SONGUN POLITICS, A REVOLUTIONARY, ANTI-IMPERIALIST FORM OF POLITICS
SUITED TO THE DEMANDS OF THE 21stCENTURY
A Talk presnted by Shaun Pickford
on the occasion of the start of the Songun Revolutionary Leadership
on August 25th 1960
If we analyse the narrative of the Korean Revolutionary process or if we scrutinize the Juche philosophy one overriding theme can be observed, that of innovation. The Korean Revolution due to its extremely unique circumstances had to be a revolution which relied upon originality for its survival and growth.
Creativity is the hallmark of Korean Socialism. From the dawn of the Korean revolutionary struggle in the 1920s to the first decades of the 21st century innovation has been the bedrock of the Korean revolution in dealing with the various challenges which have stood in the way of the forward march of Juche Korea. It was in this tradition of creativity that KIM JONG IL proclaimed to the world the start of the Songun Revolutionary Leadership on August 25th, 1960.
Ten years after the beginning of the Fatherland Liberation War (the Korean War) KIM JONG IL gave indepth guidance to the Seoul Ryn Kyong 105 Guards Division, by providing field guidance to the one of the first Korean Peoples Army divisions to liberate Seoul during the Korean War. KIM JONG IL emphasized the importance of arms in the Korean Revolution to the men and officers of this KPA division and to the Korean people at large. From the early 1960s to the present day KIM JONG IL has consistently stressed the vital necessity of Songun Politics for obtaining the final victory of the Korean Socialist cause.
In the course of ideological development of the Korean Revolution KIM JONG IL's announcement of the beginning of the Songun Revolutionary Leadership on August 25th 1960 was the continuation and consolidation of the positions put forward at the Kalun Meeting by KIM IL SUNG on June 30th 1930, that was where the Juche Idea was formulated. Both these dates are profoundly signficant in the evolution of the Juche Idea and of Songun Politics, which have become the cutting-edge ideology of our era.
The concept of Songun was born on the battlefields of the Korean Revolution during the 1920s, 1930s & 1940s. Since the total annexation of Korea by Japanese imperialism in 1910, Korean patriots were trying to find an effective form of resistance to the occupation.
One fundamental lesson gained by the Korean resistance movement was that fedual Korea was defeated and conquered by Japan due to the weak military potential of the Li Dynasty (1392-1910).Opposition to the cruel Japanese occupation of Korea had many varied forms, mostly spontaneous in nature. Such as the March 1th 1919 uprising, which was crushed by the brutal Japanese military in a sea of blood. Other manifestions of the fightback aganist Japanese imperialism inculded the movement to pay back the debt to Japan in August 1908, appeals to the major powers such as emissary incident in June 1907,the assassination of leading Japanese officials like Ito Hirobumi in October 1909 and the patriotic cultural movement of the early 20s. There was even talk by some defeatist elements of "national reform" & "autonomy of Korea with the Japanese emprie". All these methods failed to secure their objective.
The Korean people faced the choice, independence or extinction? How to achieve independence and social progress for the Korean people under the conditions of the harsh colonialist-feudal regime of Japan?
The decisive answer given to this outstanding question for the Korean people came from the gunshots of the guns of Songun. KIM IL SUNG saw as a cardinal principle of the Korean Revolution the precept of armed struggle.KIM IL SUNG advocated from the mid-1920s that the revolution aganist imperialism, for independence, for socialism and communism must be pioneered and based upon arms. The two pistols which KIM IL SUNG inherited from his father KIM HYONG JIK (June 10th 1884 - June 5th 1926) became symbolic of the modest emergence of the Korean Revolution and its development into a mighty power with misslies and bombs and the two bequesthed pistols illustrate that Korean socialism will be triumphant because it is based on the will and determination of revolutionary arms and soldiers. Chiwon or "Aim High" of the Korean resistance leader KIM HYONG JIK was realised in the formation of the Korean Peoples Revolutionary Army by KIM IL SUNG on April 25th 1932. This revolutioary armed force acted as a focal point for all Korean revolutionaries and patriots in their anti-imperialist liberation struggle long before the party itself was established in 1945. Really it can be said that the KPRA was the main force in the sturggle for independence. After 20 long bloody years of arduous struggle the KPRA commanded by KIM IL SUNG liberated Korea from grip of Japanese imperialism on August 15th 1945. A new democratic Korea was to be build up after liberation but the Korean peninsula was divided into north and south by outside elements. The United States , which emerged as a superpower at the end of World War Two, occupied south Korea with a large army and installed a subservient regime in Seoul.
