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Digital Archive International History Declassified

August 29, 1946

KIM IL SUNG, 'FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A UNITED PARTY OF THE WORKING MASSES: REPORT TO THE INAUGURAL CONGRESS OF THE WORKERS' PARTY OF NORTH KOREA'

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    Kim Il Sung's speech at the 1st Congress of the Korean Workers' Party.
    "Kim Il Sung, 'For the Establishment of a United Party of the Working Masses: Report to the Inaugural Congress of the Workers' Party of North Korea'," August 29, 1946, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Translation from Kim Il Sung, For the Establishment of a United Party of the Working Masses: Report to the Inaugural Congress of the Workers' Party of North Korea, August 29, 1946 (Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1974). https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/123864
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[…]

Dear Comrade delegates,

The present Congress, called to inaugurate the Workers' Party of North Korea through the merger of the Communist Party of North Korea and the New Democratic Party of Korea, is of great significance in the annals of the independence movement .in Korea and in carrying out the tasks of the democratic revolution today.

You comrade delegates have assembled here, not only in the capacity of delegates of the Workers' Party but also as representatives of the entire North Korean people, to discuss state affairs and the momentous problems decisive to the destiny of the fatherland.

We, who have so far been engaged in a great struggle and construction for the country and the people, have convened the present Congress to found a united party of the Korean working masses for the purpose of accomplishing still greater work in future.

The Korean people who are in a complex and acute political situation are following the Inaugural Congress of our Party with the greatest interest and hopes today. We should conduct the present Congress successfully so that we may live up to the great expectations of the Korean people and meet the urgent demands of the popular masses.

1. POLITICAL SITUATION IN KOREA

The situation in our country underwent a radical change after liberation. When the anti-fascist world war was brought to a victorious conclusion thanks to the decisive role played by the Soviet army, the system of barbarous Japanese imperialist rule collapsed in Korea, too, and the way was opened up for building a Korea for the Koreans, for building a new country and a new life in conformity to our people's will and demands.

The revolutionary enthusiasm and creative power of the Korean people liberated from long years of oppression burst forth like an erupting volcano, and this great force has radically changed the appearance of Korean society in the past year.

The democratic reforms carried out in north Korea during this period have put an end to all the colonial and feudal relations that had long retarded the development our country's economy and culture, and paved the way to unhindered development. The past year was indeed a year of great progress and change that would ordinarily be equal to scores or hundreds of years.

The political readiness of the Korean people has heightened to an unprecedented degree in the course of the bitter struggle with the enemy; Korea today is precisely the people's Korea, a Korea that is governed and built by the people themselves.

North Korea's democratic reforms are also of great significance internationally. Democratic social reforms as thoroughly carried out a:s those in our North Korea are rarely to be seen in many other countries which have taken the road of creating a new life following World War II. North Korea's democratic reforms are a heartening example to the peoples of many Eastern countries who aspire towards freedom and democracy. Today North Korea is not only the strategic base for democratic development of the whole of Korea, but also plays the role as the cradle of democracy in the East.

The agrarian reform put an end to the feudal relations in landownership, the main cause of the backwardness and stagnation of Korean society, and laid the basis for the democratic development of Korea. In North Korea the tillers have become the owners of land, and landlords and the tenant system have disappeared once and for all.

In North Korea the peasants have come to work their own land, and dispose of their crops for the improvement of their own life and ·expansion of production after delivering 25 per cent of harvests as agricultural tax in kind to the state. The agricultural tax in kind paid to the state is used not for the .enjoyment and enrichment of the exploiters as in the past, but for the development of the national economy as a whole including agriculture and the improvement of the people's living conditions.

The enforcement of the democratic Labour Law has freed factory and office workers from the heavy, forced, colonial-type labour and has ensured them fundamental rights in their labour and life, thus making it possible for the labouring masses to bring their activity and creative initiative into full play.

The nationalization of industries has turned the industrial establishments, the mainstays of Korea's economy, which were owned by the Japanese imperialists and the traitors to the nation, into the property of the people, the1reby destroying the basis of imperialist exploitation and 1aying the economic foundation for the building of an independent, sovereign state. Thus the factories, mines, collieries, railways, communications, banks, 'etc., formerly used by the imperialists and comprador capitalists to bleed the Korean people white, have now been turned into the people's property dedicated to the prosperity and development of our country and improvement of the welfare of the working masses. These measures taken by the Provisional People's Committee of North Korea clearly express the thoroughgoing and progressive nature of the democratic reforms carried out in our country.

