Archive for the DMZ Category

Fire breaks out in DPRK side of demilitarized zone [Xinhua]

Posted in DMZ, DPR Korea, south Korea on March 23, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

SEOUL, March 23 (Xinhua) — Fire broke out on Monday in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) side of the demilitarized zone, spreading to the South Korean side, Yonhap News Agency and YTN reported…

Excerpted; full article link:


Female peace activists say they’ll walk across the DMZ [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in DMZ, DPR Korea, Iraq, Ireland, Korean War, Liberia, south Korea, State Department, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on March 15, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手


~Diverse group of activists wish to make a dramatic statement for peace and human rights~

Eyes are on Korea after a group of well-known female peace activists announced they will walk across the DMZ on May 24 for peace on the peninsula. The event suggests that women around the world are becoming more involved in the Korean Peninsula, which remains trapped in the Cold War even 70 years after the end of World War II.

In its coverage of the press conference for the event, which was held at the UN headquarters in New York on Mar. 11, the Associated Press said that “prominent women” were “making a dramatic statement in Korean relations.”

Along with two recipients of the Nobel [P]eace [P]rize – Mairead Maguire and Leymah Gbowee – women from a variety of backgrounds will be joining in the walk, including writers, scholars, filmmakers, and humanitarian activists. Most of the 30 participants, who hail from 12 countries, will be paying their travel expenses out of pocket.

Gloria Steinem, 81, regarded as an icon of the women’s movement in the US, drew attention by signing on as honorary co-chair of the event.

Steinem, who played a leading role in the feminist movement in the US in the 1960s and 1970s and was active in social issues and the peace movement after that, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013, the greatest honor that the US President can bestow on a private individual.

Steinem has taken great interest in the event, as her attendance at the press conference suggests. “It’s hard to imagine a more physical symbol of the insanity of dividing human beings than this zone. To me, to walk across it, has huge, huge, huge importance,” Agence France-Presse quoted her as saying.

Steinem’s deep interest in Korean Peninsula issues reportedly goes back to the sad story of a high school friend who was received a draft notice to fight in the Korean War.

“The friend’s father had suffered from trauma in the Second World War, and when he saw his son’s draft notice, he decided he couldn’t allow him to go to war,” explained Chung Hyun-kyung, a professor at New York’s Union Theological Seminary and member of the event’s executive committee. “So he killed his son and then himself.”

“Steinem noted that women had made a big contribution to ending conflict in Northern Ireland and Liberia, and she asked why that wouldn’t work on the Korean Peninsula too,” Chung added.

Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Walt, began making movies after meeting the Liberian female peace activist Leymah Gbowee in 2006. In 2008, she shared the story of the country’s peace movement with “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” a documentary about Gbowee.

Other participants included Medea Benjamin, co-founded of the leading women’s anti-war group Code Pink, and Ann Wright, a former US Army colonel who resigned from the State Department in 2003 in protest of the Iraq War.

Among the Korean and Korean-American participants joining them were Rutgers University professor Suzy Kim, Korea Policy Institute co-founder Christine Ahn, Chung, and women’s rights activist Kim Ban-a.

Foreign nationals don’t need approval from the South Korean government to visit North Korea, but they would need to apply with the UN Command to pass through the DMZ. Foreign nationals traveling between North and South Korea must pass through South Korean government immigration procedures.

“If we are provided with specific plans, including their course [sic] while traveling in North [sic] Korea, then it’s a matter for discussion with the relevant agency,” a Unification Ministry official explained. 

By Park Hyun, Washington correspondent

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link:

Prospect for North-South Relations Depends on Park Geun Hye: CPRK Open Questionnaire [KCNA]

Posted in DMZ, DPR Korea, Korean Central News Agency of DPRK, Lee Myung-bak, Nukes, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on April 25, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Pyongyang, April 23 (KCNA)

— The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) sent an open questionnaire to Park Geun Hye Wednesday asking her to give responsible answers to the questions as to whether she stands for the improvement of the north-south relations or seeks to escalate confrontation and whether she wants reunification and peace against war.

