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::Press::Che-Leila Youth Brigades Interview the Korean Friendship Association

The Bush administration, and before it the Clinton administration, precipitated the crisis by reneging on their obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework. This is a key point for people to understand. The DPRK built the graphite nuclear reactors to provide electricity for its citizens. It only shut them down under the 1994 Agreed Framework because the US and allies promised to deliver heavy oil and build light water reactors (LWRs).
::Press::Che-Leila Youth Brigades Interview the Korean Friendship Association
::Press::Che-Leila Youth Brigades Interview the Korean Friendship Association
::Press::Che-Leila Youth Brigades Interview the Korean Friendship Association [KFA]
by Majdur Travail Saturday February 08, 2003 at 12:51 AM


Che-Leila Youth Brigades Interview Alejandro Cao de Benos of the Korean Friendship Association [KFA], and Dominick Bruno Jr., Official Delegate for the USA of the KFA, 7 Feb. 03


CLYB:
Gentleman, let me say, before we begin today, that on behalf of the Che-Leila Youth Brigades USA Chapter we are truly honored to be speaking with the two of you. It seems like of all the established states, none takes a more extraordinary and uncompromising anti-imperialist stance. That said would you please explain what the Korean Friendship Association is?

DOMINICK:

First, I would like to thank the Che-Leila Youth Brigades USA Chapter for the opportunity this interview provides, the honor and pleasure is all mine. The Korean Friendship Association is a cultural organization with members in over 50 countries and on every continent. Like the Che-Leila Youth Brigades, we are very much youth oriented, as well.

ALEJANDRO:

Thank you for your interest in the DPRK and the KFA.

CLYB:

What are it's goals? What accomplishments has it made?

DOMINICK:

The KFA's primary goal, as a cultural organization, is to promote peace and friendship with the DPRK through understanding of the DPRK's culture, society, and people. Often in the process of doing that, we have to dispel years of myths and misconceptions, so our work takes on a lot of awareness-type activities as well. As for accomplishments - well, the KFA has been around only 2 years (it was founded on 10 December 2000) and in that time has held numerous cultural exhibitions in many countries, designed the Official DPRK website, and grown to over 600 members. Alejandro was recently on National Public Radio and himself received a gift from the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il for the work he's organized through the KFA. And I'm being interviewed by the Che-Leilas - I think we've had a good run! There's always room for improvement though, and as for myself, I'm actively reaching out to other organizations, media, individuals to expand our work. The first DPRK exhibition of my tenure as Official Delegate was in NJ on February 1st (hosted by our fine friends at the Albus Cavus Gallery,  http://www.albuscav.us), I think it provided an excellent opportunity for people to learn more about the DPRK.

CLYB:

It seems from our angle that their is a lot of National Chauvinism as well as blatant ignorance of the truth, even from progressive, revolutionary and anti-imperialist corners. In this context, how well-received is the KFA and DPRK solidarity as to how well the KFA and DPRK solidarity work in general is received amongst progressives and anti-imperialists?

DOMINICK:

When I first was appointed Official Delegate, it was shortly before the current crisis, and outside of a few individuals and organizations we got a lot of "We support the DPRK against imperialism, but...." and there would come the whole tirade of myths spread about the DPRK. To be honest, I was a little shocked at first. I mean, here were people that if CNN said the sky was blue, would denounce it as an "imperialist lie to confuse the working class" or something, but yet they were buying the whole western media inspired anti-DPRK line without a second thought! It's taken a lot of discussion, patience, and work, but it is starting to pay off. Of course, there's also those "jumping on the bandwagon" now since the DPRK is a hot topic at the moment.

CLYB:

Why did the two of you decide to be involved in solidarity efforts with North Korea of all things?

DOMINICK:

I can't speak for everyone, of course, but I don't think my reasons are very different from the majority of KFA members. It's simply a desire to learn more about the DPRK. I've generally always been a "show me, don't tell me" kinda guy, so I wasn't scared off by the media hype or dire warnings from my friends, hahaha! Of course, once you become aware of the facts, it seems just natural to want to share them and talk with others of similar interest.

ALEJANDRO:

I was 15 when I received an invitation for a DPRK Exhibition in Madrid, Spain. I already believed in Communism but after reading the books of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung and having many conversations with my Korean friends I became fully immersed in the study and history of the 'land of the morning calm'.

