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November 4, 2014 - No. 91

The Afterlives of the Korean War

End U.S. Interference in Korea!


The Afterlives of the Korean War
Symposium Highlights Need to End Korean War with Peace Treaty - Philip Fernandez
U.S. and EU Self-Serving Manipulation of Human Rights to Isolate the DPRK
North Korea Challenges America's Unending War Strategy at the United Nations
- Ronda Hauben

Futility of U.S. Ambitions to Dominate Asia-Pacific - Korean Central News Agency
U.S. Continues Plans for Use of Nuclear Weapons Against Korea


The Afterlives of the Korean War

Symposium Highlights Need to End Korean War
with Peace Treaty

On October 24 and 25, the Centre for the Study of Korea at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for Global Affairs held its annual symposium, which this year focused on the topic "The Afterlives of the Korean War." The two-day program consisted of a panel discussion, a cultural performance, a keynote speech and the film Jiseul, based on the Jeju Island uprising and the massacre of civilians there in 1948.

Professor Jennifer Jihye Chun, Director of the Centre for the Study of Korea, pointed out in her introduction that the aim of the symposium was to stimulate discussion on matters related to the Korean peninsula and to enhance student inquiry and research. She announced that the Centre is establishing the Peace, War and Reunification Essay Prize on Korea, which is open to all undergraduate students.[1]

Unfinished Wars and the Politics of the Past

The first speaker on the panel discussion, "On Unfinished Wars and the Politics of the Past," was Dr. John Price, Professor of History at the University of Victoria. He spoke of the crimes committed by Canadian soldiers during the Korean War. Professor Price reported that in his research he had uncovered 60 cases of Canadian soldiers killing, raping, torturing and committing other crimes against Korean civilians and that none of these victims have received justice because the Canadian government protected and continues to protect these soldiers. He related the experience of Shin Hyun-Chan, who he met through his research and who was a 16-year-old boy when his father was shot dead in his village by a Canadian soldier and he himself was wounded. Professor Price sought redress in this case through the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Defence, but to no avail.

Dr. Monica Kim, Professor of History at New York University, discussed how the U.S. unilaterally imposed the notion of "voluntary repatriation" on Korean and Chinese prisoners of war on Koje Island and in other places at the start of the Armistice talks in 1951. This was in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949, which stipulated the "mandatory repatriation" of all prisoners of war at the end of hostilities. When the Camp 62 Koje Island prisoners rebelled, they were brutally suppressed by U.S. troops and guards. Many were killed and many more were wounded. In this way, the U.S. delayed the signing of the Armistice by 18 months. This was the beginning of its use of illegal means to carry out wars of aggression and occupation ever since.

Dr. Christine Hong, Professor of Literature at the University of California Santa Cruz, amongst other things, pointed out that at the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice Agreement, President Obama repeated the disinformation that the Korean War united the American people, with Americans from different national minorities fighting side by side. Professor Hong noted that right in the midst of the Korean War, the Civil Rights Congress, made up of people like Paul Robeson, put out a statement condemning the U.S. intervention in the Korean War as an imperialist and racist war. It pointed out that a country that oppressed its own people at home through racism and anti-communism could not but oppress other peoples elsewhere, including the Korean people, giving the lie to Obama's fairy tale.

The last panelist was Dr. Hosu Kim, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the City University of New York. She spoke about the 188,000 Korean children whose mothers were unable to keep them or were encouraged to give them up for adoption as a result of the Korean War and how devastating it was for these women to have their children taken away to the U.S., Canada and other places. It is noteworthy that at the same time in the DPRK, also devastated by the war, the government took all measures to ensure that war orphans and families that had lost a parent or parents in war were looked after by the state.

A cultural performance followed the panel discussion, with traditional dance and music as well as contemporary hip-hop by Dohee Lee and SKIM. The dance and song performance had its roots in the traditional shamanic rituals of Korean culture while the hip-hop performance touched on issues faced by Korean families in the diaspora. The performance was well-received. A reception followed at which participants had a chance to continue discussions and share ideas.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The keynote lecture on the second day was delivered by Professor Kim Dong-Choon of Sung Kong University in Korea. Professor Kim shared his experience as a former Standing Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the Republic of Korea (TRC) from 2004-2009. The main issue Professor Kim brought forward was that the TRC was hampered because it did not have a clear mandate to serve justice. While the Commission helped to bring out the stories of various civilian massacres before and during the Korean War and in some cases victims were able to gain some compensation from the south Korean government, the south Korean state and the U.S. government did not acknowledge the crimes committed by U.S. forces and their south Korean proxies, he said. Former President Bill Clinton's efforts to placate the victims of U.S. war crimes and massacres with a note of "regret" were rejected by the families of those who perished in these massacres, Professor Kim noted. The Commission itself was confused by an imagined dichotomy between justice and reconciliation, he reported. The reactionary Lee Myung-bak regime that replaced the liberal Roh government that had initiated the Commission effectively put an end to its work by installing anti-communists on the Commission. Among Professor Kim's conclusions is that there is a lot of work to be done. The situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and it will require a major "political change" to attain peace and reconciliation, he said.

