Interview with Mikel Vivanko, Official Delegate of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA) in Spain, and Director of the Juche Idea Study Group (GEIJ) of Madrid
By Ramón Pedregal Casanova and Mikel Vivanko
Originally published in Rebelión: http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=239205
- What has happened in Korea on the occasion of the Olympic Winter Games?
Answer.- On behalf of the Olympic Games, New Year's Message by Marshal Kim Jong Un has been very important, in our opinion. As a result of this, in the South were encouraged to make an effort to get closer to the North, thinking about the long awaited Reunification of the Peninsula.
The leadership of a strong country such as the DPRK has made it possible to sit down and speak, taking advantage of this important international event.
What we find very relevant is the strategic importance of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, in terms of hegemonic blocs at an international level, and the Asia-Pacific region in particular. We think that the problem of the United States is not a military problem with Korea, but an economic one with China, among other things. An economic war after all.
At the Olympic Games there were notable details: a high-level delegation of the DPRK traveled to the South with the President of the Supreme People's Assembly, Comrade Kim Yong Nam, at the head; and in turn, a delegation from the South traveled to the North. There have been joint sport trainings and united teams, the two Koreas paraded together in the opening and closing ceremonies with the Unification Flag (which is white with the Korean Peninsula complete in blue), cultural performances, etc.
We have seen a couple of weaknesses on the part of the South Korean government: it was as a consequence of Respected Marshal's Message that a negotiation meeting was accepted, and within a few hours the South Korean president, Moon Jae In, said that all this was being possible... thanks to the leadership of US president Donald Trump! We think that the phrase is, at least, a lie, and that probably a touch of attention has been received to be released.
Another example: in the last six-party talks (DPRK, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States), the DPRK was not invited, and for the first time it was not held in any of the countries involved (it was in Singapore); they talk about Korea but without Korea, a ridiculous thing, nothing can come from there.
The fact is that, the very moment the Yankees disappear from the equation, things begin to work in Korea, hence the vitality of carrying out the Reunification without foreign interference. The most advanced idea would be the one proposed at the time by President Kim Il Sung, the creation of one country with two systems: a Democratic Confederal Republic of Koryo.
This should be a starting point to begin discussing issues of direct communication between the two Koreas, transportation, the meeting of families separated by war, etc. And also the return of North Korean people kidnapped by the South, as in the case of 12 girls who were abducted almost two years ago in Beijing, where they worked in a restaurant, and taken to Seoul, something that is not being reported at all. The girls went on hunger strike to demand their return to the DPRK and one of them (the youngest, minor) died in the protest. His parents struggle to be able to see them, at least. This is something very common: the supposed "desertions" of North Korean citizens are simply kidnappings by South Korean secret services. We created a blog about it in its day:
- The Yankees are on joint maneuvers for months on the border of North Korea, along with other countries such as South Korea, Japan, Colombia, Australia... What are they doing there? The degree of tension is very high, what can happen? What is the attitude of North Korea?
The fact that the Yankees and those countries are in the Peninsula is due to a position of force, a threat and continuous provocation. Among other maneuvers, until recently the launching of an atomic bomb on Pyongyang was rehearsed.
Thus, we see the difference in the attitude of the United States on the occasion of the Olympic games: they have taken to the zone the nuclear aircraft carrier "Ronald Reagan", and they deployed their special forces in Seoul, which are the ones used by the Yankees in national macro-events, with snipers and all! It is a situation of absolute military occupation, and submission by local authorities.
The military maneuvers are done every year and some last up to three months. With the Olympic Games they were canceled, but they will be resumed (as we write these lines, we know that the military maneuvers in fact are being resumed, a little later and lasting less, but the threat remains the same). Over time we see that there are more and more countries that are involved. For example, the countries that "fought against the Soviet bloc" in the Korean War (1950-1953): United States, Australia, Colombia, Canada, etc., have met recently in Canada. Their conclusions are the same as always: increase sanctions on the DPRK.
