The summit between DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and his US counterpart Donald Trump in Singapore has drawn the attention of the international community given DPRK’s long tradition of struggle against imperialist military intervention.
In order to acquire an appreciation of the events surrounding United States-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) relations it is first necessary to place the upcoming summit [[i]] meeting between Marshall Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump in Singapore within a politico-historical context.
There has never been a peace treaty signed after the armistice agreement of 1953, which ended the direct military engagement, which lasted from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953. This war popularly known in the United States, as the “Korean Conflict,” was a costly intervention for Washington.
Tens of thousands of Pentagon, British and Republic of Korea (ROK) puppet troops were killed in the battle and several hundred thousands more were wounded and injured. The battle was viewed in the capitalist world as the opening of the post-World War II effort to roll back and destroy the socialist camp.
For it was the Red Army, which broke the back of the Nazi forces in a series of battles between 1942-43 in Moscow, Stalingrad and other areas inside the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The founder of the DPRK and the leader of the Korean Communist Party, later the Workers Party of Korea (WPK), Kim Il Sung, served alongside the Soviet and Chinese Communist Party comrades in both mainland China and northern Korea.
The Korean Peninsula had been subjected to Japanese interference and domination dating back to the later decades of the 19th century. The Korea-Japan Treaty of 1876 was followed by similar agreements of 1905 and 1910 annexing the peninsula.
Korea was occupied by Japanese imperialism for four decades until the conclusion of World War II and the defeat of Tokyo. During the years of 1945-48 there was the consolidation of socialist state rule and the formation of the DPRK.
All the while the US under President Harry Truman was seeking to place surrogate leaders in the southern region of the Peninsula many of whom were former operatives of the Japanese rulers. Trade unionists, radicals, socialists and national revolutionary elements were targeted by the US-backed regime in Seoul.
When the invasion was carried out under the auspices of the United Nations in June 1953, the communist forces were close to seizing control of the entire Korean nation. US and British troops later invaded the north prompting the mobilisation of 500,000 Chinese People’s Volunteer Army soldiers deployed by Communist Party leader Chairman Mao Tse-tung.
Imperialist troops were defeated in the north and later were a part of the largest military retreat in US history. After the armistice was signed in 1953 under President Dwight Eisenhower, Washington has maintained a large-scale military presence around the Peninsula.
US, Japan and Korean relations: The current situation
Yearly joint exercises bringing together ROK and US troops serve as a provocation to the DPRK and its people. The Pentagon has a permanent base in the ROK along with fighter jets, warships and nuclear submarines.
These threats are coupled with the constant harassment by the Japanese imperialist governments of today. A series of meetings bringing together the leaders of the DPRK and ROK have been met with trepidation and scorn by Tokyo as well as Washington. The last thing US imperialism and its surrogates want is the mutual unification of the Korean Peninsula even under two separate social systems.
A recent article published in the Korean Central News Agency noted: “It is annoying that some forces are hindering the positive development, but the DPRK has invariably taken bold measures. The international community hails the measures, as they help the positive development of the situation. What matters against this backdrop is the ill purpose sought by Japan offending the world public in disregard of this situation, being displeased with it. Japan seeks to bring the situation back to the state of confrontation to divert public attention at home away from its bankrupt policy toward people’s living and high-profile graft and to invent a pretext for turning Japan into a militarist country and carrying out overseas expansion. Japan likes to wreck peace and break stability as it deems it a good chance for carrying out its ultra-right home and foreign policies. So it is quite natural that its policy invites the public denunciation.” (30 May 2018)
This political trajectory of an attempt at normalisation of relations for the North and South, have also seen closer cooperation with the People’s Republic of China under the leadership of the Communist Party headed by Xi Jinping. Kim Jong-un has made two high profile visits to Beijing where important matters of interests involving the two socialist states were discussed. Socialist China is facing constant military encroachment by the US particularly in the South Seas region.