Recalling that months-long Key Resolve and Foal Eagle war exercises for invading the north are over, but the south Korean authorities’ confrontation with their compatriots and moves for a war against the north are going on and their anti-reunification hysteria under the signboard of “unification” is flouting the nation and disturbing the world, the questionnaire goes on:

1. What kind of “unification” does Park mean? Confrontation of the social systems means one side swallowing up the other side and the latter being swallowed up by the former, the showdown which is bound to lead to a war. Does she want this?

Park seems to call for the confrontation of the social systems, mistaking Korea for Germany. This is a day-dream which will never come true. The confrontation of the social systems precisely means a war. Does Park really stand for the war?

[2.] Does Park have the face to talk about “confidence-building process” while desperately pursuing the policy for confrontation with fellow countrymen?

When she met a head of state of a certain country, she talked rubbish that “the north should be made to change” and “if one hundred attempts to bring it down fail, one hundred and one attempts should be made to succeed.”

Does this mean the “confidence-building process” on the lips of Park?

Confrontation and confidence can never go together. What does she choose between the two?

3. What is the difference between the “north policy” of the present south Korean regime and Lee Myung Bak’s watchword “no nukes, opening and 3 000 dollars”? Does she wish to drive the north-south relations to a catastrophe just as traitor Lee did?

Park is blustering that she is fully ready to ensure “security of the social system” in the north and support its economy in cooperation with the international community once the north dismantles its nukes, asserting the “issue of the north’s nukes is a stumbling block lying in the way of making arrangements for the era of unification.”

Park’s claim that the “north should dismantle its nukes first” is nothing different from the above-said watchword of Lee.

To insist on the issue of the “north’s nukes” as regards the inter-Korean relations is little short of denying the process to mend the relations.

Park should explicitly clarify her stand: whether to persistently bedevil the north-south relations by following the above-said watchword or to opt for repairing the relations.

4. Park was reported to have said the “building of a world without nuclear weapons” should start on the Korean peninsula. Then, is she willing to cease staging with outside forces north-targeted nuclear war drills in south Korea with U.S. nuclear war hardware involved?

The DPRK proposed turning the Korean peninsula into a nuclear free zone long ago.

It is none other than the U.S. and south Korean puppet forces that have staged madcap nuclear war exercises against the north by introducing more than 1000 nuclear weapons, turning south Korea into the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal in utter disregard of the north’s offer.

Nevertheless, Park is finding fault with the north’s nuclear deterrent for self-defence while keeping mum about the U.S. nukes for aggression. This is, indeed, sheer sophism.

The U.S. nuclear blackmail and war drills targeting the north are the root cause of the escalating tensions on the peninsula and the worsened inter-Korean relations.

Park should now talk what she has to as regards the U.S. nukes and make a bold decision to put an end to the north-targeted nuclear war drills staged together with the U.S.

To this end, is she willing to announce the cancellation of Ulji Freedom Guardian drills scheduled to be staged again between August and September?

5. Can Park make a decision to pull down the concrete wall built by the “yusin” regime in the area south of the Military Demarcation Line to demolish the barrier between the north and the south and abolish “Security Law”?

The concrete wall dividing the peninsula into two parts is a barrier of division and confrontation conceived by Park Chung Hee after visiting the Berlin Wall during his visit to the then West Germany 50 years ago.

The ill-famed “Security Law”, an anti-reunification fascist law, is also a barrier of distrust, social and cultural barrier and a factor of severance and isolation as it is meant to antagonize compatriots and freeze the bonds between the north and the south.

If the Korean nation is truly to usher in a new era of peaceful reunification, it is imperative to pull down the barriers of confrontation against reunification, the leftover of the outdated Cold War in the last century, as early as possible.

Can Park make such a decision?

6. Does Park think the “aid to women in pregnancy and malnourished children” would help de-escalate the tensions and improve the inter-Korean relations?

The “aid to women in pregnancy and malnourished children” touted by her is an insult and mockery of the people in the DPRK including children and women who receive the greatest special benefits as the king of the country and its flowers thanks to the great politics of love for the people.

If the inter-Korean relations are to be mended, it is necessary to defuse the acute political and military confrontation.

