CPGB-ML » Posts in 'DPRK' category

North Koreans don’t believe in unicorns. Do you believe in the BBC?

'Kiringul', which translates as 'Kirin's lair', is one of the sites associated with King Tongmyŏng, the founder of Koguryŏ, an ancient Korean kingdom.

'Kiringul', which translates as 'Kirin's lair', is one of the sites associated with King Tongmyŏng, the founder of Koguryŏ, an ancient Korean kingdom.

Did anyone see the feeble little piss-take Ian Hislop and co did last week on Have I Got News For You about gullible north Koreans supposedly believing in unicorns?

The real story turns out to be that archaeologists from the DPRK have found some interesting evidence that an important ancient city that features in folk legends might have been situated close to the present day Pyongyang.

Legend has it that in ancient times a famous king founded the city. The ‘unicorn’ just comes into it as a mistranslation of a Korean word denoting a mythical beast on which the king was supposed to ride.

Turning this straightforward story about an archaeological dig into a slander about thick Koreans swallowing commie lies may pass for cutting edge satire at the BBC but will only fool the terminally credulous.

Are thick Brits now to be pilloried for believing in giants (who else would inhabit the Giants’ Causeway?), in dragons (what else did St George fight?), or in (most far-fetched yet) the honesty and objectivity of the BBC lie machine?

Building solidarity with the DPRK

This motion was passed unanimously at the recent CPGB-ML party congress

This congress notes and reaffirms the principled and unwavering support for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) upheld by our party since its foundation and reiterated at successive congresses.

Since our last congress, the WPK and the entire people of the DPRK suffered the most grievous loss with the sudden passing away of their respected leader Comrade Kim Jong Il. Comrade Kim Jong Il was not only the outstanding leader of the Korean people but also a senior leader of the international communist movement and of the global struggle against imperialism.

In assessing the life and work of Comrade Kim Jong Il, this congress notes in particular that:

  • He led the people of the DPRK during the ‘Arduous March’, when the destiny of the revolution lay in the balance, preserving the independence of the country, as well as its socialist character, at a most difficult time.
  • He worked tirelessly for national reconciliation and reunification under the banner of ‘By our nation itself’.
  • He safeguarded and enhanced the security and sovereignty of the country against imperialism by developing the DPRK’s independent nuclear deterrent.
  • He preserved and reinvigorated the DPRK’s traditional friendly relations with China and Russia.
  • And he led the DPRK’s national economy onto a path of revival and development after a period of severe trials.

Congress pays the highest tribute to, and lowers its red banner in memory of, Comrade Kim Jong Il. Our party once again extends its heartfelt condolences to Comrade Kim Jong Un, the fraternal WPK and the entire Korean people.

Although suffering this grievous loss, congress notes that the heroic Korean people have turned grief into strength. They have rallied around Comrade Kim Jong Un as the leader of the party, state, army and people. Comrade Kim Jong Un is giving bold and dynamic leadership, introducing timely policies to further develop the national economy and improve people’s living standards, so that the Korean people will be able to fully enjoy the benefits of socialism and not have to tighten their belts again.

This congress extends its warmest fraternal greetings to Comrade Kim Jong Un and expresses its support for his leadership in the struggle to safeguard his country’s independence and security and to build a thriving socialist society.

Congress reaffirms that to develop friendship and solidarity with socialist Korea remains an important task of our party. To do so successfully inevitably entails a sharp struggle with various kinds of opportunism. The greatest obstacle is presented by the social democrats, Trotskyites and revisionists. The social democrats and Trotskyites are universally hostile to the DPRK, seeking through their slanders to disintegrate the struggle against imperialism and to disguise their own treachery to socialism. By and large, the revisionists, too, act to avoid their responsibility to extend support to the DPRK and its socialist cause under this or that spurious pretext.

Congress notes that a further specific problem in the case of Korea solidarity work is the existence of certain micro-sects, whose sole purpose is to spread slander and to practice the most shameless self-promotion based on obsequious and revolting acts of sycophancy. Such behaviour succeeds only in inviting ridicule and is quite alien to working people. Moreover, lurking behind the sycophancy is a reactionary political agenda, hostile to Marxism Leninism, and which seeks to isolate and weaken the DPRK and the Korean people, in the service of imperialism – in particular by seeking to undermine their fraternal ties with the People’s Republic of China. Such counter-revolutionary behaviour is an active disservice to the just and vital work of building friendship and solidarity with the Korean people, and our party has been correct to openly oppose and condemn this line and its perpetrators.

This congress welcomes the fact that, in the period since our last congress, our party has continued to strengthen its fraternal and militant relations with the WPK. The visit by our delegation in September 2010 and by our delegates to the April 2012 celebrations of the centenary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung were important occasions in this regard.

Congress resolves to further strengthen our party’s fraternal relations with the WPK as a priority of our international relations work. It further resolves to campaign more dynamically in solidarity with the DPRK, introducing its actual situation, tasks and achievements to British working people as widely as possible, through meetings, in our publications, and in other ways.

In defence of the DPRK

The following post was originally written as a reply to discussion on Facebook. It is reprinted here to aid wider circulation and facilitate discussion on this important topic.

Kim Il Sung indicates the way to national liberation after the Pochonbo Battle

Kim Il Sung indicates the way to national liberation after the Pochonbo Battle

We are all agreed about the need to support the DPRK. The questions that have arisen here seem to be mostly attributable to the prejudices that we find hard to shake given the overwhelming anti-Korea propaganda to which we are all subjected on a daily basis.

While we may have recognised this in theory, it still leads to all sorts of spurious allegations being easily accepted as fact. For example, Comrade L’s allegation that there is “very little development of Marxist education among the masses” or that “the party meets very infrequently”.

I can see no basis in fact for these statements. Quite the contrary, evidence from comrades and friends who have visited the DPRK rather points the opposite way. They have found the people to be exceptionally well educated and informed about local, national and international matters - and Marxism is a central plank of the education system.

Here is a short video clip from the National House of Class Education in Pyongyang, for example.

There is an excellent article about north Korea from 2006 by Stephen Gowans that I would recommend everyone to read if they haven’t already. It gives a really comprehensive framework for thinking about and judging all information regarding the country and its leaders.

Growing up infected with imperialist arrogance it is easy for us to dismiss or ridicule the achievements or difficulties of others, and exceptionally difficult to really appreciate how far they have come and against what odds and at what price.