The discussion session which followed raised the issue of the ongoing U.S. military presence in south Korea, which is the source of the wounds suffered by the Korean people since 1945. How can one reconcile a museum dedicated to the victims of the Jeju Island massacres in 1948 under the U.S. dictate with the fact that right now the U.S. is building a large naval base on Jeju Island, a UN heritage site, against the wishes of the people, one person asked.

The overarching theme of the conference was that the Korean War, which has bred so much hardship for the Korean people, must reach a political solution with the signing of a peace treaty between the DPRK and the U.S. to replace the Armistice Agreement. This will create a real possibility to close the wounds of the Korean War and open a new era for the Korean people.

Note

1. More information on the prize can be found here.

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U.S. and EU Self-Serving Manipulation of
Human Rights to Isolate the DPRK

The U.S. and EU have undertaken machinations to use the issue of human rights as a political weapon at the UN against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), in the framework of the dictate of Might Makes Right and U.S. attempts to provoke a military confrontation with the DPRK. A spokesperson for the DPRK Foreign Ministry issued a statement on October 30 in this regard. It notes that the DPRK has made earnest and sincere efforts to promote international dialogue and cooperation in the field of human rights for the purpose of steadily promoting the popular masses' enjoyment of human rights. It goes on to say:

"In recent days the DPRK has taken a positive and magnanimous stand on the issue of engaging in dialogue on the question of human rights. Up to this point, the matter had been on ice due to the unilateral actions of the EU. A similarly positive stand has been taken on the issue of a visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the DPRK to the country for the purpose of promoting genuine human rights. This stand of the DPRK, which rests on the principle of respect for sovereignty, agreed with the visit of an EU representative with a mandate on the issue of human rights to the DPRK. The DPRK has also expressed its intentions to accept technical cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Nevertheless, international dialogue and cooperation in the field of human rights has not been successfully realized. This can be attributed to the hostile policy on the part of the U.S. which seeks to smear the image of the DPRK and bring down its social system at any cost by persistently hyping its 'human rights issue,'" the Ministry statement said and continued:

"It was none other than the U.S. that had its Secretary of State, John Kerry, convene a 'high-level meeting on human rights in north Korea.' It even barred the DPRK, the party concerned, from participation, out of fear of revelations about the backroom political chatter. It was again the U.S. which prodded 'those defectors from the north' into an anti-DPRK smear campaign. 'Those defectors from the north' are known to be those who fled to the south from their old homes and kinsmen after committing detestable crimes.

"The U.S. is deathly afraid of the possibility of dialogue and cooperation between the DPRK and the international community in the field of human rights. It is just as afraid of the DPRK's further advancement of the people's enjoyment of human rights and the rising international prestige of the DPRK. Consequently, the U.S. is making desperate efforts to maintain an international atmosphere of pressure on the DPRK, turning its face away from the latter's sincere efforts and raising unreasonable demands.

"If the EU insists on dancing to the beat of U.S. drums by adopting an anti-DPRK 'human rights resolution' even harsher than the previous one, an opportunity of engaging the DPRK over the human rights issue will be missed for good. This will entail unpredictable consequences.

"For its part, the DPRK will make every possible effort to defend and consolidate Korean-style socialism based on the spirit of putting the people first."

(Slightly edited  for publication by TML.)

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North Korea Challenges America's Unending War Strategy at the United Nations

The briefing held at the United Nations by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday, October 7 was an opportunity to hear the DPRK's response to U.S. and EU initiatives targeting the DPRK. The U.S. and the EU have been using the UN to try to demonize the DPRK as a perpetrator of grave human rights violations and to rally the UN Security Council to refer the DPRK to the International Criminal Court (ICC).[1]

In the past few months, the DPRK Mission to the UN has held several press conferences alerting journalists to threats to international peace and security taking place on the Korean Peninsula. This briefing, however, was not only open to the press covering the UN, but to UN member nations and also to NGOs with access to UN Headquarters in NY.