The DPRK in the historic New Year Address clarified an important principled stand on improving the inter-Korean relations.

Does Park have the willingness to accept the proposal and appeal of the DPRK, though belatedly, not pretending ignorance of them?

7. It is self-contradiction to talk about “NGO exchange” and “cooperation” while totally blocking the inter-Korean relations, isn’t it?

Park is persistently clinging to the “May 24 steps” taken by Lee Myung Bak, a heinous confrontation maniac, to bedevil the inter-Korean relations. This is as foolish an act as tarnishing her image and binding her hands and feet by herself. This behavior only gives the impression that she is just the same confrontation element as Lee Myung Bak.

There is neither reason nor pretext whatsoever for her to keep the long bankrupt “May 24 steps” in force any longer.

Does Park have the willingness to lift the steps?

8. Is it more urgent to turn the hotspots around the five islands in the West Sea into peace waters than to build a “world peace park” in the Demilitarized Zone?

The urgent issue along the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) to be settled by the north and the south in actuality is to turn hotspots around the five islands in the West Sea into peace waters.

If Park has a “plan” to turn the MDL area into a peace zone, she should pay attention to this issue, first of all.

Does Park have intention to turn the hotspots around the five islands in the West Sea into peace waters?

9. Who is the arch criminal violating the agreement on stopping the smear campaign and escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula through political and military provocations?

The south Korean authorities now claim that the DPRK is violating the agreement made at the north-south high-level contact and slandering the south. This is just like a guilty party filing the suit first.

It is none other than the south Korean authorities and Park herself who are slinging mud at the DPRK.

Does Park have the face to grumble that the “north is reneging on the promise to halt the smear campaign and provocations”?

10. Does Park have the willingness to respect and implement the historic July 4 joint statement, June 15 joint declaration and October 4 declaration?

These are the great programmes and landmarks for national reunification common to the nation.

Is Park ready to show her will to respect and implement them, though belatedly?

If Park has a sincere stand to promote the confidence between the north and the south and open the door for peace and reunification, she should give correct answers to the solemn questions put by the DPRK on behalf of the era and the nation in the eyes of all fellow countrymen and the whole world, pondering over them, questionnaire stressed, adding:
The prospect for the inter-Korean relations entirely depends on the attitude of Park Geun Hye. -0-

KCNA homepage (with access to English-language materials):

“Important Steps Declared as Regards Kaesong Industrial Zone” – DPR Korea exercises right to suspend Zone’s operations [KCNA]

Posted in DMZ, DPR Korea, Korean Central News Agency of DPRK, Lee Myung-bak, south Korea, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on April 10, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Pyongyang, April 8 (KCNA) — Kim Yang Gon, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, issued the following statement on Monday:

The Korean Peninsula has been put in the state of war due to the serious anti-DPRK moves of the U.S. and south Korean authorities and their moves for a nuclear war.
Not content with escalating military tension together with the U.S., the south Korean conservatives, in particular, are running the whole gamut of intrigues to find a pretext for igniting a war against the DPRK after reducing the Kaesong Industrial Zone to a theatre of confrontation.

Defying the repeated warnings of the DPRK, the south Korean confrontation maniacs are letting loose a string of invectives hurting the dignity of the DPRK, talking about “source of money”, “detention” and “hostages”. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin revealed his sinister intention to introduce a special unit of the U.S. forces into the zone, vociferating about an operation for “rescuing hostages”.

This goes to prove that the south Korean warmongers seek to turn the zone into a hotbed of war against the DPRK.

By origin, the zone was built as a symbol of reconciliation, cooperation and reunification after the DPRK granted a privilege to Jong Ju Yong, honorary chairman of Hyundai Group of south Korea, valuing his patriotic will for reunification.

The DPRK’s offer to south Korean enterprises a vast area near the Military Demarcation Line where armed forces of the north and the south are standing in acute confrontation was a bold decision based on ardent love for the nation and compatriotism and a manifestation of the firm will for independent reunification, peace and prosperity based on the spirit of “By our nation itself” clarified in the historic June 15 North-South Joint Declaration.

