Firstly it is wrong to compare the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea(DPRK) with the former Polish People’s Republic(PPR) for a number of reasons . For one thing socialism in the former PPR was frustrated and Poland is no longer a socialist country in any form or way , whereas the DPRK is a socialist country upholding socialist principles in the struggle with imperialism .
The DPRK was not a creation of another country or copy of another country but based on independence and it developed its own ideology, the Juche idea . The DPRK is the fruit of the anti-Japanese armed struggle by the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army led by the great leader President KIM IL SUNG , in fact you can say that the DPRK is actually a continuation of the anti-Japanese armed struggle . However in Poland socialism was associated with the Soviet Union and the PPR was dependent on the USSR . The PPR joined the CMEA whereas the DPRK guided by the Juche idea did not and instead put forward the line of building an independent national economy based on self-reliance . Later Poland under the revisionist leadership even joined the IMF which the DPRK did not do ( and even if it wanted to , it would be blocked from doing so by the UN and US sanctions ).
The PPR was part of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation and had Soviet troops stationed on its soil whereas the DPRK never joined the Warsaw Treaty Organisation and had no foreign soldiers on its territory after 1958 . It pursued a self-reliant defence policy .
You cannot compare the DPRK ‘ leadership with that of Gomulka in Poland . Gomulka de-collectivised Polish agriculture . I believe up to 80 percent of Polish farms were in private ownership whereas the DPRK fully carried out collectivisation by 1958 and the economy became 100 pe cent socialised . The DPRK was one of the few socialist countries to complete 100 percent socialisation of the means of production , most of the East European socialist countries had private sectors . President Kim Il Sung put forward the ‘Theses On the Socialist Rural Question in Our Country ‘ in 1964 which put forward the line of carrying out the three revolutions -ideological , technical and cultural in the countryside and the eventual conversion of co-operative property into state property .
The DPRK and WPK always opposed revisionism . I believe that once Polish anti-revisionist Kamirez Miijal once said that the WPK along with the Chinese and Vietnamese parties were the only ones upholding true Marxist principles .
President KIM IL SUNG denounced modern revisionism early on . On 25th of August 1960 he said that ‘ Revisionists refashion Marxism-Leninism. They laud themselves as cleverer Marxist-Leninists than Marx or Lenin. Certain countries have this tendency. Some people insist we must peacefully co-exist with the Yankees. How can we do so without opposing US imperialism?"
(KIM IL SUNG 'On Juche in Our Revolution', p. 225).
The DPRK did not praise Khruschov and the relationship between Khruschov and the DPRK was a very bad one . In fact Khruschov ordered his agents inside the WPK to try and carry out a coup d etat against President KIM IL SUNG in August 1956 but they were smashed and defeated by the unity of the party and people . Later in 1962 the USSR imposed its own sanctions on the DPRK . In 1964 the CPSU daily newspaper ‘Pravda ‘ attacked the DPRK for holding the Asian Economic Seminar in Pyongyang .
Far from praising Brezhnev in 1978 President KIM IL SUNG attacked dominationism pointing out that ‘ Dominationism is a counter-revolutionary trend that runs against the contemporary move towards independence; it is a common target of the struggle of the revolutionary peoples of the world. It is in the nature of dominationism to override the independence of other countries and oppress and control other nations and peoples.
Dominationism means, in one way, openly colonizing other countries and overtly oppressing and exploiting them and, in another way, dominating and controlling other countries by using various devious methods to put them under the yoke of slavery. Dominationism is practiced by the large, comparatively small, capitalist and other countries. In short, all those countries which seek to control other countries represent the dominationist forces, irrespective of their size and social system, and it is all dominationism to control others overtly or covertly.’ ( KIM IL SUNG LET US STEP UP SOCIALIST CONSTRUCTION UNDER THE BANNER OF THE JUCHE IDEA )
At the time Western commentators saw this is an attack on the Brezhnevite USSR or at least a veiled critique of the USSR .
