Normalize Relations with DPRK
Hands Off Korea!
Voice of Revolution rejects the U.S. barrage of war propaganda against the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Korean nation as a whole. We call on all Americans to reject the war hysteria being fomented and instead stand for peace. This means joining the fight for peaceful reunification of Korea, first and foremost by getting all U.S. Troops Out of Korea Now!
The U.S. has occupied Korea since the end of WWII and made every effort to keep Korea divided, including building a wall dividing the country. It has imposed and protected reactionary puppet regimes in south Korea that do the bidding of the U.S. while suppressing resistance and blocking the aspirations of Koreans for reunification.
It is the U.S. that is now once again threatening to drown Korea in blood, including threatening first-strike use of nuclear weapons. How does this serve to defend Korea? What peaceful aim do almost 30,000 occupation troops and about 100 bases serve? Like the current wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. aim is to keep Korea divided so as to strengthen its ability to encircle China and keep Japan in check. It is U.S. empire-building and world domination being defended.
The U.S. is also using their monopoly media and the UN Security Council in an attempt to impose their chauvinist outlook that only the imperialists can provide international security and determine the course of world affairs through force of arms and economic domination. Everyone else must submit as conquered peoples. To impose this chauvinism, the U.S. and its allies are attempting to make the DPRK the issue and portray it as the aggressor.
The DPRK has invaded no one and threatened no one. It has no troops outside its borders. It has agreed to join in making the region a nuclear-free zone — something the U.S. rejects. The DPRK has acted to defend its sovereignty and its right to defend itself against the U.S., a power occupying half the country and with the largest nuclear arsenal. It is the U.S. that has a policy of first-strike use of nuclear weapons and that has repeatedly branded the DPRK as a target for such a nuclear strike. It is doing so again. It is attempting to whip up hysteria so as to justify its own occupation, aggression and possibly another invasion.
The U.S. is the hostile and dangerous force in the region. Following WWII it occupied Korea and when the Koreans as one mobilized to eliminate the occupation, the U.S. instigated a civil war and then invaded the country. The brutal Korean War from 1950-53 was characterized by carpet-bombing that leveled the north, civilian massacres, use of napalm and other chemical weapons. The justification then, just like the justification for invading Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan, were lies about “threats” from the Koreans themselves. One way to cut through these lies is to consider: During the U.S. Civil War, had the British drawn a line dividing the country north and south and then invaded to defend the south, would anyone consider those in the north opposing such an invasion the aggressors? Would they not be supported and hailed as defenders of the country? This indeed has been and remains the role of the DPRK, as a bulwark against U.S. domination and empire building. It has stood to defend itself and oppose U.S. efforts to dominate Asia and the world. This is a contribution to peace.
The hostile policy of the U.S. since WWII, which includes the criminal U.S. embargo against the DPRK in place since 1951, innumerable acts of espionage and aggression, including the stationing of nuclear weapons in south Korea and constant refusal to sign a peace treaty and normalize relations with the DPRK. In the current situation, contrary to the slanders being spread by the U.S., the DPRK is not in violation of any agreements it is a party to in regard to the May 25 nuclear test nor for that matter the April 5 satellite launch. The U.S. attempts to isolate and smear the DPRK as a “nuclear threat” serve U.S. plans for war.
President Barack Obama has said, “Where we can resolve issues through negotiations and diplomacy, we should.” Such a path should be followed. Obama’s own envoy to the region has said direct negotiations between the U.S. and DPRK are needed. The U.S. must take the step to establish diplomatic relations with the DPRK and normalize relations. It needs to sign a peace treaty and assist the Koreans in achieving peaceful reunification and determining their own affairs by withdrawing its troop. This can readily be done based on U.S. initiative and would contribute to peace and security.
Americans are standing to reject U.S. occupation and aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan and must do the same for Korea. A united and independent Korea stands against U.S. empire building while contributing to world peace.
Bring All U.S. Troops Home Now!
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released the following report on May 25 following the underground nuclear test carried out by the DPRK:
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defense in every way as requested by its scientists and technicians.
“The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology of its control and the results of the test helped satisfactorily settle the scientific and technological problems arising in further increasing the power of nuclear weapons and steadily developing nuclear technology.
“The successful nuclear test is greatly inspiring the army and people of the DPRK all out in the 150-day campaign, intensifying the drive for effecting a new revolutionary surge to open the gate to a thriving nation.
“The test will contribute to defending the sovereignty of the country and the nation and socialism and ensuring peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and the region around it with the might of Songun.” (Songun policy is the primacy of the military in the DPRK’s affairs of state.)
In related news, a meeting of Pyongyang residents was held at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium on May 26 to celebrate the second successful nuclear test.
Attending it were Workers’ Party of Korea, army and state officials, working people’s organizations, ministries and national institutions, officials of organs and enterprises in the city, persons of merit and citizens from different circles.
Choe Thae Bok, alternate member of the Political Bureau and secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, in a speech said that the nuclear test was a grand undertaking to protect the supreme interests of the DPRK and defend the dignity and sovereignty of the country and nation in the face of the U.S. imperialists’ unabated threat to mount a preemptive nuclear attack, and impose sanctions and pressure on the DPRK.
