Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Journey to the land of Mt Paektu - report of my 14th visit to People's Korea

Our UK KFA delegation consisting of Dermot Hudson , Alex Meads and Jose Blazquez visited the DPRK from the 11th of August until the 19th of August to participate in the great 5th International Festival in Praise of the Great Persons born of Mt Paektu ( the great leader President KIM IL SUNG , Chairman KIM JONG IL, respected Marshal KIM JONG UN and anti-Japanese woman heroine Madame KIM JONG SUK .

       It was my 14th visit , the 3rd visit for Alex and the first ever time for Jose to visit the DPRK.

Our delegation arrived in Pyongyang on the 11th of August after a chaotic and difficult transit through Beijing the capital of Chinese revisionism. Beijing airport seems to be chaotic and inefficient. It is full of capitalist advertising. It is a prime example of an over-expanded airport and symbolic of globalisation which is a toxic disease destroying countries. Our difficulty was that the delegation were on different flights . This should not have been a problem however the flight I was on just sat on the runaway for nearly an hour without letting the passengers off . Then the Air Koryo plane to Pyongyang was delayed by nearly 2 hours from leaving , we do not know why .!

   Our plane glided into the DPRK , we soared over the revolutionary sites where the martyrs of the anti-Japanese war led by the great leader President KIM IL SUNG lay . We were glad to arrive at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport and to be away from the chaos of Beijing airport. In contrast to the globalised mess of Beijing airport , you could only see the planes of the DPRK national airline AIr Koryo in Pyongyang Airport.

We  were greeted at the airport by comrade Ham Sung Jin who is secretary general of the Korean Committee for Friendship with the British People. Later when we got on the bus we met our translators Miss Kim, a pretty and bright young girl from the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies and Mr Zang a graduate student from the same university .

We were accommodated at the splendid 47 storey  Yangkaddo Hotel which is on an island on the River Taedong in Pyongyang . My room had a great view of Pyongyang including the Juche Idea Tower, I could also see the Koryo Hotel which I had stayed in many times.

    Our guide comrade Ham made a short speech on the coach on the way to Pyongyang saying that we had come at a very difficult time , a time of very acute tension. Only days before we travelled the increasingly deranged and idiotic buffoon who occupies the position of US president talked of unleashing "Fire and fury " against People's Korea , this followed the imposition of severe sanctions by the  UN Security Council(a corrupt and venal body entirely controlled by US imperialism and big powers). The Yankee imperialists had been stunned by the  test fires of the Hwasong-14 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile on the 4th of July and the 29th of July. Thus the DPRK has emerged as a socialist nuclear power of Juche and an ICBM launching nation . The US imperialists are now on their deathbed and have resorted to desperate and reckless acts to try and prevent the emergence of a nuclear DPRK and to stifle the socialist system of the DPRK. It is a fact that when the US , the UNSC , Japan , EU , China and the south Korean puppets talk about the denuclearisiation of the DPRK they really mean breaking up the socialist system of the DPRK. The US defence secretary talked about the "destruction of the people " of the DPRK .

    The DPRK has not taken these threats laying down but instead the Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People's Army declared that they would submit a plan for a strike by Hwasong-12  missiles on the US occupied island of Guam. On the 15th of August ,whilst we were staying in the DPRK, dear respected Marshal KIM JONG UN visited the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army and praised the KPA Strategic Force for having drawn up a close and careful plan as intended by the Party and examined the firing preparations for power demonstration. He warned that if the US persist in their foolhardy and reckless provocations then the strike plan will be carried out .

     People in the DPRK were not bowed or intimidated by the US imperialist threats . They were going about their business quite normally and calmly. Indeed when I attended the Karoake and dinner on the last night the idea of war seemed quite surreal and far off. However the Korean people have a heightened anti-US,anti-imperialist spirit. Two days before we arrived there was a massive rally against the UNSC sanctions. New anti-US posters have gone up in the streets of Pyongyang .