At the briefing, the DPRK presented the "Report of the DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies" (Report) that it had published on September 13 about human rights in the DPRK.

DPRK's Deputy Ambassador at the UN, Ri Tong Il, opened the briefing by introducing the Report. Also taking part in the presentation were Mr. Choe Myong Nam, Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the DPRK and Mr. Kim Song, Counselor at the DPRK Mission.

Ambassador Ri explained that there has been an increasing tendency to carry on a human rights campaign against the DPRK. He referred in particular to a meeting organized by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss allegations of human rights abuse in the DPRK. The U.S. sponsored meeting was held on September 23 at a hotel near the UN. The DPRK was not invited to the meeting, and it was denied the right to attend when it asked to participate.

Ambassador Ri said that the purpose of this briefing being held by the DPRK was to focus on correcting the misinformation being spread about human rights in the DPRK and to provide a more accurate understanding of the situation of human rights in countries with differing social and political systems. He pointed out that the UN with 193 member states is made up of nations with different political systems, different values and different ideologies.

Ambassador Ri listed the 5 chapters in the Report giving a brief introduction to each of the chapters. Then he welcomed questions or statements from those present. Diplomats from several missions at the UN, including the Cuban and Venezuelan Missions, responded, thanking the DPRK for the briefing. They referred to the criticism of some nations at the UN who sponsor country-specific human rights resolutions. Experience has demonstrated that such resolutions are most often politically motivated, and not geared toward improving conditions for people. Instead the purpose is an illegitimate political objective, such as regime change. The Human Rights Council had adopted the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure, as an effort to counter such abuse and instead to treat all countries impartially. While many countries focus on the UPR procedure, a few nations continue to sponsor country-specific resolutions thus politically targeting other nations.

An example of such political motivation was provided by Choe Myong Nam in response to a question. He described how in 1993 after a breakdown in negotiations with the U.S. led the DPRK to pull out of the IAEA, the U.S. pressured the EU to bring a resolution against the DPRK for human rights violations.

A copy of the Report was distributed to those who attended the October 7 briefing.

Chapter I of the Report explores the general nature of human rights so that each nation can determine what the application will be in their situation. For the DPRK this entails making a critique of how the U.S. and certain other nations are trying to impose their view of what the standards should be for other nations. "Nobody in the international community empowered them to establish the international 'human rights standards,'" the Report notes. (p. 12) Instead, the Report maintains that human rights standards in a country are the prerogative of the people of that country. "In every country," the Report explains, "those who demand the human rights and campaign (for) them are the people." (p. 12)

The Report refers to the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (COI) recently sponsored by the Human Rights Council. The content and framework of the Report provides background that is helpful toward grasping the underlying fallacy of the COI. The Report maintains that the COI is an attempt "to bring down the DPRK by collecting prejudiced ‘data' without any scientific accuracy and objectivity in the content." (p. 12)

All of Korea has experienced the kind of human rights claims of an occupying power, notes the Report. This was during the period of the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945). "Each and every law manufactured by Japan in Korea in the past were anti-human rights laws aimed at depriving Korean people of all political freedoms and rights, and forcing colonial slavery upon them." (p. 13) The Report explains that these anti-Korean laws created by the Japanese colonial rule had to be abolished and new foundations established legally and politically in order to provide protection and empowerment for the Korean people, thus demonstrating that the DPRK is concerned with the question of human rights. (p. 14-15)

The Report proposes that the protection of human rights in the DPRK requires putting the political development of the DPRK into its historical context. Throughout the Report historical background is provided to put current developments into such a perspective. The Report documents various forms of hostile actions by the U.S. showing the effect such actions have had on the DPRK's development after the end of WWII and the end of Japanese colonial rule over Korea. One such example that the Report provides is explaining that "sanctions were imposed on Korea after Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule." (p. 93) Even before the Korean War, the U.S.-imposed sanctions against the socialist countries including the DPRK as part of its Cold War politics. (p. 93)

The Report also documents recent hostile acts by the U.S. against the DPRK. The DPRK puts the anti-human rights campaign by the "U.S. and its followers" in the context of the effort to "defame the image of the DPRK in the international arena and dismantle the socialist system under the pretext of 'protection of human rights.'"(p. 98)

A question was raised during the briefing about what was the relationship between the fact the U.S. is unwilling to negotiate a peace treaty with the DPRK to end the Korean War and the U.S. led allegations of human rights abuse against the DPRK. This question is at the heart of the ability to understand the nature of the U.S. campaign against the DPRK.