Through the successful nuclear test, the army and people of the DPRK are defending the destiny of the country and the nation and socialism. They are opening a great heyday of prosperity unprecedented in a history spanning 5,000 years and demonstrating the dignity and strength of the nation. He added that the successful nuclear test powerfully encourages the servicepersons and people of the DPRK to go all out in the 150- day campaign, effecting a new revolutionary surge to open the gate to a great prosperous and powerful nation. It will contribute to defending the sovereignty of the country and nation and socialism and ensuring peace and security in the Korean Peninsula and the region with the might of Songun.
The situation of the country is growing tenser as the days go by owing to the vicious hostile policy toward the DPRK pursued by the U.S. imperialists and the Japanese reactionaries and their lackeys the south Korean conservative forces. But the army and the people of the DPRK with the strong nuclear deterrent for self-defense will make steady advance along the road of independence, the road of Songun full of the faith and optimism without the slightest vacillation, he said.
Representatives of the Korean People’s Army, scientists, workers and agricultural workers also made speeches at the meeting. They called on all the party members and other working people to work hard to effect a new great revolutionary surge by giving full play to the potentials built up in the crucible of the Songun revolution and thus open the gate to a thriving nation in 2012, the centenary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) issued a statement May 27 regarding south Korea’s May 26 announcement of its full participation in the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) as its 95th member. The PSI was established by the U.S. as part of its global war on terror, to impose a “a more dynamic, active approach” to stopping and seizing ships and planes carrying anything that the U.S. considers “banned” weapons and weapons technology and related materials. It is well known that many medical, agricultural and nuclear energy related materials have duel uses, but would be considered part of such a “ban.” The PSI is also designed to specifically circumvent existing international maritime law that forbids such arbitrary seizures. The U.S. has been putting great pressure on the south Korean government to join the PSI but no previous government agreed to do so. The participation now of the ROK in the initiative reveals the extent of U.S. interference and its efforts to enflame the current situation by opening the door to efforts by the U.S. to stop ships and planes of the DPRK, or those of other countries carrying goods from the DPRK. It is also the case that the U.S. still commands the south Korean military.
News agencies report that the DPRK condemned south Korea’s decision via its military mission to the joint security area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), pointing out that the PSI is a breach of the 1953 Armistice Agreement, which forbids naval blockades.
“If the armistice agreement is terminated, the Korean peninsula in terms of law is bound to return to the state of war and our revolutionary forces will get to move on to pertinent military actions,” the mission said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
“Any trivial attempts, including the act of interdicting and inspecting our peaceful ships, will be acknowledged as an unacceptable violation of the sovereignty of our republic, and we will respond with an immediate and strong military strike,” said the statement.
“The U.S. imperialists and the traitor Lee Myung-Bak’s group [of south Korea] have driven the situation on the Korean peninsula into a state of war,” the statement added.
The armistice, which brought the Korean War to an end and formalized the division of Korea, was signed by leaders of UN forces, the Korean People’s Army and the volunteer forces of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. South Korea is not a signatory.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on May 28 said that the situation had not yet reached crisis levels and there had been no unusual moves by the north Korean military since the nuclear test was carried out. Even so, the U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Command raised its alert level from stage three to two on May 28. A stage two level is the highest since the DPRK’s first nuclear test in 2006. The U.S. had Seoul move a 3,500-ton destroyer into waters near a disputed western maritime border. The south Korean defense ministry said the U.S. and South Korean militaries would increase surveillance activities and moved high-speed vessels closer to the maritime border with the DPRK.
General George Casey, the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff also said May 28 that the U.S. was ready to fight a conventional war against north Korea’s million-strong military and could be deployed rapidly if necessary, despite already being engaged in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He added that the war “might not be the old-style land war” that U.S. forces stationed in south Korea were envisioned to fight, implying that the U.S. was ready to use its nuclear and chemical weapons.
Gates ruled out talks between the U.S. and DPRK, saying they are “not the way to go.” Neither Casey, Gates nor President Barack Obama have renounced stated U.S. policy to use a first-strike nuclear attack against the DPRK. All of these U.S. actions are designed to further inflame the situation, not contribute to peace.
In related news, the UN Security Council on May 25 unanimously condemned the DPRK’s recent nuclear test, saying it was a “clear violation” of a council resolution passed in 2006 after the DPRK’s first atomic test, news agencies report. “The members of the Security Council voiced their strong opposition to and condemnation of the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 25 May 2009, which constitutes a clear violation of resolution 1718,” the council’s statement said. It added that council members “have decided to start work immediately on a Security Council resolution on this matter.”
On May 26 diplomats at the UN Security Council continued talks, but said they would need time to agree on a new resolution for further sanctions. According to U.S. envoy to the UN Susan Rice, members wanted a “strong resolution with teeth,” and that sanctions “could take very different forms” and might include “economic levers.” Al Jazeera reported, “The international community, including the north’s main ally China, has strongly condemned the latest nuclear test but it is unclear how far China and Russia, two of the council’s five permanent members, would go.” Al Jazeera added that in April, both Russia and China had blocked a new resolution against the DPRK following its satellite launch.
