I want to speak today about a project which was close to the heart of Comrade Kim Il Sung, as indeed it is to those of almost all Korean people, be they from the north or the south or the diaspora, namely the reunification of Korea. Korea is one. Its people speak the same language and share the same history, and it only became divided in 1945 after American troops landed in Korea. They claimed to be there to liberate Korea from the Japanese. But the Japanese had already surrendered. The US claimed it was entering to disarm the Japanese, but the reality was, as Cde Kim Il Sung said, that “the US imperialists who occupied South Korea were opposed from the start to the construction by the Korean people of a democratic independent state, while they pursued a colonial enslavement policy there.”
Within a short time of their arrival, however, the US forces were unveiled as an occupying power. Hodges, their commander, proclaimed Korea to be an enemy country of the United States. The US imperialists kept intact the institutions of control set up by the Japanese for their colonial rule of Korea as they found them “a most effective way of management”. They retained Japanese officials and pro-Japanese Koreans in office and filled posts such as the President of the Supreme Court, other high judicial offices, the Public Procurator General and even local judgeships with pro-Japanese traitors. They enforced all the laws enacted under Japanese rule, declaring them to remain in full force and effect. They forcibly dissolved the local self-governing bodies which had risen up following Japan’s defeat, as well as the people’s committees set up by the people themselves.
John Gunther, a biographer of Macarthur, in The Riddle of Macarthur, noted that “the Koreans rallied around Hodges are no more than a group of those expelled from the country, those associated with Japan, fascist elements, professional assassins and intellectuals whose heads were in confusion.”
This is the background against which Cde Kim Il Sung developed his policy for the reunification of Korea – a task which seemed impossible at the time because of the overwhelming military and financial power of US imperialism which was occupying the south of the country. Knowing, however, that the overwhelming majority of the people in both the south and the north were in favour of reunification, Cde Kim Il Sung’s strategy for reunification was based on a policy of holding broad-based north-south negotiations for national reunification – so that decisions should be made by the democratic majority of the people, not by the government which was made up of hand-picked puppets of imperialism.
From the very beginning Comrade Kim Il Sung insisted on 3 principles of national reunification:
To solve the question of reunification independently without outside interference;
To do so by peaceful means, and
To promote unity by transcending differences of ideology and social system.
Over the years, however, US and Japanese imperialism manoeuvred to frustrate the desires of the Korean people. Their weapons were brute force and malicious propaganda unleashed with such fury that Comrade Kim Il Sung was not destined to see the reunification of Korea in his lifetime.
The cause did not die with Comrade Kim Il Sung in 1994. His successor Kim Jong Il took up the mantle and, guided by Comrade Kim Il Sung’s principles, was able to bring about an abrupt breakthrough with the 15 June 2000 North-South Accord, where the governments of North and South agreed to work together towards reunification. The government of the South was pushed into this accord as a result of the desires of the Korean popular masses. In 1997 South Korea, as a result of its dependence on imperialism, suffered a horrendous financial disaster, giving further impetus to anti-imperialist sentiment in the region. In these circumstances it was impossible for the south Korean government not to seek to work towards reunification with the North.
US imperialism has done everything in its power to impede progress in the implementation of this accord, and the south Korean government has continued to try to defend imperialism’s interests at the same time as attempting to please the south Korean electorate by making further moves towards implementation. With 84% of the citizens of south Korea and 96% of its political and social leaders believing reunification is an urgent task for the nation, the government of south Korea has had no choice but to move forward. Since June 2000 contacts between North and South have blossomed. More than 1 million south Korean tourists have visited the North. Modern roads and railways have been built linking North and South. 12,000 people have been able to contact family members from whom they had been separated for 60 years as a result of the North-South divide. In 2005 alone, more than 85,000 people crossed from North to South or vice versa, as many as in the previous 60 years. Inter Korean trade has been increasing by 30-50% annually, reaching $1.05 billion last year. Still further initiatives for cooperation are envisaged for the coming years.
Meanwhile voices raised in South Korea against US occupation are growing louder by the day. It has become clear to ever widening sections of the south Korean population that US imperialism is not prepared to leave South Korea at any price. This is because South Korea is US imperialism’s beach head on which to station its soldiers and military equipment it relies on for control of the whole Asia Pacific region. There are in South Korea a total of 108 US bases costing some $2 billion a year in upkeep – to which the south Korean people are forced to contribute 40%. Furthermore, the US is developing Osan Airbase in Pyeongtaek as a new military command centre for north east Asia and a key base for the intended US Missile Defence System in East Asia – i.e. for the US’s WMD. This expansion has involved the US military in forcibly ejecting from the area farmers whose families had been tilling this land for centuries, and there has been a fierce struggle against this on the part of the farmers affected and their supporters.
Only 2 weeks ago, i.e., between 25-31 March, the US, in conjunction with the South Korean military staged a gigantic military exercise practising for war against the North.
In its determination to hold on to its south Korean military bases, from which it threatens the whole region, including China and Russia, the US has launched low-intensity warfare against North Korea through the ‘human rights’ issue and intensified economic sanctions. The US Congress passed the North Korean Human Rights Act in 2004 to fund to the tune of $20 million a year a ‘human rights’ campaign against North Korea as a pretext to maintain its military occupation of the south. This behaviour has provoked anger among the south Korean people. The 6,000-member South Korean Association of Journalists a few weeks ago asked the US ambassador in Seoul to stop making anti-North Korea statements and to apologise for them. At the end of March this year dozens of South Koreans flocked to Brussels to protest when they heard that the European parliament was proposing to discuss the issue of human rights in North Korea, and they held several demonstrations in Brussels during the week they were there.
It is clear that Kim Il Sung was absolutely right in pointing out that the US occupation of South Korea, linked to its policy of world domination, is the only obstacle which stands in the way of the fulfilment of the Korean people’s dream of a united and independent Confederate Republic of Koryo. I would therefore like to propose the following Resolution to this meeting, under Comrade Kim Il Sung’s continuing guidance:
“This meeting demands the withdrawal of all American troops and weapons from South Korea and the dismantling of their military bases because they are the force of permanent interference, an obstacle to the full sovereignty of the Korean people and a source of a potential new war in the Korean Peninsula.”
Forward to an independent and sovereign Koryo!