Category: DPRK
The Destruction and Reconstruction of North Korea, 1950 – 1960’1950-1960
worker | May 25, 2021 | 7:25 pm | DPRK | Comments closed
‘Goodwill for Goodwill’: Pyongyang Urges Biden to Drop ‘Lunatic Theory of Threat From North Korea’
worker | March 18, 2021 | 8:05 pm | DPRK | Comments closed


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Reports previously suggested that North Korean authorities had not responded to “behind-the-scenes diplomatic outreach” by the US, with no dialogue between the two countries having taken place for over a year.

North Korean First Vice Minister Choe Son Hui on Wednesday confirmed that Pyongyang had received requests for contact from the new US administration, noting that any dialogue is impossible unless Washington “rolls back its hostile policy towards the DPRK”.

“The US has tried to contact us since mid-February through several routes including New York”, she said, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. “It recently requested to contact us by sending e-mails and telephone messages via various routes. Even in the evening before the joint military drill, it sent a message imploring us to respond to its request through a third country”.

Soldiers during a military parade marking the 105th birthday of Kim Il-Sung, the founder of North Korea, in Pyongyang
Soldiers during a military parade marking the 105th birthday of Kim Il-Sung, the founder of North Korea, in Pyongyang

According to the official, the Biden administration should leave behind the “lunatic theory of [the] ‘threat from North Korea’ and groundless rhetoric about complete denuclearisation”.

“But we don’t think there is a need to respond to the US delaying-time trick again”, Choe said. “It had better contemplate what we can do in the face of its continued hostile policy toward us. We already clarified that we will counter the US on the principle of power for power and goodwill for goodwill”.

The statement comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin are in Seoul on an official visit where they held 2+2 talks with counterparts. During the talks, the US confirmed its commitments to the denuclearisation of the North and defending the South.

During his presidential campaign last year, Joe Biden criticised Donald Trump for meeting with Kim Jong-un, as it did not lead to a halt in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes. He also called the North Korean leader a “thug”, “tyrant”, and “dictator”, while the DPRK media called Biden an “imbecile” and a “rabid dog”.

In January, Kim stated that the US was his country’s “biggest enemy”, noting, however, that he does not rule out diplomatic contacts between Pyongyang and Washington.

In 2018, during the first-ever meeting between leaders of North Korea and the US in Singapore, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un signed a joint agreement, marking the de-escalation of relations between the two countries. The two leaders met the following year in Hanoi to continue the negotiations, but failed to reach a deal on the issues of sanctions. The relations between the two countries have since tensed, with Pyongyang ignoring all attempts at contact from Washington since mid-February 2021 following the announcement of the March joint military drills between the US and South Korea.

EXCLUSIVE: Why Everything You Think You Know About North Korea is Wrong
worker | March 2, 2018 | 8:36 pm | Action, DPRK | Comments closed

A girl in a historical park on the outskirts of Pyongyang. (File)

EXCLUSIVE: Why Everything You Think You Know About North Korea is Wrong

© Sputnik/ Iliya Pitalev


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Dr. Loretta Napoleoni is an internationally esteemed expert on terrorism financing and the war on Daesh. Now, she has focused her attentions on North Korea – and as with her previous groundbreaking work, she has identified a vast gulf between mainstream news reporting and reality. Speaking exclusively to Sputnik, she outlines her key findings.

If Western media reporting is anything to go by, North Korea is variously a paranoid, backward, rogue state basket case, that poses a threat to civilization. However, few experts see things that way — among them is Dr. Loretta Napoleoni. Her view radically diverges from the mainstream — she sees the country as a fast-developing nation eager to engage with the outside world, not merely as an integrated member of the global economy, but a regional if not international power in its own right.

“Media coverage of developments in North Korea has been terrible. Journalists apparently have no idea about the region’s history, or its political dynamics today. Most Western politicians seem to be in the dark too. Just about the only leader to see sense is [South Korean President] Moon Jae In. Kim Jong-un has masterfully gamed things to his advantage — today, internationally and domestically, Pyongyang is in a stronger position now than ever before,” Dr. Napoleoni told Sputnik.

North Korea starts 2018 subject to a vast number of sanctions, and the rhetoric issuing from Washington, London and other key centers of Western power is the most incendiary and negative imaginable. However, Dr. Napoleoni believes the year will be a pivotal moment for North Korea, and a key phase in a wider long-term geopolitical shift towards a truly multi-polar world.

