VANGUARD - Expressing the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
For National Independence and Socialism • www.cpaml.org
High-level correspondence accompanied by various proposals between South Korea (ROK) and the northern DPRK provide a welcome thaw in their diplomatic relations.
The US, officially, was taken by surprise with the development although it would appear doubtful to be the case: their intelligence tentacles reach deep inside the ROK political and economic system.
Behind the scenes two important factors have to be considered.
It is the last year of office for President Moon Jae-in and his administration is faced with difficult elections next year following previous pledges to normalise diplomatic relations with the DPRK.
Secondly, the ROK is bitterly politically divided; those associated with far-right forces, backed by the US, are expected to make a desperate grab for presidential power to further US-led regional Cold War defence and security provision.
A joint diplomatic announcement, in late July, that the ROK and DPRK were intending restoring cross-border communications together with an agreement to improve diplomatic links has provided a welcome thaw on the Korean peninsula. Previous diplomatic relations were severed over a year ago due to far-right ROK activists attempting to undermine planning for peaceful relations between the two halves on the Korean peninsula. A subsequent statement from the ROK unification ministry stated 'hot-lines were back to normal operation … and … the first step towards improving ties', had taken place. (1)
The DPRK Korean Central News Agency, likewise, reported 'the top leaders of the north and the south agreed to make a big stride in recovering mutual trust and promoting reconciliation by restoring the cut-off inter-Korean communication liaison lines'. (2)
The development can be viewed as a first move toward normalisation of diplomatic relations between two states, still technically at war since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The US, historically, supported the ROK for regional military and security provision and the Defence of Japan military doctrine for rapid deployment facilities. While the US still has nearly 30,000 military personnel based in the ROK, the changing balance of regional forces has had a dramatic effect upon traditional US-led hegemonic positions.
The rise of China has provided the US with a serious competitor and altered the regional balance of forces. It has led to a realignment of diplomatic positions, particularly on the Korean peninsula, where diplomatic silence has become commonplace. Relations between the US and the ROK, in recent years, have also been strained.
It is, therefore, not surprising that the US Embassy in Seoul 'declined comment' on the recent diplomatic thaw. (3) It is also doubtful, however, that the embassy was unaware of the diplomatic initiatives between the ROK and DPRK despite a series of letters between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un since April leading up to their joint announcement.
The roots of US intelligence reach deep into the ROK political system; their GSOMIA intelligence network links the ROK into US-led regional and global military and security provision. (4) The GSOMIA system has also rested on the role of the ROK KCIA, established within weeks of President Park Chung-he seizing power in 1961. His military council established the US-backed intelligence service in four weeks and then used it for widespread systematic repression across the country and control of the system.
Draconian legislation was also implemented to restrict progressive and labour movement organisations. Much of the legislation still remains in force to the present day.
The repression was also accompanied, historically, by shadowy far-right organisations including the notorious World Anti-Communist League (WACL) which was renamed the World League for Freedom and Democracy (WLFD) in 1990. The Taipei-based organisation has an important centre in Seoul, with strong links into ROK society at large. In fact, the ROK hosted the initial meeting of the Asian Pacific League for Freedom and Democracy (APLFD), founded at Chinhae in 1954, which evolved later into the WACL in 1966.
So-called World Freedom Day, celebrated by pro-US and anti-communist groups annually on 23 January, is celebrated in both Taiwan and the ROK and it has been interesting to note how reference to the ROK has appeared in far-right, neo-Nazi 'manifestos' in recent years. A reference to the 'societal goals' of the 'Justiciar Knights', for example, include 'the … South Korean model … a monocultural but highly developed and progressive society'. (5) It has been particularly interesting to note how their chosen model has switched from traditional European far-right ideals to the present-day ROK, tending to indicate some support from within the political system itself following intelligence-type assessments.
An example of the role of the WACL in ROK political life can also be seen by those associated with the previous Park administrations. Park Chung-he who served as ROK president from 1963-79, was a powerful military figure closely associated with the WACL. It functioned as a 'public relations arm for the governments of Taiwan and the ROK', and was used as an instrument for unconventional warfare. (6) Funding was also provided by the US. (7)
The fact that 320,000 ROK troops fought in the Vietnam War remains evidence of the significance of the ROK for US military and security provision.
Park's daughter, Park Geun-hye, later served as president from 2013-17, after a long parliamentary career and leader of the Conservative Grand National Party.
The ROK remains bitterly divided along political lines with those associated with the Moon Jae-in administration facing a difficult presidential election campaign next year. Those associated with the Park political dynasty, and their US-backed far-right allies, are vying for power. Washington and the Pentagon have been noted for wanting the ROK to declare their full participation in the US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy. The Moon Jae-in presidential administration, however, has been reluctant to declare full support without conditions. (8)
The recent diplomatic initiatives can, therefore, be seen in a favourable light and a welcome boost for those associated with the Moon Jae-in presidential administration in difficult times.
1. Two Koreas restore severed communications in surprise thaw, Australian, 28 July 2021.
3. North, South Korean talks, Hamodia, 28 July 2021.
4. The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA., Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019.
5. The Global Intelligence Files, Justiciar Knights, Wikileaks: Stratfor, reference 5543061, 31 December 2019.
6. Inside the League, Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson, (New York, 1986), page 11.
7. Ibid., page 54.
8. Hankyoreh., op.cit., 12 November 2019.