We also saw members of the Red Young Guards marching up Kwangbok street with Red flags and placards which called for smashing the 'secret warfare' and 'regime change' plans of the US imperialists and world reactionaries . This was a deeply inspiring sight  as it showed the revolutionary and militant nature of People's Korea guided by the great Juche idea. No other country in the world is so strong in anti-imperialist spirit and revolutionary ardour ! It was a great contrast to the neighbouring country , China, where all kinds of capitalist rubbish are readily accepted and a contrast to the tired , bureaucratic revisionist led socialist countries of Europe that I had visited in the 1980s.

Holding the  Festival  was in itself a blow against US imperialism . Some 300 delegates from all over the globe, all continents being represented  had braved threats of war by US imperialism to come to People's Korea the land of Juche . In fact there were so many countries it was hard to list them all / One lie is that the DPRK is isolated but were so many people in Pyongyang including a former Nepalese Prime Minister  and representatives of the World Peace Council and the Organisation for Solidarity with Asian , African  and Latin American Peoples.

 The Korean Friendship Association (KFA) was represented by  delegations from the UK, Spain,Belgium , Cyprus , Estonia ,Switzerland Thailand and Ireland. There was a great buzz and a great vibe with meeting all sorts of different people.

Mount Paektu, the high point of the trip

   Undoubtedly the high point of the trip was going up Mt Paektu , the sacred mountain of the Korean revolution and spiritual birthplace of the great Korean nation .Although I had visited the DPRK over 10 times  I had never been to Mt Paektu  We travelled to the far northeastern part of the DPRK by an Air Koryo domestic flight , my first time on a DPRK domestic flight. Our plane landed at the charming Samjiyon airport .

 The scenery  of the region was breathtaking to say the least , awe inspiring and like nothing I had seen before . What is incredible is that we drove through a thick forest for over a hour , this shows that the DPRK takes care of the environment .The air in the area around Mt Paektu and Samjiyon is even purer and cleaner than in Pyongyang . I would like to live in the area as I know that I would feel very healthy and live long .

No signs of poverty, even far out of Pyongyang

The town of Samjiyon in the north of the DPRK is very clean, neat and tidy. Here people looked just as well as in Pyongyang and had mobile phones. There was no sign of poverty or destitution . Friendly people waved to us.We saw new buildings under construction there .

    We went first to the Samjiyon Grand Monument . A truly remarkable place which shows the great exploits of the great leader comrade KIM IL SUNG in leading the anti-Japanese armed struggle to victory. I had seen pictures of this place in books but never visited it before.

    We were accommodated in the excellent Pegabong hotel where we were treated to an excellent open air performance of the local school children . The educational level of the children here is the same as Pyongyang . I had heard some negative reports about the Pegabong Hotel but it was well run and had hot water and electricity all night. It was also warm.

   On the morning of Monday 14th of August we woke up early and left the hotel by 6am . We we drove to Mt Paektu by bus.Mt Paetku is 2,700 metres above sea level .

The buses ascended the steep road to the peak . We got out where it was no longer possible for the bus to travel . You have to see Mt Paektu in reality not just read about it.The scenery is simply breathtaking  I had been up mountains in Scotland but Mt Paektu was really different to these. We could look down and see Lake Chon , a volcanic lake, which had clear blue water .

 We held a rally on the mountain with both speeches and poems .There were speakers from Guinea , Pakistan and Peru . The meeting adopted  the Paektusan declaration . We marched down the mountain with a banner .

    The adoption of the Mt Paektu declaration was highly significant.  The spirit of Mt Paektu is the spirit of independence, The Mt Paektu spirit of independence , Juche and self-reliance permeates the whole of the DPRK and the country pulsates with independence and self-reliance. It is this spirit of independence and self-reliance that is enabling the Korean people to smash the sanctions of the US , the UNSC and the big power chauvinists . It is worth adding here that we saw no effect of sanctions on the DPRK . New buildings are rising and I could hear construction work going on outside my hotel all night . The DPRK seems to become more self-reliant each day , for example canned iced coffee is a popular drink in the DPRK , previously this had been imported or produced under licence in the DPRK but now the DPRK is producing its own cans of iced coffee.

