With the Century




Part I





The destiny of a nation can be saved only through the unity and struggle of all the forces that love their country and treasure their nation.


Kim Il Sung



Volume 2


            1. The Rev. Son Jong Do

            2. A Spring of Trials

            3. The Kalun Meeting

            4. The First Party Organization—the Society for Rallying Comrades

            5. The Korean Revolutionary Army

            6. Revolutionary Poet Kim Hyok

            7. The Summer of 1930

            8. Crossing the River Tuman

            9. An “Ideal Village” Is Transformed into a Revolutionary Village

            10. Unforgettable Men and Women

            1. The Earth in Agony

            2. The September 18 Incident

            3. To Oppose Armed Force with Armed Force

            4. Preparations for a Bloody Battle

            5. The Birth of a New Armed Force

            1. To South Manchuria

            2. The Last Image

            3. Joy and Sorrow

            4. Is a Joint Operation Impossible?

            5. With an Ideal of Unity

            6. Together with the National Salvation Army

            7. Autumn in Xiaoshahe

            8. On the Heights of Luozigou




CHAPTER4: Seeking a New Path



1. The Rev. Son Jong Do


I was released from prison at a time when the situation in Manchuria was dangerous. In the streets of Jilin the atmosphere was tense, as if martial law had been declared, as at the time of the incident of the anti-Japanese reading circle in the autumn of 1929. At every road junction and around the government buildings, gendarmes from the military control station were stopping and searching passing people. Armed soldiers and policemen could be seen searching houses in the back streets.

Things were unimaginably dreadful with the whole of Manchuria suffering due to Li Li-san’s Leftist line. At that time the May 30 Uprising was at its height in Manchuria.

The struggle which is called the May 30 Uprising by Korean historians was referred to as the “Red May struggle” by the Chinese people. We call it the May 30 Uprising because it began on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the massacre that had taken place in Shanghai on the 30th of May and also because it was at its high point on the 30th of May.

Li Li-san, who was at the helm of the Chinese Communist Party at the time, ordered the whole party to ensure that the working class, students and citizens throughout China should go on strike and, at the same time, develop the struggle in the form of an uprising and raise soviet guerrilla forces in order to mark the anniversary of the heroic struggle of the Shanghai citizens in May 1925.

On receiving these orders from him, the revolutionary organizations under the Manchurian provincial committee convened meetings of shock forces throughout Manchuria by mobilizing the masses and encouraged them to rise in revolt under his slogan, “Victory first in one or a few provinces!” Leaflets and manifestoes calling on the people to revolt appeared in the streets of the towns and farm villages of east Manchuria.

With the outbreak of the revolt, the enemy stepped up their attack on the communists to a degree never witnessed before. The waves of the attack had already reached Jilin.

After my release, I first visited the Rev. Son Jong Do’s house, which was in Niumaxiang. I thought it proper for me to express my gratitude, before I left the town, to his family for their unceasing concern for me over the seven months I was in prison.

The minister received me in delight, as if it were his own son he was welcoming home from prison.

“We were afraid that the warlords would hand you over to the Japanese. It is very fortunate for you to have been set free without being given any sentence,” he said.

“Minister, my time in prison was much easier than I had expected because you gave me such strong support. I have been told that you gave the warders a lot on my behalf. I feel I must return your kindness. I shall never forget your kindness all my life. Minister.”

The minister was preparing for a journey to China proper. I asked him why he was leaving Jilin so suddenly.

“Even Zhang Zuo-xiang has become powerless, so there is no influential person whom we can expect to protect and support us in Jilin,” he said, heaving a deep sigh and with a sad smile on his face. “If he cannot help us Koreans, we have nothing to fall back on when the Japanese army comes to attack. I thought that once the three organizations were merged, the independence movement would advance without a problem. But when I see the unceasing tug of war among us I don’t feel like staying here any longer.”

In China proper he had friends from his days as the vice-chairman and chairman of the political council of the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai1, as well as his former fellow members of Hungsadan. I imagined he had made up his mind to go there in order to get in touch with them again and work harder for independence.

He asked me what I was going to do at a time when the Japanese imperialists might invade Manchuria at any moment.

“I am going to raise a large army and fight a decisive battle with the Japanese imperialists, and that’s all,” I said.

“To fight the Japanese with guns!” he exclaimed, looking at me in surprise.

“Yes. There is no other way, is there?”

“Remember that Japan is one of the five world powers. The Righteous Volunteers and the Independence Army were nothing when confronted with Japan’s modern weapons. But if you are determined, you must be bold.”

