This is the latest panel from the International Manifesto Group. The panel took place Sunday, November 21, 2021.
North Korea seems only to hit Western headlines when it conducts weapons tests and that was so again this fall. As usual, media reports were stripped of context and North Korea presented as a threat to peace.
Our webinar takes a timely look beneath and behind western stereotypes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – as totalitarian, autarkic, economically bankrupt, led by a dynasty and a cult, and a nuclear bad-boy – to probe the realities, old and new, by addressing key questions including the ongoing Korean War; the nature and motivations of the Workers’ Party of Korea governments; the reasons for its nuclear arsenal; the need to end sanctions; the history and present of the US nuclear threat in East Asia; and the path to national reunification, to which the Korean people, whether in the north, south or diaspora, remain committed.
Dr. Kiyul Chung is a lifelong fighter for Korean reunification and anti-imperialist causes generally. He is the Editor-in-Chief at The 21st Century and a Visiting Professor at a number of universities, including Beijing’s Tsinghua University, Tokyo’s Korea University and Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung University. Earlier, he was also Visiting Professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Dr. Chung was born in Korea and left to pursue his graduate studies in the United States in 1980. He was based in the USA for the next quarter century, where he earned his MA and PhD degrees, and played a leading role in the progressive Korean communty. He returned to Korea in 2005 as Adjunct Professor at the Methodist University and Senior Lecturer at Hanshin University, both in Seoul, but moved shortly to Beijing, to take up academic posts there. Dr. Chung was a key organiser of a 1989 international peace march for Korean reunification that aimed to march from the northernmost to the southernmost points of the Korean peninsula, but was prevented from crossing the DMZ by the US occupation forces and the south Korean authorities, as well as the Korea Truth Commission’s International War Crimes Tribunal, held in New York in 2001. With a background in religious philosophy, Dr. Chung’s books include ‘The Donghak Concept of God/Heaven: Religion and Social Transformation’, which, by presenting Donghak (the origin of the indigenous Korean Chondoist religion) as a case study of religion for social transformation, examines why Korean religious and intellectual traditions have been almost nonexistent and, if existent, distorted, misrepresented, or misunderstood in Western religious and philosophical studies.
Xiangyu Zhong is a Marxist-Leninist political commentator and a Chinese hip hop artist based in Taiwan Province. Anti-imperialism and class struggle are common themes in his music.
K.J. Noh is a peace activist, independent scholar, teacher and expert in the geopolitics of Asia. He is a frequent contributor to CounterPunch and Dissident Voice and a member of Veterans For Peace.
Dr. Hugh Goodacre is a lecturer in the Department of Economics, University College London and Director of the Institute for Independence Studies (IIS). The IIS promotes the study and application of ideologies of national and social emancipation, particularly those created by oppressed peoples through their own struggles, locating them in a non-Eurocentric conception of scientific socialism. He founded the Korea Friendship Committee (KFC) in the UK in 1982 and served as its Joint Secretary for many years. He first visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 1983 and is one of a handful of UK citizens to have engaged in extensive discussions with President Kim Il Sung. His decades of work on Korean affairs have embraced people-to-people exchanges, anti-sanctions campaigning and research on and study of the Juche idea. His most recent publication is, ‘The Economic Thought of William Petty – Exploring the Colonialist Roots of Economics’, published by Routledge.
Sara Flounders is a longstanding political activist and author based in New York City. She is a leader of the United National Antiwar Coalition and the International Action Center, and is the author of numerous books, including Capitalism on a Ventilator: The Impact of COVID-19 in China and the US (co-authored with Lee SiuHin) and NATO in the Balkans: Voices of Opposition (co-authored with Ramsey Clark). She writes regularly for Workers World.
Keith Bennett is an active member of the International Manifesto Group and a consultant specialising in Chinese and Korean affairs. He is the Deputy Chair of the Kim Il Sung Kim Jong Il Foundation (KKF) and the Deputy Secretary General of the European Regional Society for the Study of the Juche Idea. He has closely followed events in Korea and the Korean road to socialism for nearly half a century and first visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 1983 as a delegate to the World Conference of Journalists Against Imperialism. He has subsequently visited the country on some 50 occasions and was twice awarded the DPRK Order of Friendship by President Kim Il Sung. He has delivered papers on the Juche idea and on Korean reunification at conferences in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Derek R. Ford is assistant professor of education studies at DePauw University, Indiana, USA. Ford has written six books, the latest of which is Marxism, Pedagogy, and the General Intellect: Beyond the Knowledge Economy (Palgrave, 2021), and is currently the editor of LiberationSchool.org. He led the last US delegation to the DPRK before the travel ban in 2017, organized the only US university exchange program with Korea University in Japan, and served on the program committee of the Global Peace Forum on Korea.
Moderator – Radhika Desai is a Professor at the Department of Political Studies, and Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. She is the author of Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire (2013), Slouching Towards Ayodhya: From Congress to Hindutva in Indian Politics (2nd rev ed, 2004) and Intellectuals and Socialism: ‘Social Democrats’ and the Labour Party (1994), a New Statesman and Society Book of the Month, and editor or co-editor of Russia, Ukraine and Contemporary Imperialism, a special issue of International Critical Thought (2016), Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy (2015), Analytical Gains from Geopolitical Economy (2015), Revitalizing Marxist Theory for Today’s Capitalism (2010) and Developmental and Cultural Nationalisms (2009).
This panel discussion is organized by the International Manifesto Group. The IMG began discussing the fast-changing political and geopolitical economy of the world order and its national and regional components at the beginning of the pandemic. We are from around the world – North and South America, Europe and Africa, West Asia, Russia, China, East, South East and South Asia – and aim to be even more inclusive. We represent a diversity of currents of socialist thought. We meet fortnightly and hold zoom events on major issues. These are published on this website. The core of our analysis is our Manifesto, ‘Through Pluripolarity to Socialism’, and we believe engagement with its themes to develop them further is important for further left advance.
Nodutdol is a New York-based community of first through fourth generation Koreans living in the U.S. We are a community that has families in both, the south and north of Korea. They are diverse in our backgrounds and perspectives, but bound together by our shared sense of the Korean homeland that continues to suffer under division [with the understanding that the concept of ‘home’ may vary]. They are part of the Korean diaspora spread throughout the globe made up of artists, filmmakers, teachers, students, workers, professionals, young families, etc. who believe in social justice.
Qiao Collective is a diaspora Chinese media collective challenging U.S. aggression on China. Qiao aims to challenge rising U.S. aggression towards the People’s Republic of China and to equip the U.S. anti-war movement with the tools and analysis to better combat the stoking of a New Cold War conflict with China. They seek to be a bridge between the U.S. left and China’s rich Marxist, anti-imperialist political work and thought in order to foster critical consideration of the role of China and socialism with Chinese characteristics in contemporary geopolitics. Qiao aims to disrupt Western misinformation and propaganda and to affirm the basic humanity, subjectivity, and political agency of Chinese people.
Friends of Socialist China is a platform based on supporting the People’s Republic of China and promoting understanding of Chinese socialism.