When traitor Lee Myung Bak did serious harm to the inter-Korean relations in all aspects, getting hell-bent on confrontation after coming to power, the zone remained unaffected by it thanks to the desire and will of all Koreans in the north and the south for reunification and kept its operations for common prosperity.

But the zone is now in the grip of a serious crisis.

The zone, a product of the June 15 joint declaration, has been reduced to a theater of confrontation with fellow countrymen and military provocation, quite contrary to its original nature and mission due to such hideous confrontation maniacs as Kim Kwan Jin. This situation can no longer be tolerated.

The south Korean conservative forces claim that the DPRK will never give up the zone as it benefits from the industrial zone, but it gets few economic benefits from the zone while the south side largely benefits from it.

The DPRK provided an area of military strategic importance to the south side, in particular. This meant a big concession.

It is a tragedy that the industrial zone which should serve purposes of national reconciliation, unity, peace and reunification has been reduced to a theatre of confrontation between compatriots and war against the north. The existence of such zone is no better than nothing.

The DPRK is compelled to make an important decision related to the issue of the industrial zone now that the south Korean authorities abuse the generosity and compatriotism of the DPRK for their hostile purpose.

Upon authorization, I declare the following important steps as regards the crisis in the Kaesong Industrial Zone:
The DPRK will withdraw all its employees from the zone.
It will temporarily suspend the operations in the zone and examine the issue of whether it will allow its existence or close it as the south Korean authorities and military warmongers seek to turn it into a hotbed of confrontation between compatriots and war against the DPRK, hurting its dignity.
The General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone will be responsible for the working matters related to the important steps including the withdrawal of the employees and the temporary suspension of the operations in the zone.
How the situation will develop in the days ahead will entirely depend on the attitude of the south Korean authorities. -0-

KCNA homepage:

Setback for U.S. war plans in Asia [Workers World]

Posted in China, DMZ, DPR Korea, Encirclement of China, Japan, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un, Korean War, Lee Myung-bak, Nukes, south Korea, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, USSR on July 20, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手
by on July 18, 2012 »

Mass pressure sinks Korea-Japan military pact

Ro Su-hui is tied up and cuffed by South Korean security officials on July 5.

Washington’s strategy to cement a military alliance of the U.S., Japan and south Korea came unglued on June 29 at the last minute as popular pressure forced the Seoul regime to back out of signing a military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo.

The Pentagon had relied on right-wing south Korean President Lee Myung-bak to deliver the southern half of Korea into an alliance aimed against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north and its gigantic neighbor, the People’s Republic of China.

The U.S. imperialist ruling class fears China’s rapid economic development. At the core of China’s economy is a system of state ownership and planning set up after the 1949 socialist revolution, though China now allows a growing capitalist market. At the time of the revolution, China had very little modern industry; the vast majority of the people were peasants who barely survived from harvest to harvest. Some 600 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty since 1981, according to the World Bank, and the Chinese economy is now the second largest in the world. Meanwhile poverty and instability are growing in the Western capitalist countries.

Under the Obama administration, a shift in military strategy has already begun to build more U.S. bases in Asia and move the major part of the U.S. fleet to the Pacific.

Last year, the U.S. conducted joint military maneuvers with Japan and south Korea off the coast of the DPRK and not far from the Chinese mainland.

What the imperialists had not reckoned with, however, was the powerful impact this would have on the Korean people in both south and north, who have suffered terribly from war and foreign domination.

In the north, after the untimely death of Kim Jong Il last December, the new government of Kim Jong Un proceeded to further strengthen the DPRK’s military defenses.

In the south, demonstrations against military collaboration with Japan and the U.S. have been growing ever more militant, despite constant scare-mongering by the Lee regime about the “communist threat” from the north.

Uproar over proposed pact with Japan

The prospect of a military pact with Japan led to an uproar even within the legislature itself, which was formally notified of the deal only one day before it was to be signed.

It was only after the top south Korean “national security” aide considered the architect of the plan, Kim Tae-hyo, was forced to resign on July 5 that the New York Times decided to let its readers know what was really going on in south Korea:

“Mr. Lee’s government had meant the agreement as a limited step toward increasing military ties with Japan, in line with Washington’s desire to bring the two Asian countries closer under a trilateral alliance that could cope more efficiently with North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats, as well as with China’s expanding military clout.

