USA–North Korea: What happened in the summit Trump–Kim Jong-un?

By Miguel Sorans

Finally, an event that seemed unthinkable a while ago materialized. The images of Trump and Kim Jong-un at their summit in Singapore already have gone to the picture album of history with others like the image of Nixon and Mao in Beijing in 1972. But in reality, it is very far from those protagonists. Not only because of the difference in personalities but because here there was “much ado about nothing”. Many commentators agree it was a summit empty of concrete agreements and more of a great show. However, the show is part of a counterrevolutionary political agreement.

Of the four points of the communiqué, the first three, dedicated to the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, return to peace in a peninsula formally in war, and denuclearization, do not have commitments, or realizations, or dates. The fourth is a commitment of humanitarian order also without dates, although very specific regarding the recovery and repatriation of prisoners of war and missing persons. There are collateral results: Kim Jon-un’s previous goodwill gesture, with the dismantling of Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, and Trump’s subsequent prize when he declared that “there will be no more war games” in South Korea, referring to the annual joint manoeuvres whose suspension North Korea demands.

Many intentions and nothing concrete. What is the agreement, then? What does each one draw from this summit? Trump appears as the supposed “solver” of a great world conflict that could, according to imperialist propaganda, have led to a “nuclear war”. And Kim, the pseudo-socialist dictator of North Korea, legitimizes his reactionary regime. This is the truth of the summit and the pact within the lines. Kim conceals he is going towards a “denuclearization” without dates or deadlines and Trump recognizes Kim and guarantees they do not intend to question his dictatorial one-party regime. This is why human rights were not even discussed. It is the same agreement that the United States has had for decades with China and Vietnam. Meanwhile, the so-called “communists” have already restored capitalism and installed multinationals in their countries. With the guarantee that in China and Vietnam there are hunger wages and worker strikes are prohibited.

In this way, Trump, the one accused of “militarism”, who would put at stake “world peace”, who adds fuel to the conflict in the Middle East, for example, supporting Zionism, comes out as the great “peacemaker”. He gets a great political achievement but only of image because in reality there has always been little possibility of unleashing a “nuclear war” with North Korea.

Imperialism always exaggerated the North Korean nuclear power

In fact, since the time of George W. Bush, imperialism has been exaggerating the supposed North Korean military power to have the justification to continue strengthening its military presence in South Korea and throughout the region. Each North Korean “threat” has served to increase its presence in troops, aircraft, and ships in a key region, when it is suspected that North Korea does not have the nuclear and missile power that it declares and that, if it were used, it would end quickly since it is a country very backward in infrastructure and industrial technology.

Since 1953, the United States has a permanent military presence, with nearly 40,000 troops installed in bases in South Korea, its beachhead in Southeast Asia. The historical framework is the division of Korea into two countries, produced after World War II. In 1950 a war began between South Korea–USA, on one side, and North Korea–China, on the other. The war ended with the armistice of 1953, without peace being signed. This consolidated the partition and subsequent conflicts.* Imperialism has long declared the North Korean regime one of the “axes of evil”. They use this label to justify their arms investment and their role as global cop.

The capitalist dictatorship of Kim Jong comes out as a great winner

The most favoured out of the Singapore summit is Kim Jong-un and his dictatorial regime. He comes out of the summit recognized, legalized, and with open negotiations for investments and other economic concessions. North Korea is a poor country that has suffered severe famines in the 1990s, with millions of deaths not only for the imperialist blockade but also because of the mismanagement of a dictatorship of a millionaire Stalinist bureaucracy full of privileges that led the country to disaster.

That is why the dictatorship lives using the “blackmail” of its “nuclear industry” and its “trials” to seek a negotiation with Yankee imperialism, to get concessions such as the delivery of massive food (which happened several times, under the Clinton administration) and seeking to agree on a capitalist and commercial status like those of China or Vietnam.

In North Korea the bourgeoisie was expropriated after World War II. But since then a single-party dictatorship has been installed in power, which has ruled with an iron fist for over 60 years. It is a “communist dynasty”, since it began led by Kim Il-Sung, grandfather of the current president, young Kim Jong-un, who inherited the office from his father, the murderer Kim Jong-il.

In reality, this dictatorship has nothing of communist or socialist, except the name. Since the 1990s a course of capitalism restoration has begun following the example of its Chinese neighbour and adviser. With salaries of us$ 60-80, without unions or the right to strike, direct foreign investment was authorized since 1999. Thus, Chinese capitalist companies were installed in the north of the country. In the south, a complex agreed with South Korean multinational Hyundai was created and in the rest of the country there are already investments by Fiat, Siemens, and capitals from Russia, Pakistan, Singapore, and Thailand. They turn to the mining sector, oil, nuclear energy, appliances, railways, and so on, with “difficulties” for the capitalists because of power cuts and poor infrastructure (there are less than 10 percent of roads paved).

The entrance of capitalism has only deepened the social inequality and the misery of the North Korean masses. Meanwhile, on the other hand, there are new rich people called “tonju”, which translates as “Money Masters”. Nothing favourable came from this summit in Singapore for the North Korean people or for the peoples of the world.

* See article by Mercedes Petit, El Socialista No. 169, 30 June 2010.

Miguel Sorans is a leading member of the International Workers’ Unity-Fourth International (IWU-FI)