The glorious revolutioanry traditions of Songun were carried on by the Korean Peoples Army, which was founded on 8th February 1948. The KPRA became a regluar. cadre-based army in 1948. KIM IL SUNG ensured that from the early days of Korea's liberation, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea would have a self-reliant defence industry with Korean made weapons of every sort. It was with great pride that KIM IL SUNG test fired the 1st Korean manufactured submachine gun on December 18th 1948. Today the DPRK produces its own nuclear devices and long-range rockets.
On June 25th 1950 the allied forces of world imperialism led by the United States launched an attack upon the infant and peaceful DPRK. It was during the Fatherland Liberation War (25 June 1950 - 27th July 1953) that KIM IL SUNG with iron-willed determination and felxible tactics repulsed and ultimately defeated the so-called invincible United States, the south Korean puppets and the various foreign mercenaries (like the UK forces) in July 1953. The US imperialist aggressors were forced at Panmunjom to sign an armistice agreement without any kind of victory, this was a demonstration of Songun Politics in action.
The Key to success in both in the Fatherland Liberation War and in the miraculous reconstruction of the DPRK after the war was that all problems were solved with the KPA at the centre. The Chollima movement of overcoming all difficulities in the way of building soicalism in Korea upon the ashes of war,was the perfect embodiment of the revolutionary sentiment of the KPA troops.
KIM JONG IL (born 16th February 1942) was born and raised among the battles of the anti-Japanese war. KIM JONG IL spent His later childhood witnessing the destruction caused by the yankee imperialists to Korea in the Fatherland Liberation War. Even at a young age KIM JONG IL saw the importance of studying military matters as a means of strengthening the Korean Revolution. KIM JONG IL for instance spent 40 days directing an intensive military traning drill at Oun-dong in August 1962. In the early 60s KIM JONG IL had the revolutionary slogan put up "Let us train, study and live just like the anti-Japanese figthers did!" In His actions KIM JONG IL demonstrated the unity between theory and practice by becoming a crack marksman and a accomplished fighter pilot.
The aggressive essence of US imperialism was vivdly shown in the Carribean crisis and with the Gulf of Tonkin incident of the 1960s. It was in this environment that KIM JONG IL began the task of systematizing Songun Politics in the 60s. An early thesis of KIM JONG IL on Songun was the work "THE CHARACTERISTICS OF MODERN IMPERIALISM & ITS AGGRESSIVE NATURE" published in 1962. Many KPA vetrans at the time called KIM JONG IL the Young General or said that Korea had produced another Great General, a brilliant General who is expert of both the Gun and the Pen.
If we take the take a look at the experiences of socialist revolutions and anti-imperialist movements in history, two elements are vital for a revolution's survival, its ideological and military defence. The Paris Commune of 1871 was overcame by superior means, the 1916 Easter Uprising in Dublin, Ireland was suppressed by British colonialism and the Allende governement in Chile was overthrown by the reactionary military in September 1973, to name just a few examples. The successful revolutions are the ones which are able to defend themsleves by any means necessary, such as the Cuban revolution for instance. Songun Politics can seen as the summary of the background of the oppressed peoples everywhere for independence and peace.