I was very sad to experience the cold and depressed atmosphere at the minister’s house, something I had not noticed when visiting there in my early days in Jilin. Previously I had heard the sounds of a gramophone and the animated voices of the independence fighters discussing the political situation. I used to be able to see pious figures from his congregation and hear the plaintive melody of Don’t Blow, You Wind! sung by the members of the Children’s Association. But all these things had vanished.

The minister close associates who frequented his house had all gone into hiding in Liuhe, Xingjing, Shanghai or Beijing. The gramophone which had emitted the doleful songs. The Site of the Old Palace and A Vagabond, was now silent.

The minister himself went to Beijing later and stayed there for some time. Beijing was where Sin Chae Ho (alias Tanjae), a renowned historian and writer and his companion from the early days of his term of office in the Shanghai Provisional Government had been active. In that city the minister had many other comrades.

When the minister arrived in Beijing, he found that Sin Chae Ho had been arrested while landing on Taiwan for the purpose of working with the Oriental Union and had been sent to Lushun (Port Arthur) prison. Beijing without Sin Chae Ho seemed very lonely and dreary to the minister, for they were such close friends.

With a view to making our nation’s long patriotic tradition and brilliant culture known to the younger generation and inspiring them with patriotism. Sin Chae Ho had devoted enormous time and effort to describing the history of Korea. He had once applied himself to the work of publishing to enlighten the nation. While in exile in Vladivostok he had published the newspaper Haejo Sinmun which had become popular. Pak So Sim occasionally contributed articles to this newspaper because the editor Sin Chae Ho was renowned among the Koreans abroad and held in high esteem by them for his remarkable personality and literary style.

Sin Chae Ho was an advocate of the policy of armed resistance. He considered Syngman Rhee’s diplomatic doctrine and An Chang Ho’s “preparation doctrine” unrealizable and dangerous. He asserted that in the life-and-death struggle between the Korean people and the Japanese marauders, the 20 million Koreans must unite and destroy the enemy by violent means.

When some important figures nominated Syngman Rhee2 as head of the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai, Sin Chae Ho resented it and opposed it absolutely because he was against Syngman Rhee’s mandate doctrine and autonomy doctrine.

 He said, “Syngman Rhee is a worse traitor than Ri Wan Yong. Ri Wan Yong sold out a country that existed, but Syngman Rhee has sold it out even before we have got it back.”

That was a famous and stunning declaration made by Sin Chae Ho at a meeting where the provisional government was being formed. In his “Declaration on the Korean Revolution” which he made after his withdrawal from the provisional government, he criticized Syngman Rhee severely.

Once, in an occasional recollection of those days, the Rev. Son Jong Do said, “Sin Chae Ho was a man with an incisive mind and of unrelenting logic. I was secretly delighted when he condemned Syngman Rhee as a worse traitor than Ri Wan Yong. His criticism represented public opinion. We shared his opinion. That was why he and I broke with the provisional government.”

I think that from what he said one can judge the minister’s political view to a certain extent. He had declared both the autonomy doctrine and the mandate doctrine to be delusions. He had questioned An Chang Ho’s theory of the development of strength, but gave unqualified support to our doctrine that the independence of the country should be achieved by the resistance of the whole nation. This revolutionary inclination of his had led him to believe that it was no longer necessary to remain in the cabinet of the provisional government headed by Syngman Rhee, the flunkeyist and political imposter. So he had taken a resolute step to break with the provisional government and move to Jilin.

In Jilin the Rev. Son Jong Do got in touch with the reformists whom the Japanese police had defined as the “third force,” and took an active part in the independence movement. He mixed well with younger people and gave them wholehearted support in their struggle. The chapel which was outside the Dadong Gate and in which he was working as the minister was practically a meeting hall for us. I frequented the chapel, to play the organ there and guide the activities of the art propaganda troupe. Because he complied with all our requests and gave us selfless support in our revolutionary activities, I respected the minister and followed him as I would have done my own father. The minister on his part loved me as if I were his own son. It was he who had masterminded the scheme for my release by bribing Zhang Zuo-xiang. He treated me not only as his friend’s son but also as a revolutionary with my own independent political view. He did not even hesitate to bring a family problem to me for my advice, a problem which had been discussed in vain by his fellow independence fighters.

