After a year in which the provocations staged by US imperialism and its stooges in the present right-wing south Korean government soared to a new height, threatening not just the Korean peninsula but the entire region with war, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has begun 2011 with a peace offensive, focused in the first instance on its compatriots in the south of the country.
As a socialist country, the DPRK has no interest in war and every interest in peace. In particular, the DPRK is focused on a strategic goal of becoming a “great, prosperous and powerful nation” by 2012, which will mark the centenary of the birth of Comrade Kim Il Sung, the leader of the Korean revolution.
To achieve this goal, the DPRK needs to focus on the economy and do a great deal of work to improve the people’s standard of living, which, in turn, requires a stable and peaceful regional and international environment.
The DPRK’s determination to restore the positive dynamic towards peace and reunification was highlighted in the new year editorial published in the country’s leading newspapers this 1 January. The new year editorial is an important political document in the DPRK, in which the leadership sums up the year just passed and sets out its perspectives for the year ahead.
Reflecting the central importance being accorded to economic work, this year’s editorial was entitled, “Bring about a decisive turn in the improvement of the people’s standard of living and the building of a great, prosperous and powerful country by accelerating the development of light industry once again this year. ”
The editorial noted that “last year our nation’s movement for the country’s reunification made dynamic progress, even in the face of the vicious challenges of the separatist forces inside and outside”.
This was despite the fact that “the south Korean conservative authorities revealed their true colours as the minion of war and anti-reunification, confrontation maniacs. In collaboration with outside forces they incessantly hatched anti-DPRK plots and perpetrated north-targeted war moves, scuttling the inter-Korean dialogues and national reconciliation. ”
However, the editorial continued, “today there is no more vital task than national reunification for the Korean people. The stand of attaching importance to the nation, the stand toward independent reunification, is the touchstone by which to distinguish patriotism from treachery.”
Hence, “confrontation between north and south should be defused as early as possible”, because, “if a war breaks out on this land, it will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust”. Therefore, “active efforts should be made to create an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation between north and south by placing the common interests of the nation above anything else”. (‘Joint new year editorial’, KCNA, 1 January 2011)
This bold and magnanimous stand of the DPRK, which reflects its decades-long policy, was further elaborated in a joint statement of the country’s government, political parties and mass organisations, issued on 5 January, in which the following important appeal was made to the south Korean government and the various political parties:
“1. We courteously propose having wide-ranging dialogue and negotiations with the political parties and organisations of south Korea, including its authorities.
“The conclusion from the past three years’ experience is that the issue of inter-Korean relations can never be solved by confrontation, which only sparks off armed clashes and war.
“In order to mend north-south relations, now at the lowest ebb, we will conduct positive dialogue and negotiations with the political parties and organisations of south Korea, including its authorities, be they authorities or civilians, ruling parties or opposition parties, progressives or conservatives.
“We call for an unconditional and early opening of talks between the authorities having real power and responsibility, in particular.
“2. We are ready to meet anyone anytime and anywhere, letting bygones be bygones, if he or she is willing to work hand-in-hand with us.
“For the great cause of the nation, the present is more important than yesterday and tomorrow is dearer than the present.
“The danger of war will be defused and the day of peace, reunification and prosperity be brought nearer when all Koreans work together and pool their wisdom and efforts.
“3. We will discuss and solve all the issues related to important matters of the nation, including détente, peace, reconciliation, unity and cooperation through dialogue, negotiations and contacts.
“The north and the south are called upon to sincerely approach the discussion on subjects related to the important issues of the nation irrespective of partisan interests and strategy and ‘isms’ and to make positive efforts to seek the maximum agreement.
“4. As an immediate offer, we propose that both nations should discontinue heaping slanders and calumnies on each other and refrain from any provocative act in order to create an atmosphere of improving inter-Korean relations.
“Dialogue and negotiations cannot be properly conducted, nor can they make smooth progress even if the north and south sit at the negotiating table, while mud-slinging and provocative acts continue.
“We call on the north and the south immediately to refrain from smear campaigns and provocative acts that deepen misunderstanding and distrust and incite confrontation and hostility.”
Further, the DPRK called on “all governments, political parties and organisations in the world, international organisations and progressive people that love justice, truth and peace, to extend warm support and solidarity to (these proposals) ”. (‘DPRK releases joint statement on peace and reunification’, KCNA, 5 January 2011)
We in the CPGB-ML, consistent with our stand in support of the Koreans’ right to self-determination, express our full support and solidarity with these proposals, embodying as they do the highest interests of the entire Korean people, as well as the global cause of peace and independence. We call on all progressive forces in the working class and anti-war movements to do likewise, and for the British government to renounce its hostile and bellicose approach to the Korean people in favour of a stance conducive to peace, reconciliation and reunification.
At time of writing, the south Korean authorities have yet to make any positive or serious response to the proposals from the DPRK, claiming them to be not sincere. Whilst this is regrettable in the extreme, it does at least have the merit of showing to the Korean people, and to people throughout the world, who is really interested in peace and reconciliation and who is bent on confrontation and war.
However, a further statement from the DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, issued on 8 January, stated, “we do not want to see the present south Korean authorities pass the five-year term of their office idly without north-south dialogue” and therefore made the following concrete proposals:
“First. We formally propose an unconditional and early opening of the talks between the authorities of the north and the south.
“The level of the talks and their venue and the date of their opening may be decided under a bilateral agreement.
“Second. The suspended Red Cross talks, talks for the resumption of tours of Mount Kumgang and the talks for Kaesong Industrial Zone should be restarted at an early date.
“We propose that the delegations to the talks perform their duties as before, or new ones be formed. We also propose that Kaesong be their venue and they take place at the end of January or in the first half of February.
“Third. The closed Panmunjom north-south Red Cross passage should be reopened and the freezing of the Consultative Office for North-South Economic Cooperation in the Kaesong Industrial Zone be lifted as a measure of good faith for opening the channel of dialogue and improving north-south relations.
“According to this, the Panmunjom Red Cross liaison representatives of the north side will soon begin their work, and those concerned from the north side will be dispatched to the above-said office to be permanently stationed there. ” (‘CPRK proposes opening of talks between authorities of north-south’, KCNA, 8 January 2011)
The south Korean authorities are now faced with the stark choice of whether to remain tied to imperialism’s war chariot or to join hands with their compatriots for the sake of the nation. If they choose the former option, they will surely be cast aside by their own people, sooner rather than later.