“It quickly became apparent, however, that the government had underestimated South Koreans’ misgivings about cooperating militarily with Japan. Mr. Lee’s political opponents quickly seized on that disquiet to begin an election-year offensive, accusing Mr. Lee of kowtowing to Washington and, with various civic groups, likening the conservative governing camp to the past Korean ‘traitors’ who secretly cooperated with Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula in 1910.” (New York Times, July 5)

All Korea was subjected to brutal Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945. An estimated 200,000 Korean women were forced into sexual slavery to “serve” Japanese troops during World War II. Hatred for the colonial oppressors runs very deep in Korea.

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S Korean priest arrested after crossing MDL between North/South Korea: KCNA – PHOTOS [Xinhua]

Posted in DMZ, DPR Korea, Korean Central News Agency of DPRK, Korean Reunification, Korean War, Photos, Protest action, Pyongyang, south Korea on August 21, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

A truly great protest and peace action for reunification in this time of orchestrated jingoistic war hysterics from the US and its S. Korean puppets. – 左手

Pastor Han Sang Ryol receives bouquet at sending-off ceremony in Pyongyang on August 20 (KCNA)

Pyongyangites fervently bidding farewell to Han Ryol, August 20 (KCNA Photo Service)

Pastor Han Sang Ryol, ardent Korean reunification figure, crossing Panmunjom into S. Korea, August 20 (KCNA Photo Service)

Women of DPRK sending off Pastor Han Sang Ryol at Panmunjom, August 20 (KCNA Photo Service)

Pastor Han Sang Ryol returning to S. Korea from the DPR Korea side at Panmunjom, aka MDL, August 20 (KCNA Photo Service)

PYONGYANG, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) confirmed Friday that South Korean priest Han Sang Ryol was arrested immediately after crossing the Military Demarcation Line (MDL).

The official KCNA news agency reported that when Han crossed the line with a Korean Peninsula flag in his hand at 3 p.m. local time, South Korean plain-clothed agents handcuffed him and took him away.

Before his departure from the DPRK, people from all walks of life, youth and students went to see him off. Han waved bouquets and chanted slogans — “national reunification” and “by our nation itself” — at the truce village of Panmunjom, the KCNA said.

Han, lauded as a pro-reunification figure by the DPRK media, arrived in Pyongyang on June 12 and visited various places and met different people in the DPRK.

The Red Cross Society of the DPRK has sent two notices to the South Korean Red Cross, asking them to guarantee the safety of Han after his return.

But the South Korean authorities said they did not approve Han’s return to South Korea through the MDL.

South Korean priest Han Sang Ryol addresses a press conference in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Aug. 18, 2010. Han Sang Ryol said on Wednesday that he would return home through the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) despite South Korea's disapproval. Han appealed to South Korean authorities to return to the road of the June 15 Joint Declaration reached between DPRK and South Korean leaders. He arrived in Pyongyang on June 12 for a visit. (Xinhua/Yao Ximeng)

Xinhua article link here

The real story on North Korea and its healthcare – Amnesty International propaganda debunked by WHO, Cheonan sinking hypocrisy, and the ongoing U.S. War against Socialism [Stephan Gowans]

Posted in Anti-communism, Black propaganda, Capitalist media double standard, Cheonan sinking, China, Cuba, DMZ, DPR Korea, Iraq, Korea, Nicaragua, Russia, Universal Health Care, US imperialism, USA on July 22, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

July 21, 2010

By Stephen Gowans


The United States has announced that it is adding a new tranche to the Himalaya of sanctions it has built up since 1950 against North Korea, sanctions I outlined in my last article Amnesty International botches blame for North Korea’s crumbling healthcare. Calling the new sanctions “measures” – perhaps to escape the disfavor the word has fallen into after sanctions wiped out the lives of half of million Iraqi children in the 1990s — US secretary of state Hillary Clinton purred reassuringly that the new “measures are not directed at the people of North Korea.” [1] She didn’t predict, however, whether they would add to the misery the previous umpteenth round of sanctions has already visited upon the lives of North Koreans, even if she says they aren’t directed at them, but we can be pretty sure they will.