The minister’s problem concerned his eldest daughter Son Jin Sil’s marriage to Yun Chi Chang. The independence fighters in Jilin all objected to it. The minister himself was displeased, believing that his daughter had chosen an unsuitable husband. He thought that her marriage to the man would disgrace the family name. Yun Chi Chang was a younger brother of Yun Chi Ho, a pro-Japanese comprador capitalist, While the minister was annoyed with his daughter because he was unable to dissuade her from marrying the man, a conservative group from the Independence Army detained the man for a week in order to extract funds from him.

“So, what is to be done?” the minister asked me. I hesitated for a while because I was afraid of poking my nose into the matter of a marriage between my elders, before saying cautiously, “They have fallen in love with each other, so there is no way of separating them, is there? I think the best thing to do is to leave them to their own devices.” Then, I persuaded the conservative group from the Independence Army to release Yun Chi Chang.

The minister returned to Jilin in the year following his visit to Bei-jing. Some people said that he had returned at the request of the radicals such as O In Hwa and Ko Won Am, but I am not sure whether this was true or not. Judging from the fact that he then remained in Jilin until the last moment of his life, the independence movement in Beijing had not been promising. It also appeared that he was not in good health. When I met him after my release from prison, he had said that I looked haggard, but I had found signs of illness in his face and worried about him. Because of his recurrent chronic disease, he had not been eating properly.

“On top of the country’s ruin I am ill, so I sigh day and night,” the minister said. “Even the Omniscient and Omnipotent is not kind to me. My exile seems to be taking a heavy toll of me.”

While propagating his religion in Manchuria in 1912 he was arrested, suspected of being involved in the assassination of Katsura Taro, and exiled to Jin Island, where he wasted two years. Probably he had contracted the illness while in exile. I do not believe in superstition, but people who are loved and spared by the public seem to be vulnerable to attack by illness.

At Mingyuegou in the spring of the following year I heard the shocking news that the minister had died of his illness. The man who told me of his death said that he had died before his time at the Oriental Hospital in Jilin.

At first I took the news as a rumour. I could not believe that the minister had died so soon. It seemed to me impossible that the life of the minister who had been walking and talking about the future of the independence movement when I met him only six months before had been snuffed out like a candle in the wind because of a gastric ulcer. But the news, though unhappy, was true. According to information I received from an underground source he had died after vomiting blood on his first day in hospital.

Many people in the Korean community in Manchuria considered his death to have been murder. The first reason for such a conjecture was that the minister, just prior to going into hospital, had not been in such a critical condition. Another convincing reason was that the Oriental Hospital where he died belonged to a Japanese. The common view of the Koreans in Manchuria was that, since the Japanese were capable of using Koreans without hesitation as guinea-pigs in experiments on biological weapons, they could commit acts even worse than murder. The most convincing argument was that the Rev. Son Jong Do was a renowned patriot. He had been under constant and strict surveillance by the Japanese police. Apart from being suspected of involvement in the assassination of Katsura Taro, he was a thorn in the side of the Japanese police because of his life-long record in the anti-Japanese struggle as the chairman of the political council of the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai, its Director-General for Transport, a member of the Association for the Promotion of Political Strategy, and of Hungsadan and a councillor of the Worker-Soldier Association. How close an eye the Japanese had kept on the minister is illustrated by the fact that immediately after his sudden death the Japanese consul-general in Jilin compiled a special paper “On the Death of the Rebellious Korean Son Jong Do” and sent it to his foreign minister.

As some people said that his nickname Haesok (a submerged rock—Tr.) reflected his personality clearly, so the Rev. Son Jong Do was an honourable and honest fighter who dedicated his whole life to the noble struggle against the Japanese. In Jilin, in cooperation with the radical group of Jongui-bu, he made tireless efforts to change the direction of the independence movement which had merely been swimming with the tide, and to unite the patriotic forces. At the time when we were forming the Korean Children’s Association in Jilin and the Ryugil Association of Korean Students, he had proposed the formation of the peasants’ mutual assistance society in Manchuria and had been working hard for its success.

The Rev. Son Jong Do had bought 50 hectares of land by Lake Jingbo in Emu County in the name of his younger brother (Son Kyong Do) and had run an agricultural company. This could be termed a part of the “ideal society” advocated by An Chang Ho. The area around Lake Jingbo had been considered by An Chang Ho to be a particularly suitable place for the building of an “ideal society.” The minister had intended to use the income from his company for the independence movement.

