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North Korea: Witness to Transformation

Keeping the faith in Conakry

by | June 6th, 2013 | 07:00 am

Recently, our man in Seoul, Dan Pinkston of the ICG, passed along a KCNA piece simply titled “DPRK Supported in Guinea.” (Professor Haggard thought that this was right up my alley and even suggested that I write up this post during my visit to Myanmar. Ha! Professor Haggard clearly knows nothing of Burmese internet connectivity…) Anyway, the article, reproduced in its entirety below concerns lectures delivered last month by an unnamed “director of a Guinean seafood and fishing tackle export-import company” on the topics of “Rosy future of the DPRK” and “Architect of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.”

Assuming that the article is accurate, the very fact that someone in Guinea is giving such speeches (no mention was given to how large the audience was) is testimony to North Korea’s continuing effort to cultivate united fronters and fellow travelers in remote parts of the world as I have documented in many previous posts, and serves as a reminder of North Korea’s diplomatic history.

Guinea was one of the first African countries to become independent, in 1958. There was briefly a confederation with Ghana and Mali. The merger was inherently difficult, and in any event, the egos of Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Guinea’s Ahmed Sékou Touré, and Mali’s  Modibo Keïta were too large for one Union of African States to contain. Sékou Touré turned the People’s Revolutionary Republic of Guinea inward and ran it into the ground as a one-party socialist dictatorship. It was in this context that Guinea established close fraternal relations with the DPRK. Since Sékou Touré’s death in 1984, the country has struggled through a series of incompetent military governments, and has yet to establish a durable democracy. Despite a boost from the commodity boom of recent years, the economy remains in shambles. My impression is that North Korea is not quite so popular anymore, but some have kept the faith, if KCNA is to be believed.

More informative than the babbling of KCNA is an interview that Joshua Stanton published a few years back with Aliou Niane who studied in North Korea during the 1980s, and I believe now lives in the Boston area occasionally writing on North Korean affairs. The interview is well worth reading for its insights into both Guinea and North Korea.

Pyongyang, May 28 (KCNA) — Lectures on the themes of “Rosy future of the DPRK” and “Architect of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula” were given in Guinea on May 13 and 14.   

Praising the dear respected Kim Jong Un as a great successor to the Juche-oriented revolutionary cause which covered the protracted historical course crowned with victory and glory, the director of a Guinean seafood and fishing tackle export-import company said:

Kim Jong Un saw to it that the Kumsusan Memorial Palace where President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il lie in state was renamed the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

Statues of leader Kim Jong Il are being erected on the highest level in the DPRK.

Kim Jong Un is wisely leading the revolution and construction, true to the ideas and intention of the preceding leaders.

He is a great man who has firm faith in the Juche-oriented revolutionary cause, ardent love for the people, profound political insight and wisdom and outstanding leadership art.

The victory of the cause of building a thriving nation is fully guaranteed as he leads the DPRK.

            Immensely rosy is the future of the DPRK.

            An officer of the Guinean army cited facts to disclose the root cause of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and the large-scale military war drills being staged by the U.S. in collusion with south Korea every year.

            He went on:

            The DPRK has paid special attention to settling the nuclear issue from long time ago as it has been exposed to constant nuclear threat by the U.S.

            However, the latter didn’t implement the commitments it made with the former but singled it out as an “axis of evil” and a target of preemptive nuclear strike.

            So, the DPRK couldn’t but have access to nuclear deterrent for self-defence.

            The U.S. is wholly to blame for the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

            Although the DPRK has nuclear deterrent, its ultimate goal is to realize denuclearization.

            The U.S. can never escape the buck for the nuclear issue on the peninsula.

            Now is the time for the U.S. to show its responsible attitude.

            Another officer said that no force on earth can match the Korean People’s Army which is fully ready in politics, ideology and military technique.

            The KPA is holding HE Kim Jong Un, another brilliant commander, in high esteem as its supreme commander.

            Its invincible spirit and might will get stronger.