The Mankind Must Head to Democracy
Hwang Jang Yop / Former
international secretary of the NK worker’s party
What we know as the two Koreas today had shared their fate together
for thousands of years as one nation. It was divided into two parts,
the South and the North, at the end of the World War II.
North Korea became a member of the socialist bloc led by the former
Soviet Union and South Korea became a member of democracy by the
US. The division pitted the two Koreas against each other. As a
result, there is a world of difference between South Korea and North
Korea. North Korea has become a living hell, riddled with starvation,
poverty and human rights violations while South Korea has enjoyed
The contrasting results of the two Koreas show the difference between
the democratic form of government and anti-democratic governance.
It provides a significant lesson not only for the Koreans but also
the people all around the world, and for this reason, the Korean
issues should be studied from an international point of view. The
Korean peninsula makes an important contribution to the world because
of its direct experiences with both totalitarianism and democracy
at the same time.
After the Cold War, the victors gave up fighting against
The World War II was won by the democratic allies. More significant
in terms of human history, however, is the free world’s victory
in the Cold War against the socialist bloc led by the former Soviet
Union. Unlike the previous struggles between the democratic and
the anti-democratic powers, the Cold War ended without precipitating
a hot war. In other words, the fact that the Cold War was won without
firing a shot makes it a great historical event.
However, there are signs of complacency and self-satisfaction brought
on by the victory. We can see this phenomenon around the world as
well as in South Korea, and the situation is reaching a dangerous
Internationally, politicians and intellectuals of the victorious
countries including the U.S. have started to think that the free
world of democratic system would prevail forever and have neglected
the fight against dictatorships. They have underestimated the power
of dictatorships and the anti-democratic forces, thinking that they
can handle any problems with ease.
Such arrogance has precipitated complacency on the part of the
international democratic alliance, leading them to believe that
there were no opposing forces to fight and thus the alliance itself
became meaningless. This international trend influenced South Korea,
weakening its stance against the anti-democratic forces within the
The system competition between the two Koreas is not over
Despite the apparent deficiencies in the capitalistic democracy
today, the democratic powers have not taken proper actions to overcome
the historical limitation.
The problem is more serious in South Korea. In comparison to the
great economic development in South Korea, the ideological culture
is under-developed, and the lack of democratic culture and the lack
of political maturity prevent them from seeing the reality of the
situation. This is rather apparent now.
Economic development can be achieved relatively quickly through
the introduction of capitals and advanced technology, but political
maturity and democratic understanding require a certain amount of
time, effort, and training to achieve. Political maturity only comes
with the people's experience. South Korea has not had enough time
for such maturity, and its ideological and political culture lag
behind its economic culture.
Despite this condition, South Korean politicians and intellectuals
have embarked on the sunshine policy (an embracement policy towards
North Korea), mistakenly believing that the system competition was
over in the Korean peninsula and that South Korea was already the
Some ambitious, power-hungry politicians have pushed the sunshine
policy to gain popular support and used the changing sentiment of
the people as their political base. The unrelenting campaign by
these politicians has rendered the South Koreans blind to the reality
of the situation, that is, the confrontational condition that exists
between the two systems in principle and in practice. The people
are now confused as to whether North Korea is a friend or an enemy.
Many countries manipulate people and the media
I think that this mistake is caused by not only South Korea but
also by the democratic alliances around the world. Democracy has
not completed its mission yet.
In order to achieve the democratic era at this stage of human history,
the world must continue its democratization process. It is necessary
to fight against dictatorships and anti-democratic powers. It is
a big mistake to consider that democratic era has been achieved
Nowadays, proponents of democracy in South Korea and other parts
of the world have given up the fight against dictatorships. Instead,
they use the media to stay in power. This kind of international
trend has exacerbated the situation severely in South Korea, resulting
in the pro-dictatorship policies while allowing the pro-North Korea
and anti-US forces to prosper.
The relation between the two Koreas should be considered
from the international point of view
In terms of the relations between the two Koreas, can we consider
that North Korea has surrendered itself completely? That is not
so. Some people say that North Korea is facing an imminent collapse,
but militarily, North Korea is stronger than South Korea in spite
of the North’s economic crisis.
