to Anti-War Committee, Minneapolis July 27, 2013
Thank you for inviting me for speaking on the DPRK, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, or North Korea, this day, 60 years since the DPRK defeated the US war on their country. We should remember too, yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the rallying cry of the 1959 Cuban revolution. June 19 is also the 60th anniversary of the frame-up execution of the Rosenbergs.
I went on a regular tour there in a time of great war threats. I was quite surprised how ignorant I was of the Korean view, so I did an interview, aimed at informing fellow anti-war activists in Chicago. I was told to submit it to some internet publications, which then picked it up.
I have been informing people about the case of the 5 Cuban political prisoners in US prisons for 12 years, but I have never encountered such a response as this.
That make me think – we have relatively unrestricted access to information on the internet. The people in the DPRK do not. Yet we remain either ignorant or misinformed about the DPRK, probably to the same degree they are about us.
Our knowledge of North Korea consists of misinformation. In fact, while in the US our information sources are not what is called censored, probably US people are as misinformed or uninformed about North Korea as North Koreans, who have little internet access, are about the US.
This is a good example of the fact that the US rulers don’t need censorship to keep you in the dark, to keep you confused. They have other, less obvious tools.
I should add that I can make up any story about the DPRK and you would have no way of knowing, without some considerable research, if what I was saying was true or not.
But what do North Koreans want of the US? It was voiced by its leader Kim Jong Un who asked Dennis Rodman to say to Obama, ‘Let’s talk, we don’t want war.”
A simple message of peace to the Nobel Peace Prize winner – one Obama refused to accept.
Instead, the US responded with what it called “war games,” which were US/South Korea war maneuvers designed to bully North Korea, and last for a month every year.
North Koreans felt threatened and angry, just as we would be, if say Russia had month long war maneuvers along the US-Canada border.
This year these US war maneuvers were different from previous ones. Before they had been presented as practice for repelling a North Korean invasion of the South.
This year they were first strike attacks on the North. And, this year, they publicly stated they would practice nuclear bomb attacks with stealth bombers undetectable by North Korea radar.
We may remember the US sent ships off North Vietnam in war maneuvers. We learned they were attacked by North Vietnam, and the US response led to a rapidly escalating full scale war.
Of course we know no such North Vietnam attack actually took place. The US made up that story. I am sure the knowledge this fabricated attack on US war maneuvers, leading to full scale war, was not lost on the DPRK leaders.
But I am sure the US corporate media would try to paint the DPRK leaders as ‘paranoid” for imaging the US would do such a thing.
I think there were three reasons behind these first strike war maneuvers. The US was testing the new leadership of DPRK, to see if the US could provoke divisions in the government, opening up a way to intervene. Second it was a way to escalate US military presence against China. And third, it diverted public opinion from the Obama cuts to social security.
How would we react if Russia said they were conducting maneuvers on the Canadian border, preparing for an invasion of the US, using nuclear weapons?
Would we consider US threats to counteract a sign of craziness of the US government? More likely we would consider it craziness if the US didn’t respond that way.
North Koreans legitimately saw the March-April US so-called “war games” as a dress rehearsal for a new invasion.
These war threats by the world’s biggest superpower unified the DPRK people around their government, against the US.
Obama’s stance towards the DPRK is the same as Bush’s: do not talk to the government but threaten it militarily. Kerry has offered to negotiate, but as in the case of the Palestinians, negotiations means negotiating the conditions of your surrender. Combined with US military threats are the US/UN economic sanctions aimed at strangling the economy, causing hunger among its people, and the collapse of the government.
Naturally the Korean people back their government when it refuses to accept such conditions. And naturally the Korean people support their government in fighting against this, and regard the US as a threat.
Since the end of the Korean War 60 years ago, the Workers Party government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has repeatedly put forward the same four proposals to the United States. They are:
- Sign a peace treaty to end the Korean War.
- Reunify Korea, which has been “temporarily” divided into North and South since 1945.
- An end to the U.S. occupation of South Korea and end the annual month-long U.S-South Korean war maneuvers directed at the North. (two months this year)
- Bilateral talks between Washington and Pyongyang to end tensions on the Korean peninsula.
All thinking working class people in the US should support these proposals.
The U.S. and its South Korean government have rejected each proposal over the years. As a consequence, the peninsula has remained in a state of semi-war and militarization since the 1950s.
