Thursday, 7 October 2010

Workers' Party of Korea


Next Sunday represents the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea by Kim Il Sung. To many people who do not know much or are badly misinformed about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), this event might not mean much. Millions of DPRK citizens and their friends will, however, be celebrating this event.

Sadly, a reading of countless articles penned by many Western journalists about the DPRK suggests that such individuals have either never had any friends living in that country or they have never really bothered to take a good look at that part of the world often referred to as "North Korea". It could be that since those journalists have grown up in capitalist societies, they could find it quite hard to understand a society that tries to choose a different road. A socialist pathway leading to communism.

One of the things many people fail to understand about the DPRK is the organisation of society as a family. In such a society, the country's leader is regarded as a father and the Workers' Party of Korea is normally referred to as the "mother party". Indeed, in an article entitled "Mother Party" published in the magazine Korea Today, Ri Kyong Hui said that "The WPK takes responsibility and care for the people's destiny" (10, Juche 97 [2008], p. 2). The same article adds that "The DPRK government effected the universal free medical care system, when it was at war with the United States - a sure sign of its sense of responsibility for the people's health. The following universal free education system introduced in the late 1950s realized the hope of the people to study to their hearts' content free of charge. In 1974 the taxation system was abolished, and they have lived happily in the houses which the state allocated to them free, and they have no idea of the word of 'tax'" (p. 3).

More light could be shed on how life in the DPRK is organised by reading Kim Jong Il's works. In Socialism Is A Science (1994), he wrote "In our country, everyone regards and supports the leader as they would their own father. They trust and follow the Party, regarding its embrace as that of their own mother. The leader, the Party and the people form one socio-political organism, and share the same destiny. The whole of society overflows with communist morality. For instance, one devotes one's own life without hesitation to save one's revolutionary comrade from danger, and young men and women become life companions of honourably disabled soldiers and take warm care of orphans and old people without support, as they would their own relations. This is a proud result of the benevolent politics of our Party" (p. 31).

There are many other stories that reveal the care exhibited by the WPK. The aforementioned issue of Korea Today included an interesting article by Professor Kang Yong Ho, a researcher at the Kim Chaek University of Technology. This researcher spent the first few years of his life in Japan. Sometime around 1960, he was able to move to the DPRK with his wife and daughter. He wrote that "The day after our arrival home, an official sent for me. At the first glance he looked like a good man. He gave me two sheets of paper. One was a certificate of my appointment as a researcher of the Academy of Sciences, and the other was a certificate of my ownership of a good dwelling house. I looked at the official dubiously, and he said: 'Now you will be able to realize your hope to your heart's content under the embrace of the Workers' Party of Korea. You work as best as you can. And if you have any problem in your life and work, you may call on me at any time'" (p. 9).

In many other countries, millions of people do not feel that there is an organisation such as the WPK that acts as a mother to them. Instead of being made to feel important and part of a community, countless individuals in such countries are often left to fend for themselves. The lack of care and concern shown for millions of human beings is easily seen when one walks through various cities and counts the number of homeless people living in the streets. I still clearly remember how horrible it felt to walk through a part of Madrid littered with people sleeping on carton boxes during the winter season. No genuinely caring government should ever accept to have any of its citizens living without a decent roof over their head!

It is also important to remember that the WPK is doing its utmost to continue improving the standard of living of the people in the DPRK in spite of the many sanctions that are intended at sabotaging the socialist society chosen by millions of Koreans. United with their leader and guided by the WPK, the popular masses have resisted the attempts of various governments to replace socialism with neoliberalism.

Hopefully, the points mentioned above will be taken into consideration before another article is written by a Western journalist about the DPRK. By doing so, the readers would be able to obtain a better understanding of life in the DPRK.


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2 comments:

Robert Zammit said...

Interesting blog - keep it up. I also knew a Western person who spent some time in North Korea. Perhaps contrary to the journalists you refer to, she lived there for a year.

She would probably disagree with you on 'the care exhibited by the WPK'. Sixty-five years on from the WPK's founding, North Koreans have gotten poorer, not richer. She suggests that around 20 per cent of the population is permanently hungry.

She would know - she pretty much managed the World Food Programme's work there, the largest humanitarian assistance programme in the world.

Red said...

Hi Robert! Thanks a lot for your nice words and for your input.

With reference to various Western perceptions regarding the DPRK, these are often made without adding a number of extremely important details. The person you mentioned suggested that "around 20 per cent of the population is permanently hungry". Apart from wondering about how she obtained such a statistic, you do not mention the fact that the DPRK is the most heavily-sanctioned country in the world. Even a government with the best of intentions cannot fail to be hit by the countless sanctions that have been heaped against the DPRK during the past 40 years or so.

Furthermore, the publications of the DPRK government clearly show the party's commitment to improve the standard of living of all the citizens of the DPRK. The same level of commitment cannot be witnessed in many other countries around the world.

When I look at poverty statistics, I am very perplexed to see that a place like the US (one of the world's most powerful economies) has millions of citizens suffering from "food insecurity". If you do not believe me, please take a look at the following website: http://feedingamerica.org/ And this is a country that is no target of several economic sanctions aimed at strangling the country!