We are helped in this by all those on the fake left who, under the banner of ‘concern’ for the fate of the revolution, are always ready to agree with the imperialists that the socialism of any particular country is not true to Marx’s or Lenin’s aims or ideals - and to provide 101 unfounded assertions by way of proof that this is the case.

But what are the aims and ideals of socialism? Not to conform to some dogmatic formula for Leninist purity, but to free the toiling masses from imperialist and capitalist exploitation and build a society where production and distribution are collectively planned and based on need. To establish firmly the dictatorship of the proletariat to that end and to educate the masses so that they may fulfil the position of rulers while keeping the expropriated exploiters down.

In what way do comrades believe that the Koreans are failing to do this? Are they not rather to be congratulated on keeping closer to these aims than any other socialist country has managed to do, despite the hugely powerful forces ranged against them?

Despite the partition of their country, the hostility between their hugely powerful socialist neighbours (the USSR AND China - a conflict they were alone in managing not to get dragged too far into) and the permanent state of war between their country and the 37,000 US troops in the occupied south, they have developed industry and agriculture, built a strong army and a nuclear deterrent, weathered natural and political/economic catastrophes (floods, collapse of the USSR etc) and still managed not only to keep everyone fed but to provide them with jobs, houses, excellent education and modern health care.

All this in a country that was flattened by more bombs than Europe saw in WW2 and poisoned with more napalm than Vietnam.

I personally worry that the Koreans seem to have abandoned the recognisably scientific terminology of Marxism Leninism in favour of the apparently more fuzzy terminology of juche, which seems to me to lend itself more easily to revisionist or nationalist manipulation.

There are certainly plenty of charlatans masking their flunkeyism in ‘jucheist’ terminology. But should we necessarily blame the Koreans for that? In Stalin’s day, plenty of flunkeys inside and outside of the USSR masked counter-revolutionary positions behind pure ‘communist’ rhetoric. It’s just one aspect of the class struggle after the revolution. And we cannot deny that the Koreans have made use of their juche formulations to masterly effect.

When the USSR collapsed, the USA confidently predicted that the DPRK would follow within a few years - and did everything it could to accelerate the process. And yet the imperialists have consistently failed to bully, blackmail or otherwise coerce the Korean people into giving up their freedom.

One has only to look at Syria to see what kind of methods the imperialists use to divide people and set them against their leaders. Small divisions are made use of and amplified, and unlimited military and financial assistance is channeled to those that can be persuaded to turn against an anti-imperialist government. It is a phenomenal achievement of the Koreans that they have not allowed this to happen. Despite all the difficulties they have faced in the last 20 years, they have maintained a united front against the forces of the enemy - much to that enemy’s chagrin!

On the issue of the leadership, it seems to me that the choice of the successor has put to bed at least one of the common slanders: it is clear that the country is NOT a ‘one-man dictatorship’. Kim Il Sung was a revolutionary of exceptional calibre in world history, who inspired Koreans to incredible feats - he was a leading figure in the revolution and became a figurehead for the party that led Korea successfully through the most terrible trials. His son was an able successor, whose government was able to defend and sustain Korea’s independence when socialist countries were collapsing like ninepins.

Is it not possible that the people and the party have chosen the young Kim on the basis that he embodies their love of the revolution, as well as on the basis that they believe his life training has given him total loyalty to them and to the revolutionary cause? It is perfectly clear that, whatever his personal qualities, he is not governing alone - he is a figurehead for the dictatorship of the workers and peasants against all imperialist interference and capitalist roading. Hence the popular Korean slogan that the leader represents their ’single-hearted unity’.

Why should we sneer at these ‘undeveloped’ Koreans swearing ‘fealty’? Is it not possible that the love the Koreans show to their leaders is merely a symbolised form of their love for their revolution? Who are we, who have done so little to hurt the cause of imperialism, to damn those who have done so much and for so long? How can we, from our comfortable armchairs, appreciate what it means to have peace for your children after generations of genocides?

And how can we, the product of an alienated, fragmented society, imagine what it means to start to rediscover your collective humanity under socialism? We are so used to imagining that our inculcated cynical detachment is the pinnacle of sophistication that we don’t recognise a society that is socially in advance of our own!

The Koreans are proud of the things they have achieved and determined to protect the gains they have made, and it seems to me that their choice of leader is a reflection of that.

Comrade L asked about the lack of great Marxist texts forthcoming from Korea in the last few decades. But where have great Marxist texts come from instead? What is there that needs to be written that has not been covered for our era by the great founders of our movement?

Marx and Engels comprehensively analysed class society, defined scientific socialism and outlined the tasks of the proletarian movement. Lenin masterfully updated their theories for the era of imperialism and revolution. Stalin documented the struggle of the dictatorship of the proletariat before and after the seizure of power and outlined the economic problems of socialism. Mao set out tactics and principles for peasant countries fighting both feudalism and imperialism, as well as working out the principles for successfully waging guerilla warfare.

All revolutionaries since then have merely worked, in their own countries, to explain the principles set out in the works of the aforementioned - to apply the scientific approach to particular situations. Kim Il Sung was particularly talented in this regard, and his writings resonated with many all over the world. He was a great Marxist Leninist. In fact, despite all their brilliance, neither Mao nor Stalin saw themselves as adding to Marxism Leninism, but only as students of the subject - applying the science to the concrete conditions in which they found themselves.

Kim Jong Il wrote long articles on many topics, especially on the arts under socialism, in which he took a particular interest, but his works are ignored in the West. Then again, so are his father’s. And so are Stalin’s, so he’s in good company!

Mostly though, I think we need to remember that people generally, and leaders particularly, write about what is in front of them - writing is not something they sit down to do in the abstract; they do it because it answers a need.

Kim Il Sung wrote during a period of the advance of the world revolution, and much of his writing was concerned with the overthrow of imperialism and the development of revolutionary forces - mainly in Korea but also elsewhere. Kim Jong Il was writing at a different time, and his primary concern was with defending socialism in Korea in an increasingly hostile world, so it is not surprising if his work has less resonance elsewhere in the world. More to the point, neither of the Kims’ works are circulated widely because most of the so-called revolutionaries in the imperialist world don’t actually support Korea.

But their rejection doesn’t prove that Korea is ‘inward facing’, any more than imperialist attempts at economic strangulation prove that it is ‘isolated’. It is not Koreans who are isolated from us, but we who are cut off from them. Koreans know what is going on in the world, they study languages, geography, history and politics and they make a point of understanding the machinations of imperialism. They have had to to survive!