You do not hear in the corporate media that North Korea has asked the United States for a peace treaty more than 100 times. That North Korea is actively seeks peace does not jibe with what we are supposed to believe here: it is a warlike government and we are a neutral party.
To understand the Korean crisis today, we must go back in time, just as to understand the Israel-Palestine conflict, we have to go back to the Nakba, in 1948, when the Palestinians were driven from their lands.
Bruce Cumings in North Korea Another Country tells the truth:
“Why is it a garrison state? Primarily because of the holocaust that the North experienced during the Korean War.”
Today is the 60th anniversary of the US defeat in that war, defeated not by the Japanese and Germans in WWII, but by the Koreans. And especially by the Chinese, who had just put an end to their “century of humiliation” by the West.
It was in fact the first defeat US imperialism ever suffered. The US command thought they could crush the DPRK, incorporate it into South Korea in the space of two weeks.
29,000 US troops are in South Korea today. There is no peace treaty only an armistice, an armistice between the US and the DPRK, none between South Korea and North Korea.
Yet, it is US hypocrisy to call the DPRK a garrison state. Isn’t the US clearly the world’s most militarized state? Are we now not a country run by the military-industrial complex, permanently at war, a country that spends more on the military than all other countries combined? We have the NSA spying on everything we do. If that is not a militarized, garrison state, then what is?
To understand Korea today we have to go back to 1945.
Korea suffered a brutal Japanese occupation from 1910-1945, including 200,000 so-called comfort women used as sex slaves for the Japanese army, and hundreds of thousands of slave laborers.
Who started the Korean War? Dean Rusk, 1945
US divided Korea in 1945, sent 25,000 troops to support a military dictatorship in the South. The US and the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw their troops in 1948 and let national elections take place.
In 1948 the Soviet troops withdrew, but the US did not, and did not allow national elections because its chosen president would not have won.
The US occupation made the Koreans working for the Japanese Imperial occupation the new SK government, police and military.
The leaders of the DPRK were all fighting in the anti-Japanese war from the early 1930s. Since 1931, Kim Il Sung led Korean-Chinese military units fighting the Japanese.
Anti-Japanese war in Manchuria, Japanese killed 200,000 guerrillas, Communists.
The 1950-53 Korean conflict was a war against a foreign occupation.
Noam Chomsky described South Korea before the Korean War broke out:
“When US forces entered Korea in 1945, they dispersed the local popular government, consisting primarily of antifascists who resisted the Japanese, and inaugurated a brutal repression, using Japanese fascist police and Koreans who had collaborated with them during the Japanese occupation. About 100,000 people were murdered in South Korea prior to what we call the Korean War”
Right after the war began in June 1950, South Korean government executed around 100,000 political opponents and dumped them into trenches and mines, or simply threw them into the sea.
General Curtis Lemay: “Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – 20% of the population.” Curtis Lemay quoted in Richard Rhodes, “The General and World War III,” The New Yorker, June 19, 1995, p. 53.
As many as 4,000,000 Koreans died, over 80% civilians. The Chinese suffered 900,000 dead.
Japan lost far less in World War II, 2.3 million.
Cumings; “oceans” of napalm were dropped on the North. The US killed a higher percentage of the population than the Nazis did in Poland or the Soviet Union.
US bombing of North Korea was on a much more systematic than its bombing of Japan. For instance, Pyongyang had a population of 400,000 people. The US dropped 420,000 bombs on it.
Every building and structure you see now in North Korea was built since 1953, because everything had been destroyed.
Once the Chinese came to aid the North Koreans, General MacArthur ordered the bombing of every “installation, factory, city, and village” over thousands of miles of North Korea.
Eventually, all Koreans behind North Korea lines were considered targets, and civilians no longer existed. The US had complete control of the skies and all people and all buildings were targets.
Only two weeks after the start of the war, the Joint Chief of Staff considered the use of nuclear weapons. At the time the US had 450 A-bombs to the Soviet’s 25. In December 1950 MacArthur submitted 25 targets to be A-bombed.
He later said “I would have dropped between 30 and 50 atomic bombs…strung along the neck of Manchuria….For at least 60 years there could have been no land invasion of Korea from the north.”
Truman was in favor of using nuclear weapons, but was worried about the international reaction.