 We also visited the Secret Camp on Mt Paektu which is the birthplace of the great leader comrade KIM JONG IL and was the headquarters of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army(KPRA) . The scenery here is just as breathtaking as on Mt Paektu . We could see Jong Il Peak rising in the distance with sheer incredible majesty . There were clear streams that were refreshing to look at , it was tempting to drink the water from these streams . A red flag was proudly flying from the log cabin that had been the HQ of the KPRA . This was striking symbolism as the DPRK virtually alone in the world is upholding the red flag and maintaining socialist principles even though others have thrown it down shamefully.

   On August 15th the  Gathering 2017-Praise to the Great Persons of Mt Paektu was held at the People's Palace of Culture . In attendance were leading figures of the DPRK government such as Kim Yong Nam , Kim Ki Man  and Ri Su Gyong . The chairwoman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations was presiding over the gathering  with keynote speeches made by Peter Woods from Australia and Madhav Kumar the former prime minister of Nepal., On Wednesday our delegation participated in the international Solidarity meeting with the Korean People which was presided over by a leading official of the World Peace Council. A representative of OSPAAL addressed the meeting and I also spoke.

We were able to witness first hand  the pain of the division of Korea caused by brutish US imperialism at Panmunjom as well as witnessing that the US admitted its defeat in Korea by signing the Korean Armistice Agreement on July 27th. Looking around the Armistice hall I saw that not only was US imperialism defeated in 1953 but also in the Pueblo incident of 1968, the EC121 incident of 1969 and many other cases. We also saw materials on captured US and south Korean spies. At Panmunjom we saw the monument to the autograph of the great leader President KIM IL SUNG on the document for national reunification . Had the proposals set down by the great leader comrade KIM IL SUNG for national reunification had been accepted by south Korea and US troops withdrawn Korea would have been reunified a long time ago. I had a chat about the Juche idea with a friendly KPA Officer .

    As well as Panmunjom and Samjiyon we also travelled to Mt Myohyang to see the International Friendship Exhibition . Travelling to different parts of the DPRK by road we saw lush fields of crops . The imperialists had been making propaganda that the DPRK was affected by drought and that there would even be  massive famine. However during our visit it rained several times and we were told that the effects of the drought had been overcome .

      Another lie was proved false during our visit . The Wikipedia claims that the DPRK has 10 year compulsory military service . However in reality it is usually 3 years and there is no conscription because everyone wants to join the Army to fight the Yankees and defend the country , so there is no shortage of recruits for the army so no need for conscription.

     We also learnt an interesting fact . In the DPRK a mobile phone costs only

0.32 dollars for 3 months with 200 minutes of calls per month ! This is incredible when you compare to the high costs of mobile phones in the UK . Most people in the DPRK have mobile phones .It is a true peoples paradise.

  Our delegation was able to enjoy an excellent performance by the Samjiyon band at the majestic East Pyongyang Grand Theatre , we also saw the splendid Manyondae Childrens Palace and the Fatherland Liberation War Museum.

We paid our respects to the great leaders comrades KIM IL SUNG and KIM JONG IL at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun. We  also visited the birthplace of the great leader comrade KIM IL SUNG at Mangyondae . 

 Our delegation and the Swiss delegation had an excellent meeting with our comrades in arms the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front  of south Korea.The chief of the Pyongyang Mission of the AINDF explained the struggle for reunification in south Korea and demolished any illusions about the so-called 'liberal' government in south Korea.

 I also attended a function organised by the Korean Association of Social Scientists held at Okryu restaurant The food was excellent and the staff were very helpful . The next day I had  a separate meeting with KASS professor Kim Chang Gyong.

      We took part in many state functions and events. I met comrade Kim Yong Nam , Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK .For me most memorable was the impromptu dinner and Karaoke organised by the Cultural Relations Committee . I was amazed at myself participating in the Karoake after a beautiful waitress took my hand and led me on to the stage.

I was greatly honoured to receive  the Order of Friendship Second Class and also win a prize in the International Literary contest .

Such a great atmosphere it was sad to leave.

Dr Dermot Hudson , Official Delegate of the Korean Friendship Association for the UK , Chairman of the Juche Idea Study Group of England and President of the Association For the Study of Songun Politics UK.

 

 

By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/kim/, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32480312