At the same time preparations were underway to launch Operation Invincible Spirit, a four day joint US-South Korea military exercise to take place in the Sea of Japan, involving 8,000 troops, 200 warplanes and an armada of warships led by the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. The point of the exercise, according to the US commander in the Pacific, Robert Willard, is to “send a strong signal to Pyongyang and Kim Jong-il regarding the provocation that Cheonan represented” [2](the Cheonan being the South Korean warship that sunk in disputed waters in May.) Inasmuch as the Cheonan’s sinking appears to be a replay of the Gulf of Tonkin incident [3] – the alleged attack on a US Navy destroyer by North Vietnamese patrol boats used by US president Lyndon Johnson as a pretext to step up war on Vietnam – the military exercises represent the second stage of what looks like a plan to increase pressure on Pyongyang, with a view to producing what US policy has been trying to produce north of the 38th parallel for the last 60 years: the collapse of the anti-imperialist governments led by Kim Il-sung and now Kim Jong-il. The first part of the plan was to blame North Korea for the Cheonan’s sinking. The second part is to launch military exercises using the pretext of the first.

China calls the exercises, scheduled to begin this Sunday, provocative. And University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings points out that the North Koreans become agitated whenever the United States and South Korea carry out joint military exercises, because they “see them as a prelude to a possible attack.” [4] Indeed, since it is impossible to distinguish troops, warships and warplanes massing on one’s borders for the purposes of conducting war games from troops, warships and warplanes massing on one’s borders for the purposes of an invasion, it is hardly surprising that the North Koreans are agitated. And that’s the point: keep the DPRK on a continual war-footing, so that it diverts its sanctions-starved economy into military preparedness and away from productive investments and provision of healthcare, education, housing and so on. Joint US-South Korea military exercises aren’t just a sometimes thing. They happen every year, and Operation Invincible Spirit adds another provocation to the annual cycle.

Forcing its ideological opponents to spend heavily on defense — when they always start off poorer and weaker than the United States and can therefore ill-afford to do so if they’re ever going to progress — is a tactic Washington has been using for decades to contain, cripple and ultimately defeat countries that offer a humane and progressive alternative to integration into a worldwide capitalist system of imperial relations.

On top of the advantages of this tactic abroad, at home the defense spending needed to threaten target countries transfers wealth upwards, from working Americans through their taxes to the investors and businesspeople in the armaments industry who benefit in two ways: first, from the profits they reap from arms contracts and second from interest on the bonds they buy to finance US defense spending.  The tab is picked up by US taxpayers with their labor and, if a war is waged against their country, by foreigners with their lives, or with crippled standards of living, if their governments are forced to skimp on civilian spending to build a credible defensive force to deter the threat of US military intervention.  As the dues-payers for the US warfare economy along with its foreign victims, US citizens have more in common with the citizens of official enemy countries than they think.  Who’s the real enemy?

The tactic of spending ideological opponents into bankruptcy has two dimensions: a physical one, of suffocating an alternative economy until it either breaks down or is left staggering under the weight of economic warfare and the costs of preparing to repel the unrelenting ominous threat of military intervention, and an ideological one, of attributing the break-down to the inherent characteristics of the alternative system itself.  In this way a warning is sent on two levels:  a surface one aimed at ordinary people, which says, while this alternative may seem like a good idea, it doesn’t work and only leads to disaster.  To work, this necessitates the cover up of the real causes of the break down.

At the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas yesterday, both Clinton and US secretary of war [5] Robert Gates, played up the message that North Korea’s dire straits are endogenous, and not the product of a systematic campaign of breaking the country’s back. Gates said: “It is stunning to see how little has changed up there (in the North) and yet how much South Korea continues to grow and prosper. The North by contrast, stagnates in isolation and deprivation.” [6] Clinton said much the same. Of course, neither mentioned that sanctions, and the continual harassment of North Korea by US forces, might have something to do with North Korea’s isolation and stagnation. On a deeper level, a warning is sent to would-be leaders of oppressed classes and peoples: try to break free from the US imperial orbit, and this will happen to you, too.

