by N. Steinmayr


                                        Introduction                                3
                                        1. Brief Historical Background      7
                                        2. Japan’s Colonial Rule               8
                                        3. The Marxist-Leninist Strategy
                                            for the Revolutionary Process
                                            in Colonial-Type Countries       11
                                        4. Kim Il Sung and the Anti-Japanese
                                            Armed Struggle                       13
                                        5. Korea’s Partition                     16
                                        6. "Progressive Democracy"
                                            in North Korea                        18
                                        7. The Korean War (1950-53)      24
                                        8. Establishing "Socialist Relations
                                            of Production" in the DPRK     27
                                        9. "Socialist Construction"
                                            in the DPRK                           37
                                        10. Juche: A Revisionist Theory
                                            and Practice                            46
                                        11. The DPRK and the
                                                Non-Aligned Movement       63
                                        12. Recent Developments in
                                                the DPRK                          68
                                        13. The Struggle for Reunification
                                                and Independence                73
                                            Conclusion                              86
                                            Abbreviations                          87
                                            Selected Bibliography               88


        At the end of the XXth century, we are still faced with the anachronistic endurance of Korea’s partition between north and south that has lasted for about 55 years. This division represents a tragic and anomalous chapter after a 5,000-year-long history of Korea as a unified and homogeneous nation, developing its own distinct cultural, linguistic and psychological features. No sooner had the Korean people successfully liberated themselves from Japanese colonialism in 1945 than Washington arbitrarily and artificially amputated the country into two halves, through US military and political interference. partition of Korea was created and remaAfter replacing Japanese colonial rule with its military occupation in the south, Washington could instigate and later unleash - under the nominal aegis of the United Nations - its hot war confrontation in Korea during 1950-53. Korean resistance foiled American attempts to dominate the entire peninsula, forcing Washington to sign an armistice in July 1953 and stabilise the military demarcation line along the 38th parallel. This armistice has by now become the century’s longest running, due to the American refusal to reach a final peace agreement. And in the meantime US imperialism has deployed in South Korea the world’s highest concentration of conventional and nuclear weapons, together with thousands of troops. This enormous military threat against the north is highlighted by regular war exercises in conjunction with anti-north confrontation propaganda. There have also been uninterrupted US sanctions and embargoes since the early fifties. All this has increased tension in the region and has been detrimental to the current economic situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Because of all this savage and unjustified aggession and interference on the part of US imperialism, therefore, the cold war still carries on unabated in the Korean peninsula. Likewise, in order to avert the constant danger of a second Korean War, never have the Korean people given up their inalienable right to live peacefully re-united, sovereign and independent in their own land.
        During the current era of imperialism, the peoples’ independence - in Korea, just as elsewhere - represents a major issue requiring an adequate and just solution in the interest of all those countries that still remain subjugated in a semi-colonial and dependent status. The post-1945 national liberation revolutions - marking an historical landmark in our century - had indeed determined the collapse of the traditional colonial system of imperialism. De-colonisation, however, immediately prompted the USA and other competing imperialist powers to retain their own spheres of influence, among nominally independent states, by devising an endless series of economic, political, military, diplomatic and other forms of domination and enslavement. Direct colonial exploitation has thus been replaced by neo-colonialism, which now affects - under the cloak of imperialist globalization - the overwhelming majority of mankind.
        Within the above general framework, and in order to pursue its hegemonic aims in north-east Asia, Washington has for more than half a century implemented its "two Koreas" policy - a policy intended to perpetuate Korea’s division through the US permanent military occupation and economic domination of the Republic of Korea (ROK), sheltered under the American "nuclear umbrella" and reduced to a semi-colonial status. Such unwanted interference has permitted a succession of fascist dictatorships and pseudo-democratic regimes in the ROK, now gripped by its most severe crisis and totally reliant upon the dictates imposed by Washington and the IMF. On the other hand, the DPRK has spearheaded the Korean people’s struggle for the reunification of their country - a vital question that cannot be solved peacefully and independently as long as the constant threat of war hangs over the Korean peninsula because of the US military occupation in the south.
        In sharp contrast to the sycophantic and servile policies towards Washington, as pursued by the South Korean ruling bourgeoisie, the DPRK has always correctly singled out the continued US military presence in the south - hardly justifiable today, after the disappearance of the "Soviet threat" in Asia - as the principal stumbling block to any peaceful solution of the Korean question and to stability in the region. Hence, as a matter of principle, Pyongyang continues to demand that the US withdraw its troops as a precondition to national reunification, to be achieved without reliance on outside forces and by transcending the ideological and socio-political differences existing between North and South Korea. This anti-imperialist stance fully complies with the current historical trend towards the self-determination, sovereignty and independence of the peoples, particularly in the semi-colonial and dependent countries of the Asian, African and Latin-American continents.
        As always - all the democratic, progressive, peace-loving forces world-wide have the obligation to step up their unconditional support for the just cause of Korea’s independence. This goal can only be achieved by dismantling US military bases in the Korean peninsula, by sending American soldiers back to their homes in the USA and by breaking off all links of dependence on US imperialism. Once outside interference is eliminated, the military demarcation line, which has tragically bisected brothers and sisters of the same blood for such a long time, would soon disappear. The way would be opened towards a peaceful settlement of the Korean national question which is, after all, an internal affair of the Korean people themselves.
        While resolutely supporting Korean reunification and independence, it is also up to the Marxist-Leninist parties and organisations to tackle the issue of Korean revisionism - as it has developed in North Korea since 1945, without having been affected by the final collapse of the USSR and other revisionist countries during the late eighties. By having creatively applied and modified socialist principles to Korea’s specific conditions, the DPRK claims to have established a socialist society that proceeds towards communism by means of Juche or Kimilsungism.
            Nonetheless, the only revolutionary compass in the hands of the working class in order to advance towards socialist, and ultimately communist, societies still remains Marxism-Leninism - i.e., the doctrine of scientific socialism as elaborated by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. It is, therefore, from a Marxist-Leninist perspective that the conclusion must be drawn about the undisputed fact that revisionism only, and not genuine socialism, has been thoroughly implemented in the DPRK up to the present. .
             Following liberation from Japan, North Korea was still a semi-feudal country whose capitalist development had just started to take off. It proceeded along the path of "progressive democracy" by overthrowing pro-Japanese capitalist forces and establishing the joint dictatorship of several classes in society, including the national bourgeoisie. Thanks to important reforms of an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal character (with particular regard to agricultural cooperativization and the nationalisation of its main industries), North Korea was able to rapidly overcome its century-long backwardness and transform itself along democratic lines. But neither before nor after the Korean War, at no time since 1945 has the national-democratic stage of the Korean revolution developed into its subsequent, socialist stage under the dictatorship of the proletariat. "Socialist relations of production" in North Korea were officially proclaimed in 1958. But they were, in fact, established without a socialist revolution, i.e., without overthrowing the national capitalist class, which had in the meantime been "remoulded", persuaded to embrace socialism and "voluntarily" absorbed into the "socialist state."
        During the late fifties, in order to solve the crucial issue of the dictatorship of the working class, which is indeed essential in strengthening true socialism, the North Korean leader, Kim Il Sung, simply equated the new democratic system of various classes exercising state power in the DPRK with the dictatorship of the proletariat itself. No working class leadership has ever been subsequently established. And in the absence of a genuine proletarian dictatorship, revisionism could pervade all aspects of social and political life. In essence, therefore, the North Korean revolution can never be regarded as a socialist revolution..
        Under the banner of Juche, collectivism was corrupted and began to be transformed into servility towards, and absolute loyalty to, the leader, whose adulation has now reached unimaginable proportions. This personality cult around Kim Il Sung has in turn allowed nepotism and hereditary succession of power with his son, Kim Jong Il, gradually replacing Kim Il Sung as the DPRK’s leader. Policies are now supposed to be implemented by means of "love and trust." Korean revisionism, in the meantime, has evolved into an idealistic and eclectic philosophy confusing socialism and communism with independence, just as the anti-imperialist cause is identified with the socialist revolution!
        Such vulgar distortions of scientific socialism have led to a total negation - both in theory and in practice - of Marxism-Leninism in the DPRK. Consequently, they have consolidated a fully fledged revisionist society under the banner of Juche. Its creator, Kim Il Sung, cannot escape political responsibility for having added further confusion and ideological disorientation to the wide-ranging arsenal of modern revisionist trends that prevent the real emancipation of the working class by upholding socialism and communism in words, but not in deeds, under false red flags. It is from the standpoint of a principled Marxist-Leninist criticism that Kim Il Sung should be characterised as a revisionist, notwithstanding his enormous merits as a progressive revolutionary patriot who had energetically mobilised all forces in society to liberate Korea from Japan’s colonial rule and to later challenge US imperialism with the aim of achieving the country’s reunification and independence.
        Though the two questions are somehow intertwined, the issue of Korean reunification and independence stands separately from the issue of Korean revisionism. In order to increase internationalist solidarity and assistance to the Korean people, communist parties and organisations world-wide should struggle at the forefront of all initiatives aimed at supporting the DPRK in its heroic, anti-imperialist efforts to challenge US domination and interference in the Korean peninsula and to achieve a lasting peace in a reunified and truly independent state. But while militantly defending the Korean people’s inalienable right to their independence, Marxist-Leninist forces should be equally clear about the limitations of Korean revisionism and the serious damage it is doing to the genuine cause of scientific socialism and communism. Support of Korean reunification and independence must not imply political support of "Korean socialism" under the banner of Juche.
        Marxist-Leninists stand by a clear set of principles that are dialectically implemented according to different situations in different parts of the world. But on the pretext of creatively applying them, there exists no need today to invent new "socialisms" and thus deviate from the true revolutionary theory and practice of scientific socialism. Everywhere, the working masses are continuously subjected to imperialist oppression and exploitation, just as they face poverty, social deprivation, unemployment and war. In particular, as the contradictions between the popular masses in semi-colonial and dependent countries, on the one hand, and imperialism and monopoly capital, on the other, together with the contradictions between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie all the world over, are increasingly sharpening and producing an incurable global crisis, it is only Marxism-Leninism - the revolutionary ideology of the working class - that can provide a reliable orientation towards social and national liberation, towards socialism and communism.

        After centuries of foreign invasions and internal strife, the unification of the Korean peninsula was attained in the seventh century AD and lasted - with occasional interruptions and more foreign occupations from neighbouring Asian states (namely, China and Japan) - until 1945.
        Unification was first achieved under the Silla dynasty which had been capable of conquering, with Chinese support, the Korean kingdoms of Koguryo and Paekche by 668 AD. Although the Silla state was still obliged to recognise China as a suzerain nation, it could independently develop its peculiar philosophical, literary and artistic features, initially stimulated by Buddism. Silla’s decline became increasingly associated with the parasitic nature of its nobility, as well as with the continuous struggles and palace coups among its various kings succeeding to the throne. In addition to the collapse of the old social order based on the so-called ‘bone-rank’ system (i.e., hereditary bloodline), social instability ultimately determined the replacement of Silla with the state of Koryo. From 918 until 1392, the Koryo period was also affected by divisions among its ruling class, aggravated by numerous rebellions of peasants and slaves. Moreover, following Mongol incursions throughout the Korean peninsula, Koryo was forced to became subservient to Mongol power during the thirteenth century.
        In 1392 the Koryo dynasty was succeeded by the Yi dynasty, the longest in Korean history as it remained in power until 1910. Though heavily influenced by China, the initial period of the Yi dynasty was characterised by rich cultural developments in Confucian studies (at the expense of Buddism), historical writings, fine arts, medicine, science and technology. Subsequent Japanese invasions (1592-1598) and Manchu invasions from China (1627-1637) gradually contributed to the progressive decline of the Yi rulers who implemented - from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries - a policy of isolationism. Thence the reduction in status to that of "Hermit Kingdom."
        Korea was compelled to terminate its isolationism during the second half of the nineteenth century under trading and other pressures from Japan, Russia and the Western powers. The Korean-Japanese Treaty of Kanghwa (1876) pronounced Korea as an independent state, but subjected it to many Japanese-imposed conditions. In the meantime, American, British, German, French and other Western powers emerged on the Korean scene, competing among themselves to secure trade and economic advantages and concessions in the country. Under constant foreign pressure, the Korean government had to face mounting social dissatisfaction and instability, crushing internal revolts such as the 1894 Tonghak rebellion. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Korean society still retained the feudal fetters that hindered the initial growth of capitalism. In parallel with foreign exploitation of Korea’s main resources, some local textile, paper and other industries had, in fact, emerged and by 1903 five banks, including the Korea Bank, had also been set up.
        Following its victory in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), Japan began to replace the Korean Min government with pro-Japanese elements. Russian ambitions to meddle in Korean affairs were later shattered by Japan’s decisive military victory in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Through American mediation, Japanese supremacy over the Korean peninsula was further strengthened and recognised by the Treaty of Portsmouth at New Hampshire (5-9-1905). Two years later, on 24-7-1907, an agreement was signed by the Japanese and Korean governments, preventing the latter from taking any independent decisions in internal and foreign policies. Koreans were only allowed to operate under conditions of "advice" and this de facto Japanese domination of the country became formally sanctioned with the treaty of annexation, promulgated on 29-8-1910. The last Korean emperor Sunjong effectively abolished the monarchy, thus terminating the reign of the Yi dynasty.         Japan’s direct colonial rule over the Korean peninsula - as established in 1910 - lasted until Korea’s final liberation on 15-8-1945. For more than thirty years, therefore, Japan’s colonial plunder of Korea’s resources and manpower prevented the normal development of capitalist relations of production by keeping the country in a backward, agrarian, semi-feudal state. Japanese imperialism secured exclusive ownership in all key branches of Korean industry and in agriculture, maximising its profits through the harsh exploitation of the local labour force. Given the extent of this colonial yoke, the Korean bourgeoisie remained weak and divided between its comprador section and its national section.
        The comprador capitalist class in Korea, or comprador bourgeoisie, was made up by comparatively big capitalists who - in alliance with feudal land-owners - were allied with Japanese imperialism. On the other hand, the non-comprador, national capitalist class in Korea, or national bourgeoisie, mainly consisted of middle and small entrepreneurs. Since it was subjugated by both the Japanese imperialists and the Korean comprador capitalists, this national capitalist class was particularly disaffected with foreign colonial rule. Nonetheless, the most exploited classes suffering under Japan’s imperial yoke in Korea consisted of peasants and workers. During the thirties - as Japan’s military preparations were increasing for its aggression against China - the heavy industry sector in Korea was specifically stimulated by major Japanese companies through various mining projects. Korean manpower was mobilised in mines and factories, in both Korea and Japan, as effectively slave labour required for Japan’s war efforts. Under close Japanese supervision, by 1944 there were 350,000 Koreans working in Korea’s mines in addition to 600,000 working in various factories throughout the country. Since 1910, some 700,000 Koreans were forcibly sent to work in Japan and, by 1940, the number of Koreans who had moved to Japan as economic immigrants reached over a million.
