Author Topic: Against 'Demonization'  (Read 3086 times)

Phil Talbot

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Against 'Demonization'
« on: April 05, 2009, 06:17:20 PM »
Transcript below - from STSTWC archives - provides
some contexts / alternative perspectives [of a sort
not much to be found in mainstream media] relating to
recent events re 'North Korea' / DPRK.
It records, as factually as possible, what was actually said by
DPRK envoys talking openly in North-East England.
Phil (a 'friend' of - but not an 'apologist' for - 'North Korea'/DPRK, which, the (unfriendly-seeming) BBC informs me today, 'has few friends')

On Thursday, 26 May 2005 Nader A-Naderi, Roger
Nettleship, Alan Newham and Philip Talbot, of South
Tyneside Stop The War Coalition, attended a meeting at
Newcastle University with Mr Ha Sin Guk, Second
Secretary of the Embassy of the Democratic Peopleís
Republic of Korea [DPRK] in London, and Mr Ri Kwang
Nam, another member of the DPRK embassy staff.

Mr Ha [speaking in English] gave a talk in which he
started by speaking about the development of
diplomatic relations between Britain and the DPRK
since 2001, when the London embassy was established.
He said that no one from the DPRK embassy had been to
Newcastle before, or indeed to the North East Ė a very
important area of England. He spoke about the visit in
the afternoon to the Redhills Miners' Hall in Durham
and its great importance in the history of the working
class movement, and the rooms and banners that reflect
how the workers have lived and campaigned to defend
their rights.

He then said that because of articles published in the
newspapers many people misunderstand and mistrust the
DPRK on nuclear issues and on human rights abuse, and
are disinformed on the internal situation on the
Korean peninsula. Therefore, he said, he would like to
mention specific issues and then to give some answers
to peopleís questions.

Mr Ha said that 15 June 2000, was a very important
occasion for Korea. This was the date of the historic
meeting between Chairman Kim Jong Il, from the north,
and the former President Kim Dae-jung, from the south,
in Pyongyang. This, he said, declared the
determination of the Korean people to unify their
country by themselves peacefully and democratically,
without interference from other forces, principally
the US. Mr Ha said that all the Korean people were
very excited by the fact that unification could come
finally in our generation. After the 15 June
declaration, very positive events had happenined. He
said there were all kinds of bi-lateral cabinet,
ministerial, economic, cultural and other meetings.

He said Korean families have been divided since the
Korean war [early 1950s], and millions of people have
not been able to meet their parents, sister or
brothers and, even though they live in the north and
south of Korea, they cannot exchange letters or
telephone each other. It is a big national tragedy
that because of the intervention in the Korean War,
the people cannot meet each other. Therefore, he said,
it is the entire Korean peopleís natural desire to
unify their country
peacefully and democratically as soon as possible.

Mr Ha then said that following 11 September 2001, and
the Bush administration's declaration of a 'war on
terrorism', George W Bush pinpointed the DPRK as part
of an "axis of evil" and targeted it for pre-emptive
nuclear strike.

The first term of the Bush administration discouraged
the South Korean authorities from engagement with the
north, so this did not bode well for the historic
declaration due to this American intervention. In its
second term, the Bush administration resumed the
argument that the DPRK is once again an "outpost of
tyranny". He said they do this even though they
sometimes acknowledge the DPRK as a sovereign state
demanding that they come to the table on the nuclear
issue.

Speaking about the nuclear issue, Mr Ha said the DPRK
was determined to solve this issue and had already
declared that it wants to make the Korean peninsula
nuclear free. He said the DPRK had  suspended uranium
enrichment and the development of its nuclear
programme for the talks. But the Bush administration
had destroyed the Framework Agreement which was signed
between the US and the DPRK under the Clinton
administration in 1994. In this agreement, the
Americans had guaranteed to build Light Water Reactors
to produce electricity in the DPRK, which in return
would suspend and would finally destroy all its
nuclear activities.

He said that in spite of their best efforts the DPRK
had been unable to solve the nuclear issue, mainly
because of the hostile policy of the US towards a
sovereign country the DPRK. So, he said, it was a very
difficult prospect to solve this issue unless the Bush
administration dropped their hostile policy towards
the DPRK.

He said that because of the rumours in the western
world, in Britain because of the disinformation put
out by the BBC and the newspapers, as well as in the
US, North Korea is blamed for pushing to protect its
nuclear weapons programme and other nuclear
activities.

