The US President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”, on August 8. Three days later, he would say that the US military was “on the trigger” to attack and that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, would regret threatening his country. Now he speaks of “massive military response” and of “destroying North Korea.”
By Marcos Margarido.
This happened after North Korea, an Asian country located in the south of China, whose capital, Pyongyang, is about 1,300 km from Tokyo, tested ballistic missiles, that is, long-range missiles that can reach the territory of the United States.
In addition, this small 25-million-people Asian country has already launched five atomic bombs, also in tests, and has mastered miniaturization technology, that is, it is capable of building small nuclear bombs with a high destruction power.
The UN has also approved trade sanctions against North Korea, banning the purchase of North Korean exports, which could reduce the country’s export income by a third. According to the UN, this will prevent the funding of the North Korean nuclear program.
Kim Jong-un, famous for his bombastic statements, responded by threatening to create a “fire envelope” around Guam, an island in the Pacific Ocean occupied by a US naval base. That is, it will destroy the island with a “rain” of ballistic missiles.
The origin of conflicts
How have these two countries come to this confrontation? The United States has existed as a modern nation for centuries and is today the most powerful country in the world. North Korea was founded in 1948, although it has millennial traditions, and is infinitely weaker. To have an idea, in 2013, the US per capita income was US$ 44,000 while in North Korea it was US$ 500, 88-fold lower.
However, the United States has always had a capitalist development. Today, most of the big multinationals that dominate the world economy are Americans, and the richest families in the world live in that country.
North Korea emerged after World War II when Japan was defeated and expelled from the Korean peninsula, which it occupied since the beginning of the 20th century. There followed a huge mobilization of the working class in the North, the industrial heart of the country, that occupied factories, founded unions and popular committees throughout the territory. Thus, a workers’ state was created, that is, a state where the workers hold power, and the factories and land are state-owned properties.
However, this mobilization came under the leadership of a party controlled by the Soviet Union which, 10 years after the victorious revolution of 1917, was ruled by Stalin with an iron fist, who imposed an end to the organization of the working class in committees of government (the Soviets) and to its democracy.
The same was true in the Korean workers’ state, where the councils and unions were controlled by the ruling party, the Communist Party of Korea, since its inception.
Meanwhile, the South was occupied by US troops and a US-backed military dictatorship that promoted a gigantic massacre against the population fighting for the country’s independence. Unions and strikes were considered illegal, popular committees banned, and the Martial Law was declared. A permanent state of war was imposed. Only in a South Korean police attack, during a popular commemoration of the expulsion of Japan, 60,000 people were murdered.
The war finally occurred between 1950 and 1953, and the Korean peninsula was definitely divided in North and South Koreas. To the south, a capitalist country governed by a dictatorship that would last for more than 30 years and survived thanks to economic and military aid from the United States. To the north, a workers’ state, ruled by a party under the control of the Soviet Union.
The end of the workers’ state
North Korea developed rapidly for 10 years in a row. Between 1953 and 1963, the country’s GDP grew 15% a year, with the building of an industrial complex focused on the production of armaments. But the production of consumer goods, and even food has been relegated to the background. Food production in the late 1950s was still lower than before the Korean War.
Its main trading partners were China, where a victorious revolution had also taken place in 1949, and the Soviet Union. But the restoration of capitalism in these countries from the late ’70s would bring problems for North Korea. The Soviet Union, transformed in Russia, and China turned to demand payment for their exports in dollars and no longer exchanged for North Korean goods, as had hitherto happened.
North Korea entered a very big economic crisis, and food shortages have led to the starvation of more than 500,000 people in the ‘90s. But the dictator, Kim Il-sung, who increasingly relied on the army to govern, instead of seeking the support of the workers to get out of this situation, opened the country for the return of the capitalists.
Kim Il-sung opened the economy for foreign investment, with the formation of joint ventures of private/state-owned enterprises, created free zones under the control of large multinationals, and even sold islands to Chinese businessmen for tourism investment.
It is the beginning of North Korea’s capitalist restoration, deepened when Kim Jong-il, son of Kim Il-sung, takes over. In 2002, the Kaesong Industrial District, run by Hyundai, is created, the price control is abandoned, causing a 500-fold increase in food prices, and the people’s money is confiscated by currency devaluation.
Thus, the workers’ state ceases to exist and the country starts to have a capitalist economy with some control of the state and under a dictatorship that is passed from father to son.
The new dictator assumes power
In 2012, Kim Jong-Il dies and his son, Kim Jong-un takes over and speeds up privatization. He established a policy of “parallel development” of economy and nuclear program. That is, the economy is in the hands of the capitalists, who pay taxes and even make “generous donations” to the government to facilitate their business, while the government invests more and more in the nuclear program.
Currently there is a major development of civil construction in the capital, Pyongyang, where modern skyscrapers are being built by private companies, whose owners are iron heads of Communist Party members, now called the Workers’ Party. That is, the very members of the ruling party are becoming big capitalists under the protection of the state. Meanwhile, workers receive US$ 30 a month on average, while the cost of living doubles that.
The capitalist economy is so large that about 40% of the population of the country is involved in some type of private business, as bosses or as employees. Only in the retail market, there are 1.1 million workers.
The nuclear program
The result of this policy is the existence of a nuclear nation that cannot resolve the hunger of its people. However, despite all that is said above, we cannot forget for a minute that the greatest danger of nuclear extinction that humanity faces today comes from the United States, not from North Korea.
While North Korea just begins to produce bombs and is estimated to have less than 10 warheads, but without reliable missiles capable of transporting them, the United States has 7,650 warheads distributed across several countries, such as Germany and Turkey, with nuclear submarines and launch pads ready to destroy the planet Earth several times.
The United States is the only country to have dropped atomic bombs, sweeping the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing more than 200,000 deaths at the end of World War II when Japan had already surrendered.
To maintain the monopoly of the nuclear threat, US imperialism is trying to prevent countries like Iran and North Korea from developing their own technology, a democratic right of any country in the world, while allowing servile military allies like Israel to develop their weapons without questioning them.
In one of his few public statements, Kim Jong-un said that “military technological supremacy is not a monopoly of imperialists anymore, and the time has gone forever when the enemies threatened and intimidated us with atomic bombs.”
Although the nuclear power of the imperialist countries is incomparable, it is correct to say that it is necessary to end their nuclear monopoly so that the weaker countries have their means of defense against the attacks of these powers.
Therefore, without giving any political support to Kim Jong-un, we defend the right of his country to develop and test nuclear weapons for self-defense. And we will be on the side of North Korea, even under a dictatorship, against any attack that the “democrat” Trump could unleash on that country.
But to ensure a safe nuclear development for humanity, it is necessary for the working class to seize power in these countries and to establish socialism based on workers’ councils. The Korean workers have the task of overthrowing North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un as well as South Korea’s “democratic” president, Moon Jae-in, to reunite the Korean peninsula in one country and return it to the people as part of the struggle for socialism all over the world.
 A few days ago, Trump twitted, “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”, interpreted by Kim Jung-an as a “clear declaration of war.”