When Chairman Mao met President KIM IL SUNG for the last time in 1975 he said ‘ Apparently, this is for us the last farewell. My closest friend and brother – this world is lucky to have a great personality as Kim Il Sung. This causes my boundless happiness. The fate of the world revolution and the international communist movement are on your shoulders, Comrade Kim Il Sung. I wish you long life and good health. This is my last wish”
As to the idea that there is ‘bureaucracy ‘ in the DPRK . The DPRK strongly combats bureaucracy . President KIM IL SUNG Chairman KIM JONG IL and Marshal KIM JONG UN have all attacked bureaucracy . The DPRK is based on the people-first principle .
The DPRK fully practises the Chongsan Ri method and Chongsan ri spirit worked out by the great leader comrade KIM IL SUNG and fully embraced by the great leader comrade KIM JONG IL. The Chongsan ri method is best defined thus
"The basic requirement of Chongsan-ri spirit is to thoroughly defend the interests of the popular masses, rally the entire people around the Party and convert all the works into that of popular masses themselves. The main content of Chongsan-ri method is that superiors help their subordinates, go out to the spot to grasp the actual conditions and find correct ways to solve the problems, give priority to the work with the people and fully mobilize the people’s revolutionary enthusiasm and creativity to carry out their assignment."
All cadres and officials are expected to do manual work . Every Friday in the DPRK all officials and cadres do a day of manual labour . Also some officials volunteer to go and work at construction sites outside of Pyongyang . For example some comrades of the DPRK Cultural Relations Committee went to work at construction sites . I met an official of the Korean Association of Social Scientists who had also gone to work at a construction site.
Officials live in ordinary blocks of flats.
When our delegation of the Juche Idea Study Group of England visited the DPRK we had some very frank discussions . A member asked about wage differentials in the DPRK . We were told that a worker earns about 2,000 won (not sure whether that was for a month or the whole year ) and a vice-minister or senior cadre earns 3,000 won . So the wage or income differential is only 1 to 1.5 based on this evidence. Compare this to the UK civil service where the differential was 1 to 10 (excluding expenses and perks for the higher castes) and it is much worse in the private sector
We did not see large private estates or big houses . The DPRK is the most egalitarian society in the world and all this stuff about there being an "elite " is a load of rubbish made up by the capitalist media and reactionary bourgeois academics.
“the same group of people linked to the Kim family interests?’ , this just repeating the slanders of the imperialist media to used to demonise real authentic socialism in the DPRK .
The use of the term "dynasty " in relation to the DPRK is wrong and misleading because it equates the DPRK with dynasties in capitalist countries or with feudal dynasties like the Ri dynasty in old Korea which sold the country out to the Japanese imperialists . The DPRK is also unfairly singled out over the issue . For example the BBC and a lot of media love for example to refer India as the "world largest democracy " , blissfully ignoring the fact that for decades India was ruled by members of the Nehru-Gandhi family ( some may also point out that India has a caste system , human rights violations by landlords etc, repression of some organisations etc) . The USA itself has the Bush dynasty , the Clinton dynasty and in the past the Roosevelts .
It is quite wrong to compare the DPRK to any of these . Respected Marshal Kim Jong Un Is the people's choice for leader . He was elected as a vice -chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea at the 3rd Party Conference of the Workers' Party of Korea and as First Secretary at the 4th Party conference of the WPK. The WPK is a party with millions of members and members from all walks of life from hotel cleaners to leading scientists , singers and actors . Most families in the DPRK have one member who is a Party member. Moreover Marshal KIM JONG UN was elected First Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK by the Supreme People's Assembly(SPA)of the DPRK . The SPA was itself elected by 99.9% of the electorate , compared to the 54.9 turnout in the last US presidential election and 66.1 turnout in the UK general election. Which country has the undemocratic and unrepresentative system, the answer is obvious looking at the statistics.
Respected Marshal KIM JONG UN is indeed the successor to the cause of Juche revolution and Songun revolution started by the great leader President KIM IL SUNG and carried forward by Chairman KIM JONG IL . He is a people's leader who puts people first and a true patriot who values independence and does not sell the country out unlike the incompetent feudal dynasties.
