In defence of the DPRK’s proletarian  internationalist history and traditions

One important aspect of the current international situation is that, faced with the steady rise of the People’s Republic of China and with the steadfast adherence to anti-imperialist and socialist principles on the part of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, both countries are subjected to increasing pressures and threats from the various imperialist powers, led by US imperialism. It is therefore of the utmost importance that all communists, and all genuine friends of both the Korean and Chinese peoples, should take a clear stand in support of the friendship, solidarity and unity of these two fraternal countries in the face of common enemies and challenges.

It was against this background that the Korean leader Comrade Kim Jong Il visited China between May 20-26, his third visit in little more than a year, at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Comrade Hu Jintao.

Underscoring the importance attached to this visit, on 6 June, the Workers’ Party of Korea convened an enlarged meeting of its Political Bureau to discuss the results of the visit. According to the report of the meeting carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA):

“His recent visit to China was an epochal event of weighty significance in further consolidating the DPRK-China friendship generation after generation, putting strong impetus to the Korean people’s cause of building a thriving nation, defending peace and stability in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world and more confidently advancing the socialist cause, the human cause of independence.

“The meeting noted that his visit was a long journey for upholding and preserving the undying feats of President Kim Il Sung recorded in the history of the DPRK-China friendship and glorifying them generation after generation.

“Kim Jong Il’s visit to the historic places including anti-Japanese revolutionary battle zones of China where the tradition of the DPRK-China friendship was established by the President and which are associated with its shining history is of great significance in helping the younger generation deeply grasp the undying feats the President performed in strengthening the friendship and carrying forward and developing it down through generations.” (‘Report on Enlarged Meeting of Political Bureau of WPK’, KCNA, 6 June 2011)

As the above-quoted report makes clear, this relationship is not a simple bilateral one between neighbouring countries, but one sealed with the blood shed in common battles against common enemies over decades and generations.

Comrade Kim Il Sung, the historic leader of the Korean revolution, began his revolutionary activities as a teenager in northeast China. And in the hard days of struggle against Japanese imperialism, he forged combat solidarity not only with the Chinese communists but also with the Soviet Red Army, culminating in the formation of the International Allied Forces (IAF) in July 1942. Here is how he recalls those days in his memoirs With the Century:

An important aspect of our struggle during this period is the fact that we organised the IAF in the Soviet Union with our Chinese and Soviet comrades-in-arms in the summer of 1942 and engaged in political and military preparations in every possible way in order ultimately to annihilate the Japanese imperialists.

“The fact that the KPRA [Korean People’s Revolutionary Army] formed the IAF with the armed forces of the Soviet Union and China and waged a joint struggle with them can be viewed as a new stage in the development of the Korean revolution…

With the organisation of the IAF, a great change took place in our armed struggle. It can be said that, with the formation of the allied forces as a turning point, we switched from the stage of our joint struggle with the Chinese people to the stage of extensive joint struggle, which meant an alliance of the armed forces of Korea, China and the Soviet Union, the stage of a new common front joining the mainstream of the world-wide anti-imperialist, anti-fascist struggle…

As a result of the organisation of the allied forces, the military and political situations in the Far East region changed in favour of the world revolution.

“First of all, the Soviet Union benefited greatly from this. The Soviet Union secured military and political forces capable of coping with the aggressive moves of Japan on its own initiative…

“The existence of the IAF also created favourable conditions and circumstances for the Korean and Chinese revolutions.

Because it was to act in concert with the Soviet Far Eastern Forces, the KPRA was able to have, within the framework of regular armed forces, the ability as well as the equipment to carry out the most up-to-date operations needed for liberating the country

Even when the Soviet Union badly needed the strength of another single regiment or a single battalion because of the extremely difficult situation at the front, it never touched the allied forces, but helped them so that they could make full preparations for the showdown against the Japanese imperialists.

Soviet military personnel frequently told us about how much Stalin valued the officers and men of the KPRA and the NAJAA [North East Anti-Japanese Allied Army – of Chinese and Korean revolutionaries]. They told that Stalin had said that all the soldiers of these armies were valuable people who would make a major contribution to liberating their own motherlands and building a new country, and that, therefore, they should take care of these soldiers lest there should be a single loss.”

This tripartite solidarity was to continue during the Korean war, too. Although the intervention of nearly three million fighters of the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) made a decisive contribution, these forces would have been decimated by the US aggressors if they had no air cover. This neither the infant DPRK, nor the infant PRC, was in a position to provide. Rather, this vital contribution was made by the Soviet Union.