        As for Korea’s countryside, the Japanese took over land and property, thus increasing poverty and homelessness among its peasants. The overwhelming majority of the big landlords (i.e., 81% of the landlords owning more than 200 hectares of land) were Japanese. Landless peasants accounted for some 80% of the farm households and over half of the total crop area was possessed by landlords who accounted for only 3% of farm households. The latter extracted from the peasants farm rents which amounted from 50% to 90% of their total yields. Colonial, feudal and capitalist oppression and exploitation often forced the destitute rural population - always on the verge of starvation - to migrate to towns or abroad.
        Attempts by Koreans to fight for their independence were bloodily suppressed by the Japanese authorities (according to official Japanese statistics, during the initial period of colonial rule in Korea - from 1911 to 1918 - there were 330,025 cases of summary conviction). Whether in their own land or in Japan, Koreans were regarded and treated as racially inferior, possessing none of the political rights enjoyed by the Japanese. Through enforced "Japanization", harsh measures were undertaken to eliminate traces of Korean identity: Japanese was, in fact, declared as the official language in Korea during the 1930s and all forms of cultural expression with a national Korean content were abolished under the slogan "Japan and Korea Are One Entity". This racial discrimination became particularly brutal during the Second World War, as more than 200,000 Korean women and girls were rounded up by Japanese troops to be confined as their sex slaves. According to some scholars, this harsh colonial rule by Japan produced the effect of deepening Korean nationalism by later determining what Cumings describes as "national solipsism", i.e., the idea of an:           Significant nationalist uprisings developed in Korea nine years after its annexation to Japan: more than two million people from all walks of life were involved in about 3,200 demonstrations and revolts throughout the country during 1919. An additional force of 6,000 Japanese troops was thus dispatched to Korea: 7,509 Koreans were killed, with many thousands arrested, wounded and beaten. Many activists and nationalists were forced either to go underground or to carry on their struggle overseas.
        This movement became known as the March First Movement, or the Mansei revolution, since a declaration proclaiming "the independence of Korea and the liberty of the Korean people" was signed on 1-3-1919 in Seoul by 33 prominent patriots (land-owners, capitalists, religious leaders, intellectuals and others). The declaration called for peaceful resistance to Japan and appealed to foreign powers for assistance. But as Japan had succeeded in repressing the movement, some nationalists went into forced exile to China and America and it was outside Korea that a provisional Korean government, led by Syngman Rhee (living in Washington), was set up. At that time about 600,000 Koreans lived in south-eastern Manchuria, about 200,000 in the Maritime Provinces and about 6,000 in Hawaii and the USA. The geographical dislocation of the various nationalists around the world, together with their internal disputes and differences about whether to use either peaceful, diplomatic means or armed force against Japan, soon led to the virtual collapse of the provisional government.
          Under the impact of the 1917 October Revolution, Marxism-Leninism began to permeate Koreans, so that a variety of communist-oriented organisations emerged inside and outside the country. The first socialist organisation, set up in 1918 in the Far Eastern Region of the Soviet Union, was the Korean Socialist Party. The party split three years later into the Communist Party of Koryo in Irkutsk and another Communist Party of Koryo in Shanghai. During the same time, the Proletarian Fellowship Society and the League of Men of Advanced Ideas merged into the Proletarian Union. The Union later joined with the Irkutsk organisation, thus forming the Society for the Study of the New Ideas in 1923 (later renamed the Tuesday Society). There also existed the Seoul Youth Society (1921), the North Star Society (1923) among Korean students in Japan (later renamed the North Wind Association), and various other radical associations and clubs. Labour organisations were established as well: the Workers’ Mutual Aid Society of Korea, the Korean Federation of Workers and Peasants and the Korean Federation of Youth.
        Between 1920 and 1925 mass struggles gained momentum in the country with the participation of about 27,000 workers in more than 330 strikes. A certain degree of unity among some of the above political organisations was achieved in April 1925 with the foundation of the Communist Party of Korea (CPK). But this unity remained short-lived as internal sectarian strife soon began to reappear within the newly created party. In the meantime, the Seoul Group did not merge with the CPK and two new groups emerged on the scene: the ML Group and the Seoul-Shanghai Group. These extreme sectarian divisions - both before and after the formation of the CPK - produced little impact on the Korean situation, to the advantage for neither the communist cause nor the anti-Japanese struggle. After three years of factional strife, the CPK, which had provisionally been admitted to the Communist International in 1926, ceased to exist and dissolved by the end of 1928.
        In indicating the shortcomings of the communist movement in Korea, the Communist International expressed its criticism to both the preponderant factional struggle within the CPK and the composition of its cadres (mainly consisting of intellectuals and students). In a 1928 resolution on the Korean question, the Executive Committee of the Communist International highlighted the necessity - for the Korean communists - to carry out an agrarian revolution while strengthening the proletarian character of the revolutionary movement in the country:


    Marxist-Leninist parties and organisations in each country aim to lead their respective working classes towards the establishment of socialist, and ultimately communist, societies by successfully accomplishing the socialist revolution. The revolutionary process will necessarily differ in each country - according to its specific conditions and its stage of development. Colonial-type countries usually encompass all those relatively underdeveloped countries that are somehow dominated by a foreign imperialist power. A colonial-type country can be

    In these colonial-type countries, the revolutionary process which achieves the national liberation of the country from the foreign yoke is regarded as a national-democratic revolution. The revolutionary process which achieves the political power of its working class is regarded as a socialist revolution.
    One relevant feature in the social structure of a colonial-type country is the role played by the local capitalist class, which is divided into two sections:     As Stalin noted in 1925, in some colonial-type countries the native bourgeoisie     The 6th Congress of the Communist International, in September 1928, agreed that the native bourgeoisie in colonial-type counties maintained a differentiated attitude towards imperialism.     In colonial-type countries the national bourgeoisie is indeed a class in favour of the national-democratic revolution, but objectively opposed to the socialist revolution. It follows that the class forces which are objectively in favour of the national-democratic revolution are wider and stronger than the forces objectively in favour of the socialist revolution. Hence, in order to mobilise the maximum class forces available for both the national-democratic and socialist revolutions, the Marxist-Leninist strategy is to strive to advance the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries through two stages:     During the first national-democratic stage, the Marxist-Leninist party aims at allying itself with the national bourgeoisie, to the extent that this class remains genuinely revolutionary.     Such cooperation, such an alliance with the national bourgeoisie, is only temporary because the aim of the Marxist-Leninist party is to win for the working class the leading role in advancing from the national-democratic revolution into the socialist revolution. This leadership of the working class can only be won by struggling with the national bourgeoisie. The latter, in fact, will inevitably desert the revolution and go over to the counter-revolution as soon as the working class becomes capable of achieving a socialist revolution.     Once the working class, in alliance with the peasantry, has gained the leadership in the revolutionary process and has begun to transform the national-democratic revolution into a socialist revolution by overthrowing the national bourgeoisie and other exploiting classes, the Marxist-Leninist strategy is to bring about the final victory of socialism by establishing the dictatorship of the working class. The transition from the first national-democratic stage into the socialist one proceeds "uninterruptedly". As Lenin said,     Kim Il Sung was born on 15-4-1912 in Mangyongdae, near Pyongyang, of a peasant family with clear patriotic traditions. In 1926, at the early age of 14 as a schoolboy in Huatien, Manchuria he formed the Down-With-Imperialism Union (DIU), whose goal was to defeat Japanese imperialism and achieve Korean liberation and independence. One year later Kim Il Sung reorganised the DIU into the Anti-Imperialist Youth League (AIYL) and also founded the Young Communist League (YCL), a vanguard youth communist organisation. These two organisations, together with the Peasants’ Union, the Children’s Pioneers and other organisations, were clandestinely organising the struggle against Japanese imperialism throughout Korea.
    In 1928 Kim Il Sung led the students’ struggle against the Kirin-Hoeryong railway project, a scheme designed to extend Japanese communications into Manchuria. He soon emerged as the leading figure among a "new generation of communists", somehow different from those involved in the early communist movement in Korea. DPRK’s current political literature emphasises the fact that this new generation represented a rupture with factionalism for two reasons. Firstly, they had embraced communist ideas from the outset of their struggle, with no involvement in former sectarian groups. Moreover, they had belonged mainly to peasant and working class families.
    After having been detained for seven months in the Kirin prison, Kim Il Sung became instrumental in organising the anti-Japanese armed struggle. It was in Kuyushu on 6-7-1930 that the first unit of the Korean Revolutionary Army (KRA) was formed upon the initiative of members of the YCL and the AIYL. Small KRA groups were dispatched to various locations but especially in the countryside. However KRA bases could barely operate within Korean territory, for it was strictly controlled by Japanese authorities. They therefore decided to set up the armed struggle’s headquarters in the wooded area along the Tuman-gang river in East Manchuria, a region whose population was made up by nearly 400,000 Koreans (i.e., 80% of its total number).
    The anti-Japanese armed struggle grew and developed through different and difficult stages. In September 1931, Japan launched its invasion in Manchuria, thus threatening the guerrilla bases and urgently prompting the formation of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army (AJPGA) in Antu, Manchuria, on 25-4-1932. On the occasion of its founding, Kim Il Sung stated:     In March 1933 guerrilla units crossed the Tuman-gang river, advancing into the Onsong district on the northern border of Korea. A "people’s revolutionary government" was set up in the liberated areas so that the ranks of the guerrilla army could considerably grow and strengthen. In March 1934 the AJPGA was reorganised into the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army (KPRA) with divisions, regiments, companies, platoons and squads, systematically organised and placed under a unified organisational system. Battles were fought against Japanese forces, as KPRA units were extending their operations into wider areas of Korea and North and South Manchuria. In the meantime, Japanese authorities were reacting by intensifying repression of these mounting popular struggles. According to official Japanese figures, in the period 1931-35 more than 900 strikes took place involving over 70,000 workers and during the same time more than 453,800 Koreans were arrested, imprisoned or punished.
        Various paramilitary organisations were also active in the guerrilla zones: the Red Guards (Anti-Japanese Self-Defence Corps), the Children’s Vanguard, the Youth Voluntary Army and the Shock Brigade. Self-governing bodies and people’s committees were created and, in order to increase popular support, on 5-5-1936 the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland (ARF) was also founded. The creation of this anti-Japanese united front organisation represented -according to Kim Il Sung :         The ARF was, in fact, intended to unite all patriotic sections of Korean society, with the exclusion of pro-Japanese landlords, comprador capitalists and traitors to the nation. Its main aim was:         In November 1937 Kim Il Sung reiterated and emphasised the independent character of the Korean struggle in the following terms:         After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in July 1938, military and political activities against Japanese imperialism intensified in scope throughout Korea. However, it was decided to postpone the creation of a new Korean communist party to a later date. Subsequent to Japan’s forced mobilisation of Korean men and women during the Second World War, extensive preparations were made for anti-Japanese revolts as a prelude to the KPRA’s general offensive throughout the country. After Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender on 9-5-1945 and the subsequent Soviet declaration of war against Japan on 9-8-1945, KPRA units crossed the Tuman-gang river, rapidly advancing to the areas of Kyonghung and Kyongwon. Other units, in the meantime, landed at Unggi, Rajin and Chongjin. As the KPRA had successfully intensified its attacks and liberated many areas, the Japanese army was forced to surrender unconditionally on 15-8-1945, the day that marks the Korean people’s final liberation from Japan’s 35-year-long colonial rule.
        The anti-Japanese armed struggle has indeed gone down in Korea’s history as an heroic national-liberation war which had activated and mobilised all patriotic forces, from both inside and outside the country, in order to successfully liquidate Japanese imperialism. Korea’s national liberation movement developed autonomously and relied mainly on its own forces, with no direct assistance from outside. Nor did it maintain organic links with either the USSR or the Third Communist International. During this time, Kim Il Sung ardently fought for his country’s liberation as a revolutionary, patriotic leader. But in the DPRK today, an almost exclusive merit is attributed to his role and leadership for having achieved Korea’s liberation:         The artificial division of the Korean peninsula and its people was a decision taken by the US State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee in Washington, DC, during the night of the 10-11 August 1945, four days prior to Korea’s final liberation. Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy directed two colonels, D. Rusk and C. H. Bonesteel, to decide - and they were given around 30 minutes in which to do so - where to draw a line of demarcation on Korea’s map. The line was drawn along the 38th parallel so that the surrender of the Japanese army could be offered to Soviet forces (which moved into north-eastern Korea on 12 August) in the north and to American forces in the south. This arbitrary partition - created in total disregard of the national liberation struggle that had been fought by the Korean people for their self-determination and independence - was the product of US imperialism’s expansionist attempts to extend its tentacles into the Asian continent.
        By mid-1946, the cold war against the USSR and the newly formed people’s democracies had soon emerged. In Korea as well, the USA was:         After partitioning the country, US imperialism established a fresh military occupation in South Korea, where it has imposed - for more than half a century - a succession of fascist or pseudo-democratic regimes congenial to American strategic and economic interests. American domination in the south immediately replaced Japanese rule by dismantling the self-governing bodies and the people’s committees created during the war, by establishing a ruthless military administration, by suppressing any democratic rights and denying national independence to the Korean people. Different developments soon began to unfold in the north and in the south. Consequently, Korean efforts to reconstruct and democratise their country were made particularly complicated by the US military occupation and interference in the south, where the ROK was created with the installation of Syngman Rhee as its dictator.
        During early 1948, the universal aspiration of the Korean people to national reunification was unanimously expressed at the Joint Conference of Representatives of North and South Korean Political Parties and Social Organisations, organised in Pyongyang in April 1948 and attended by 695 representatives of 56 different parties and organisations. Their final resolution demanded the withdrawal of both Soviet and American troops from Korean territory, supported the establishment of a provisional government representing the whole of Korea, while rejecting American attempts to hold separate elections in the south. The resolution concluded as follows:         Contrary to the above wishes of the Korean people, a short time later, on 10-5-1948, the Americans engineered separate elections in South Korea, at a time when substantial areas of the country were outside Rhee’s control. But all over Korea, general elections to the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) took place on 25-8-1948. In the north elections were held on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage to select 212 deputies (99.97% of the eligible voters participated and 98.49% of them voted for the candidates of the Democratic National United Front of North Korea). Overcoming considerable obstacles, secret elections also took place in the south in order to choose 360 deputies (but given the extent of political repression, participation in the elections was limited to 77.52% of the eligible voters). A total of 572 deputies (out of which 102 belonged to the North Korea’s communist party - then called the Workers’ Party of Korea, WPK) took part in the first session of the SPA on 2-9-1948, adopted the constitution of the new state and elected Kim Il Sung as its prime minister. His government stressed the urgency to reunify the divided country through the simultaneous withdrawal of Soviet troops from the north and American troops from the south. A few days later, on 9-9-1948, the SPA officially proclaimed the founding of the DPRK:         By the end of 1948, Soviet troops (numbering about 10,000 in mid-1946) were all withdrawn while the continued military presence of the US in the south prompted yet another joint initiative for the peaceful solution of the Korean question. The Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland (DFRF) was, in fact, created in May 1949 with the participation of various political parties and social organisations from both the north and the south of the country. Prior to the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, both the DFRF and the DPRK’s government put forward various proposals in order to achieve a peaceful reunification of Korea.         At the time of its liberation in 1945, North Korean society still maintained a semi-feudal character as capitalist development had been hampered by Japan’s 35-year-old colonial domination. North Korea soon embarked along the path of "progressive democracy" in order to carry out its anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution. The immediate post-war task was therefore:     As Kim Il Sung indicated in 1945, democracy - in this sense - was:     Progressive democracy was therefore intended to establish a joint dictatorship of several classes in North Korea with the inclusion of the national bourgeoisie, as well:         Emphasis was placed on the assumption that - in North Korea’s specific conditions after 1945 - a socialist system or a Soviet power was indeed premature. Korean communists were therefore instructed by Kim Il Sung to adhere to:         In North Korea’s progressive democracy, communism - rather than being perceived in a Leninist, Bolshevik sense - became associated with Korean patriotism and independence. Kim Il Sung reported the following anecdote during a mass rally in Sinuiju:         Imbued with considerable doses of nationalism, the Communist Party of North Korea (CPNK, renamed Workers’ Party of North Korea in August 1946, and then Workers’ Party of Korea) was officially founded on 10-13 October 1945. Besides the CPNK, other parties and social organisations emerged during late 1945 and early 1946: the Democratic Party (mainly made up of small and middle class capitalists and Christians), the Chondoist Chongu Party (made up of Chondo believers, mostly peasants) and the New Democratic Party (made up mainly of middle peasants and intellectuals). Social organisations included the General Federation of Trade Unions, the Peasant Union, the Democratic Youth League, the Democratic Women’s Union, the General Federation of Unions of Literature and Arts, the General Federation of Industrial Technology, the Christian Federation, the Buddist Federation and others. Representatives from all these parties and organisations - together with those from local committees - convened in Pyongyang on 8-2-1946 in order to establish the Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea (PPCNK) functioning as the democratic government and aiming at deepening the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal democratic revolution.
