A party without a positionWith the official debut of Kim Jong-un as heir to his father Kim Jong-il on the occasion of 65th anniversary of the Workers’ Party, the unprecedented third-generation power succession in North Korea has become a fait accompli, evoking the memory of a feudal state that could hardly be supported by socialist dogma. However, it is also shocking that one of our political parties and some civic groups still keep silent on - and even approve of - the astonishing circus.
Chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Labor Party, Lee Jung-hee, rebutted criticism by a newspaper by saying we should shut our mouths on the topic of North Korea’s succession in order to have greater dialogue with Pyongyang, adding: “If we criticize North Korea’s internal matters, peace breaks up.” We are dumfounded that the head of a political party could make such an unfathomable comment. If her party defies common sense and turns its eye from the third father-to-son power succession, we cannot but question what the party really stands for.
Blood-based power successions are only possible in a feudal dynasty. Even the People’s Daily, China’s official mouthpiece, lambasted such an anachronistic power transfer, as it constitutes an anti-Marxist cult worship that looks down on ordinary people. If the DLP sticks to its weird logic of silence and acquiescence to justify itself, it would amount to an admission that they are followers of the North Korean regime.
Chairwoman Lee argued that if we try to find fault with Pyongyang’s hereditary power succession, it will only exacerbate conflict and crimp dialogue with the North. She also said that the governments of both the United States and South Korea proudly announce their plan to advance on Pyongyang and capture its leaders, even at the slightest military clash between South and North Korea. We are wondering if the party really regards North Korea’s torpedo attack against our Cheonan warship as a minor clash, too. Moreover, why has the party kept mum on the North Korea Workers’ Party formal position that mandates the unification of the Korean Peninsula through military force?
It’s time for the party to redefine its identity. It can only play a role as a legitimate political party when it clearly announces the values and ideas it advocates. As long as it continues to maintain an obscure attitude about whether it follows North Korea’s official line, it can hardly expect to win the support of the people. A focus on dialogue, an accommodative attitude toward the North and acquiescence to the third-generation power succession are totally separate matters. The party, along with other civilian groups and activists with leftist inclinations, must now make their positions clear.