In terms of economy, South Korea is superior to North Korea, but
not militarily. If we take the allied forces into consideration,
the balance of military power shifts a little. Provided that the
South Korea-US alliance remains strong, we can say that South Korea
is superior to North Korea militarily.
However, the current situation, that is, the weakening South Korea-US
alliance and the embracement policies by the South Korean government
give the advantage to North Korea.
This is so because the weakest point with North Korea is its economy,
and the U.S. and South Korea could end up helping North Korea with
its economy and diplomacy. Additionally, China?which shares its
border with North Korea?is experiencing tremendous growth, and Russia
is also recovering its power. This would lead to a stronger North
Korea-China-Russia alliance while the South Korea-US alliance is
experiencing a downward slide. South Korea-Japan relations is at
a low point as well.
When we consider these circumstances, it is inevitable that the
North Korean-Chinese influence would spread to South Korea. It is
true that the pro-North and anti-US powers have increased rapidly
because of the pro-North stance some politicians have taken. On
the other hand, it is conceivable that the North Korea-China influence
can reach South Korea on its own as well.
In spite of these alarming factors, many people are not looking
at the Korean relations from an international point of view. The
situation as it exists today is this: there is a state of conflict
between the China-North Korea alliance and the South Korea-US alliance,
which is much like an extension of the Cold War. However, this situation
is being ignored. Certain politicians claim that the Cold War is
over and say that "South Korea must go forward on its own and
execute the embracement policy with North Korea."
They are mired in a false sense of victory, unable to assess the
historical development. They are headed in the wrong direction in
terms of ideology and politics not only in South Korea but also
other advanced capitalist countries.
9/11 Terrorist Attack and Kim Jong Il’s Nuclear Weapons
Recently, history gave us a warning with two unusual events, both
beyond our imagination. These events indicate a regressive flow
of historical development.
The first is the 9/11 terrorist attack by Al Qaeda group. In fact,
such an incident is truly unimaginable. The United States never
provided a direct reason to be attacked in this fashion. We must
understand that an incident of this magnitude has a deep historical
root. There is a need for a serious study in terms of the historical
root of this incident beyond temporal punishment. But such a study
is not taking place.
The second is the fact that the Kim Jong Il regime?that has evolved
from the Soviet style communism and is now about to collapse?is
threatening the international society with nuclear weapons. South
Korea (ROK), the land that has the most to lose from these threats
from North Korea, is experiencing an upsurge of pro-North, anti-American
sentiment. That is a fact. South Korea’s miraculous economic growth
is founded on the strength of the US-ROK alliance. Therefore, it
would be logical for South Korea to remain true to its alliance
with the U.S. On the contrary, there has been a rapid increase of
pro-North Korea / anti-US sentiment instead.
A similar trend is on the rise not only in South Korea but in many
parts of the world. With regard to the Korean situation, some argue
that South Korea’s embracement policy towards the North has effected
changes in North Korea; but actually, I believe that South Korea
has undergone more drastic changes. South Korea has taken a step
backward in its pursuit of true democracy. We must carry out a serious
study regarding the historical roots of this development and formulate
Despite the grave situation, however, many intellectuals choose
to view these difficulties as an inevitable process in way of democratic
development. Their casual treatment of these irregular trend and
events is indicative of their prevailing attitude: Ignorance is
If we were to follow their line of thought and let South Korea
digress in its democratic pursuit, the overall Korean situation
could develop into one of the major hurdles that mankind has faced
throughout history. None of these hurdles have been easy to overcome,
and we certainly don’t want to face hurdles like the World War II
and the Cold War, for instance.
The important thing here is that we formulate workable plans to
prevent unnecessary sacrifices when faced with difficulties. Intellectuals
must not pretend that they are above these problems. They must do
their due diligence and carry out studies in earnest to find solutions.
The Last Anti-Dictatorship Movement in the 21 Century
Dictatorships that were prevalent during the World War II era can
be characterized as selfish nationalism or egocentric individualism
masked by nationalism. Germany, Italy, and Japan believed in the
superiority of their respective races and they sought to create
the new world order by employing expansionist policies.
