I visited the land of Juche, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), from the 11th of April to the 18th of April, with my daughter Georgina. It was her first ever visit to the DPRK but for me it was my 18th visit .18 times seems quite unbelievable. We in the DPRK by the kind invitation of the Korean Association of Social Scientists which I was honoured to receive.
We travelled from London Heathrow airport to Beijing where we stayed one night in a hotel near to the airport. On the Thursday we made our way to the DPRK. We checked in with Air Kory, for some unknown reason the Chinese staff doing the check in took ages to check us in onto the flight. Whilst queuing up I met several old and new friends including comrades from the Czech Group for the Materialisation of the Juche Idea and the Czechoslovak -Mt Paektu Friendship Society .
Our plane took off . I enjoyed an Air Koryo burger and some fizzy drink on the plane . We landed at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport. We were met at the airport by our guide for the visit, Miss Kim , a sweet looking young woman who was a graduate of KIM IL SUNG university . We also met some section chiefs of KASS at the airport . We got on a coach and were driven to the splendid Pyongyang Koryo Hotel . My favourite hotel in Juche Korea. As we drove to the hotel it was dark, my daughter remarked that there was no advertising.Our hotel rooms were excellent ,plenty of space and with a free bottle of my favourite Kangso spring water which is fizzy.
We were visiting the DPRK on the occasion of the Day of the Sun, the 107th anniversary of the birth of the great leader comrade KIM IL SUNG , the eternal red sun of Juche but there was added significance . Whilst we were on our way to the DPRK ,a meeting of the Political Bureau of the ruling Workers Party of Korea was held , followed by the 4th plenary meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers Party of Korea . At the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the WPK , respected Marshal KIM JONG UN made a speech stressing the need to increase self-reliance and also that ‘ To thoroughly establish the socialist lifestyle is an important work for maintaining the Juche character and national identity and preserving the true nature of socialism and giving full play to its advantages in the field of cultural life”.
To me this is very good indeed , firstly it means that the DPRK through self-reliance can overcome and smash the evil sanctions of the imperialists ,secondly
self-reliance means implicitly rejecting ‘opening up ‘ to imperialism (something that the imperialists have long schemed to do ) and its mean the Juche character and national identity will be maintained.
On the 2nd day of our visit respected Marshal KIM JONG UN was re-elected ,by the 1st session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK , the highest office of state in the DPRK reflecting the unbounded reverence and support for him by the Korean people. Many meetings and events were held to hail this significant occasion .
At the session of the Supreme People’s Assembly respected Marshal KIM JONG UN made a highly significant and important policy speech titled ‘ “On Socialist Construction and the Internal and External Policies of the Government of the Republic at the Present Stage” in which he clarified the basic lines and policies of the DPRK in the present stage of the revolution including the issue of increasing self-reliance and the issue of DPRK-US talks . In my opinion , respected Marshal KIM JONG UN took a most correct stance on the complex issue of talks with the US as on the one hand he rebuffed the US demand for unilateral and one-sided concessions as well regime change scenarios but on the other hand showed willingness to engage in dialogue with the US if the US showed the right attitude .I saw the text of the speech being read out line by line on the television . I felt that I was in the DPRK in epoch making times . Later I was given a copy of the speech in English by comrades from the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and started to study it in detail . I felt deeply impressed and that the DPRK will prosper greatly under the leadership of respected Marshal KIM JONG UN becoming a self-reliant socialist paradise , an invincible and strong socialist country .
Indeed during the course of my visit I could see that self-reliance and the Juche -orientation of the economy of the economy is successful and that the DPRK is thwarting the horrendous and evil sanctions unjustly imposed on it by the imperialists. I had visited the DPRK in September 2018 and in February 2019 , the prices in the shops were still the same and the rate of exchange was still the same. My daughter remarked on how amazingly cheap everything was. Moreover the shops were well stocked with no apparent shortages . In fact the DPRK economy has developed in leaps and bounds over the decades . We visited (my second visit) the Pyongyang Cosmetics factory and saw a wide variety of cosmetic products . I remember in the early 1990s there were few DPRK cosmetic products to be seen and the range of Insam products was limited but now the DPRK has now diversified the range of cosmetic products and insam products. Visiting the Pyongyang cosmetic factory I learnt more about it . The factory has a floor area of 29,000 square metres and has 500 workers. The Taean Work System , a unique form of collective management and genuine workers control .is still in place despite mischievous reports by anti DPRK media outlets and some so-called ‘north Korea experts ‘ about its alleged abolition .
We learnt of the struggle of the Korean people against sanctions and blockades during the 1990s by visiting the Korean Revolution Museum on the scenic Mansu Hill. The area is spotlessly clean , no litter or dirt . We saw lots of soldiers and students lining up to go into the museum. We were taken around the section of the Museum that details the ‘arduous march ‘ period from 1994 to 1998.During that period the DPRK faced hardships because of the intensified sanctions of the imperialists and recurrent natural disasters . The Western imperialists claimed that the DPRK would collapse in 3 days or 3 months or 3 years . However great generalissimo KIM JONG IL rallied the Korean people under the banner of Songun saying that the people of the DPRK were at the crossroads between independence or becoming slaves of the imperialists . We learnt at the museum how generalissimo KIM JONG IL gave guidance to army units by negotiating difficult and dangerous roads that people advised him not to use .
