Above: DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, clad in facemask. (1)
19-05-2022: On May 12, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK a.k.a “North Korea”) reported that localised lockdowns and gathering restrictions in workplaces had been ordered in response to an alleged Covid outbreak. The announcement that a break in the “emergency epidemic prevention front” had occurred was made by Supreme Leader and General Secretary of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK), Kim Jong Un, reportedly speaking at the 8th Political Bureau Meeting of the 8th Central Committee. Wearing a facemask for the first time in public, Kim Jong Un claimed that the Covid outbreak was consistent with the detection of the Omicron BA.2 subvariant of SARS-CoV-2, the purported virus which some claim causes a unique respiratory illness named Covid-19. Previously, the DPRK had not reported a single positive case of this particular coronavirus, and had asserted effective success in the “fight against Covid” by implementing special measures.
Early Covid uptake
The DPRK government was one of the first in the world to adopt the Covid narrative, which ultimately emanated from the very same Western imperialist ruling classes bent on the destruction of the DPRK. As early as January 31 in 2020, the DPRK claimed it was enforcing hygienic and anti-epidemic work at its borders, airports and harbors in an effort to prevent the virus from reaching the country. Indeed, the DPRK was arguably the first country in the world to totally lockdown its borders, under a strict interpretation of “no one in, no one out”. Some estimates state that the DPRK’s economy contracted by 4.5% in 2020 as a result of the lockdowns, albeit combined with ongoing United Nations (UN) sanctions, the most precipitous decline since the near famine conditions experienced in the 1990s. Although the DPRK resisted lockdowns during the first two years of Covid, its government adopted and implemented the “pandemic” fear propaganda throughout.
For example, in 2021, on the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the republic, no nuclear weapons systems were displayed in the usual parade through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang. Yet there was a detachment of Worker-Peasant Red Guards decked out in orange hazmat suits from head to toe, complete with gas masks. Some reports claim that internal travel was rigidly restricted, and – in a country known for its mass mobilisations – gatherings of more than five people had been banned. Despite these measures which indicate a wholesale capitulation to Covid propaganda, the DPRK did resist the enormous pressure from all kinds of “global governance” bodies to administer vaccines, which were fantastically put forward as the way out of the “pandemic”. The DPRK stood firm and declined vaccines from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United Nations (Covax).
Covid is far from healthcare
The DPRK can be congratulated for not partaking in the insanity of mass Covid vaccinations, which in the West were enforced through unconscionable vaccine mandates. Assuming Covid exists, there is no way to achieve herd immunity through vaccinations. What is more, the untested and experimental Covid vaccines have proven so dangerous that now even some establishment doctors and scientists are calling for the immediate cessation of Covid vaccine rollouts due to serious safety issues. This is a rather diplomatic way of saying that the “Covid vaccine” was in fact a diabolical plan to genocide whole sections of the working class to prevent them from rising up against the capitalist system, which is in a terminal crisis and has no solutions for the catastrophes it generates. Whether or not SARS-CoV-2 exists and is pathogenic, “Covid” was the rhetoric which blurred the line between liberal democracy and fascism. The claim that the wealthiest ruling classes in history locked down whole economies and abolished elementary democratic rights in the name of “healthcare” – is absurd.
There is no doubt that the DPRK has bravely and heroically resisted US imperialism for over 70 years. The US war machine inflicted countless unspeakable atrocities on the people of Korea from 1950-53 in a desperate attempt to contain the triumphant socialist revolution in the neighbouring People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. In fact, without US intervention, all of Korea would now be socialist in some form. The Koreans fought the US juggernaut to a standstill, and then managed to construct a workers’ state literally from a pile of ashes. The Korean War – known in the DPRK as the “Fatherland Liberation War”- had casualties up to 5 million dead, wounded or missing. It is generally assumed that 3 million Koreans perished, along with up to 1 million Chinese volunteers – who knew their revolution was at stake. Around a third of the Korean population were slaughtered by US imperialism and their allies at this time, and this act of unprecedented barbarism conditions the DPRK to this day.
Workers in the DPRK today enjoy the gains of the sacrifices made by their forebears. Housing, health care and education are provided to all, free of cost. There is no unemployment, as work and the right to recreation are guaranteed by the DPRK’s constitution. There is no homelessness, and as everyone’s basic needs are met, crime is virtually non-existent. Children can walk the streets at any time, day or night, in complete safety. These achievements are the basis for the barely constrained anti-communist hostility of imperialism towards the DPRK, which is so pervasive it infects much of the Western so-called left. The West’s corporate media never ceases to slander the DPRK and wildly distort the lived reality of the northern half of the Korean peninsula.
At the same time, the DPRK remains a bureaucratically deformed workers’ state, yet topped with one of the most extensive leadership cults in history. This is virtually the ONLY aspect of Western anti-DPRK propaganda which contains elements of truth. The Kim family – from Kim Il Sung to Kim Jong Il to Kim Jong Un – are glorified to levels that stretch credulity. Unfortunately, the WPK use this unceasing adulation to discipline Korean workers against forming thoughts of questioning the government, or even of suggesting other ways of building socialism and protecting themselves against the endless threats of annihilation emanating from Washington. Even though there is little or no mention of Stalin, the leadership of the WPK in practice firmly adheres to the Stalinist nostrums of “socialism in one country” and “peaceful coexistence with imperialism”. This occurs despite the DPRK engaging in almost daily battles to militarily protect itself from imperialism. The WPK never appeals to workers internationally to engage in joint struggle, let alone encourage revolutions against capitalism abroad. While it is true the DPRK has sent military and other assistance to countries such as Egypt, Zimbabwe, Angola, Ethiopia, Uganda and Sudan, this mainly took place during the post World War II period, when anti-colonial uprisings were then an accepted part of international relations.
The imposition of nationwide lockdowns in the DPRK now, after more than two years of an extremely doubtful coronavirus “emergency”, represents a dire betrayal of the working class the world over. Even if the lockdowns are not fully implemented, and even if the WPK still avoids the ordering of mass vaccinations, the fostering and fomenting of illusions in the imperialist Covid narrative can only encourage Western governments to once again roll out this form of repression. Millions of working people in the West lost their employment and had basic civil and democratic rights extinguished with the threadbare excuse of “Covid”. For the WPK to contribute, even in a small way, towards the continuation of such outcomes, exposes them as an accessory of imperialism regardless of their anti-imperialist victories. Lies about Covid benefit only the global elites, not working people.
Some who see themselves as anti-imperialist hold that the fact the leaderships of the DPRK and the PRC have implemented Covid lockdowns and/or mass vaccinations is proof positive of a genuine “pandemic”. On the contrary, it only demonstrates the fact that Stalinist political leaderships (with or without a leadership cult) are prepared to adopt ANY aspect of bourgeois ideology in a vain attempt to demonstrate that they are viable partners for maintaining the political status quo – socialistic rule in the DPRK and the PRC, and global capitalism elsewhere. To reverse this double-dealing, what is required in the DPRK and the PRC are proletarian political revolutions which sweep away their respective bureaucratic and conservative ruling castes. It is acknowledged that this task will be extremely difficult in isolation, hence the vital necessity of workers’ revolutions in the West which will exert inexorable pressure on the bureaucracies of the DPRK and the PRC. Indispensable for this is the forging of internationally linked vanguard parties based on genuine Leninist-Trotskyism, which can lead the masses towards the vanquishing of fraudulent pandemics and the victory of real socialism.
(1) Photo credit: http://www.yahoo.com