In addition, the Law on Equality of the Sexes emancipated the women in north Korea from thousands of years of humiliation and ill-treatment, and a twofold and threefold oppression, enabling them to enjoy equal rights with men and work actively in all spheres of politics, economy and culture.

As all these facts expressly prove, democratic North Korea today points clearly to the road for the entire Korean people to follow, and the democratization of Korea and her full independence can be achieved only by relying firmly on the democratic base in North Korea.

However, many difficulties lie on the road of the democratic construction of the country, and our struggle is very arduous and complex. This is because the aggressive army of U.S. imperialism is stationed in south Korea, seeking to turn our country into a colony once again, and because a gang of quislings are running wi1d, who have become its lackeys and are trying to sell out Korea to imperialism as a colony again. Today the U.S. military government monopolizes all powers in south Korea and is doing everything in its frantic effort to suppress the democratic forces and gain a footho1ld for reaction.

As under Japanese imperialist rule in the past, the people in south Korea are groaning under the savage oppression and tyranny of the domestic and foreign reactionary forces and are stranded in the misery of poverty, deprived of all rights.

The masses of the people are completely denied even the elementary freedoms--freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, religious belief, and so on. Thus, thousands of patriots are being cruelly tortured in police dungeons and· prisons for the "crime" of love for their country, of calling for democracy and the independence of the country. Leaders of the people are shot down in broad daylight by reactionary terrorists, and democratic political parties and social organizations are being wrecked by the terrorism of the traitorous Syngman Rhee gang openly patronized by the U.S. army. The reactionaries shot to death, right in front of a courthouse, one of the middle-school boys who were demanding that the trial in the so-called forged-note case be opened to the public.

Patriotic-minded scholars and teachers are dismissed from schools, and schools are being closed down one after another. Patriotic workers in culture and the arts are also placed under surveillance, beaten up and thrown into jail for no reason at all.

Far from carrying out agrarian reform, the land formerly owned by the Japanese is being concentrated in the hands of the Americans and the reactionary profiteers. The south Korean peasants are still groaning under the yoke of the feudal system of high-rents tenancy.

Far from instituting a labour law, workers are slaughtered by planes, tanks and machine guns merely because they have taken part in demonstrations. The situation is such that one has to serve a term of eight years in prison for making a speech appealing for promoting the labour movement. The workers in south Korea are now being driven hard like beasts of burden, subjected to the same cruel colonial oppression and exploitation as in the past.

Far from nationalizing the key industries, the authorities of the U.S. military government declare the industrial establishments formerly owned by Japanese imperialism to be their property; they pay lip -service to industrial rehabilitation, but actually they are wrecking ·even those few factories which are in operation and converting south Korea into a market for U.S. commodities. The traitorous Syngman Rhee clique is guilty of the country-selling treacherous acts; it has already sold mining and trading concessions in Korea to American capitalists and, moreover, it ls now openly selling the country's valuable resources to American big businesses.

Far from granting women equal rights with men, concubinage, licensed and unlicensed prostitution and the kisaeng girl system are growing more prevalent, and numerous women suffer unbearable humiliation as playthings for the rich and powerful.

The true worth of a political party or a policy must be assessed not by its words or statements but by the practical activities of that party, cr by the concrete facts showing whose interests that policy represents and defends. Over the past year the reactionary "politicians" in south Korea made innumerable speeches and promises and pledges over the mike and from the rostrums. What, however, have they brought to the Korean people in reality? The Syngman Rhee clique, brazen-faced as it is, can no longer conceal its true colours which have now been exposed by the stark facts in all their nakedness in the eyes of the entire Korean people. The traitorous Syngman Rhee clique, instead of introducing democracy, has done nothing else but tyrannizing over south Korea and selling the country to the United States as a colony, in obedience to the orders of its U.S. masters.

Swarms of jobless people roam the streets; hungry people, gourd in hand, crowd the government offices, raising a hue and cry; youths and students fall under rifle fire; schools are closed down; newspapers, magazines and other press organs are closed one after another; patriots are constantly arrested, jailed and murdered. Meanwhile, pro-Japanese elements and traitors to the nation resort to despotism and abuse of power, as if the days of their glory had returned. Predse.ly this is the true picture of south Korea, a land of lawlessness, lorded over by the U.S. army.