Forty years ago, Felix Greene outlined how Washington had used this tactic against China and Cuba, but his description also fits North Korea today.

“The United States imposed a 100 percent embargo on trade with these countries; she employs great pressure to prevent her allies from trading with them; she arms and finances their enemies; she harasses their shipping; she threatens them with atomic missiles which she announces are pre-targeted and pre-programmed to destroy their major cities; her spy ships prowl just beyond these countries’ legal territorial waters; her reconnaissance planes fly constantly over their territory.  And having done all in their power to disrupt these countries’ efforts to rebuild their societies by means of blockades to prevent essential goods from reaching them, any temporary difficulties and setbacks these countries may encounter are magnified and exaggerated and presented as proof that a socialist revolutionary government is ‘unworkable’.” [7]

Author William Blum, who writes an Anti-Empire Report monthly, elaborates on Greene’s point:

“…every socialist experiment of any significance in the twentieth century — without exception — was either overthrown, invaded, corrupted, perverted, subverted, destabilized, or otherwise had life made impossible for it, by the United States and its allies. Not one socialist government or movement — from the Russian Revolution to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, from Communist China to the FMLN in El Salvador — not one was permitted to rise or fall solely on its own merits; not one was left secure enough to drop its guard against the all-powerful enemy abroad and freely and fully relax control at home. It’s as if the Wright brothers’ first experiments with flying machines all failed because the automobile interests sabotaged each test flight. And then the good and god-fearing folk of the world looked upon these catastrophes, nodded their heads wisely, and intoned solemnly: Humankind shall never fly.” [8]

Disputed Territory

Cumings offered insight into the context surrounding the Cheonan affair in a May 27, Democracy Now interview. The incident, Cummings observed:

“happened very close to the North Korean border, we’ve had incidents like this, somewhat different ones, but with large loss of life, going back more than ten years. In 1999, a North Korean ship went down with thirty sailors lost and maybe seventy wounded. That’s a larger total of casualties than this one. And last November, a North Korean ship went down in flames. We don’t know how many people died in that. This is a no man’s land, or waters, off the west coast of Korea that both North and South claim. And the Cheonan ship was sailing in those waters…” [9]

The hypocrisy need not be pointed out. When North Korean ships are sunk, there’s no provocation, except to North Koreans, who, in the view of Western governments and the propaganda apparatus of private-sector mass media, don’t matter (in the same way Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas, matters to Western governments and Western mass media while the countless Palestinians who have been kidnapped by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza and have since disappeared into the bowels of Israeli prisons are invisible.) But when a South Korean ship is sunk in the same disputed waters, North Korea is immediately blamed (by the politicians of South Korea’s ruling Grand National Party, though not by the South Korean military, which for weeks, said it had no evidence of North Korean involvement.)  And the sinking is used to justify more sanctions and more military exercises to ratchet up the pressure.

Cumings went on to explain that the waters in which the South Korean warship went down in May “is a no man’s land, where the US and South Korea demarcated a so-called Northern limit line unilaterally. The North has never accepted it. The North says that this area is under the joint jurisdiction of the North and South Korean militaries. So you have an incident waiting to happen.” [10] Into this cauldron of roiling waters waiting for an incident to happen will soon be tossed Operation Invincible Spirit.

The World Health Organization Weighs In

While the Western media lighted on Amnesty International’s portrayal of North Korea’s healthcare system as a horror show with the eagerness of flies on road-kill, the World Health Organization had a more sober assessment of the rights organization’s Cold War-era hatchet job. WHO spokesman Paul Garwood faulted the report for being “mainly anecdotal, with stories dating back to 2001, and not up to the UN agency’s scientific approach to evaluating healthcare.” [11]

“All the facts are from people who aren’t in the country,” Garwood said. “There’s no science in the research.” [12]

In contrast, WHO chief Margaret Chan visited North Korea in April and returned with an assessment that makes Amnesty’s report look like it was written to cater to US foreign policy propaganda requirements.

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