by Dermot Hudson
I VISITED the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for the 10th time in October at the kind invitation of the Korean Association of Social Scientists, to attend the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK). Seeing the DPRK countryside I realised that the stories about crop failure and famine are untrue. Some elements also spread false stories about "reform", "opening up" and even the "restoration of capitalism", but in the countryside you could see the Red flag proudly displayed in the collective farm fields.
Highlights of the trip included the massive military parade to celebrate the foundation of the Workers’ Party of Korea, a torchlight parade by tens of thousands of youth and a 10,000-strong gala performance on a floating stage.
I was met at the new Pyongyang Sunan International Airport by an official of the Korean Association of Social Scientists and by my guide for the trip, Ms Ri. All traces of the old Sunan Airport were replaced by a new modern airport that is spacious and bright. Many countries boast of modern airports but these are constructed with the help of foreign capital. Sunan Airport is 100 per cent Korean in construction and design, built by the soldier constructors of the Korean People’s Army in the Juché spirit. There are no HSBC, McDonald’s, Starbucks nor KFC – everything is Korean owned and managed, in stark contrast to a certain neighbouring country where the first thing you see on coming out of arrivals is a McDonald’s. Although Sunan Airport now has bigger capacity it still has a calm atmosphere and lacks the stress of Heathrow Airport. In some capitalist countries airports have been over expanded, drawing anger and protests. The DPRK has struck a balance between the need for international air travel and the need for environmental harmony.
Pyongyang was in a festive mood ready for 10th October. The red flag of the WPK, with its distinct hammer, sickle and writing brush, could be seen flying on many street corners. At the Party Foundation museum I learned that the sickle, brush and hammer are upright to symbolise the single-hearted unity of the masses, and the writing brush is higher to reflect the importance of intellectuals in society.
The DPRK is one of the few countries in the world where the Red flag flies on street corners, reflecting that the DPRK upholds the red banner of socialism, frustrating all attempts to undermine socialism as dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un said in his recently published work The Cause of the Great Party of Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Is Ever-Victorious: "We must keep a watchful eye over all sorts of moves by the enemy to undermine our socialist system from within, approach these moves with political awareness and never allow any poisonous weeds of capitalism, however trifling, to sprout in the garden of socialism."
|Dermot in Pyongyang|
DPRK unity was demonstrated by the massive military parade, civilian demonstration and torchlight procession of youths. The parade was a superb pageant, led by a column representing the anti-Japanese guerrillas and was symbolic of the continuity of the revolution down the generations. There were original tanks from the Fatherland Liberation War including tank no 312, the first tank into Seoul on the 28th of July 1950. There was an impressive display of tanks and missiles, including long-range missiles and a nuclear suicide unit, showing that if necessary the KPA under the command of Marshal Kim Jong Un can strike back at the US imperialists worldwide.
There was an aeronautical display of the WPK symbol and of the number 70, followed by a civilian demonstration of army-people unity, quite impossible in capitalist society where there is conflict between the people and the armed forces. Later I explained this conflict to my guide, in my home town there was an army barracks in the centre of town but it had to be moved into the countryside far outside town because each night the soldiers would go out, get drunk in pubs and beat up the civilians.
Kim Jong Un addressed the parade, his voice clear, strong and full of conviction: "For our country and people, 10th October is a meaningful revolutionary holiday when we celebrate the birth anniversary of the genuine vanguard of the revolution, its militant General Staff, which has taken responsibility for their destiny and leads them."
Military parades in the DPRK are different from those in former socialist countries because in the DPRK they march with vigour, enthusiasm and colourful displays. In the latter the military parades seemed gloomy. Some big powers may put on big military parades but these are just for show with no real content
In the evening there was a military torchlight youth parade followed by a colourful firework display.
The 10000-strong joint performance Great Party, Rosy Korea was performed on a floating stage on the River Taedong. It was started by schoolchildren but centred on veteran artistes of the DPRK. The famous Pochonbo and Wangjaesan bands performed classic numbers such as My Country is the Best. The history of the DPRK was represented by music and stunning choreography.
|the heart of the capital|
This anti-imperialist, anti-US spirit was demonstrated at the new Sinchon Ri museum. Sinchon Ri is where the US and local class enemies murdered 35,383 people – one quarter of the population. Can you imagine the death toll if the same thing was done in London, 2.2 million people dead. It is an understatement to say the US imperialists are as bad as Hitler’s Nazis, they were worse!