Donald Trump, in the midst of absolute detente and a state of calm and peace in the area, decided to impose the toughest sanctions in its history on the DPRK, which makes it clear that no matter what Korea does: the sanctions come... without no reason.
But we have been knowing for years that in South Korea people are fed up, there are establishments that prohibit the entry of North Americans, nobody accepts them anymore, nobody likes them. The laws of South Korea do not apply to the Yankees: the cases of murders, rapes and other crimes committed by the Marines are really numerous. The only thing that is done is to transfer those involved to other bases.
And there continue to be protests in the streets of South Korea against the Yankee military occupation and the attitude of the government in this regard. It has also been important that the former president, Park Geun-hye, who is involved in trials, condemnations, resignations and assignments for corruption, has stopped presiding over South Korea. The previous party was an inheriting party of the military juntas of the 60s, brutal regimes, and now it seems that there are small changes. In total, four South Korean presidents have gone through prison.
As for the attitude of the DPRK, they are prepared for anything, people are very aware, they know that at any moment the worst can happen. The DPRK is a very politicized society, and also an armed society: everyone has military instruction and weapons are within reach of the Masses.
The DPRK is a strong country, has a firm and clear attitude, which in the military is always defensive. Its arms development is a parallel development, it can not stop having the same thing with what is threatened by the enemy, because then its mere existence would be in danger. It should be remembered that during the Korean War, Pyongyang was reduced to ground level, only two buildings remained standing. Korea lost about 30% of its population (as a comparison, during the Second World War the United Kingdom lost 0.94% of its population, France lost 1.35%, China 1.89% and the United States 0.32%). But again I must repeat: the countries that "fought against the Soviet bloc" in the Korean War met in Canada in order to impose more sanctions against the DPRK. Are they trying to laugh at us or something?
- How do the sanctions affect? What is heard is that if China joins the sanctions are effective, that Russia has also stopped buying coal... In what situation is North Korea?
The sanctions mainly affect the population, because at an economic level in general the DPRK is totally self-sufficient.
When it comes to China and Russia, sometimes they vote yes and sometimes they do not. Normally they comply, although after they are ignored. Russia is buying coal from Korea. China said that in a month all Chinese companies in Korea were going to leave and they were going to expel the Korean companies from China, but that is not happening.
- How do people perceive it?
Koreans know exactly what is happening, they identify the enemy, they are aware of foreign policy. Some time ago, a comrade lived a power cut in Pyongyang, and people said "damn Yankees!". If the light goes out, it is clear who is to blame. But I must say I did not experience any kind of cut when I was there, and I saw absolutely no shortage.
The economic jump of the DPRK is being spectacular, and that is something that is noticed day by day. Every time a comrade travels there, we share the information and note the great positive differences that occur in the country, from year to year, and from month to month.
The sanctions annoy, but the DPRK has its formulas to endure. For example, the northern part of the peninsula is very rocky, which puts a lot of emphasis so that any place where they can plant food is dedicated to it: it is a great planning. Cotton is not given priority, so they dress with minerals: they have a fabric called "Vinylon", which is extracted from a combination of anthracite and limestone. The Germans took the formula in their day, but rejected the project to market it because it consumed a lot of energy, and also there was no competitiveness with the product. That does not matter to Koreans, clothes are free in Korea, provided by the State. The DPRK had its problems between 1997 and 2000, when there were shortcomings, but that will not happen again.
It's called the Arduous March. In the 1980s the DPRK was the third socialist power, after the USSR and the German Democratic Republic, and at the world level it was the seventh economy. But when the socialist bloc falls, the DPRK, which was not aligned, was left alone. In the mid-1990s several things happened: President Kim Il Sung died (which was a very strong blow for the nation), there were natural disasters (droughts followed by torrential rains), and economic sanctions multiplied and hardened. Korea was left without a currency to trade with. This also meant that, suddenly, oil, the hydrocarbon needed for mechanized agriculture, disappeared.
