression of support for the Korean people under the leadership of their Workers Party in their conviction and determination to pursue their own chosen socialist path. The Korean people and their leadership have never been passive in the face of very difficult circumstances. Their guiding philosophy emphasises that the people are in control of their own destiny. The strengthening of the relations between the working people of Britain and the DPRK proceeds on the basis of each working out their line of march, and fighting shoulder to shoulder against imperialism and for a new society. To give support to the DPRK and to its struggle, publicising in various ways its contributions to the common cause of humanity, is also to further strengthen the friendship and solidarity between the two peoples.
A solidarity statement was given to the meeting by Andy Brooks, General Secretary of the New Communist Party of Britain, who is to lead a delegation of NCP to the DPRK in a few days time. Following this contribution, there was a lively discussion session of questions and answers and contributions from the floor. The formal part of the meeting concluded by adopting a message of greetings to Comrade Kim Jong Il.
The members of the General Delegation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the International Maritime Organisation in London attended the meeting as guests of honour.
Following the close of the formal proceedings, discussion continued over refreshments, and the delegation of RCPB(ML) continued to answer questions about their successful visit.
The visit of the delegation was at the invitation of the Central Committee of the WPK and had given the opportunity for direct talks between the two Parties. It also enabled our Party to see the developments in the country since the previous visit in 1997, particularly given the events currently taking place there which are important and historic not only for the Korean people but for the people of the world.
There was mounting excitement in the country as preparations intensified for the celebration of the 55th anniversary. In Pyongyang, thousands of schoolchildren and students could be seen every day practising for the great parade, and then relaxing along the beautiful river bank as the sun went down. Indeed, there was much to celebrate, with recent victories only underlining the great achievements stretching back 55 years in which the WPK and its leadership had played the indispensable role.
Important victories have been achieved on the domestic front in recent months. In the face of grave difficulties caused by repeated natural disasters, by the collapse of the barter market with the formerly socialist countries, as well as the effects of blockade and unnatural division of the country, the DPRK had waged first the "arduous march", then the "forced march", and now the drive to build a powerful and prosperous country. Relying mainly on their own efforts, the people had overcome each crisis. This year, drought in May and June had affected some areas of the country, leaving a shortfall of some 1 million tonnes of food. But with the international developments, particularly the growing rapprochement with the South, food supplies are being restored, rationing is less severe, and there is every possibility that a normal situation might soon be reached. Under the direct guidance of Kim Jong Il himself, the land surface and industrial facilities are largely restored. Intensive farming is being developed with alternative high yield crops such as potatoes, there is development of grass-eating livestock such as goats, chickens and rabbits, freshwater fish farming is being expanded, small and medium hydropower stations developed, as well as advances taking place in the metal and railway industries.
The international front has seen astonishing developments which have been rightly termed historic. The visit of Kim Jong Il to China, the hosting of the visit by the Russian President, the release of the long-term unconverted prisoners and above all, the historic summit between Kim Jong Il and President Kim Dae Jung and the Joint Declaration of June 15 have been victories for the line and policies of the great leader Kim Il Sung, carried on by Kim Jong Il. In the opinion of our delegation, these have strengthened the sovereignty and independence of the DPRK, enhanced the prestige of its chosen socialist system, and constituted a great step towards the reunification of the homeland. These events have struck a blow against the enemies of the DPRK and contributed greatly to the anti-imperialist struggles of the peoples.
The summit meeting and the Joint Declaration have been depicted in the western media as resulting principally from the "engagement policy" of Kim Dae Jung. A glance at the wording of the Declaration, however, shows that the principles underlying it are those laid down by Kim Il Sung more than 20 years before. The DPRK has no intention of giving up its present social system based on the people, its economic structure, or its moral and social principles.