In striking contrast to north Korea, which is advancing in the direction of genuine democracy and national independence, south Korea under the fascist reign of 1terrorism of the U.S. imperialists and their stooges, the traitorous Syngman Rhee clique, is moving backward along the path of reaction and colonial enslavement. Thus, the southern half of our country is occupied and converted into a colony by the U.S. imperialists, and this very fact presents difficulties to the solution of the Korean question.

The most important task facing the Korean people today is to overcome at an early date the anti-popular and reactionary line pursued in south Korea, to carry out thoroughgoing democratic reforms in south Korea, as was done in north Korea, and thereby build a new, unified, independent and democratic Korea.

2. STRENGTHENING THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC UNITED FRONT-AN IMPORTANT GUARANTEE OF VICTORY IN THE REVOLUTION

Consolidation in every way of the National Democratic United Front, which rallies around itself all the patriotic democratic forces of Korea, provides an important guarantee of victory for our revolution.

Democratic reforms in north Korea have from the beginning been carried out through the efforts of the entire people, by the joint endeavours of all democratic political parties and social organizations.

The Communist Party of North Korea, New Democratic Party of Korea, Korean Democratic Party, Chondoist Chongu Party and all the social organizations, acting concertedly at all times under the banner of democracy~ have liquidated the pro-Japanese elements of all shades, smashed the intrigues and manoeuvres of the reactionaries and energetically promoted the cause of building a democratic state. The National Democratic United Front of North Korea, which unites all the patriotic democratic forces, was formed and grew in the course of actual struggle to carry out the democratic tasks. It is closely linked with the broad masses of the people; it has already rallied around itself more than 6 millions of the organized masses. This constitutes really a great force, and herein lies the basic factor in our victory.

Reliance on the united strength of all the political parties, social organizations and the people in all walks of life made it fully possible fo1r the Provisional People's Committee of North Korea to successfully accomplish the great democratic reforms in the short period of no more than a half year after its establishment. Every time a democratic task was put forward, all the political parties and social organizations gave it unqualified support by issuing joint statements, sent their workers to different districts and spared neither efforts nor zel for its victorious accomplishment.

Since the various democratic political parties accord unanimous support to the people's committee and strive jointly for the implementation of its policy, our organs of people's power can accomplish democratic tasks successfully on a broad mass basis. In north Korea, all the political parties, social organizations and the masses of the people in all walks of life are closely rallied -around the people's committee, and give unanimous and active support to the policies of .the people's power organs. Thus, democratic reforms in north Korea are being and will be accomplished by the united might of the broad masses of the people rallied around the National Democratic United Front.

All our experiences clearly show that the complete independence and sovereignty of Korea and her democratic development can be achieved today only by the strength of the National Democratic United Front embracing all the popular masses without exception-the working class, peasants, handicraftsmen, intellectuals, tradesmen and entrepreneurs.

On the contrary, all the disorder and misery in south Korea under the domination of the U.S. military government can be ascribed mainly to the disunity within our nation. In south Korea, I have been told, there were once more than 200 political parties. Such splitting into parties of three and groups of five and mutual wrangling play right into the hands of the reactionary forces. The enemies of democracy and of our nation want to see more than anything else our working people-the workers, peasants, working intellectuals, etc.-torn apart and fighting and biting each other. For the reactionary forces can exist and achieve their anti-popular ends only by seizing upon this and taking advantage of splits among the democratic forces. Such a divisive policy is an old trick the reactionaries are commonly using all over the world. We must not be taken in or fooled by it. In south Korea, however, people have been tricked by it. The democratic political parties and social organizations in south Korea are disrupted and engage in factional strife, scrambling for "hegemony," just as the enemy wishes. Herein lies the principal danger of the situation in south Korea today.

Developments in south Korea over the past year provide us with a striking lesson on how precious the unity of all the patriotic democratic forces is and, particularly, on how urgent and important it is to strengthen the solidarity of the masses of working people.

We should defeat the traitorous reactionary forces and bring the democratic revolution to a victorious conclusion by cementing the united front of all patriotic political parties and social organizations that aspire to freedom, independence and democracy f Oil' the country, and by relying on the united strength of all the working people and of the people as a whole.

3. THE MERGER OF THE TWO PARTIES IS INEVITABLE AND MOST APPROPRIATE

Comrade delegates,

The merger of the Communist Party and the New Democratic Party is of really epochal significance in cementing the unity of the democratic forces in our country at present. In particular, the merger of the two Parties means a big progress in closely uniting the broad masses-the workers, peasants and working intellectuals.

In the course of the merger of the Communist Party and the New Democratic Party, diverse opinions were expressed as to what sort of a party the Workers' Party should be and what it should do.

