During this visit, the delegation visited several historic, cultural, educational and military establishments. Everywhere we went, we were exhilarated by the confidence of the Korean people, who are guided by the principles of independence, self-reliance and national defence. They are driven by an ardent desire to build a prosperous socialist country, to reunify the two halves of Korea and expel the US imperialist aggressors from the soil of their motherland.
On the day of our arrival, Comrade Choe Thae Bok, Secretary of the Central Committee of the WPK, accompanied by several of his colleagues, hosted a welcome dinner for us. And on the eve of our departure, our delegation hosted a dinner to thank the WPK comrades for their warm hospitality and the trouble they took in showing us their country and its proud achievements. Although Comrade Choe was unable to be present for reasons of pressure of work, Comrade Mun Byong Sik (from the Protocol department of the WPK), Comrade Ri Hyok Chul (head of the African and Latin-American section of the International Department of the WPK) and Comrade Ri Ung Gil (from the International Department of the WPK in charge of Britain, among other countries) were kind enough to attend. Also present at the dinner were Comrades Ri Yong Man (our interpreter), Ryu Mun Kil and Hyon Myong Chan (our drivers).
Members of the delegation had ample opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest with responsible persons from the WPK. In particular, on 14 September, the delegation held a formal session of talks with representatives of the DPRK, led by Comrade Choe. At the end of this meeting, the delegation presented a gift to Comrade Choe, requesting him to convey the gift and our best wishes and regards to Comrade Kim Jong Il.
We reproduce immediately below the gist of our conversation during this important meeting. In the next issue of Proletarian we shall write about the places we visited.
Comrade Choe Thae Bok opened the meeting with these words: We welcome the delegation of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and its leader, Comrade Harpal Brar, Chairman of the Central Committee. I request you to inform us of the activities of your party and exchange views on issues of boosting the friendly and cooperative relations between our two parties and matters of mutual concern.
Harpal Brar responded: Comrade Choe Thae Bok, thank you for welcoming us so warmly. It is a great pleasure to visit the land of Korea, the land of the great revolutionary fighter General Kim Il Sung. We try our best to keep ourselves informed of the world situation, events on the Korean peninsula and especially the developments in the DPRK. We are able to do this in a more meaningful fashion by being here.
Our party appreciates very much the role of your party in the fight against imperialism. We are very much inspired by the example of the DPRK, which shows that a small country, if it has the correct line and is led properly, can defeat the mightiest imperialist power. In the past five decades, you have beaten Japanese imperialism and US imperialism. That is why your enemies hate you and your friends love you.
We are also very impressed by the DRPK’s stance of anti-imperialism, independence and socialism, a stance that is associated with Comrade Kim Il Sung and is now being carried on under Comrade Kim Jong Il. We have so far visited places of culture like the People’s Grand Study House. The facilities for the cultural uplift of the masses have impressed us deeply.
We were inspired today by visiting the last resting place of Comrade Kim Il Sung. This memorial was awe-inspiring and a fitting place for this great and worthy son of Korea. It is good that, under the leadership of Comrade Kim Jong Il, the memory of Comrade Kim Il Sung has been preserved. In the end, all living things must die. We were sad to hear of the passing away of Comrade Kim Il Sung, but glad that his memory and dedication to socialism continues to inspire the Korean people, especially its young people, as well as humanity world wide.
Because we realise the significance of the Korean Party’s struggle, we have done our best over the years to forge solidarity with the Korean people, the DPRK and its leadership, and cultivate friendship between them and the British working class.
We do not want to mislead you and say that we have been very successful. But being a small party in an imperialist country, we are doing our best. As imperialism suffers more defeats in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and a number of other places, working people will begin to listen to sane voices like ours. We are neither depressed nor dispirited by the situation. We are part of a worldwide anti-imperialist movement for national liberation and socialism, which is not equally strong all over the world. Today, Asia, Africa and Latin America are in the vanguard of the struggle against imperialism.
You are playing an honourable and leading role. The strengthening of your defences under the wise leadership of Comrade Kim Jong Il and the Songun [army first/defence preparedness] policy is the only way imperialism can be confronted, especially US imperialism. Imperialism respects power, not reason; the Songun policy confronts the US with the power and might of the Korean people.
