The Dubious Story of Murder of Kim Jong Nam

From Kim Jong-nam murder suspect thought poison was baby oil Free ... {MID-70303}
Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity
    In the West, even among people who consider themselves not susceptible to government-corporate media propaganda, any wild story about North Korea can be taken as credible. We should ask ourselves why that is the case, given what we know about the history of government and media fabrications, often related to gaining our acquiescence to a new war.
    The corporate media reports North Korean agents murdered Kim Jong Nam with a banned chemical weapon VX. They fail to add that the US government is not a signatory to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. They rarely note the Malaysian police investigating the case have not actually said North Korea is connected to his death.
    The story of his death or murder raises a number of serious questions. North Korea says Kim Jong Nam was not murdered, but suffered from heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes, required constant medication, and this caused his death. The North Korean diplomat in Malaysia Ri Tong-il “cited the postmortem examination conducted by Malaysian health authorities, claiming that the postmortem showed Jong-nam died of a heart attack.”[1]
    Malaysian authorities conducted two autopsies, the second after the first said to be inconclusive in identifying a cause of death, before announcing well over a week later that VX was involved.
    What was going on here? And why weren’t the autopsies made open to others besides Malaysian officials?
    Why was the South Korean government the first country to come out quickly after Kim’s February 13 death to blame North Korea for murdering him with the VX nerve weapon – before Malaysia had determined anything? The Malaysian autopsy was not complete until February 23, ten days later.
   Why did these two women charged with murder travel several times to South Korea before this attack occurred?
   Why was Ri Jong-choi, the only North Korean arrested in the case, released for lack of evidence?
   The two women did not wear gloves, but had the liquid directly on their hands.  “The police said the four North Korean suspects who left the country the day of the killing put the VX liquid on the women’s hands.”[2] They later washed it off.  Why did none of them die or even get sickened by it? No reports say they went to the hospital.
  “Malaysian Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu  Khalid said the women knew they were handling poisonous materials during the attack…. leading forensic toxicologists who study murder by poison… question how the two women could walk away unscathed after deploying an agent potent enough to kill Kim Jong Nam before he could even make it to the hospital.”[3]
   “Tens of thousands of passengers have passed through the airport since the apparent assassination was carried out. No areas were cordoned off and protective measures were not taken.”[4]
    Why, if a highly deadly VX used to kill Kim, did the terminal remain open to thousands of travelers, and not shut down and checked for VX until February 26, 13 days later?
   Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said “VX only requires 10 milligrams to be absorbed into the system to be lethal,” yet he added that there have been no reports of anyone else being sickened by the toxin.[5]
    DPRK’s Ri Tong-il said in his statement, “How is it possible” the two ladies survived? “How is it possible” no single person in the airport got contaminated? “How is it possible” no nurse, no doctor, no police escorting Kim after the attack were affected?[6]
    Why does Malaysia, which acknowledges Kim Jong Nam is Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, make the outrageous demand that Kim’s body won’t be released to North Korea until a close family member provides a sample of their own DNA?[7]
    From what we are told, the story does not add up.
    Ri Tong-il asked in his same statement “Why is South Korea trying so hard [to blame the DPRK] in this instance? They have a great political crisis inside South Korea [which is quite true] and they need to divert people’s attention,” noting also that the two women involved traveled to South Korea and that South Korea blamed the North for murder by VX the very day it happened.
   Ri Jong-choi, the released North Korean, “accused police of threatening to harm his family unless he confessed to the killing of the half brother of North Korea’s leader, calling it a plot to tarnish his country’s honor….Police never said what they believed Ri’s role was in the attack.”[8]
“He also said Malaysian authorities told him at one point that if he confessed his guilt he would be able to stay in Malaysia.”[9]
    Stephen Lendman also gives a possible explanation:
“North Korean senior representatives were preparing to come to New York to meet with former US officials, a chance for both sides to discuss differences diplomatically, hopefully leading to direct talks with Trump officials.
The State Department hadn’t yet approved visas, a positive development if arranged.
Reports indicate North Korea very much wanted the meeting to take place. Makes sense. It would indicate a modest thaw in hostile relations, a good thing if anything came of it.
So why would Pyongyang want to kill Kim Jong-nam at this potentially sensitive time, knowing it would be blamed for the incident, talks likely cancelled?
Sure enough, they’re off, Pyongyang accused of killing Kim, even though it seems implausible they planned and carried out the incident, using agents in Malaysia to act as proxies.”[10]
   Possibly North Korean leader Kim Jong Un decided to murder his apolitical brother, chosing to do so by using a banned highly toxic agent in public, under video cameras in a crowded airport of a friendly country? Instead of say, doing it by easier means in the North Korean Embassy’s guesthouse in Kuala Lumpur, where the New York Times said his brother sometimes stayed[11]?
   We are not supposed to doubt what we are spoon fed, that Kim Jong Un is some irrational war-mongerer who has instituted a reign of terror. A safer bet is this is a new attempt to beat the drums of war against North Korea and its allies.
The author’s previous articles on North Korea are at

