On 19 December 2014, the Constitutional Court of South Korea ordered the disbanding of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) on the grounds of alleged “support to North Korea,” expelling the party’s five deputies from parliament. Judicial and police agencies announced that any gathering related to the UPP is henceforth illegal.
In the 2012 elections, the UPP received more than 2 million votes, over 10 percent of the total. The attack on the party comes after decades of fierce political repression in a climate of anti-communist hysteria, which has seen the UPP condemned for “conspiracy to rebellion,” resulting in various repressive measures (see “Crackdown in Korea: Defend the UPP from state oppression!”).
The ban shows South Korea for what it really is – a semi-police state, which denies working people the right to free association and the free expression of political views. The IBT defends the UPP against state repression, just as we defend the right of all political tendencies within the workers’ movement to organize, to argue their politics, to stand for parliamentary elections and to take their seats when elected. This basic democratic right has particular importance for the working class and oppressed. Only through the full and free exchange of ideas will revolutionaries be able to combat the influence of political programs that lead workers to act against their own class interests. It is the duty of the left and workers’ movement in Korea to rally in defense of the UPP. An injury to one is an injury to all!
Although the UPP has never been a real threat to the bourgeois order in South Korea, the capitalists fear it as an expression of independent working-class political organization. But the UPP’s bureaucratic, Stalinist and nationalist political program does not provide a way forward for the Korean working class. In 2011, the UPP split from the Korean Democratic Labor Party, but carried forward that party’s traditions of reformism and class collaborationism, graphically illustrated in the 2012 presidential election when they withdrew from the race in favor of the Liberal candidate.
Overt support to the North Korean regime is illegal in the South under the National Security Law, and the UPP leadership has always been cautious about linking the party too closely. It is necessary to defend the UPP against state repression regardless of its views on North Korea.
Similarly, it is necessary to defend the North Korean state against capitalist counterrevolution and imperialist attack. It is not the undemocratic character of the Kim regime, but the fact that North Korea is a deformed workers’ state resting on collectivized property forms, that so enrages the Park Geun-hye government in the South.
Only the socialist transformation of Korea can protect and expand the rights of working people and the oppressed, who have a material interest in overturning both the Kim and Park governments and establishing the organs of workers’ rule – a workers’ political revolution in the North, combined with a social revolution in the South, uniting the Korean peninsula on a revolutionary basis.