- by Graham Holton
- The Guardian
- Issue #2070
Parade on the Kim Il Sung Square. Photo: www.j-pics.info – flickr.com (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
On 9th September the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) celebrated 75 years since its founding under Kim Il Sung, the general secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party. At Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square, General Secretary Kim Jong Un and his young daughter watched the military parade, waving to the massive jubilant crowd below. A Russian military song-and-dance ensemble and officials from Beijing were in attendance.
The Soviet Union was the first country to recognise the DPRK. Russian President Vladimir Putin said their countries would “continue to strengthen bilateral ties on all fronts,” a relationship based “on the principles of friendship, good neighbourliness and mutual respect.” Putin sent a letter to Kim announcing the expansion of bilateral ties, ensuring security and stability in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia. Kim has since traveled to Vladivostok, Russia to discuss the war in Ukraine.
President Xi Jinping extended China’s congratulations to Kim Jong Un and sent a letter expressing his willingness to strengthen strategic communication and working-level cooperation. A Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu Guozhong of the Politburo of the CPC (Communist Party of China) attended the parade to meet with Kim. China opposes the planned UN Security Council meeting on alleged human rights abuses in the DPRK, as it will only “intensify confrontation and antagonism.” North Korea has repeatedly rejected accusations of abuses and blames sanctions for its dire humanitarian situation.
In July, Li Hongzhong, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, visited the DPRK and handed a letter from Xi. The Chinese People’s Volunteers, together with the people and army of DPRK, achieved a great victory during the Korean War in resisting US aggression and aiding the DPRK, forging a great friendship bound by blood.
In 1910 Japan annexed the Korean peninsula, with the Koreans suffering 35 years of brutal treatment and massacres. After World War II the US divided the Korean Peninsula along the 38th Parallel, with the US supporting the ROK (Republic of Korea). In 1949 Kim Il Sung became party chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea. During the Korean War (1950 to 1953) the US bombed every town and city in the country.
After the US imposed a near total economic embargo in June 1950, Juche or self-reliance, was introduced during the first Three Year Plan (1954–1956). It was followed by the first Five Year Plan (1957-1961), consolidating agricultural collectivization and building a thriving industrialised socialist economy. In 1960 Che Guevara, Cuba’s government minister, visited the DPRK, proclaiming it a model for Cuba to follow. The DPRK government assisted African nations fighting for their independence from European colonial powers, an act which is still acknowledged gratefully by those nations’ leaders.
After the DPRK’s first nuclear test in 2006, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1718, allowing the US Department of Commerce to prohibit the export of military dual-use and missile-related technology to the DPRK. US economic assistance, other than purely humanitarian assistance, was prohibited. DPRK assets in other countries remain largely frozen.
In 2017, the DPRK tested the Hwasong-15, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of striking the USA. The UN implemented resolutions limiting crude oil and refined petroleum product imports to 500,000 barrels per year; banned the export of food, machinery and electrical equipment; stopped its employment of foreign IT personnel; forbade all exports of coal, iron, lead, seafood, and textiles; and banned corporate joint ventures. The resolution authorised UN member states to seize and inspect any vessel found to be illicitly providing oil, or other prohibited products, to the DPRK.
Having witnessed what the US did to Iraq, Libya, and Syria, countries which did not possess nuclear weapons, the DPRK strives for an effective nuclear defence to prevent a US and ROK invasion. Recently Pyongyang announced it had a submarine capable of launching nuclear weapons. According to the BBC, it is a Soviet-era Romeo-class submarine modified to carry shorter-range submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) that would be able to strike Guam or Alaska following a US attack.
Although an armistice was signed in 1953, there has never been a peace treaty. Australia is technically still at war with the DPRK. Australia has imposed sanctions on the DPRK since August 2017. The Australian Defence Force periodically deploys ships and aircraft, through Operation Argos, to enforce its sanctions outside the DPRK’s territorial waters.
Australia must take a leading stand and remove its sanctions and allow the DPRK to re-open its embassy in Canberra.