The founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea celebrated

At the beginning of October 2005 two functions were held in London under the auspices of the Preparatory Committee for the Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), a Committee embracing several progressive and democratic organisations which support the Korean cause. Both meetings, one held in Saklatvala Hall, Southall, on 8 October and the other at Marx Memorial Library on 10 October were an unqualified success, addressed as they were by informative and interesting speakers. At the Southall meeting there was also a cultural programme, while at Marx Memorial Library a most interesting film was also shown documenting the victorious struggles of the Korean people in the early days after the formation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

For reasons of space we cannot reproduce all the speeches, so we have chosen that of Comrade Thae Yong Ho of the Korean embassy in London for the especially insightful explanations it gives of DPRK foreign policy, and that of Comrade Ella Rule, International Secretary of the CPGB-ML, who spoke specifically about the founding and leading role of the WPK. We would nevertheless like to mention that excellent speeches were also given by Comrade Michael Chant of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Comrade Dermot Hudson on behalf of the Society for Friendship with Korea and Comrade Zane Carpenter on behalf of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). A contribution to the Southall meeting was received from the New Communist Party and read out on their behalf, along with an expression of support from Robert Griffiths, Gen Sec Communist Party of Britain, and a brief message from Mary Rosser and Mike Hicks in a personal capacity.

Speech of Comrade Thae Yong Ho of the Korean Embassy in London

Comrades and friends, I would like to express my sincere thanks on behalf of the Embassy of the DPRK in London to all comrades and friends who came here today to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Workers Party of Korea.

I will present the most significant moments of the struggle of the WPK in honour of the anniversary of our Party. Throughout the 60 years of our history we have been continuing the struggle against imperialism, headed by the United States…

After the collapse of Japanese rule in Korea, the communists had to find a way to lead the country to victory. At that time Comrade Kim Il Sung said that in order to look after the people of Korea, the land should be redistributed. That was a most important aim for the WPK from the first day of its inception. At the time of the liberation of Korea, property still belonged to a handful of the ruling class. Since the Japanese did not allow the masses of Korean people to have education, the masses, mainly peasants, in Korea did not understand what it was to be a communist.

Kim Il Sung told the people that the purpose of the WPK was to give equal rights to everybody, to redistribute the land to the peasants. A few months after liberation in 1946, we waged land reform. We confiscated land from the handful of the ruling class and redistributed it to the peasants of my country. That was the first example in Asian history, the first case that showed to the majority of the people that the land can be easily distributed to the working people. … It had a great historical impact on Asia. In China, in March 1946, the Communist Party of China had around an 800,000-strong military force, while the Kuomintang had 3.5 million. However, when Chinese peasants heard about land reform in the DPRK they far more easily understood what communism was. Many soldiers in the Kuomintang began to see that there was no point in fighting against the communists, there was no cause to fight against communism, they lost the will to fight.

The historical impact of land reform in Asia proved that communism could bring advantages to the masses of working people. With the success of the Chinese revolution, along with that of the DPRK, the American ruling class decided that they could not allow these social reforms to continue in Asia. This is the reason that the Korean War broke out. The Americans tried to stop the social reforms taking place in Asia, but they failed.

… After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Americans argued that ‘socialism is dead’, the days of the DPRK are numbered – but they were wrong. America used every way – political, diplomatic, economic, military – in order to subjugate the DPRK. They blockaded the DPRK commercially from the international world trade arena. They created a lot of economic difficulties in the life of the DPRK. However, the WPK still continued with its distribution of free medical care, education, housing etc. The Americans have become very frustrated, but the WPK is determined to maintain its social welfare system.

We are also struggling against the domination of the world by America – the nuclear issue is just one aspect of their policy. Everyone present here would agree that humanity should get rid of nuclear weapons. However, nuclear disarmament should be carried out in a total way and in a non-discriminatory way – every country should be equal as far as nuclear disarmament is concerned. But the question is: which direction is the world going? There is an international agreement called the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The two elements of this NPT which are to be agreed by nuclear and non-nuclear powers are, first, that nuclear countries like United States, Britain, France, Russia and China should not use their nuclear weapons to intimidate non-nuclear powers; the second element is that the nuclear-weapon powers should move towards dismantling their nuclear weapons (that is the main element of NPT).

But what happened after third world countries began acquiring nuclear weapons? The United States now not only refuses to dismantle its nuclear weapons, but is also reluctant to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In other words they want to continue to modernise their nuclear weapons, to increase their nuclear partners and, furthermore, they want to change their nuclear doctrine to the ‘pre-emptive strike’ doctrine. Now even that is further changing. Now America wants its military personnel in the field to have the right to use nuclear weapons with the approval of the President. They want to increase the scope of the use of nuclear weapons not only for pre-emptive strikes against countries with alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction, but also to speed up the ‘end’ of the war!! This means that if there is a war against Iran, or wherever, they can use nuclear weapons to ‘end’ this war, which is a very dangerous situation for the world, but which is a policy that America is supporting.