People who go on about ‘dynasties ‘ and ‘family leadership ‘ in the DPRK fail to take into account Korean tradition and culture which means that the work started by a father should be continued by his son and then his grandson . People who ignore Korean culture are basically not only being extremely ignorant but also racist and chauvinist towards the Korean nation .
We would pose the question that if Stalin or Mao had a son just like them , would you have opposed that son succeeding them ?.
In many socialist countries such as the USSR the succession question was not solved properly and as a result socialism collapsed in those countries.
Moreover President KIM IL SUNG , Chairman KIM JONG IL and Marshal KIM JONG UN have made great and outstanding contributions to the Korean nation and the building of socialism .
‘ The WPK has a complete monopoly on the information ‘ ??? What does this assertion mean ? It sounds like liberalism ! Surely the CPSU under Stalin and the CPC had a ‘monopoly of information ‘ . Are you saying that it is wrong for the DPRK , a small country confronted by the imperialists to have this but it is okay for the USSR and China both big countries to have such a monopoly ? .
The DPRK is based on the socialist ownership of the means of production so there is no social inequality . There are no social contradictions and no racial discrimination. In the DPRK there is no unemployment , there are no spending cuts and taxation was abolished in 1974 .
The DPRK is based on the Juche Idea , the philosophical principle of which is that man is the master . Thus because of the socialist ownership of the means of production which is both underpinned and enhanced by the Juche Idea , people in the DPRK have a high sense of ‘taking ownership’ of ‘stakeholding’ which does not exist in any capitalist country
As to ‘special zones ‘ etc is not clear whether they still operate because of the sanctions against the DPRK . I cannot find any mention of them in the English text of Marshal KIM JONG UN ’s report to the 8th Congress of the WPK . The main thing is that the DPRK’s sovereignty would still apply in them and DPRK laws such as the ‘Socialist Labour Law ‘ and other laws . Whilst the DPRK is flexible in dealing with capitalist countries at the same time it would strike back at any attempt to infringe its supreme interests or harm the socialist system in any way .
In 2019 Marshal KIM JONG UN actually called for the demolition of south Korean buildings in the Mt Kumgang Tourist zone saying that
“it was extremely wrong that a few blocks of such buildings reminiscent of temporary buildings at construction sites were set up for the tour of Mt Kumgang, the world-famous mountain’ and that ‘Mt Kumgang is our land won at the cost of blood and even a cliff and a tree there are associated with our sovereignty and dignity,’ He later criticised the Mt Kumgang zone again pointing out that ‘an overall and intuitive illustration of the fundamental difference between the architecture of capitalist businesses targeting profit-making from roughly built buildings and socialist architecture embodying the desire and aspiration of the working people.
Even a piece of architecture reflects the idea of the times, the height of the dignity of the people and the level of civilization and, therefore, construction is like an important ideological work, he said, calling for establishing Juche in architecture and thoroughly embodying our nation-first spirit and people-first spirit’
On the 16th of June 2020 the DPRK took the step of demolishing by explosion , the inter-Korean liaison Office in Kaesong on the orders of comrade Kim Yo Jong, vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers Party of Korea.
As to ‘free market ‘ etc etc . This does not exist . We were told in 2008 , 2015 , 2018 and 2019 when visiting the DPRK that there are no private businesses in the DPRK.
CIA controlled news websites such as the notorious NKNews spread false stories for years about ‘reform’ , ‘markets ‘ and ‘opening up in the DPRK . It should be remembered that the CIA once hired a former Trotskyite James Burnham to produce theories slandering the socialist countries supposedly from the Left .
The headline ' North Korea shut the door on Economic Reform ' is to be seen . Certain so-called 'experts ' on the DPRK ( in reality hired hack writers of the CIA and south Korean puppet bourgeoisie) have spent the past 8 or 9 years talking about ' reform ' 'opening up ' and 'marketisation ' in the DPRK , now they are throwing up their hands in horror screaming that the DPRK reversing 'reforms' or 'clamping down ' on reforms . Of course the 8th Congress of the WPK stressed the need to enhance the leading role and unified guidance of the state over the economy as well increasing self-reliance.