        Some time later, Kim Il Sung would state that, since the establishment of the 1946 provisional government, North Korean society had entered the period of gradual transition to socialism.         But contrary to the above claims, made in retrospect during the mid-fifties, neither the CPNK nor any other party contemplated - during the period of the so-called progressive democracy - the transition from the national-democratic stage into the socialist one. The decision was, in fact, taken on 28-8-1946 to merge together the CPNK and the New Democratic Party, thus creating the Workers’ Party of North Korea (WPNK), "aimed at building a prosperous, independent, sovereign and democratic state," but without the slightest reference to an eventual transition towards socialism. (The WPNK had an initial membership of 370,000, which increased to 680,000 one year later). The amalgamation that gave birth to the WPNK took place rather artificially: according to Kim Il Sung:         No trace of socialism can be spotted in the WPNK’s programme. Its democratic tasks were the following.         What about Marxism-Leninism? Under the pretext of its creative implementation in the country’s specific situation, Marxism-Leninism (i.e., scientific socialism as elaborated by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin for the emancipation of the working class) was distorted and became equated with Korean independence. Its vulgar revision is presented by Kim Il Sung as follows:         During the 1946 summer the WPNK joined in coalition with the two other existing political parties and with fifteen social organisations in order to set up the Democratic National United Front of North Korea (DNUFNK). Its purpose was to organise elections to the provincial, city, county, ri (Dong) and sub-county people’s committees during November 1946 and early 1947. The elected representatives from these people’s committees formed the North Korean People’s Assembly (NKPA) on 17-2-1947.
        The NKPA thus became the country’s supreme organ of power, with the North Korean People’s Committee (NKPC) as its executive body. The 237 NKPA deputies were affiliated to the existing parties as follows (in percentage): 36% to the WPNK, 13% to the Democratic Party, 13% to the Chogu Party and 38% non affiliated. As for their social origin, 22% were workers, 26% peasants, 24% office employees, 15% intellectuals, 3% enterprisers, 4% traders, 2% handicraftsmen and 4% religious men.
        In a later assessment, Kim Il Sung characterised this NKPC as another intermediate step towards socialism! Only in 1956 would he state that the NKPC had:         But this is another unsubstantiated claim, since no transition towards socialism under the leadership of the working class and its communist party can be envisaged in the official documentary sources of the forties. In other words, "progressive democracy" was not viewed - at that time - as a transition stage which would lead to the dictatorship of the proletariat in North Korea.
        Indeed, this "progressive democracy" in North Korea bears similarities with the "new democracy" that was implemented in China after its liberation in 1949. The latter had, in fact, been outlined in Mao Tse-tung’s The New Democracy (1940), according to which four anti-imperialist and anti-feudal classes - such as the proletariat, the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie - were all going to participate and share power in post-liberated China. But whatever labels can be attached to these forms of democracy - whether it is "progressive" or "new" - both Kim Il Sung’s and Mao Tse-tung’s formulations deny the basic Marxist-Leninist principle that it is only by means of the dictatorship of the proletariat that real democracy and socialism can be established. As Lenin clearly indicated,         Both Kim Il Sung’s "progressive democracy" and Mao Tse-tung’s "new democracy" represent right-wing revisionist distortions on the revolution in the colonial-type countries. These deviations were, in fact, later elaborated by the Krushchevite revisionists around the idea of a state of "national democracy". It was during the sixties that, in this regard, the revisionist USSR reversed Lenin’s and Stalin’s policies in order to subvert and disrupt the revolutionary process in the developing countries. Support was therefore given to newly-emerged, allegedly non-capitalist, states (such as Nehru’s India or Sukharno’s Indonesia) in their attempts to encourage their national capitalist classes and all other patriotic forces to harmoniously pass over to "socialism", mainly through state nationalisations. Unquestionably, all these policies confusing "democracy" with "reconciliation" between antagonistic classes are revisionist formulations and theories that halt the advance towards the dictatorship of the working class and raise a "Chinese wall" between the first and second phase of the revolutionary process in the developing countries.         Although North Korea - compared with the south - possessed a relative advantage in inheriting most of the country’s heavy industry and mines, the scale of Japan’s sabotage before its final surrender in 1945 had been so damaging that 19 hydro-electric plants had been put out of operation, 64 mines totally flooded, 178 partially flooded, 6 enterprises (including the Pyongyang Aircraft Factory) completely destroyed and 47 enterprises partially destroyed. Jon Halliday, "The Economies of North and South Korea", in Sullivan and Foss (Eds), Two Koreas - One Future?, Lanham, MD, 1987, p. 21.
        Nonetheless, remarkable progress was soon achieved, as reconstruction and economic development began to be planned (on a yearly basis in 1947 and 1948 and on a two-year basis in 1949-50). As compared to 1946, industrial output grew by 53.3% in 1947, by 117.9% in 1948 and by 236.7% in 1949. All domains of society were affected by democratic reforms - from the agrarian reform and the nationalisation of the main industries to new laws on labour protection, equality of sexes, the democratisation of the judiciary, education and culture, etc. - thus beginning to eradicate the colonial and feudal features inherited from the past.
        Given Korea’s backwardness and its overwhelming peasant population, of particular importance was the "Law on Agrarian Reform in North Korea", promulgated on 5-5-1946. All lands possessed by Japanese colonialists and by landlords who owned more than five hectares were confiscated without compensation and distributed free to the landless and poor peasants, according to the size of their families. Sale, purchase and mortgaging of the distributed land and all systems of tenancy were now prohibited. The agrarian reform was carried out successfully in a short time: more than 1,000,000 hectares of land were confiscated and distributed to over 720,000 peasant households. A subsequent law on "agricultural tax in kind" required the peasants to pay the state 25% of their yields (this percentage was later revised in the range between 10% and 27%, according to crops or land fertility). This tax was then abolished in 1966.
        According to the "Law on the Nationalisation of Industry, Traffic, Transport, Communications and Banking" (10-8-1946), all major industries, formerly owned by the Japanese state or by traitors to the Korean nation, were nationalised without compensation and transferred to the state. As a result, more than 1,000 industrial establishments, railways, communications and banks (i.e., over 90 % of all industries formerly owned by Japanese imperialism or by the comprador bourgeoisie) were brought under state ownership. This nationalisation, though having a democratic, anti-imperialist and anti-feudal character, did not liquidate capitalist ownership as a whole: the properties belonging to the national capitalist class remained unaffected by this nationalisation and were legally protected. The law protecting private ownership and encouraging capitalist private businesses was, in fact, approved on 4-10-1946.
        The overwhelming state-ownership in the industrial sector, the small private peasant economy and the urban handicrafts economy could therefore coexist with the national capitalist sector, comprising private capitalist trade and industry in towns and rich peasants’ economy in the countryside.         While disregarding the efforts on the part of the DPRK and DFRK to achieve Korean reunification by peaceful means during the late forties, Washington increased its military build-up in South Korea in the prelude to the outbreak of hostilities. Clashes with the North Korean People’s Army (NKPA) along the 38th parallel became frequent and on 4-5-1949 South Korean forces launched an attack towards Kaesong, resulting in a total of 4,000 North Korean soldiers, 22 South Korean soldiers and about 100 civilians killed. The Rhee regime in the ROK, in the meantime, was attempting to repress peasant and labour disturbances and to stamp out guerrilla activities that had developed in the south on a large scale. These repressions, aimed at "annihilating rebels", reached their peak in early 1950, as thousands were murdered and many more were wounded or displaced and their homes were completely or partly destroyed.
        On 25-6-1950, at dawn, the attack from the south - all along the 38th parallel in the direction of Haeju, Kumchon and Cholwen - eventually initiated the war against the DPRK, prompting the NKPA’s subsequent military offensive towards the south. Thus, the Korean people began their three-year-long Fatherland Liberation War against the military might of the allied forces of imperialism led by the USA. With the aim of reducing the whole Korea into an American neo-colony, US official propaganda was presenting the Koreans’ struggle for their reunification as civil war. Most Western sources still refer to an alleged "communist invasion" from the north to the south. But as to which Korean side would have been to blame for the outbreak of hostilities, British historian Geoff Simons noted the following differences:         By the early fifties - and particularly after the proclamation of the Truman doctrine in 1947 - Washington had come to regard events in any one nation or area in the context of its global imperialist perspective and in order to attack the USSR and other nations struggling for independence, peace, democracy and socialism. The cold war was activated by US imperialism and designated to exacerbate international tension, justify an unrestrained arms race and increase military expenditures and anti-communist reaction in all continents. It was within this framework that conditions could be created for the outbreak of the hot war in the Korean peninsula in 1950.
        From June to early September 1950, the US-led UN forces were pushed back to the small south-east area of Pusan. On 15-9-1950 the American landings at Inchon (just south of the 38th parallel) forced the NKPA into retreat and facilitated a UN breakout from Pusan. In November, the rapid advance of the UN forces towards the Yalu river prompted a massive Chinese intervention, causing a UN retreat on all fronts. Hasty UN evacuations took place by sea from Hungnam and Wonsan in North Korea. By January 1951 the UN retreat halted north of Taejon in South Korea and, after a three-month UN counter-offensive, the confrontation stabilised around the 38th parallel until the armistice line was finally agreed upon on 27-7-1953. According to the terms of the armistice, the exchange of prisoners also took place: 77,000 North Korean and Chinese soldiers against 12,700 UN personnel, including 3,597 Americans and 945 Britons.
        The 1950-53 war against the Korean people produced about four million deaths with many more men, women and children wounded, mutilated, traumatised (perhaps ten million dead and wounded altogether): the greatest number of casualties was suffered by the North Koreans and the Chinese. US bombers attacked power plants, factories, bridges and all communications throughout the north and in entire provinces scarcely a building remained standing. The war also provided US imperialism with the opportunity to test napalm and related products on a sustained and widespread basis against both military and civilian targets in the north. By 1953, in proportionate terms, the DPRK had been more comprehensively devastated than any country (including Germany or the USSR) in the Second World War, and more than North Vietnam would be in the Vietnam War.
        As is known, the US attack against Korea was fought under the nominal aegis of the UN. So troops from countries such as Britain, Japan, Australia and twelve other states united their military strength against the DPRK. However, the decision to involve the UN in the Korean War had not been a UN initiative, but a decision of the USA. Because of the USSR’s temporary boycott in the Security Council (that is, in the absence of a Soviet veto), the US imperialists could secure three Council resolutions authorising UN intervention in Korea (resolution n. 82 of 25-6-1950, n. 83 of 27-6-1950 and n. 84 of 7-7-1950). It is also important to consider that:        It is therefore clear that in this instance - just as it is currently occurring today - US imperialism manipulated and used the UN as an instrument to pursue its own expansionist ambitions and strategic interests. And the "UN Command" in the ROK continues to remain a US product of the cold war.
        The armistice talks for the ceasefire, conducted between the "UN Command" (i.e., essentially a US delegation) and the North Korean/Chinese representatives, concluded with the signing of the armistice agreement on 27-7-1953 at Panmunjom. The armistice foiled US designs to occupy the entire Korean peninsula and thus strengthened the anti-imperialist front in Asia. This armistice (that has by now become the world’s longest-running) has never been replaced by a peace treaty, as Korea continues to prolong its division into two along its 38th parallel. Although the continued military occupation by US imperialism is in violation of the 1953 armistice agreement (envisaging the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the Korean peninsula), Washington had been able to conclude a "mutual defence treaty" with the South Korean government on 8-8-1953 in order to "justify" its military presence there for an indefinite period of time. On the other hand, all Chinese troops had left the DPRK by 1958.
        During the Korean War the banner of national liberation and independence was heroically held high by the Korean people in their armed confrontation against the US-led military intervention in the Korean peninsula. The anti-imperialist character of the Koreans’ struggle - fought, this time, against US imperialism - was highlighted by Kim Il Sung as follows:         In order to maximise popular support for Korea’s liberation and reunification during 1950-53, Kim Il Sung placed major emphasis on strengthening unity among all patriotic elements in Korean society, regardless of their social status or political allegiance. In the DFRF, in fact, members of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) were working in close contacts with those of the Chongu Party and the Democratic Party. But during the period September-November 1950 - as the NKPA had temporarily retreated and US-led UN troops had occupied most of the north - some reactionary forces in the north re-organised themselves under American protection. Members of the Chongu and Democratic parties joined the newly-formed reactionary organisations and some of them even murdered WPK members and their families. In such instances, however, Kim Il Sung called for political restraint, opposing attempts to characterise "friendly parties" as reactionary organisations. As he indicated to WPK cadres in November 1951:         In order to rehabilitate the post-1953 economy, totally ruined by the Korean war, and lay the economic foundations of socialism, priority was given to the development of heavy industry in parallel with the development of light industry and agriculture. The post-war reconstruction took place through three stages:         A major role in achieving these remarkable and fast successes after the Korean War was played by the so-called Chollima movement (Chollima traditionally signifies a horse galloping about 1,000 miles a day). This movement was aimed at educating and converting people into communist activists by speeding up innovation and production collectively under the slogan "one for all and all for one." Emphasis was always placed on Korea’s national peculiarities, i.e., on the fact that the revolution was a Korean one and - as such - it should not have copied foreign models. In this regard, the term "Juche" ("independence") appeared for the very first time in a speech, delivered by Kim Il Sung on 28-12-1955. In attacking dogmatism and formalism:         This independent and national character of the Korean revolution was very often reiterated and underlined. As Kim Il Sung pointed out in 1959:         According to official Kimilsungist literature, the economic and social transformations which took place during the mid-fifties both in the cooperativization of agriculture and in the reorganisation of private trade and industry led to the establishment of socialist relations of production by 1958.