A report appearing in Global Times emphasised the continuing threat of military aggression by Washington in the Asia-Pacific region. The article said that: “China on Thursday (31 May 2018) urged the US to play a responsible and constructive role in the Asia-Pacific region, after Washington renamed its most expansive military command a move Chinese analysts warned could be a US attempt at global hegemony. The Pentagon renamed ‘US Pacific Command’ to ‘US Indo-Pacific Command,’ US Defence Secretary James Mattis announced on Wednesday (30 May 2018) at a ceremony where Philip Davidson was placed at the helm of the newly renamed command, CNN reported.”
This same story continued saying: “Regardless of the name, the US should act in a responsible way and play a constructive role in regional peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing on Thursday.
China will closely monitor the change, defence ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang told The Global Times at a press conference on Thursday. Also at the Wednesday ceremony, Davidson’s predecessor Harry Harris reiterated that China remains the US’s biggest long-term challenge.”
The nuclear weapons programme and general military readiness of the DPRK and the People’s Republic of China must be analysed within this foreign policy framework. Irrespective of the outcome of the Singapore Summit on 12 June 2018, hostilities over the control of the Asia-Pacific region will not be resolved. Ultimately US imperialism should be isolated in the area allowing for the free development of relations among various states and their cooperation in the economic and scientific spheres.
Historical relationship to the DPRK among African Americans and Working class people
At the height of the African American Liberation Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the DPRK repeatedly expressed and demonstrated its solidarity with the struggle against racism and national oppression among oppressed people in the US. This was most profoundly exemplified by the alliance of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and the WPK during the period.
Leading figures in the BPP including Central Committee members Kathleen and Eldridge Cleaver routinely travelled to the DPRK for seminars and conferences. In 1970, the then couple’s second child was born in the socialist state. On a regular basis essays and speeches by Kim Il Sung appeared in the pages of the Black Panther newspaper published in Berkeley, California.
When Panther leaders Fred Hampton, Sr. and Mark Clark were slain by Chicago police at the aegis of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on 4 December 1969, the DPRK sent a statement of condolences. These acts of compassion and encouragement led to the serious study of the DPRK policy of self-reliance, known as Juche. This theory of revolutionary development stresses the importance of communist parties and states to rely on their own people and resources as a pillar in the maintenance of their independence and sovereignty.
In the early 1990s, in the wake of the collapse of the socialist states and parties in Eastern Europe along with the USSR itself, the WPK held a conference of revolutionary organisations internationally that issued the Pyongyang Declaration of 1992. This document was a recommitment to socialist construction, anti-imperialism and the necessity of an independent foreign policy for the majority of peoples throughout the world.
On 20 April 1992, some 70 party leaders from around the globe wrote in part that: “The representatives of political parties from different countries of the world who are striving for the victory of socialism publish this declaration with a firm conviction to defend and advance the socialist cause. Ours is an era of independence and the socialist cause is a sacred one aimed at realising the independence of the popular masses. Socialism suffered a setback in some countries in recent years. As a consequence of this, the imperialists and reactionaries are claiming that socialism has ‘come to an end’. This is nothing but a sophistry to beautify and embellish capitalism and patronise the old order. The setback of socialism and the revival of capitalism in some countries are causing a great loss to the achievement of the socialist cause, but it can never be interpreted as the denial of the superiority of socialism and of the reactionary character or capitalism. Socialism has long been the ideal of mankind (humanity) and it represents the future of mankind (humanity). Socialist society is, in essence, a genuine society for the people where the popular masses are the masters of everything and everything serves them.”
This document written 27 years ago remains a source of inspiration to the working and oppressed peoples of the world. In honour of the legacy of the Pyongyang Declaration we ourselves remain committed to the struggle for national liberation and socialism in the 21st century.
* Abayomi Azikiwe is Editor at Pan-African News Wire
* This is a transcript of an address that was delivered at a public meeting held on Saturday 2 June 2018 in Detroit, which discussed the history and contemporary situation regarding relations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States. Workers World Party of Michigan at its headquarters in the Midtown District sponsored the 2 June meeting.
[i] The summit took place on 12 June 2018 in Singapore