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A memorial meeting and concert was organised at London’s historic Marx House on March 31 to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, which falls on April 15. The meeting was organised by the Friends of Korea in fulfilment of its pledge of one year ago to make the occasion a big success. A photo exhibition of Kim Il Sung was on show, and there was a display of the collected works of Kim Il Sung. The banner Korea Is One! was displayed at the front of the hall.
The speakers included Michael Chant of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Dr Hugh Goodacre, John McLeod of the Socialist Labour Party, Dermot Hudson from the UK Korean Friendship Association and the Juche Idea Study Group of England and Mun Myongsin from the embassy of the DPR of Korea in London. It was chaired by Andy Brooks of the New Communist Party of Britain.
After the introductory remarks of the chair, Michael Chant as Secretary of the Co-ordinating Committee spoke of the character of the organisation, which unites organisations, parties and individuals who stand shoulder to shoulder with the DPRK. Its aim is to build solidarity and friendship with the DPRK and its leadership and people. Friends of Korea stands as one with the Korean people. It does everything it can to unreservedly support the advances in socialist Korea, and combat all the outrageous and treacherous disinformation and propaganda that is put out by the reactionary forces to try and disorientate the people. Therefore, Friends of Korea views it of prime importance to provide information about the achievements of the socialist system and way of life in order to combat the imperialist lies and slanders against the DPRK. It encourages all progressive forces to take a stand wherever they are in favour of the magnificent achievements of the Korean people and in favour of their right to determine their own future. As is well known, it is US imperialism and its allies, including the British government, who wish ill on the Korean people, are the enemies of peace, and who seek to keep the Korean nation divided and interfere on the Korean Peninsula.
The celebratory meeting concluded with a film and a very spirited concert in which the whole meeting participated. The Song of General Kim Il Sung was sung and performed in a number of renditions, and the programme included a solo violin work by patriotic Korean composer Isang Yun. The programme truly reflected the revolutionary spirit which characterises the people of the DPRK as they work to build a bright future, safeguard their independence and reunify Korea.
To conclude the proceedings, a congratulatory message to respected comrade Kim Jong Un, supreme leader of the Korean people, was read out and adopted by the meeting with unanimous acclaim.
Kim Il Sung was the founder of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the President of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (in perpetuity), and the father of socialist Korea.
Having embarked on the road of revolution in his teens, Kim Il Sung led the Korean revolution from victory to victory until he was in his eighties. In his lifetime, he achieved the liberation of the country, built a people-centred socialist system in the DPRK, and at the same time rendered distinguished service to the development of revolution on a world scale.
That the DPRK is not only still in existence, but is advancing and flourishing based on Kim Il Sung’s legacy, under the leadership of Kim Jong Il and now the respected Kim Jong Un, is testament to the quality of Kim Il Sung’s human qualities and ability to meet the requirements of the times.
Leadership up to National Liberation
Kim Il Sung was born into a revolutionary peasant family in 1912, in the midst of the military occupation of Korea by the Japanese imperialists (1905-1945). In his early years, his family moved between Korea and China. In June 1926, he was admitted to Hwasong Uisuk School, in Huadian, China, where he organised the Down-with-Imperialism Union (DIU) and was acclaimed its leader on October 17 the same year. Later, while studying at the Jilin Yuwen Middle School, he reorganised the DIU into a more mass-based organisation the Anti-Imperialist Youth League on August 27, 1927, and founded the Young Communist League of Korea on August 28. By the time he was 18 year of age, he had already formed various mass organisations of the Korean people and was leading the anti-Japanese struggle.
In the autumn of 1929 he was arrested and was imprisoned until the following May. In prison, in Kim Il Sung’s words: “I analysed the situations of the nationalist and communist movements in our country and decided that the revolution should not be conducted in that way. I believed that the revolution in my country would emerge victorious only when it was undertaken on our own responsibility and by the efforts of our own people, and that all the problems arising in the revolution must be solved independently and creatively. This was the starting-point of the Juche idea, as it is known nowadays.”
