Building a Revolutionary Party – the Korean Experience

On Sunday 7 October the

Friends of Korea

held a very successful meeting at Marchmont Centre, London WC1, entitled ‘Building a Revolutionary Party – the Korean Experience’. This was an excellent opportunity for comrades to come together to celebrate the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and to learn how the successes of the Korean revolution had been achieved in the very difficult circumstances which this tiny country faced – having to dispel firstly Japanese, and later American, aggressors from their land. The meeting began with a film showing many aspects of the work of the WPK which was founded 62 years ago by Comrade Kim Il Sung on 10 October 1945 and which, under the present leadership of Comrade Kim Jong Il, is now leading the people of the DPRK in the building of an independent, anti-imperialist and socialist country.

There were speeches at the meeting (summarised versions of these are reproduced below) and several solidarity messages. The meeting, chaired by Zane Carpenter of the CPGB-ML, unanimously agreed to send a message of congratulations to the WPK. It concluded with excellent food and drink, generously provided by the comrades from the Korean Embassy, and informal discussion.

Zane Carpenter, Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

We honour the WPK, its tenacity in the face of imperialist aggression over many years, its leadership of the people of the DPRK in creating a socialist society in spite of the many obstacles that are constantly placed in front of them, both of a natural and man-made nature, and its adherence to the principles of socialist revolution.

Friends of Korea

includes many individuals and groups, including three communist parties, who come together to do our internationalist work for the DPRK. One of the lessons we take from our comrades of the WPK concerning party building, is that the great Kim Il Sung knew when to make alliances in order to take the struggle forward at the right time and on principled lines. If we look at the valuable examples that our Korean comrades have given us in making a strong party fit to lead a people in building socialism and defeating imperialist aggression, they alone are reason enough to stand with the DPRK. More than that, they stand at the sharp end of the struggle against imperialism, inspiring us and weakening the imperialists.

I want this meeting to send out two messages. First, to say to our Korean comrades, congratulations on the recently agreed peace initiative with the southern, occupied half of your country and may the necessary steps to re-unification follow swiftly; you have our support and understanding in all that you do. Second, we say to British workers that the DPRK is one of the truest friends that we have and in developing its nuclear programme the DPRK lessened the strength of the imperialists to intimidate smaller nations; it has given itself in that one programme a source of power, a weapon to offset the huge arsenal of imperialism and a bargaining chip to force further concessions from the imperialist bandits; it is our collective job to help the British working class to understand that fact and in its turn to give support to the DPRK.

Andy Brooks, New Communist Party

When Kim Il Sung gathered a small band of heroes to form the first guerrilla units to take on the might of the Japanese Army no one could have imagined that this would become the People’s Army that brought the American imperialists to their knees begging for an armistice in 1953.

Kim Il Sung was the communist leader who built the Korean communist movement from the grass-roots in the 1920s to the WPK that was founded in 1945 and leads the Korean people from victory to victory in the 21st century.

The great leader of the Korean people was one of the giants of communism – the man who led the people in a war of liberation from Japanese occupation and then in 1950 defended that victory against invasion by the United States and its allies, who had been using the fledgling United Nations as a puppet. He then went on to lead his country in building its own, independent socialism, steering a careful path during the period of Sino-Soviet ideological conflict and managing to remain on good terms with both parties.

And after the demise of the Soviet Union and the loss of the eastern European socialist countries, an enormous setback for communism globally, when parties were becoming demoralised and failing around the world, Kim Il Sung stopped the rot by summoning a global conference of communist and workers’ parties in Pyongyang in 1992.

Comrade Kim Il Sung led the Korean masses to victory against the brutal Japanese colonialists in 1945. He took up the gun again to defend their freedom when US imperialism and its lackeys invaded the north in 1950. The Americans were fought to a standstill and forced to sign a humiliating armistice in 1953. Though the American terror bombers had left north Korea in ruins, the masses rallied round the call of the WPK to rebuild their shattered country and lead the drive for a modern, independent socialist republic in the free part of the Korean peninsula.