In autumn 1950, the Soviet air force moved planes to northeast China and, under conditions of great secrecy, they flew combat missions in the skies of Korea. The Soviet air force commander in Korea, GA Lobov, personally shot down 14 American planes and the Soviets, in turn, also suffered heavy losses. At one point in the war the Americans bombed Vladivostock.

Lobov commanded some 70,000 Red Army servicemen in the Korean war. Their key tasks were to defend bridges, dams and airfields and to keep open supply roads from China. The communist side lost some 1,000 planes in the war against some 3,500 aerial losses on the imperialist side.

One should further bear in mind that, in directly militarily confronting the US forces, the Soviet Union was running the risk of all-out war. That this was no idle threat may be gleaned from this 27 January 1952 diary entry of US President Truman:

It seems to me that the proper approach now would be an ultimatum with a 10-day expiration limit (to) Moscow… This means all out war… Moscow, St. Petersburg [sic], Mukden [Shenyang], Vladivostock, Peking, Shanghai, Port Arthur [Lushun], Dairen [Dalian], Odessa, Stalingrad and every manufacturing plant in China and the Soviet Union will be eliminated. This is the final chance for the Soviet Government to decide whether it desires to survive or not.”

Last October, massive celebrations were held in the Korean capital Pyongyang to mark the 60th anniversary of the entry of the Chinese People’s Volunteers into the Korean war. Millions of Chinese volunteer soldiers fought on the Korean battlefront and over 100,000 of them, including Chairman Mao’s son, Comrade Mao Anying, laid down their lives and are buried in Korean soil.

Marking the 60th anniversary, KCNA noted in a commentary:

“Sixty years has elapsed since the armies and peoples of Korea and China began fighting on one side against the imperialist allied forces’ invasion.

“During the Fatherland Liberation War (June 1950-July 1953), the Chinese Party and Government adopted a crucial decision on resisting America and aiding Korea, safeguarding the home and defending the motherland and sent volunteers to the Korean War on October 25, Juche 39 (1950) when the Korean people were waging a life-and-death struggle against the invaders.

“Fully displayed in the war was the Chinese people’s obligation to the Korean revolutionaries and people who, under the leadership of President Kim Il Sung, had rendered sincere material and mental assistance to the Chinese people in their arduous anti-Japanese war and homeland liberation war…

“Pilots, anti-aircraft artillerymen, military engineers and other Chinese servicepersons fought valiantly in the war, fully discharging their internationalist mission.

“The DPRK Government, in order to appreciate their heroic services and record them in the history of DPRK-China friendship, awarded DPRK orders and medals to 661,736 volunteers. Of them twelve were honoured with the title of Hero of Republic and 226 with Order of the National Flag 1st Class.

“All the volunteers not only displayed an unexampled spirit of self-sacrifice and heroism in the war against the aggressors but promoted friendly relations with the Korean people.

“They protected Korean people’s lives and properties at the risk of danger, helped peasants in their tilling, sowing and harvesting and restored damaged reservoirs, dikes, roads and bridges.” (‘Friendship Forged in Blood in Anti-US War’, KCNA, 21 October 2010)

Three days later, KCNA reported an article carried in the WPK’s central organ, Rodong Sinmun (Workers’ Daily):

“The tradition of ties of friendship between the peoples of the DPRK and China sealed in blood in the joint struggle against US and Japanese imperialisms, the two formidable enemies, has steadily developed on the basis of particularly comradely trust and sense of revolutionary obligation of the leaders of the elder generation of the two countries…

The international obligation and friendship between the revolutionaries of the elder generation of the two countries forged in the days of the bloody anti-Japanese struggle have grown stronger and have been brought into fuller bloom than what used to be during the revolutionary civil war in China.

“The unbreakable nature and vitality of the blood-sealed ties and friendship between the two peoples that grew strong in the anti-Japanese battle sites and the revolutionary civil war in China were powerfully demonstrated in the period of the great Fatherland Liberation War of the Korean people fought to beat back the US imperialist aggressors’ armed invasion.” (‘Shining tradition of blood-sealed ties between DPRK and China’, KCNA, 24 October 2010)

On 25 October 2010, a huge mass rally was staged in Pyongyang to mark the anniversary, attended by Comrade Kim Jong Il and Comrade Kim Jong Un. KCNA quoted the DPRK defence minister, Kim Yong Chun as stating at the rally that, “the CPV’s entry into the Korean front was a living example of proletarian internationalism as it was a striking manifestation of the sense of revolutionary obligation forged in the common struggle against imperialism.

“In the Fatherland Liberation War the armies and peoples of the two countries bravely fought hand in hand and won a shining victory, thus defending the precious gains of the revolution of the two countries and greatly contributing to ensuring peace in Asia and the rest of the world, he noted.