A recent journal article by Professor Christine Hong offers a helpful analysis toward understanding this relationship. Her article, "The Mirror of North Korean Human Rights," published in Critical Asian Studies, captures the intimate connection between the U.S. government's unending war against the DPRK, and the U.S. claims of gross human rights violations in the DPRK.[2]

The article explains that the U.S. has been and is technically and in practice at war with the DPRK. There has been an unending set of economic, political and cultural sanctions imposed on the DPRK either by the U.S. Congress or by the UN particularly the UNSC in the recent past. There have been massive military drills close to the DPRK by the U.S., Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan, and more recently including France, the UK, Canada and other U.S. allies. Over 28,000 U.S. troops are permanently stationed in the ROK.

In such a situation, the U.S. claims of DPRK human rights violations provide a convenient and effective discourse to cloak the image of U.S. war activities on the Korean Peninsula in a humanitarian sounding dress. Hong writes that the "axis of evil" narrative introduced by the Bush administration against Iraq, Iran and the DPRK provided a means whereby "war politics proceeded under the mantle of rescue politics." (Hong, p. 564)

Hong maintains that the "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) narrative provides the means by which "would-be rescuers lay claim to a monopoly on the virtuous use of violence."

Similarly, a fallacious WMD narrative which was provided to the U.S. government by defectors and politicized intelligence was used to camouflage the U.S. regime change invasion of Iraq. A similar false narrative using unverifiable claims of defectors and politicized intelligence is once again being dusted off for use against the DPRK.

Keeping in mind such recent examples as Iraq and Libya, Hong observes that the claims of noble goals provides a level of protection to the perpetrators of invasions using the mantle of R2P. Instead of being "viewed as human rights violations in themselves" when they engage in acts of war like aerial bombardment, military invasion, or an embargo on essential goods, they are provided with the appearance of acting as saviors.

Taken in such a context one can understand the reluctance of nations like the DPRK to take the claims of those promoting R2P and human rights as exhibiting any but aggressive intentions.

Hong goes on to point out that any legitimate U.S. concerns over human rights violations regarding the people of the DPRK would have to begin by addressing the massive destruction against the civilian population and civilian infrastructure of the DPRK carried out by the U.S. and its allies during the Korean War and since by its sanctions.

The Report the DPRK has produced refers not only to the anti-human rights activities against the Korean people during the 35 years of Japanese occupation but also to the continuing saga of U.S. hostile activities before and after the Korean War Armistice.

The U.S. should welcome such reports and the airing of all views on every question at the UN.

Notes

1. Such a strategy with Libya resulted in ICC cases against key Libyan officials weakening their fight against the NATO invasion that brought regime change and subsequently a state of serious instability to Libya.

Discussing the Libyan example of regime change, Joseph S. Nye, Jr explained that it is not the facts that matter in "the information age." Instead soft power, which includes how the narrative describing a situation is framed, is as important as, or even more important than military action, in gaining one's objectives. As he says in an online article, "In a global information age, success is not determined just by who has the biggest army, but also by who has the best story." See the article "On Libya, Soft Power, and the Protection of Civilians as Pretext."

2. Christine Hong, "The Mirror of North Korean Human Rights," Critical Asian Studies, 45:4, 561-592.

(blogs.taz.de/netizenblog, October 10, 2014)

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Futility of U.S. Ambitions to Dominate Asia-Pacific

The U.S. Army has worked out a new military strategy to hold its own in conflicts with various countries, including the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

In a recent report entitled "The U.S. Army Operating Concept: Win in a Complex World, 2020-2040" the U.S. Army defined the DPRK, Iran, Russia, China, and others as "regional powers" with the biggest possibility to clash with the U.S. in the future, and as "states in the relations of competition seeking hegemony." The report advances a new operating concept and calls for change in the U.S. forces' plans to put it into practice.

According to this new military strategy, called "Win in a Complex World," seven of the 10 currently active division-level commands (consisting of 17,000-21,000 soldiers each) of the U.S. forces will be deployed overseas. Equipment for infantry such as transport helicopters will be massively increased to make up for the reduction of heavy weapons deployment.