The minister’s funeral was held solemnly, according to Christian custom, at the Fengtian Public Hall. Apparently, because of obstructions by the Japanese police, only a little over 40 people attended the funeral to mourn the death of a man who had dedicated decades of his life to national independence from the days before the annexation. Considering the fact that in his lifetime the minister had been surrounded by so many people and had inspired the spirit of patriotism in them, his farewell was too quiet and lonely. Since open mourning had not been allowed even at the funeral of the father of the nation in those days, could the mourners weep at a funeral under police watch? At Jiandao I looked up to the sky above Jilin and wept without cease, praying for the soul of the deceased minister. I grieved over the death of the Rev. Son Jong Do and of my own father. I made a firm pledge to liberate the country, come what may, in order to safeguard their souls and take vengeance on the enemy. I believed that liberating the country would repay my benefactors’ kindness, relieve them of their suffering and break the people’s shackles.

Since then, the minister’s family and I have travelled different paths. The tragedy of division that still continues now at the turn of the century has been cruel enough to keep the barrier of a wire fence and concrete wall, as well as wide oceans, between us. We did not hear from one another for over half a century, I living in Pyongyang, Son In Sil in Seoul and Son Won Thae in Omaha (in the United States). But I have never forgotten the Rev. Son Jong Do and his family. My memory of them has never been dimmed or stained by the passage of time and distance. The worse the national tragedy became and the higher the barrier of division grew, the greater our yearning for our benefactors and forerunners who shed their tears and blood for the sake of this land has grown in our hearts.

History has not closed its eyes to our yearning. In May 1991 Son Won Thae, the minister’s youngest son, a pathologist, who lives in the city of Omaha, Nebraska, paid a visit to our country with his wife (Ri Yu Sin) at the invitation of the Ministry of Reception for Overseas Compatriots. A weak primary schoolboy in his teens who used to beg to be on my side whenever the members of the Children’s Association and the Ryugil Association of Korean Students divided into the “land” and the “sea” teams to play at soldiers on the sandy beach of the River Songhua appeared before me as a grey-haired old man nearing his eighties. The persistent work of 60 years of wind and frost had not erased the distinct features clear below his white hair of his days in Jilin.

“President!” he called me, hugging me, tears streaming down his cheeks, tears that meant more than could be implied in tens of thousands of words. What had kept us apart, when our hearts had been burning with a yearning for each other for so many years until our hair had turned grey? What was it that had delayed our reunion for more than half a century? Sixty years is a man’s lifetime. We had parted in our teens to meet again only when we were nearly in our eighties in a modern civilization where aeroplanes fly at supersonic speeds! Isn’t the passage of time too cruel and void, the time that had continued to push us to our old age?

“Mr. Son, how is it that you are so white-haired?” I asked him in an official tone of voice, treating him as an old scientist and as a citizen of the United States, not as a former member of the Children’s Association.

He looked at me with something of the air of playing on my affection as he used to do in the old days in Jilin.

“My yearning for you. President, has turned my hair white,” he replied and then begged that I should call him by his first name, reminding me that in his days in Jilin he had followed me as if I were his elder brother and that I had loved him as if he were my younger brother.

“Then I’ll call you Won Thae just as I used to do in the old days,” I said with a smile.

Our awkwardness vanished, and we returned to our boyhood. It seemed as if I were talking to him in my lodgings in Jilin, not in my drawing-room in Pyongyang. In those days I had often visited the Rev. Son Jong Do’s house, and Son Won Thae had frequented my lodgings.

It was surprising that the reticent boy who was slight in build and used to go about with his head tilted slightly to one side just like Cha Kwang Su, the schoolboy of Provincial Primary School No. 4 who, once provoked to speak, never failed to excite the laughter of his listeners with his volley of witty jokes and humorous remarks, should appear before me as a pathologist, and it was also surprising that the boy should have become a white-haired old man in the twilight of his life. I was struck by the unbelievable change that had turned the boy into an old man who was taking me back to our remote boyhood when it seemed only yesterday that we had parted with each other in Jilin!

We talked at length about our boyhood, not only about the activities of the Children’s Association but also about the happenings in the street where toffee peddlers used to collect the pocket-money of snivel-ling children. Those peddlers were really cunning. If they wanted to eat some toffee themselves, those peddlers would pick some from their booths, put it into their mouths and lick it until they were tired of it and then put it back in their booths. The children who bought the toffee did not even suspect such a thing. As we talked about these things, we laughed loudly, forgetting all our worldly cares.

Having said that I looked hale and hearty, contrary to the rumour in the West, he took me by the hand, drew it to him and looked into my palm for a good while. I was perplexed.