Mr Ha suggested that a sovereign country has the right
to develop any kind of weapons, or forces, for its
defence. When such a superpower as the US threatens to
destroy their country, a people cannot accept such a
threat of nuclear war and they must have their own
forces for deterrence and to defend their sovereignty
and the system that they have chosen.

For centuries, Mr Ha said, Korea had been oppressed by
other countries like Japan. In three years during the
Korean war, the American side destroyed all of the
country. So, he said, peopleís feelings are very
strong that they will never be occupied again and
oppressed by foreign forces.
Mr Ha said that the US still has 43,000 occupying
troops in south Korea and more than 1,000 nuclear
weapons stationed there. Therefore, the DPRK cannot
live peacefully without any preparations or
development of deterrent forces to confront the
American threat. So, he said, the people of the DPRK
are determined to defend their sovereign rights to
fight against possible American intervention.

Mr Ha then stressed that whilst he wanted to clarify
the background to the "nuclear issue", it is also the
case that the DPRK would like to make the Korean
peninsula a nuclear free zone. He said, therefore,
that if the circumstances are met and America drops
its hostile policy and has genuine intentions to show
us, to negotiate the fundamental issues on the Korean
peninsula, the DPRK is ready to go to the table at any
time, whatever the format of the negotiations.

He said that the DPRK wants to solve the outstanding
issues such as the nuclear issue and other related
issues. He said that if the American side listens to
our concerns we are also ready to listen to their
concerns. If both sides trust each other and drop
their suspicions and hostile policy then we think
there are possibilities.

He said that the DPRK has already shown in February
2005 that the country will defend itself against
American nuclear threat and that it will not go to the
six-party negotiations unless America has shown
genuine intention to solve this issue.

Concluding his remarks, Mr Ha said that on the 5th
anniversary of the joint North-South Declaration there
will be meetings held in Pyongyang and Seoul, with
celebrations in Pyongyang attended by representatives
from authorities and organisations from north and
south Korea and organisations from all over the world.

He then pointed out that Kim Jong Il is the National
Defence Commission Chairman of the DPRK, the leader
guiding the party and country, and that 19 June would
be the 41st anniversary of the commencement of his
work in the Central Committee of the Workers Party of
Korea.

Mr Ha and Mr Ri then answered questions.

The following are some of the remarks made by them in
the question and answer session:

Speaking about the allegations of famine in the DPRK,
Mr Ha said that there were many rumours in the western
mass media that 3 million people died during the
famine. He said that while this was quite false, they
are not hiding that there have been some problems and
difficulties and shortages of food. He said that from
1994-5 there were consecutive natural disasters of
flood and drought in all of the north of Korea.
Therefore, he said, our agricultural production
dropped rapidly. He mentioned the added factors of the
economic sanctions and blockade by the Americans and
that the socialist countries had collapsed. Before
this calamity, the system in the DPRK had been that
the government distributed food Ė mainly rice and corn
Ė but with this situation they were not able to
distribute the same proportion of food, and therefore
some families suffered to get proper food and there
were some difficulties. He said they had called this
period "the arduous march" because the society lacked
food and the economy lacked raw materials, especially
lack of electricity. DPRK had suffered this period for
five or six years he said, the hardest period in our
nationís history to date, but now we have overcome
these difficulties, and food production has improved
radically and there is no famine at this moment
although there were still some food shortages. So they
had appealed to the world to donate food to their
country he said, and many bodies as the United Nations
World Food Programme have donated large amounts of
food and medicines, and many international
organisations are operating in Pyongyang and helping
us to provide the food. He said that the lack of food
and protein affected some elderly people and some
babies, possibly causing some deaths, but that 3
million people died, as the western media say, with
starvation in the whole of the country, is simply not
true.
He said that they donít hide that this was a very
difficult period for 10 years which they have now
gradually overcome. From 2002 they have changed and
improved their economic management introducing some
farmer markets to the commodity market. They have
given the initiative to the cooperative farms to farm
more themselves so that the largest sector of the
economy, the agricultural sector, is gradually
improving. But, at the same time, they are still
cooperating with other countries for assistance and
sustainable development he concluded.

Asked about the geo-political situation and the aims
of the US in the region Mr Ha said that the DPRK had
lived with economic sanctions for over half a century.
He said the US regards the Korean peninsula as of
strategic importance to achieve American influence in
this very important area because the Korean peninsula
is surrounded with large countries. China has the
largest population in the world, Japan is the second
biggest economic power in the world and Russia is the
biggest country in the world with regard to territory.
With that, the Korean peninsula is in the middle of
the three countries. He said that the US wants the
Korean peninsula as their pro-American state to deter
and to influence China, Russia and this area. He said
they want the Korean peninsula as their own back yard.
Therefore, he said, the US wants to create every day
some nuclear issues, or on another day some
allegations of human rights abuse as a way of
provocation to keep their military presence in south
Korea. So, he said, if there is no confrontation, if
there is a peaceful situation there, then there is no
justification or argument for the US to keep their
military presence in south Korea. Of course, he said,
the US is cooperating now with China and Russia but
still China and Russia are their strategic enemy in
the long term. So, the US wants to maintain its
influence in this area but they want the Korean
peninsula as their forward base.

