On Dec. 17, members of the Korean community and activists with the ANSWER Coalition gathered in front of the Wilshire Federal Building to demand that no new sanctions be placed on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly referred to as North Korea.
This action was organized in response to the Biden administration’s new sanctions on DPRK, officially adding on to a slew of sanctions enacted by the Trump administration. These sanctions are an attack on the people of the DPRK and meant simply to punish them for having their own form of government that is not beholden to the United States’ interests. Of note, the U.S. has imposed sanctions unceasingly since 1953, which did nothing to bring peace and stability in the region then, nor will it do so now. The United States government’s goal with these sanctions is to forcefully try to bend sovereign countries to adhere to the United States’ regional interests.
The newest sanctions target companies abroad that hire workers from the DPRK, as well as various officials and state entities in the DPRK, including the world renowned animation studio SEK. New sanctions were also placed on officials and businesses in China, Russia, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, all of which the United States accuses of “human rights violations”. This is a particularly absurd statement from the United States, which has yet to answer for its myriad documented atrocities at home and around the world. It is also telling that countries such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Columbia, with notorious records of human rights abuses, are not included in these sanctions supposedly designed to curtail such abuses.
Clearly, the true motivation behind these sanctions is escalating the new cold war against China and the U.S. military’s “Pivot to Asia’,’ especially considering that all these nations are partners with China in the Belt and Road Initiative. BRI is a huge intercontinental infrastructure and trade development project that will drastically challenge the West’s hegemony in the global South.
Additionally, these sanctions have essentially derailed planned peace talks between South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and DPRK’s Kim Jung Un, further hindering attempts of reunification of the Korean people on their own terms. An independent study conducted in 2018 revealed that nearly 4,000 people, mostly children under 5, died as a result of not having the life saving medical supplies they needed due to the U.S. government’s unilateral sanctions. Far from promoting peace and security, these sanctions actually just kill innocent children and strangle attempts by the Korean people for the peaceful reunification of their homeland.
These murderous policies have their root in the imperialist war against the Korean people generally known in the West as the “Korean war.” In this war, the U.S. military heavily bombed nearly every structure in North Korea higher than one story and killed between 20-30% of North Korea’s people. The U.S. dropped more bombs on North Korea than that of WWII combined. This genocidal warfare was to prevent the establishment of a popular government of the Korean Workers Party and Kim Il Sung from winning a promised nationwide election and thus potentially unifying Korea under communist leadership.
The Korean war reached an armistice but still did not end with an official peace treaty. Therefore, the DPRK has every reason to fear another unprovoked U.S. attack, particularly given the U.S.’ sanctions and annual military exercises along the border between DPRK and South Korea. Instead, the U.S. insists that for any peace, the DPRK must first denuclearize without any guarantee of peace and safety from the U.S.
Despite the persistent war-mongering from the U.S. government, we must realize that we have more in common with the people of DPRK than we do with our ruling class. The people of DPRK poses no threat to the American people and demands the right for sovereignty, rightfully so. Meanwhile the U.S. empire operates in a murderous capacity across the world, enacting sanctions and military destruction on a whim like in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya among others.
The continuation of this violent, imperialist foreign policy only hinders the American working class, diverting our tax dollars away from desperately needed social programs and infrastructure projects and into endless imperial wars and occupations.
This is why we must oppose all sanctions on the DPRK, demand an official peace agreement to end the Korean war, and fight for the complete withdrawal of the US military from the Korean Peninsula. Solidarity with the international working class and oppressed peoples! Korea is one!