“You have a very long lifeline, so you will enjoy a long life,” he commented with a smile. “You are held in high esteem as the leader of the country because you have a distinct leadership line.”

He was the first man ever to read my palm, and it was the first time in my life that I had heard that there was a leadership line on a man’s palm. When he said that I had a long lifeline, he must have wished me a long life; when he said that I had a distinct leadership line on my palm, he must have meant that he supported our cause.

Without the slightest sense that he was having an official interview with a head of state, he asked me, “President, when will you buy me jiangzi guoji? I also want to eat the bingtanghulu which I used to eat with you. President, in Jilin.”

I felt my heart leap at his request, for this was a request one made only to one’s own brother. He was talking to me as if he were talking to his own brother. It occurred to me that he had no brother. His elder brother Son Won Il who was once the defence minister of south Korea had died some years before. No matter how I feasted him, it would have been impossible for me to give him the love with which his own brother had taken care of him.

Why can’t I meet his wish to eatjiangzi guoji or bingtanghulu Jiangzi guoji is a Chinese food resembling a doughnut which is sweetened and cooked in bean soup and oil. In Jilin I used to take him and his little sister to buy themjiangzi guoji now and then. They used to love eating it. When I thought of my indebtedness to the Rev. Son Jong Do, I had wished in those days to buy them all that my purse could buy. But I could hardly afford to pay even my school fees.

I don’t think that Son Won Thae asked me to buy himjiangzi guoji because he really wanted to eat some. He must have wanted to express his yearning for the friendship we had shared like real brothers and sisters in our days in Jilin.

“If you want to eat some, I will have some cooked next time,” I replied, prompted by my desire to serve some to him, although he had asked as a joke. I felt an urge to serve him with some right away, instead of waiting for the next meal. I was deeply moved by his casual request. Two days later my cooks prepared jiangzi guoji for Son Won Thae and his wife. Having eaten it before breakfast, he apparently said with tears in his eyes that, thanks to President Kim, he was eating the favourite food of his boyhood again.

Friendship is much stronger than the passage of time. The passage of time can make everything fade away, but not friendship. True friendship and true love neither grow weaker with age or stale. Our friendship that had been broken off temporarily because of the divergent courses of our life’s journeys was linked again by bridging over a gulf of 60 years.

Having met after such a long interval, we sang together Nostalgia which we had used to sing in Jilin. To my surprise, I had not forgotten the words of the song and he, too, remembered it perfectly.

Son Won Thae said that he was ashamed to see me because he had done nothing in particular for the good of the nation, but this was self-effacing of him. When he was a university student in Beijing he, as the head of the inspection department of a students association, took part in the student movement and in the boycott of Japanese goods. He was a young patriot. Because of his patriotic activities he had later been arrested and thrown into Nagasaki prison.

I could perceive in this man who had remained outside politics the untainted innocence of the boy in Jilin. It is by no means easy to preserve a clear conscience in the social climate of a battle for survival, in a world which is governed by the law of the jungle.

Son Won Thae expressed his heartfelt sympathy with all the work we had done as well as his great admiration for our country as a “beautiful and noble country, a land of construction for the well-being of the generations to come.”

I was happy to have a reunion with Son Won Thae, though belatedly, and to have an opportunity to look back upon our days in Jilin. His image overflowing with love for his country, love for the nation and love for humanity was that of the Rev. Son Jong Do and of Son In Sil. Whenever he saw me, Son Won Thae said, “President, please live for many years without growing older!” The look with which he wished me good health reminded me of the Rev. Son Jong Do whom I had seen for the last time 60 years before.

That day, bidding farewell to me, the minister said, “Don’t stay any longer in Jilin where the situation is dangerous. Things here are very frightening. Take care of yourself; the situation requires it. Even in Jiandao, you had better regain your health in an out-of-the-way spot for the time being.”

I was deeply grateful to him for his kind consideration for my safety. The timeliness of his advice was proved eloquently by the developments in Manchuria after the September 18 incident. The Japanese army and police that occupied Jilin searched for me first. Checking the list of prisoners in Jilin prison, they demanded that the warlords hand me over to them. Had it not been for the support given me by the Rev. Son Jong Do, Ko Won Am, O In Hwa, Hwang Paek Ha and other independence fighters, I would not have been released before it was too late and would have suffered some ten more years in prison in the hands of the Japanese imperialists. So many more years of imprisonment would have made it impossible for me to wage the armed struggle. It is in mis sense that I call the minister the saviour of my life.