A museum was built at the site of one of the massacres not simply as a memorial to those who died but also as a centre of anti-US, anti-imperialist class education. Kim Jong Un instructed that the museum should be rebuilt, modernised and moved to the site where the massacre took place in the Chestnut valley. It is much larger than the old one, and has more detailed and graphic displays some with sound effects, showing the horrendous crimes committed by the Americans against the Koreans. The long history of US aggression against Korea goes back over 150 years.
The USA used religion as a means of creating passivity and infiltrated many missionaries into Korea to spread the worship of the US, and to recruit spies and collaborators. My eye was caught by a depiction of a Korean, a former landlord, shown helping the US imperialists. The US imperialists were the external enemy but were helped by internal class enemies like former exploiters; the two were hand in glove.
Today the reactionary exploiting class in south Korea, led by Park Geun Hye, is hand in glove with the US in their anti-DPRK moves. My guide explained that the nature of the US imperialists is unchanging. I bought an excellent booklet Sinchon Accuses the Yankee barbarians. None of the other socialist countries, former or present, carried out such thoroughgoing anti-US anti-imperialist class education, and it intends to increase it.
Visiting the Fatherland Liberation War Museum one learns that the US provoked the Korean War and also of the crushing defeat inflicted on them by the heroic Korean People’s Army, commanded by the great leader generalissimo Kim Il Sung. Also displayed outside were numerous captured US weapons including the USS Pueblo, captured on 23rd January 1968. The US asked British premier Harold Wilson to ask the USSR to ask the DPRK to hand back the ship. The DPRK refused to, though Soviets also pressured the DPRK to do so.
The International Friendship Exhibition is situated in Myohyang Mountains and the gift we presented to Kim Jong Un in 2013 is on display.
No visit to Pyongyang is complete without a visit to the amazing Pyongyang Metro. The cost of a ride on the Pyongyang Metro is approximately 0.003 pence, so it is virtually free and war veterans get completely free travel. The Pyongyang Metro is clean, free from vandalism, graffiti, capitalist advertising and dirt. I told my guide how dirty the London Underground is and she asked why they cannot keep it clean, given the high fares on the Tube. The Pyongyang Metro is very safe, the platforms are wide and each station has two "security girls" who ensure the safety of passengers. In London ticket offices are being closed and the numbers of staff reduced.
The DPRK is building many blocks of flats such as Mirae Street and handing them over to the people free of charge. This would be unthinkable in Britain where a flat on the riverside in central London costs £12,000 per calendar month to rent or up to £1 million to buy.
Thanks to my dependable and reliable guide I was able to walk about the centre of Pyongyang, which not only afforded me the opportunity of fresh air and exercise but gave me the chance to see the reality of the DPRK even more deeply than before. Some enemies of the DPRK say that visitors to the DPRK simply stay in hotels and go around in tourist buses but do not really know the country; this was untrue. I encountered busy and bustling streets full of people. In the pedestrian underpasses there were no homeless people as in capitalist countries.
There was no sign of police oppressing the people, nor heavily armed police units patrolling the streets. Travelling through the countryside to places such as Sinchon, Mt Myohyang and Nampo there was no sign of the "forced labour and concentration camps" that the imperialists claim exist in the DPRK; I saw no barbed wire anywhere in the DPRK countryside. The "human rights" propaganda of the imperialists and the stories spread by defectors are completely false.
The DPRK boasts excellent leisure and recreational facilities, which are either non-existent or very expensive in London. The famous Munsu Water Park is incredibly big with indoor and outside facilities such as slides, a wave machine, hairdressers and an excellent coffee bar.
I had the privilege of meeting the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front of south Korea (AINDF), the vanguard revolutionaries of south Korea. I saw a video about US/south Korean moves to tear up recent inter-Korean agreements and provoke war; also a video concerning the attempt to revise history books in south Korea so as to embellish both Japan's occupation of south Korea and the Park Chung Hee military fascist regime, and also the struggle of the south Korean people against such a revision.
In discussions with the AINDF I noted that Park Geun Hye styles herself on Thatcher but in reality Thatcher was a leader hated by many British; when she died many came out on the streets to celebrate. The same will happen to Park Geun Hye and her fate will be the same as her father's. It was a great visit. I was disappointed to depart the land of Juché Korea to return to the capitalist world where everything seems so depressing and miserable.