The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has resolved to persevere along the anti-imperialist road of socialism despite the sudden and tragic loss of its revolutionary leader Comrade Kim Jong Il on 17 December last year. (See ‘Eternal glory to Comrade Kim Jong Il’, Lalkar, January 2012)
This sentiment was reaffirmed in the customary new year editorial, summing up the situation in the year just passed and setting out the fighting tasks for the coming year, published jointly by all the DPRK’s leading newspapers on 1 January.
This year’s editorial was entitled, ‘Glorify this year 2012 as a year of proud victory, a year when an era of prosperity is unfolding, true to the instructions of the great General Kim Jong Il’, and remarked that the Korean people were “turning their great sorrow into one-thousand-fold strength and courage”, noting of Comrade Kim Jong Il that:
“When our revolution was undergoing the worst trials and hardships, he steadfastly safeguarded the gains of socialism … and consolidated the political, military and economic foundations for achieving prosperity for all the generations to come …
“Last year significant achievements were made in the great upsurge for improving the people’s standard of living, and solid foundations [were] laid for building the country into an economic giant in the 21st century.”
The editorial further insisted that such economic development can and must be based only on adherence to socialist principles:
“We should maintain a thoroughgoing view that the road to socialism, which Kim Il Sung pioneered and Kim Jong Il led … is the most correct choice and the principled stand [and] that we will defend the people-centred socialism of our own style whatever others may say.”
On this basis, the Korean communists are calling for the launch of a nationwide drive to realise economic prosperity.
A major obstacle to realising such prosperity is the food shortages that have been endemic for many years now in some parts of the DPRK, due to a combination of unfavourable terrain and lack of arable land, shortages of energy and fertilisers, loss of traditional trading partners and arrangements, imperialist sanctions and repeated natural disasters. Addressing this problem squarely, the editorial stated:
“At present, the food problem is a burning issue in building a thriving country. Today, party organisations’ militant efficiency and officials’ loyalty to the revolution will be verified in solving this problem.”
Likewise, the editorial insisted that: “We should solve the problem of power shortage at all costs and on a priority basis. The sector of electric-power industry should continue to press on with the building of large-size hydropower stations and improve the operation of equipment and technical management at the existing power stations, so as to keep the generation of electricity on a high level.”
But whilst dealing with these immediate and pressing problems, the Korean communists and people very much have their sights set on a bright future:
“Scientific research institutes should make greater efforts to develop the fields of core, basic technologies, including information and nano technologies and bioengineering, and promote technical engineering in major fields and produce more research findings that would beat the world. In developing science and technology, they should … thoroughly apply collectivism, and bring science and technology close to production.”
From the earliest days of their revolution, one of the great strengths of the Korean communists has been that they have relied on the masses – and the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) has consistently upheld this mass line of serving the people. Although they have now held state power for many decades, and the generations are changing, this emphasis, which explains much about the resilience of Korean socialism, is not changing but remains at the core of their work. As the editorial states:
“Party organisations should get fully acquainted with the public sentiments as required by the party’s mass line, and effect a fresh turn in the work with the masses. They should respect the opinions of the masses and intensify party work accordingly …
“‘Let us do many more things for the benefit of the people!’ – this must be the slogan of action and conscience for our officials in supporting the intentions of the … party. Officials should be deeply aware that they exist for the sake of the people, have the steadfast standpoint of launching all undertakings in keeping with the will and interests of the people, and acquire an open-minded attitude of proving their loyalty to the party in front of the people.
“The mental strength of the masses decides everything. It is necessary to emulate the mental strength and … abilities displayed by the people in South Hamgyong province, who have proudly manufactured state-of-the-art machinery by their own efforts with a firm faith that Korea does what it is determined to do. Mass movements and socialist emulation drive should be launched vigorously in all parts of the country to enlist the mental strength of the masses.
“As Kim Jong Il said, when the working people’s organisations are afire with enthusiasm, the whole country will be enveloped with the same atmosphere.”
Finally, the editorial turned its attention to the question of national reunification, along with the international context in which the Korean revolution is unfolding, noting:
“The stand of national independence and putting the nation above anything else should be maintained in a thoroughgoing way.
“Solving the problems of inter-Korean relations by rejecting aggressive foreign forces and pooling the efforts of our nation itself is the demand of the 15 June [the date in 2000 on which Kim Jong Il signed a joint declaration with then south Korean president Kim Dae Jung] reunification era … The south Korean people should wage a fierce mass struggle aimed at resolutely frustrating the schemes to sell the interests of the nation in collaboration with foreign forces.
“National reconciliation and unity is the precondition and guarantee for national reunification. The common interests of the nation should be given top priority, and everything should be subordinated to them. Confrontation between fellow countrymen that is driving the inter-Korean relations towards catastrophe should be strongly opposed and rejected …
“The entire nation, under the unfurled banner of anti-war and peace, should smash every move of reckless military provocation, arms build-up and war exercises against the north. Constant vigilance against the danger of military collaboration of the bellicose forces within the country and without should be maintained, and the US aggressor forces, the main obstacle to peace in the Korean peninsula, should be pulled out from south Korea …
“The international environment was quite complicated last year, but the Korean revolution advanced invariably along the road of victory indicated by Kim Jong Il.
“Kim Jong Il was a defender of justice – for a long time, he conducted energetic external activities under the unfurled banner of anti-imperialist independence, remarkably enhancing the position and authority of … Korea in the international arena and rendering immortal services to promoting the cause of independence of mankind. The historic visits he made last year to China and Russia served as important occasions for achieving peace in the world and security in Northeast Asia and developing the traditional relations of friendship.
“Whatever sudden turn the international situation may take, and however frantically the imperialists may behave, nothing can arrest our advance towards socialism. We will, in the future, too, hold fast to our party’s principles of independence, friendship and peace, and strive to develop relations of friendship with countries that respect our country’s sovereignty.”