A cartoon in a recent issue of the Financial Times, the most representative organ of British finance capital, showed two US officers speaking to each other and one saying “We cannot attack North Korea for having weapons of mass destruction – because they DO have WMD!”
While arming itself to the teeth, imperialism wishes to disarm people everywhere. The revolutionary proletariat and oppressed people can only respond in one way, by arming to confront imperialism. Pacifism cannot be the ideology of the revolutionary proletariat.
In our own country, our enemies are represented not only by the Conservative Party but also by the Labour Party. It is our considered opinion that the Labour Party never was, is not, and never will be a party of the British proletariat – it serves British imperialism and the privileged sections of the working class. This is a clear line of demarcation between us and our opponents in the left-wing movement, but we are not sectarian and will work with anyone in the anti-imperialist and anti-war movements on issues of common concern. We make a distinction between the leadership of the Labour Party and ordinary working people who give it electoral support.
A cardinal principle for us in our struggle for socialism is that we believe it is essential to give whole-hearted support to, and make concrete alliances with, the oppressed peoples fighting for national liberation. The question is no longer limited to self-determination of the oppressed masses; it is the vital question of the fight against imperialism. The peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America are the allies of the proletariat in the imperialist countries, and every defeat suffered by imperialism at the hands of the oppressed peoples is a victory for the proletariat in the heartlands of imperialism.
That is a very brief summary of our position. We will be pleased to answer any questions and hear your views on the situation in Korea and elsewhere.
Comrade Choe: Thank you for telling us what your party does and is struggling to achieve.
We appreciate that it is not easy for you to raise the anti-imperialist struggle and the struggle for socialism in the UK, a centre of imperialism. We are impressed by your party’s conduct of anti-imperialist and socialist struggle and your faithfulness to socialism in difficult conditions.
Regarding the DPRK – it is the 58th anniversary of our national liberation. Comrade Kim Il Sung founded our republic. That is why we uphold him as the father of the country and the father of socialist Korea. The Workers’ Party of Korea was founded on 10 October 1945, but the foundations were laid in 1926 with the formation of the Down With Imperialism Union.
During the last 40 years of his work in the WPK, Comrade Kim Jong Il has made efforts to make it a party of Kim Il Sung. WPK has the leading ideology of Juche. The Juche idea was created by Kim Il Sung in the anti-Japanese armed struggle. Comrade Kim Jong Il has developed this into an ideological, theoretical method. Every activity of our party is based on the Juche idea – independence in politics, self-reliance in the economy and self-defence in the military sphere.
We maintained an independent stand even when the USSR existed. We maintained self-reliance in our national economy; in defence we maintained the principles of defending our country by ourselves. Khrushchev asked Kim Il Sung why Korea wanted to develop arms that Russia could provide when needed. But Kim Il Sung went ahead with their development and since then we have produced rifles and ammunition ourselves and become powerful. Today our people see how right he was. All our policies are based on the Juche idea.
This year, our emphasis is on improving the living standards of our people and strengthening the national economy. In particular:
1. On the political and ideological front: arming the people with the Juche idea and the Songun idea so as to attain one-minded unity around Kim Jong Il.
2. On the military front: enhancing military might and furthering an independent war deterrent policy.
3. On the economic front: giving greater emphasis to agricultural development; upgrading mining, chemical and motor industries; increasing the computerisation of factories; further developing our power industry; and developing light industries.
There are many difficulties ahead. We are still facing economic sanctions and blockades. Despite these difficulties, our people continue to be united around the leadership and are forging ahead with the task of the construction of our economy.
We are working hard for independent reunification. By independent reunification of Korea we mean: independent reunification by our nation by itself without foreign interference; peaceful reunification so there is no war on the Korean peninsula; and national reunification since all Koreans want unification whatever their ideology.
The US must withdraw all troops from south Korea, for they are the main obstacle to unification and must be removed at once. The US does not want Korea unified – even though it says in words that it does. Despite all the obstacles, we will achieve unity soon; our cause is just and the people in the north and south support it.
I express our thanks to your party for your activities in supporting our just cause.
Our party will advance on the road of anti-imperialism, socialism and independence.