        In the agricultural sector, the principal goal was to turn the individual and private peasant economy into the cooperative economy. This change was also dictated by the necessity to improve living standards in the countryside, as they had considerably deteriorated during the war (in 1953 poor peasants amounted to 40% of the total population in the countryside). During 1953-54, agricultural cooperatives were therefore set up on an experimental basis: 1,090 of them (involving 21.5% of the total peasant households) were created by June 1954. Three different forms of agriculture cooperatives were set up:         Rapid advances were made in agricultural cooperativization which could attract not only poor peasants, but also an increasing number of middle peasants. By the end of 1956, 80.9% of the total farm households had joined the cooperatives (almost all of them belonging to the third form). In general, rich peasants who usually engaged in trade, as well, remained excluded from the cooperatives. But although they were not confiscated of their properties, both rich and middle peasants were instead - according to Kim Il Sung - "persuaded" and ideologically "remoulded" in order to join agricultural cooperatives voluntarily.         Alongside agricultural cooperativization, the reorganisation of handicrafts and capitalist trade and industry (a sector which had been considerably reduced since 1945) was stepped up along socialist lines and was allegedly completed by August 1958. In this instance, as well, cooperatives could be set up by "remoulding" national capitalists, but without expropriating their properties:         Just as in the case of the agricultural cooperatives, three forms of producers’ cooperatives were set up:         National capitalists joining a cooperative could freely choose which form of distribution to adopt. They naturally exercised this choice in accordance with their interests by joining the second form of cooperation and by receiving dividends upon their investments. They were then encouraged to pass to the third, higher form of cooperatives and those capitalists who opted for this transition were paid additional compensation.
        As for private trade, this was transformed through the formation of marketing cooperatives (where marketed goods were either purchased or partly processed by private traders) and producing-marketing cooperatives (where private traders were engaged in both producing and marketing their products). These latter cooperatives were later reorganised - with considerable financial assistance from the state - as producers’ cooperatives. Such a reorganisation of private trade and industry into producers’ cooperatives proceeded rapidly at the rate of 33.7% in 1953, 77.2% in 1957 and was then declared as completed by August 1958. Kim Il Sung alleged that the mere act of joining a cooperative could transform a national capitalist into a "socialist worker".         These policies - thoroughly implemented in the DPRK in order to "persuade" and "remould" rich peasants and capitalists along allegedly socialist lines - have little in common with scientific socialism. They conform, instead, to Nikolai Bukharin’s revisionist theory, in which irreconcilable antagonisms of class interests soon disappear under socialism as the exploiting classes peacefully and harmoniously come to embrace socialist and communist policies. But such revisionist assumptions run contrary to the basic laws of economic and social development. As Stalin noted,         As for the DPRK, it is rather revealing to consider the rapidity through which complete socialist relations of production are alleged to have been established by 1958. In September 1957, in fact, the democratic government was not only representing workers and peasants, but also the private capitalist sector (i.e., "entrepreneurs, traders and those in other social sections" who were supposedly transforming themselves voluntarily into "socialist working people"):         By March 1958 the then existing government (also inclusive of the national bourgeoisie) had almost assumed - according to Kim Il Sung - the character of a proletarian dictatorship which should have accomplished the socialist revolution in order to overthrow the exploiting classes (i.e., the national bourgeoisie itself). In fact,         But in a matter of six months only, by September 1958, socialist relations of production were declared to have been completely established in both the industrial and agricultural sectors of the economy. Thus, an allegedly socialist society, free from exploitation and oppression - but achieved without the socialist revolution in a very short period of time - had suddenly emerged.         On the basis of the above official sources of the 1957-58 period, therefore, ample evidence can prove that "socialism" had been achieved in North Korea without the socialist revolution (i.e., without expropriating and overthrowing the national capitalist class), without the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat (thus rejecting the Marxist-Leninist concept that the dictatorship of the working class is essential to construct and maintain socialism once the exploiting classes have been overthrown) and by peacefully and "voluntarily" absorbing the national capitalist class into the state, either through direct participation in government or through cooperatives. There is no doubt that this capitalist class was numerically small and that its power had been considerably reduced by the democratic reforms implemented in the country after 1945. Nonetheless, this capitalist class did exist and did actively participate in establishing Korean-style socialism. The issue of the proletarian dictatorship was therefore simplistically solved, during the late fifties, by equating the new democratic system of various classes exercising state power in North Korea with the dictatorship of the proletariat itself.
        From their very inception, in fact, political developments in North Korea proceeded along a direction radically different from, and in opposition to, the revolutionary transformations that had established Soviet power in Russia in 1917. Indeed, we should consider that at that time in Russia - just as in North Korea during the forties and fifties - the peasantry represented the overwhelming majority of the population. Nonetheless, it was under the leadership of the working class - and in alliance with the poor peasants - that the Bolshevik party could open up the new era of proletarian revolutions by overthrowing and expropriating the bourgeoisie, by transferring the land to the peasants and nationalising it, and by establishing a socialist Soviet state by means of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Clearly, this revolutionary pattern was not followed in North Korea.         From the end of the Korean war onwards, considerable attempts were made by Kim Il Sung to establish Juche thoroughly. Placing major emphasis on the national character of the Korean revolution, the struggle to establish Juche became associated with efforts to root out attitudes which were typified as dogmatic, formal and unsuitable to Korea’s reality. Kim Il Sung’s first reference to Juche in December 1955 was, in fact, made in a speech entitled "On Eliminating Dogmatism and Formalism and Establishing Juche in Ideological Work". According to Kimilsungist literature, this ideological struggle under the banner of Juche became increasingly incompatible with factionalism, flunkeyism and dogmatism.         During the Korean war, factionalist activities within the WPK centred around the group led by Pak Hon Yong and Li Sung Yop, who were accused of counter-revolutionary intrigues and treachery in collusion with US imperialism. In parallel with Kim Il Sung’s fast ascent to power, a considerable number of political figures were then expelled from the WPK or purged during 1956-58. These purges affected prominent cadres who had held positions such as deputy premier (2 cases), minister of construction, minister of coal industry, minister of railroads, minister of commerce, minister of labour, vice minister of culture and propaganda (2 cases), vice minister of defence (2 cases), formerly vice minister of home affairs, bureau chief of the cabinet secretariat, commander of the Pyongyang Reconstruction Corps, editor-in-chief of Minchu Choson, NKPA commander in chief, NKPA division commander, political committee chief of national defence, principal of the Central Party School, vice chairman of the Central Women’s Alliance, member of the SPA judicial committee, chief of propaganda of the central committee secretariat, ambassador to the USSR, ambassador to Poland, etc. As the WPK’s fourth congress convened in September 1961, Kim Il Sung’s position had clearly consolidated and proved to be unchallengeable. According to the official version of events, as presented by Kim Il Sung himself,         Anti-communist sources - mainly on the basis of defectors’ accounts - point to the existence of the Soviet and Yenan (Chinese) factions within the WPK. In contact with the respective Soviet and Chinese embassies in Pyongyang, these two factions were orchestrating their opposition to Kim Il Sung during the fifties. It is moreover suggested that - rather than one’s factional affiliation or background - the crucial factor often depended on one’s personal relationship to Kim Il Sung. Hardly any documents remain available in order to verify the existence of pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese lines among those groups that did challenge Kim Il Sung’s position and his Juche ideology. Nor is it possible to assess - for the same reason - the political strength of possible Marxist-Leninist groups or individuals fighting to implement scientific socialism in North Korea. But the very fact that purges and factional struggles in the DPRK reached their peak during this time (particularly in 1956-57) - i.e., during the period leading to the official establishment of "socialist relations of productions" under the banner of Juche - may indeed suggest a degree of Marxist-Leninist opposition to the revisionist course hastily implemented by Kim Il Sung and his supporters.
        We should also consider that, in the meantime, major developments were taking place in the international communist movement:         Given the extent of the above revisionist trends developing in the USSR and China, it is highly unlikely that these two countries would have exerted - at that time - their political influence in the DPRK in order to support the consistent implementation of Marxism-Leninism rather than Juche.
        The period leading to Kim Il Sung’s consolidation in power during the late fifties also coincided with a remarkable numerical increase of the WPK’s members. In January 1956 the total membership amounted to 1,164,945 (with 58,259 cells and sub-cells), an extraordinarily high figure out of a population of about 10 million: 22.6% of members were workers, 56.8% poor peasants, 3.7% middle peasants, 13% office employees and 3.9% belonging to other categories. Kim Il Sung, "Report to the Third Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea on the Work of the Central Committee", 23-4-1956, in Kim Il Sung, Works, vol 10, Pyongyang, 1982, pp. 221, 236.
        In its composition, therefore, the WPK consisted of more than 60% peasants and less than one -fourth workers. At the time of the WPK’s fourth congress in 1961, the party increased its total membership to 1,311,563 (1,166,359 full members and 145,204 probationary members). Kim Il Sung, "Report on The Work of the Central Committee to the Fourth Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea", 11-9-1961, in Kim Il Sung, Works, vol 15, Pyongyang, 1983, p. 226.         From the early sixties onwards, the DPRK embarked on the "all-round socialist construction" by continuing to develop its economy on the basis of centrally organised plans. A series of new, democratic, progressive, often socialist oriented reforms significantly transformed North Korean society on the basis of the following economic plans:         In the first seven-year plan, priority was given to heavy industry while developing light industry and agriculture at the same time. Its fundamental task was to carry out a comprehensive technological reconstruction (particularly in the countryside by means of farm mechanisation and by completing the irrigation and electrification systems), together with a cultural revolution. The plan was successfully carried out in two phases (1961-64 and 1965-70). Both US imperialism’s war mongering provocations (in parallel with the Carribean crisis against Cuba and its war against Vietnam) and also the negative effects of the Sino-Soviet dispute on the DPRK’s economy required greater military efforts in strengthening the country’s defence capabilities. The economic plan was therefore partly modified and later extended by three years. Industrial output grew by 12.8% per annum during the sixties.
        The successful completion of the plan’s targets by 1970 led Kim Il Sung to declare the final conversion of North Korea into an independent and socialist industrial state, based on economic self-reliance:         The subsequent six-year plan (1971-76) was intended to consolidate and further advance industrialisation while deepening the technical revolution. It was particularly important to reduce distinctions between industrial and agricultural workers and to alleviate women from their heavy household duties. The plan was declared fulfilled a year and four months ahead of schedule: between 1971 and 1976 industrial output developed at an annual rate of 16.3% and in 1976 the overall volume of industrial production increased by 2.5 times since 1970.
        The goals of the second seven-year plan (1978-84), which was then extended for two more years until 1986, aimed at further strengthening the independent character of the economy. It mainly relied on the DPRK’s own mineral resources (such as coal, iron-ore, magnesium, graphite, lead and zinc) and gave priority to the development of energy (mainly hydro-electric) and extractive industries.
        The economy became increasingly modernised and more Juche oriented. In a similar fashion, the last seven-year plan (1987-93) required further modernisation of the economy. As in the past, its goals set as a priority the development of heavy industry, in parallel with the simultaneous advancement of light industry and agriculture.
        Problems, however, emerged during the early nineties. While economic growth had increased by 2% to 3% annually during the eighties, it turned negative in 1989 and dropped by 3% to 5% annually until 1992. International sources estimated that in 1991 the DPRK possessed a gross national product (GNP) at $22,900 million (compared with $280,800 million in the south), a per capita GNP at $1,038 (compared with $6,498 in the south) and an external trade at $2,700 million (compared with $153,400 million in the south). As the gap between the economies in the north and in the south was widening, DPRK’s economic failures in its planned targets were officially admitted in December 1993 (refer to chapter 12).
        This entire period of "socialist construction" in the DPRK parallelled with relevant political and ideological initiatives, which were intended to deepen the Juche character of its society. It was during the early sixties that the Chongsanri spirit and method, together with the so-called Taean work system, began to be thoroughly implemented. According to the Chongsanri spirit and Chongsanri method (principles that are still embodied in the current constitution), cadres appointed at higher positions must help and assist their subordinates and mix with them. This "mass line" allows officials to grasp the real situation and arouse enthusiasm and initiatives among the masses.
        A new system in industrial management was also introduced during the sixties through the Taean work system. Accordingly, all decisions regarding organisation and management in factories and enterprises are collectively taken by the WPK committees, which are also supposed to play a political role by raising enthusiasm among workers. With the adoption of this system, the former individual management by one director in enterprises was replaced by collective responsibility. As Kim Il Sung pointed out,         A new organisational system also became operational in the countryside during the sixties. The county people’s committees (which formerly provided guidance mainly through administrative methods) were replaced by the county cooperative farm management committees. All agro-technicians were placed under the authority of these committees, as the state provided more material and scientific assistance to the rural economy. According to the "Theses on the Socialist Rural Question in Our Country" (adopted by the WPK in February 1964), three basic principles were proclaimed in agricultural policies:         Public education was further enhanced with the introduction of universal compulsory primary education in 1956. Secondary education became compulsory in 1958. The current 11-year compulsory education (one year of preschool education plus ten years at primary and secondary schools) has been in force since 1972. From the sixties onwards, major emphasis has been placed on ideo-political education along Juche lines. The ideological, technical and cultural revolutions - the so-called Three Revolutions - have become components of a single revolutionary process through which the working masses are supposed to advance towards socialism and communism.
        Under the banner of Juche, all members of society are educated, persuaded, remoulded and transformed into "men of a communist type". For this purpose - with the aim of gradually liquidating all class distinctions - the so-called working-classization of the whole North Korean society began during the sixties. This idea was presented by Kim Il Sung in 1966 in the following terms:         In 1970 Kim Il Sung assessed the impact of the above policies as follows:         References to the "dictatorship of the proletariat" (a term occasionally used by Kim Il Sung up to the sixties) seem to disappear altogether in the official Kimilsungist literature from the seventies onwards. At the same time, Juche began to pervade all aspects of political and social life in North Korea. As Kim Il Sung stated during the early seventies,     Later, during the early eighties, Kim Il Sung would relate Juche to his idea of a "communist paradise" in the DPRK:         A major role in advancing society along the above directions was played by the Chollima Workteam Movement during the sixties, later developed - from 1975 onwards - as the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement. These movements served the purpose of educating and remoulding people from different walks of life by means of strengthening collectivism in society under the slogan "let’s live and work in a communist way." In the countryside, in particular, these movements were aimed at removing selfish, petty-bourgeois, backward ideas that were still rooted among peasants.         Not only the peasantry, but also the intelligentsia and the national bourgeoisie were all equally remoulded, revolutionised and "working-classized". This was presented as "class struggle". But class struggle according to Juche is not class struggle in the Marxist-Leninist sense. In the absence of a truly proletarian state in the DPRK, class struggle could not constitute the necessary medium to strengthen the political power of the working class under its dictatorship. Instead, class struggle was finalised towards achieving harmony and "cooperation" among all classes and members of society for the sake of "unity and solidarity" under the banner of Juche.