Then appeared the totalitarian regime of the Soviet Union, which
argued that the working class was the most progressive class to
represent the society and the mankind, and sought to spread communism
around the world. Egoistic class system was at the root of this
totalitarian power system. How does this brand of totalitarianism
compare to the today’s dictatorships?
There are similarities and differences. History is an amalgamation
of continuity and discontinuity. As such, today’s dictatorship has
both similarities and differences with dictatorships of the past,
plus some distinct and unique characteristics.
Today, the anti-democratic dictatorships are characterized by their
adherence to the principles of inviolability (of their sovereignty),
whereby they protect their totalitarian system. They oppose globalization
of democracy and democratization. The anti-democratic totalitarian
powers of today have melded their self-serving interests with the
affairs of the state.
The fight against these totalitarian powers is the last obstacle
to overcome on our way to achieve democracy. We must carry on this
final fight to protect and serve the democratic cause for all human
kind, and the developed nations of democracy must take the leading
The anti-dictatorship fight of today may well be the final fight
for the mankind.
Global Democratization Must be Completed
Current globalization trend is unstoppable. The assignment for
history now is to find a way to proceed with the globalization in
a democratic way. Globalization process begins with our daily lives
and extends its sphere of influence to the national level and worldwide.
Given this situation, it is necessary to see beyond national centrism,
surpass the self-serving interests, and engage in a fight for global
Generally speaking, under-developed nations that subscribe to sentiments
such as national egoism, class egoism, and racism are susceptible
to totalitarian regimes and they tend to harbor ill feelings towards
developed nations, especially the only remaining superpower, the
U.S. Al Qaeda terrorist group, hailing from a similar background,
was given a tacit approval and encouragement in conducting terrorism
against the U.S.
Today’s strategy against dictatorships cannot be the same as those
of the anti-fascist movement during the World War II, or the anti-socialist
movement during the Cold War. Today’s anti-dictatorship strategy
must be formulated and carried out on behalf of all humans, on behalf
of achieving complete democracy throughout the world.
International Democracy Alliance must be strengthened
To achieve this goal, leading developed nations must see themselves
clear of their own selfish interests, namely, state centrism. To
this end, domestic campaign alone is insufficient.
The anti-totalitarianism campaign needs to begin by strengthening
the international alliance among the democratic nations. This effort
will take a lot of time and energy, but they must rally together
under a common flag against dictatorships and persevere to strengthen
the international democracy alliance.
Especially, the U.S. must take the lead for global democracy, recognizing
clearly that this movement would enhance its own prosperity. The
U.S. must rise beyond its own selfish interests and give its first
priority to strengthening the coalition among the democratic nations
in pursuit of global democracy.
In today’s anti-dictatorship struggle, military force alone is
ineffective. Rather, it is far more significant to build consensus
among nations of people. For example, in the case of the North Korean
nuclear issue, it is important to build wide support among the people
throughout the world by addressing the human rights violations and
the inhumane criminal activities by the dictatorship.
Toppling dictators, however, should not be the end of the mission.
We must democratize the nations that suffer dictatorship. Following
the removal of the dictatorship, work must continue until the democratization
process is completed in way of economy, politics and culture.
In Iraq’s case, the democratization process must not end with the
arrest of Hussein and maintenance of social order. Continued assistance
is paramount until Iraq becomes a fully democratized.
Along the same line, we need to recognize that there is a new strategy
in dealing with the North Korean problem. Notwithstanding the hostile
conditions that exist in the Korean peninsula, the new strategy
involves diplomatic means in reforming the people’s ideological
views in North Korea. This new approach?democratization of North
Korea?should be kept in mind as part of the solution to the North
North Korean democratization will Become the Global Democratization
The North Korean problem is at a turning point?whether we will
achieve democratization through confrontational competition, or
through cooperation. What happens here at this juncture will provide
a significant model for solving the problems related to global democratization.
Cooperation between the U.S. and China will be crucial for solving
the North Korean problem as well as for the global democratization.
Furthermore, a cooperative structure consisting of the U.S., China,
Japan, and Russia with South Korea as the mediator among the four
nations will make for a powerful force for the global democratization.
In this sense, the democratization of North Korea will serve as
an unprecedented model for the global democratization, and will
provide a significant contribution to humanity.
27 of May, 2005
To All of You,
Hwang Jang Yop