This reorientation has led to strong rejections within the international community, being seen as a reckless measure to contain, using armed force, those countries which reject U.S. dictate and its ambition for world domination at any cost.

The U.S. is now experiencing difficulty in achieving its ambitions as a result of serious external challenges.

It is facing not a few difficulties in carrying out its strategy for dominating the Asia-Pacific region, as the DPRK is continuing to wage struggle to defend its sovereignty against the U.S. The economic and military growth of Russia and China too pose a threat to U.S. hegemony. Fierce armed conflicts in the Near East continue to exhaust U.S. capacity

The U.S. should draw warranted conclusions about the results of its lawlessness and aggression. Instead, it has worked out an even more dangerous military strategy and continues to resort to the use of force to achieve it.

In the aforementioned report, the U.S. has gone to the lengths of openly defining the armed forces of the DPRK, Iran, Russia and China as "enemies"as part of its scenario for world domination. Particular mention should be made of the fact that in this report the U.S. defined China as the primary "harbinger of future conflict" and indeed the country with the greatest possibility of clashes with U.S. forces. The report expresses strong caution against the growth of China's military capability and its modernization, and openly calls for substantial counteraction against it.

U.S. experts asserted that the report notably underscored the possibility of armed conflict between China and the U.S. The report demonstrates that many aspects of the new U.S. military strategy revolve around containing China.

One high-ranking U.S. military official said that operations deploying armed forces are currently underway according to the new military strategy. The U.S. is deploying armed forces in the Asia-Pacific region, for instance, in order to contain China. These facts are indicative of the final goal of this strategy.

In south Korea, the U.S. is deploying its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which has China within its radius of operation. In the U.S. Department of Defense those concerned have said openly that the development of ultramodern supersonic missile technology is aimed to cope with China's own development of supersonic weapons.

All of this demonstrates that the U.S. is mulling over how it can attain its criminal goal for world hegemony by containing what it describes as the "state posing greatest threat" to the U.S.

It is no accident that military experts are commenting that the new U.S. military strategy making military conflict with China as a fait accompli involves operations and drills simulating world war scenarios.

The U.S. is continuing to play the role of a criminal disturbing world peace and security, demonstrating the shamelessness of an evil empire. Its new military strategy is driving military confrontation and the contradiction between the U.S. and China to an intolerable phase.

At the same time, history has shown that all attempts by those who seek to become emperors of the world are futile efforts inviting ruin upon oneself. Inevitably, countries, peoples, and whole regions of the world are working to counter the U.S. moves for hegemony. The conclusion to be drawn is that the U.S. should learn from history and what reality is telling it, and stop acting rashly.

(KCNA, October 27, 2014. Slightly edited  for publication by TML.)

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U.S. Continues Plans for Use of Nuclear
Weapons Against Korea

Leon Panetta, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA Director revealed in his memoirs, published October 7, ongoing U.S. plans to strike the Korean peninsula with nuclear arms. The book describes a 2010 briefing by General Walter L. Sharp, the former Commander of the U.S.-south Korean armed forces, for war plans in Korea that included the use of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear arms were first brought to the Korean peninsula 1958 by the U.S. U.S. plans to use nuclear weapons to dominate the Korean peninsula date back to 1950. During the Korean War, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, then in command of all U.S.-allied forces in Korea, proposed to hit the north of the peninsula bordering Manchuria with 30 to 50 atomic bombs. MacArthur's plans were opposed by certain factions of the U.S. ruling elite and he was removed from his position for insubordination. Nonetheless, preparations to exercise the nuclear option continued in earnest during the war with U.S. President Truman declaring that only he had authority to execute the nuclear strikes being considered.

In 1951, Operation Hudson Harbor established the capacity to hit Korea and China with nuclear bombs and engaged in simulated bombing runs. The plan was shelved following the U.S. defeat in 1953. Recently declassified documents also show that in 1968 the U.S. established another plan to bombard Korea with nuclear weapons, which it called "Freedom Drop." The U.S. continues to carry out regular war games in and around Korea that include bombers capable of delivering a nuclear payload.

The U.S. longstanding plans to use nuclear weapons in Korea and elsewhere underscores who is the source of insecurity on the Korean peninsula and the loathsome and aggressive U.S. double standard on the nuclear issue. Not only does the U.S. claim the "right" to commit war crimes with its thousands of nuclear weapons (as it did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and threaten others with nuclear annihilation, but it issues sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea claiming it cannot possess its nuclear deterrent as self-defence against U.S. nuclear blackmail.

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