          Admittedly, the above positions represent an evident negation of the class struggle between antagonistic classes and ideologies. According to the founders of scientific socialism, it is only the proletarian state that can guarantee the necessary economic, political, ideological preconditions for the gradual and final extinction of classes. On the contrary, this ultimate goal of a classless, communist society is allegedly achieved in the DPRK by ideologically conforming anyone - regardless of one’s social status - to a uniform pattern of behaviour under Juche. Indeed, collectivism has provided the basis for such a hybrid amalgamation of different classes, allegedly united under the working class’ leadership.

        But ironically, collectivism began to translate into collective forms of servility towards the leader, Kim Il Sung. In this regard, he himself in 1975 indicated the following:         Consequently, and notwithstanding all preachings about collectivism in society, the personality cult around Kim Il Sung and his nepotism began to reach unimaginable proportions in North Korea from the sixties onwards. Millions of copies of Kim Il Sung’s writings, together with interpretations and analyses of his writings and other reference books, began to be published and distributed all over the country. In 1969, for example, expenditures for such cultural activities from WPK’s funds were reported to be thirty times the amount spent in the year 1960. During the sixties 39 million copies of the Selected Works of Kim Il Sung were published, along with 8.8 million copies of the History of the Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung and 45.5 million copies of other "revolutionary guidance" books - and this took place at a time when the total population was only 14 million, out of which 6.6 million were under 14 years of age.
        Political education centred almost exclusively on studying the life and works of Kim Il Sung and party members were required to spend, for this purpose, a minimum of two hours per day. In the meantime, between 1966 and 1970, several members of Kim Il Sung’s family were appointed to top party and government positions. At the WPK’s 5th Congress in 1970, Kim Il Sung was officially described as:         Furthermore, in order to prove Kim Il Sung’s personal legitimacy as successor of "a patriotic and revolutionary family that have fought from generation to generation for the independence of the country and the freedom and liberation of the people against foreign aggressors", official publications presented his genealogy as follows:         Kim Il Sung became the DPRK’s president in 1972, a position he held until his death in 1994. But a dynastic power succession plan had been drafted since the early seventies in order to settle the continuation of the Juche cause under the leadership of Kim Il Sung’s son, Kim Jong Il. Evidence suggests that, in this instance, Kim Il Sung encountered opposition as more than 1000 political and military cadres were reported to have been purged.
        But by the WPK’s 6th Congress, held in 1980, this opposition appeared to have been overcome as Kim Jong Il was elected as party secretary and was confirmed as his father’s heir successor. In a similar fashion to that accorded to his father, the 6th Congress described Kim Jong Il as the:     A book, which was widely circulated in the DPRK in 1990, presented Kim Jong Il as:         What indeed constituted a hereditary succession through Kim Jong Il’s gradual accession to power - almost like a family affair typical of Korea’s feudalistic dynasties of the past - was presented in the DPRK as a model of succession for the Juche cause. According to a Japanese apologist of Kimilsungism,         North Korean’s first constitution was approved by the SPA on 8-9-1948 and remained in force - with some minor amendments made between 1954 and 1962 - until a new one was adopted in 1972. Without any reference to Juche, socialism or Marxism-Leninism, the 1948 constitution defined the country as the "Democratic People’s Republic of Korea", where sovereignty resided in the people who exercised their power through the SPA and the local people’s assemblies at various levels. Besides major nationalisations, three forms of ownership were contemplated: state, cooperative and private.
        A new "Socialist Constitution" was adopted on 27-12-1972, though the name of the state - DPRK - remained unchanged. This constitution remains in force today, after having been revised and supplemented on 9-4-1992 and on 5-9-1998 (some articles have, in the meantime, been amended from time to time). The 1972 constitution explicitly stipulated, in its original version, that the country was an independent socialist state representing the interests of all Koreans and that it was guided by "the Juche idea of the Workers’ Party of Korea, a creative application of Marxism-Leninism to the conditions of our country". (my emphasis) Another reference was made to "Marxism-Leninism", while the "dictatorship of the proletariat" was only mentioned once. But later, the 1992 constitutional revision deleted altogether any reference to "Marxism-Leninism" and the "dictatorship of the proletariat." It is now stated that the DPRK is guided by "the Juche idea, a world outlook centred on people, a revolutionary ideology for achieving the independence of the masses of people." (my emphasis).
        The "socialist constitution" clearly indicates that socialist relations of productions have been established in North Korea: "class antagonisms and all forms of exploitation and oppression of man by man have been eliminated for ever", the DPRK relies "on the socialist production relations and on the foundation of an independent national economy", it "shall strive to achieve the complete victory of socialism in the northern half". In his speech made at the SPA two days prior to the approval of the constitution in December 1972, Kim Il Sung stated that both the socialist transformation of the economy and agricultural cooperativization had been completed in the DPRK by 1958. He also confirmed, once more, that this sudden establishment of socialist relations of productions had been made possible by the inclusion of the national bourgeoisie:         Since the abolition of class antagonisms is declared as final and no provision is made to the recognition of class struggle under socialism, the 1972 constitution endorses revisionism. The uninterrupted development of the revolution cannot, indeed, be separated from consistently waging class struggle during the whole period of socialist construction. The fundamental antagonistic contradiction between socialism and capitalism continues to affect various political, ideological, economic and cultural fields of social life until the final triumph of communism. It’s only through class struggle that both antagonistic contradictions (i.e., between workers in power and the overthrown bourgeoisie) and non-antagonistic ones (i.e., those among the working people) are continuously resolved while socialist society develops towards communism. Needless to say, class struggle within a socialist country is closely linked with class struggle outside it, i.e., against imperialism, capitalism and revisionism, which all exert a powerful pressure in order to strangle and destroy socialism - through military aggression, ideological degeneration, political interference, economic blockades or starvation, etc. From the sixties onwards, revisionist degeneration could, in fact, take place in the USSR and other countries that had not recognised the necessity of class struggle under socialism. Their recent set-backs have, in fact, fully validated Lenin’s teaching that "the dictatorship of the proletariat is not an end, but a continuation of class struggle in new forms". This basic proletarian principle has always been absent in the DPRK’s constitution.
        Some other relevant points embodied in the current constitution are the following:         State institutions in the DPRK include the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the highest state organ which exercises legislative power and is elected for a period of five years (687 deputies were recently elected to the 10th SPA in July 1998), the National Defence Commission (the highest military leadership organ), the SPA Presidium, the Cabinet (the highest administrative and executive body), the local People's Assemblies, the local People's Committees, the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Court. Kim Il Sung, who had served as president until his death in 1994, has now been made the DPRK’s "eternal" president.         The ruling ideology in the DPRK is Juche, initially formulated by Kim Il Sung and later developed by Kim Jong Il. As it is closely associated with its creator, Kim Il Sung, Juche becomes synonymous with Kimilsungism or Korean revisionism. It is so pervasive that, since 1997, the Juche Era has been institutionalised in the DPRK, commencing from the date of Kim Il Sung’s birthday on 15 April (Sun’s Day) 1912. Juche is regarded not only as suitable to the specific Korean conditions, but as relevant to the revolutionary process world-wide, as well. Its definition:         Juche puts forward the following propositions:         Proceeding from the above premises, Juche denies the materialistic and dialectic conception of history, according to which ideas and sensations essentially reflect the primary, objective reality existing per se, regardless of our mind and will. Juche philosophy is idealistic, based on man’s volition and imbued with metaphysical, almost theological features. It aims at establishing independence in politics, self-sufficiency in the economy and self-reliance in defence.
        The history of Korea itself, that of the international communist movement and the recent set-backs of socialism are all interpreted in the light of Juche. Although Juche began to develop in North Korea only from the mid-50s, official North Korean historiography discovers its fundamental role retrospectively. For instance,         Emphasis on man’s independence leads to the critique and misinterpretation of Marxism. The latter is alleged to have stressed only material and economic conditions in history, while having underestimated the independent initiative of the popular masses. Kim Jong Il (who supposedly read almost all the classics of Marxism-Leninism, including Marx’s The Capital, during his university years from May 1966 to July 1969) indicates the following "limitations" of Marxism-Leninism:         Indeed, this anthropocentric version of Korean socialism, while claiming to be scientific, runs contrary to the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism. According to Marx, man’s position in society is determined by a specific social order: outside the existing social framework - and in separation from it - it is only possible to define man in metaphysical and idealistic terms. Marx contextualises man both diachronically and synchronically, i.e., both in history and in society. If one detaches man from his social class and considers him as an individual abstraction, one supports idealism and perpetuates capitalism - no matter how much capitalism can be disguised under false red flags and through pseudo-revolutionary phraseology. Dialectical and historical materialism rejects the abstract and general treatment of this issue and demonstrates the decisive role played by the modes of production as the real bases of every particular social order. The mode of production, in fact, lies at the foundation of the entire system of social relations where the very "essence" of man can be perceived. As early as January 1859 in his Preface to A Contribution to The Critique of Political Economy, Marx succinctly formulated the fundamental and truly revolutionary features of historical and dialectical materialism in the following terms:         As the material productive forces - at a certain stage of their development - enter into conflict with the given relations of production, a phase of social revolution takes place so that one social system is replaced by another. The primitive community, the slave-owning society, feudalism, capitalism and socialism constitute different kinds of social order so far achieved in history. The clear definition of the social system can also reflect the degree of historical development which - from a lower social order to a higher one - leads to the establishment of socialism. The principal aspect of capitalist relations of production, in fact, is highlighted by the enslavement of the working class to capital. Consequently, the replacement of capitalism with socialism - by virtue of economic development - requires the liquidation of the exploitation of man (i.e., workers) by man (i.e., the bourgeoisie) and the establishment of the proletarian state, which struggles to achieve a communist society.
        Under both capitalism and socialism, ideas possess a class character: in every society - as Marx and Engels indicated - the dominant ideas are those of the ruling class. New social ideas and theories can, therefore, emerge and develop as they reflect the newly created needs in material life. These new revolutionary ideologies assist progressive forces in society and become the possession of the popular masses in forcing their way through history by overthrowing the moribund social forces hampering progress. Therefore, in parallel with the advancement of the proletariat, it is Marxism-Leninism - the revolutionary ideology of the working class - that asserts itself as the dominant ideology in a socialist society, a society that is built for the very first time in history under the working class’ leadership.
        According to Juche, instead, it is an abstract man that possesses the freedom to transform both nature and society by his own volition. Kim Jong Il argues that:         Far from representing a new philosophical discovery, such an idealism, based on the masses’ volitional independence, reiterates Dühring’s subjective, voluntarist views, formulated in Germany more than a century ago. But these views had already been refuted by Engels as he clearly indicated that freedom is based on the understanding of necessity, on the cognition of the objective laws of nature and society. Engels noted the following:         Socialism replaces capitalism neither on the basis of volitional and subjective desires nor according to the good wishes of "great leaders", but on the basis of objective laws of development which are consciously implemented by the working class. Proceeding from these scientific premises, Marx and Engels attached fundamental importance to the workers’ self-emancipation in both material and ideological terms. According to the principles of the First International, in fact, "the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the workers themselves."
        But North Korea’s society - as admitted by Kim Jong Il - openly departs from the above principles:         Unquestionably, it becomes obvious that the DPRK’s developments flatly deny the basic Marxist-Leninist strategy for the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries, according to which a temporary alliance with the national bourgeoisie should be established only during the initial national democratic stage of the revolution. On the contrary, the national capitalist class has been harmoniously integrated into "socialism" - in accordance with the principles of Juche - and never, at any time since 1945, has the dictatorship of the proletariat been established in North Korea. And indeed, the dictatorship of the proletariat remains the political yardstick in order to determine whether socialism has been achieved or not.
        For genuine Marxist-Leninists, during the entire historical period of transition from capitalism to the classless, communist society,         This was clearly indicated by Marx more than a century ago in his Critique of the Gotha Programme, where he refuted Lassalle’s concept of a "free popular state", which denied the class character of the state itself as the organ of a given social class. By liquidating the exploiting classes and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat, the most complete form of democracy - the true democracy for the proletariat, the peasantry and the other working masses - is guaranteed for the first time in history. As the Manifesto of the Communist Party pointed out, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, in Marx and Engels, Collected Works, vol. 6, London, 1976, p. 504.).
        Only proceeding from the above parameters, is it possible to assess whether scientific socialism has been implemented or not in the DPRK. And in the absence of a truly proletarian state, the characterisation of the North Korean society as a socialist one would amount to self-deceit. The essence of Juche is revisionism. As a consequence, it ranks among all those ideologies - such as Krushchevite revisionism, Titoism, Maoism, Cuban revisionism, Leduanism, etc. - that have deviated from Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin in order to "creatively" develop their own peculiar trends of modern revisionism. Revisionism aims at setting up and justifying pseudo-socialist societies, where the working masses remain excluded from power and where socialist democracy is not implemented in deeds, but only through resounding revolutionary words and phrases.
        In line with its anti-Marxist formulations, Juche equates socialism and communism with independence - independence of man, independence of the masses, independence of the nation, independence that unites all classes in society. As Kim Il Sung always indicated,         Kim Jong Il reiterates the same revisionist principle as follows:         By upholding the above concept of independence, the role played by the Third Communist International comes under criticism. As for the history of the international communist and workers’ movement, in fact, Kim Jong Il states the following:         No detailed analyses are made with regard to the economic, political and ideological factors that led many parties to abandon socialism and degenerate along revisionist lines. But the collapse of revisionism in the USSR and other states becomes ascribable - according to Juche - to the fact that genuine independence had not been consistently applied and that, in the meantime, the people had not been properly educated and transformed accordingly.         According to the North Korean revisionist perspective, since the collapse of the former revisionist regimes, it is Juche that has:         The first organisational attempt to rally political forces around Juche took place in Pyongyang in April 1992 with an heterogeneous gathering of progressive, Marxist-Leninist, revisionist and pacifist parties and organisations. The final declaration, Let Us Defend and Advance the Cause of Socialism, was originally adopted by 70 of the organisations present in Pyongyang in 1992. But the number of the political organisations which have subsequently supported and signed the declaration has by now risen to more than 200.
        The Pyongyang Declaration embodies and supports - in line with Juche - both the equation of socialism with independence and the unspecified ideal of a socialism created by the "people". No mention is made of the class character of the socialist society, to the very existence and role of the working class, to the necessity of its dictatorship or to the final goal of communism. Nor any reference is made to Marx, Engels, Lenin or Stalin. The signatories, nonetheless, affirm their "firm determination to defend and advance the socialist cause." The declaration states the following:         These revisionist and opportunist positions reduce both socialism and internationalism to empty phrases about independence and solidarity. They may be genuine manifestations of anti-imperialist feelings, but, as a matter of fact, the declaration seeks to divert the national and international communist movement from destroying capitalism and building communism in the world. These positions, contained in the Pyongyang Declaration, are reiterated by Kim Jong Il:         With this stance two separate issues are somehow confused and inappropriately identified with one another:         For the purpose of fighting imperialism, domination, aggression and war, a broad solidarity must indeed be established among all communist and non-communist organisations and parties in the world. But for the purpose of carrying out the socialist revolution and supporting proletarian internationalism, a clear line of demarcation should be drawn between genuinely communist, Marxist-Leninist forces, on the one hand, and non-communist, democratic and progressive forces, on the other.
