The Friends of Korea organised a meeting in the John Buckle Centre, south London, on 9 October to celebrate the 63rd founding anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), which fell the next day.
Chaired by Comrade Harpal Brar, the main speech was given by Comrade Keith Bennett, a leading member of the Friends of Korea who is also the Secretary General of the International Kim Il Sung Foundation. Comrade Keith had just returned from a visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), where he had been an invited guest at the celebrations of the DPRK’s 60th founding anniversary the previous month. In the course of his visit, Comrade Keith also met with Comrade Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the DPRK’s Supreme People’s Assembly and received a personal gift from Comrade Kim Jong Il on the occasion of his 50th birthday.
Comrade Keith gave a vivid account both of the official celebrations as well as the daily life of the people in Pyongyang over the holiday period. It was noteworthy, he said, that the military parade, rather than being composed of the regular armed forces, consisted entirely of the militia forces made up of ordinary workers, farmers, students and intellectuals, women and men, and the weapons displayed had all been purely of a defensive character. After the formal parade, the citizens of Pyongyang had turned out in their tens, indeed hundreds of thousands to give a rousing reception to their armed defenders, who are drawn from their own families, workplaces and communities. These scenes, Comrade Keith noted, provided a striking illustration of the deep and profound difference between a workers’ state and a bourgeois state. In the latter, the armed forces are organs of suppression at home and aggression abroad whereas in the former the armed forces are the armed working people themselves, mobilised to defend their socialist system and the independence of the country from class enemies within and without.
Comrade Keith spoke about the ongoing work to spruce up Pyongyang including the refurbishment of housing and public buildings, the repaving of roads and pavements and the modernisation of the tram network, all designed to make life more pleasant and convenient for working people. Despite the heightened tension with the US imperialists, who had brazenly reneged on their commitment to remove the DPRK from the State Department’s list of so-called “terrorist states” (subsequently, thanks to the DPRK’s firm stance, the US was forced to back down), the atmosphere in Pyongyang was calm and relaxed with families enjoying a well-earned break. At the same time, the Korean comrades were unanimous in their resolve not to give in to imperialist pressures and threats but rather to defend their dignity, independence and socialist system no matter what the cost. In a word, the speaker emphasised, the atmosphere in Pyongyang was completely at variance with the lurid picture painted by the bourgeois mass media.
Following Comrade Keith’s presentation, statements of solidarity with the WPK on its 63rd birthday were made by Comrade Harpal Brar for the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPGB-ML), Comrade Chris Coleman for the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and Comrade Andy Brooks for the New Communist Party. The statement from Comrade Harpal read as follows:
I extend my warmest, militant and fraternal red salute on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the great Workers’ Party of Korea by the great leader of the Korean people and outstanding Marxist-Leninist Comrade Kim Il Sung.
The Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) is not only the vanguard of the Korean proletariat and people but also an outstanding detachment of the international communist movement. For more than six decades, under the great and wise leadership of Comrade Kim Il Sung and of Esteemed Comrade Kim Jong Il, the WPK has led the Korean working class and people in a life-and-death confrontation with US imperialism and all manner of class enemies in order to safeguard the independence of the country and to build a socialist state.
At the same time, the Workers’ Party of Korea has set an example of active proletarian internationalism. The great cause of the anti-imperialist national liberation movements in Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere, and the building of prosperous new societies, is indelibly associated with the selfless solidarity and practical assistance consistently rendered by the WPK. In the international communist movement, the WPK took a bold stand in condemnation of modern revisionism and in defence of Marxism-Leninism. Furthermore, at the time when the degeneracy of modern revisionism finally brought down the once great and glorious USSR, the WPK rallied the communist forces, formulating the historic Pyongyang Declaration, ‘Let Us Defend and Advance the Cause of Socialism’, to which our Party is very proud to be a signatory.
Indeed, our Party greatly values our excellent and intimate fraternal relations with the Workers’ Party of Korea and we stand wholeheartedly and unreservedly with it in its struggle to oppose US imperialism and other reactionary forces, to defend the sovereignty of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and to build a great, prosperous and powerful socialist nation on Korean soil.
We will continue to spare no effort to widely introduce and build support for the Party and people of Korea, under the wise and correct leadership of Esteemed Comrade Kim Jong Il, among the British working class and in the anti-war and other progressive movements of our country.
Availing myself of this auspicious occasion, I also wish Esteemed Comrade Kim Jong Il a long life in good health.
Following these presentations a lively discussion took place, which focused on what we in the working-class movement in Britain can learn from our Korean comrades in the building of a revolutionary working-class party in the midst of a deepening capitalist crisis. Comrade Jang Song Chol, Third Secretary of the Korean Embassy in London, who attended the meeting as a guest, took an active part in these discussions.
Concluding the formal part of the proceedings, Comrade Michael Chant, Secretary of Friends of Korea, read out a letter of greetings to Comrade Kim Jong Il, which was adopted unanimously. The CPGB-ML also sent a letter to Comrade Kim Jong Il marking the anniversary.
Following the formal part of the proceedings, comrades stayed behind to carry on the discussions in a friendly atmosphere.