The Australian notes:
“The ‘permanent five’ of the UN Security Council [U.S., Britain, China, France and Russia] plus Japan and south Korea, were reportedly moving steadily towards a condemnation of the north’s breach of Resolution 1718 forbidding another nuclear test after the first, in October 2006.” The U.S. and Japan are drafting the resolution. The report continues “The U.S. and Japanese delegations appeared to be confident of finding wording acceptable to China, the North’s only big-power ally, and Russia, which holds the Security Council’s rotating chairmanship.
“However, [Thursday] evening no draft resolution had been circulated to the 15 members, though the diplomats involved indicated the U.S. hoped to have a resolution passed by [Friday].” This now appears unlikely as diplomats emerging from Thursday’s meeting again said more time was needed.
According to news reports, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador, said there was wide agreement on what a new resolution should include, but cautioned that getting agreement would take time. John Sawers, the British ambassador, echoed that view, telling reporters after the meeting that “we need some time” as “this is quite a complicated discussion.” There was no word on whether China, seen as north Korea’s ally, would back the resolution. Yukio Takasu, the ambassador for Japan, would only say “China understands the seriousness of the situation.”
In response to council deliberations to implement new sanctions Minju Joson, organ of the DPRK cabinet, wrote:
“It is a ludicrous idea for the U.S. to think that it can defeat us by sanctions. We have been living under U.S. sanctions for decades. The U.S. hostile policy towards us is like beating a rock with a rotten egg.”
(Sources: Xinhua, Al Jazeera, The Australian, Reuters, TML)
South Korea's Full Participation in PSI is a Declaration of War Against the DPRK
Coming under U.S. pressure, the south Korean government of Lee Myung Bak declared that it would fully participate in the U.S.-organized Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The PSI calls for stopping and boarding ships at sea based simply on “suspicion” that it “might” carry nuclear weapons or related materials. The action was taken despite the broad opposition of all Koreans and public opinion at home and abroad.
The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea issued a statement on May 27 condemning the south Korean government’s action. It said:
The so-called PSI is a mechanism for a war of aggression built by the U.S. against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) under the pretext of intercepting and blockading ships and planes, etc. suspicious of transporting weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons and missiles. The PSI has been criticized and repudiated at home and abroad for its aggressive nature and illegality.
Moreover, full participation in the PSI by one side on the Korean Peninsula where the state of military confrontation is growing acute and there is constant danger of military conflict itself means igniting a war.
The DPRK, therefore, has already seriously warned the south Korean authorities against this move and repeatedly clarified its stand that it would strongly counter such actions by the Lee group, in particular, regarding them as a declaration of a war. Such action means submitting to its American master's policy. Nevertheless, the Lee group openly took this step of fully participating in the PSI, which former regimes dared not do, bringing the situation on the Korean Peninsula and inter-Korean relations past the danger line of a war.
It is preposterous for the Lee group to have opted to fully participate in the PSI under the pretext of the underground nuclear test of the DPRK for self-defense. There is nothing strange and it is quite natural for a nuclear weapons state to conduct a nuclear test. The anti-DPRK racket kicked up by the U.S. and its followers under this pretext is not actually aimed at nuclear non-proliferation but is prompted instead by their black-hearted intention to stifle the DPRK.
Now that the south Korean puppets were so ridiculous as to join in this racket and dare declare a war against compatriots through their full participation in the PSI, the DPRK is compelled to take a decisive measure, as it has already warned. The DPRK solemnly declares as follows given the prevailing situation:
First, The DPRK will deal a decisive and merciless retaliatory blow, no matter from which place, at any attempt to stop, check and inspect its vessels, regarding it as a violation of its inviolable sovereignty and territory and a grave provocation to it.
Second, The DPRK will take such practical counter-action as in wartime conditions, now that the south Korean authorities have declared war in wanton violation of its dignity and sovereignty by fully participating in the PSI.
The DPRK will never pardon the south Korean puppet group of traitors for going mad with confrontation and war, bereft of any reason, as servants of outside forces and their moves for a war of aggression. The Lee Myung Bak group will be held wholly accountable for the disastrous consequences to be entailed by its reckless hostile acts against the DPRK.
The Korean Central News Agency carried an item from Rodong Sinmun on May 14, denouncing the Barack Obama administration for continuing the U.S. policy of interfering in the internal affairs of the Korean nation. The article stated:
The U.S. administration, since coming to power, has boosted cooperation with the south Korean conservative authorities in confrontation with the DPRK This has further disrupted inter-Korean relations and stands in the way of the cause of Korean reunification. The actions are an indication that the hostile policy of the U.S. toward the DPRK remains unchanged.
This U.S. policy is one of aggression and war to stifle the DPRK by force. It is a criminal policy of confrontation and division opposed to national reconciliation and unity and the reunification of Korea, the article notes. It goes on:
It is due to the hostile policy of the U.S. toward the DPRK that Koreans suffered the war disaster in the 1950s, exposure to the constant danger of war and division of the nation and, for over half a century, suffering deeply from this division. U.S. interference has meant the failure to achieve a durable peace. The U.S. hostile policy, with its plans for invading the DPRK by force of arms remains unchanged with the new administration.