I really don’t think any of the above is particularly controversial to the comrades who are discussing here, but the tone of the discussion leads people to imagine a far greater disparity between their views than there actually is. Perhaps we need to learn a lesson from the Koreans and show some restraint. A little more humility would well become us all!

Letter from the Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

14 January, Juche 101 (2012)

To: Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Chairman Comrade Harpal Brar, Vice-Chairman Comrade Ella Rule, General Secretary Comrade Zane Carpenter

Dear Comrades,

Upon the authorisation of the Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un, Supreme Leader of our Party, state and army, I would like to express gratitude for your condolence message to the Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un on the occasion of the passing away of the Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong Il.

We feel grateful to the Central Committee of the CPGB-ML for visiting DPRK Embassy, expressing their deepest condolence presenting the wreathes of flowers to the Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong Il and the Embassy, sharing the shorrows with the Korean People and holding the memorial meeting with solemnity during the mourning period.

Your Party’s sincere condolence supported and encouraged the Korean People’s struggle to build the socialist thriving nation, turning their sorrow and tears into strength and courage, closely rallied behind the Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un.

I take this opportunity to wish that a good and fraternal relationship between your Party, WPK and my Embassy will continue and develop in the future too.

Comradely Yours,

HYON Hak Bong

Ambassador, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to UK

Embassy of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Official notice of the death of Comrade Kim Jong Il

Kim Jong Il

Kim Jong Il

Via KCNA

The Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the Cabinet of the DPRK notify with bitterest grief to all the party members, servicepersons and people of the DPRK that Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, passed away of a sudden illness at 8.30am on 17 December 2011 (Juche 100) on his way to field guidance.

He dedicated all his life to the inheritance and accomplishment of the revolutionary cause of Juche and energetically worked day and night for the prosperity of the socialist homeland, happiness of people, reunification of the country and global independence. He passed away too suddenly to our profound regret.

His sudden demise at a historic time when an epochal phase is being opened for accomplishing the cause of building a powerful and prosperous socialist state and the Korean revolution is making steady victorious progress despite manifold difficulties and trials is the greatest loss to the WPK and the Korean revolution and the bitterest grief to all the Koreans at home and abroad.

Kim Jong Il, who was born as a son of guerillas on Mt Paektu, the holy mountain of the revolution, and grew up to be a great revolutionary, wisely led the party, the army and people for a long period, performing undying revolutionary feats on behalf of the country, the people, the times and history.

Kim Jong Il was an outstanding thinker and theoretician who led the revolution and construction along the path of steady victories with his profound ideologies and theories and remarkable leadership. He was also the outstanding and illustrious commander of Songun, a peerless patriot and the tender-hearted father of the people, who recorded the whole history of the revolutionary struggle with ardent love for the country and its people and noble dedication.

Considering it as his lifelong mission to carry to completion generation after generation the revolutionary cause of Juche started by President Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il pushed forward the revolution and construction in line with the idea and intention of the President and as his most loyal comrade-in-arms.

Kim Jong Il comprehensively developed in depth the Juche and Songun ideas, fathered by the President and glorified them as the ideas guiding the era of independence with his clairvoyant wisdom and energetic ideological and theoretical activities. He firmly defended and carried forward the revolutionary traditions of Mt Paektu, thereby giving a steady continuity to the Korean revolution.

Kim Jong Il, genius of the revolution and construction, developed the party, army and state to be the party, army and state of Kim Il Sung, put the dignity and power of the nation on the highest level and ushered in the golden days of prosperity unprecedented in the nation’s history spanning 5,000 years under the uplifted banner of modelling the whole society on the Juche idea.

Kim Jong Il set a great example in perpetuating the memory of President Kim Il Sung, thus making sure that the august name of the President, his undying revolutionary career and exploits always shine along with the eternal history of Juche Korea.

Kim Jong Il, great master of politics and illustrious commander, honourably defended the socialist gains and noble heritage bequeathed by the President, by dint of Songun politics despite the collapse of the world socialist system, the demise of the President which was the greatest loss to the nation, the vicious offensive of the imperialist allied forces to stifle the DPRK and severe natural disasters. He turned the DPRK into an invincible political and ideological power in which single-minded unity has been achieved and made it emerge a nuclear weapons state and an invincible military power which no enemy can ever provoke.

True to President Kim Il Sung’s behest, Kim Jong Il set a gigantic goal to build a prosperous and powerful country and led an all-people general advance for attaining it, thus making the drive for a great revolutionary surge rage throughout the country and bringing about great innovations and leaps forward on all fronts of socialist construction.

Kim Jong Il, father of the nation and lodestar of national reunification, led all the fellow countrymen to the road of independence and great national unity with his rock-firm will to implement the instructions of the President for national reunification and ushered in the 15 June era of reunification in which the noble idea of “By our nation itself” is materialised.

As a great guardian of socialism and justice, he conducted energetic external activities for the victory of the socialist cause, global peace and stability and friendship and solidarity among peoples under the uplifted banner of independence against imperialism, thus remarkably raising the international position and prestige of the DPRK and making immortal contributions to the human cause of independence.

In the whole period of his protracted revolutionary guidance, he valued and loved the people very much and always shared weal and woe with them. He continued to make difficult forced march for field guidance, making unremitting efforts and working heart and soul to build a thriving country and improve the standard of people’s living. He died from repeated mental and physical fatigue on a train in that course.

The whole life of Kim Jong Il was the most brilliant life of a great revolutionary who covered an untrodden thorny path with his iron will and superhuman energy, holding aloft the red flag of revolution. It was the life of the peerless patriot who dedicated his all to the country and its people.

He passed away to our regret before seeing the victory of the cause of building a thriving nation, the national reunification and the accomplishment of the revolutionary cause of Juche so ardently desired by him, but laid a strong political and military base for ensuring the steady advance of the Korean revolution through generations and provided a solid foundation for the eternal prosperity of the country and the nation.

Standing in the van of the Korean revolution at present is Kim Jong Un, great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche and outstanding leader of our party, army and people.

Kim Jong Un’s leadership provides a sure guarantee for creditably carrying to completion the revolutionary cause of Juche through generations, the cause started by Kim Il Sung and led by Kim Jong Il to victory.