There would be no end if I were to name all the people who helped me and gave me wholehearted support in my revolutionary activities in Jilin, among them such independence fighters of the previous generation as Choe Man Yong, O Sang Hon, Kim Ki Phung, Ri Ki Phal and Choe Il, such forerunners of my contemporaries as Choe Jung Yon, Sin Yong Gun, An Sin Yong, Hyon Suk Ja, Ri Tong Hwa, Choe Pong, Han Ju Bin, Ryu Jin Dong, Choe Jin Un, Kim Hak Sok, U Sok Yun, Kim On Sun, Ri Tok Yong, Kim Chang Sul, Choe Kwan Sil and Ryu Su Gyong, and such patriotic children as Ri Tong Son, Ri Kyong Un, Yun Son Ho, Hwang Kwi Hon, Kim Pyong Suk, Kwak Yon Bong, Jon Un Sim, An Pyong Ok, Yun Ok Chae, Pak Jong Won, Kwak Ki Se and Jong Haeng Jong.

This suggested to me that the situation did not permit me to stay in Jilin any longer. I had more or less expected this while in prison. The minister was very sorry that he could not take care of me in his house and had to send me away. Grateful to him for his advice, I had lunch at his house and then departed immediately for Xinantun.


2. A Spring of Trials


On my way to Xinantun I met Cha Kwang Su. The boisterous man’s eyes were sparkling with joy behind his powerful glasses. I was so pleased to see him that I hailed him from afar.

Saying that he was on his way to the Rev. Son Jong Do’s house to ask after me, he held me in his arms and turned me round and round. He said that as his comrades in the revolution had all been arrested he was feeling terribly lonely. He talked about the happenings in Jilin for a while and then, looking at me out of blood-shot eyes, said, “Song Ju, the labour movement in Korea is developing by leaps and bounds in all its aspects. The slogans, methods and character of the struggle—they are all fresh. I think the national liberation movement in the 30s will achieve a great change, particularly in the character of the struggle. What do you think of that? Our revolution should advance under a new banner to meet the rapidly-changing situation, shouldn’t it?”

I was greatly impressed by the constancy of the man who, undaunted by and unafraid of the enemy’s offensive in the alarming situation when it was difficult to save one’s own skin let alone one’s revolutionary ideals, was travelling in disguise, looking for his comrades and thinking of the future as a communist should.

“I agree with you, Kwang Su, that our revolution should advance under a new banner,” I said and then explained what I had decided in the prison. “What, then, should that new banner be? While in prison I gave much thought to this and came to the conclusion that we young communists must now found a party of a new type and switch to an armed struggle. Only an armed struggle will save the country and liberate the nation. The struggle of the Korean people must develop into all-out national resistance, centring on the armed struggle and under the unified leadership of the party.”

He expressed unqualified support for my opinion. We went to Xinantun and discussed the matter with Kim Hyok and Pak So Sim. They agreed with me. It was the unanimous view of the young communists that it would be impossible to save Korea without taking up arms, or to develop the revolution without being guided by a new line.

An armed struggle was a mature requirement of the specific situation in Korea. The Japanese imperialists’ fascist rule was at its height in those days. The Korean people, deprived of all their rights, were living in abject poverty. The waves of the economic crisis which had begun to sweep the world in 1929 hit Japan, too. In an effort to escape the panic through aggression on the Asian Continent, the Japanese imperialists intensified their colonial oppression and plunder of Korea and speeded up their war preparations.

When the Japanese imperialists discovered the way to enrich themselves and strengthen their army in the plunder and oppression of the Korean nation, our nation discovered the way to national revival in the battle against the Japanese imperialists. It was not by chance that the mass movements, including the labour and peasant movements, which had stressed the economic struggle began to move gradually towards a violent struggle.

At that time I observed the strike at the Sinhung Coal-mine with interest, the strike which developed eventually into revolt. Hundreds of coal-miners, under the guidance of the strike committee, raided and demolished the coal-inspection office and other offices, the machine shop and the power generator of the coal-mine, as well as the house of the director of the mine. They cut all the power lines in the area of the mine and destroyed all the winches, pumps and other items of production equipment they could lay their hands on. The strikers inflicted such a great loss upon the company that the Japanese management complained that it would take two months to reconstruct the mine.

The revolt resulted in the arrest of more than 100 people, something which was so terrible that it shook the whole country. This revolt made such an impression on me that in later years, when waging the armed struggle, I visited the Sinhung area, in spite of the danger, and met the leaders of the labour movement.