The Millennial Man

The crucial factor behind this irresistible rise has been the rule of Kim Jong-un, the academic argues. While the Western media made much of his youth and inexperience upon his assumption of power in 2011, she believes he has distinguished himself ever since as an extremely skilful politician, exhibiting “very high” degrees of sophistication along the way.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a military parade marking the 105th birthday of Kim Il-Sung, the founder of North Korea, in Pyongyang
© Sputnik/ Iliya Pitalev
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a military parade marking the 105th birthday of Kim Il-Sung, the founder of North Korea, in Pyongyang

“He’s pragmatic, and has a distinct vision of the world, very different from his predecessors. Unlike Kim Il-sung who fought colonialism or Kim Jong-il who grew up during the Cold War, Kim Jong-un is a millennial — he understands globalization and knows it’s increasingly difficult to keep the world at bay, while also sensing the traditional East/West Cold War dichotomy is no longer viable either. To survive, North Korea must grow economically, and this has been his message since the beginning,” Dr. Napoleoni notes.

Economic progress is certainly foot Korea. According to the Central Bank of South Korea, in 2016 the country’s GDP expanded 3.9 percent, driven primarily by the mining and energy sectors — the highest rate of growth in seventeen years. Despite this, Pyongyang doesn’t have a unified vision or plan in this regard — instead, Jong-un has updated the country’s ‘juche’ philosophy of self-reliance for the 21st century, tolerating ever-increasing economic liberalization, and allowing ordinary citizens to forge their own financial futures.Of course, Dr. Napoleoni observes, the central government could crack down on some or all of the informal, small-scale markets that have emerged at any time — but a similarly improvisational approach to economic management, eschewing central planning, has also insulated the country from major crises previously, such as the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991.

“History tells us the Chinese system, unlike the Soviet one, was sufficiently flexible to reform. The key question is whether Pyongyang will follow in Beijing’s footsteps, or Moscow’s? I’m confident North Korea will take the former path, one way or another — they’ve shown a tremendous capacity for adapting to new circumstances in the past,” Dr. Napoleoni told Sputnik.

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, arrives for a banquet in Seoul, South Korea February 11, 2018
© REUTERS/ Yonhap
Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, arrives for a banquet in Seoul, South Korea February 11, 2018

Moreover, she observes Jong-un has broken with his forebears by placing women — his wife Ri Sol Ju and sister Kim Yo Jong — at the forefront of his government, and demonstrated a clear willingness to act independently — and indeed contrary to the wishes — of the country’s largest and oldest ally, China. North Korea under Jong-un stands primed to pursue policies in its own interest, unbeholden to any major power.Profits of Doom

To Dr. Napoleoni’s mind, North Korea’s “very public” nuclear tests over 2017 have been crucial in enabling such autonomy. Previously, some Western ‘experts’ expressed doubt as to whether the country actually had such a capability — that’s not up for question any more. North Korea is today a fully-fledged nuclear power.

“Jong-un obviously has no interest in a first-strike — he merely wants to be left alone, which Western powers would be wise to do. Unless they’re willing to engage in a civilization-ending nuclear war with Pyongyang, which they’re not of course, the country’s survival in its present form is assured. Leaders must accept this, engage with North Korea diplomatically, and end the pointless sanctions. They’re not going to lead to Jong-un’s downfall, just feed anti-Western sentiment,” Dr. Napoleoni told Sputnik.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts during a celebration for nuclear scientists and engineers who contributed to a hydrogen bomb test, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on September 10, 2017
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts during a celebration for nuclear scientists and engineers who contributed to a hydrogen bomb test, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on September 10, 2017

However, the country’s nuclear capabilities could conversely prove to be an obstacle to its developmental ambitions. In response to the perceived North Korean threat, Japanese premier Shinzo Abe has scrapped Article 9 of his country’s constitution, which since 1947 has outlawed war as a means to settle international disputes and placed strict limits on military spending, in order to remilitarize.

American President Donald Trump has also taken a consistently hard and hawkish line on Pyongyang. In response to North Korea’s missile threats, in August 2017 he promised to rain down “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on Pyongyang if Jong-un continued to “threaten” the US, imposing increased sanctions and redesignating the country as a state sponsor of terrorism.If North Korea remains subject to such hostility, its international ostracision could well endure, and Jong-un’s modernizing aspirations may be dashed. However, Dr. Napoleoni believes there are already signs this unsympathetic milieu is thawing.