We have the invincible revolutionary army of Mt Paektu faithful to the cause of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the great unity of the army and people closely rallied around the party, the best Korean-style socialist system centered on the popular masses and the solid foundation of the independent national economy.

Under the leadership of Kim Jong Un we should turn our sorrow into strength and courage and overcome the present difficulties and work harder for fresh great victory of the Juche revolution.

Our army and people will hold leader Kim Jong Il in high esteem forever with unshakable faith and a noble sense of moral obligation. True to his behests, they will make neither the slightest concession nor any delay on the road of the Juche revolution, the Songun revolution but resolutely defend his undying feats and glorify them for all ages.

All the party members, servicepersons and people should remain loyal to the guidance of respected Kim Jong Un and firmly protect and further cement the single-minded unity of the party, the army and the people.

Under the uplifted banner of Songun, we should increase the country’s military capability in every way to reliably safeguard the Korean socialist system and the gains of revolution and make the torch lit in South Hamgyong Province, the drive for the industrial revolution in the new century, rage throughout the country and thus bring about a decisive turn in building an economic power and improving the standard of people’s living.

We will surely achieve the independent reunification of the country by concerted efforts of all Koreans by thoroughly implementing the Three Charters for National Reunification and the north-south joint declarations.

Our party and people will strive hard to boost friendship and solidarity with the peoples of different countries, guided by the idea of independence, peace and friendship, and build an independent and peaceful new world, free from domination, subjugation, aggression and war.

Arduous is the road for our revolution to follow and grim is the present situation. But no force on earth can check the revolutionary advance of our party, army and people under the wise leadership of Kim Jong Un.

The heart of Kim Jong Il stopped beating, but his noble and august name and benevolent image will always be remembered by our army and people and his glorious history of revolutionary activities and undying feats will remain shining in the history of the country forever.

SEE ALSO:
CPGB-ML: Red salute to the Korean people on the news of the death of Comrade Kim Jong Il

Red Youth: North Korea in mourning, but its people stand united and strong!

Kim Jong Il’s Russia visit: an all-round gain for the DPRK

Video report: North Korea, reality check

Press TV on Korea: A threat to world peace?

North Korea attacks South Korea … or is it the other way around?

South Korean war games that fired shells across the border and simulated an invasion of the North provoked a response from the DPRK.

South Korean war games that fired shells across the border and simulated an invasion of the North provoked a response from the DPRK.

By Steve Gowans, via what’s left

If you read Mark McDonald’s article in The New York Times, ‘”Crisis status” in South Korea after North shells island’, the answer depends on whether you paid attention to the headline, the expert commentary, and the tone of the article, or whether you paid attention to the facts.

If you paid attention to the former then North Korea attacked South Korea.

If you paid attention to the latter, the opposite is true.

Here are the facts McDonald reported.

  • 70,000 South Korean troops were beginning a military drill … sharply criticised by Pyongyang as “simulating an invasion of the North” and “a means to provoke a war”.
  • ROK [South Korean] artillery units fired toward the DPRK [North Korea] from a battery close to the North Korean coast. The South acknowledges firing the shots.
  • The DPRK replied.

Shouldn’t the headline read: ‘”Crisis status” in North Korea after South Korea mobilises 70,000 troops and shells the North’?

Korean news agency reports on CPGB-ML delegation in Korea

Via KCNA

Talks between WPK and CPGB-ML held

Pyongyang, 23 September 23 (KCNA)

Talks between the delegations of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) were held in Pyongyang on Thursday.

Present at the talks from the WPK side were Department Director Kim Yong Il and officials of the Central Committee of the WPK and the CPGB-ML side members of the delegation of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) led by General Secretary Zane Carpenter.

At the talks, both sides informed each other of the activities of their parties and exchanged views on further developing the relations between the two parties and matters of mutual concern.

Gift from CPGB-ML Delegation

Pyongyang, 23 September 23 (KCNA)

General Secretary Kim Jong Il was presented with a gift by the visiting delegation of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

The gift was handed to Department Director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Yong Il by General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) Zane Carpenter who is heading the delegation on Thursday.

Socialist Korea at the World Cup!

During June-July, South Africa will host the World Cup, the greatest event in international football, for the first time on the African continent. This is a reflection of how far the country has come, as a non-racial democracy, respected by the world, since the dark days of apartheid.

But in this World Cup, there will be just one team representing a nation where sport does not serve the interests of big business, but rather those of the working class; one country where football, and all sports, are at the service of people’s enjoyment, education and health; where there is opportunity and access for all; and where sport is used to promote international friendship and peace, rather than jingoism and chauvinism. That country is the socialist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

This is the second time that the DPRK has qualified for the World Cup. In the 1966 World Cup, hosted and won by England, the DPRK shook some of the giants of world football, knocking out Italy and taking on Portugal in the quarterfinals. No other Asian team had ever advanced so far in a World Cup. And, although eventually succumbing 5-3 to Portugal, at one point the DPRK was 3-0 up.

Prior to the 1966 World Cup, Korean leader Comrade Kim Il Sung had told his country’s players: “European and South American nations dominate international football. As representatives of the Asia/Africa region, as coloured people, I urge you to win one or two games.”

Cabinet papers released 30 years later show how, in 1966, the British Labour government tried to prevent the DPRK team from playing in the World Cup, only relenting when it was pointed out that FIFA might take the competition away from them. But they did insist on some petty and vindictive restrictions, such as not allowing the DPRK national anthem to be played before games.

However, the attitude of the British working class towards their brothers from Korea was very different from that of the imperialist Labour Party. The people of Middlesborough, where most of their games were played, took them to their hearts and remember them to this day. As Pak Do Ik, who scored the winning goal against Italy, put it many years later:

“The English people took us to their hearts and vice versa. I learned that football is not about winning. Wherever we go … playing football can improve diplomatic relations and promote peace.”

When the DPRK players travelled to Everton’s Goodison Park ground in Liverpool for their final game, more than 2,000 local people travelled with them from Middlesborough to cheer them on.

This year, the DPRK is drawn in the ‘Group of Death’, against Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast, meaning that the largely unknown DPRK players will find themselves pitted against such contemporary legends as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Didier Drogba. But, as ever, the DPRK has some powerful defensive deterrents, as well as means of attack, like Jong Tae-Se. Known as ‘Asia’s Wayne Rooney’, this third generation Japanese Korean plays for J-League side Kawasaki Frontale.

