Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Let the Games Begin: 20 Things You Need to Know About the US Playing with Korea’s Right to Self Determination

As we all watch the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, we are fed all types of images and narratives from U.S. mainstream news outlets. There is a lot of information, about North and South Korea and their relationship to each other and to the US and other economic powers, such as Japan, that is kept from us or distorted. What led to a split between North and South Korea? What role did and does the U.S. play? Is North Korea really out to get the U.S.?

  1. Korea was colonized by Japan in the early 20th century with the cooperation of the Teddy Roosevelt administration.  The Korean monarchy felt betrayed.
  2. A guerrilla war against the Japanese started in the 1930s.  Kim Il Sung was the principal leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) AKA North Korea.  They operated in Manchuria and Korea.
  3. Korean women were among those who were used as sex slaves by the Japanese during WWII.
  4. The USSR agreed to declare war on Japan 90 days after the defeat of Germany.  In August 1945 they attacked the Japanese in Manchuria and Sakhalin.  An agreement with the USA was that both forces would move into Korea and TEMPORARILY divide Korea at the 38th parallel
  5. The USA utilized Korean collaborators (with the Japanese) in an effort to smash the Korean Left.  An under-reported guerrilla war started sometime after 1946.
  6. North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) invaded South Korea in June 1950 in an effort to unite the peninsula, apparently with Soviet support.  They almost won.  Because the USSR left a critical session of the United Nations the USA was able to get the UN to send forces to Korea.
  7. US forces, led by MacArthur, landed at Inchon and moved north, cutting off the North Koreans.  They marched north.
  8. 1 million Chinese troops crossed the China/Korea border after their warnings were ignored by U.S./UN forces, led by MacArthur, to not come near the Yalu River (dividing Korea and China) and routed the US/UN forces.  MacArthur wanted to use nuclear weapons.  Eventually he was removed from his position.
  9. The war lasted till an armistice in 1953.  North Korea was obliterated. The US dropped more bombs on North Korea than it did in the whole Pacific in WWII, and destroyed 75% of its cities.
  10. Kim Il Sung led the rebuilding, upholding a thesis called “Juche” or self-reliance.  They received support from China and the USSR but were very self-reliant.
  11. When Stalin died DPKR tended to be skeptical of the USSR and remained pro-Stalin.
  12. US kept–secretly–nuclear weapons in Korea until sometime in the 1970s.
  13. North Koreans became very paranoid, affirming in practice the notion that just because you are paranoid does not mean someone isn’t out to get you.  The USA has wanted to destroy North Korea.  North Korea, however, has developed a very paranoid and repressive regime.
  14. When Kim Il Sung died there unfolded the creation of a ‘Red monarchy’ with his son and later his grandson being appointed chief leader.
  15. North Korea is not crazy, though their leader is very provocative. They want a peace treaty formally ending the war and committing the USA to not invade them.  North Korea does not want to attack the U.S. because they would be incinerated, literally. They looked at Iraq and concluded that if you lack nuclear weapons, your ass is grass.
  16. South Korea, since 1953, has had a series of military regimes. On May 18, 1980 began an uprising in Gwangju, South Korea with the goal being the democratization of the Republic of Korea. The uprising was met with a violent and bloody response from the militarized government at the time. This led to hundreds of civilian deaths and thousands of civilian injuries. For over 25 years various conservative regimes in South Korea banned anything (books, songs, films, documents, etc) related to the uprising.
  17. South Korea’s military regimes were followed by a breakthrough TOWARDS democracy.  It has a progressive labor movement led by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.
  18. South Korean capitalism has become a very formidable force and is very much linked into global capitalism.  It is no longer an underdeveloped country  but might be classified as imperialist (a point to be debated).
  19. In the 1970s and 1980s, there were some ties attempted with the Left on the part of elements of North Koreans.  The Left was not that interested.  As the ‘monarchical’ side of North Korea started to emerge there was less interest in developing ties with North Korea by most forces.  Dennis Rodman was, of course, the exception…
  20. We recognize concerns of the Korean model as part of the crisis of 20th Century socialism. This highlights the relationship between democracy and socialism and the need of the Left to address this as we build 21st Century Socialism.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) is vehemently opposed to U.S. aggression against North Korea through sanctions and the threat of violence. We applaud the recent agreements between the governments of the two Koreas to work together during the Olympics. We also believe it would be very useful to develop ties with the South Korean Left.

  • As Marxists we support the Korean people’s, and all oppressed nations, right to self-determination. It is up to the Koreans, North and South, to determine their own destiny(ies); their own national path(s); perfect their own political system(s); and eventually their own national economic system(s). Not the Americans, nor the Chinese, nor the Russians.
  • The U.S. government must begin immediately to work out a peace treaty to end the Korean War at the United Nations and stop  the interference in the internal affairs of the Korean people.
  • U.S. forces should withdraw from the Korean peninsula along with all their weapons of mass destruction.