Humphrey Bogart narrated a film, The Crime of Korea, in 1950, an excellent example of the anti-communist, anti-DPRK propaganda we are subjected to, from before the US War on Korean to today.
In the film layers of corpses stretched across football field length trenches:
Bogart:‘ Taejon: men, women and children murdered cold-bloodedly, deliberately, butchered to spread terror” by “Communist monsters” and “primitive North Koreans” Taejon is south of Seoul, in South Korea.
What actually happened in Taejon is that the S. Korea police in July 1950 removed 7,000 political prisoners, women and children from jails, massacred them, threw them into open pits, dumped earth on them. American military stood by, photographing it.
The Humphrey Bogart film was then made, blaming the slaughter on North Korea.
This type of incident happened repeatedly as the US forces advanced and retreated.
Pictures of some of the slaughters, taken by US military photographers, look just like the killing pits the Nazis used for Jews.
After his sacking, MacArthur told the US Congress,
‘The war in Korea has almost destroyed that nation. I have never seen such devastation. I have seen, I guess, as much blood and disaster as any living man, and it just curdled my stomach the last time I was there. After I looked at that wreckage and those thousands of women and children and everything, I vomited. If you go on indefinitely, you are perpetuating a slaughter such as I have never heard of in the history of mankind.’
When MacArthur said this it was still only a quarter of the way into the war – and not in the most shattered part of Korea.
The armistice agreement the US, China and DPRK signed in 1953 stated all foreign troops should leave the peninsula in 3 months. Only China complied. The armistice also stipulated that a permanent peace treaty would be hammered out in 3 months time. Yet 60 years later the US has 28,500 troops and operates 40 military bases there.
In the US the Korean War, the US war on Korea, is called the “forgotten war.” It might be better called “the hidden war” the war the US rulers don’t want us to know about.
It is hidden from us, just as the US atrocities against the First Nations peoples were hidden from us, and how the barbarity of the 300 year slave trade still is hidden from us. If we had a truth commission on the Korean war, US working people would develop a natural sympathy for how Koreans have been abused by the U.S.
The war is not at all forgotten by North Koreans. Like the brutal Japanese occupation, it is a living memory, an ongoing war. It is the present.
Indeed, what struck me when I went to the DPRK, learned about US cruelty in the war, and its treatment of the people of the DPRK since then, is how much it is a reapplication of the murderous methods the white man used against the American Indians, the First Nations peoples. The whites tricked, lied, stole to get their land, slaughtered both those who fought and those who submitted. The whites made no promise they didn’t break.
US government diplomacy with the DPRK is remarkably reminiscent of the term “Indian Giver.” The origin of the term comes from claiming Indians gave things to the white man, then broke their word and took it back.
Review of some Social Gains of North Korea, some eroded since the 1990s
Even the CIA noted compassionate care for children in general and war orphans in particular,
a radical improvement in the position of women,
genuinely free housing,
free health care, and high standard preventive medicine.
As early as 1968 all homes in the country had electricity, far ahead of South Korea, maybe even here.
everyone has a right to a job, to education through grade 11. We did not see beggars there. We did not see conditions that I would see in many parts of Latin America, let alone India, which has by far the worst social conditions and human rights situation of any country I have been to. Yet the US says it is a free and democratic country.
North Korea probably had the highest rate of economic growth in the 1950s and 1960s of any country in modern world history, 20-30% per year, year after year. Even the CIA estimated that in 1972, DPRK economic growth was 35%. So much for Communist basket cases.
infant mortality and life expectancy rates comparable to the most advanced countries until the 1990s famine.
The DPRK has a well-educated, disciplined population, and the country can mobilize everyone for national projects or campaigns. The people are quite well-organized. They are educated in the value not of “Look out for Number 1” but of community first. The people did not strike me as demoralized by the extremely difficult past 20 years.
FAMINE- North Korea
Care International documentary.
North Korea: A Day in the Life
Seven Days in North Korea
film I brought
U.S. Using Food as Weapon Against North Korea
Most Korean agricultural land is in the South. North Korea is 80% mountainous. The DPRK had been self-sufficient in food, even a food exporter, thanks to mechanized agriculture, good transportation, and irrigation systems. But with the collapse of the USSR, its cheap oil, and the other Soviet bloc trading partners, all this quickly changed. Then it was struck by severe flooding and severe drought over a period of years. US trade sanctions tightened.