To celebrate the DPRK’s success in again making it to the World Cup, the CPGB-ML is hosting a showing of The Game of Their Lives.

This inspiring and award-winning 2002 documentary tells the full, extraordinary story of the last time this small but fearless nation took on the giants of world football. There will also be speakers from the CPGB-ML and other friends of Korea, as well as refreshments.

All friends of Korea and anti-imperialist football fans are welcome!

Public meeting on Saturday 12 June, 6.00pm in west London. Full details here.

Letter/statement from Korean National Peace Committee

Friday, 29 May, 2009, 7:45 AM

Dear friends,

The situation of the Korean Peninsula, neither war nor peace, is running to the danger due to the anti-DPRK hostile policies of the antagonistic forces including the US and Japan.

The US , Japan and their followers tabled the DPRK’s launch of peaceful satellite in the UNSC and issued “presidential statement”. And then they are madly exercising the anti-DPRK hostile activities including imposing sanction to three companies of the DPRK and pointed many materials as forbidden items.

In relation to this, the DPRK government issued its spokesman’s statement which condemned the unjust and illegality of the UNSC and clarified that, unless that the UNSC gave up the sanction to the DPRK and apologized, the DPRK would take necessary means including a nuclear test and ICBM test launch to defend the supreme interest to cope with increasing the anti-DPRK hostile manoeuvres.

More than one month has already passed but there is no reaction to the statement yet. On the contrary, the hostile forces are further intensifying manoeuvres to overthrow the DPRK. In such a condition, the DPRK had no other option but to conduct the nuclear test.

Now the US and the Western mass medias are broadcasting distorted news on the truth of our launch of peaceful satellite and self-defensive measures.

Enclosed you will find the information on the background of our self-defensive measures to help you understand the grave situation prevailing on the Korean Peninsula.

Yours in peace,

Li Myong Guk
Secretary General, Korean National Peace Committee

The DPRK’s Launch Of The Artificial Satellite Is The Legitimate Right Under The International Law

It is a legitimate right equally enjoyed by all countries of the earth to explore outer space and use it for peaceful purposes.

The DPRK officially declared through the statement of spokesman for the Korean Committee of Space Technology on Feb.24, 2009 that it envisages launching practical satellites for communications, prospecting of natural resources and weather forecast, etc. essential for the economic development of the country in a few years to come and putting their operation on a normal footing at the first phase of the state long-term plan for space development and the preparations for launching experimental communications satellite were making brisk headway.

As a part of the preparations for launching experimental communications satellite, the DPRK acceded to the “treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of states in the Exploration and use of Outer Space including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” and the “Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space” and informed the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization and other international organizations of necessary information for the safe navigation of planes and ships according to relevant regulations.

In addition to this, the DPRK confirmed on April 4, 2009 that as the preparations had been completed, the experimental communications satellite would be launched soon and there was no change in the technological indexes necessary for the safe navigation of airlines and ships provided to the international organizations and the countries concerned in advance.

However, the US, Japan and some of their allied forces, asserting that the DPRK’ s peaceful experimental communications satellite was a ballistic missile and the launch posed a threat to them, claimed that the UNSC should make the issue with the said matter from the first day when the news of the preparations for launching experimental communications satellite “Kwangmyongsong-2” had been proclaimed.

Japan which has committed the biggest crimes against the DPRK is taking the lead in this anti-DPRK racket.

The countries which find fault with the DPRK’ s satellite launch including the US and Japan launched satellites before it. In addition to this, they even had already many military satellites such as spy ones.

The logic that their satellites are not the threat to other countries but only the DPRK’ s one is that, so they may launch as many satellites as they want but the DPRK should not be allowed to do so is a paradox and vivid manifestation of hostility towards it.

There are not a few countries in the world that launched satellites but the UNSC has never dealt with nor put in question with the satellite launch by other individual countries.

Because it has no mandate to interfere in the independent and legitimate rights of the sovereign states to the development and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

The DPRK Foreign Ministry clarified by the statement of its spokesman that the attempts of Japan and the US the parties to the six party talks, to deny discriminately the DPRK’ s right to use space for peaceful purposes and infringe upon its sovereignty diametrically run counter to the “spirit of mutual respect and equality” enshrined in the September 19 joint statement on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. If such hostile act is perpetrated in the name of the UNSC, this will precisely mean its denial of the said statement, therefore, the six party talks for the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula would lose any ground to exist and their meaning.

However, the United States and its followers misused the United Nations Security Council to issue a brigandish “presidential statement” condemning the DPRK’s satellite launch on April 14, 2009 while defying its repeated warning.

The UNSC whose permanent members are those countries which launched more satellites than any other countries tabled and discussed the DPRK’s launch of satellite for peaceful purposes although it was legitimately conducted after going through procedures under international law. This is an intolerable mockery of the Korean people and a flagrant violation of our sovereignty.

The UNSC’s action ran counter not only to the outer space treaty which stipulates that “Outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law” but also to the principle of sovereign equality and impartiality stipulated in the UN Charter.

The DPRK Foreign Ministry made public of following statement to cope with the prevailed situation:

“First, the DPRK vehemently refutes and condemns the unjust action taken by the UNSC wantonly infringing upon the sovereignty of the DPRK and seriously hurting the dignity of the Korean people.

The DPRK will continue to exercise its independent right to the use of outer space based on international law including the outer space treaty reflecting the unanimous will of the international community, not on arbitrary practices of the UNSC which has been reduced to a tool for high-handed acts.

Second, there is no need any more to have the six-party talks which the DPRK has attended.

The spirit of respect for sovereignty and sovereign equality clarified in the September 19 joint statement for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula is the basis and the life and soul of the six-party talks.

The six-party talks have lost the meaning of their existence never to recover now that the parties to the talks themselves totally denied this spirit in the name of the UNSC and now that Japan , which has desperately obstructed the talks from their outset, openly and unilaterally applied sanctions against the DPRK over its satellite launch.

The DPRK will never participate in such six-party talks nor will it be bound any longer to any agreement of the talks as they have been reduced to a platform for encroaching upon its sovereignty and forcing it to disarm itself and bringing down its system.

It will positively examine the construction of its light water reactor power plant in order to round off the structure of the Juche-based nuclear power industry

Third, the DPRK will boost its nuclear deterrent for self-defence in every way.

The hostile forces’ escalated military threat that they will intercept even a satellite for peaceful purpose compels the DPRK to further increase its nuclear deterrent.