The U.S. is entirely responsible for the split of the Korean nation and a persistent obstructer to the reunification of Korea. The true intention of the U.S. imperialists is to realize their ambition for domination and aggression at any cost by keeping south Korea under their permanent occupation and escalating south Korea's confrontation with the north. Prompted by this criminal scenario, the U.S. is now fanning the flames with moves to bedevil the inter-Korean relations in a bid to keep the Korean nation split forever.
The reality clearly proves that it is impossible to achieve peace and the reunification of Korea, the need of the times and the ardent desire of the nation, unless an end is put to the persistent hostile policy of the U.S. toward the DPRK.
Koreans in the north and the south and overseas should wage a dynamic nation-wide struggle to decisively frustrate this hostile U.S. policy and plans for a war of aggression against the DPRK and confrontation with it in order to preserve peace on the Korean Peninsula and accomplish the historic cause of independent national reunification as early as possible, concludes the article.
Understanding and Ending the Conflict in Korea
(Prepared for Peace Day visits to U.S. Congress March 18, 2009)
The state of war along Korea’s demilitarized zone has left both sides of the divided nation caught in a tragic cycle of saber rattling and unyielding emotional tension. The standoff, established and maintained through U.S. military and economic assistance, continues to haunt peace prospects in North Asia. In 1953 the bombing came to a halt and the U.S. Commander, on behalf of a loosely formed coalition of seventeen nations, signed an armistice agreement with the Commander of the army of the northern Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK). A permanent peace treaty has yet to be established.
Today nearly all of the nations engaged in the war, along with 158 others, have diplomatic relations with the [DPRK] while the U.S. still refuses to recognize the DPRK or set up relations. The continued extensive U.S. military presence in South Korea, with dozens of bases and 28,500 troops, and this state of perpetual diplomatic limbo, leads to cross-border and international incidents and patchwork or shotgun diplomacy. […]
The United States, despite the most difficult economic crisis in 75 years, annually spends billions of dollars maintaining the military defense of South Korea and this quasi-state of war in Korea. Despite the desire for reunification between North and South Korea and extensive formal reunifications efforts between the two governments, peace remains elusive in large part due the maintenance of a hostile relationship between the U.S. and the DPRK. The [U.S.] failure to recognize the DPRK as a nation and refusal to engage in the powerful tool of diplomacy, even with nations with which we may have profound differences, lies at the core of the instability in the region.
My experiences in both the South and North of Korea have convinced me not only that peace is necessary, but it is closer than we know, if only the U.S. would support peace, rather than maintain instability. Across the U.S. dozens of groups concerned about Korea are engaging in a campaign for a formal peace treaty to end the Korean War, and to build bridges between the United States and the DPRK. By choosing to pursue a “peace treaty,” the Obama Administration can take a key step toward bringing closure to this tragic history and begin the healing process. Congress can choose to end a lingering conflict and return needed focus to our situation here at home.
The War and the Armistice Agreement
For 1300 years or more the Korean peninsula was one nation – one people. Although having suffered through the trauma and tragedy of numerous violent invasions and occupations by China and Japan, it was not until the mid 20th century that a foreign power, the United States, unilaterally divided their country. It was 1945 in a small basement room of the White House, hours after the bombing at Hiroshima, that two mid-level military strategists drew a pencil line through Korea along the 38th parallel on a National Geographic map. Thus, a nation was divided by those with little experience in the region and without consulting Koreans.
This separation of families and neighbors, and the establishment of separate governments in 1948, led to a Korean civil war for reunification. Over the next five years more than one hundred thousand lives would be lost in the guerilla fighting throughout Korea, as the U.S., beginning in 1948, propped up a series of corrupt regimes. In 1950 alone another nearly one hundred thousand civilians were massacred for political reasons by the newly formed South Korean government in a move to purge alleged communists. Meanwhile the United States led the push for authorization for formal military action at the newly formed United Nations. In a vote of the United Nations Security Council (9-0 with the Soviet Union absent), the U.S. received a green light to form a “UN force” to come to the aid of South Korea to stop the alleged aggression of the North. Eminent Korea Historian Bruce Cumings described the sad irony at a recent conference on peace and reunification “Imagine if the British drew a line splitting America during the civil war and Americans did not agree to the imaginary line, nor agree to British enforcement…It was Koreans invading Korea in a civil war and we call it ‘aggression.’”
In a press conference on June 29, 1950 announcing the deployment of U.S. troops, U.S. President Harry S. Truman characterized these hostilities as not being a “war,” but a “police action.” Thus, he decided that it was not necessary to seek a formal declaration of war from Congress. The “forgotten war” would go on to be the “forgotten peace.” […]
The Korean War proved to be far from a “police action” and extremely destructive to the land and to its people. Carpet-bombing of civilian urban areas in the North raise serious international law issues and were extensive, “worse than in Germany,” points out Cumings. “Pyongyang looked like Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bomb.” As the war raged, China came to the aid of the north and the UN forces led by the U.S. increased their campaign.
