Amid exchange of pleasant words, the US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un signed an evasive joint statement based on promises from both sides. On denuclearization, the agreement says that North Korea “reaffirms its firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” The United States, in turn, would take on the “commitment to provide security guarantees” to North Korea. When asked about the economic blockade of the country, Trump replied that it would continue until North Korea showed more.

By Marcos Margarido – PSTU (Brazil).

 

The agreement also says the two countries will join efforts to build a “lasting and robust peace regime” in the divided peninsula, which means the possibility of signing a peace agreement between the two Koreas. Formally, South and North Korea have been at war since the 1950s following the US invasion held to prevent the socialist revolution that founded a bureaucratized workers’ state in the North in 1948 from reaching the entire peninsula. Since then, it has been divided at the so-called “parallel 38” – a militarized border – between the Republic of Korea to the south and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north.

The only concrete measure, but not written, came from Trump at a press conference. He said he would suspend joint military exercises with South Korea – the “war games” – but not without saying that they are very expensive and – a concession to Kim – very provocative. These exercises are carried out regularly and are simulations of a possible invasion of North Korea by both countries.

When asked about the so-called “human rights” issue in the country, that is, about the dictator Kim Jong-un’s bloodthirsty policy against his own people, Trump said that they discussed the matter briefly and ended up defending him: “Well, he is very talented. Anyone who takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough. I think there is a rough situation over there. No question about it. It’s rough. It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way.”

However, despite the lack of results expressed by the joint statement, the world press qualifies it as a historic meeting. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that just sitting down to talk is already “creating a new history.” Britain’s The Time called the talk the “meeting of the century.” What is the reason?

From a bureaucratized workers’ state to capitalist semi-colony

It is interesting to note that the media, even the American, carefully avoided calling Kim a Communist dictator. This was the rule when the North Korean regime threatened to unleash a nuclear war.

In fact, North Korea is far from being a “communist” country today. Its history can be divided into two phases. The first is the liberation from Japan’s colonial yoke after the Second World War and the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1948 (followed by the US invasion and partition of the peninsula) to capitalist restoration, in the 90’s. The second, from restoration to the present day.

In the first phase, the Japanese bourgeoisie, which owned the main factories and lands in the industrialized north and ruled the country’s finances, was expropriated. An intense worker mobilization occupied the factories, founded trade unions and created popular committees after the defeat of Japan in the second world war. The collectivization of the means of production and land made the country grow 15% for ten consecutive years after the end of the Korean War in 1953.

However, the workers’ state that emerged had a leading party controlled by the ex-Soviet Union, which was completely under Stalinist rule. That is why it was born bureaucratized. This leadership, the Workers’ Party, wiped out the democracy that existed at the beginning of the revolutionary process and ruled the country with an iron hand, instituting a hereditary dynasty. The current president is the grandson of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung.

One of the adopted policies, consistent with the Stalinist heritage of socialism in one country, was the Juche, or self-reliance, in 1955. This policy led North Korea to isolation, having as its only ally, at first, the former USSR and then China. This isolation led the country to complete dependence on its larger allies, since it was impossible to build a workers’ state in a small territory with few natural resources and only 18% of arable land, with an incipient industry and a peasant majority out of a 25-million population.

The second phase of a capitalist state began in the 1990s, after the capitalist restoration in China (late 1970s) and of the Soviet Union in 1986. All subsidies from those countries to North Korea were cut and the trade based on the exchange of products, always advantageous to the small country, was over. To this should be added the US-led trade blockade, which preferred to dump money and arms in South Korea, under the rule of an even more violent dictatorship.

The country was opened to foreign investment, with the creation of special economic zones for capitalist exploitation, seeking to attract capital mainly from South Korea. But capital entered with the sole purpose of exploiting the cheaper labor force of the north in factories located at the border. The country experiences a chronic economic crisis, aggravated by the amount of the military budget, which consumes most of its revenues. Nowadays, there is complete freedom for capitalist exploitation, with an important development of the civil construction, done by private companies whose owners are members of the “communist” party, who are forming a new bourgeoisie. It is estimated that 40% of the population is involved, as employers or employees, in private business.

Between these two phases there is a thread of continuity: the maintenance of the Kim family’s dictatorship, that never hesitated to attack its own people to grab power, throwing thousands into concentration camps, pushing the peasants to forced labor and whose economic policy based in the Juche was responsible for the death of about 500,000 Koreans due to famine caused by bad harvests in the 90s, which leaves marks in the population until today.

Therefore, if the bourgeois media was wrong to identify Kim Jong-un as a Communist, it remains wrong to fail to qualify him as a ruthless dictator, hoping that the expected agreement with the United States will complete the colonization of the country.

Perspectives

Firstly, it must be acknowledged that there was a political agreement in these talks. The fact that Trump never made any criticism of Kim Jong-un’s regime, of calling him talented, and of understanding his “rough” situation as the head of the country, legitimizes him before the population and gives him more conditions to increase the exploitation of North Korean workers. It also backs the ongoing formation of a new North Korean bourgeoisie that may in the future be the minor partner of the South Korean bourgeoisie in its semi-colonial relationship with the US itself. This is also the sense of a likely peace agreement between the Koreas and a future unification under US patronage.

However, the reinforcement of authority that Trump granted to Kim was based on his total capitulation to the military pressures of US imperialism and China’s diplomacy. Prior to the meeting, Mr. Kim traveled twice to China for talks with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president. Mr. Kim was advised to make an agreement with the United States for the denuclearization of the peninsula. So, Mr. Xi pushes North Korea, which has its main trade partner in China, toward becoming a semi-colony of the United States and losing the political independence won by the revolution, perhaps the last remnant of that great event.

Kim Jung-un leaves the door open for American capital into the country, though not immediately. As Trump said, North Korea needs to show more … A symptom of this possibility is a video produced at Trump’s request, showing the two options that the country had to face: returning to the past of hunger, backwardness and war or go forward a bright future with ultramodern factories, cities filled with skyscrapers and stocked supermarkets.

These are, therefore, Kim Jung-un’s options: to keep a country independent of imperialism or to become a colony of a semi-colony. The problem is that the first option would only be possible if he called the North Korean workers and peasants for a national mobilization against capitalist exploitation and the advancement of imperialist domination, calling on the working class of the South for a joint struggle for the unification of the Korean peninsula based on a new revolution and a workers’ state of the whole peninsula. However, a social class does not commit suicide and Kim knows which class he belongs to.

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[1] For more information: https://litci.org/en/world/asia-world/north-core/method-kim-jong-il-leva-incerteza-a-core-do-norte /