When I was in the DPRK, a comrade from the Korean Association of Social Scientists gave us a talk. She told us that she was in one of the delegations that traveled to friendly countries during the Arduous March, not so much to ask for help and reciprocal solidarity, but also to do trade, what they had done all their lives with countries like China, Vietnam, Mongolia, etc. Everywhere they were told yes; agreements were signed, the request was sent by Korea, and for their part in the DPRK they are still waiting. The ships carrying the agreed wares could not reach the Korean Peninsula because the "world police" stopped them. But then again, since 2000 the situation stabilizes, measures were taken and there was a spectacular economic takeoff.
- But they had suffered sanctions before...
Yes, the sanctions against Korea are older than those of, for example, Cuba. The DPRK was founded in 1948, and since the Korean War sanctions have already been imposed. At one point, Korea even abandons its nuclear program, because Bill Clinton gave good words with the signing of the Agreed Framework (1994). But he immediately failed to comply with the agreements. The USA can not bear to see that a truly socialist country, where the means of production are in the hands of the Masses, and where the common good exists, works, and works well. We usually say that a DPRK without sanctions... nor can we imagine how far it could go!
- How does the future look?
In Korea, internally, socialism and independence will continue to take hold, always giving priority to the welfare of the Masses and to the protection of socialist ownership of the means of production.
At an international level, from an internationalist and anti-imperialist clear position, the DPRK has always worked in favor of the Peaceful Reunification of the Peninsula, and forward the solidarity with the progressive peoples of the planet and the oppressed masses of the world.
- Is Korea very isolated?
Of course not, Korea is not alone in the world. There is a very good relationship with many neighboring countries, also in Africa, in Latin America, with third world and developing countries. For example, President Kim Il Sung has dedicated streets, squares or universities in Zimbabwe, Syria, Mozambique, Congo, Senegal, Nigeria, Tanzania, etc.
- In international organizations, how does Korea move?
It has active participation in them, the problem comes when certain countries, including Spain, put obstacles to diplomatic relations, expelling ambassadors and commercial representatives, or hindering and denying visas to friendship delegations. Again, the order comes from their master, and that does not help anyone.
- Can you travel to North Korea?
Of course you can, without any problem. From the KFA we organize several trips every year. There are many travel agencies that also offer journeys there, although of course everything is centralized, they have to be approved by the Korean International Travel Company in Pyongyang. The normal thing is to go through Beijing, and you have to go with a visa. We are always encouraging to go, it is how Korea really is known. There have been times when going there was more complicated, but now that has changed, it is opening more to the world, even doing reports on tourism, investments, etc.
- How is the daily life of the Koreans?
They work eight hours per day, normally from Monday to Thursday, because on Friday it is voluntary work, they change completely from occupation, from the country they go to the city and vice versa. Saturdays are for study, which is compulsory all of life; people go to libraries, museums, cultural centers, opera, circus, etc. Sundays are festive. The dawns in Pyongyang are quiet, the morning fog, the music that comes from the central railway station, which serves to wake you up progressively, until the Work Siren sounds, which gives much encouragement to start the day. Then, the pioneers play music for the people waiting for the bus, the trucks of soldiers of the People's Army encourage everyone in turn to pass, with shouts of joy...
I wrote in this regard a detailed chronicle that can be consulted here:
- Do you want to add something else?
Well, we keep going, and we will not stop, simply because we can not stop. Currently, Korea is a line of defense, it is what separates independence and socialism from imperialism and brutal capitalist barbarism. I believe that the revolutionaries of the world must be in solidarity with the Korean People, a combatant, brave, determined and happy people!
- Mikel Vivanko, Official Delegate of the KFA, thank you very much for the information. Receive my solidarity with the people of Korea.
Thank you very much for this opportunity. We will continue fighting!
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Photo: By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/kim/, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32400550