        Ours is not the epoch of independence only. Ours is still the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolutions, the epoch of the replacement of the old exploiting society with the new society that liquidates exploitation of man by man. Therefore, in order to attain this final goal, the working class fulfils its historical mission by carrying out the socialist revolution in its own country and thus offering greater support to the international revolutionary movement. The true significance of proletarian internationalism was explicitly indicated by Lenin:         On the basis of Leninism - and under the famous slogan of The Communist Manifesto, "Workers of All Countries, Unite!" - cooperation and unity should be strengthened among all the communist, Marxist-Leninist forces in different countries. But these forces should indeed avoid reducing the entire revolutionary struggle to the sole struggle for independence against imperialism, while subordinating the struggle for the social liberation and emancipation of the working class. Only victory in this latter struggle can safeguard genuine national sovereignty, freedom and independence. Excessive emphasis upon independence alone, devoid of any class content, runs contrary to Marxism-Leninism, amounts to petty-bourgeois nationalism and echoes the old slogans of the Second International, whose leaders had abandoned the socialist revolution in order to replace it with the defence of their own capitalist homelands.         The WPK constitutes the leading political force in the DPRK, recognised as such by the current constitution. Around 10 percent of the population (approximately 2 million people) are party members: each member belongs to a cell of 10 to 100 members in a plant, cooperative or locality. The party parallels and penetrates government organisations at all levels. Its supreme organ is the National Party Congress which is supposed to be held every five years, but in fact has met only six times since 1948.
        The WPK’s 6th congress in 1980 was the first in 10 years, and - with no credible explanations given - another congress has not been held since. One may wonder how democratic centralism can function in a party that has not convened its highest decision-making body for 19 years. The WPK Central Committee (about 329 members, including alternate members) should meet at least once every six months. The Politburo had 24 members in 1992 (16 of whom were alternates) and its number had fallen to 18 in 1995.
        Crucial to the activities of the WPK are supposed to be democratic centralism and its mass line through the so-called Chongsanri spirit and Chongsanri method (i.e., cadres mixing with people in order to unite them behind the party and implement its policies). The WPK is supported by a number of related organisations: the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, the General Federation of Trade Unions, the Kim Il Sung Working Youth League, the Union of Agricultural Workers, the Democratic Women's Union, the General Federation of Literature and Arts Unions, the Journalists Union, the General Federation of Industrial Technology, the Buddhist Federation, and others. Besides the WPK, there are also two other political parties (whose free activities are guaranteed by the constitution): the Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party.
        The WPK’s sole guiding ideology is represented by Juche, on the basis of which         The WPK’s main goals are: achieving independence in politics, self-sufficiency in the economy and self-reliance in national defence. In the WPK’s programme, major stress is placed on independence which - according to Juche - equates with socialism and communism.
        Since it cannot provide the North Korean working class with a genuine Marxist-Leninist leadership, the WPK implements its policies by means of "love and trust" and by over-emphasising sentimental and patronising attitudes towards the people. As Kim Jong Il explains,         But a party that claims to be the revolutionary leading force in a socialist society cannot be the workers’ "mother". "Love and trust" cannot substitute for political consciousness in building socialism. The socialist revolution is carried out - and true socialism is built - only under the sole political leadership of a communist party which is the vanguard of the working class, the most advanced detachment of the popular masses.
        Such a total negation of scientific socialism in the DPRK becomes even more apparent as we consider the role of the leader. In North Korean society the people, the WPK and its leader are supposed to constitute an integral whole:         The leader is said to love the people "unfailingly" and "boundlessly", while the people reciprocate with love and trust. Just as the party represents the mother, the leader represents the father: as caring parents, they both look after their enlarged North Korean family. In the current political literature of the DPRK, endless references can be found to this distorted role played by the leader as the people’s father. In this regard, particularly revealing are the following remarks made by Kim Jong Il:     But clearly, all these preachings have nothing to do with communist morality. As Lenin pointed out,         Marxist-Leninists possess a specific programme and specific aims in order to overcome the old exploiting society. The cult of the leader in the DPRK runs contrary to these aims and - as such - cannot contribute to the workers’ emancipation and liberation. The undue emphasis on the absolute loyalty to the leader contravenes the very essence of socialism, which should be built by the popular masses under the collective leadership of the revolutionary party of the working class. The extent to which Kim Il Sung had been, and still is, adulated as a god inside his country is well-known. Worship has replaced politics with Juche - something inadmissible from a Marxist-Leninist viewpoint. Such an excessive personality cult of both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il cannot but discredit and ridicule the DPRK’s reputation in the world and among progressive forces.
        Through unconditional loyalty to the leader and his personality cult, Juche’s revisionist paradox becomes obvious: all people possess independence and freedom to master everything in the world (including nature), provided only that they achieve their oneness behind the leader. This is the philosophical device for the revisionist clique in North Korea to cling to power and to wind the clock of history back to the reactionary, feudal socialism.
        Not only has the personality cult played a reactionary and unhealthy role in the history of the communist movement, but - as Soviet history could prove - it also provided the revisionists with an additional weapon in order to liquidate socialism. Indeed, it has now become clear that the personality cult around Stalin had been deliberately built up by concealed revisionists and its practice had been contrary to the expressed wishes of Stalin himself. In fact, the Krushchevite revisionists created the "cult of the individual" around Stalin in order:         It was Stalin himself that on numerous occasions denounced and ridiculed the personality cult as a distortion of Marxism-Leninism. For example,         As for the DPRK, reservations and doubts can also be raised about the way in which the son, Kim Jong Il, could succeed - as a leader - to his father, Kim Il Sung. It was in October 1997, for example, that Kim Jong Il was inaugurated as WPK general secretary, simply by means of a statement jointly produced by the WPK Central Committee and the Central Military Commission. But the procedure employed for the appointment violated the party charter, which calls for the election of the top party position in a full session of the WPK Central Committee. Nonetheless, legal considerations are supposed to remain subordinated to the personal desires of Kim Il Sung, who once had the following to say:         Love and trust between father and son are said to date back to the times of Kim Jong Il’s childhood. Various official anecdotes have been publicised in the DPRK in order to substantiate this filial devotion. The following story is just one example.         In conjunction with Kim Jong Il’s appointment as the WPK’s leader in 1997 (Kim Jong Il had replaced his father as KPA supreme commander in late December 1991), the DPRK’s media reported that:         He was now presented as:         Finally, Kim Jong Il was appointed as the WPK general secretary on 8-10-1997, a few days later the official KCNA reported mysterious happenings taking place around Mount Paektu, Kim Jong Il’s birthplace:     Stories like these can recall Marx’s remark about superstition and religion as being the opium of the people! And unfortunately, that is the case in the DPRK.         Since the end of the Korean War, it became crucial for the DPRK to continue to defend its independence and economic self-reliance vis-à-vis US military pressure and its economic sanctions. The revisionist policies advocating Juche and Chajusong in international relations also allowed the DPRK to maintain an equidistant position with regard to the USSR and China. By means of its selective participation in Comecon, for instance, the DPRK could reap advantages, such as establishing barter trade with no need for convertible currencies, while keeping its economic independence intact. Pyongyang always argued that its independence would have been lost, had the country been integrated in the so-called socialist international division of labour imposed by Soviet social-imperialism. It was, nonetheless, on the basis of pragmatical and opportunist considerations that the DPRK could maintain a "neutral" stand towards the Sino-Soviet dispute. From the sixties onwards - according to Kim Il Sung - the USSR and China were both seen as socialist countries that should have sorted out their disagreements for the sake of unity within an unidentified "socialist camp." But as-a-matter-of-fact, all three of them - the Soviet Union, China and North Korea - were developing and defending their respective brands of anti-Marxist and anti-Leninist positions, i.e., Soviet revisionism, Maoism or Chinese revisionism, and Juche or Korean revisionism.
        A particularly special relationship was, instead, established between Korean and Titoite revisionisms, based on the assumption that both countries were upholding socialism and non-alignment. As stated by Kim Il Sung,         It should be noted that, during his foreign travels, Kim Il Sung visited Yugoslavia and various other revisionist countries of Europe, but never did he pay a visit to the only socialist country existing in Europe since the advent of Krushchevite revisionism, i.e., the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania.
        From the mid-seventies until today, in fact, the DPRK has closely associated itself with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), regarded as the most natural ally in fighting imperialism and achieving Chajusong in the international arena. NAM started in the early sixties, as 25 mainly Asian, African and Latin-American countries had established some common ground in order to uphold political independence and non-alignment, to support the national liberation movements and to reject military alliances with imperialist powers. The movement developed by increasing cooperation with the UN and by augmenting its membership (currently including more than one hundred developing countries). Since its first admission to NAM in 1975, North Korea has been actively promoting non-alignment as part of its foreign policy towards the "third world" (a term which was used in its official statements for the first time in 1973) and is currently holding its position as one of the vice-chairmen in the movement’s coordinating bureau. South Korea, which had also applied for membership in NAM, was rejected and continues to remain excluded from it.
        In parallel with the DPRK’s active participation in NAM, a similarity of revisionist views also emerged between Maoism and Kimilsungism during the seventies - more specifically, between the counter-revolutionary theory of the "three worlds" and the equally revisionist, counter-revolutionary idea of Chajusong. The lines originating from Beijing and Pyongyang converged on the following points:         But within the same revisionist framework, the Maoist theory of the "three worlds" differs from the Kimilsungist idea of Chajusong in that the former supported - until about ten years ago - a broad alliance between the "third world", the "second world" and US imperialism against what used to be regarded by Beijing as its main enemy - Soviet social-imperialism.
        Chajusong, on the other hand, still intends to embrace "third world" and non-aligned countries together with "socialist" (i.e., revisionist) countries against its main enemy - US imperialism. But all these divisions of the globe into the "first", "second", and "third" world, and the "non-aligned" world do indeed cover up the fundamental contradictions existing between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between socialism and capitalism, and between the peoples and imperialism. While Lenin regarded our century as the era of imperialism and proletarian revolutions, according to Korean revisionism we live in the age of Chajusong. As stated by Kim Il Sung,         According to Kim Il Sung, the famous Marxist slogan,         And in line with these revisionist elaborations, it follows that         Korean revisionism is highly misleading in this instance:
        Independence alone cannot be equated to either socialism or communism. Just as anti-imperialism cannot be identified with the socialist revolution.
        This confusion between two different, though interrelated, stages of the revolutionary development during our times leads to major disorientations, divisions and defeats. In particular, it creates the illusion - among the popular masses fighting for national and social emancipation in the developing countries - that a shelter from imperialist aggression and domination has allegedly been found in non-alignment.
        Countries like Afghanistan, Algeria, the Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Colombia, Congo, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, and Uganda are all NAM’s full members, just to mention only a few. Judging these countries through class criteria, almost all of them are ruled by oppressive, anti-popular cliques. If we follow the revisionist logic of Chajusong, whom will workers and peasants in these countries unite with? Should communists hail the replacement of Suharto by another despot or should they support the Indonesian people’s struggle against dictatorship and foreign imperialism? Should communists side with the popular, anti-imperialist struggles in the Asian continent? Or should they side, instead, with the corrupt, reactionary leaders of the so-called tiger economies who save their skin by allowing the IMF and imperialism to further squeeze their own peoples? And what about in Africa, whom should communists support there? The various dictators and puppets of imperialism or the African peoples’ struggles for social emancipation and freedom?
        Unreserved support should indeed be given to all different steps that developing countries are genuinely undertaking in defending their rights and the sovereign administration of their national assets against imperialist interference and neo-colonialist plunder. But never at any time, should Marxist-Leninist tactics and strategies reduce the entire revolutionary process to a struggle for independence only. As Lenin indicated, the anti-imperialist, national-liberation revolution must not be stopped half-way, but carried through up to the end by liquidating the bourgeoisie and its state power in order to achieve true freedom, independence, sovereignty and socialism. In the Marxist-Leninist, internationalist programme, national liberation is inseparably connected with social liberation: that is, the termination of the exploitation of one nation by another becomes part and parcel with the end of the exploitation of one individual by another.
        The people’s unity both against external imperialism and the transnational corporations and against internal capitalism and reaction must be achieved mainly from below, among the popular masses who are victims of a double exploitation - by external imperialism and by their local bourgeoisie. This unity has nothing in common with the unprincipled unity advocated by NAM, which is now openly calling for the developing countries’ integration into the "global village" of imperialism. And this takes place at a time when transnational corporations are maximising billions of profits through globalization, at the expense of growing unemployment, poverty, hunger, and other hardships in the developing countries.
        During the recent NAM’s 12th Summit (September 1988), various global, regional, economic and social issues were dealt with, including the democratisation of the UN, international economic cooperation, debts, the North-South dialogue, disarmament and international security, etc. In his concluding remarks, the head of the DPRK delegation, SPA’s vice chairman Pak Song Chol, expressed the revisionist wishful thinking as follows:         But the summit’s final document did not in the least challenge the current imperialist globalization. Instead, NAM called for coexistence and cooperation between imperialist, oppressive powers and developing, oppressed countries. The 12th summit, in fact,         It is therefore apparent that the cause of real independence and freedom, and that of socialism, cannot be consistently supported by either NAM or Korean revisionism. It is by opposing all various forms of revisionism and opportunism that Marxist-Leninists can indeed wage a meaningful struggle against imperialism. As Lenin clearly indicated prior to the building of the Third Communist International,         Notwithstanding the DPRK’s successes achieved in the industrial and agricultural sectors until the late eighties, a series of problems led the government to admit economic failures at the end of 1993 and to note that industrial output, energy supplies and agricultural production were below target. It was concluded that three years of economic adjustments would be necessary, with priority now being given to the development of agriculture, light industry and foreign trade. The grave economic situation, increasingly worsening until today, has significantly decreased people’s living standards, particularly in the countryside. Economic development is currently planned on a short-term, yearly basis only. Food shortages have also prompted humanitarian assistance from various international organisations. Foreign media, in the meantime, have often highlighted the country’s decline towards economic catastrophe, speculating that malnutrition and hunger have led to as many as two million North Koreans dying of starvation since 1995.
        Vis-à-vis this crisis, and in line with the principles of Juche and Chajusong, the DPRK has continued to abide by its policy of economic self-reliance, based on the exploitation of the country’s rich mineral resources and its potential for hydro-electric power.
    According to Pyongyang, self-reliance can prevent North Korea from losing its independence.         These above principles upholding economic self-reliance - as indicated by Kim Jong Il in the early eighties - have been recently reiterated in similar terms with the aim of challenging the damaging effects of globalization on the Asian economies. In a joint article, appearing in Rodong Sinmun and Kunroja in September 1998, it is also pointed out the following:         The current economic crisis in the DPRK - that has not deterred Pyongyang from proceeding along the road of independence and economic self-reliance - can be ascribed to the following factors:         In addition to the above causes, the crisis must also be viewed as the outcome of the ruling revisionist class’ inability to provide its people with a genuine socialist system, while claiming that a socialist "paradise" has been built in North Korea over the last fifty years.