Its mechanized irrigation system, and highly mechanized agriculture basically stopped. Lack of oil made transport of goods and food difficult.
The Clinton administration expectantly waited the collapse of both Cuba and the DPRK.
But even writers hostile to the DPRK admitted that in its worse phase the famine only began to approach the level of infant mortality and deaths from malnutrition or starvation seen year in year out in India.
During some of the time during this famine, the US blocked food aid to North Korea.
When I was there, outside of Pyongyang, electricity is intermittent. We went to the city of Kaesong near the border, which was basically black at night. Our hotel had a few hours of heat, light and water because we had a generator. I assume our living conditions there were better because we were in a tourist hotel.
We saw very few vehicles on the roads outside of Pyongyang, no mechanized agriculture. But all available land seems used for farming.
North Korea has been hit with sanctions, and as with the US/UN sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s, the ones most affected are babies and children.
April 13,2012 To punish it for satellite launches. But South Korea just launched a rocket too, January 31, 2013
In March 2012 North Korea launched a non-military satellite. This was just one of 75 satellites that a variety of nations sent into space last year, but Pyongyang’s launch, the only one singled out for condemnation. The US naturally was not condemned when in 2012 it launched 5 military and 3 spy satellites last year.
I might add that in 2005 SK admitted it was trying to make a nuclear bomb. And this year SK set off a missile, with no international reaction.
Kim Song: “We have been used to coping with U.S. sanctions since 1945. Our people think the sanctions are a clear example of a double standard and a misuse of the UN Security Council. There is no justification for them. Sanctions were applied because of our nuclear bomb tests and satellite launches.
“ Since World War II there have been 9000 missile/ satellite launches. Four were by the DPRK. There have been 2000 nuclear tests, 3 by the DPRK. But the UN never made a resolution or imposed sanctions against any country for doing that, only the DPRK.
“This is a double standard by the UN. It is a misuse of the UN Security Council by the US. Other countries are like US puppets to go along with this.”
“The sanctions affect every household, every individual in the DPRK. There are power cuts, a heating and energy shortage, a food problem. The sanctions threaten any country that trades with the DPRK, so that they must choose who they want to trade with, the DPRK or other countries. Our trade now is really only with China.
Repeated US sanctions have stopped food aid. The sanctions have made the food situation worse.”
We should remember that every year the US conducts massive mock invasions and mock bombing assaults against the DPRK in regular joint war maneuvers with South Korea, it is impossible to conceive of the DPRK accepting the notion that its programs are the actual threat to peace on the peninsula.
It is estimated that in total there are more than 18,000 nuclear weapons in the world and that the DPRK has maybe 3.
Today humanitarian agencies providing food aid to North Korea are warning that the tightened sanctions are making providing food more and more difficult.
Meanwhile, back in our so-called free and civilized world, the richest 100 people make $241 billion last year. The UN says $60 a year would eliminate world poverty. If we took 1/ 4 of what the richest 100 made last year, poverty would be gone from the planet. Instead 19,000 children die every day from hunger and poverty diseases.
But we are not to think about the insanity and criminality of a system that supports that, only North Korea is crazy.
Continuing US War on Korea
You will notice with all the news articles in the corporate press about the DPRK, you probably never saw one saying the US government would talk to its leaders. Kim Jong Un has asked Obama to call, but the answer is always the same: No answer.
Obama’s plan, like Clinton and Bush is to try to economically strangle the DPRK and to force to allocate too much of its resources to the military.
Destroying the government of the DPRK would allow the U.S. to turn the entire Korean peninsula into an extension of U.S. power—right on the border of China and Russia. That is the ultimate motivation for U.S. policy toward North Korea.
The North Korean leaders are called paranoid. Yet the US killed 4 million in a war, won’t sign a peace treaty, has first strike war maneuvers using nuclear weapons. Is that paranoia or common sense?
What might be called paranoid was when JFK said Cuba was planning to attack the US (that was well before the 1962 missile crisis), when Reagan said Grenada, a country of 100,000 was planning to strike us.
A lot of noise is made lampooning the Kim family cult.
Went to the Kim Memorial. Very formal dress. Some women cried.