CLYB:

Alejandro, I recently heard you speak on National Public Radio, about the Korean Friendship Association, and the DPRK's stance on recent events. In passing you mentioned that you spend several months out of the year in the DPRK and are considered a Citizen? Am I correct on this? How does this work?

ALEJANDRO:

Yes, I'm a DPRK citizen and I work for its Government. But more important than this, is to have the honour of being a trusted comrade of the glorious Worker's Party of Korea and the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il.

CLYB:

Dominick, from what I understand you are soon going to be making your first Visit to the DPRK. What exactly are you going to be doing, and how is this related to recent event difficulties between the DPRK and the USA Imperialists?

DOMINICK:

Ahh, yes. The KFA International meeting in July! This is a pretty exciting event, KFA members from around the world will convene in Beijing for our international meeting and then on to the DPRK where we will be able to see firsthand what the DPRK is like. Unfortunately, the current state of relations makes it a quite expensive proposition (one cannot book a flight directly to Pyongyang) and since KFA membership is free (the KFA in the US currently relies on our online store to generate operating funds), we might be sending a smaller delegation than we had hoped. We are currently reaching out to other organizations to arrange sponsorships for members who wish to attend but cannot afford it.

CLYB:

Could you explain some basic questions to people such as how The DPRK's Governmental Process works, what its governing principal and philosophies are and how the Democratic People's Republic of Korea fits into the greater struggle against Imperialism and Capitalism?

DOMINICK:

The DPRK's governing principle is that of the Juche ideology. In a nutshell, it can be summarized as independence in politics, self-sufficiency in economy, and self-reliance in defense. Internationally, it is very much an archetype of respect for national sovereignty, which is extremely important to the DPRK. As one of the last remaining socialist countries that survived the Cold War, the DPRK stands as a model for many non-aligned nations. They also stand in solidarity with many other oppressed peoples, such as the Palestinians.

CLYB:

What exactly is the DPRK's perspective on recent events such as this key issue of Nuclear Reactors, and allegations that the DPRK is recklessly pursuing a militaristic policy, including the creation of Nuclear Weapons?

DOMINICK:

The Bush administration, and before it the Clinton administration, precipitated the crisis by reneging on their obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework. This is a key point for people to understand. The DPRK built the graphite nuclear reactors to provide electricity for its citizens. It only shut them down under the 1994 Agreed Framework because the US and allies promised to deliver heavy oil and build light water reactors (LWRs). The LWRs were to be built, under the Agreed Framework, by 2003. This has not been done. That means 8 years of economic damage and a freezing populace! Not to mention that the oil shipments, when they arrived, were often withheld maliciously until AFTER the winter months, when they were most needed. How can anyone expect a nation to tolerate that? As regards to any alleged "militaristic policy" by the DPRK: the DPRK has, on numerous occasions, called upon the US to sign a non-aggression pact. Instead, the Bush administration has labeled the DPRK part of an "axis of evil", positioned over 1000 nuclear warheads, devised not one but 2 invasion plans, and maintains the most heavily militarized border in the world. Under these conditions, it is all to easy to see who really has the militaristic plans, and the DPRK, as a sovereign nation, has the right to defend itself and its citizens by whatever means it feels necessary.

CLYB:

How can Progressives and Revolutionaries in the USA, particularly those inspired by and in solidarity with the DPRK, be most effectively in solidarity with the DPRK, and also be most effective in communication the aims of the DPRK?

DOMINICK:

Well, obviously, I have to say join the KFA! I get this question a lot, and what I basically tell people is to keep educated and well-informed about events both in Korea and worldwide, and follow whatever course of political work suits their conscience. Help us organize exhibitions, write letters to your newspaper, start a petition in support of justice for the 2 south Korean schoolchildren murdered by US soldiers, get your city council to pass a resolution in support of signing a non-aggression pact with the DPRK, etc.... there's a lot that can be done - if people need ideas they can feel free to email me!

CLYB:

What is the "Army Centered Policy" and why do I hear it heralded by Pro-DPRK sources?