Thus Kim Il Sung summed up that the revolution should be carried out on the strength of one’s own people and on one’s own responsibility instead of conducting it after obtaining someone else’s recognition or under someone else’s instructions, and that all problems arising in the revolution should be solved independently and creatively to meet one’s own situation.
On July 3, 1930, Kim Il Sung formed the first Party organisation, the Society for Rallying Comrades, which was like an embryo of the Party, or the preparation for founding a Party. Unlike many in the communist movement at that time, Kim Il Sung chose not to go to Moscow to study at the Communist University. Rather, the Comintern expressed full support in his Juche-orientated line for the Korean revolution, and pinned great hopes on his leadership.
In the key struggle which Kim Il Sung led against the occupation by Japanese imperialism, he succeeded in uniting all anti-Japanese patriotic forces, with the active involvement of the people through guerrilla warfare that put the Japanese on the run and ultimately defeated them. This armed struggle was carried through with the vanguard role of Party organisations.
Kim Il Sung said of the founding of the Anti-Japanese People's Guerrilla Army (later reorganised into the Korean People's Revolutionary Army, the KPRA) on April 25, 1932, “The aim and mission of the people’s guerrilla army is to overthrow the colonial rule of Japanese imperialism in Korea, and bring national independence and social emancipation to the Korean people.”
The people’s revolutionary government envisioned by Kim Il Sung and put into practice was a popular and democratic government that embraced not only the workers, peasants and the masses of the soldiers but also the youth and students, intellectuals, conscientious capitalists, religious people and other broad anti-Japanese forces, and represented their interests. Kim Il Sung resolved to do everything by means of self-reliance, including the production of weapons, rather than simply relying on fraternal forces such as the Soviet Union. His saying was that once a person was determined, nothing was impossible.
The anti-Japanese struggle was at this time taking place within China, to be expanded into Korea. The work of Kim Il Sung side by side with the Chinese communists was a shining example of the formation of the international anti-imperialist united front working under the banner of proletarian internationalism.
Kim Il Sung in this context formed the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland in 1936, as well as the Homeland Party Working Committee. And the following year, he put forward the slogan Let Us Inspire the People with Hopes of National Liberation by Advancing with Large Forces into the Homeland. With this guideline, the Battle of Pochonbo was organised and commanded by Kim Il Sung against the Japanese on June 4, 1937. Its significance was not in the fact that some Japanese had been killed; it was significant in that it demonstrated that the Korean nation was not dead but alive, and that it convinced the Korean people that if they fought against the Japanese imperialists they could win.
After the Sino-Japanese war broke out in July 1937, Kim Il Sung published The Tasks of Korean Communists in November of that year. He said, “Only when they [Korean communists] maintain a firm independent position in the revolutionary struggle can they formulate revolutionary lines and policies corresponding to the actual conditions in their country, safeguard and implement them thoroughly and fight to the last for their country’s revolution no matter what the difficulties and hardships.” In the face of the difficulties caused by the offensive of the Japanese occupiers, Kim Il Sung took the initiative and maintained revolutionary optimism. Under his leadership, the KPRA undertook in 1938 its “arduous march” to break the enemy’s encirclement and attack, which opened up a new phase for the defeat of Japanese imperialist aggression.
In the context of the gathering storm of the late 1930s, the growth of fascism to destroy the growing communist and workers’ movement and the aspiration that people should control their own destiny, the Japanese imperialists, prompted by their ambition to carve out a “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”, extended the flames of war to Southeast Asia, even though they were still attempting to conquer China. They thus found themselves all the more isolated from within and without, driving deeper into the abyss politically, economically and militarily.
So in 1940, the two tasks presented themselves, “the final do-or-die battle and the building of new country”, an independent stand in the struggle for national liberation. Around mid-July1942, Kim Il Sung discussed with Soviet and Chinese military cadres an alliance of the armed forces of Korea, China and the Soviet Union, to be known as International Allied Forces: it was based on the principle of the independence and identity of each country and that of international solidarity and co-operation.