But as Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?”
Look at the national cult beliefs we have in our country. “God blesses America.” We are educated to revere the slave-owners and Indian-killers who nobly proclaimed “all men are created equal” We believe we live in a more or less democratic, free society where everyone is treated equal, we think the US was founded on those principles, but any passing knowledge of US history shows that to be a ridiculous cult.
We are told the DPRK leaders are crazy. But in our country, $4 billion was spent in the 2012 elections to choose between two people to be president who are basically the same thing. $100,000 is spent per year for every US soldier in Afghanistan.
And meanwhile 20 million are out of work, hundreds of thousands of school children are homeless. This isn’t crazy?
Their leaders are called crazy, but they do not deny global warming, nor use global warming to start drilling for oil in the Arctic.
Their leaders are not so crazy to invent a story of WMD, then kill 1.5 million people and spend hundreds of billions of dollars.
Recently the Chicago Tribune ran an article typical of the propaganda we are brought up on about North Korea. It condemned the DPRK as a police state for having up to 200,000 in prison camps.” What is the propaganda? First, it did not provide evidence for number. Second. Communists have prison camps, which are bad. We have prisons, which is how it should be.
Up to 200,000 out of 25 million. We have 2.3 million out of 320 million. In the DPRK that is human rights abuse, here it is the Justice system.
By the way, the US has 60% more prisoners than China, even though China has 4 times our population.
In fairness to the Chicago Tribune the article was written before Snowden exposed the US police state and had to flee for his safety to China and Russia.
The standard practice of vilifying foreign leaders in the corporate media does two things. It signifies these leaders are target for U.S. overthrow, to lay the right atmosphere for people’s consent for war.
It is also meant to intimidate and isolate anti-war activists for opposing a war against countries ruled by “madmen” – be they Saddam, Fidel, Hugo Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Qaddaffi.
The US rulers seek to overthrow the North Korean government, incorporate the North into the South, and then threaten China at the Korea-China border.
The US rulers can only launch a war if they win over, or at least neutralize, the liberal segment of the population, what is often called the “left.” And do the same with the anti-war segment of the population, which is often not the same as the liberal segment. The US government failed to do that with Iraq, but they succeeded with Libya.
The US rulers can only wage war so long as the bulk of the liberals and the so-called left go along. The liberals actively opposed Bush, but they were either behind Obama or they remained silent and passive.
North Korea is one of two countries all presidents would especially like to overthrow, the other being Cuba. But Cuba has to a fair extent, won over most liberals. Most have a favorable view of some aspects of Cuba. This would make a US invasion quite difficult, as domestic support would not be there.
Not so with North Korea. They are held in the same contempt here as the whites had towards American Indians in the 1820s-1880s.
In the US few people stand up for North Korea. The US misinformation campaign against NORTH KOREA has been quite effective: it follows in the tradition of Humphrey Bogart’s film on North Korea: blame the North Korea government for what the US rulers do to their country.
As Kim Song said in the interview,
“The Yugoslav war showed us that we need to defend ourselves. We learned from the US that the US has no justice, no fairness. The US respects only power. So the DPRK developed nuclear weapons to have power. The DPRK needs to allocate resources to meet people’s needs but must spend money on nuclear weapons to protect and defend our country. We learned the lesson in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan: be strong.”
What stance should the anti-war movement and workers movement take towards the DPRK? As I said, imperialist propaganda about the DPRK has made deep inroads into the liberal, left and anti-war movements, dominating it.
“ So what can we do to defend human rights in North Korea – and South Korea?’
We should condemn the US/UN blockade on the DPRK, especially of food aid, the most serious attack on the human rights of their people..
We should demand the US sign a peace treaty, withdraw its troops which have no right to be there. As Kim Song said in the interview:
“The American people should ask the US government to change its hostile policy. Make America aware of the real situation in the Korean peninsula. Ask the American government to sign a peace treaty and push for diplomatic ties with the DPRK.”
We should demand that the US stop threatened the DPRK with nuclear weapons.
We should defend their right to have nuclear weapons as a measure of self-defense.
We should demand the US recognize the government of the people of the DPRK as a legitimate government.
If we really want more rights for the people of the DPRK then we should stop pointing a gun at their head.
This will improve the human rights situation in the DPRK, like it will in South Korea, and like it will here.