Songun Politics are rooted in the Juche Idea. Juche is the philosophical basis of Songun. As I elucidated eariler on, Songun Politics is based on the experiences of the Workers Party of Korea. Songun Politics starts from the standpoint that man is the master of everything in the world and everything serves him/her. Songun has the underlying features of independence, creativity and consciousness in its world outlook. It is this spirit of novelty that KIM JONG IL devoted His foremost attention to military issues. To build up the KPA as the main force means precisely to build up the Party, State and People of socialist society as powerful subjects. A remarkable feature of Songun Politics is the theory of the main force of the revolution, the strike force for gaining independence. This theory of a main revolutioanry force is a topic not covered by Marxist classics. I have gained an understanding of this essential strand of Songun Politics by studying the work of KIM JONG IL "THE SONGUN-BASED REVOLUTIONARY LINE IS A GREAT REVOLUTIONARY LINE OF OUR ERA AND AN EVER-VICTORIOUS BANNER OF OUR REVOLUTION" published in January 29th 2003 and from my discusssions with prominent DPRK academics during my stay in Korea in July 2009.
To set the record straight Songun views the working class as the ruling class of the DPRK and the WPK as the leading political organisation of Korean socialism. It is the working masses who are the masters of everything in Juche Korea. The theory of a main force is the distinctive contribution of Songun Politics to revolutionary ideology and practice. Now it is the KPA which is the main force of the Korean Revolution, the Peoples Army is in the forefront of the anti-imperialist front in the DPRK and cannot be replaced with another force.
Songun Politics requires a strengthening of the ideological revolution. This task is performed in the shape of the revolutionary soldier spirit, establishing a monolithic ideological system throughout society. An important mission for the Korean Revolution is to make the population of the DPRK emulate the militant fervour of the KPA in their day-to-day lives, to follow the examples of the KPA heroes and heroines with a "match for a hunderd foes" gusto. When the Army and Party decides to do something, anything is possible.
The position and role of the Leader, the decisive part the Supreme Commander plays in the structure of Songun is an imperative one. To ensure always the maintenance of the monolithic unity between the Leader,Party,Army and People for the common revolutionary purpose. As a indication of the significance of military affairs in the DPRK the National Defence Commission was made the leading state organ of the Republic, with General KIM JONG IL as the Chairman of the DPRK's NDC.This consistutional change was carried out by the 10th Supreme Peoples Assembly session in September 1998.
Inceasingly the KPA is defending and developing Korean socialism to new heights. The KPA is at the core of all victories and successes gained by the Korean Revolution. Songun Poilitcs safeguarded the DPRK aganist imperialist and dominationist attempts to isolate and eradicate Peoples Korea, particularly at the time of the "Arduous March" and the "Forced March" of the late 1990s. At this critical moment when the Korean Revolution faced the issue of its survival, KIM JONG IL made the winning declaration of the Songunization of Korea. KIM JONG IL on the first new year's day after the passing away of President KIM IL SUNG gave-on -the spot guidance despite heavy snowfalls on 1st January 1995. In the period of the later 1990s KIM JONG IL visited 480 KPA units, amounting to an amazing 48,000 miles. KIM JONG IL has never stopped getting guidance to the main revolutionary force, KIM JONG IL is always with the officers and men of the glorious KPA whereever the Peoples Army is stationed.
During the time of hardships in the 1990s Korean Socialism became much renewed and stronger due to KIM JONG IL's leadership. Where others would have surrendered and gave in to the enemy, the DPRK upheld the red flag of Socialism and Communism even higher with the weapons of Songun at the front. Now Korea is reguarded as the bulwark of socialism and the beacon of hope by all progressive peoples across the world.
The vitality of Songun Politics has been verified in the vast improvement of the living conditions of the working masses in the DPRK. Over the decade (2000-2010) the DPRK has attained a number of outstanding achievements in the strategic objective of building a powerful and prosperous socialist nation. Songun Korea has set itself the goal of reaching the target of a strong and rich independent socialist country by 2012- the centenary year of the birth of the Respected President KIM IL SUNG. All the Korean people are following the spirit of Kanggye, a town in the extreme north of the DPRK where KIM JONG IL introduced the method of turning adversity into blessings during His on-spot guidance there.