Speaking further about the nuclear issue, Mr Ha said
that because the US has declared the DPRK as a nuclear
pre-targeted country, the question arises as to how
the country can be defended from these huge military
arsenals? He said they only accused Iraq of having
weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to invade and
occupy Iraq. Therefore the DPRK has already proclaimed
that they have a nuclear deterrent.

Mr Ri then added that the nuclear issue is not the
main issue for the US. The only issue for the US was
to overthrow the socialist system in the DPRK in what
they call regime change. He then went on to detail
evidence the US provided themselves for this
conclusion.

Asked a question about China, Mr Ha said they are
their friendly neighbours and historically they have
had good relations with China and Russia. He said that
since Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule
in 1945, China has supported Korea and we have
supported China, and he went on to speak about their
support in the 6-party talks.

Answering a question about unification, Mr Ha said
that before 2000 there were bad feelings among the
people of south Korea about the north because of the
strong propaganda in south Korean media and newspapers
and under the American influence for more than fifty
years. However, since the historic meeting in
Pyongyang and the North South Declaration there have
been long talks with journalists of the south Korean
newspapers and the realisation that the north Koreans
are normal human beings! There have been dramatic
changes in the opinions of the south Korean people. Mr
Ha said that the Korean people have the same language
and a common history and the realisation has been
growing that we can now live peacefully together. He
said that the south Koreans donít want to give up
their own political system and their own ideas. He
said this was the same for the north Koreans. He
explained that unification will only come about by
creating a confederation of the two Koreas that
respected the two political and economic systems. He
said that the economic cooperation between North and
South was going well and there had been some close
contact. He said that now tens of thousands of
tourists were being sent to the DPRK. However, he
warned that the
Americans donít want this to go well and have no
intention to facilitate peaceful unification on the
Korean peninsula.

Answering a question about the apparent policy of the
British government to use its diplomatic relations to
demonise the DPRK as an "outpost of tyranny", Mr Ha
said that it is true 'they' [the British authorities]
want to have 'critical engagement' with 'us' [DPRK].
They have diplomatic relations with us, so why should
this mean 'critical engagement'? he asked. He said
that DPRK had sent many high-ranking delegations from
their side to visit Britain to promote diplomatic
relations Ė the Speaker had visited Britain, the
Deputy Foreign Minister had visited three times, as
well as the Prime Minister. From the UK side, only a
Minister of State in the last year had for the first
time visited the DPRK to discuss a number of issues,
but he had made a great show of concern about alleged
human rights abuse. Mr Ha said that it is completely
unfair that Britain, or other visiting countries, wish
to force them to follow the agenda and example of the
western world. He said each country is a sovereign
state, and has its own system and its own traditions.
How can they follow a British standard and or allow
Britain to regulate such things? He said that each
country has its own sovereign right to make people
more free and give people more democracy and realise
more harmony in society in its own way. He said all
systems and rules and regulations emerge from the
peopleís desire and intentions and their traditions.
Mr Ha said that these visitors donít care what our
people think, what their countryís situation is but
only they see the human rights situation in Korea with
their own views and their own standards. Mr Ha said
this is a blind policy. He said they must see it in
the context of historical background and cultural
traditions. He said that Korea is divided between
North and South and always threatened and pressured
from the American side, creating a dangerous
situation. The DPRK cannot only give the individual
rights and freedom but must think first of the
society, first of the state and then individual
interests. They are facing the threat of nuclear war
from the US, so how can they say that there should be
only individual freedom? He said the individual
interest should be combined with the state survival
because without the state how can individual people
make themselves exist freely if their country becomes
a colony again? Mr Ha said that under Japanese
colonial rule we cannot say anything of human rights
at that time because the people were oppressed by the
Japanese. He said they donít look at the rights and
freedoms that exist now in the DPRK, but say that
there are no political rights and freedoms. They do
not look at the historical background and our
political situation, he said. He said we must put the
national interest first, but must make all the
society, all of the people, more happy he concluded.



« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 09:12:38 PM by Roger »