We realise you are conducting activities in keeping with revolutionary principles and safeguarding the socialist cause and conducting activities for the unification of the communist movement.
We appreciate your party is conducting the struggle against imperialism, particularly US imperialism. Your party and our party have the same opinions and stand against imperialism and we are very pleased to have here revolutionary communists from Britain.
Your party has conducted propaganda to support our just cause. Last December, you have founded the Coordinating Committee of Friends of Korea. It is a great encouragement to peoples in this struggle – thank you for your efforts and activities.
The WPK will continue its relations of friendship, cooperation and a full dialogue with the CPGB-ML. This is our unchangeable position. I wish you more successes in your work and close relations between our parties.
Comrade Ri asked a question about the relationship of the CPGB-ML with, and its attitude towards, the Labour Party and the trade unions in Britain.
Comrade Choe said that the US government puts out false propaganda against the DPRK and the six-party talks. He enquired if that was the same in the UK.
Harpal Brar responded to both questions as follows:
First, regarding the Labour Party and the trade unions. In most European countries, the trade unions were formed by working-class parties. In Britain, the Labour Party was formed by the trade unions, to which only the very privileged sections of the working class belonged at the time. Then there were more than 14 million workers employed and fewer than 1 million were in the trade unions. These trade unions belonged to craft workers – skilled workers with higher wages. They did not even allow unskilled workers to become members. These trade unions formed the Labour Party in order to send members to parliament to defend their interests. The trade unions and the Labour Party represented the skilled and craft workers and had little concern for the majority of the working class. They were hostile to the oppressed and exploited people in the colonies and they were saturated with the spirit of imperialist chauvinism. Fundamentally, this situation has continued throughout – to the present day. It is more sophisticated and hidden but still true.
The leadership of the Labour Party and the trade unions, which are very similar, have exercised a most harmful influence on the working-class movement in Britain. The old CPGB, under the guidance of the Comintern, was able to make deep inroads into the working-class movement, but that party went revisionist with the ascendancy of Khrushchevite revisionism in the CPSU(B) from 1956. In 1989, the CPGB dissolved itself and passed a resolution saying that the October Revolution had been a “mistake of historic proportions”.
In these circumstances, we picked up the banner of Marxism Leninism and tried to build a movement. We are trying hard to dig deep roots in the working class, with very limited success so far. With increasing imperialist attacks on the working class at home and the oppressed peoples abroad, people are beginning to listen to us. We are working hard to develop trade union and working-class work, but a lot has to be done.
Second, we do our best to tell the truth, and, long before the DPRK declared itself a nuclear power we supported its right to have nuclear weapons so as to defend itself against imperialist attack. We were very happy when you declared that you had nuclear weapons.
Nuclear weapons are not in themselves dangerous – it is a question of whose hands they are in. A knife can be used for cutting vegetables or stabbing people. We believe that, in the hands of socialist countries, weapons preserve peace.
The US has 60 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons and overwhelming superiority in non-nuclear weapons. It is not Korea that occupies the US, but, vice versa, the US that has 37,000 occupying troops and thousands of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula. Anti-DPRK war manoeuvres in alliance with the Korean puppet regime take place on a regular basis off DPRK waters. We believe that the US does not want peace on the Korean peninsula because it would then have to take its troops away. It also wants to surround the People’s Republic of China and Russia.
As Lenin said, imperialism wants domination, not freedom, peace or liberty. US imperialism talks peace and liberty, but everywhere suppresses it by waging war. The US has violated every agreement with the DPRK. After the last session of the six-party talks, the US gave its own interpretation, stating that the DPRK had to get rid of its weapons before the US would carry out its obligations under the agreement reached at the talks. Instead of fulfilling the promises it had made, the US strengthened economic sanctions, like closing the DPRK’s bank accounts in the banks in Macao.
The DPRK is an independent and proud state and is not going to respond to the US wielding a stick to beat it. You deserve respect and must get that respect in international relations. Your struggle is correct and right and we support it. We try to make things as clear as we can. We wish we owned CNN and the BBC, but we do not. and if you do not hear our voice it is only because our voice is not heard very far.
Comrade Choe Thae Bok:
Thank you for an inspiring briefing. I am very much impressed by your answers.