Major factories have been modernized and made more efficient. Large,medium and small sized hydroelectric power stations have been constructed throughout the DPRK. The information technology revolution is being implemented into everyday use, the DPRK manufactures its own computers and has the Koryo mobile phone network. The DPRK launched the satellites Kwangmyongsong No1 & No2 by its own means The infrastructure of Pyongyang and other DPRK cities was improved in the past ten years, in Pyongyang Manusdae Street was constructed in honour of the WPK's anniversary. There has been more productive use been made of the countryside with the land rezoning and realignment initiative. In Kangwon province alone more 1,760 hectares of new arable land have been obtained through realignment. The 150 day campaign in 2009 was a great success for the DPRK with industrial production at a record high of 1-2 fold increase as compare to the rate of industrial growth in 2008.The soldiers of the KPA completed the construction of 100 miles of road, 273 structures, 27 pavilions and many other economic tasks. The KPA have carried out the order of their Supreme Commander to improve the people's living standards.
The ideological content of literature and art has become more revolutionary,innovative and dynamic over the past decade. At the head of this new Songun cultural offensive is the Merited State Chorus of the Korean Peoples Army. Such as rousing songs as "No Motherland without YOU","Hold High The Red Flag"and "Led By YOU,We Will Win" are the emblematic anthems of victory and glory composed in the 1990s. The KPA Chorus produced in 2002 an epic musical suite devoted to the history of Army-First Revolutionary Poitics entitled "A Long Journey of Songun". Indeed the KPA Merited State Chorus is the melodic standard bearer of the Songun Age inspiring the Korean People to greater successes in their efforts to defend and construct Korean-style Socialism.
A spectacular artistic achievement of the Songun Revolution was the production of the mass game "Arirang". This mass gymnastics and artistic performance has gone down in the World Guiness Records Book has being the largest mass game in the international chronicle of such events. In total something like 100,000 artistes and athletes performed in the "Arirang". "Arirang" reached new levels of sophistication with the use of DPRK-made computer graphics and lasers in forming the various wonderful illuminations in the May Day Stadium. Another area where the Songun cultural revolution is making its presence felt, is in the field of documentary and feature films, made by the Korean Film Studios and the April 25th Film Studio. A remarkable DPRK feature film which I viewed recently was about the gold medal winner Jong Song OK at the Women's Marathron Race at Sevilla, Spain on August 29th 1998. From watching this movie I got the impression that Jong Song OK seemed to exemplified the fighting ethos of heroic Songun Korea in her determination to win the race with the Great General always in her mind.
Peoples Korea has stood in confrontation with US imperialism for well over 65 years now. Sometimes this has been a conflict with bullets and at other times a war of words and nerves. The DPRK to put in these terms is facing on a daily basis the threat of invasion, the same sort of threat experienced by Britain in the summer of 1940 from the forces of Nazi Germany.The army and people of Korea certainley have nerves of steel to have dared to resist the empire of terror and greed for so many decades.
The first and foremost accomplishment of Songun Politics was to halt US ambitions to stifle the DPRK and to dominate the world community. After the collapse of the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies, the US imperialists focused their attention upon the DPRK with the clear intention of destroying the outpost of socialism and independence.With the end of "Cold War Era" US imperialism became more belligerent with interventions aganist Panama,Somalia,Serbia,Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has had a long bloody catalogue of aggression within something of the region of over 200 invasions in small and developing countries since 1945.
In the 1990s the US military came up with such nuclear war stratagems aimed at the DPRK as Operation 5027 and carried out large scale exercises like "Team Spirit" and "Rimpact". US neo-conservatives spoke with alot of arrogance about the dawning of "A New American Century" and "globalization based upon the US model". The ruling circles of the USA thought that the "peaceful transition strategy away from socialism to capitalism" would work with the DPRK as it did with some other countries.
The semi-war situation announced by KIM JONG IL in March 1993 smashed to pieces these ventures of the US imperialists to destablize the DPRK. Later on in October 1994 the US was forced by the Songun politics to the negotiating table and signed the Framework Agreement on the nuclear issue with the DPRK. The US had to recognize the reality of the existence of Socialist Korea as a independent and dignified nation, as a equal partner in the DPRK-US talks. As a consequence of the Songun Politics of KIM JONG IL the prospects for Korean reunification became brighter with the signning of the north-south statement on June 15th 2000 in Pyongyang.