As Nazi Germany was defeated and Japanese imperialism was suffering defeat after defeat, Kim Il Sung, assessing how rapidly the situation was developing, in May 1945 put forward the operational policy for liberating the country by the efforts of the Korean people themselves.
Kim Il Sung said, “Korea’s liberation was the great result of the struggle of the forces of our people and the KPRA themselves in the favourable circumstances created by the Soviet forces’ destruction of the Japanese Kwantung Army.” In August, the liberation of Korea from Japanese imperialism (from 1905), was achieved. Under Kim Il Sung’s leadership, the people won back the sovereignty of the Korean nation, opening up a path for the building of a new society, with a revolutionary spirit.
Leadership from the time of National Liberation
Kim Il Sung and his fellow revolutionaries formed the Central Organising Committee of the Communist Party of North Korea and proclaimed the founding of the Party on October 10, 1945. The Workers' Party of North Korea would later emerge from the union of the Communist Party and the New Democratic Party in August 1946.
After he returned to Korea, Kim Il Sung was elected Chairman of the Provisional People's Committee of North Korea on February 8, 1946. At that time, People's Committees were present all over Korea with the aim of reuniting the country. Korea had been divided at the 38th parallel as a decision of the Moscow Conference of 1945 when the Soviet Union and the US agreed to receive the Japanese surrender and hold Korea in "trusteeship" for five years and pave the way for Korea to be handed back to the Koreans. The majority of Koreans who felt that they were quite capable of running their own affairs resented this. From 1945 to 1948, Kim Il Sung was active in leading the fight for Korean independence in the face of the brutal campaign of terror the US was waging to suppress the Korean independence movement and establish a permanent military presence in south Korea to launch its wars of aggression. Hundreds of thousands of Koreans perished or were imprisoned during this period. Fraudulent "elections" were organised to install the Syngman Rhee puppet regime in the south – all against the wishes of the Korean people.
On September 9, 1948, the DPRK with its unified central government of the Korean people was founded. This was done to guarantee the base for Korean independence, reunification and self-determination. Kim Il Sung was elected Premier. He organised the first democratic election and established the People's Assembly of North Korea where he was elected Chairman of the People's Committee of North Korea, the new central organ of state power, and set out the tasks for the period of transition to socialism. Under his leadership, the KPRA was transformed into the Korean People's Army (KPA), a regular revolutionary armed force, in February 1948. He called the Joint Plenary Meeting of the Central Committees of the Workers' Parties of North and South Korea on June 30, 1949, where he was elected Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea.
On June 25 1950, President Kim Il Sung and the Korean people were forced by the US imperialists into the Korean War. The US was overconfident about a quick victory over the nascent DPRK. Despite the US military attack across the 38th parallel at dawn June 25, 1950 which began the war, Kim Il Sung and the KPA were prepared and able to go on the counter-offensive moving steadily south. In a little over a month, the KPA liberated 90 per cent of the territory of south Korea and 92 per cent of its population.
The United States, attempting to "encircle and annihilate" the KPA units, called the troops of 15 other countries including Britain to the Korean front, as part of an infamous and illegitimate UN "police action." In response, President Kim Il Sung ordered the KPA to make a strategic and temporary retreat, thus keeping the initiative.
The KPA, taking advantage of the mountainous terrain of the country, developed tunnel warfare and employed a wide range of tactics to frustrate and weaken the enemy forces. As Supreme Commander, Kim Il Sung adapted to the ever-changing situation, ultimately leading to the defeat of the US aggressors in July 1953, after three years of bloody warfare in which an estimated four million Koreans were killed – the vast majority civilians – by military massacres, napalm attacks, carpet-bombing, germ warfare and other crimes. General Mark Clark, commander of the US/UN forces admitted in a surrender document that the KPA had emerged victorious thanks to General Kim Il Sung's command.