ALEJANDRO:

The "Army Centered Policy" or "Army First Policy" is a strategy created by our Supreme Commander Kim Jong Il. Without an army you cannot protect your land, your people and the social paradise that the DPRK has created in 50 years. This policy means that the Korean People's Army preserves the sovereignty against the imperialist aggressions, so priority is given to increase this military power. The workers must produce tanks, the youth must join the army and the mothers take care of the soldiers. This policy demonstrated its fully practical effectiveness today, when the US Imperial army will carefully think twice before touching a single inch of our country protected by 9 million soldiers and missiles that can cross the Pacific.

CLYB:

How much truth is their to supposedly "factual" stories that the DPRK is responsible for mass starvation and hunger? Forced Labor? Prisons unjustly stocked full of political prisoners? Religious persecution? Suppressing mass exoduses of people fleeing in terror,etc?

DOMINICK:

I'm glad you asked about these rumors. I should just say "Look who's talking!" whenever a spokesman for the Bush administration raises them, but enough kidding around! The vast majority of them are the product of one-sided reporting (at best) and outright lies and trickery (at worst). The US Branch of the KFA is preparing a short pamphlet to deal with these in depth, but I'll try and give brief answers here. The question regarding the food shortages requires a bit of history though. Korea as a whole has historically always had an abundance of food - enough not only to feed its own people, but plenty to spare. The majority of arable land is in the south, and the beautiful mountains and natural resources in the north. Thus, when Korea was forcibly partitioned, most of the arable land was in the south, leaving the DPRK with very little. This was situation was worsened by the floods and earthquakes. Still, the forced partition of Korea by the US (who continues to disrupt and stifle all moves towards reunification) was the primary cause of starvation in the DPRK. In fact, aid workers from both China and the US are both on record marveling at how efficiently the DPRK's socialist system was able to distribute the food they did have. For the Bush administration and others to now turn around and blame the DPRK and it's chosen ideology for the starvation that THEY caused is not only the a complete lie, it should be criminal!

This segues nicely into the "defector" issue. A quite popular rumor is of defections across the Chinese border. In point of fact, the border controls are extremely tight, and no alleged "North Korean refugee" has ever shown any proof of citizenship in the DPRK. Indeed, one grouping admitted to living in China for four years before their "defection". Hardly a heart-pounding, danger-ridden escape over the border from a "tyrannical regime". Surely, in any time of economic disruption, there is always a migration of people to other locations. The simple and plain fact is that, while there may be defectors and refugees from the DPRK, it is no flood, and surely no more than those labor activists and political dissidents that flee north from the US-backed south Korean regime.

The "forced labor" issue is a charge leveled at just about every socialist nation - this is probably due to the fact that in most socialist countries criminals are rehabilitated, not warehoused, and must work, so as not to be a burden upon law-abiding members of society. Of course, they produce needed services for society, unlike the unfortunate victims of the United States' forced labor program who make blue jeans. Again, "prisons full of political prisoners" (look who's talking?) and "religious persecution" are more standard charges right out of the red-baiters handbook. Interesting to note that a beautiful Buddhist Temple is a standard visit for most tourists in the DPRK.


CLYB:

What Social Infrastructure has the DPRK developed for its people?

DOMINICK:

Although the fall of the socialist trading bloc and the hostile economic policies followed by many western governments have caused some shortages and difficulties, the DPRK has been steadily improving the infrastructure of the DPRK. Medical care is free, and according to one western aid worker who required hospitalization in Pyongyang, better than what she received in the US. Education is free, as well.

CLYB:

What connection is there, in your opinion, between the DPRK 's peaceful Re-unification struggle and other anti-imperialist National Liberation struggles? In this context, what contributions do you think the DPRK has made? I know speaking for the Che-Leila Youth Brigades USA, that some of our comrades from Arab backgrounds are closely following the DPRK's example of standing up to the bullying tactics of the Imperialists. Also didn't the Black Panther Party use to include Kim Il-Sung's writings in their paper?

DOMINICK:

The struggle for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula is the culmination of the Korean people's own National Liberation struggle. In this sense, the Korean people share a common ground with all other peoples of the world who have been oppressed, exploited, and divided by other nations. It is to the DPRK's credit that, out of concern for their brothers and sisters in the south, they have patiently worked through peaceful means to achieve this reunification.