“The US is inflating the threat of North Korea in order to maintain its foothold in the Asia-Pacific and boost its weapons sales there — the country’s grip in the region is weakening all the time as China increasingly becomes a major military power, and when China eclipses the US in that field their position there will be untenable. The US knows this. Japan is yet to accept it’s not a power of any significance in the region anymore though. By contrast, Moon Jae In has initiated dialog with Jong-un which has already borne positive results,” she explains.

Friends Old and New

The 2018 Winter Olympics produced an unprecedented sight — athletes from both states competing in certain tournaments under the name ‘Korea’ — and a unified flag. The event also saw Kim Yo Jong extend a personal invitation to Jae-in to visit Pyongyang, to which the President responded positively — a special envoy will be sent to the North Korean capital. If the visit is successful, Jae-in may soon follow himself.

Ice Hockey – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Women Preliminary Round Match - Switzerland v Korea - Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea – February 10, 2018 - North Korea's cheer squad hold masks
© REUTERS/ Brian Snyder
Ice Hockey – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Women Preliminary Round Match – Switzerland v Korea – Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea – February 10, 2018 – North Korea’s cheer squad hold masks

The warming relations between Seoul and Pyongyang are notable not merely because the two countries are effectively still at war. The US also cleared the way for increased arms sales to South Korea in the wake of Pyongyang’s nuclear tests — but it is apparently not an offer Seoul will be accepting.READ MORE: Married to Kim: What We Might Know About North Korea’s First Lady

Dr. Napoleoni believes the decreasing tensions and increasing diplomacy between the two countries is symptomatic of South Korea’s acceptance of the certainty of North Korea’s emergence into the wider world — or, at least, North Korea isn’t going to give up its nuclear weapons as long as the West desires regime change in Pyongyang.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin understands North Koreans very well. At a September 2017 meeting with President Xi in Xiamen, China, he stressed sanctions were useless and ineffective and citizens would eat grass rather than abandon their nuclear program. If the international community genuinely wants North Korea to become internationally integrated, they should encourage economic development,” Dr. Napoleoni told Sputnik.

Demostrators dressed as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) and US President Donald Trump (L) embrace during a peace rally in Seoul on November 5, 2017
© AFP 2018/ Ed JONES
Demostrators dressed as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) and US President Donald Trump (L) embrace during a peace rally in Seoul on November 5, 2017

How long this process will take is, of course, uncertain. Nonetheless, if the pace of change is too sluggish, and the sanctions’ impact too deleterious, the academic suggests North Korea will not hesitate to engage in illegal activities to stay afloat, such as the production and sale of illicit drugs, and the sale of counterfeit currency.Evidently, one way or another, North Korea is not going to be an impoverished, retrograde state much longer — and a refusal by Western leaders to facilitate this via conventional, legitimate means will only push the country deeper into the international black market.

READ MORE: US Cybersecurity Agency Accuses North Korea of Cryptocurrency Cyber Heist

“International trade in crystal meth or methamphetamine, for example, is worth several billion dollars annually. Currently, the biggest producer is Myanmar, but North Korea could easily rival such output. The state could conduct its illicit business activities via the dark net, using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. North Korea is already ensconced in cryptocurrencies and there’ve been several reports it uses this digital cash to circumvent sanctions — for example, by clearing import-export activities, such as selling arms and buying oil from Iran or Libya,” Dr. Napoleoni concludes.

The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Loretta Napoleoni are those of the observer and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

“Vancouver Group Summit”: Escalating imperialist threats of sanctions & war
worker | January 14, 2018 | 6:11 pm | Announcements, Communist Party Canada, Donald Trump, DPRK | Comments closed

The so-called “Vancouver Group” Summit on January 16 will bring together the 14 countries which waged war against Korea in 1950, plus South Korea and Japan – invited by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, allegedly to seek “a diplomatic solution to the Korean crisis.” The Communist Party of Canada condemns this reunion of warmakers as a further step towards new imperialist military aggression against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The North American media has portrayed the Vancouver Group Summit as a “reasonable alternative” to Donald Trump’s threat to annihilate the entire population of the DPRK. Such a US attack would be the most shocking war crime in history, violating every international law which bans military aggression against other countries. It would mean the deaths of millions of people across the region, and could easily spark a nuclear exchange threatening the entire planet. Trump’s latest boasts about his “bigger nuclear button” are a warning that the possibility of such a devastating catastrophe is quite real.

