Reflections by Comrade Fidel
THE TWO KOREAS
The Korean nation, with its
unique culture different from its Chinese and Japanese neighbors, has existed
for three thousand years. These characteristics are typical of societies in
that Asian region, including those of China,
and others. There is nothing like it in Western cultures, some of which are
less than 250 years old.
In the war of 1894, the
Japanese had seized from China
its control over the Korean dynasty and turned its territory into a Japanese
colony. Protestantism was introduced in this country in the year 1892,
following an agreement between the United States and the Korean
authorities. On the other hand, Catholicism was introduced in the same century
by missionaries. It is estimated that today in South Korea, around 25 percent of
the population is Christian and a similar percentage is Buddhist. The
philosophy of Confucius had a great influence on the spirit of Koreans who are
not characterized by fanatical religious practices.
Two important figures
outstand in that nationís political life in the twentieth century: Syngman Rhee, born in March of 1875, and Kim Il Sung, born 37 years later in April of 1912. Both
personalities, of different social background, confronted each other due to
historical circumstances that had nothing to do with either of them.
The Christians opposed the
Japanese colonial system. One of them was Syngman
Rhee who was an actively practicing Protestant. Korea
changed its status: Japan
annexed its territory in 1910. Years later, in 1919, Rhee was appointed
president of the provisional government in exile, headquartered in Shanghai, China.
He never used weapons against the invaders. The League of Nations in Geneva paid no attention
The Japanese Empire was
brutally repressive with the Korean population. The patriots took up arms
against the Japanese colonialist policy and succeeded in liberating a small
area in the mountain region of the north at the end of the 1890ís.
Kin Il Sung, born in the
vicinity of Pyongyang,
at the age of 18 joined the Korean Communist guerrillas to fight the Japanese.
In his active revolutionary life, he attained the position of political and
military leader of the anti-Japanese combatants in North Korea, at the young age of
During World War II, the United States decided the fate of Korea in the
post-war period. It joined the conflict when it was attacked by one of its own,
the Empire of the Rising Sun, whose tight feudal gates were opened by Commodore
Perry in the first half of the 19th century, aiming his cannons at the strange
Asian country that refused to trade with America.
The outstanding disciple
later became a powerful rival, as I have already explained on another occasion.
Decades later, Japan
successively struck at China
and Russia, additionally
taking over Korea.
Nevertheless it was a cunning ally for the victors of World War I, at the
expense of China.
It amassed forces and, transformed into the Asian version of fascist Nazism,
attempted to occupy Chinese territory in 1937 and attacked the United States in December of 1941; it brought
the war to Southeast Asia and Oceania.
The colonial domains of
Great Britain, France, Holland and Portugal in the region were doomed and the
United States emerged as the most powerful country in the world, matched only
by the Soviet Union then destroyed by World War II and by the heavy material
and human losses resulting from the Nazi strike. The Chinese Revolution was
about to conclude in 1945 when the world massacre ceased. The united anti-Japanese
combat was taking up its energy then. Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Gandhi, Sukarno and
other leaders later carried on the fight against the restoration of the old
world order which was already unsustainable.†
Truman dropped the nuclear
bomb on two civilian Japanese cities; this was a terribly destructive new
weapon whose existence they had not reported to their Soviet ally, as
explained, one which had been the major contributor to the destruction of
fascism. Nothing justified the genocide committed, not even the fact that the
tenacious Japanese resistance had taken the lives of almost 15 thousand
American soldiers on the Japanese island
of Okinawa. Japan was already defeated, and that weapon, had
it been dropped on a military target, would have sooner or later had the same
demoralizing effect on the Japanese military machine preventing more casualties
soldiers. It was an act of indescribable terror.
Soviet soldiers were
advancing on Manchuria and North Korea,
just as they had promised when fighting ceased in Europe.
The allies had defined beforehand the point each army could reach. The dividing
line would be in the middle of Korea,
equidistant between the Yalu River
and the southern end of the peninsula. The U.S. government negotiated with the
Japanese the rules that would govern the surrendering of troops on their own
territory. Japan would be
occupied by the United
States. In Korea,
annexed to Japan,
there would remain a large force of the powerful Japanese army. South of the 38th
Parallel, the established dividing line, U.S. interests prevailed. Syngman Rhee, reincorporated to that part of the territory
by the U.S.
government, was the leader the Americans supported, with the open cooperation
of the Japanese. This is how he won the hard-fought election of 1948. That
year, the soldiers of the Soviet Army had pulled out of North Korea.
On June 25, 1950 war broke
out in the country. It is still unclear who fired the first shot, whether it
was the combatants in the North or the American soldiers on duty with soldiers
recruited by Rhee. The argument does not make any sense if one analyzes it from
the Korean angle. Kim Il Sungís
soldiers fought against the Japanese for the liberation of all Korea. His
armies advanced irrepressibly up to the far reaches to the South where the
Yankees were defending themselves with the massive back-up of their fighter
and other cities had been occupied. MacArthur, commander-in-chief of U.S. forces in
the Pacific, decided to order a Marine landing at Incheon,
at the rearguard of Northern forces which by now were in no condition to
fell in the hands of Yankee forces, preceded by devastating air strikes. That
fostered the idea of the U.S. military command in the Pacific to occupy all of Korea,
since the Peoplesí Liberation Army of China, lead by Mao Zedong had inflicted a
resounding defeat on the pro-Yankee forces of Chiang Kai-shek, supplied and
supported by the United States. The entire continental and maritime territory
of that great country had been recovered, with the exception of Taipei and other small
near-by islands where Kuomintang forces found refuge after being transported
there by vessels of the Sixth Fleet.
The history of what
happened then is well known today. It should not be forgotten that Boris
Yeltsin handed over to Washington the Soviet Union archives, among other things.
What did the United States do when the practically inevitable
conflict broke out under the premises created in Korea? It portrayed the northern
part of that country as the aggressor. The Security Council of the recently
created United Nations Organization, promoted by the victorious powers of W. W.
II, passed a resolution that none of the five members could veto. Precisely in
those months, the USSR had
expressed its disagreement with the exclusion of China
from the Security Council, where the U.S. was recognizing Chiang Kai-Shek, with less than 0.3 percent of national territory and
less than 2 percent of the population, as a member of that Council and with a
right to veto. Such arbitrariness led to the absence of the Russian delegate,
with the result that the Council agreed to give the war the character of a UN
military action against the alleged aggressor: the Peoplesí Democratic Republic
of Korea. China,
completely outside the conflict, which was affecting its unfinished fight for
the total liberation of the country, saw the threat hovering directly against
its own territory, this being unacceptable for its security. According to
public information, Prime Minister Zhou Enlai was
sent to Moscow to inform Stalin of Chinaís point
of view about the inadmissibility of the presence of UN forces under U.S. command on the banks of the Yalu River
which marks Korea's border
and to request Soviet cooperation. At the time there were no profound
contradictions between the two Socialist giants.
It is affirmed that Chinaís
response had been planned for the 13th of October and that Mao postponed it for
the 19th, awaiting the Soviet reply. That was as long as he could put it off.
I intend to finish this
reflection next Friday. It is a complex and laborious subject which requires
special care and information as precise as possible. These are historical
events that should be known and remembered.
Fidel Castro Ruz
July 22, 2008.