The DPRK has stood in solidarity in defense of many "small nations" national sovereignty - examples such as Vietnam and Palestine come to mind quickly, and there are others. As early as 1987, Kim Jong Il made note of the DPRK's international respect, noting "The struggle of our people, who are advancing at the forefront of the struggle for independence against imperialism under the revolutionary banner of the Juche idea, is a source of great encouragement to the progressive people of the world in their struggle for independence. We must take due pride in this." The DPRK has been an active proponent of building international solidarity amongst progressives as well, sending delegates to various conferences and seminars, not to mention developing the "Pyongyang Declaration" - signed now by well over 100 parties and organizations - calling for expanded unity and cooperation on an international level. Regarding the BPP printing extracts from the Great Leader, I have heard rumors but I haven't personally seen it. It wouldn't surprise me though, the BPP generally seemed to keep pretty well abreast of international events.


CLYB: How do you see the Great Leader, Comrade Kim Il-Sung and the Philosophy of Juche being remembered by History?

DOMINICK:

History will remember the Great Leader as a man who loved his people and Korea above all else, and who struggled mightily to deliver it to freedom. Not only guiding through to liberation, but also defending it during the Great Fatherland War. The Juche philosophy was his gift to the nation - a Korean philosophy of socialism that would ensure the survival of the Korean people as a nation and lead to their reunification.

CLYB:

In Europe and Parts of Asia and Africa, were there is a more advanced understanding of Anti-Imperialism "Juche Study Groups" have formed to better understand and the Juche Idea and how to apply it to the world around us. What exactly is this? Is this the same as the Korean Friendship Association, if not what are the differences, and why?

DOMINICK:

Yes, there's quite a few Juche Idea Study Groups. Of course, they aren't the same as the KFA, otherwise there would be no need for 2 groupings! Not that we don't get some crossover membership, but they are still different. Basically, the KFA is cultural, minimally involved in politics only to extent of explaining and defending DPRK culture. Juche Idea Study Groups are generally much more politically active in their home country. That would be the main difference. Also, the KFA is a broader grouping encompassing various classes and individuals that aren't necessarily socialist or Juche-oriented (just pro-peace with the DPRK), whereas Juche Idea Study Groups generally require members to be socialists dedicated to the Juche Ideology.

CLYB:

If someone is attempting to understand Comrades Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, the Juche Idea, efforts at Peaceful Re-unification, etc what resources are there to do so? Aside from the internet, are their also any books or articles of suggested reading?

DOMINICK:

On the internet, I recommend, of course,  http://www.korea-dpr.com - soon the KFA in cooperation with the Government of the DPRK will be opening the Kim Il Sung E-library which will have an enormous amount of information for download. Also  http://kcna.co.jp for news from the DPRK and  http://ndsfk.dyn.to for news from the National Democratic Front of south Korea. Offline, there's not much available in the US. We're trying to rectify that situation but have only secured a small amount of materials at the moment which was graciously donated by our friends in the UK. Hopefully as our membership and resources expand, we'll be able to provide better services in this regard. Outside of the USA, you can try contacting KPEA / The Korean Publications Exchange Association, P.O.Box 222, Pyongyang 206-3-3, D.P.R. of Korea, Tel: (+850-2) 18111 ext. 8842, Fax: (+850-2) 3814632

CLYB:

Would either of you like to add anything before closing, particularly to those reading this from the United States of America?

DOMINICK:

I'd just like to thank the Che-Leila Youth Brigades once again for the opportunity to answer these questions which are on many people's minds as well as for your expressions of solidarity with the people of the DPRK. For people here in the USA, my advice: join the KFA (of course!), learn the facts about the DPRK, and tell others - whether it's on Indymedia or in your local newspaper's editorial columns. Take whatever political activism suits your conscience - be it supporting justice for the two schoolchildren killed by US soldiers, supporting re-unification efforts, promoting peaceful policies towards the DPRK, or even traveling to the DPRK to see for yourself! The KFA stands ready to help you and answer any questions, just drop us an email.


ALEJANDRO: I'd like to express my respect for the progressive fighters in the USA and invite you to learn how and why on year 2003 there's a country living in equality, harmony and where the human values like respect, honour and sharing are practiced by all the society. Kamsahamnida! (Thank you).

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"Love the people, serve them and become a part of them."--Leila Khaled ('My People Shall Live')

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CLYB  anti_imperialist_solidarity@yahoo.com


Marxist-Leninist Newswire:  http://majdur.htmlplanet.com/DPRK/CLYB.interview.with.KFA.%5BDPRK%5D.7feb03.html
correction 09.Feb.2003 21:37

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