To understand the DPRK and the importance of finally securing a peace treaty today, it is necessary to picture a country shocked by the leveling of nearly its entire nation through bombs, mostly of an incendiary nature utilizing more than 17,000,000 pounds of Napalm. There were more than 3.5 million victims of the “police action” in the north, resulting in one in ten Koreans being wounded or killed. These wounds still resonate. Fifty three thousand U.S. soldiers died.
An Armistice Agreement was finally signed on July 27, 1953. It was signed by U.S. Army Lieutenant General William K. Harrison, Jr., senior delegate, on behalf of the United Nations Command Delegation and North Korean General Nam Il, senior delegate, Delegation of the Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteers. It had taken 158 meetings spread over more than two years to reach an agreement. It provided for POW releases and the establishment of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
However, an armistice is a tenuous way to end a war and is not a peace treaty. Article 36 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention with respect to the Laws and Customs of War by Land of July 29, 1899, provides that an armistice only suspends military operations by mutual agreement between the belligerent parties. Any serious violation by one party gives the other the right of denunciation, justifying their immediate recommencement of hostilities (Article 40). This is the state of war that has existed to this day. It is merely a military agreement, as no nation has signed it. Under the General Assembly Resolution 711 (V11) of August 28, 1953, the United Nations endorsed the Korean Armistice Agreement of July 27, 1953, as did General Kim Il-Sung as one of the Korean Commanders but no treaty was negotiated.
The armistice agreement itself envisioned that the political sides to the conflict would meet and enter a formal peace treaty. Article 60 read: In order to insure the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, the military Commanders of both sides hereby recommend to the governments of the countries concerned on both sides that, within three (3) months after the Armistice Agreement is signed and becomes effective, a political conference of a higher level of both sides be held by representatives appointed respectively to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc.
The Soviets did leave in 1950 and the Chinese by 1958. Fifty-five years later the United States maintains a force of nearly 30,000 U.S. soldiers in Korea and no peace treaty has been signed. There appears no “exit strategy” for U.S. troops to leave Korea. The U.S. still controls war-time command over the South Korean army, now standing at more than 660,000, and there remains dozens of U.S. army posts and two air force bases throughout a country that is roughly half the size of the state of Minnesota.
Add to this history nuclear weapons being pointed at North Korea by the U.S. from South Korean soil for decades and annual war-games along the DMZ simulating an attack against the DPRK, (which are being conducted this week) and it is clear that a state of war remains in effect. Furthermore, former President George W. Bush’s declaration of north Korea as part of the “axis of evil” and in his Nuclear Posture Review a target for pre-emptive nuclear attack, exemplifies that “change” requires a move toward a formal peace. A treaty between the U.S. and DPRK would be a key step in moving from the tension inherent in continually being on the brink of war to an atmosphere where healing and increased trust can be cultivated. […]
Requirements of a Peace Treaty
In this increasingly inter-connected world it is unrealistic to believe that isolation and rejection of diplomatic relations can secure peace in the world. A cursory glance at the history of the Cuban Embargo, the threats toward North Korea and Iran, and even the Iraqi sanctions for a decade before the war, reveals ineffective policies that have cost lives, increased tension, cost billions of dollars and actually flamed the internal opposition to the U.S.
The goal of any negotiations is to end the long-standing standoff and rebuild a more workable relationship…It is essential to keep the treaty process simple and focused on the end of the war and creating a permanent framework for future relations and dialogue.
If there are insufficient votes [in the Senate] for a treaty, it is also possible to draft and prepare a Joint Resolution of Congress that can be passed without the necessity of the 2/3 vote of the Senate [required for treaties.] … At a minimum Congress should take the lead to pass a joint resolution to end the war and call for normalization of relations. This would be a unilateral action, but would have the effect of setting a new tone for the administration and for relations in Northeast Asia.
With peace hanging in the balance in Korea, an expeditious and simple agreement is needed to set the tone for future trust and relationship. Congressional committees play a key role to lead in this regard.
My experience in traveling to the DPRK, testifying before Congress and meeting with key government officials has convinced me that peace is possible, but in order to accomplish it, key language is necessary to rebuild trust. Any peace agreement, be it a simple treaty with Senate ratification, or Joint Declaration of Congress or Executive Agreement for Peace and Establishment of Relations, should reflect the following:
1. Declare an end to the Korean War as the parties wish to formalize the peace and build a relationship based on increased trust and mutual respect.
2. Formal recognition of the DPRK.
3. Establishment of mutual Diplomatic Relations with full embassy and ambassadorship in Washington and Pyongyang.
4. Acknowledgment that the war caused grievous loss of life and suffering on all sides and the parties wish to take actions in the future that build peace and understanding.
5. Support for the peaceful reunification efforts of ROK and DPRK
Such an agreement should be forward thinking and not finger-pointing. It should encourage more cultural exchanges such as the successful New York Philharmonics’ recent trip, and create a framework for resolving any future conflicts. It is time that the Korean conflict be restored to an issue between the divided two nation states to be worked out without outside interference. By normalizing relations and ending the Korean War, the U.S. can save substantial money in difficult times and model dialogue and bridge building, rather than diplomacy through the barrel of a gun.
