March 5 this year marks the 70th anniversary of the promulgation of the law on agrarian reform in Korea. President Kim Il Sung (1912-1994), founding father of socialist Korea, made public Law on Agrarian Reform in North Korea, on March 5, 1946.
This was an event of historic significance, the first-ever in the East. The law made it possible to liquidate the exploiting class, who rented out land, and realize the centuries-old desire of the peasants to till their own land.
Land ownership occupies a very important place in implementing the cause of the people for their independence and in building a new society in particular. It is only when this problem is solved properly that solid foundations of an independent, sovereign state can be laid and stability of a country and its development be achieved.
As this was an important and urgent problem, Kim Il Sung adopted the measure of enforcing the agrarian reform before any other democratic reforms immediately after Korea’s liberation (August 15, 1945).
It is necessary to go over again the principles and contents of the agrarian reform enforced in Korea 70 years previously.
Korea’s agrarian reform was fundamentally different from that enforced in other countries.
It was a democratic reform that thoroughly embodied the Juche character, an original one unprecedented in human history.
In general, the other countries carried out the agrarian reform in the form of nationalization or confiscation and distribution of land with compensation.
Kim Il Sung, however, paid close attention to the actual situation in Korea and the peasants’ conditions and wishes.
Nearly 80 per cent of Korea’s population was peasants at that time. Their overwhelming majority were poor and hired peasants without any means of production, and the landlords, who accounted only for four per cent of the rural households, occupied 58.2 per cent of all the farmland.
This being the case, it is only when the agrarian reform was enforced on the principle of distributing the land to the peasants instead of nationalization, and confiscating the land and distributing it free of charge instead of doing them with compensation that it would be possible to achieve the true significance and purpose of the agrarian reform, make the peasants true masters of the land by freeing them from all types of exploitation and subjugation, and revitalize the overall economy of the country by developing the agricultural production. It would also remove obstacles to building a new society—the colonial survivals of the Japanese imperialists and the economic foundations of landlords, comprador capitalists, traitors to the nation and other reactionary forces.
Under the slogan “Land to the tillers!” he defined making the peasants masters of the land as the fundamental principle of the agrarian reform, and led the reform to be carried out on the principle of confiscating land and distributing it free of charge.
Those who had possessed more than five hectares of land and rented them out were defined as landlords, and their land, draught animals, farm implements, houses, irrigation facilities and other property were all confiscated. As a result, landlords numbering 44 000 were liquidated, and peasants of 720 000 households were distributed with land free of charge.
The Workers’ Party of Korea pursued the class policy of relying on the hired and poor peasants, allying with the middle peasants and isolating the rich peasants. To make the peasants play the key role in the agrarian reform, it helped them organize rural committees consisting of hired and poor peasants and encouraged them to become direct performers. It had all the Korean people including the working class enlisted to give an active support to the struggle of the peasants, and consolidated united front with all the political parties and other public organizations to ensure that all their members turn out in bringing the agrarian reform to a successful completion.
The agrarian reform was completed successfully in less than one month.
The agrarian reform in Korea had a great historic significance.
With the successful agrarian reform, the land problem in the stage of the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution was brilliantly solved. The agrarian reform in Korea greatly inspired the oppressed peoples in the East in their struggle against the imperialists and the domestic feudal forces and to liberate their countries.
The land problem was resolved more brilliantly by Chairman Kim Jong Il (1942-2011) who inherited the ideology and cause of President Kim Il Sung.
In the latter half of the 1990s he unfolded a plan for realigning all the fields under cultivation into large, standardized ones, and aroused the service personnel and people in the effort to carry it out. Saying that it was a revolution to liquidate once and for all the remnants of the feudal land ownership system by improving the appearance and structure of the land, he led this undertaking energetically.
Started at Kangwon Province on the eastern coast of the country, the project covered several other provinces and cities, with the result that small patches of land were repartitioned into large, standardized fields. It became impossible for the former landowners to identify their fields if they were to come there with their land registers.
The achievements Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il gained in solving the land problem of the country will shine for ever along with the eye-opening realities of the countryside which is being turned into a socialist fairyland under the leadership of the current leader Kim Jong Un.