The DPRK will take a measure to restore to their original state the nuclear facilities which had been disabled according to the agreement of the six-party talks and bring their operation back on a normal track and fully reprocess the spent fuel rods churned out from the pilot atomic power plant as its part.

The hostile forces are seriously mistaken if they thought they could bring the DPRK to its knees by force.

It is the basic purport of independence, Songun of the DPRK that it can never repeat the disgraceful history a century ago when the whole of Korea was conquered by the Japanese imperialists in the long run, after being violated and cajoled by big powers around it as it was weak in its national power.

The DPRK will defend the peace and security on the Korean Peninsula with might of Songun in a responsible manner though the six-party talks cease to exist and the process of denuclearization collapses due to the hostile forces.”

The UNSC not only denounced and condemned the DPRK’s satellite launch but also on April 24, 2009, in accordance with its “Presidential Statement” which has no binding force, officially designated three companies of the DPRK as targets of sanctions and many kinds of military supplies and materials as embargo items, and thus it has set out in directly infringement of the security of the country and the nation, the supreme interests of the DPRK.

The hostile forces are foolishly scheming to suffocate the DPRK’s defence industry by physical methods as they failed to attain their aims for disarming the DPRK through the six-way talks.

In the 1990s the DPRK already declared that any anti-DPRK sanctions to be put by the United Nations, a legal party to the Korean Armistice Agreement would be regarded as a termination of the agreement, that is, a declaration of war.

The desire for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has gone forever with the six-way talks and the situation is inching to the brink of war by the hostile forces.

The DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs solemnly gave the following warnings on April 29, 2009 to cope with such grave situation.

“The UNSC should promptly make an apology for having infringed the sovereignty of the DPRK and withdraw all its unreasonable and discriminative ‘resolution’ and decisions adopted against the DPRK.

This is the only way for it to regain confidence of the UN member nations and fulfill its responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, not serving as a tool for the U.S. highhanded and arbitrary practices any longer.

In case the UNSC does not make an immediate apology, such actions will be taken as:

Firstly, the DPRK will be compelled to take additional self-defensive measures in order to defend its supreme interests.

The measures will include nuclear tests and test-firings of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Secondly, the DPRK will make a decision to build a light water reactor power plant and start the technological development for ensuring self-production of nuclear fuel as its first process without delay.”

That the hostile forces tabled and discussed the DPRK’s launch of peaceful satellite to the UNSC unprecedentedly is the overreaction itself. The enforcement of sanction with according to the UNSC “presidential statement”, which has no binding force, is infringement of sovereignty of the DPRK and the flagrant violation of the international law.

We only respond to it.

The DPRK has been waiting for the apology of the UNSC with patience for more than a month but no result at all. In such a condition, the DPRK has no other choice but to move as it declared by the statement of spokesman for the Foreign Ministry on April 29, 2009.

Therefore, all the anti-war and peace-loving forces of the world would be better to stand on justice and not to cooperate with the hostile forces which terribly violated the independence of the sovereign state while lodging a complaint against victim.

Stephen Gowans: Turning the threatened into the aggressor: Media distortions in coverage of north Korea’s nuclear test

Colin Powell said we would…turn north Korea into a ‘charcoal briquette,’ I mean that’s the way we talk to north Korea, even though the mainstream meda doesn’t pay attention to that kind of talk. A charocal briquette. (1)

By Stephen Gowans

The following South Korean government statement appeared in the New York Times on May 28, 2009.

“If North Korea stages a provocation, we will respond resolutely. We advise our people to trust our military’s solid readiness and feel safe.”

Inclined to depict south Korea as provocative and belligerent, a headline writer may have written the following to introduce the story:

“South Korea threatens military strikes on North.”

Instead, The New York Times introduced the story this way:

“North Korea threatens military strikes on South.”

In covering north Korea’s latest nuclear test and missile launches, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and other the Western media have presented a set of facts, without necessary context. Through critical omissions, north Korea has been portrayed as “provocative and belligerent,” following the official US account offered by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In this, as always, the US media have operated as an extension of the US state. That the US media mimic, amplify and justify official US foreign policy positions is an inevitable consequence of the interlocks between the mass media, business and government.

Rather than being provocative, belligerent, irrational and unpredictable, north Korea’s recent behavior has been, on the contrary, defensive, rational and completely predictable. It is not north Korea that has provoked and threatened war; it is the United States, and its client regimes in south Korea and Japan that have played the role of Mars. North Korea’s reactions, are sane, defensive and exactly what would be expected of a country that prizes its fiercely won independence and has no intention of surrendering it to international bullying.

The provocations and belligerence of the US and its allies are to be found in their rejection of north Korea’s overtures of peaceful coexistence. Where north Korea has sought to normalize relations with its neighbors and the West, the US and its allies have talked of getting tough and punishing north Korea for its “bad behavior.”

South Korean president Lee Myung-bak reversed the previous government’s policy of rapprochement. Rather than providing aid and collaborating on economic projects, Lee has emphasized a get-tough policy to bring north Korea to heel. From Pyongyang’s perspective, south Korea has “opted for confrontation” and denied “national reconciliation and cooperation.”

And all had seemed to be going well. North Korea had agreed to disable its nuclear facilities, provide a complete declaration of its nuclear programs, and reaffirm its commitment not to transfer nuclear materials, technology, and know-how.

Talks ground to a halt when the US, south Korea, Russia, China and Japan, either failed to honor their side of the bargain, or renounced it altogether. Japan opted out, refusing to deal with north Korea until it came clean on the kidnapping of Japanese citizens. While north Korea acknowledged the crime, Japan insisted all had not been disclosed. This galled the north Koreans, who bristled over Japan making a cause celebre out of the kidnapping of Japanese citizens whose numbers represent an infinitesimal fraction of the number of Koreans who had been transported against their will to Japan as laborers and “comfort women” over the course of a 35 year Japanese colonization of Korea. Whether the Japanese are taking a genuinely principled stand, or merely feigning principled outrage, it is clear Tokyo has placed the kidnapping issue far ahead of normalizing relations. As Korea specialist Bruce Cumings points out, “The Japanese seem to think eight people are more important than finding a solution to north Korea’s atomic bomb.” (2) For Japan, which had dominated, exploited and oppressed Korea, confrontation, not conciliation, is the main point of departure of its DPRK policy.

