Hands Off Korea!

Reprinted from The Worker, newspaper of the Workers Party, USA.

November 26, 2010

On November 23, South Korean artillery deployed on Yonphyong Island opened fire into the territorial waters of the DPRK ("North Korea") in the West (Yellow) Sea of Korea. The Korean People's Army of North Korea responded to the attack on its coastal waters by returning fire.

Immediately leading up to the event, the DPRK officially called on South Korea to cancel the live-fire drills planned for the area near the island of Yeonpyeong located near the North Korean coast and reiterated its long-standing position that it would defend itself against any violations of its territorial integrity. The live-fire drills were part of the "Hoguk" aggressive "war games" carried out jointly by U.S.-South Korean forces from November 22-30. These latest war maneuvers as well as the repeated violations of North Korean airspace and territorial waters by the U.S. and South Korean forces are not only flagrant violations of the 1953 armistice agreement but also grave provocations.

Since the incident, the U.S. and South Korea have attempted to escalate tensions by hypocritically accusing the DPRK of an "unprovoked attack" on South Korea. The U.S. has issued further military threats against the north. The U.S. is attempting to deny its aggression despite the fact that tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops continue to stage provocative "war-games" involving simulated "first-strike" nuclear and non-nuclear attacks against the north. Despite the fact that the DPRK has maintained the same position about the boundaries of its territorial waters for the last 6 decades, U.S. and South Korean military officials keep silent about that while brazenly asserting that they do not recognize the waters which came under fire by South Korea as North Korean territory. For its part, North Korea has refrained from escalating the violence and responding to every new provocation, while repeatedly pointing out that it will exercise its sovereign right to defend its territory.

Despite continued protests by the DPRK, the U.S. continues to build up its military presence in the waters off the Korean peninsula. On November 24 the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington left Japan to participate in a four-day South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise to take place in the West Sea from November 28-December 1. The exercises will also involve warships such as cruisers, destroyers, patrol boats, escort warships, antisubmarine aircraft and tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops. The Obama administration promised "backing" and "cooperation" as South Korean President Lee Myung-bak called for "massive retaliation" against the DPRK.

This latest incident demonstrates, once again, that the real threat to peace and stability in the region is the U.S. and South Korean military forces which are militarizing the region, carrying-out massive war games, filling the land, sea, and air with advanced military hardware and sophisticated weapons. Despite the fact that it is precisely U.S. officials which are initiating threats and openly warning the Korean people of impending war, U.S. propaganda is working overtime in an attempt to portray North Korea as the aggressor.

Clearly U.S. imperialism is playing its old game of creating a crisis situation – of manufacturing war-like hysteria – in order to justify its military presence in the region.

The root of the problem is that the U.S. refuses to recognize the sovereignty of the Korean people and desperately wants to maintain its partition of the country. U.S. imperialism also relies on its "forward deployment" of troops in Japan and South Korea as the key to projecting its influence and asserting its economic interests throughout the region.

The latest war-games, arms buildup, and propaganda campaign by the U.S. military demonstrate the need to vigorously oppose the U.S. government's policy of pressure and interference against North Korea. Clearly, the removal of all U.S. military forces from the Korean peninsula is necessary to end the threat of war and help bring about the peaceful reunification of the peninsula.

The Workers Party, U.S.A. denounces the aggressive actions against the DPRK. We call on people to join in demanding: "Hands off Korea!"