Last October, I hiked up Bukhan-san outside of Seoul to pay homage to my late parents. Their ashes rest in a shrine near a temple my father helped rebuild after the Korean War. While there, I sipped tea with the sunim (monk) who asked why I was visiting Korea. I explained that I had been invited to give a lecture about what the reunification of Korea looks like through Korean American eyes. The monk wanted to know why I cared about the reunification of a nation my family and I had left behind. I explained that from my vantage point as a woman of Korean descent living in the United States, the costs of the continuing division of Korea were enormous.
For more than 60 years, the United States has spent more than $52 billion annually subsidizing the south Korean military. Although south Korea no longer lists north Korea as a major military threat, it plans to spend $665 billion on its military by 2O20. In 2012, South Korea will assume control of its forces in Korea, and primary responsibility for dealing with north Korea, but thousands of American troops and U.S. military bases in Pyongtaek and Osan will remain to secure U.S. interests in the region.
But there are more than economic costs associated with increasing the militarization of Korea. According to Selig Harrison of the Center for International Policy, “The subsidy provided by the U.S. presence enables the South Korean [government] to postpone hard choices concerning how fast and how far to move toward reunification.” In other words, the withdrawal of these troops would force south Korea to decide whether to increase defense expenditures, now provided by the U.S., or invest in reunification. As it stands now, division means the continued militarization of the Korean peninsula and an environment of fear. […]
In the south, for example the National Security Law, first introduced by Syngman Rhee to quash popular movements, is still being used to arrest trade union leaders and repress union organizing and strikes. In July, the Ministry of National Defense prohibited the military from reading a list of “seditious books” considered pro-north Korean, anti-government, anti-U.S. or anti-capitalist, such as the global bestseller Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism written by Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang. In August, Yonsei University professor Oh Sei-Chul and six others were arrested for their involvement in a socialist organization, despite the group’s critical views of north Korea.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has even recommended abolition of the National Security Law, which marked its sixtieth anniversary last month. But it is not just this law that is repressing dissent and holding back change. Despite the end of the Cold War, the Cold War mentality still pervades the peninsula. I confronted its legacy in 2006 when I visited my brother-in-law in Seoul following my trip to Pyongtaekw here I met courageous villagers struggling to keep their land and homes from being demolished to accommodate the expansion of the U.S. Camp Humphreys military base. After sharing a few photos, my brother-in-law vehemently demanded that I promptly end my slideshow. He called me naive for being involved with bbalgangs — communists — who were exploiting the elderly villagers to siphon more money from the government. Sadly, many of my siblings have echoed similar admonishments of my work to fight for equity, justice and peace.
Whether we realize it or not, division has painfully impacted the family of every single Korean American. Yet south and north Korea have taken bold steps toward reconciliation, and Russia and China now have diplomatic ties with both Koreas. Now Americans have a unique responsibility — especially in light of the fact that the United States was primarily responsible for dividing Korea — to help reunify the land and people. We can by pressuring President Obama to end finally the Korean War by signing a peace treaty with north Korea.
On my way down Bukhan-san, I recalled how my mother, months before she died, shared how happy she was that I was able to see a part of Korea (the north) she never could. Then I thought about how those from her generation — the last to remember one Korea — will soon pass. That is why our task for reunification is urgent, not just for peace at home and within our families, but also to support Korea’s right to build a democratic just and peaceful future, reunified.
The U.S. is well known for its organized coups to install or remove governments worldwide, including the more recent failed attempts against Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba, and its long history of installing and backing fascist governments in Latin America, such as in Chile, and Southeast Asia, such as in Vietnam and Korea. The current Lee Myung Bak government in south Korea, brought to power in February 2008 with U.S. backing, is such a government. Its main role has been to block the Korean people’s movement for reunification. Following U.S. methods of branding resistance as “threats to national security” and imposing laws like the USA Patriot Act to target and imprison activists, the Lee Myung Bak government has increasingly used the anti-communist National Security Law (NSL) to terrorize the patriotic forces and organizations in the south. Following U.S. dictate, which demands that south Korea be occupied by almost 30,000 U.S. troops and close to 100 bases — something reunification would eliminate — the Bak government is working against the aspiration of the entire Korean people for national reunification.
The stated purpose of the National Security Law (NSL), similar to the Patriot Act, is to “restrict anti-state acts that endanger national security and to protect [the] nation’s safety and its people’s life and freedom.” Introduced in 1988, the NSL was a modification of an earlier law following World War II, imposed by the U.S. military government, which divided the country and dictated the government in south Korea. To this day the U.S. also controls the south Korean military in war conditions, something that would also be eliminated with reunification. The WWII law was itself a modified version of the anti-communist “Law for the Maintenance of Public Security” imposed by the Japanese militarists when they annexed and occupied Korea from 1910-1945. All of these laws, dictated by foreign occupiers, go against the rights of the Korean people to determine their own affairs.