The Programme of our Workers' Party explicitly declares its aims, character and tasks. Our Party is, as is clearly stated at the beginning of the Programme, a party that represents and defends the interests of the Korean working masses, its aim being to build a mighty, prosperous, independent and democratic state. The Workers' Parity is the vanguard detachment of the labouring masses of Korea and it is rooted in the broad masses-the workers, peasants and working intellectuals. That is why the Workers' Party ought to become the leading force in the struggle for the independence, sovereignty and democratization of Korea and to play the central role in the National Democratic United Front. Our Party fights to overthrow the pro-Japanese •elements, traitors to the nation, landlords and comprador capitalists, to achieve the complete liberation of the country from the yoke of foreign imperialism, and to build an independent, sovereign and democratic state. This is the aim which both the Communist Party and the New Democratic Party have been pursuing.

What, then, is the task of the Workers' Party? The basic task of our Pa1ty at the present stage is to carry out anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic reforms thoroughly on a nation-wide scale and to establish a Democratic People's Republic by mobilizing the broad masses of the people. Today the programmatic tasks of our Party are: to confiscate the land of the Japanese imperialists and the landlords and distribute it among the peasants; to nationalize the industries, transport, communications, banks, etc., belonging to Japanese imperialism and the comprador capitalists and transform them into the property of the people; to introduce an eight-hour working day and social insurance system for factory and office workers; to grant women equal rights with men; to ensure freedom of speech, the press, ·assembly, association and religious belief to the people; to institute a democratic system of public education and enforce compulsory education; and to develop science, national culture and arts.

These democratic tasks represent the earnest demands of all sections of the working people throughout Korea. Without introducing democratic reforms, it is impossible to build a fully independent and democratic country, to rescue the working masses from poverty and the absence of all rights, and to develop the economy and culture of our country.

The Communist Party and the New Democratic Party have striven, and are striving, for the materialization of the earnest demands of the laboring masses of Korea. Therefore, it is inevitable that the two Parties, which have similar alms and tasks, should merge into one.

Today our struggle is the struggle not for the old parliamentary democracy of capitalist countries but for a genuine democracy for the new Korea, democracy of the broad popular masses, progressive democracy. The struggle for the rights of the masses of the people in the political, economic and cultural spheres is an arduous, complicated and protracted struggle confronting us. The merger of the Communist Party and the New Democratic Party is urgently needed for the fulfilment of this task.

Disunity of the working masses constitutes the greatest danger in their life-and-death struggle with the enemy. In order to achieve our fighting task victoriously, the working masses should stand together more firmly and forge closer unity. Most decisive of all to the fulfilment of the great democratic tasks facing the Korean people is the formation of a unified general staff of the working masses, the sole militant vanguard of the working people. This problem could only be solved by founding the Workers' Party.

For this reason, the Central Committee of the New Democratic Party proposed the merger of the two Parties, and this met with the full agreement of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Then at a joint session of the Central Committees of the two Parties it was formally decided to merge the two and develop them into a mass party--the Workers' Party.

The entire people, not to speak of the members of the two Parties, warmly welcomed this historic decision. It was because they were convinced that the merger of the two Parties would greatly contribute to the strengthening of the democratic forces and acceleration of the democratic construction.

Thus, the merger proceeded smoothly in all provinces, cities, counties and myon in an atmosphere of very high political enthusiasm of the entire membership of the two Parties and of the entire working masses who supported the merger. So we have today convened the Inaugural Congress of the Workers' Party. This is graphic evidence that the merger of the two Parties is inevitable and most appropriate.

In the course of the merger, however, we discovered wrong tendencies in some Communist Party members. Here are a few examples.

I would like to point out, in the first place, the self-righteous, arrogant attitude of some Communist Party members. They said, "How can we merge with the New Democratic Party?" We should ask them, "When did you become Poi and Shuchi like that?" This is, above all, an expression of self-importance looking down upon others, an exclusionist tendency of thinking oneself the only one engaged in revolutionary work. This is an error resulting not only from ignorance of our Party's line and policies but from the lack of understanding of even the simple truth that the revolutionary work will be victorious only when all the revolutionary comrades are united and all the masses of the people stand together. To put it strongly, this is a factional tendency, a dangerous one against which we must be most vigilant in establishing a mass political party. If a tendency of this sort is allowed to grow, it may totally ruin our work.