However the so-called' economic reforms’ , really never existed in the first place . If you study the writings of respected Marshal KIM JONG UN you will find no reference to ‘economic reform ‘ or ‘opening up ‘ etc . In fact in 2012 respected Marshal Kim Jong Un stated that " Efforts should be directed to holding fast to the socialist principles in the economic work and enhancing the sense of responsibility and role of working people, undertakers of production and construction, so as to increase production to the maximum." and also that" Efforts should be directed to holding fast to the socialist principles in the economic work and enhancing the sense of responsibility and role of working people, undertakers of production and construction, so as to increase production to the maximum." . On the 29th of July 2012 the Committee For Peaceful Reunification of the Country issued a statement refuting that idea of ' reform ' and 'opening up ' in the DPRK which said in part 'Upset by this, the puppet group let experts in the north affairs and others interpret the stirring situation of the DPRK in a self-centered manner, vociferating about "signs of policy change" and "attempt at reform and opening". This ridiculous rhetoric only revealed its ignorance and sinister intention against the DPRK.'
During a visit to People’s Korea in October 2019 our delegation spoke with members of another delegation , one of whom insisted that the DPRK had adopted ‘perestroika ‘ , that the DPRK was similar to the USSR in the 1980s and that there were ‘hundreds of private markets selling expensive foreign goods’ . Of course we saw no such thing !. When I repeated the allegation to our guide that the DPRK was supposedly ‘ restoring capitalism ‘ she replied that this was very untrue , very wrong . Later in our discussions with a senior Professor from the Korean Association of Social Scientists , we were told that the stories circulated by the south Korean and Western media in 2018 about the DPRK opening a McDonalds and joining the IMF were just nonsense , in fact laughable .
Visiting the DPRK many times since 2012 , I can say I saw virtually no sign of ‘ reform’ and ‘opening up . Prices remained the same in the shops over several visits.
Marshal Kim Jong Un affirmed at the 8th Congress of the Workers Party of Korea that the DPRK ‘s economy is an independent , a planned one and a people -orientated one .
Moreover at the 8th Congress of the Workers Party of Korea and also at the 2nd plenary meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers Party of Korea and the 6th Conference of Cell Secretaries it was stressed that a vigorous struggle to eliminate anti-socialist and non-socialist practices from all areas of society .
It is an assertion of all kinds of dogmatists , revisionists , ultra leftists and sectarians that ‘Juche rejects Marxism-Leninism …. Therefore we cannot support the DPRK ‘ etc . In fact a component source of the Juche idea is Marxism-Leninism . President KIM IL SUNG studied Marxist Leninist classics such as ‘Capital ‘ , ‘The State and Revolution ‘ and ‘ Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism ‘ and creatively applied them to the revolutionary struggle .
Whilst being aware of the historical limitations of classic Marxist Leninist theory , People's Korea strongly respects the great achievements of the founders of Marxism -Leninism as the great leader comrade KIM JONG IL said " Our Party and people respect Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin as the leaders of the working class and speak highly of their distinguished service'. Moreover People's Korea is one of the few countries in the world where you can take a university course in Marxism-Leninism and dialectical materialism.
In People's Korea socialism had to be built through not only struggle against imperialism and class enemies but against a hidden internal enemy , dogmatists and factionalists . These people would argue against different policies of the Workers Party of Korea either saying that such and such policy was not in the classics of Marxism -Leninism or that it had not been done in a big country . Such elements claimed to be pure Marxists , purer than pure but in fact their approach was actually extremely reactionary and counter-revolutionary , for example opposing collectivisation . Ironically these arguments that were shattered decades ago in People's Korea still echo among some on the Left today. Today much hostility on the Left to the Juche idea is based on Euro-centrism , social chauvinism and a belief that small countries cannot produce a great ideology , only a big country .
In the third world the Juche idea enjoys great support . In countries like Brazil and Bangladesh . It is an attitude of the European leftist movement to oppose Juche and repeat the slanders of the mainstream media against People’s Korea .