Framing North Korea

Image result for bogus north korea sony hack evidence

When it comes to North Korea, for the US government and its media, time stands still. They remain fixated in the 1950s Joe McCarthy worldview: the Red-Yellow peril, a monster capable of unimaginable evil, threatens our civilization and freedoms. North Korea’s Kim family is presented as three reincarnations of a Communist Dr. Fu Manchu.
The US makes a racist comedy about murdering a foreign head of state, and with a straight face, calls it an issue of “artistic” freedom. Obama showed himself happy to push this line, and pressed for its distribution after Sony withdrew it.
What war hysteria would grip the US political elites if Putin endorsed a Russian comedy about murdering Obama, or if Iran made one about killing Netanyahu!
Deliberately unmentioned in the noise around North Korea is the long history of US intervention in Korea. In 1945, the US, divided the Korean peninsula in two, with no Korean input, even though Koreans were allies in the struggle against the Japanese occupation. The US then pushed for separate elections in the South in 1948, and then invaded the country to back its ruthless dictator Syngman Rhee. During most of the Korean War, the United States held near-total aerial superiority, which it used, according to General Curtis LeMay, to kill one quarter of the north’s population, and to raze every city and structure in the north. An estimated four million Koreans has been killed, seventy percent of whom were civilians. In spite of that genocide, Koreans fought on, inflicting on the US its first post-World War II defeat. In the US the war is referred to as “The Forgotten War,” whereas in North Korea, no one is able to forget.
The inflammatory twist to the comedy, The Interview, blowing the head off evil enemy No. 1 Kim Jong Un, came from the CIA. An email from Sony’s senior vice president Marisa Liston, indicated that it came from Sony through the intelligence agency. “They mention that a former CIA agent and someone who used to work for Hilary [sic] Clinton looked at the script.” Sony CEO Michael Lynton reveals that he checked with ” someone very senior in State” who, confidentially, encouraged him to finish this film representation of the assassination of a living head of state, a first in U.S. film history.
Sony emails also show that Ambassador Robert King, incredibly enough, called “U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights” provided advice on the film.
Who knows if King was instrumental in bringing the report to the UN Security Council that claimed North Korean prison guards were accused of cooking a prison inmate’s baby and feeding it to dogs, a story reminiscent of those the Nazis spread about Jews. Other abuses claimed to have taken place in North Korean prisons sound identical to what we have learned of US conduct in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
After Sony was hacked and embarrassed by what was revealed, the FBI quickly determined, based on secret information only they possess and cannot share with us (for our own safety) that the DPRK was behind this evil deed. Then, Obama denounced North Korea and declared there will be consequences for threatening our freedoms and national security.
It is remarkable how fast they operated here, compared to the laboriously slow – and unfinished – process the US government took over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, or the case of Troy Davis.
And let’s recall that North Korea has been dubbed a “black hole” by former CIA director Robert Gates, and “the longest-running intelligence failure in the history of espionage” according to ex-CIA Seoul station chief and former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg.
A variety of computer analysts have disputed the claim that North Korea was involved in the hacking, but the Obama administration brushed it off with claims of safeguarding their “sensitive information” that allegedly proves North Korea’s guilt.
In response to the US accusations, The Korean Central News Agency of the DPRK said on December 20,

“They, without presenting any specific evidence, are asserting they can not open it to public, as it is ‘sensitive information.’ Clear evidence is needed to charge a sovereign state with a crime….We propose the U.S. side that we conduct a joint investigation into the case, given that Washington is slandering Pyongyang by spreading unfounded rumors.” A sensible request.