Another grave tendency finds expression in the talk that our Party would be "diluted into the New Democratic Parity" or become a "parity of the small propertied classes." This is, on the one hand, an expression of "Leftism" that does not like the merger, but I think rather that we need to sharpen vigilance especially against the Rightist venom contained in this tendency.

We should resolutely combat the tendency that impairs the organizational discipline a:nd ideological unity of the Party, the tendency that seeks to reduce the Party to a club of the labouring masses, a kind of fraternity of the .small-propertied classes. The creation of the mass-based Workers’ Party which champions the 'intellects of all the working masses and can embrace all progressive ·elements among the working masses, in no way means that it is permissible to impair the Party's political prestige or weaken the unity and iron discipline in its ranks. The Workers' Party is an organized combat unit and a vanguard detachment of the working masses. We should at al1umes firmly defend the unity, purity and strict discipline of the Party. If our ranks are lacking in unitary ideology and will and in monolithic discipline, we shall be unable to prevail in the fight against the enemy.

Another thing I would like to point out is the assumption that there will be a "large-scale purge" in the Party. This, too, is a manifestation of passivism disliking the merger and a tendency to distrust the Party.

It is natural for the Party to purge itself of alien elements in order to maintain the purity of its ranks. We should always heighten our vigilance against alien elements, and be thorough in preventing their machinations, and expel them from the Party ranks as soon as they are discovered. Such elements, however, are very few in number, and therefore there can be no "large-scale purge" in our Workers' Party. Any talk about such a "purge" is quite wrong.

4. IMMEDIATE TASKS OF THE PARTY

The basic task of our Party at the present stage is to build up a democratic country, unified and fully independent, at the earliest possible date. For this purpose, we should sweep away all the reactionary pro-Japanese and feudal forces standing in the way of the democratic independence of our country.

We should struggle to further strengthen the Provisional People's Committee of North Korea, the genuine people's power, and transfer all power throughout Korea to the people's committee.

A struggle should be unfolded to further consolidate the gains of the democratic reforms already carried out in north Korea-the agrarian reform, Labour Law, Law on Equality of the Sexes, nationalization of the key industries, institution of a public education system, etc.-and to enforce them throughout the country. For the victorious accomplishment of these fighting tasks, it is important above all to turn our Party into a strong and powerful combat unit.

The broader the united front of the masses of the people and the more complex the tasks confronting us and the sharper the fight with the enemy, the more urgent will be the need for further strengthening our Party, the advanced detachment of the Korean working masses, both organizationally and ideologically.

We should strengthen in every way the community of ideology and will and an iron discipline within the Party ranks, and wage an implacable fight against every tendency incompatible with them.

Many divergent tendencies may appear in our ranks, because the two Parties have just been merged. We, therefore, should arm all members of the Party with one and .the same ideology based on our Party's Programme, strengthen their comradely principled unity and enhance their political consciousness.

To fight against all and every factional tendency is of special importance in our Party life today. We should do away completely with the remnants of the accursed factionalism which historically has done great harm to the revolutionary movement in Korea, and thereby build up our Party into a united, powerful, iron detachment.

And our Party should take deep roots in the masses and at all times maintain the bonds of kinship with them. We should in every circumstance defend the interests of the working masses, lend our ear to their views, learn from them and teach them. We should lead and control all the working people's organizations, knit the ·entire labouring masses closely around our Party and correctly lead them in the building of a new democratic Korea. Whether our Party members deal with thus correctly or not is the key to the victory of our Party.

Further, the utmost attention should be devoted to the problem of cadres. If there were no cadres competent to put the Programme and decisions of our Party into effect successfully, the Programme and decisions would, no matter how excellent, only turn out to be dead letters. Cadres decide everything. Yet there are shortcomings in our work of knowing, training and promoting cadres. We quite often hear the expression, "We're hard up for cadres," but we seldom hear any talk about where and how cadres have been trained and how new talents have been promoted. We should do our best to study, know, train and promote cadres.

Last, the Programme of our Party and its policies and decisions should be brought home to the masses of the people. Our Programme, policies and decisions can be materialized in actual life only if the masses. of the people grasp them and make them their own. We should see to it that our Party's slogans become· the slogans of the masses of the people themselves, and that the people themselves are voluntarily mobilized towards their materialization.

Let us march vigorously ahead for the freedom and democratic independence of our country, closely rallying all the democratic forces around the Workers' Party we are now founding!

Long live the Inaugural Congress of the Workers' Party of North Korea which represents the interests of the working masses!

Long live the National Democratic United Front!

Long live the establishment of a Democratic People's Republic!