The eyes of people around the world remain focused on the events on and around the Korean peninsula, which continue to evolve at breakneck speed ever since Comrade Kim Jong Un, the leader of the socialist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), made a bold proposal to realise national reconciliation in his New Year address for 2018. This led directly not only to the sportsmen and women from the north and south of Korea marching together and participating as a single team in the 2018 Winter Olympics, held in PyeongChang, south Korea, from 9-25 February, but also to the simultaneous visit to the south by a very senior DPRK delegation that included veteran diplomatic leader Kim Yong Nam, along with Kim Yo Jong, alternate member of the Politburo and a first vice department director of the Workers’ Party of Korea, who is also Kim Jong Un’s sister – thereby adding considerably to the symbolism and significance of the visit.
Now, as we go to press, Kim Jong Un is scheduled to hold a summit meeting with his south Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, on 27 April. This will be only the third ever meeting between the leaders of the two parts of Korea, which was cruelly partitioned by US imperialism following World War II. And, whereas the previous two summits were held in the DPRK capital Pyongyang, on this occasion the north Korean leader will cross into the southern side of the Demilitarised Zone at the border village of Panmunjom.
Elaborate preparations have gone into ensuring that this summit meeting will be a success, including the installation and testing of the first-ever direct ‘hot line’ between the two leaders. South Korean sources indicate that one of the goals of the summit is to work towards a peace treaty, which would formally end the Korean War, which was halted by an armistice signed on 27 July 1953.
Then, of potentially even greater significance, Kim Jong Un is scheduled to have a summit meeting, at a location still to be determined, with US President Donald Trump, some time in either May or early June. This will be the first ever meeting between the top leader of the DPRK and a serving US president.
Preparations for this unprecedented encounter were set in train following the Winter Olympics, when a high level south Korean delegation promptly visited Pyongyang for talks with Kim Jong Un, principally concerning the prospects for a north-south summit, which the DPRK leader had proposed in a personal letter to Moon Jae-in, and which Kim Yo Jong had handed over during her visit to Seoul. At these talks, Kim Jong Un apparently indicated his readiness to have a face-to-face meeting with President Trump – an offer that the south Korean delegates immediately carried to Washington in person.
President Trump, confirming his apt description as a ‘loose cannon on the imperialist deck’, to the surprise and consternation not only of the Washington elite, but also, it would appear, his own aides, immediately and enthusiastically accepted the offer from the DPRK leader. And, in a highly unusual move in diplomacy, after his customary practice of dropping a heavy hint, he allowed the south Korean delegation to make the formal announcement from the White House.
With much to be arranged in a short period of time for such an unprecedented meeting to occur, its prospects were enhanced, and the seriousness with which both sides are taking the matter was underlined, when it was revealed that Mike Pompeo, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of State following his sacking of Rex Tillerson, had made a secret visit to Pyongyang over the Easter weekend to discuss summit preparations with Kim Jong Un.
With two key summits pending, Comrade Kim Jong Un pulled off another diplomatic masterstroke, with an unofficial visit to Beijing from 25-28 March at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, his first known visit outside the DPRK since he assumed the leadership in December 2011.
Although the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are each other’s only formal treaty allies, and the revolutionaries of the two countries had fought shoulder-to-shoulder since the 1920s, relations between the two socialist countries had become progressively strained in recent years. Despite the fact that the DPRK’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes have clearly been self-defensive measures taken in the face of intolerable pressures and threats from US imperialism, China has considered them to be destabilising and as heightening the danger of war in the region. In turn, faced with massive pressures and threats from the USA itself, China has acquiesced in a series of ever more draconian sanctions against the DPRK. This has caused understandable resentment on the part of the DPRK.
However, Kim Jong Un and his wife were accorded exceptional personal hospitality by Xi Jinping and his wife, with both sides fully reaffirming their traditional friendship and comradeship and reaching an important consensus of views.
Comrade Kim Jong Un’s visit to China was rapidly followed by a visit to the DPRK by Song Tao, the head of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee. (The international department is the Chinese body that has principal responsibility for relations with the DPRK and other socialist countries.) Symbolically, Song led a large cultural delegation, which took part in the April Spring Friendship Art Festival, which honours the birthday of the founder of the DPRK, Comrade Kim Il Sung. Kim Jong Un met and feted the Chinese delegates on several occasions and also enjoyed a performance of the famed revolutionary ballet, The Red Detachment of Women, presented by China’s national ballet company. According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), on the conclusion of the visit, Comrade Kim Jong Un, “asked Song Tao to certainly convey his warm greetings to General Secretary Xi Jinping, the best friend and closest comrade of the Korean people”. (‘Kim Jong Un Meets Song Tao Again’, KCNA, 18 April 2018) Such revived revolutionary amity and comradeship between the PRC and DPRK, despite all challenges, can only be wholeheartedly welcomed by the international working class and progressive people everywhere. Specifically and crucially, it means that Comrade Kim Jong Un goes into the summit meetings with his south Korean and US counterparts considerably strengthened by the demonstrable evidence that, far from being isolated, the DPRK still has a very powerful ally in its rear.
Also strengthening the DPRK’s negotiating position was a plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee, held in Pyongyang on 20 April.
According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un informed the meeting that “the overall situation is rapidly changing in favour of the Korean revolution thanks to the DPRK’s proactive action and efforts after the declaration of completing the state nuclear force last year. He informed that a fresh climate of détente and peace is being created on the Korean peninsula and the region and dramatic changes are being made in the international political landscape.
The KCNA report continued: “He said that no nuclear test and intermediate-range and inter-continental ballistic rocket test-fire are necessary for the DPRK now, given that the work for mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets was verified as the whole processes of developing nuclear weapons were carried out in a scientific way and in regular sequence, and the development of delivery and strike means was also made scientifically. He added that the mission of the northern nuclear test ground has thus come to an end.”
A resolution adopted at the meeting stated as follows:
“First, we solemnly declare that the sub-critical nuclear test, underground nuclear test, making nuclear weapon smaller and lighter and the development of the super-large nuclear weapon and delivery means have been carried out in order in the course of the campaign for implementing the party’s line of simultaneously developing the two fronts and thus the work for mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets has been reliably realised.
“Second, we will discontinue nuclear test and inter-continental ballistic rocket test-fire from 21 April 2018.
“The northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK will be dismantled to transparently guarantee the discontinuance of the nuclear test.
“Third, the discontinuance of the nuclear test is an important process for worldwide disarmament, and the DPRK will join the international desire and efforts for the total halt to nuclear tests.
“Fourth, the DPRK will never use nuclear weapons nor transfer nuclear weapons or nuclear technology under any circumstances unless there are nuclear threat and nuclear provocation against the DPRK.
“Fifth, we will concentrate all efforts on building a powerful socialist economy and markedly improving the standard of people’s living through the mobilisation of all human and material resources of the country.
“Sixth, we will create an international environment favourable for the socialist economic construction and facilitate close contact and active dialogue with neighbouring countries and the international community in order to defend peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the world.” .
This bold political move by Comrade Kim Jong Un and the WPK leadership, building on their demonstrable achievements and combining adherence to principle with utmost tactical flexibility, has served to further put US imperialism on the back foot, with the predictable flurry of mutually contradictory Trump tweets being issued in response. Nevertheless, at the time of writing, the US president is maintaining a generally positive public attitude to his planned meeting with the DPRK leader.
No doubt there will be many further twists and turns along the way, but, in congratulating Comrade Kim Jong Un, the WPK and the people of the DPRK on their tremendous victories, we also assure them of our invariable support and solidarity in their continuing and complex struggle.