We were able to travel outside Pyongyang and enjoyed a trip to the wonderful International Friendship Exhibition in Mt Myohyang . We could clearly see improvements as not one but two motorway service stations have been built by the roadside to offer services and convenience to those making long distance trips on the motorway . Looking around the International Friendship Exhibition we saw many gifts sent to respect Marshal KIM JONG UN from all kinds of parties , friendship associations , Juche Idea and Songun idea study groups and even businesses and leading political figures of the world . This shows that the DPRK is not isolated like the imperialists claim. In fact the DPRK has diplomatic relations with about 160 countries .It also demonstrates that the deep reverence of the world’s people for respected Marshal KIM JONG UN .He is the leader of the era and this is the era of KIM JONG UN . We were pleased to see gifts from our Association for the Study of Songun Politics UK and Juche Idea Study Group of England displayed.
Delegates from Austria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovakia Guinea , India , Italy , Japan, Mongolia, Nepal ,Nigeria ,Russia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine .Uganda, UK and the International Institute of the Juche Idea . We heard excellent speeches from DPRK academics and professors. It was interesting to hear the speeches from Mongolia and Uganda which stressed the close relationship between the DPRK and those countries . The speaker from Uganda said that the DPRK had provided assistance to Uganda including for defence and security. The speaker from Nigeria made a speech denouncing imperialist intervention in Africa and calling for African independence. Our friend Lukas Vrobel of the Czech Group for the Materialisation of the Juche Idea spoke for the first time at a Juche idea seminar in Pyongyang. I spoke about my experiences in visiting the DPRK , in part I said that “After a few days in the DPRK I became more certain of the superiority of the Juche idea and Juche-based socialism. As a Korean comrade said to me “As you can see socialism is victorious in our country “.One night I lay awake in my comfortable apartment and reflected on how solid and durable the DPRK,was, that it would last for eternity that it could never collapse“.
The DPRK speakers at the seminar spoke about self-reliance, the independent national economy and the need for independence.
A strong spirit of anti-imperialist independence pervades the DPRK . This emanates from the Juche Idea itself which stresses makes independence the life and soul of the country. We visited the splendid Tower of the Juche Idea with its bright red torch at the top which lights up at night symbolising that Juche is the torch guiding humanity forward. Here we got an overwhelmingly sense of the correctness of the Juche idea and the support it enjoys from the people of the world.
The theme of anti-imperialism was also evident at the Fatherland Liberation War Museum which includes the captured US spy ship the USS Pueblo . Although I have been around the Fatherland Liberation War Museum before , this time I saw some parts that I had never seen before such as the merited weapons exhibition which included Tank nk312 which was the first KPA tank to enter Seoul, the reactionary south Korean puppet capital when it was liberated in June 1950. Inside the Museum itself we saw the section on the liberation of Seoul . I learnt how the heroic KPA troops commanded by the great leader generalissimo KIM IL SUNG stormed into Seoul and opened the Mokpho prison thus releasing many imprisoned patriots and communists who had been imprisoned by the reactionary south Korean puppet fascists . We also learnt of the atrocities committed by the US imperialists who killed 4.2 million Korean people and used chemical and biological weapons , a grim reminder of the aggressive nature of US imperialism.
As it was the 107th anniversary of the birth of President KIM IL SUNG we visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to pay our respects to the great leader’s comrade KIM IL SUNG and KIM JONG IL, on April 15th . We also visited Mangyondae the birth place of the President KIM IL SUNG . I felt it was fitting and appropriate to visit both the final resting place of President KIM IL SUNG and his birth place. We not only saw the humble straw thatched home were President KIM IL SUNG was born and spent his boyhood but we saw the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Museum which I last visited in 2008. Here I learnt of the revolutionary history of President KIM IL SUNG and his family. After liberation in 1945 , President KIM IL SUNG’s grandfather continued to live in an ordinary farmhouse , this surprised a south Korean visitor who thought that the grandfather of the head of state would live in a grand house.
We also saw the Arch of Triumph symbolising Korea’s liberation and the return of President KIM IL SUNG. This time we are able to go right to the top and look over fast developing Pyongyang.
We also visited the KIMILSUNGIA exhibition and the Pyongyang Metro.
Our delegation visited the Mission of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front of south Korea and had an excellent talk with them, They showed me the short film made in February about myself called “Confessions of A Foreigner ” . We enjoyed an excellent lunch including various delicacies such as quail which is only eaten by the rich in BritainWe also had an excellent dinner with the Korean Committee For Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and a meeting with the Korean Publications Exchange Association. I met with representatives of the Korean Writers Union. At the dinner to the mark the Day of the Sun I had the great honour to meet Kim Ki Nam , advisor to the Central Committee of the Workers Party of Korea . I also met Ri Kil Song president of the Korean Association of Social Scientists.
I will conclude my short report of the visit here but may revise and expand it to include more material. My thanks to the Korean Association of Social Scientists for organising the visit and their excellent hospitality, also to DPRK Embassy in London , the Koryo Hotel , Air Koryo staff , our KASS guide Miss Kim and other KASS staff and all the guides at different places in the DPRK.
Dr Dermot Hudson