America also has double standards on the nuclear issue. While silent about the nuclear weapons of Israel, as it was in the past about those of South Africa, America is arguing about the nuclear weapons of the DPRK. The WPK knows that only power and strength can be understood by America. Americans do not accept reason, they only accept the truth of power and strength. The goal of the WPK is not the possession of nuclear weapons. The goal of the WPK is to de-nuclearise the Korean peninsula, but we cannot achieve this de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula by reasoning with the Americans because they do not listen. At last at the 6-Party Talks on 19 September America accepted the terms of the de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula for which the WPK has been fighting for decades. Even after the Joint Statement was issued, America started disputing the Statement. We know from the past that America will only move when the DRPK dismantles first – but we will not accept that kind of argument. We want to take steps simultaneously with the Americans. If the Americans are serious about the de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, first, they should withdraw their nuclear weapons from south Korea, second, they should keep and deliver the security guarantee of the DPRK, and third, America should deliver Light Water Reactors (as agreed in 1994) in return for us dismantling our nuclear industry. … I am sure that the WPK will not give up its principles and will continue to fight against the aggressive policy of world imperialism headed by the United States.

Speech of Ella Rule

The Workers’ Party of Korea, then known as the Communist Party of North Korea, held its inaugural Party Congress in Pyongyang from 10-13 October 1945, at a time when the southern half of their country had already been occupied by US imperialism, taking the place of Japanese imperialism which had been defeated in the Second World War and forced by the Korean liberation forces to leave the peninsula.

The founding of a Communist Party to serve the Korean revolution, to ensure that the working class and the masses of the people of at least North Korea were able to enjoy their hard-won freedom, and to build an economy that served their interests, ensuring their wellbeing in every respect, was a momentous event.

This can be hard for ordinary people in Britain to understand. They have experience only of parties who serve the interests of the exploiting class, to whose thirst for profit our entire economy is subjugated. We can choose between such parties in elections, expressing our preference for higher taxes and better services as against lower taxes and lower services. In the end the government we elect usually delivers higher taxes and lower services for the poor. Governments have greater or lesser competence in serving capitalism – nobody seeks to serve the interests of the vast masses of working people. Under capitalism the masses can in a bourgeois democratic system gain concessions when the exploiting class is doing well and amassing huge profits, especially at the expense of the people of the super-exploited countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. But competition amongst the exploiters brings about lower profits, and the working class is then subjected to wage cuts, cuts in services, deterioration in pensions, demands for longer hours of work and longer years of service. Very often to the extent that a party is offering some benefit in order to get itself elected into power, if after its election it grants that benefit at all, it is on the basis of robbing Peter to pay Paul – cut spending on health to improve education or vice versa. It is hardly surprising that the masses in Britain are cynical on the subject of political parties and completely mystified as to why anyone would want to celebrate the founding of a political party.

The Communist Party, however, is not a political party like the ones we are used to. It does not serve the capitalist class, it serves the working class exclusively. That being so, it differs fundamentally from bourgeois parties. For a start bourgeois parties exist only to maintain the status quo of bourgeois rule – rule by those who run our economy for the purpose of profit. To keep things as they are, it is sufficient for them to encourage ignorance and prejudice, passivity and self indulgence and generally to persuade people there is no point in making an effort to change society, when in fact things are already as good as they get, or alternatively that reforms can be gained by writing to one’s MP. Proletarian parties – parties which serve the interests of the working class – on the other hand can only exist by persuading people to act, by opening their eyes to the truth and to discard the prejudice and ignorance that has made them biddable subjects of capitalism. The members of such a party must have knowledge, experience, understanding of politics, they must know the history of the working class movement and have learnt the lessons that have emerged from those experiences. In addition they must have personal qualities of courage and self sacrifice. The role of the party is to act as the general staff of the revolution, leading the masses of people to make revolution themselves, to build a better life for themselves thereafter and to safeguard the revolution against all those who would seek to reverse it. These tasks are not simple at all. But when the working class has such a Party serving its interests, then it has every reason to be optimistic that in the struggle against the forces of reaction the working class will emerge victorious, leading to a better and brighter life for everybody and in the long run to an end to world poverty, war and the environmental threat to our planet.