By July of last year, north Korea had dismantled 80 percent of its nuclear facilities. Pyongyang was keen to complete its end of the bargain. Doing so would relax its decades-long US imposed isolation. The country stands to benefit enormously from normalization of relations and north Koreans were eager to facilitate the process. The necessity of maintaining a permanent war footing to guard against the potential aggression of the United States (which had threatened to turn the country into a charcoal briquette) has meant severe distortions in north Korean society. A sizeable chunk of the country’s limited resources has had to be plowed into the military, denying the country resources for much needed productive investments. US sanctions block north Korean exports and limit access to credit and foreign investment, further stifling north Korea’s economic development. If north Korea’s economy is in trouble – and it is – it’s not so as a consequence of central planning and public ownership (a canard long favored by anti-Communists), but largely because it has been strangled economically by a hostile United States and forced to squander resources on military preparedness. Pyongyang has beseeched Washington repeatedly to formally end the Korean War and sign a lasting peace agreement, only to be rebuffed on every occasion. Talks held out hope – though slim — that north Korea would finally secure some measure of relief from US harassment.

By July of last year only 40 percent of the energy shipments promised by the US and other parties to the talks – intended to compensate for the loss of energy from closing the Yongbyon reactor — had been delivered. Disturbingly, this appeared to portend a repeat of the Clinton administration policy, worked out in connection with an earlier deal, of endless delay, counting on sanctions and embargoes to bring down the government in Pyongyang before US commitments had to be honored. The Clinton administration had promised north Korea fuel oil shipments and light-water reactors in return for Pyongyang shuttering its Yongbyon facilities. North Korea had used the reactor to produce fuel for a nuclear weapon, but only after the US announced it was re-targeting its strategic nuclear weapons on north Korea following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since north Korea had been flattened, literally, by the US Air Force during the Korean War, the north Koreans had reason not to take the threat lightly. Developing nuclear weapons seemed to be the best way to bring about a stalemate and preserve north Korea’s hard-won sovereignty.

On top of falling behind on fuel shipments, the Bush administration refused to honor its promise to remove the DPRK from its Trading with the Enemy Act. Bush assured anti-DPRK conservatives that despite the deal with north Korea a wide array of US sanctions would remain in place for a long time. Normalization was not in the cards.

Washington justified its failure to meet its obligations by adding a new demand, and then announcing it couldn’t move forward until Pyongyang complied with the new conditions. The conditions, however, were never talked about by US officials as if they were new; instead, Washington acted as if north Korea had agreed to them all along, and that it was Pyongyang, not Washington, that was reneging. Now, in addition to making a full declaration of its nuclear program, north Korea was expected to submit to a verification protocol that would allow US inspectors to go anywhere they wanted in north Korea, sizing up military installations and nosing about defensive positions. Pyongyang countered by demanding unfettered access to south Korea, to verify that the US no longer stored tactical nuclear weapons on Korean soil. Washington insists it doesn’t, but Pyongyang remains sceptical. The US refused, so the DPRK called an end to the talks, having no intention of sacrificing national security. By this point, the US, south Korea and Japan had made clear they had no real commitment to normalization. The talks were simply a way of luring north Korea down a path of surrendering the one thing that kept it from the fate of Ba’athist Iraq – its weapons of mass destruction.

Months later, north Korea would launch a satellite on top of a rocket. Inasmuch as this represented a step forward in the development of a rocket technology that could be used to launch a nuclear warhead, the US persuaded members of the UN Security Council to censure the DPRK. Pyongyang pointed out that it was perfectly within its rights to launch a satellite, and that whatever punitive measures were taken were unjustifiable.

North Korea has never taken military action outside the Korean peninsula. The danger of rocket and nuclear technology in north Korean hands is not one of aggressive war but of north Korea being able to defend itself against the US and Japan, countries with long and bloody histories of waging wars of aggression, on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere. As Bruce Cumings explains,

“The context, going back to the Korean War, for north Korea is that we have targetted north Korea with nuclear weapons since 1950. We are the only power to put nculear weapons into the Korean Peninsula from 1958 to ‘91. And when you look back at Don Rumsfeld’s antics in 2003, when he throught we had won the Iraq war around May or June of 2003, he was asking Congress for new bunker-buster nuclear weapons to go after Kim Jong-Il and the north Korean leadership.” (3)

North Korea’s development of nuclear and rocket technology creates two dangers for Washington and Tokyo: the danger of self-defense against Powell, Rumsfeld and their successors; and the danger of becoming an example to others if it can develop economically outside the strictures of capitalism and imperialism.

Reading about north Korea’s nuclear test in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and other Western media, I have been struck by the similarities in coverage. What one newspaper says is pretty much what every other says, as if reporters read each others’ copy and simply repeat what the others have written. There are benefits to doing this. How can you be taken to task over what you’ve written, if what you’ve written agrees with what everyone else says? Of course, there has to be a starting point. The ideas that journalists swap and pass around and mimic have to come from somewhere. But where? The US State Department and the Council on Foreign Relations are two places journalists look for guidance on foreign policy matters. What officials of these two bodies say are regularly echoed in major media, and in train, by opinion leaders, including university professors. Jeremy Paltiel (4), a professor of political science at a university in the city in which I live, offers a serviceable summary of the ideas journalists have been bandying about on north Korea’s latest nuclear test. Let’s look at them.

Paltiel characterizes north Korea’s underground detonation as a “clear provocation” which tests “the resolve of the international community,” without saying how the detonation is a provocation or what he means by the international community. The world has tested 2,054 nuclear devices, only two of which were north Korean, and most of which belonged to the great powers – the countries which make up the permanent membership of the UN Security Council. These are the countries Paltiel implicitly refers to when he speaks of the “international community.” So, countries of the nuclear club are upset that another country has challenged their cozy monopoly.

“The stakes are high,” writes Paltiel, “not just because Pyongyang’s provocations undermine security in northeast Asia, but also because a crucial issue facing the United States is nuclear proliferation to Iran.” We might ask whose security in northeast Asia is being threatened, and how? The United States has targeted strategic nuclear weapons on north Korea – and did so before north Korea had a nuclear weapons capability. Indeed, it is because it has been targeted, that north Korea acquired a nuclear weapons capability in the first place, as a deterrent. The reality of US missiles trained on north Korea surely threatens north Korea’s security, but Paltiel doesn’t label this a provocation. Somehow, north Korea, with a rudimentary nuclear weapons capability, is provocative, while the United States, with hundreds of nuclear weapons aimed at north Korea, 27,000 US troops on Korean soil and 40,000 in nearby Japan, is not. No one with an unprejudiced mind seriously believes that north Korea is an offensive threat to anyone. With south Korea and Japan under a US nuclear umbrella, the first strike use of a nuclear weapon by north Korea against its neighbours would guarantee its immediate annihilation. This truth is not lost on north Korea’s leadership.