They add, “We have a way to prove that we have nothing to do with the case without resorting to torture as the CIA does.”
But it was beneath the dignity of civilized and freedom-loving America to even respond. The story given to us by the corporate U.S. media was clear: North Korea was responsible for the hack because the government said it was.
More than a few have noted the similarity of Obama’s story of North Korean hacking to Lyndon B. Johnson’s concocted Gulf of Tonkin incident, which led to sharply escalating the disastrous Vietnam war, and to Colin Powell’s just-so story to the United Nations Security Council about Saddam Hussein’s hidden stashes of chemical weapons, which led to the present disastrous wars in the Middle East.
While claiming to be indignant about threats to the internet, in a move that only US does not find to be utter hypocrisy, the US then proceeded to disrupt North Korea’s internet system and cell phone service.
President Obama then escalated that unjustified provocation by imposing new sanctions on North Korea, which the Treasury Department claimed was a response to that country’s “efforts to undermine U.S. cyber-security and intimidate U.S. businesses and artists exercising their right of freedom of speech.” Lost on them is that the US that is doing exactly this, to North Korea.
And meanwhile, the actual guilty party, a woman ex-employee of Sony, gets off scott free. Such is the manner the US government “protects” our internet freedoms.
“One leading cybersecurity firm, Norse Corp., said Monday it has narrowed its list of suspects to a group of six people — including at least one Sony veteran with the necessary technical background to carry out the attack, according to reports…Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president at Norse, said he used Sony’s leaked human-resources documents and cross-referenced the data with communications on hacker chat rooms and its own network of Web sensors to determine it was not North Korea behind the hack.”
“All the leads that we did turn up that had a Korean connection turned out to be dead ends,” he said. The information found by Norse points to an employee or employees terminated in a May restructuring and hackers involved in distributing pirated movies online that have been pursued by Sony, Stammberger told Bloomberg.
Obama in his last press conference of the year, did use the occasion to push for the release of this racist comedy The Interview, using this issue to divert attention from the recently released report on CIA torture and his own refusal to prosecute the US terrorists-in-chief. The US then moved to reinstall North Korea on its “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list.
Simultaneous with Obama press conference attacking the DPRK, in actual real news from Korea, unmentioned here, the South Korean government banned the United Progressive Party, the only party advocating peace, reunification, and social justice, claiming “it was under orders from North Korea to subvert the South Korean state through violent revolution.”
Sometimes North Korean editorials go over the top, as the December 27 one after Obama held a news conference and pushed for the release of the film belittling North Korea and assassinating Kim Jong Un: “Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest.” Yet US leaders themselves have a long history of habitually depicting North Koreans in a racist and sub-human manner.
The DPRK statement did go on to say:

“We’d like to ask if somebody made a film concerning terror, and if somebody intends to instigate terror, can Obama talk about freedom of expression and value of modern civilization? We take this opportunity to clearly announce once again: the hacking attack on Sony Pictures has nothing to do with us. We make it clear that our target is not such individual corporations as Sony Picture but the US imperialist brigands who keep a grudge against our entire nation. If the US intends to insist that we are the hacking attackers they must present evidence now. But the United States unconditionally connects the disastrous hacking attack with us, without evidence [and] without clear grounds. Actually, the big United States shamelessly began to obstruct the internet operations of major media of the DPRK. We have already warned them not to act in the way of shaking a fist after being hit by somebody.

“Of course, we do not expect our warning would work on the brigands because it is the United State that makes the truth recognized by all people into a falsehood, triggers wars of aggression, and unhesitatingly intervenes in the internal affairs of a sovereign state if it is to satisfy their aggressive ambitions… It [was] none other than the United States that ignited an aggressive war in Korea…[that] triggered off the aggressive Vietnamese war and that conquered Iraq, by fabricating a groundless conspiratorial farce, called ‘removal of weapons of mass destruction.’ If the US persists in American-style arrogant, high-handed and gangster-like arbitrary practices despite [the DPRK’s] repeated warnings, the US should bear in mind that its failed political affairs will face inescapable deadly blows.”