In Korea the Party was not officially formed until after the victory against Japanese imperialism and the liberation of Korea. At that time, Comrade Kim Il Sung stressed the need to take advantage of the favourable conditions to form a Communist Party to serve the masses as soon as possible in order to assist the masses in fulfilling the pressing tasks facing the country at that time. By 17 December 17, when reporting to the Third Enlarged Executive Committee Meeting of the North Korean Organising Committee of the Communist Party of Korea, he was able to say that “In the three months following liberation, the Communist Party did no small job in the way of organisational work. …[It] grew rapidly and now has 4,350 members in its ranks.

“Provincial, city and county Party committees have been organised and Party cells have been formed in many districts. The Communist Party has five publications now. So, Party members have a basically correct understanding of the present political situation in north Korea. …”

Thus it will be seen that the Party was quite small, yet it had mammoth tasks to undertake in the immediate future:

These tasks were:

– After more than 50 years of Japanese occupation and suppression of Korean national life and independence, to build a Democratic People’s Republic that would guarantee the Korean people complete sovereignty and independence. This required the formation of a Democratic National United Front to embrace parties and organisations representing patriotic classes and sections of Korean society other than the working class – the latter at that time being only a minority of the population. Sections excluded from the Democratic National United Front were the feudal aristocracy who had maintained their lives of privilege at the expense of the peasant masses only by relying on the protection of Japanese imperialism, and the comprador bourgeoisie who had grown rich by facilitating Japanese exploitation of the Korean people.

– To safeguard Korean independence and sovereignty against all enemies.

– To organise people’s committees (i.e., committees of workers, peasants and intellectuals) in each locality to carry out democratic reforms (the dismantling of feudal structures and their replacement by democratic organs), while working to increase the standard of living of people everywhere.

– To build up the Party as well as the democratic organisations, involving more and more people in their work. This involves not just enrolling more people but also training them to work effectively and competently. As Comrade Kim Il Sung said:

– The finest of the toiling people in urban and rural areas, particularly the advanced workers, should be drawn into Party ranks.

– Party cells should be formed in the factories and enterprises and should be strengthened organisationally.”

But also: “the Party bodies should direct special attention to the training, assignment and education of Party cadres, and organise Party schools and short courses to train them at provincial, city, county and myon levels.” This is because it is not enough for a Communist Party to be a large party, it must above all be a party of people with advanced knowledge and understanding, able to offer meaningful guidance to the masses of the people in their building of the new society.

If you consider the state of Korea as it emerged from years of Japanese oppression, with a high percentage of the population illiterate and suffering from poor health, with the economy still organised on feudal lines, you can see that the task was positively Herculean.

But the working class is all-powerful. What millions of working-class people can achieve, in alliance with millions of peasants freed from the bonds of age-old oppression, provided they have the leadership of an effective Communist Party is nothing short of miraculous. And this is what the Korean people did achieve.

To do this, it was necessary for Korea’s fledgling Communist Party to build links with the masses, for it is the masses who make the revolution and the masses who maintain it. Comrade Kim Il Sung said in the same speech:

“…If we do not continually strengthen our ties with the masses, if we do not lend an ear to the voices of the masses, teach them, and, in addition, learn from them, the Communist Party, a working-class party, will not be able to become a truly mass party, competent to lead the entire working people.

“If a party always approaches the broad working masses and maintains close ties with them, that party will be ever-victorious. In contrast, if a party is isolated from the masses and falls captive to bureaucracy, that party will become impotent and ruined.” He urged party bodies to carry out organisational and educational work properly among the masses, with leading functionaries visiting factories, enterprises, coal mines and farm villages. This is essential “to tackle the immediate tasks arising in all spheres of political and economic life in north Korea, such as rehabilitating production enterprises, putting railway transport in order and securing voluntary deliveries of farm produce.”

These achievements were brought about by the Korean people themselves. Using the concept of Juche, the Workers’ Party of Korea brought home to the millions of ordinary people that they are their own liberators. There is no point sitting around waiting for someone else to solve society’s problems. You must become an active participant in that process, and it is the duty of the Communist Party to help people to do that. It is after all not the Communist Party which makes revolution or safeguards socialism. The Communist Party only embraces a minority of the population. It is the people themselves who make revolution, and they do so with the assistance and guidance of the Communist Party which acts as the general staff, provides scientific guidance so that counterproductive spontaneous responses to situations can be replaced by responses which will in fact bring about the desired results, provides training and organisation to meet the complex tasks of the moment.

We congratulate the WPK on the 60th anniversary of its foundation, and on the 60 glorious years in which it has, under the leadership first of Kim Il Sung and now of Kim Jong Il, been able most honourably to fulfil its role.

We wish it to continue to go from strength to strength, to lead the Korean people to the reunification of their country, and to be a beacon to the progressive people all over the world in their struggle to overthrow reaction in order to be able to build a new and just society.