As for nuclear proliferation to Iran, it’s not clear whether Paltiel is referring to Iran’s building of a civilian nuclear power industry, in which case it is incumbent on him to explain why Iran, a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, should be uniquely denied the benefits of nuclear power or forced to depend on the great powers for access to nuclear fuel (access they could turn on or off to extort Iranian concessions.) If he is treating as fact the unsubstantiated allegation that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program, then he has ventured into the field of political fiction. Even the US intelligence community says Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program. But if Iran did, could it be blamed for seeking a means to deter the frequent threats of war directed its way by Israel and the United States? Some will say, but these are threats of preventive attack, responses to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threat to wipe Israel off the map. The problem is, this is a deliberate misinterpretation of what Ahmadinejad said. What he said was that Israel qua Zionist state would eventually disappear, in the same way South Africa qua apartheid state disappeared. There was no implication in Ahmadinejad’s words of nuclear attack, war or physical destruction. Besides, the US threatened an attack on Iran before Ahmadinejad uttered his misconstrued remarks, when the Bush administration listed Iran as a member of the “axis of evil,” and then attacked the first country on the list, Iraq. It’s not Ahmadinejad that invites Washington’s hostility to Iran.

Paltiel carries on in this vein, arguing that it is a short hop, skimp and jump from north Korea being allowed to keep its nuclear weapons to the destruction of Israel. “Should [n]orth Korea acquire the status of nuclear-weapons state, any effort to prevent the nuclearization of Iran would lose validity,” he writes. It’s news to me that this effort had any validity to begin with. He continues: “And the prospect of a nuclear Iran would unravel U.S. Middle East policy, threatening the survival of Israel as well as the security of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf oil-exporting states.” All of this is very vague. It’s not clear how a nuclear Iran would unravel US Middle East policy, or how an unravelling US Middle East policy would lead to the destruction of Israel, unless Paltiel is suggesting that without US support, Israel qua colonial settler state, is dead. If so, this could hardly be something to dread; since it would represent the defeat of a racist ideology, it should, on the contrary, be welcomed as a gain for humanity.

Paltiel’s next step is to explain why north Korea detonated a nuclear device. His argument has been repeated in all major media, or, to put it another way, Paltiel repeats an argument all major media have made. That is that north Korea’s acquisition of a nuclear-weapons capability has nothing to do with the US’s, south Korea’s and Japan’s confrontational stance; nothing to do with the great powers stepping up sanctions on north Korea over the DPRK exercising its right to launch a satellite; nothing to do with US strategic nuclear weapons being targeted on north Korea; nothing to do with the provocative war games exercises the US and south Korea recently held on north Korea’s borders; nothing to do with the tens of thousands of US troops stationed nearby; nothing to do with the need to deter the US, a country which has demonstrated repeatedly that it is prepared to launch aggressive wars, and once did in Korea; in fact, none of these things Paltiel mentions, though they’re surely all highly relevant. Instead, Paltiel attributes north Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons to “the Kim family dynasty’s determination to secure its survival.” If ever there was a violation of Occam’s Razor, this is it. How does the acquisition of nuclear weapons secure the Kim family’s survival? I’m sure Paltiel could weave an elaborate tapestry of arguments to explain the connection between the DPRK’s nuclear test and the Kim family’s leadership aspirations, but why do so when a simple, compelling, explanation of why north Korea tested a nuclear device is close at hand? The reason why is because attribution of north Korea’s development of a nuclear deterrent to the personal qualities of its leadership, rather than to situational factors, deflects attention from the real reasons for north Korea’s behavior. This sets the stage to mobilize public opinion for action to “liberate” north Koreans from Kim’s “power-hungry” and “reckless rule.”

That Paltiel is about five steps removed from reality becomes plain when he frets about “US President Barack Obama’s dream of a nuclear-weapons-free future” evaporating “into a mushroom cloud.” Earth to Paltiel. Obama may dream of a nuclear-weapons-free future, but the chances of the US leading the way by relinquishing or even seriously reducing its nuclear arsenal are about as good as the chances of Kim Jong Il playing opposite Jennifer Aniston in a romantic comedy. Were Obama truly interested in a nuclear-weapons-free future, he would reverse his country’s targeting of non-nuclear states – the very reason for nuclear proliferation to north Korea – while renouncing the United States’ addiction to conquering weaker countries. If he did these things, the necessity for threatened countries of acquiring a nuclear weapons capability to protect themselves against US aggression would be eliminated. That’s the route to a nuclear-weapons-free future.

Paltiel’s article was written before south Korea announced it would join the Proliferation Security Initiative, a US-led program to intercept north Korean ships on the high seas, to inspect their cargo for so called contraband goods, the rockets north Korea sells to other countries to earn much needed foreign currency. Pyongyang pointed out correctly that this amounted to a declaration of war, since interfering with another country’s shipping is an act of war. Commit an act of war against us, warned the north Koreans reasonably, and we’ll retaliate. Paltiel, we can be assured, would have joined in the clamor that met north Korea’s warning, by characterizing the warning as a belligernet and provocative act against south Korea. The accustomed practice in journalistic circles has been to declare that north Korea threatened to attack the south, the journalists only later acknowledging that the DPRK did so only after the south threatened to commit an act of war against the north. Indeed, south Korea threatened north Korea, which then threatened to retaliate. Belligerent and provocative or self-defensive?

None of this is clear from the stories carried in Western newspapers, because these stories critically omit context and surrounding events. The facts are correct, but they’re organized within a framework that defines north Korea as provocative and belligerent. It is the purest political fiction, in which black becomes white, night becomes day, and self-defense becomes provocation. “If you’re not careful,” warned Malcolm X, “the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing”…and believing the aggressors are the threatened.

1. Bruce Cumings, “Latest North Korean provocations stem from missed US opportunities for demilitarizaton,” Democracy Now!, May 29, 2009.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Jeremy Paltiel, “Chimerica must rise to Kim Jong Il’s challenge,” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), May 25, 2009.