For some time the hired bourgeois academic scribblers of the imperialist countries have slandered the People's Korea which is one of the most egalitarian societies in the world , if not the most egalitarian society in the world, claiming that there is a 'caste system ' in the DPRK or some kind of class system. This is a theory that basically turns the world on its head by trying to insist that some the deeply class-divided societies of the West are somehow egaliatarian but the DPRK is run by an elite and has some kind of hierachical caste system.
I remember visiting the DPRK in 2008 and having lunch with my guides in the excellent Sariwon hotel . Over the meal they told me there is no private ownership of the means of production in the DPRK and that in the countryside " you cannot find a big house " . This is undoubtedly true for in the DPRK you do have big private country estates or big private landowners. You do not have private schools in the DPRK but they exist . In the UK private schools fees may up to £38,000 which is more than the average annual income of a worker ,not only that but even entry to some of these private schools it is difficult even for those with money so as soon as their children are born they put their name down for the private schools. Going to a private school in the UK usually bestows immense privileges of rank and open doors.
Indeed in Britain people will often talk about some people being "born with a silver spoon
The DPRK is a a truly people-orientated society which not only has free education but free medical care and virtually free housing, There is no unemployment There is no big difference between high income and low income earners.Visiting the DPRK many times I was in fact struck by the high level of social equality. Back in the 1990s whilst studying at the Korean Juche Idea Academy I noticed academics playing snooker or billiards with drivers and waitresses . Something that would be impossible in the class-divided societies of the West !
The great leader President KIM IL SUNG , the founder and eternal President of the DPRK , had always argued strongly against any form of elitism or privileges , he wrote in his autobiographical reminiscences "With the Century " of the deep experiences of the anti-Japanese armed struggle and it relationship to the present DPRK saying that :
We made it an iron rule for all the commanders, irrespective of rank, to share with the rank and file food from the same pot at all times, in all places and in all circumstances. Everyone shared food from the same pot: this constituted the inviolable discipline and ethics of the People’s Revolutionary Army.
As everyone shared the same food, clothing and bedding, the commanders authorized to take care of the men, were frequently given less to eat, dressed more poorly and had worse bedding than the men.
Today we also oppose the “small pot”. Although this happened long ago, at one time many restaurants in the capital and provinces kept a separate room to serve cadres with special food. Although the central authorities warned them many times to refrain from maintaining a separate room, the people working in public service persisted in keeping a “small pot”. In the end such individuals, who were being disloyal to the people, assumed the air of being special.
Some officials, guided by their subordinates to a separate room or reception room for distinguished guests, considered it natural and wanted to receive special treatment.
We do not support the “small pot”, as this will engender all kinds of “evil spirits”. The “small pot” will only produce capitalist ideas. If we were to retain such a “small pot”, relations between the Party and the masses would be impaired and the people might forsake their belief in socialism. The strength of our socialism has to do mainly with the fact that our Party has not become bureaucratic and we do not allow the “small pot”
Dear respected Marshal KIM JONG UN has also castigated bureaucracy and stressed that a strong
people-orientated policy should be followed at all times. He stated at the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Workers' Party of Korea that "The entire Party will conduct its building and activities only as instructed by the great President and General, and make selfless, devoted efforts for the benefit of the people by thoroughly applying the people-first principle to its overall work, thereby enhancing its fighting efficiency in every way possible.
The genuine feature of the Workers' Party of Korea will be expressed in the appearance of the country that is transformed under its leadership and in the looks of the people who always smile happily".
In fact it is quite inconceivable that the DPRK would entertain the idea of a caste system. The DPRK emerged from the struggle against feudalism and landlordism , it is the proud fruit of the people's revolution against feudalism and imperialism . When President KIM IL SUNG founded the Association For the Restoration of the Fatherland in May 1936 , number 7 of the " Ten Point Programme of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland " was " To abolish the caste system which divides the ryangban (nobles) and the common people, and other inequalities; to ensure equality based on humanity irrespective of sex, nationality or religion; to improve the social position of women and respect their personalities" .
So it is very clear the abolition of the caste sytem was a key demand of the Korean revolutionaries . After liberation in 1945 the anti-imperialist , anti-feudal democratic revolution was carried out which
smashed feudalism ,landlordism and any kind of caste system.
So where does the theory of 'elites ' and 'castes ' in the DPRK come from ? There is the so-called
"Songbun "(not Songun) , a construct of reactionary anti-communist bourgeois academics such as
Andrei Lankov. Lankov teaches at Kookmin University in south Korea and is basically a paid
DPRK basher (see http://juche007-anglo-peopleskoreafriendship.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/russian-marionettes-of-south-korean.html). Needless to say the word 'Songbun' does not appear in any DPRK publication nor do the works of great President KIM IL SUNG , Chairman KIM JONG IL
and respected Marshal KIM JONG UN . The term is quite meaningless to people in the DPRK .
Some have attempted to argue that the DPRK operates a secret caste system so the word "Songbun " is never openly used. This is plainly nonsensical as a secret caste system could never work . In the capitalist societies , freemasonry (which is actually a form of a hidden caste system ) which is supposedly secret is common knowledge.
Allegedly ,society in the DPRK is divided along lines of political loyalty. However if one studies the works of the leaders of the DPRK , one will find warnings against viewing people's ideology as being immutable and discriminating against those people with complex backgrounds . Indeed
chairman KIM JONG IL said "
. We must rally the broad masses of the people around the Party. Therefore, the Party officials must always mix with the people and shower the Party's trust and love upon them. They should frequently meet those with complicated pasts, to say nothing of the basic sections of the masses of the people. Mingling with them at work, they should heal their sores, treating them kindly and winning them over in a broad-minded manner, so that they come to open their hearts. This is precisely the process of bringing the Party's trust and love home to them, a process of the Party winning them over. It is only when the Party showers its trust and love upon the people that they will remain loyal and sincere to it. "Let's build a new society with trust and love," this is my invariable motto."
Splitting people in the DPRK into categories according to political and ideological loyalty is something that would go against the concept of single-hearted unity which is a fundamental cornerstone of the DPRK .
So basically the so-called "Songbun " theory or idea of elites and an a caste system in the DPRK is yet another example of new wave anti-communist , anti-socialist propaganda with no basis in reality whatsoever . Those who are behind it such as Lankov and other reactionary bourgeois academics are in fact those who have high salaries and easy jobs in capitalist countries.
Dr Dermot Hudson