These are words that would strike one as worth consideration, if it were not that the US public remained so mired in Joe McCarthy’s worldview on Korea, where we are still the world good guys, and they, the evil red-yellow peril, are so evil that no one dare murmur that North Korea be taken seriously.
Stansfield Smith, Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5/Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee. Went on a delegation to the DPRK in March 2013.

Presentation on North Korea and US War Threats

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 Worker’s Party government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has repeatedly put forward the same four proposals to the United States. They are:

  1. Sign a peace treaty to end the Korean War.
  2. Reunify Korea, which has been “temporarily” divided into North and South since 1945.
  3. 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)
  4. 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 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 guerillas, 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 maNorth Koreaind.’

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% mountaneous. The DPRK had been self-sufficient in food, even a food exporter, thaNorth Koreas 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 these quic. 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 thiNorth Korea 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 thiNorth Korea 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 he DRRK 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 KOREA 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 thiNorth Korea 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 KOREA government, incorporate the N 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.

North Korea’s Justifiable Anger

The corporate media reduces the DPRK (North Korea) to the Kim family and prefaces their names with the terms “madman”, “evil” and “brutal”. Such vilifications of foreign leaders are used here not only to signify they are target for US overthrow. They are meant to intimidate and isolate anti-war activists as being out in left field for ever wanting to oppose a war against countries ruled by “madmen” – be they Saddam, Fidel, Hugo Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Qaddaffi.

Yet to a sensible person, it is crazy that the US, with nuclear weapons thousands of miles from home, in South Korea, denies North Korea has a right to have its own nuclear weapons on its own land – particularly when the North says it is developing nuclear weapons only as a deterrent because the US won’t take its own weapons out of the Korean peninsula.

Missing in what passes for discourse on the DPRK in the corporate media is that the US was conducting month-long war maneuvers last March in Korea, now extended into April, using stealth bombers, undetectable by radar, capable of carrying nuclear weapons. And this year these are not “deterrent” war maneuvers, but “pre-emptive war” maneuvers.

Would the US government and people get a little “irrational” if a foreign country that previously had killed millions of our people, sent nuclear capable stealth bombers off the coasts of New York City, Washington DC, Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, there to fly around for a month in preparation for a possible nuclear attack on us? For what is called, in warped US language, war “games”?

The US may have killed 20% of the population of Korea, said General Curtis Lemay, who was involved in the US air war on Korea. If so, that is a higher rate of genocidal slaughter than what the Nazis inflicted on Poland or the Soviet Union. The Korean War may be unknown ancient history to us, but it is no more ancient history to Koreans than the Nakba is to Palestinians.

North Korea knows that history, and it is warning the US they know what to expect and are arming themselves to prevent it. Are the DPRK leaders “paranoid” or taking justifiable precautions?

What kind of deranged people call war preparations a “war game”? North Korea doesn’t think it’s a “game.” Over 4 million died in the last war to reunify their country that the US divided. If men had an annual rite called “group rape games” wouldn’t we think it a criminal misogynist pathology, and wouldn’t women be justified in being outraged and arming themselves in self-defense?

An accurate reading of the events leading up to the present situation shows that North Korea is responding to US military escalation, and in particular to US refusal to negotiate. This includes a peace treaty to end the Korean War, any steps towards reunifying Korea, the end to the US occupation of South Korea and ending the annual month-long US-South Korean war maneuvers. Even today, it includes US refusal to talk in order to lower the tensions.

North Korea was hit with US/UN Security Council sanctions for a missile launch last year. South Korea sent off a missile this year; were there any sanctions?

Since World War II there have been 9000 missile launches. 4 were by the DPRK. There have been 2000 atomic bomb tests. 3 were by DPRK. No country was sanctioned by the UN Security Council for this. No country except the DPRK. Why wouldn’t the North Koreans be incensed by this double standard, especially when the US has nuclear weapons in South Korea?

The US kill rate in the 1950-53 Korean War equaled more than one 9-11 every day, day after day, for the whole 1100 day war. US people had a scar from one 9-11.  So what kind of war scars do Koreans have?