But the Tillerson-Freeland “good cop-bad cop” scenario is not a path away from war. Rather, it is a cover for the ongoing imperialist strategy to bring the people of the DPRK to their knees, by escalating economic and diplomatic sanctions with the aim of forcing their government to end to its nuclear programme. Both approaches are based on the premise that the US has the right to “punish” any country which refuses to accept the dictates of imperialism. Both Trump’s threats of mass murder, and the Tillerson-Freeland strategy, include the continued presence of tens of thousands of US troops at bases and vessels in and around the Korean peninsula, and regular war exercises to remind the DPRK that a new imperialist aggression could be launched at any moment.

The US is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons in war, and possesses the largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. The US continues to develop and promote nuclear weapons technology and is poised to spend an additional $1 trillion on its nuclear arsenal, through its current Nuclear Posture Review. The DPRK, on the other hand, was almost totally destroyed and impoverished by the “Korean War” waged by the US and its allies, a war which artificially divided the peninsula along the 1953 ceasefire demarcation line – for the crime of defending itself against threats of foreign invasion and coup d’état. While the US and NATO maintain a policy of “first use” for nuclear weapons, the DPRK committed to no first use in 2016.

We demand: the US must end its provocations, withdraw its massive military forces in South Korea and east Asia, sign a peace agreement, and allow reunification to proceed on the Korean Peninsula according to the right of the Korean people to self-determination and sovereignty free of external threats and provocations. This remains the only road to long-term peace and security.

As the Vancouver Group Summit nears, we call on the labour and democratic movements, and the peace movement in the first place, to say NO to sanctions and war against the DPRK – and YES to peace, peaceful coexistence, mutual security and to global nuclear disarmament, beginning with the arsenals of the United States and NATO.

Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada

US STRATCOM Head Ready to Resist Possible Illegal Order to Use Nuclear Weapons
worker | November 18, 2017 | 8:37 pm | Donald Trump, DPRK, struggle against nuclear war | Comments closed
a giant nuclear-equipped USAF B-52 bomber lifts off from the snow covered RAF Fairford runway in Gloucestershire, England, en route to the Gulf

US STRATCOM Head Ready to Resist Possible Illegal Order to Use Nuclear Weapons

© AFP 2017/ Gerald Penny

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Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) said on Saturday he was ready to disobey a possible presidential unlawful order to use nuclear weapons.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Air Force Gen. John Hyten said at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada that the law of armed conflict set a number of criteria to determine legality of a military action such as necessity, distinction, proportionality, unnecessary suffering and others.

“I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do… And if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up [with] options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated,” Hyten said, as quoted by the CBS News broadcaster.

“If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life,” he added.

Earlier this week, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee raised the issue of whether incumbent President Donald Trump should retain an authority to order a nuclear strike. The Senate focused on the problem after Trump’s harsh remarks about North Korea, which included the promise to to unleash “fire and fury” and to “totally destroy” the country if necessary.

US military leaders would reject illegal order for nuclear strike, senators told
worker | November 17, 2017 | 9:21 pm | Analysis, Donald Trump, DPRK, struggle against nuclear war | Comments closed

US military leaders would reject illegal order for nuclear strike, senators told

As senators raise concerns about ‘unstable’ Donald Trump’s decision-making, former commander says military is ‘not obligated to follow illegal orders’

Robert Kehler, right, addresses the Senate foreign relations committee.

Robert Kehler, right, addresses the Senate foreign relations committee. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

As senators raise concerns about ‘unstable’ Donald Trump’s decision-making, former commander says military is ‘not obligated to follow illegal orders.

US military commanders would refuse a presidential order to carry out a nuclear first strike that they thought was illegal, senators were told on Tuesday.

Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the chamber’s foreign relations committee, has expressed fears that the president is taking the country “on the path to world war III”.

Separately CNN reported on Tuesday that a “Nato partner country” had raised concerns about Trump’s command of the US nuclear launch system, under which the president alone can order a launch.

Opening the hearing, Corker – who has recently been engaged in bitter exchanges with Trump over his fitness for office – noted that “the president has the sole authority to give that order, whether we are responding to a nuclear attack or not”.

“Once that order is given and verified, there is no way to revoke it,” the Tennessee senator said. “To be clear, I would not support changes that would reduce our deterrence of adversaries or reassurance of our allies. But I would like to explore, as our predecessors in the House did 41 years ago, the realities of this system.”

Chris Murphy, Democratic senator from Connecticut, said: “We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with US national security interests.”

