In this comprehensive interview with Red Star Radio’s Alexander Mckay, Comrade Joti Brar reports back from her recent visit to south Korea with the World Anti-imperialist Platform, following a similar interview after her visit to Venezuela.
Speaking about the Platform’s rally in Gwangju, Joti reflects that this city is the one place in south Korea where one can speak relatively openly about the reunification of Korea, openly about north Korea in any positive light, openly about simply bringing together the workers of one country into union. This is because the south’s ‘national security law’ has criminalised all such discussion under the comprehensive crime of ‘sympathy with the DPRK’.
This law is difficult to enforce in a city with the revolutionary history and traditions of Gwangju, however. The armed uprising that took place there in 1980 has left a legacy of militancy that remains strong in the culture and consciousness of the workers there.
Although the media constantly reports on the supposed ‘prisonhouse’ that north Korea (the DPRK) is alleged to be, Joti remarks that – if you go and look at the border separating the north from the south – all the military infrastructure of fences, watchtowers, etc, is on the southern side. It is not the north that keeps people in but the occupied, colonised and controlled south.
This stems from the initial victory of Korea’s liberation forces over their Japanese colonisers at the end of the second world war. After the war, ‘allied’ forces arrived to help ensure the permanent freedom of Korea from Japan. But while the Soviet forces withdrew on schedule from the north of the country, the United States refused to do so, setting up instead a harshly repressive and anticommunist proxy regime under its command and turning the country into its biggest base abroad, the better to dominate the region and threaten newly-socialist China and the socialist Soviet Union.
The genocidal war that was launched by the US imperialists against the newly set-up socialist state in the north was aimed at the whole socialist camp, something those countries all understood very clearly. That was why the Soviet Union sent pilots to act as an airforce for the DPRK, since it did not yet have one of its own, and why the Chinese people sent an army of one million volunteers to the aid of their Korean comrades, although the mopping up operations following the victory of their own socialist revolution less than a year earlier were still underway.
As a result of US actions, south Korea has remained under military occupation since WW2, and the tensions this has produced on the Korean peninsular will persist until the country can be reunited – free from US military bases, and from US economic and political control.