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Monday, August 22, 2005

DLP and the The Korean Social Democratic Party

To remind those who have been erroneously thinking that DPRK is a one-party state, the representatives of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) of Republic of Korea are at the moment visiting DPRK on the invitation by the Social Democratic Party of Korea (Chosôn Sahoeminjudang; no web site).

And I thought Kyunghyang Sinmun was a paper that could call spade a spade as far as DPRK is concerned, but in this editorial they praise the visit by DLP as opening a new era in the South-North exchanges, recalling Kim Ku's words regardig the pan-Korean assembly of parties and associations in Pyongyang in April 1948 before the establishment of separate governments. Well, perhaps Kyunghyang really thinks that DLP is dealing with a real party. In another article they inform that the Korean Social Democratic Party is "allied (udang 友黨) with the Workers' Party (Rodongdang) and the sole opposition party (yadang) in North Korea." Perhaps this extraordinary feat is possible in DPRK. Their social democracy has truly its own characteristics.

Sure I understand the predicament of DLP as well; that's the invitation they get (or managed to get) and that's what they'll have to accept if they're going to go to North.

Here's some info from a DPRK site:
The Korean Social Democratic Party
The Korean Social Democratic Party was formed on November 3, 1945 by medium and small entrepreneurs, merchants, handicraftsmen, petit-bourgeoisie, some peasants, and Christians, out of the masses' anti-imperialist, anti-feudal aspirations and demands to eliminate the aftermath of Japanese imperialist colonial rule and build a new democratic society.
Its guiding idea is national social democracy befitting Korea's historical conditions and national characteristics and its basic political motto is independence, sovereignty, democracy, peace and the defence of human rights.

I'll have to contact the SDP here and encourage them to follow DLP at once.

P.S.
The word in the DLP party member notice board is that they'd be bringing a bus as a present for their hosts.

Update, August 25, 2005.
Daily NK tells, quoting Hwang Jang-yeop and an unnamed fomer party official, that the Korean Social Democratic Party is another name for an office in the exchange division (kyoryuguk) of the unification bureau (t'ongil chônsônbu) of the Workers Party.

Update, October 24, 2005.

Link to Andrei Lankov's article The Demise of Non-Communist Parties in North Korea (1945-1960), Journal of Cold War Studies 3:1 (2001), 103-125. (Institutional subscription to the database needed for the access, I guess.)

Comments to note "DLP and the The Korean Social Democratic Party" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Blogger usinkorea> said on 23.8.05 : 

Well, at least it won't take long for us to find out how some South Koreans are going to repay their Norther brothers and sisters for walking around the Korean War cemetary....

Thanks again for translating the parts of that protest anthem I couldn't understand....

<Blogger kotaji> said on 24.8.05 : 

Thanks for this Antti. Isn't there another opposition party in the North, formed from the Chondogyo movement? I think Armstrong has quite a bit of stuff in his book about it. Maybe it's since been incorporated into the Workers' Party.

Another point on this: since the DLP is very much a coalition of quite disparate forces there will of course be quite a few who don't agree with this sort of thing. I would expect that Ta Hamkke/All Together would be at least somewhat critical. I remember they wrote some highly scathing stuff in their paper about the DLP's friendship visit to the Chinese Communist Party.

Personally I think this kind of thing might perhaps be ok if it's done very much as part of a strategy, but all the time with a clear understanding of what you're dealing with and some clear boundaries. Obviously, since there are quite a few pro-North elements in the DLP there is probably little chance of that sort of approach.

<Blogger Antti Leppänen> said on 24.8.05 : 

As I mentioned, DLP is in a situation that if it wishes to have contacts with the North, the "Social Democratic" "party" is the one it has to deal with, since Workers Party doesn't see it as something to treat with invitations. The more active side here has been the DLP, which, I understand, managed to get the invitation after many efforts. So it cannot but pretend it's dealing with a real party similar to itself, and accept the humiliation (?) of being dissed by the Workers Party.

(Someone noted at the DLP site that the ROK government, OOP, and GNP representatives go directly over the DMZ but DLP people have to go via Beijing.)

<Anonymous lankov> said on 30.8.05 : 

QUOTE Well, perhaps Kyunghyang really thinks that DLP is dealing with a real party. In another article they inform that the Korean Social Democratic Party is "allied (udang 友黨) with the Workers' Party (Rodongdang) and the sole opposition party (yadang) in North Korea." END OF QUOTE

Well, and what has happenned to poor old 天道敎靑友黨? Last I checked, the North had TWO 友黨, not one. Actually, 민주당 ceased to exist even as a puppet party in the late 1950s (few years ago I published an article where I cited quite frank statements of North Korean leaders to this effect, dating to the late 1950s). Since then, this is a front group which serves exclusively such type of contacts and exchanges.

And if Kyongnhyang believes it's a real party, this is up to them. Recently some people in Korea go at great length to persuade themselves that if something "looks like a duck, moves like a duck and quacks
likes a duck", it is still not a duck. Otherwise, they have to face some very unpleasant choices.


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