The Workers’ Party of Korea was formed on 10 October 1945 in the immediate aftermath of the defeat of Japan in World War 2.
Following the war, the part of Korea that lay south of the 38th parallel was occupied by US imperialism, while the Soviet Red Army went to the northern part to consolidate the departure of the Japanese occupiers of Korea.
It had been agreed at the 1943 Cairo conference that Korea should become an independent state after the war, but, as Comrade Kim Il Sung pointed out: “the US imperialists who occupied south Korea were opposed from the start to the construction by the Korean people of a democratic independent state, while they pursued a colonial enslavement policy there”.
Although the US imperialists’ agreed role, like that of the Soviet Union in the north, was to disarm the outgoing Japanese army, dismantle the Japanese colonial government, ensure a peaceful handover of the Korean peninsula to the Korean people, and then leave, instead they kept the Japanese system of colonial control intact, and to this day they have not left.
So while the Soviet Union facilitated the Korean people in setting up their own government in the manner the Korean people saw fit, and then left on time as required, the south became a neo-colony of US imperialism.
“In enforcing military administration in south Korea the US imperialists cracked down on the patriotic democratic forces on the one hand, and, on the other, raked together the reactionary forces to lay a political foothold for their colonial rule.
“The US imperialists forcibly dissolved local self-governing bodies and the people’s committees at all levels set up by the people themselves …
“The US imperialists persecuted and suppressed the activities of democratic political parties and social organisations in every way and arrested and imprisoned the revolutionaries and patriots who opposed or resisted their policy of colonial enslavement and repression.
“At the same time with the suppression of the people, they were busy raking together the pro-Japanese elements, national traitors and other reactionary elements and employed them in military government organs to make them their political foothold for colonial rule.” (Prof and Dr Kim Han Gil, Modern History of Korea, Pyongyang, 1979)
This is the background against which the Workers’ Party of Korea was formed in the northern part of the country, free from interference by US imperialism.
The party was formed largely on the basis of an initial membership made up in large part of soldiers of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army (KPRA), who had been battle-hardened in the anti-Japanese war in Korea and China. The circumstances of harsh Japanese military occupation and revolutionary war had combined to make it impossible to follow a more classic route to party formation.
However, knowing that the day would come when, with the defeat of Japanese imperialism, the Korean people would need to set up their own democratic government in their homeland, all soldiers of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army received intensive training in Marxism Leninism and the history of their country in order to prepare them as vanguard cadres for the building of a new society.
Comrade Kim Il Sung, the undisputed leader of the Korean people’s revolutionary struggle, was extremely well versed in the principles of Marxism Leninism and understood how necessary it was for these to be grasped firmly by all who sought freedom and independence.
Kim Il Sung declared: “With the great event of national liberation approaching, we need many excellent cadres who are prepared politically and militarily. Whether or not we shall be ready for the great event of national liberation depends on how firmly the entire commanders and soldiers of the KPRA, the nuclear forces of the Korean revolution, prepare themselves politically and militarily.
“So, all commanders and soldiers should make the most of every condition and possibility to intensify their study in order to more firmly prepare themselves politically and ideologically and in military technique. They should intensify their study of Marxist-Leninist theory and, especially, study hard the line of the Korean revolution, its strategy and tactics.
“Thus all of them will become competent political workers capable of undertaking and performing the duties of a higher rank and skilfully organising and mobilising the masses for the revolutionary struggle.” (On preparing for the great event of national liberation, speech delivered to a meeting of military and political cadres of the KPRA at Hsiaohaerhpaling, Manchuria, August 1940)
The soldiers of the KPRA studied every single day that conditions allowed in order to bring them up to a high level of class consciousness and political understanding, which in turn was a factor in enabling them to win important battles against Japanese imperialist troops. They also gained experience on civil administration in running liberated areas during the course of the war.
Thus the military personnel who became the backbone of the Workers’ Party of Korea when it was formed were not ordinary soldiers but masses of patriotic people who had been thoroughly trained in Marxism Leninism despite the fact that conditions had not previously allowed for the actual formation of a Marxist-Leninist party.
Nevertheless, the Workers’ Party of Korea, which was formed at an inaugural party congress that took place in Pyongyang from 10-13 October 1945, was by no means confined to KPRA personnel. Korean communists who had not participated directly in the anti-Japanese war were approached to take part in the inaugural congress, and the party committed itself to striving for a wide proletarian dominant membership.
Inevitably the recruitment of varied elements led to many ideological divides that had to be straightened out, but in the course of time opportunist elements were weeded out and the party became the strong monolithic party that it remains to this day.
The party continues to guide the Korean people in conditions today that are no less difficult and complicated than those that prevailed at the time of victory over Japan. Not for one moment has US imperialism abandoned its dream of imposing its reactionary tutelage over the whole of Korea. Its efforts multiplied as a result of its defeat in the Korean Fatherland Liberation War (1950-53) and surged even more after the fall of the Soviet Union as a result of the latter’s embrace of market-’socialist’ revisionism.
The more US imperialist bullying, guile and propaganda fail, as a result of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s wise policies, the more desperate does US imperialism become. Yet still does little David stand proud and indefeasible against the Goliath monster of imperialism. The DPRK could not have achieved this without the brave and wise leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea and its successive leaders.
The CPGB-ML congratulates the WPK on the occasion of the celebration of the 72nd anniversary of its founding and wishes it continued success as a beacon of struggle for exploited and oppressed people the world over.