August 15 is the day when Korea was liberated from military occupation (1905-1945) of the Japanese imperialists.
Before liberation the Korean people led an indescribably wretched life. Korea was called the land of morning calm in the East. It boasted of its history of 5 000 years and excellent cultural traditions.
However, while other people were travelling the world by warship and by train, the Korean feudal rulers rode on donkeys and wore horse-hair hats, singing of scenic beauties. Then, when aggressive forces from the west and east threatened them with their navies, they opened the door of the country that had been so tightly closed. The feudal monarchy then hosted a contest for concessions in which the foreign forces had their own way.
Even when the country’s fate was at stake, the corrupt and incompetent feudal rulers, given to flunkeyism towards the great powers for generations, indulged in sectarian strife under the manipulation of the great powers. Seeking their personal pleasure, they were hell bent on bleeding the people white. People lived in extreme poverty, and illiteracy, injustice and extreme absence of rights held sway over the country.
After they occupied Korea by military means in 1905, the Japanese imperialists took continuous steps to carry out their policy of colonial plunder of Korea. They disbanded the Korean Army which existed in name, deprived the feudal Korean government of all its rights including power to appoint officials and right to diplomacy. They enforced fascist repressive policies unprecedented in history. The Korean people had to obey Japanese laws or die. The manpower and wealth in Korea were all needed only for fattening imperialist Japan. The Japanese imperialists made vicious moves to wipe out the Korean language, spoken and written, and to change the Korean surnames into Japanese ones and obliterate the time-honoured history and culture of Korea. Korea was eclipsed on the world map, and its people suffered from a miserable fate that there was nowhere to live and be buried after their death.
The Korean nation, though proud of its 5 000-year history and brilliant culture, was forced to regard sycophancy to big countries and national ruin as its fate because it did not have a proper leader and did not have the strength to defend itself. This was the image of the Korean nation a century ago, the image of a miserable colonial country.
However, a radical change was brought about in their destiny. Comrade Kim Il Sung proclaimed a revolutionary war against the Japanese imperialists so as to save the destiny of the ruined nation. He led the war to a brilliant victory, thus liberating the country in August 1945.
After liberation ordinary people became masters of power organs and freely participated in the meetings to discuss state affairs. Democratic reforms, including agrarian reform, were successfully enforced. As the Korean people turned out to build a new country with great patriotic enthusiasm, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a genuine people’s country, was founded. They honourably defended their country’s sovereignty and dignity by achieving great victory in the Korean war (June 1950—July 1953) started by the US imperialists. After the war they carried out socialist industrialization in less than 14 years on the war debris and developed theirs into a powerful socialist country, independent in politics, self-sufficient in the economy, and self-reliant in national defence. In the 1990s when they were on the “Arduous March” and the forced march they turned misfortune into blessing and set about building a thriving nation by relying on their inexhaustible mental strength and solid foundations of the independent national economy. Now, Korea emerged as a nuclear state and a manufacturer and launcher of artificial satellites.
The geopolitical position of Korea is the same as ever, but the weak country of yesterday which was trodden underfoot as a theatre where the big powers fought to expand the sphere of their influence, has now been turned into a proud political and military power and the Korean people are demonstrating their dignity as an independent people whom no one dares to provoke.
Rabindranath Tagore, an outstanding poet of India, expressed the piteous plight of Korea in his poem Korea in 1929, which runs:
The Golden Age of Asia,
Korea was a country raising its lamp.
Again the lamp will be lit,
We are waiting for it
To illuminate the East.
He failed to prophesy that Korea, as of today, will tower high in the whole world beyond the East.
Still the Korean people yearn for President Kim Il Sung, the saviour of the national restoration.