        Unquestionably, US continued military presence in South Korea represents the principal cause for both regional instability and the north’s economic crisis. This forces Pyongyang to place crucial emphasis on, and divert a big proportion of the economy to its defence. It should never be underestimated that for decades the DPRK has remained the target of constant nuclear threats from US imperialism. Recently, KPA troops have also been redeployed along the northern borders with China and Russia since the disintegration of the former USSR. Espionage activities and provocations from South Korea, together with war exercises regularly staged by American, South Korean and other foreign forces, have highlighted tension, too. In addition, there has been no armistice supervisory machinery along the demilitarised zone (DMZ) during the last seven years (talks between the UN Command and the Korean People’s Army, KPA, in Panmunjom have only resumed in June 1998, for the first time since 1991). Washington also continues to characterise the DPRK as one of the seven states sponsoring "terrorism".
        Economic sanctions and embargoes against the DPRK - imposed by US imperialism for about half a century since the early fifties - are regulated by the US Law on Trade against Hostile Countries, the US Law on Supervision of Exports and the US Law on Prohibition of Assistance to the DPRK. Although commitments were recently made by Washington to normalise its bilateral relations with Pyongyang, these laws are still in force and are detrimental to the DPRK’s trade with other countries, as well. US products, technology or services cannot be exported to North Korea, either directly or through third countries. Exports of commercially-supplied goods to meet basic human needs may be authorised under individually validated licences by the US Commerce Department, and on a case-by-case basis only.
        Until the late eighties, most of the DPRK’s trade had been in the form of barter agreements with former Comecon countries and China. But as the USSR and Comecon were collapsing, the demand for payment in hard currency at world market prices for its exports, made by Moscow in November 1990, hit the DPRK particularly hard. A significant reduction of the amount of China-North Korea trade also took place at the same time, with China following Russia by conducting trade with foreign exchange from 1993 onwards rather than on the basis of barter. The official announcement that the traditional Soviet-North Korean ties had been finally severed came from Russian President Boris Yeltsin in June 1992, as he confirmed that the 1961 treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance between Pyongyang and Moscow was no longer effective. Nor would Russia any longer provide financial or military support to the DPRK. Similarly, during 1992, ties between Beijing and Pyongyang also became severely strained following China’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Seoul in August.
        It was during the early nineties, in fact, that both Russia and China opted for closer trade and diplomatic relations with the ROK and prompted the simultaneous admission of both Korean states to UN membership. This simultaneous entry was made possible, notwithstanding the fact that the DPRK had always strongly opposed the "two Koreas" policy and the "cross-recognition" of the two separate states. As a consequence, the DPRK had to diversify its trade by establishing closer trade links with Japan and South Korea. North Korea, in fact, is necessitated to import petroleum, chemicals, grains and cereals, cooking coal, machinery and capital equipment, while it exports non-ferrous metals, steel, magnesia clinker, coal, and cement.
        An additional cause of the economic decline over the last four years has been represented by natural calamites and their damages to the infra-structures of the country. Traditionally, conditions for farming have always been unfavourable in North Korea since mountains represent nearly three quarters of its territory and arable fields account for about 16% of the land. Extensive floods in 1995 and 1996, followed by the worst drought in decades in 1997, severely damaged the country’s economy and seriously undermined the government’s ability to feed the population. Natural disasters during 1998 - such as downpours, hailstorms, strong winds and tidal waves affecting crops, vegetable and rice harvests - further jeopardised the DPRK’s economic capacity. And to complete the picture of natural calamities during 1998: thousands of hectares of paddy and non-paddy fields together with more than 180 mining pits were submerged in water. Electricity supplies were suspended and telecommunication networks were paralysed. Roads and railways were completely destroyed by landslides, dwelling houses and buildings were also destroyed in some of the affected areas with people reported missing or dead.
        The economic situation has now reached a critical point, particularly highlighted by severe food shortages. Standards of living are better in the capital - with shops mainly selling biscuits, drinks and dried fish - but they are appalling in the countryside. Although the current ration of rice (mid-1998) amounts to 450 grams per person per day, it can be less in some areas especially damaged by natural disasters. This situation has led to the flourishing of a black market, but at a very low-key level. Reports of starvation remain unsubstantiated, but malnutrition is evident in the countryside as people wander around rivers and fields in search of fish or grass. Peasants toil on the land with very rudimentary tools, having to walk for long distances without cycles or other means of transportation. Agricultural machinery and tractors are now visible only in the Three-Revolution Exhibition in Pyongyang. Interruptions to electricity and water supply are frequent and the transport system is very inefficient. Because of energy shortages, few factories seem to be functioning and in some areas the survival of the people depends on "humanitarian" aid or projects from UN or non-governmental foreign organisations.
        Coping with such an acute and deep crisis, not only has the government been forced to appeal for humanitarian aid from abroad (which is mainly donated by the UN World Food Programme, the USA, Japan, China, the EU, etc.), but it has also allowed provisions for greater foreign investments into the country. The entire population is, in the meantime, mobilised by channelling all energies to solve the food crisis collectively and going voluntarily to the countryside to help farmers. People are constantly reminded about the economic crisis through television, papers, meetings at workplaces . . . and urged to find adequate solutions with the patriotic "Chollima" spirit. During the first half of 1998, for example, more than 1,900 minor power stations have been built across the country by using flowing water, wind power, methane, charcoal gas and other power resources.
        It was during the early nineties that the DPRK decided to introduce new measures in a number of areas of economic management:     According to a survey by the Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) in Seoul, in 1995 DPRK’s trade with Japan totaled $594.6 million, representing 29% of $2.05 billion in total foreign trade. Trade with China was $549.8 million, or 26.8% of the total trade. The comparable figures were 6.2% for India, 4.1% each for Russia and Hong Kong, 3.9% for Germany and 3.0% for Thailand. DPRK’s economic relations with South Korea have steadily developed as South Korea’s firms can maximise their profits by employing cheap North Korean labor through joint ventures or production on commissions, and by importing cheap North Korean minerals and steel products. Though through third countries, the DPRK’s trade with the South totalled $287.3 million in 1995, compared with $194.5 million in 1994 and $111.3 million in 1991, according to KOTRA. A Handbook on North Korea, Korea Herald, Seul, 1996.

        Vis-à-vis the DPRK’s worsening economic crisis during the nineties, and in spite of the severe living conditions of the population, there is no apparent opposition to the authority and cohesion of the regime. This political stability was confirmed by the recent elections to the 10th SPA, held on 26-7-1998, i.e., after more than three years from the expiry of the five-term of the 9th SPA (last elections had been held in April 1990). DPRK’s media reported, in fact, that all 100% of the votes had been cast to the officially appointed candidates. More than one in every ten newly elected deputies belong to the army: 687 SPA members include, in fact, 75 lieutenant generals or higher military personnel. The army is very much in evidence in the country because of the high number of soldiers necessary to counter the threat from the south. The military are also employed on public projects and in helping the peasants in the countryside. Various military check-points are located around the country, in order to control movements from one place to another. In this sense, there exists a militarised society in North Korea, and also on account of the major emphasis placed on the army’s role. Kim Jong Il is always referred to as "General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission, and Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army." His regular visits to army units around the country for "on-the-spot guidance" appear as the principal item of news in daily papers.
        But the DPRK’s most striking political feature continues to remain the enormous emphasis placed upon the people’s unity behind their leader, Kim Jong Il. This unity is essentially strengthened sentimentally and emotionally: "love and trust" - and not political and ideological consciousness - are supposed to pervade all aspects of social and political life. According to one of Kim Jong Il’s quotations, "the art of moving people lies in the heart." The DPRK has thus come to resemble a theocracy, where the leader’s "legendary" exploits and his "on-the-spot guidances" determine everything. This personality cult has reached astonishing proportions, unprecedented in our century, and sharply contrasts with the basically equalitarian and collectivist nature of the North Korean society itself. At the first session of the 10th SPA, convened in September 1998, for example, Kim Jong Il was praised as "an outstanding thinker and theoretician, a distinguished statesman and a peerlessly brilliant commander . . . as the most intimate comrade, the most faithful helper of Kim Il Sung for more than 30 years." KCNA, Pyongyang, 5-9-1998.
        As for developments in the ideological domain, the uniqueness and originality of Juche have been particularly highlighted so that it should be no longer interpreted as a development or creative application of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine to the specific conditions of the country. Juche can now stand on its own principles, totally detached from Marxism-Leninism (already in 1992 any reference to "Marxism-Leninism" had been deleted from the constitution). As Kim Jong Il pointed out in 1996,

        Nowhere in the country, in fact, can one find a monument or a bust of Marx, Engels, Lenin or Stalin, but only two small portraits - one of Marx, the other of Lenin - appear in Kim Il Sung Square in the capital. Marxist education has long been abolished, as well. Hence, all North Korean students - until the termination of their university studies - now have to study "The Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung" for one or two hours per week and also "The Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Jong Il" for another one or two hours per week.         A final peace arrangement has yet to be found in Korea, whose division continues to remain frozen along its 38th parallel, the most heavily armed border in the contemporary world. This anomalous situation is dramatically evidenced not only by the 250-km-long military demarcation line (MDL) bisecting the peninsula and its people, but also by the concrete wall (5-8 m. high, 10-19 m. wide at the bottom and 3-7 m. wide at the top) that runs all along the MDL’s southern side, since it was built by the South Koreans during 1977-79. Undoubtedly, it is US imperialism that bears the responsibility for having imposed - for more than half a century - such a tragic and anachronistic division and for having instigated the political animosity between the two sides.
        During all this time, Washington has amassed in South Korea its highest concentration of troops outside the USA (more than 45,000 during the mid-eighties, a number that has now been reduced to 37,000) together with its most modern conventional and nuclear weapons. ROK’s claims - during the early nineties - that there are no longer US nuclear missiles stationed in its territory have neither been confirmed nor denied by Washington. No inspection has ever been conducted to verify the existence of American nuclear weapons deployed in South Korea. But in any case, when entering South Korean ports and US air installations in the ROK, American naval and air forces routinely carry a range of nuclear weapons. It is therefore absolutely clear that - today, as well - US imperialism can easily target any part of the north by using its air-launched weapons and sea-borne cruise nuclear missiles.
        With complete disregard for the Korean people’s right to self-determination, sovereignty and independence, the American presence has produced the double effect of both partitioning the country and arrogantly subjugating South Korea to semi-colonial status. The maintenance of Korea’s separation between two states has obviously permitted Washington to dominate South Korea, viewed as its military strategic foothold in Asia, and to directly interfere in its internal affairs. Therefore, the general struggle of all Korean people for their reunification and independence becomes part and parcel of South Korea’s liberation from the American yoke and of the democratisation of its society.
        Because of American military, political and economic domination, for more than half a century the ROK has indeed witnessed a succession of barbarous fascist, military dictatorships and pseudo-democratic regimes, all congenial to US monopolies’ penetration into the country. Anti-communist, fascist laws and institutions - such as the National Security Law and the National Security Planning Agency (formerly known as the Korean Central Intelligence Agency until 1980) - have particularly contributed to brutally suppress patriotic and democratic forces in the south, preventing substantial steps towards national reconciliation. Soon after the Korean war, the ROK-US Mutual Defence Pact (permitting US troops to be stationed indefinitely in the south) and a series of other economic and political agreements between Washington and Seoul strengthened American domination in the ROK. Syngman Rhee was thus allowed to retain power until 1960, mainly by means of ballot rigging, martial law, terrorism, repression and massacres of students and others. Shortly after popular uprisings had forced Rhee’s resignation, a military coup was staged by Pak Jung Hi together with other fascist, pro-American elements within the ROK army, whose goal was to achieve "unification through victory over communism." By dissolving the National Assembly, and through martial law, anti-communism, suppression of democratic activities and so on, this fascist dictatorship could securely safeguard American military and commercial interests in South Korea. The country became a useful supplier of mercenary troops for US imperialism in its war against the peoples of Indochina. Towards the end of the Vietnam war, in fact, South Korean troops in Vietnam could even outnumber American ground troops, while South Korean businesses could derive immense economic benefits from Seoul’s support to US military aggression in Vietnam.
        Pak’s fascist tyranny exacerbated class contradictions and conflicts: anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggles intensified in scope and developed among various social strata, also involving bourgeois democratic parties. Towards the late seventies Pak was shot and killed by one of his closest aides and replaced by other military hardliners. Particularly brutal repressions were carried out in May 1980, with an estimated 2,000 civilians murdered by the army in the south-western city of Kwangju. As on other occasions, this massacre was supported by Washington since ROK was a "treaty ally" and the USA had "a very strong security interest in that part of the world." Throughout the eighties, this constant repression of democratic and religious organisations, trade unions, students, etc., and the denial of their social and political rights became highly congenial to those South Korean corporations which could easily maximise their profits by relying on American investments. Democratic protests thus escalated and involved millions of South Koreans during the second half of the eighties. Inevitably, the traditional power of the military was gradually eroded as liberal opposition groups and parties began to actively engage in the political scene.
        The chapter of military dictatorships and fascist repression in the ROK seemed to have been finally closed. With the appointment, as president, of Kim Young Sam (Democratic Liberal Party) in February 1993 and with the subsequent appointment of former political prisoner Kim Dae Jung (National Congress for New Politics) in February 1998, partial democratic steps were taken to improve the faltering economy, combat corruption and grant amnesty to thousands of political prisoners. However, these reformist and democratic changes must always be contextualized within the framework of the foreign-dependent capitalism existing in the ROK, one of the so-called tiger economies, now hit by the Asian crisis and affected by radical social and political struggles on the part of increasingly impoverished workers. Due to the most serious economic crisis in the country’s history, Seoul requested the IMF to provide an emergency rescue package for its economy during late 1997. At the same time, the permanent US military and economic domination of the ROK continues to remain the main stumbling block to the full democratisation of its society. The National Security Law, obstructing contacts and exchanges between the south and the north, has never been repealed, just as the fascist National Security Planning Agency still remains active in repressing patriotic and democratic forces. Indeed, the abolition of these fascist laws and institutions cannot but represent a preliminary step along the path towards national reconciliation and peace. The "democratic" credentials of the Kim Dae Jung’s government - and its "sunshine policy" towards the north - will become credible and trust-worthy only provided that a new political determination is displayed to truly democratise South Korean society and to sever ROK’s dependence on US imperialism.
        By maintaining its permanent military presence in the south and the continuation of the national divide, Washington - with Seoul’s official approval - has consolidated the so-called "two Koreas" policy - a policy intended to freeze for ever the separation between the two Korean states and to maintain a permanent US military foothold in the South. American ambitions to dominate the entire Korean peninsula at the height of the cold war had been frustrated by the outcome of the Korean war and by the signing of the 1953 armistice agreement. Once its scheme to dominate the whole of Korea by "prevailing over communism" had proved unachievable, Washington resorted to its "two Koreas" policy with its long-term aim of increasingly strengthening its military, economic and political interests in the whole north-east Asian region. This policy has therefore become an integral component of the US hegemonic strategy at the expense, in particular, of the Korean people. As part of the US forces’ arsenal in South Korea, nuclear weapons began to be deployed from 1957 onwards. It was from the sixties onwards - until today - that Washington also began to establish a triangular "security system" between the USA, Japan and the ROK. Amid strong opposition and resistance by the South Korean students and people, Seoul was prompted to accept Japan’s terms in normalising their bilateral relations by means of the ROK-Japan agreements of 22-6-1965. These agreements were reached in parallel with the 1965 Japan-US treaty, later followed by the 1969 Japan-US joint statement. These agreements determined South Korea’s security as "essential to the security of Japan itself." A dangerous US-Japan-ROK military alliance was thus put into place.