The US imperialists' spirit of revanchism and striving for global domination has meant that ever since the end of the Korean War, the US has refused to sign a peace treaty while it has continuously violated the Armistice Agreement. This means that technically there is still a state of war on the Korean Peninsula which requires the DPRK to expend great efforts to maintain the peace and make sure that never again will the US be able to rain death and destruction by occupying all of Korea as it attempted to do in the 1950s' war. Meanwhile, the US has maintained a brutal economic blockade, continued to garrison troops in south Korea as well as various weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons. It has committed innumerable acts of espionage, military provocations and war games which continue to the present.
In the early 1960s, when the situation worsened owing to US schemes to ignite a new war, President Kim Il Sung made sure that the US did not achieve its aim of keeping Korea vulnerable. He led the people to simultaneously push ahead with economic construction and ensure that defence-building projects were put in place while looking after the people's well-being. The military was further strengthened and modernised and defence training provided to all citizens, thus turning the whole country into a veritable fortress against foreign aggression.
On the front of international relations, far from permitting the DPRK to be isolated by the US imperialists, President Kim Il Sung did his utmost to build links with the peoples of the world on behalf of the Korean people. He met more than 70,000 foreign guests including heads of state and government and party leaders, and paid official or unofficial visits to 87 countries. In June 1994, he met former US President Jimmy Carter in Pyongyang and created favourable conditions for the opening of DPRK-US negotiations about the nuclear issue and for a north-south summit. His life-long efforts lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations with most countries of the world with the exception of the countries which committed aggression against the DPRK during the Korean War. To date, the aggressor states refuse to right historical wrongs or normalise relations on the basis of upholding the principle of the right to self-determination.
In recognition of his achievements, Kim Il Sung received more than 180 top decorations from more than 70 countries and international organisations, titles of honorary citizenship from more than 30 cities and honorary academic degrees from 20 foreign universities.
Kim Il Sung worked tirelessly for the Party and the revolution, for the country and the people, for global peace until the last moment of his life. President Kim Il Sung died on July 8, 1994.
The Korean peninsula has always been of key geopolitical importance, with China to the north and west, Russia to the north-east and Japan to the south and east. The 19th and early 20th Centuries saw various imperial powers struggling to dominate Korea, with wars breaking out over control of the peninsular. It was at this time that division of Korea at the 38th parallel was first suggested, to divide Russian and Japanese-controlled regions.
After the Russio-Japanese war of 1904-5, the whole of Korea fell into Japanese control, first through being occupied and declared a protectorate by Japan, followed soon after by annexation into the Japanese Empire in 1910.
Since that time, sovereignty, independence and liberation from imperialism and occupation have been burning issues for the Korean people and important factors in regional and world politics.
The resistance to the Japanese occupation came to take the form of guerrilla warfare under the leadership of Kim Il Sung, who founded the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland in 1936. This was the first national united front organisation of the Korean people. Central to its Ten-Point Programme was the overthrow of Japanese rule and the establishment of an army to fight for and defend Korean independence. This programme also laid out the nationalisation of industry and land reform, along with policies such as an eight-hour working day, equality of the sexes and free education. In this way, it connected together the aims of nation-building and social progress, with independence as their precondition.
The Korean people won their eventual victory over Japan’s colonial rule during the Second World War, and began to rebuild their nation anew, founding the Korean People’s Republic in August-September, 1945. However, with the onset of the Cold War as the Second World War drew to an end, the US sought to ensure that its sphere of influence extended into the Korean peninsula. Bordering both China and the Soviet Union, Korea was envisaged by the US as a key strategic base. In the words of US General Douglas MacArthur, Korea was to become an “anti-communist bulwark”.
On August 10, 1945, two US officers – Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel – proposed an American occupation zone in Korea up to the 38th parallel. After the formal surrender of Japan and the official proclamation of the new Korean Republic, US troops occupied the south of the country and established the brutal United States Army Military Government in Korea on September 8, 1945. This military junta declared the Korean People’s Republic illegal, forcibly eradicating the Republic’s remaining institutions from the south in 1946.
Thus Korea became artificially divided in the aftermath of the Second World War as a direct result of the Cold War Truman Doctrine of the “containment of communism”. The establishment of the Republic of Korea (ROK) on August 15, 1948, in the US-occupied south set the seal on this division.