Like the Patriot Act, the essence of the NSL is to prevent resistance and organizing by the people for their rights. In particular, it is to block the Korean people from organizing to change the anti-communist regime in the south and to prevent their efforts to reunite Korea. The NSL states that south Korean citizens are prohibited from “creating, distributing or possessing materials that promote anti-government ideas,” such as materials from the DPRK or materials that promote Korean reunification. The law criminalizes patriotic Koreans from the south by labeling them “communists.” It also serves to create anti-communist hysteria against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and its leadership, while encouraging slanders about “human rights violations” to justify “regime change.”
In the past few months, the Lee Myung Bak regime, following U.S. efforts to disrupt reunification, has been using the NSL to step up state terror and repression of the progressive and democratic forces that are leading the movement for Korean reunification in the south. For example, on May 11, 2008, south Korean security police arrested six activists including the leader of the Seoul office for the Pan-Korean Alliance for Korea’s Reunification (Pomminryon) for “pro-enemy” activities. Pomminryon was founded in 1990 by Koreans from the north, south and overseas to organize for the peaceful, independent reunification of Korea.
These acts of anti-communist state terror and provocations are aimed at negating the June 15, 2000 North-South Joint Declaration and October 4, 2007 Declaration signed between the north and south Korean governments that ushered in a period of co-operation and reconciliation between the people of Korea. These brutal acts are being carried out without the knowledge and support of the Obama administration, which is showing day by day that it is no different from the George W. Bush administration when it comes to U.S. geopolitical interests on the Korean peninsula. The aim of this campaign of suppression against Korean patriots in south Korea is to ensure that the movement for reunification is smashed and that the Korean nation remains divided and vulnerable enabling the U.S. military to remain on Korean soil.
Voice of Revolution calls on all to stand against U.S. this brutal interference and demand All U.S. Troops Out of Korea Now! We call on all to defend Korea’s right to sovereignty, her right to determine her own affairs and defend herself against U.S. interference of all kinds. Peaceful reunification serves peace and security and we call on all concerned to join in supporting this just struggle of the Korean people.
The Pan-Korean Alliance for Korea’s Reunification (Pomminryon), which unites at least 100 civic and public organizations in the work for peaceful reunification, organized a rally on May 23 in south Korea. At the rally Pomminryon opposed the south Korean government’s crackdown on supporters of reunification, including the government’s attack on the South Headquarters of Pomminryon in Seoul.
Speakers at the rally emphasized that Pomminryon is a legitimate organization of the reunification movement and suppression of its headquarters clearly shows that the government of Lee Myung Bak is that of a U.S. puppet and becoming evermore undisguised in its moves to escalate confrontation with the DPRK. They charged that the government’s suppression is an intolerable challenge to the ardent desire of all Koreans in the south, north and abroad for independent reunification. It is a criminal act totally counter to the June 15 joint north-south declaration and the October 4 declaration [for reunification].
They declared they can never forgive the Lee Myung Bak government, which mobilized the intelligence service to suppress the reunification movement and attack Pomminryon’s headquarters, claiming it is an “an enemy-benefiting organization.” They also denounced the government’s attacks on other organizations.
A resolution read at the rally said: The present “government” is suppressing progressive organizations on charges of violation of the infamous National Security Law after labeling everyone of conscience and critical of the government as “criminals.” Not content with this, it is keen to bring the charge of “espionage” to the forces of the reunification movement struggling to defend and implement the historic south-north joint declarations. All those striving for social progress, independence, democracy and reunification will get united and wage a valiant struggle to force Lee Myung Bak to step down, it stressed.
In related news, Choe Tong Jin, a director of Pomminryon’s South Headquarters, in a May 19 interview with the online newspaper Jaju Minbo, accused the puppet authorities of working hard to fabricate an “espionage case” to crack down on the organization. He brought out that the intelligence service and police jointly conducted a wholesale search, seizure and arrest operation against the headquarters. They are also stretching their tentacles in an effort to suppress youth organizations.
He said that the Lee Myung Bak “government,” upset by the many candlelight protests last year, is trying to stifle the progressive forces by branding them as spies. As the Lee regime failed in its plot to label the Solidarity for Implementing the South-North Joint Declaration “an organization linked with espionage,” it is now keen to brand the South Headquarters of Pomminryon as “a large organization linked with espionage,” he added. The suppression of the Pomminryon headquarters precisely means a negation of the June 15 joint declaration and an act to totally destroy those forces supporting the declaration, he said.
He brought out that government authorities are now regarding all the overseas Koreans related to the South Side Committee for Implementing the June 15 Joint Declaration as “spies” and expanding the scope of investigation to the south Korean organizations in the reunification movement that have been in touch with those overseas. He called upon all the people to come out in the struggle to denounce the Lee Myung Bak government for intensifying its fascist suppression and trying to drive inter-Korean relations into collapse and continue the struggle for reunification in the coming days.
Open Letter from Korean Democratic
It is a unanimous will and aspiration of the Korean people in the north, south and overseas to realize independent reunification under the banner of the June 15 joint-declaration and October 4 declaration. The historic North-South joint declarations are inspiring the entire Korean nation with confidence and optimism about Korea's independent reunification.