        Until about ten years ago - as the USA was competing for world hegemony with Soviet social-imperialism - it was the "red threat" in Asia that allegedly justified Washington’s military, nuclear build-up in Korea. The American imperialist strength in the north-east Asian region was not only made possible through closer military links with Japan, but also by means of the Sino-American rapprochement. But with the collapse of the USSR and the disappearance of its "threat" in Asia, no substantially different attitudes emerged in Washington which - on account of its imperialist nature and its hegemonic aims - continues to pursue its "two Koreas" policy by alleging a "southward invasion from the north." Consequently, a serious threat to peace and security in the Korean peninsula has been posed by regularly staging yearly military exercises against the DPRK since 1969 (code-named Team Spirit since 1976) and by targeting the north with increasingly sophisticated weapons of mass destruction. The Team Spirit exercises have expanded each year, involving some 200,000 US and ROK troops and becoming the largest such exercise conducted by US forces throughout the world. This aggressive US interference in Korea has effectively subordinated the ROK’s ruling class to American interests and demands, thus obstructing the way towards national reconciliation and reunification between the north and the south of the country.
        Vis-à-vis the "two Koreas" policy and Seoul’s subservience to US imperialism, the struggle to uphold the necessity of one Korea only, rather than two separate halves, has always been consistently maintained by the DPRK. Its policies, in this regard, reflect the genuine and patriotic aspirations of all Korean people wishing to live re-united, independent and free from outside domination and interference. Given the impasse that has prevented reunification for half a century, Pyongyang’s anti-imperialist stance has indeed permitted the maintenance of the northern half of Korea as a sovereign and independent state. The attitude towards US imperialism becomes, in this case, the main criterion by which to differentiate the patriotic, anti-imperialist forces in Korea, truly interested in national independence, from the flunkeyish forces, subservient to foreign imperialism. It is abundantly clear, in fact, that Korea cannot be peacefully reunified as long as the constant threat of military confrontation, instigated by Washington, hangs over its peninsula. The Korean people’s inalienable right to their full independence represents a question of both justice and principle that cannot be bartered for some concessions from US imperialism.
        Repeatedly, the DPRK has had to challenge US pressure militarily, economically, politically and diplomatically for more than half a century. It was soon after the Korean war that an international conference was organised in Geneva in April-June 1954 in order to deal with the peaceful settlement of the Korean question. The DPRK’s proposals to withdraw all foreign armed forces from Korean territory within six months and to hold free, general elections were met with approval by the Soviet, Chinese and other delegations, while they were blatantly rejected by the USA and its allies. On various occasions, between the fifties and sixties, Pyongyang reiterated the necessity to speed up the process towards peaceful reunification by requesting official negotiations between the DPRK’s SPA and the ROK’s National Assembly, to develop bilateral economic, scientific and cultural exchanges and to allow unrestricted travel between the north and the south. Particular emphasis was placed on the proposal to involve - once US troops had withdrawn from South Korea - all political parties and organisations from the north and the south in holding general elections and forming a unified Korean government. The DPRK also suggested to Seoul the reduction of their respective armed forces to no more than 100,000 units on each side. However, all these various proposals - even those regarding the establishment of travelling arrangements - were systematically turned down by both Seoul and Washington, whose official policies were dictated by their belligerent and uncompromising slogan: "march north for unification."
        But for the first time, during the early seventies, official bilateral exchanges and contacts between Pyongyang and Seoul led to a series of significant agreements contained in the North-South Joint Statement of 4-7-1972. The agreements contemplated some confidence building measures in order to avoid armed provocations along the MDL, the resumption of bilateral contacts and exchanges at various levels and the establishment of direct telephone links between Pyongyang and Seoul in order to immediately tackle the solution of any eventual problems or incidents. Most importantly, the three principles of national reunification, which had been put forward by Kim Il Sung, were clearly indicated in the joint statement:         As for the differences between the two systems existing in the north and the south, Kim Il Sung always put the accent on their necessity to coexist within a unitary framework:         In line with the provisions contained in the 1972 statement, a north-south coordination commission was set up in order to settle various outstanding issues and implement the principles contained in the joint statement. But by 1975 the commission had made no concrete progress in fulfilling its task. Similarly, parallel talks between the Red Cross organisations of North and South Korea also came to a deadlock. As always, major pressure was exerted by Washington in line with its "two Koreas" policy of permanent separation between the two states. Even after the signing of the 1972 north-south joint statement and the beginning of some bilateral dialogue, Washington carried on with its policy of aggression and war by fomenting an intensified wave of anti-communism and anti-north confrontation in the ROK, and by increasing and updating its military arsenal there. During the mid-seventies, in fact, more than 42,000 US troops were stationed in the south, together with an enormous stockpile of more than 1,000 nuclear weapons (i.e., a concentrated nuclear capability which was 820 times greater than the force of the atomic bomb dropped at Hiroshima).
        The Korean issue was raised at the UN in 1975 and its General Assembly passed a resolution - the first of its kind - calling for the eviction of US forces from the ROK, the dissolution of the UN Command stationed there and the conclusion of a peace treaty to replace the armistice agreement. In the meantime, no reply was ever given to a proposal which had been sent by the DPRK’s SPA to the US congress in March 1974 with the aim of finalising a final peace arrangement between Pyongyang and Washington. After US imperialism’s defeat in the Vietnam war, instead, the US defence department contemplated the option of using nuclear weapons in case of hostilities in Korea, viewed within the perimeter of the "forward defence zone" of the USA.
        American interference in South Korea’s internal affairs also intensified during the seventies. The then South Korean military dictator, Pak Jung Hi, while barbarically repressing democratic forces at home, felt compelled by Washington to disavow the spirit and the principles contained in the 1972 joint statement so that the ROK could be maintained as the USA’s anti-communist bulwark in Asia. Pak Jung Hi’s approach to "peaceful reunification" indeed translated into the traditional cold war policy of "prevailing over communism" by force. In 1973 he wrote the following:         By contrast, Kim Il Sung correctly singled out Washington as the main factor fomenting such divisive policies pursued by Seoul. On 23-6-1973 he declared:         During the seventies, Pyongyang continued to reiterate the three principles of independence, peaceful reunification and great national unity and put forward the idea of a neutral, confederal state, free from the presence of foreign troops and military bases: the "Democratic Confederal Republic of Koryo" which would join the UN as a single state. During the early eighties, Pyongyang proposed to hold tripartite talks between the DPRK, the USA and ROK in order to replace the armistice agreement with a final peace arrangement and to adopt a non-aggression declaration between the north and the south. These two proposals, too, met with American and South Korean opposition since their implementation would have made US military presence in the south redundant. In October 1980, Kim Il Sung also suggested the creation of a permanent nuclear-free peninsula by indicating the following practical steps in an envisaged process:         In line with the above anti-imperialist positions, during the early nineties Kim Il Sung further elaborated the crucial issue of Korean reunification and independence in the "10-Point Programme of the Great Unity of the Whole Nation for the Reunification of the Country". Its main points:         Indeed, bilateral exchanges aimed at peaceful reunification made rapid progress during the early nineties, with eight rounds of talks between the two Korean governments during 1990-92. In February 1992 both sides ratified the Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-Aggression, Cooperation and Exchange between the North and the South and the Joint Declaration on the De-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The agreement reiterated non-interference in each other’s systems, the replacement of the armistice agreement with a final peace treaty and also contemplated various forms of mutual cooperation. High-level contacts between the north and the south followed this agreement. However, while breaching both the spirit of the non-aggression agreement and the declaration on denuclearisation, US and South Korean forces staged Focus Lens military exercises in 1992 and then, in 1993, resumed their Team Spirit military exercises which included rehearsals for battlefield nuclear war against the DPRK. These aggressive military moves prompted the DPRK to break off all high-level contacts with the south. It is important to note, in fact, that American war games in Korea used to be aimed at imaginary Soviet- or Chinese-backed invasions. But since the collapse of the USSR and the normalisation of relations between Beijing and Seoul, they have been aimed only at the DPRK and its non-nuclear military forces.
        Notwithstanding attempts to establish a bilateral dialogue between the two Korean states during the early nineties, tension also re-emerged in the Korean peninsula because of the so-called nuclear crisis. While possessing its nuclear arsenal in the region, Washington began to create the suspicion that the DPRK was diverting plutonium from peaceful nuclear projects towards developing its own nuclear weapons. The dispute over the DPRK’s possible development of nuclear weapons began to assume crisis proportions in late 1993, thus escalating during 1994. In the midst of the crisis, in July 1993, during his visit to Panmunjom US president Bill Clinton strongly warned the DPRK against developing its nuclear weapons, since:         In its ideological propaganda, Washington continued to brand the DPRK as the last remaining bastion of "stalinism" sponsoring international terrorism. But during the crisis, one clearly recognised that no solid proof ever emerged from the various inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during 1992-94 that Pyongyang had actually assembled a nuclear device or was going to do so. Finally, the crisis was solved on 21-10-94 with the signing of a bilateral US-DPRK agreement (reached without ROK’s direct involvement). Its main provisions:         In order to implement the terms of the above agreement, the Korean Peninsula Development Organisation (KEDO) was created in March 1995. KEDO was charged with providing North Korea with two LWR to replace its existing graphite-based models. But as a matter of fact, only limited steps have so far been taken to properly implement the provisions of the 1994 US-DPRK agreement. Delays have been experienced, for example, in delivering heavy oil supply to the DPRK and various sources have recently indicated that the construction of the reactor project in the DPRK may face indeed a delay of several years.
        In the meantime - while an extreme economic crisis has recently affected North Korea and dramatically deteriorated the living standards of its population - Washington has not desisted from exerting economic and military pressure even after the conclusion of its bilateral agreement with Pyongyang in 1994. Contrary to the provisions of this agreement, not only does Washington continue to maintain its sanctions against the DPRK, but it also continues to stage regular war exercises in the Korean peninsula, having deployed additional troops and updated nuclear-powered carriers and attack submarines around the Korean peninsula. The so-called RIMPAK military exercises in 1998 were intended - as in the past - to discourage the DPRK from an imaginary "invasion to the south". Furthermore, other anti-DPRK manoeuvres code-named "98 Foal Eagle" and "98 Hwarang" were staged between October and November in close military cooperation between the ROK, the USA and Japan, and with the involvement of additional troops, aircraft carriers and warships of the US 7th Fleet stationed in Japan. In June 1998, US secretary of defence William Cohen stated that the USA would continue to deploy its troops in South Korea even after the north and the south are reunified.
        This constant, provocative show of military strength on the part of US imperialism - almost driving the north and the south of Korea to the brink of a second Korean war - has not prevented Pyongyang from maintaining a channel of communication and dialogue in order to peacefully solve the national question. In March 1998 the so-called four-way peace talks in Geneva involved the two Korean states, the USA and China and aimed at creating a permanent peace arrangement in the Korean peninsula. These talks, nonetheless, failed to achieve any concrete results because of Washington’s refusal to include on their agenda the principal outstanding issues of the Korean question, i.e., its troops’ withdrawal from the ROK and the signing of a US-DPRK peace agreement. A fourth round of the four-way talks is scheduled to resume in early 1999 in Geneva. Pyongyang maintains that, once US troops have been unconditionally withdrawn from the Korean peninsula, all other outstanding matters can then be resolved by the two Korean states bilaterally, without necessarily involving the USA and China.
        In line with its former anti-imperialist positions, the DPRK regards both the US troops’ withdrawal from the ROK and the conclusion of a US-DPRK peace treaty as questions of principle, as preconditional steps towards genuine reunification and independence. Pyongyang’s insistence on a new comprehensive peace treaty with Washington is determined by the fact that the USA and the DPRK had been the only signatories to the 1953 armistice. In this regard, Kim Jong Il has recently pointed out the following:         In April 1998, the DPRK’s latest proposal for national reunification and independence has been put forward on the basis of the following five-point policy:     Kim Jong Il elaborated this five-point policy by indicating the following:         It clearly appears that the above DPRK’s policies neither strengthen nor advance the socialist cause - i.e., the cause of Marxism-Leninism - in the Korean peninsula. And it could not be otherwise, since North Korea is a revisionist state. However, its 1998 five-point policy, aimed at reunification and independence, does challenge US imperialism in its aggressive attempts to dominate both the south and the north of the country. And eventually, even the prospect of an absorption of North Korea by the South - under the aegis of US imperialism - would also represent a severe set-back for all peoples of Korea and Asia.
        The current struggle waged by the Korean people for their reunification and independence, free from outside American interference and from its nuclear threat, becomes an integral component of the world anti-imperialist revolution. As such, the Korean people’s struggle against US imperialism must be highly estimated and unconditionally supported by all democratic and progressive forces world-wide. In Imperialism and the Revolution Enver Hoxha brilliantly outlines the correlation between the anti-imperialist revolution and the socialist revolution in the following terms:         It is high time for the Korean people to live re-united, free from outside interference, sovereign in their own territory, and fully independent. Consistent and unconditional support must therefore be given to all their anti-imperialist efforts in both North and South Korea, and outside the country, in order to uphold their inalienable and sacred right to independence. To achieve the peaceful reunification of Korea, therefore, all political and diplomatic steps undertaken by the DPRK which challenge US imperialism must be publicised and defended by the widest possible sections of peoples in various countries, including the USA. But at the same time, neither revisionism in the north nor pseudo-democratic capitalism in the south will ever free the Korean working masses from economic and political exploitation and oppression. The prospect of real social and national liberation can only be achieved through a Korean socialist revolution led by a truly Marxist-Leninist party. AIYL Anti-Imperialist Youth League
AJPGA Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army
ARF Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland
CPK Communist Party of Korea
CPNK Communist Party of North Korea
CPSU(B) Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik)
DFRF Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland
DIU Down-With-Imperialism Union
DMZ demilitarised zone
DNUFNK Democratic National United Front of North Korea
DPRK Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
ECCI Executive Committee of the Communist International
EU European Union
GNP gross national product
IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency
IMF International Monetary Fund
KCNA Korean Central News Agency
KEDO Korean Peninsula Development Organization
KOTRA Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency
KPA Korean People’s Army
KPRA Korean People’s Revolutionary Army
LWR light water reactor
KRA Korean Revolutionary Army
MDL military demarcation line
ML Marxist-Leninist
NAM Non-Aligned Movement
NKPA North Korean People’s Army
NKPC North Korean People’s Committee
PPCNK Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea
ROK Republic of Korea
SPA Supreme People’s Assembly
UN United Nations
USA United States of America
USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
WPK Workers’ Party of Korea
WPNK Workers’ Party of North Korea
YCL Young Communist League


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Acknowledgement: the diagram under the title [hard copy only] has been reproduced from the Far Eastern Economic Review, vol. 161, n. 49, 3 December 1998.

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