A qualitative change was taking place in the struggle of the working class of Korea in its organization, unity, persistence and solidarity.

More than 2,000 workers affiliated to the Wonsan Labour Federation under the leadership of the federation went, with their families of 10,000, on a several month-long strike. At the news of the general strike in Wonsan, the workers and peasants across the country sent them telegrams and letters of encouragement, as well as solidarity funds, and dispatched delegates to express their support for and solidarity with them.

Apart from the trade union organizations in Hongwon and Hoeryong in the homeland, the members of the Hansong Association under the Anti-Japanese Labour Union we had formed sent them funds from Jilin, thousands of miles away from Wonsan. This shows how high the ideological awareness of the working class of our country was at that time. The general strike in Wonsan was an event that marked the high tide of the labour movement in our country in the 1920s and demonstrated the militant power and revolutionary spirit of the Korean working class in the history of the world labour movement.

While in prison I followed the general strike with keen interest, believing that it was a momentous event in the history of the labour movement of our country and that the fighting experience of the strikers was valuable and should be drawn on and learnt from by all the social campaigners of Korea.

If the new leadership of the federation had not instructed the workers to return to work but pushed the strike on to the bitter end, or if the workers, peasants and intellectuals across the country had gone on a full-scale strike in response to them, the struggle of the working class of Wonsan could have succeeded.

The failure of the general strike in Wonsan again convinced me of the pressing need to found in Korea a Marxist-Leninist party capable of organizing the struggle of the working class and leading it to victory. It also gave me the strong belief that a full-scale armed struggle as the mainstream of the national liberation movement would promote the mass struggle of the workers, peasants and all other sections of the population.

It was inevitable that the Korean people’s struggle should assume a violent character when the enemy was clamping down upon the national liberation movement in such a brutal way. Revolutionary violence was the most effective way of defeating the counterrevolutionary violence of the enemy who was armed to the teeth. The sabre-rattling enemy compelled the Korean nation to take up arms. Arms had to be countered with arms.

It was impossible to achieve the independence of the country merely by cultivating our strength through the development of education, culture and the economy, or by labour and tenant disputes or by diplomatic activity. The general strike in Wonsan and the revolt by the Sin-hung Coal-miners gave us unbounded confidence in the Korean working class as well as warm affection for and a high sense of pride in our excellent working class and our militant nation.

But the question had arisen of the policy of struggle and the leadership. I had the firm conviction that we could defeat any enemy, however powerful, if we had a correct policy that suited the trend of the times, and led the struggle properly. I was impatient with my desire to rehabilitate and consolidate the wrecked organizations and to bring the masses to consciousness and organize and prepare them as soon as possible for the decisive battle with Japanese imperialism.

Meanwhile, my comrades who had heard of my release came to see me. I met the core members of the YCLK, the AIYL, the Anti-Japanese Labour Union and the Peasants Union in the Jilin area and discussed ways to rehabilitate the organizations quickly and rally the masses against the enemy’s increasing white terrorism.

The word “arms” which had so excited Cha Kwang Su also won the support of these young people. Their support was a great encouragement to me.

We discussed ways to intensify the work of the YCLK in Jiandao and the northern border area of Korea and to make those areas revolutionary quickly, methods to make substantial preparations for the founding of the party and some other tasks to be tackled immediately, and we sent political workers to various places to implement them.

I slept overnight at Xinantun and left for Dunhua. I decided to work in Dunhua because it was a vantage-point allowing me access to all the counties of east Manchuria and because I had many friends and acquaintances there who would help me. I intended to stay there for a while, showing the organizations the direction for their activities to cope with the situation in east Manchuria where the uprising was raging, while drawing up detailed plans for effecting the idea I had conceived in prison.

When leaving Jilin, I felt very sorry that I hadn’t carried out the will of my late father who had wished that I should at least finish middle school.

Pak H Pha said he would get his father to negotiate with the authorities at Yuwen Middle School for my reinstatement, and advised me to finish my education there.

Pak Il Pha was the son of the nationalist, Pak Ki Baek, who published the magazine Tongu in Jilin. Pak U Chon was a pen name. When I was attending Yuwen Middle School Pak Il Pha, as a student at Jilin Law College, helped me in my work with the Ryugil Association of Korean Students. He was set on becoming a lawyer. At that time he was seeing a lot of a white Russian officer, learning Russian from him. My comrades, who regarded his behaviour as a sort of betrayal of the new Russia, advised me to break with him. I said to them, “Learning a foreign language is very useful for the revolution. I think it would be shortsighted of me to ostracize him simply because he is friendly with a white Russian officer.” After liberation Pak was able to translate many literary masterpieces such as A. Tolstoy’s The Ordeal because he had learned Russian in his school days.