As KIM JONG IL stressed that the bellicose nature of imperialism does not change. The truth of KIM JONG IL's affirmation inregard to imperialism's essence can be seen in recent developments on the Korean peninsula. To succed in the revolution one must be fully prepared and vigliant.
The United States and the Lee Myoung Bak clique have cooked up the "Chenan" without any form of evidence. Lee Myoung Bak group and its US backers are making new attempts to isolate the DPRK even further by internationalizing Chenan at such bodies as the UN Security Council. The Seoul regime wants to apply more pressure aganist the DPRK in the form of "PSI" and other punitive sancitions.Approximately there are 40,000 US troops stationed in south Korea and about 1,000 US nuclear arms pointed at the DPRK. Despite some expectations for change, the Obama Adminstration has carried on the warmongering attitude of its predecessors inrespect to north Korea with the US carrying out in the spring of 2010 the mock "regime change" exercise "Foal Eagle/Key Resolve".
In the Songun era the weapons of the KPA, the guns of the working class have been perfected under KIM JONG IL's Leadership. The DPRK has acquired a nuclear deterrent by its own means, Korea successfully tested two atomic devices in October 2006 and in May 2009. It is an achievement of the Songun Revolution the the Korean Peoples Army now has a weapons capability equal to the imperialists, with advanced weapons systems ready to be used aganist the aggressor. But the greatest strength of the KPA is in the high ideological and technical quality of its soldiers, who are superior to the class and national enemies of the Korean people.
Songun made the possibility of Korea's peaceful and independent reunification a reality. The north and south of Korea were starting to cooperate in many areas of mutual concern. Many Koreans in the north, south and overseas rallied around the patriotic banner of "By-Our-Nation-Itself", that is to gain the reunification by the efforts of the Korean people as a independent entity free from outside interference. Songun Politics has given the south Korean people the courage and self-respect to struggle for Peace, Reunification and Democracy aganist the tyranny of the Lee Myoung Bak regime.
Songun Politics are an inspiration to the various anti-imperialist nations, movements and parties worldwide. That it is feasible for those who are conflict with imperialism to resist and overcome the hegemonists. Countries which have had contradictions with imperialism such as China, Cuba, Iran,Venezuela,Myanmar,Zimbadwe,Suban,Libya, Syira and Belarussia have devoted much more of their attention to the importance of military affairs in the national life during the past decade.
As a result of Songun Politics many countries which formely hostile to the DPRK have established diplomatic relations with Peoples Korea between the years of 2000 to 2004. A big cluster of EU member states including the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy have now got DPRK embassies in their capital cities. The trend for trade and cultural cooperation with the DPRK from business and aesthetic circles in the capitalist nations have grown considerably in the Songun era.
Songun Politics have become a subject for study and emulation among diverse progressive and anti-imperialist groups across the world. In many countries around the globe ,organisations are being founded committed to the study and dissemination of Songun Politics. For instance there is the UK Association for the Study of Songun Politics, the US Songun Study Group, the Ukrainian Treasured Sword of Songun Association, the Ugandan Songun Study Association and many other groups and associations throughout the world. From the ghettoes of Bogota to the foothills of Kathmandu, the flame of Songun lit on the Mount Paektusan is now illuminating the way forward for all those fighting injustice and oppression, for independence.
The greatest memorial to the brilliant legacy of President KIM IL SUNG has been the persevation and consoildation of Korean style socialism by Chairman KIM JONG IL. Socialist Korea under the Revolutionary Songun Leadership has gained something really distinctive, that is a society which has achieved harmonious unity and a degree of egalitarianism unknown elsewhere in the world. On the Glorious 50th anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary Songun Leadership,the future for Korea is a extremely bright one under the guidance of the Great General KIM JONG IL.
( notes about the author : Shaun Pickford is the Secretary of the Group for the Study of the Juche Idea of Britain, he has been a member of the Group for 17 years. Shaun Pickford has visited the DPRK four times in total, the last time being in July 2009)