He stressed that even after the ceasefire in Korea the CPV fighters took an active part in the postwar rehabilitation and construction, performing great labour feats.”

Reporting the response of the leader of the Chinese delegation, Guo Boxiong, KCNA continued:

He said in his speech that six decades ago the CPV unhesitatingly rushed to battle fields for justice, holding aloft the banner of defending peace from aggression and fought alongside the Korean People’s Army, beating back the imperialist aggression, adding that they waged a bloody fight for two years and nine months, winning a great victory in the war at last.

This victory dealt a heavy blow at the aggressors who were bluffing and frustrated the imperialists’ plot to dominate the whole world, safeguarding the peace and security of China and the DPRK, he noted, and continued: This not only greatly encouraged the peoples of various countries in their heroic struggle for national independence and freedom and liberation but made an important historic contribution to promoting the world peace, human justice and the progressive cause.

“Nearly three million fighters of the CPV and hundreds of thousands of people directly participated in the war and a great many people shed blood in battle fields and more than 100,000 officers and men of the CPV laid down their precious lives.

“We always remember the precious support given by President Kim Il Sung, the great leader of the Korean people, and the Korean people to the Chinese people and the CPV.

“The brave KPA fought hand in hand with the CPV in close cooperation and broad strata of the Korean people courageously assisted the front despite a hail of bullets and shells.

“The friendship between us was sealed in blood by the peoples and armies of the two countries.

“Our peace today was won at the precious sacrifice made by the peoples and armies of the two countries.” (‘Mass meeting marks 60th [anniversary] of CPV’s entry into Korean front’, 25 October 2010)

Clearly this inspiring history of proletarian internationalism has not been forgotten by the Korean or Chinese people and it absolutely must not be forgotten by the international communist movement or friends of Korea and China, just as we recall as shining pages in the annals of proletarian internationalism this year’s 75th anniversary of the International Brigades who joined the Spanish Republic and people to fight fascism or the Cuban fighters who made such an indelible contribution to the liberation of Angola, Namibia and South Africa.

Yet there are tiny groups, in reality little more than one individual, operating under a plethora of organisational names, whose main purpose and “activity” is to “jointly” issue innumerable statements, aimed solely at self-promotion and full of the most risible and embarrassing sycophancy and toadying, who dedicate themselves to denying and attempting to debase this noble history of proletarian internationalism, thereby, whatever their intentions, doing a grave disservice to the Korean people.

One such statement was issued by the so-called “Association for the Study of Songun Politics UK” to mark the 79th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army in April. The statement is an outright denial of proletarian internationalism, a falsification of the historical record and a melange of falsehoods. For example, it states:

“Thus the KPA was founded as the Anti Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army in Antu deep in the forests of Manchuria in 1932 by the great leader comrade Kim Il Sung. The AJPGA was an army of the workers and peasants and a revolutionary armed force of the Korean people. It was founded without the support of a state or a rear base. It was the first guerrilla army in the world organised under the banner of Marxism-Leninism.”

This statement ignores the guerrilla warfare waged by the Soviet Army against foreign imperialists and the Whites in the civil war and the war against foreign intervention. It ignores the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army by the Chinese Communist Party on 1 August 1927. It ignores the substantial assistance subsequently rendered by the USSR, as very briefly detailed, in the words of Comrade Kim Il Sung, above. It ignores the fact that, by organising in Manchuria, the Korean revolutionaries could count on substantial support from their Chinese comrades.

The statement refers to the liberation of Korea on 15 August 1945 without even one word for the hundreds of thousands of Soviet Red Army fighters who took part in that epic campaign.

When it comes to the Korean War of 1950-53, whilst noting some of the other imperialist countries who joined the USA in attacking the DPRK, the statement utterly shamefully has only this to say about internationalist support to the DPRK at the time:

The KPA was also short of weapons as its allies did not supply them speedily enough.”

Previously, the same person, although this time calling himself the “UK Korean Friendship Association” had written:

Also during the Fatherland Liberation war in the 1950 (sic) not enough weapons were supplied to the DPRK by its allies.”

So, not enough and not quickly enough – this is how this disgraceful individual persists in describing the heroic contributions of millions of Chinese and tens of thousands of Soviet military personnel and their entire countries, who risked nuclear annihilation in order to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their Korean comrades.

We can but ask what actually motivates this individual to seek to ridicule and isolate our Korean comrades, with his toxic mixture of caricature, sycophancy, slander of the PRC and USSR, and malicious falsehoods. Whatever, they are a gross disservice to the just cause of the heroic Korean people. A principled and effective movement in solidarity with the Korean people will be built among the British working class in opposition to such people, not in collaboration with them.

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