Korea is divided because our country invaded and divided it after the Japanese surrender. The leaders of the DPRK had been fighting the Japanese since the early 1930s, and 200,000 had lost their lives. When Korean liberation was at hand in 1945, the US intervened and blocked it.

The US was supposed to leave in 1948, along with the Soviet Union, but because Kim Il Sung was likely to win planned nation-wide elections, the US made the division permanent and blocked national elections, just as it did later in Vietnam. This lead to the Korean War, the cause of the present militarization: A foreign country divided and occupied their country against their will.

We should play our part to improve the human rights situation in Korea, not only in the North but in the South as well. Both societies are more closed and controlled than our own. Whether being occupied by foreign troops, threatened with war and war maneuvers, or subjected to harsh economic sanctions, this does not facilitate free and open societies.

If we really want more rights for the people of the DPRK then we should stop pointing a gun at their head. If we listened to Kim Jong Un’s message delivered a month ago, ignored by President Obama, “We don’t want war. Let’s talk,” that would only foster a more open society there – and in South Korea, just as we know it would  here in the US.

Stansfield Smith is an anti-war and Latin America solidarity activist in Chicago who recently returned from a trip to North Korea [Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK)], with Koryo Tours. He can be reached at:


What North Koreans Think

I recently returned from a late March trip to North Korea [Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, DPRK], along with 45 others, through Koryo Tours. On that tour I had the opportunity to discuss with the Korean tour guides their views on the current situation.  I only recall the DPRK view mentioned here once in the corporate media, when Dennis Rodman returned with a message from new President Kim Jong. The message was “I don’t want war, call me.”  Nobel Peace Prize winning President Obama refused to accept it, evidently preferring an escalating threat of a regional nuclear war to talking.  I asked my Korean tours guides to be interviewed so I could present their views to US people. 

Has the DPRK made proposals for peaceful national reunification? 

Yes, now we have options:  the historic option of a federal republic, and the recent option.  In our history we proposed three principles for reunification: that the North and South unite the country independently of foreign forces, that we reunify peacefully, and that we work together over the years to create the unity of the whole nation.

Our historic option is a federal republic: a central government concerned only with national defense and diplomacy, and two local governments, North and South, handling all other issues.

But recently the situation on the peninsula is deteriorating. There are no signs of resolving the issue.  If South Korean provocations continue, war will break out and we are prepared to fight. Because the situation has deteriorated, that is why we invalidated the 1953 ceasefire agreement. Now there is no contact between North and South. Now there are no phone lines between North and South, there is no hotline.

Now the US and South Korea plan is that the DPRK will collapse. The situation continues to deteriorate. They are playing a dangerous game.

Japan is also very hostile. The present government is very rightwing.  It is trying to build a strong military using “dangerous” DPRK as a pretext to justify turning its self-defense force into a regular army. Not only the DPRK, but many Asian countries are concerned with this right-wing Japanese resurgence.

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.

Why did the DPRK feel the need to develop a nuclear bomb?

Koreans had to deal with the reality of nuclear weapons twice before. Many thousands of Korans were used as slave labor by the Japanese in World War II, and many of these were forced labor workers in Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb.

Later, in the U.S. war in Korean, U.S. General MacArthur wanted to drop 50-70 atomic bombs along the China-Korea border to create a belt of land people cannot live on or cross.

Later in the Pueblo incident in 1968, when the DPRK captured a U.S. spy ship in our waters, President Johnson aircraft carriers with nuclear weapons to Korea. And in 1969 when the U.S. E-C spy plane was shot down over our territory, the U.S. again threatened us with a nuclear attack.

The “Team Spirit” US-South Korea war exercises from the 1970s to the 1990s practiced with using nuclear bombs.

The DPRK joined the International Atomic Energy Agency and became a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty member in 1985.  We wanted to develop cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. Our purpose for joining was to be safe from nuclear attack. But the threat has continued.

In 1994 with our agreement with the US, we froze our nuclear program. In exchange, President Clinton and the US promised to supply us with a light water reactor. As we now know, Clinton only made those promises because the US thought the DPRK would collapse, and so did not need to honor the agreement. We allowed nuclear inspections until 1999, to show that our nuclear power was only for peaceful purposes. The US broke the agreement in 2002 under Bush, and we resumed using our nuclear power plant.

