The U.S. government’s frenzied campaign against North Korea seems designed to scare everyone to death. Excerpts below from a 2011 Freedom Socialist article “Behind the US demonization of North Korea” provide some history to illuminate what’s going on now.
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A revolution derailed. The Japanese empire occupied Korea from 1910 until its World War II defeat in 1945. While partially industrializing the country, Japan looted Korea’s natural resources, undermined its ancient culture, and brutally repressed popular uprisings.
During World War II, by the time U.S. forces landed in Korea in September 1945, local revolutionary committees organized by the communist movement had already ousted Japanese administrators and set up a People’s Republic to govern the country. They had also begun desperately needed land reform for the peasants.
However, against the will of the Korean people, the Allies arranged for Korea’s division, with the Soviet Union controlling the North and the U.S. the South. The two occupiers handpicked the leaders of the two regions.
Stalin selected exile Kim Il Sung to head North Korea precisely because Kim had no ties to the native Korean communist movement. The U.S. appointed exile Syng-man Rhee to head up South Korea. An anti-communist Korean nationalist, Rhee was educated at Harvard and Princeton and proved to be a willing right-hand man for imperialism.
The Korean War ignited when the North invaded the South in 1950 to achieve reunification, which was supported by the overwhelming majority of Koreans in both parts of the country. The militarily superior U.S. responded with a fierce bombing campaign that destroyed every building more than one story high in the North. It dropped napalm everywhere, and seriously considered using nuclear weapons.
Three million North Koreans and one million South Koreans are estimated to have died in the conflict, along with nearly a million Chinese and 54,000 U.S. soldiers.
Astonishingly, with the help of Chinese soldiers, North Korean forces drove the South Korean and U.S. forces back to the 38th parallel. It was a shocking, first military defeat for the U.S. and a valuable lesson for the rest of the world — the new superpower was not invincible.
Postwar blows. For a time, with help from the Soviet Union, material conditions in the North improved much faster than in the South. But the small country’s economy eventually sank, hit hard by punishing U.S. trade and finance blockades, dissolution of the USSR in 1991, devastating famine, and China veering off toward capitalist restoration. No matter how much North Korea believed in the Stalinist theory of socialism in one country, it disproved it, unable to withstand profound economic and political isolation.
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Empire America has had nuclear weapons in South Korea and on its warships in the region for decades. It is absurd hypocrisy for the U.S. to assert any claim to prevent North Korea’s right to self-defense. The only sane solution is to abolish all nuclear arms and make self-defense against them needless.
However much the politicians and media vilify North Korea, working people — from the United States to both sides of divided Korea — are clamoring for peace, not war.
• Stop the U.S. war games! U.S. out of South Korea!
• Solidarity with all workers internationally against their ruling-class abusers!
• For worldwide nuclear disarmament!