This was followed by the establishment of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) by the patriotic forces under the leadership of Kim Il Sung in the north on September 9, 1948.
Division was further entrenched by the US aggression and provocation of civil war which led to the Korean War of 1950-53. On defeat, the US constructed a concrete wall along the 38th parallel in an attempt to make the division of Korea permanent.
Ever since their country was divided, reunification has been the goal of the Korean people. US-led disinformation has repeatedly asserted that the DPRK is the obstacle to peace and security on the Korean peninsula, with the purpose of diverting from a principled position, instead suggesting that the only path to reunification is regime change in the north through the interference of the US.
The fact, however, is that the DPRK has set out the principles behind all initiatives for reunification since 1945. In particular, in May 1972, President Kim II Sung explained these principles at talks between the north and south of Korea held in Pyongyang:
“The three principles of realising independent reunification without outside interference, achieving great national unity by transcending differences in ideas, ideals and systems, and reunifying the divided land by peaceful means without recourse to armed force, are the starting point of and the basis for the solution of our reunification question.”
These principles form the basis of the historic North-South Joint Statement of July 4, 1972, which began:
“The parties have agreed upon the following principles for the reunification.
“First, the reunification must be achieved with no reliance on external forces or interference. It must be achieved internally.
“Second, the reunification must be achieved peacefully without the use of military forces against the other side.
“Third, both parties must promote national unity as a united people over any differences of our ideological and political systems.”
In line with these three principles, Kim Il Sung in October 1980 advanced the key proposal for the creation of a single confederal state incorporating the two social systems that exist in the north and south. This state, named the Democratic Federal Republic of Koryo1, would be administered by a single government, yet would be based on respect for and recognition of the ideas and social systems present in each of the two regions of the country. Each side would have autonomy under and be equally represented in this united national government, with equal rights and duties. Furthermore, the new republic would not be a party to any political or military bloc, but would pursue a policy in accord with the interests of the entire Korean people.
President Kim Il Sung further elaborated these principles and proposals in his 10-Point Programme for National Reunification at the Supreme People’s Assembly, on April 6, 1993:
“1. A unified state, independent, peaceful and neutral, should be founded through the great unity of the whole nation.
“2. Unity should be based on patriotism and the spirit of national independence.
“3. Unity should be achieved on the principle of promoting co-existence, co-prosperity and common interests and subordinating everything to the cause of national reunification.
“4. All political disputes that foment division and confrontation between fellow countrymen should be ended and unity should be achieved.
“5. The fear of invasion from both south and north, and the ideas of prevailing over communism and communisation should be dispelled, and north and south should believe in each other and unite.
“6. The north and south should value democracy and join hands on the road to national reunification, without rejecting each other because of differences in ideals and principles.
“7. The north and south should protect the material and spiritual wealth of individuals and organisations and encourage their use for the promotion of great national unity.
“8. Understanding, trust and unity should be built up across the nation through contact, exchange visits and dialogue.
“9. The whole nation, north, south and overseas, should strengthen its solidarity for the sake of national reunification.
“10. Those who have contributed to the great unity of the nation and to the cause of national reunification should be honoured.”
These principles and proposals created the conditions for the signing in Pyongyang of the historic June 15, 2000, North-South Joint Declaration between Kim Jong Il, Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, and President Kim Dae Jung of the ROK. This event was of crucial importance in finding a way forward on the issue of reunification.
The forced continued separation of the north and south of Korea is a factor for global instability and nuclear war. US imperialism has been the main factor in keeping Korea divided for its self-serving geopolitical aims in Asia, such as the encirclement of China. A reunited Korea will block these strategic aims, and as a beacon of self-determination and independence, will be a factor for peace both in the region and in the world as a whole.
1 “Koryo” was the name of a Korean kingdom that lasted from 918 to 1392, which was formed from the unification of separate earlier kingdoms, and came to cover the whole of the Korean peninsula. It is from Koryo that the name Korea derives.
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