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.

The DPRK negotiated with the U.S., but the U.S. broke agreements, and increased sanctions five times. When the DPRK would agree to some terms, the U.S. would raise the ante. The U.S. had said we cannot have nuclear power, because we could use it for bombs. We cannot have satellites because the missiles we send them into space with can be used as military missiles. These they these things can have dual purpose, one civilian, one military.  They deny us food because they say it can be used to feed the military. If we kept going along with this, they would say we cannot have kitchen knives because we could use them for fighting.

There are slave states and noble states. Noble states develop their own technological infrastructure, GPS, weather reporting, etc., so need satellites. These days satellites are used for many things. If your country doesn’t have your own technology, you end up a slave state, dependent on other countries.  Noble countries are in control of their own development and have a future.

Maybe without nuclear weapons we could already have been attacked by the US in a war. Now our people can live more peacefully. The people of the DPRK are proud we have nuclear weapons, they are a guarantee of peace.  Only we on our own can safeguard the peace.

The US has over 1000 nuclear weapons in South Korea – nuclear artillery, nuclear missiles, nuclear bombs, nuclear landmines.

The DPRK has called for a nuclear free Korean peninsula, but this call has been ignored. Now that we saw no choice but to develop nuclear weapons to defend ourselves, we are sanctioned. This is a double standard insulting to our people.

What do the people of the DPRK think of the US/UN sanctions? How do these sanctions affect the people here?

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. Even you visiting tourists are affected by the sanctions, as you see with your hotels. [in Pyongyang water and lights were only on certain hours of  the day; in other towns it was even less].  There is a lack of oil and spare parts for machinery.

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.

How is the food situation now and what role is the US playing?

The food situation is still not satisfactory, and we are still trying to cover our basic food needs with the help of food imports and foreign aid.  Repeated US sanctions have stopped food aid. The sanctions have made the food situation worse.

At present US NGOs [Non-governmental organizations] give only some, limited, token medical aid and no food aid. For a period of 7-8 years there was no food aid from the US.  The US sanctions are interfering with solving the food situation. It has cut its food aid, and even interferes with other countries providing food aid.

What is the main emphasis in the DPRK’s economic plan now [for the last several years the country had a military first policy]?

The DPRK now emphasizes two points: agricultural production and light industry. Light industry is what you call textiles, food processing, toys, furniture, shoes, and so on.  We want to invest and develop more these two areas.  We want to improve the living standard of people. We focus on these two even if the situation is dangerous. Even if war is coming, we will focus on agriculture and light industry until war starts.  We must work harder on developing agriculture and light industry.

Now with the nuclear bomb, the DPRK is a little safer and can turn from self-defense spending to light industry and consumer goods investment.  You saw in Pyongyang a big conference of 10,000 delegates from light industries all over the country.  They are here to discuss and exchange ideas about how to improve light industry, what has worked in their factories, what has problems, and how to solve them.

How are relations with South Korea since the Sunshine Policy? [Started by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and continued by President Roh Moo-hyun, from the years 1998-2008.  In this period of less chilly relations between North and South, the heads of state of the two countries met in 2000 and again in 2007. Cooperative business developments began, several thousand South Korean tourists visited the North. Kaesong Industrial Park in the DPRK was opened.]

Since 2008 South Korea has shown only confrontation. There has been no cooperation. South Korea has broken all agreements we have made during the Sunshine policy. There is no more cooperation, no tourism from the South, no engagement.  Now relations are only negative, there are no positive signs.  This is because of both US pressure and a South Korean decision.  South Korea President Lee Myung-bak is a right-wing businessman, who changed the situation, just  like Bush reversed Clinton’s even moderate degree of cooperation.

The present South Korea president is Park Geun-hye, daughter of South Korean military dictator Park  Chung-hee , who was an officer in the Japanese Imperial Army. Cooperation has changed to confrontation. South Korea thinks military pressure on the North, combined with sanctions, will make the DPRK collapse.

Stansfield Smith recently spent a week in North Korea. He can be reached at: