Every cloud has a silver lining goes the saying. The cloud of the 1997 economic meltdown in South Korea appears to have convinced many south Koreans, who previously did well out of south Korea’s subservience to US imperialism, that there is a pressing need to break free from the clutches of foreign finance capital and for the Korean people to achieve the independence and reunification for which they have so long strived.
This is why, to the joy of the masses of people – in the south as much as in the north – President Kim Dae Jung of South Korea has at last responded favourably to the overtures for peace, reconciliation and reunification that the DPRK has never ceased to put forward, even at times when, egged on by their US masters, the south Korean authorities were committing the severest of provocations against it.
On 13 June 2000, when Kim Dae Jung arrived in Pyongyang, in the company of a contingent of south Korean business leaders, the people of the north extended to them a right royal welcome. Kim Jong Il himself met Kim Dae Jung on his arrival at Pyongyang airport, and the streets of the capital were lined with hundreds of thousands of people
“waving large paper azaleas, their national flower, and fervently chanting ‘Kim Jong Il’”
(John Burton, ‘Last cold war rivals offer warm handshake’,
14 June 2000).
John Burton goes on to report that in the south, too,
“there was a feeling of euphoria”
about the meeting of the two Kims, to such an extent that such expectations are being raised about the outcome of the summit that it would add to the
of the leaders
“if people’s hopes were dashed.”
of 11 June, by inclination just as hostile to the DPRK as is the
has also had to recognise the joy of the south Korean masses at the prospect of reunification:
“In Seoul last week, it appeared that the Korean rivals had never been at war. In the packed streets of the main shopping district, enterprising stallholders sold T-shirts emblazoned with the faces of the two leaders. The garments were snapped up by people who still live within range of North Korean artillery.
“A visiting North Korean circus played to packed houses and a children’s choir from the North brought tears to the eyes of South Korean audiences with the kind of sentimental proletarian ballads once derided here.”
Of course both the
loyal mouthpieces of imperialism that they are, have to distort the truth of what is happening, pretending that the meeting between the two leaders has come about because the DPRK has all of a sudden, prompted by economic problems, ‘opened up’ quite unexpectedly, realising rather belatedly that it needs to maintain good relations with the south. Anyone, however, who has even a minimum acquaintance with the DPRK’s publications, and the writings of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, can only laugh in disbelief at such an outright, demonstrable, travesty of the truth. In actual fact, it is the south Korean leadership which, staggering under the blows of the economic crisis, is at last paying some attention to the masses of the Korean people. Even the
has to admit that it is in south Korea that a radical turnabout is to be observed:
“One sign of the new harmony ….has been the rapid change in how Kim Jong Il has been portrayed in South Korea from the devil incarnate to a long-lost brother. Favourable documentaries on North Korea have appeared on South Korea television, along with a popular action film ‘The Rose of Sharon’, that tells of how the two Koreas co-operate on building a nuclear bomb that they use against Japan, their former colonial master” (NOT made in the DPRK which disapproves of warmongering, it must be added, but in the south, which has known nothing but).
In fact, in an unguarded moment, the Editor of the
in an Editorial entitled ‘Kim’s game’, is inclined to the view that it would be wrong to think
“North Korea’s Mr Kim is acting out of the kind of weakness that affected his east European counterparts, but rather that he sees calculated advantage in what he is doing.”
Moreover, he admits that far from being hated dictators, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il
“have been able to play with staggering success on their people’s deep sense of nationalism. Their population is not seething with rebellion and their dynasty is revered because it is identified with the Korean nation.”
So much for the idea that the hardships which came about as the result of natural disasters were responsible for some kind of change of heart in the DPRK leadership! The
pursued by Kim Jong Il and the DPRK is none other than
“a chance for the Korean peninsula to regain control over its destiny from the interference of outside powers … that have largely determined its fate over the past century”
It is significant that for Kim Dae Jung’s visit,
“all American and other western officials have been refused access to the talks”
, and the
“South Koreans have rejected efforts by the United States to place arms on the Summit agenda … Indeed, as the two foes embrace, Washington – South Korea’s staunchest ally – is getting the cold shoulder … For now Washington has been outplayed”
Sunday Telegraph, ibid
). It remains to be seen what steps US imperialism will now take to try to keep south Korea tied to its apron strings.
In the meantime, however, the outcome of the summit was a joint north-south declaration which will bring joy to every Korean and to friends of Korea everywhere, a declaration which gives a real promise of commitment to reunification.