Since June 15 things have developed very rapidly. The Economic Ministers of north and south had been meeting. The Armed Forces Ministers had met and issued a joint statement concerning permanent peace and the implementation of the military aspects of the June 15 Declaration. The Red Cross organisations had been meeting and agreement reached on a further meeting of separated families in November, the enabling of correspondence, the establishment of a permanent site for separated families to meet at Panmunjom, and the opening up of the railway and roads. Meanwhile the US has eased some sanctions concerning banking matters and the possibilities for foreign trade and investment have further opened up. The developments have been so rapid, in fact, that voices in the USA were complaining that everything was happening "too fast"! What is clear, however, is that a virtually unstoppable and irreversible momentum is building up.
A most moving example of the character of the developments was the release of the 63 long-term unconverted prisoners from the time of the Korean War, who crossed the DMZ back to the DPRK on September 2. Their average age was 75, their average time in prison 32.4 years, with the longest 45 years. They had been confined in unspeakable conditions and could have gained their release simply by renouncing communism. They had not done so and the national ceremony the delegation had seen on TV had shown graphically the spirit of these old men. They had as young men only the shortest experience of socialism, but they had never been broken.
Important developments have taken place concerning diplomatic relations concurrent with the historic summit. Australia has established diplomatic relations with the DPRK, New Zealand and Canada would soon follow. In Europe, Italy has full relations, as do Portugal and the Nordic countries. France is only one level below full relations and developments are taking place with Germany, Belgium and others. One country lags behind, even behind the USA and Japan. That country is Britain! What has the DPRK ever done to Britain, the Koreans rightly ask? In fact Britain was one of the countries, under the UN flag, which helped devastate Korea from 1950-53. But they are prepared to put this aside if a country will respect their sovereignty and act in a friendly way. It is not as if relations with Britain are any major concern, but why maintain an abnormal situation? Why not restore normality? Britains objections are well known to concern "human rights" and the so-called "missile threat". But how can the British government lecture anyone on human rights! And do not they have missiles which are certainly threatening? It is a question of sovereignty that a country should be able to have various defence capabilities.
What is the attitude of the US government to these historic developments? In words, of course, logic dictates that they cannot do other than support the developments. But clearly they are not happy. Any threat to their military presence in South Korea also threatens their presence in Japan and their whole strategy to dominate Asia and the world. In addition, they are stalling on the agreement to build light water reactors in the DPRK and have broken the agreement to supply oil, again under the pretext of the so-called "missile threat".
Nothing brought home more to the delegation the main block to reunification, the obscenity of the artificial division of the country and the 50 year unresolved state of war than the visit the delegation made to Panmunjom and the 150 mile long concrete wall the US has built right across the entire Korean peninsula on the southern side of the DMZ. At Panmunjom, where the two sides face each other eyeball to eyeball, the belligerent and hooligan antics of the American and puppet soldiers graphically illustrate the ugly face of imperialism, their demeanour in stark contrast to the dignity and upstanding character of the North Koreans. The concrete wall is a particular obscenity, distinct, sheer and 24 feet high on the north-facing side, full of gun emplacements, and grassed over on the south-facing side to fool observers.
The obscenity of imperialist occupation was horrifically underlined by the delegations visit to Sinchon. This was where in the space of 52 days in October to December 1950, the occupying US troops under Madden Harrison massacred 35,383 men, women and children out of a population of some 120,000. In the former Party HQ in Sinchon, now a museum, one can see a copy of Harrisons orders to his troops to "Kill all the commies and their families without mercy". The museum, in the basement of which hundreds had been incinerated alive, contains incontrovertible photographic evidence too unspeakable to describe, but showing this to be a crime on a par with anything done by the Nazis in the Second World War. It shows, too, many scenes of heroic resistance. The delegation had been honoured to place a floral tribute at the main memorial site, where 5,600 lay buried.
The delegation had returned home from the DPRK with the indelible impression of momentous and historic events being played out. An impression of no compromise in principle being made in the line laid down by Kim Il Sung and carried on by Kim Jong Il. An impression of an obscene leftover from 50 years ago at last seeing a difficult yet possibly unstoppable progress towards resolution, striking a blow against imperialism and providing great support for people struggling everywhere. An impression of unity around the WPK and its leadership, of a great spirit of optimism. The delegation returned more determined to step up our own work and struggle, not a minor part of which is the demand that British governments abandon their backward and chauvinist attitude to the DPRK.
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