However, the south Korean authorities are suppressing the growing aspiration of Koreans in the south and maneuvering like fascists to oppress the patriotic democratic forces for reunification. Since Lee Myung Bak took power, he has been reconstructing the former fascist dictatorship’s slogan for regaining the so-called "lost decade." Today, in south Korea, a "special team for capture" similar to the "BaekGolDan" (skeleton gang) which terrorized people during the former era of military dictatorship, has been organized. And the police with shields, electric shock tools and water jet canons are fracturing arms and legs and breaking the heads of demonstrators in order to break up demonstrations and cause terrible scenes.
In spite of the unanimous protest by the opposition parties and different civil organizations, the Lee Myung Bak regime is trying to totally block the elementary requirements of south Korean people for freedom and democracy. He is railroading through the National Assembly different evil laws such as "the amendment of law on assembly and demonstration," "the amendment of law on national intelligence agencies," "the law on cyber insults" and "the bill on media."
The Lee Myung Bak regime is using the National Security Law, a fascist law, and extending and strengthening the government’s repressive machineries, similar to fascist regimes in the past. It is arbitrarily oppressing the progressive organizations and people in south Korea who are fighting for reconciliation and unity with the brothers in north and struggling for the independent reunification of Korea.
Almost every day, its authorities have seized the property, searched the homes, and arrested members of progressive civil societies including the Solidarity for Implementing the South-North Joint Declaration and their core members. Last May, twenty-five parties and organizations were prosecuted by the south Korean authorities under the false charge of "enemy-benefiting organization," and "vanguard of the pro-north leftist forces." Within one or two months after Lee Myung Bak took power, nine "security related cases" were taken before the courts and many progressive people arrested and imprisoned for "violation of the security law."
A teacher of the All Teachers Trade Union has been arrested for educating his students about reunification. The chairman of the south headquarters of the Pan-National Alliance of Youth and Students for Korea's Reunification has been imprisoned by the national intelligence agency. He has not seen his daughter for a long time as police forced him into hiding and have now arrested him.
Last September 27, the judiciary of south Korea ransacked the offices of the Solidarity for Implementing the South-North Joint Declaration all around the country, the June 15 TV broadcasting company and the June 15 School, and imprisoned their core members for three months and then judged them according to the National Security Law. The National Security Law, an evil law that had been used by the former military dictatorships to repress the movements for democracy, is an anachronistic one to obstruct the North and South march toward the reunification.
It is also being used to suppress resistance more generally. On June 10 last year, the south Korean government and police ordered an "emergency alert" throughout the territory and mobilized 417 brigades of 40,000 soldiers to repress the candlelight demonstration of about a million people against the importation of U.S. beef. Claiming that the peaceful candlelight demonstration of south Korean people for the right to live is an "illegal violent one" being manipulated by the "leftist forces," the government has mobilized its repressive forces to ruthlessly suppress it.
On January 20, 2009, in Ryongsan, Seoul, civilians opposing eviction from their homes and demanding the right to housing were attacked by about 1,600 policemen which resulted in 5 deaths and more than 20 people injured.
The repressive policy and violations of human rights of the Lee regime, less than a year after its assumption to power go against the United Nations Charter and the international humanitarian laws claiming to respect the people's fundamental rights and dignity. This repression is giving rise to more protests and denunciations not only from the entire Korean people but also peace-loving people from around the world.
Today the democratic forces for reunification are being repressed under the National Security Law in south Korea while the inter-Korea relationship is becoming worse and worse. This shows that the anti-fascist democratization in south Korea is an imminent task of utmost urgency.
The KDLA is sending this document to you hoping that justice and peace loving organizations and peoples of the world will pay attention to the current situation of south Korea and take necessary measures to prevent the recurrences of such repressions and violations of human rights.
Text of North-South Joint Declaration
True to the noble will of all the fellow countrymen for the peaceful reunification of the country, Chairman Kim Jong Il of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea had a historic meeting and summit in Pyongyang from June 13 to 15, 2000.
The heads of the North and the South, considering that the recent meeting and summit, the first of their kind in history of division, are events of weighty importance in promoting mutual understanding, developing inter-Korean relations and achieving peaceful reunification, declare as follows:
1. The North and the South agreed to solve the question of the country’s reunification independently by the concerted efforts of the Korean nation responsible for it.
2. The North and the South, recognizing that a proposal for federation of lower stage advanced by the North side and a proposal for confederation put forth by the South side for the reunification of the country have elements in common, agreed to work for the reunification in this direction in the future.
3. The North and the South agreed to settle humanitarian issues, including exchange of visiting groups of separated families and relatives and the issue of unconverted long-term prisoners, as early as possible on the occasion of August 15 this year.
4. The North and the South agreed to promote the balanced development of the national economy through economic cooperation and build mutual confidence by activating cooperation and exchanges in all fields, social, cultural, sports, public health, environmental and so on.
5. The North and the South agreed to hold dialogues between the authorities as soon as possible to implement the above-mentioned agreed points in the near future.
President Kim Dae Jung cordially invited Chairman Kim Jong Il of the DPRK National Defense Commission to visit Seoul and Chairman Kim Jong Il agreed to visit Seoul at an appropriate time in the future.