In June 1950 the US imperialists launched an invasion of the north. The Americans and their puppets used everything at their disposal, including germ and chemical warfare, terror bombing and massacre in their bid to destroy the Korean revolution. But under the leadership of Kim Il Sung the people stood firm and resolutely rebuffed the Americans, who had roped in their Nato allies, including Britain, into their insane adventure.

The Soviet Union, People’s China and the other socialist countries rallied to Korea’s aid. People’s China in particular sent a million volunteers to fight side-by-side with the Korean People’s Army in defiance of US threats to use nuclear weapons and dealt devastating blows to the United States and its satellites. In 1953 the United States bowed to the reality of military failure and world public opinion and sued for an armistice.

In the decades that followed Kim Il Sung worked tirelessly for the peaceful reunification of Korea while creatively applying Marxism-Leninism to the concrete problems of Korean society emerging from feudalism and colonial slavery in the 20th century.

When the Korean War ended the WPK led the campaign for reconstruction. Industry was restored and expanded. Illiteracy was conquered, unemployment abolished and a comprehensive educational system established. The people began to enjoy free housing and medical treatment. By 1970 north Korea had become a socialist industrialised republic, an achievement that has made it a powerful beacon for socialism in Asia.

Kim Il Sung knew that material prosperity and ideological strength were of equal importance to the people. He called this the twin towers. Though both couldn’t advance simultaneously, when progress in one was made the other had to be advanced to catch up. This was pointed out by Stalin in the 1930s when he told Soviet shock workers, the Stakhanovites, that working people had benefited concretely from the revolution. All previous revolutions had failed but:

“Our proletarian revolution is the only revolution in the world which had the opportunity of showing the people not only the political results but also material results

” he declared.

“It is a good thing, of course, to drive out the capitalists, to drive out the landlords, to drive out the Czarist henchmen, to seize power and achieve freedom. That is very good. But unfortunately, freedom alone is not enough, by far. If there is a shortage of bread, a shortage of butter and fats, a shortage of textiles, and if housing conditions are bad, freedom will not carry you very far. It is very difficult, comrades, to live on freedom alone. In order to live well and joyously, the benefits of political freedom must be supplemented by material benefits

” Stalin said.

But Stalin’s revisionist successors abandoned the ideological tower and failed to even maintain the material benefits for the Soviet masses.

Kim Il Sung wasn’t just a Korean communist. He was a great internationalist. The leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea championed the struggle for colonial freedom, non-alignment and Third World co-operation. He pioneered the call for south-south co-operation which is now bearing fruit today in the Shanghai Cooperation Council that includes China, Russia and three former Soviet republics of Central Asia and in the increasing co-operation between the oil-rich countries of Venezuela and Iran with Cuba and other countries confronting imperialism.

Kim Il Sung, the great leader of the Korean revolution, died in 1994 but his work lives on in the WPK. His successor, Kim Jong Il told the Korean people and the world that they could

“expect no change from him

” and with Kim Jong Il at the helm, the WPK has won great victories in recent years. Natural disasters have been overcome. Diplomatic isolation has been broken and the intrigues of US imperialism have been exposed.

The Korean revolution is an inspiration to all communists and freedom-fighters throughout the world. The achievements of Democratic Korea today are based on the sacrifices of generations of Koreans in the past and the tireless work of the leadership of the Workers Party of Korea that follows in the footsteps of the great revolutionary leader Kim Il Sung. And we are confident that with Kim Jong Il and the WPK at the helm the Korean people will achieve the end of partition and the re-unification of the Korean peninsula.

Jong In Song, DPRK Embassy

I convey greetings to you all, British communists and progressives, from the Workers’ Party of Korea, and give my sincere thanks to you for participating in this celebration of the 62nd anniversary of our party.