Retired Gen Robert Kehler, commander of US Strategic Command (StratCom) from 2011 to 2013, told the Senate committee that he would have refused to carry out a nuclear first strike on presidential orders if he believed it did not meet the requirements of proportionality and necessity under the law of armed conflict.

“I would have said: I’m not ready to proceed,” Kehler said.

“Then what happens?” he was asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Fortunately, these are all hypothetical scenarios. There is the human factor in our system. There is a human element to this.

“It would be a very interesting constitutional situation, I believe. The military is obligated to follow legal orders but is not obligated to follow illegal orders,” Kehler said, adding that he always made sure he had legal advisers at hand when he was at Strategic Command.

Ed Markey, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts who is sponsoring legislation that would limit the president’s authority to launch a first nuclear strike, said he was not reassured by Kehler’s arguments.

“I don’t have confidence that a military chain of command would reject an order by the president to launch nuclear weapons in a preventative nuclear war situation,” Markey told the Guardian after Tuesday’s hearing.

“I think that would be abdicating the responsibility of the US Congress to a group of generals who in many instances would have been appointed by the commander-in-chief, Donald Trump. That’s a very thin reed on which to have the fate of the planet being dependent.”

The president and his top officials have said repeatedly that North Korea would not be allowed to threaten the US with nuclear weapons, but as Pyongyang has persisted with its nuclear and missile tests, it has been unclear what the administration would do to stop the regime.

In August, the national security adviser, HR McMaster, raised the prospect of a “preventative war”, but many observers of the Korean standoff said any conflict was highly likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear exchange.

Under the US constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war, but the president, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has the authority to respond to an actual or imminent threat. Much of the Senate committee hearing was taken up by discussion of what constituted an imminent threat and who could make that determination.

Peter Feaver, a politics professor at Duke University and a specialist on presidential war powers, said: “I would say distinguish between scenarios where the military wake up the president versus scenarios where the presidents wake up the military.”

Feaver added: “In the context where the president is waking up the military in an extreme funk, saying ‘I’m angry and I want something done’, he would require a lot of people cooperating with him to make the strike happen. And they would be asking the questions that would slow down that process.”

Arms control experts however, expressed doubt that lawyers would always be involved in the decision.

“The system is designed entirely for speed, not deliberation,” said Stephen Young, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Certainly in the case of responding to an incoming attack, the lawyers are not involved. It is not clear it would be any different for a nuclear first strike, despite Gen Kehler’s statements.”

Houston Demonstration: No War against Korea! Monday, December 4
worker | November 15, 2017 | 7:59 pm | Donald Trump, DPRK, Houston Socialist Movement | Comments closed
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
For more than seven decades, the U.S. government has brought death, destruction, and instability to the Korean Peninsula. At the end of the Second World War, Washington divided the peninsula and sent troops to occupy southern Korea to prevent the country from choosing a non-capitalist path of development. The U.S. then installed a right-wing dictator in southern Korea and supported a reign of terror which killed more than 100,000 communists and their supporters during the next five years.
After large-scale fighting between the new socialist regime in northern Korea and the dictatorship in southern Korea began in 1950, Washington sent tens of thousands of troops to defend its new client state and destroy as much of northern Korea as possible. Between 4 and 5 million people died before an armistice was arranged in 1953. Since then, the U.S. has remained committed to preventing the reunification of the Korean Peninsula under communist leadership and preserving its vassal state in Seoul. About 25,000 U.S. troops are still stationed in southern Korea today.
In recent months, it has become increasingly clear that the Trump administration is seriously considering a new war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This could lead to a major conventional war or even a nuclear conflagration with millions of deaths. If the People’s Republic of China acts to defend the DPRK from U.S. aggression–and Washington retaliated against Beijing– a global nuclear catastrophe could ensue, with scores or hundreds of millions of deaths. Such a war must be prevented. Now is the time for people in the United States to stand up and say “No!” to war against Korea.
A demonstration against war in Korea will be held on Monday, December 4, at 12 pm, on the sidewalk outside the office of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, 808 Travis St., in Houston. Together, we will demand: No War against Korea! Stop Nuclear Catastrophe! Stand Up for Global Peace and Justice! This action is being organized by the No War against Korea Coalition, which includes Houston Socialist Movement, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and other organizations (list in formation). We urge the broadest possible participation in this important anti-war action. If your organization would like to help mobilize for this event or if you would like more information, please call us at 832.692.2306.
In Solidarity,
No War against Korea Coalition