Pyongyang, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea
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I learned a while back to be especially skeptical of western mass media and their governments.1 My experience of life in China is nothing like how western demonization portrays it to be. Therefore, I looked forward to the chance to experience North Korea first hand. I traveled there with a Chinese group departing China. Starting out from Dandong, China, we crossed the Yalu River to Sinuiju, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). From Sinuiji we took a train to Pyongyang and explored other areas of the DPRK in 2017. I wrote about this in "There Are Human Beings in North Korea. Neither Wealthy Nor Poor." My impression of North Korea was extremely positive, and I look very forward to returning there one day.
A.B. Abrams has written a comprehensive book, Immovable Object: North Korea's 70 Years at War with American Power, 2 that is extensively footnoted and details how American imperialism works. Abrams does this by focusing on a United States-designated enemy state: the DPRK.
Abrams begins with the history. He writes about the role of Lyuh Woon Hyung (aka Yo Un Hyung)3 and the seldom-mentioned grassroots formation of the People's Republic of Korea at the end of World War II, a republic that was successfully functioning before the arrival of the Americans in Korea. However, the "independence and nationalist character of the People's Republic was seen as a threat to American designs for the Korean nation and the republic was deposed and outlawed. (p 14)
The US split the peninsula into northern and southern states. The United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK) ruled the southern half of the Korean Peninsula using the despised former Japanese occupiers to aid in ruling. Later the US brought in an Americanized Korean, Sygnmann Rhee, to be a dictator. The US staunchly opposed reunification fearing a democratic result that would bring about socialism in the entire peninsula. North Koreans formed their own government and at the outset outperformed the Republic of Korea (ROK, i.e., South Korea) economically.
To maintain a grip, the Americans and Rhee government brutally suppressed socialism in South Korea, committing many massacres. (ch 6) This helped set the stage for war on the peninsula.
Abrams casts serious doubt on the notion that the war in Korean was started by the North. Several South Korean attacks on North Korean communities "confirmed by U.S. and British intelligence" and the seizure of the small North Korean city of Haeju initially confirmed by South Korean sources. (p 68)
Regardless of whichever side fired the first shots, Abrams posits this may be inconsequential to the actual casus belli. He points to
" the forceful abolishment of the Korean People's Republic and later extremely brutal suppression of its remnants by the United States Army Military Government with the assistance of youth groups-described as terrorists even by their American allies-and with the backing of the Rhee government itself. (p 59)
After the onset of war, the DPRK almost achieved a quick military victory, but after the US landing at Inchon, the forces and military equipment of the US were too much for the small republic to withstand. In addition, the DPRK was facing a United Nations coalition arranged to back the US. The US pushed back and carried out a scorched earth campaign. General Douglas MacArthur of the UN Forces in Korea referred to the devastation as "a slaughter never heard of in the history of mankind." (p 65)
Chapters 3 to 8 in Immovable Object are a must read to grasp the magnitude of the extreme brutality and gore fomented by US warfare; the killing of civilians (including South Korean political prisoners);4 widespread rapes and sexual violence; torture by US forces; its willfulness to lie for imperial ends; the obliteration of agriculture (to create famine), industry, cities, towns, and buildings; firebombing and the use of chemical and biological weapons along with the demands by the US military brass to use nuclear bombs.
US wars are not only a function of its government and military. It is important to realize that the US carries out it warring and provocations against foreign countries often with overwhelming approval of the American populace. Abrams writes that the majority of American citizens supported using nukes against North Korea. (p 131) American public support for warring was also evident by support for intensified bombing by the US during armistice negotiations. (p 224) That this American public support for militarism was not an anomaly was revealed during the US attacks on Muslim nations following 9-11, with 70% of Americans indicating a belief in Saddam Hussein being connected to Al Qaeda. (p 390)
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