It is said that we are an ‘isolated’ part of the Axis of Evil. We are not isolated, we have many, many international friends whose support we enjoy and with whom we have international relations.

It is said that we are ‘dictatorial’. But we believe that a socialist party must have a general staff that is well organised, strongly united and single-minded in order that we can stand firm against the capitalists and the war mongers.

The WPK is not a party like those in the capitalist world which say all sorts of things in elections, but do not deliver facilities for ordinary working people.

The WPK stands for improving all aspects of the life of our people – health, education and housing, for instance, to make a prosperous life for our people. Through discussion we reflect the will of the entire people and seek to implement their desires. Our Party has pride in the 62 years of its achievements in the spheres of socialist construction and international diplomacy.

The history of the communist movement in Korea goes back a long time. In the 1920s there were many small and divided groups who could not form a united communist party. It was through Kim Il Sung’s work organising anti-Japanese guerrillas that a new generation of communists developed. Kim Il Sung emphasised the need for thorough organisational and ideological preparation for the party, emphasising the importance of armed struggle. Study courses were organised for guerrillas, since he stressed that comrades needed to be educated continually in order to avoid political degeneration.

The WPK represents the unity of the Korean working class, the peasantry and the intellectuals. The general line of the WPK is to enhance the ideological and cultural and technical aspects of the party’s work. This can be understood by reading ‘

Historical experience of building the Workers’ Party of Korea’

by Kim Il Sung and ‘

Historical lessons in building socialism and the General Line of our Party’

by Kim Jong Il.

Two special features of our Party work at the present time relate to young people. We are pleased to say that young people in the DPRK are very keen to join our army, unlike youngsters in the US who are quite rightly refusing to join in the aggression against countries like Iraq. And secondly, our young people are also enthusiastic to become involved as members of the WPK.

We are ensuring that our Party is strengthened ideologically, that our leadership is single-minded so that we can continue to feel confident that the enormous achievements of the WPK in its 62 years of powerfully developing Korea and supporting anti-imperialist struggles across the world may continue and grow along the lines set out by Comrade Kim Il Sung and carried forward by Comrade Kim Jong Il.

Message of Congratulations

Dear Leader Comrade Kim Jong Il

This meeting convened to mark the 62nd anniversary of the foundation of the Workers’ Party of Korea conveys to you its warmest congratulations and through you sends its warmest best wishes to the Korean people.

This meeting applauds with great joy the signing on October 4 of the Declaration for the Development of North-South Relations and Peace and Prosperity. This Declaration represents a victory for the policy for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula formulated by President Kim Il Sung and carried forward and creatively developed by yourself and the Workers’ Party of Korea. It truly reflects the aspirations and the united will of the Korean people for reunification. Korea Is One!

Furthermore, your far-sighted leadership and the implacable stand of the Workers’ Party of Korea was also evident in the outcome of the Six-party Talks in which the US agreed to take such political measures as delisting the DPRK as a sponsor of terrorism and putting an end to the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act according to the principle of “action for action”.

The DPRK has the inviolable right to defend its sovereignty and independence, and develop the human and material resources to do so. It is the US military presence which has been a threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula for more than 60 years, since the division of the nation following the Second World War. It is the US that introduced nuclear weapons into the Korean Peninsula, in violation of the Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War in 1953.

The development of Songun politics under your leadership and that of the Workers’ Party of Korea is the sure weapon to defend the achievements of the Korean people and to thwart all the plans of Anglo-US imperialism to stifle and wipe out the DPRK and to achieve world domination. This meeting particularly draws attention to the ever-escalating offensive against the DPRK using the fraudulent issue of “human rights”. This offensive is designed in essence to impose by force the Anglo-American values of “human rights” based on neo-liberal globalisation, the sanctity of private property and the so-called “universal” validity of social systems based on that model.

May we wish you on this occasion good health and long life, and assure you that we stand shoulder to shoulder with you in our common cause of building a new and different world.