Kim Hyok and Pak So Sim, like Pak Il Pha, advised me to finish my middle school education at any cost by studying for another year if my reinstatement was possible. They said that as the headmaster, Li Guang-han, was a communist sympathizer, he would not refuse my request, if I wanted to return.

“I can teach myself,” I said. “The people and the disrupted organizations are waiting for us. So I can’t return to school, because it would mean turning away from the revolution when it is in difficulty.”

As I left Jilin without having finished school, I was tormented with various thoughts: The thought of my late father who had sent me alone all the way to my home town in the winter cold, telling me to study in the motherland, who had taught me Korean history and geography when I returned home from school, and who, in the last moments of his life, had told my mother that he had wanted me to get middle school education, so she should follow his intention even if it meant her living on grass; the thought of my mother who would be disappointed at the news of my having left school one year before my graduation after the three years of unceasing effort she had made to earn my school fees by sewing and laundering until her fingers were sore; the thought of my brothers who would be no less disappointed; and the thought of the sorrow of my father’s friends who loved me as their own son and gave me financial aid, as well as the sorrow of my school friends.

But I thought at least mother would understand me. When my father had left Sungsil Middle School and become a career revolutionary, she gave him her tacit agreement. So I believed that even though her son had left middle school, or even a university, she would not disagree if it was for the revolution and for the motherland.

I think it was a turning point in my life when I left school and went among the popular masses. It was at this time that my underground activities and my new life as a career revolutionary started.

Because I was leaving for Dunhua without so much as dropping a line to my family after my release, my heart was indescribably heavy. I rebuked myself for my neglect, telling myself that I had no excuse for it no matter what sacrifice the revolution required of me, but I could not write to them.

Even when I was in prison I had not written anything to my mother lest she should worry. My comrades who went to spend the winter holidays at my house in 1929 told her that I had been arrested.

Nevertheless, she had not come to Jilin to see me. Mothers would not mind travelling thousands of miles to see their children, if they were in prison, carrying bundles of things for them and imploring the warders to allow them to see their children, but my mother had not done so. She had shown great patience. When my father was in prison in Pyongyang, she had been to see him on several occasions, even taking me with her. But ten years later, she never visited her son in prison. People may wonder why. She did not explain her reason when later she saw me in Antu.

But I thought that it showed her true love for her son. She might have thought: Song Ju who is behind bars would find it painful to see me; even if I go to see him, what comfort or help can my visit give him? Will he be able to keep on the right path if he is swayed by pity at the first step when he has so many rugged passes to climb? Let him feel lonely in prison rather than seeing me, and that will be a benefit for him.

I judged this from my discovery of a revolutionary in my mother who had been a simple woman.

Being out of prison and free from my duties as a student, it occurred to me that it might be my filial duty to go home and stay with my mother for a few days. Nevertheless, I walked resolutely towards Dunhua.

Approximately 15 miles southwest of Dunhua there was the mountain village called Sidaohuanggou. I was to work there.

After my imprisonment, several families in Fusong which were affiliated with the organizations of the YCLK, the Paeksan Youth League and the Women’s Association had moved to the Antu and Dunhua areas in order to avoid the danger of the sweeping arrests in Jilin reaching Fusong. My mother, uncle Hyong Gwon and brothers had also moved to Antu one bitterly cold winter day.

Six families out of the dozens which had moved to east Manchuria at that time had settled in Sidaohuanggou. Ko Jae Bong’s family was one of the six.

Ko Jae Bong, who attended Fusong Normal School as a scholarship student of Jongui-bu, had taught at Paeksan School before joining the Independence Army and serving as a leader of the Fusong area flying column. He was a core member of the anti-Japanese mass organization.

Ko Jae Ryong, his younger brother, was one of my classmates at Hwasong Uisuk School. Later he joined Yang Jing-yu’s unit and was killed in action somewhere in Mengjiang or Linjiang. Ko Jae Rim, his youngest brother, went to Jilin Yuwen Middle School after leaving Paeksan School and worked as a member of the YCLK with me. From the spring of 1930 he studied at a medical college run by the Japanese Manchuria Railway Company. While in Jilin he had helped me a lot.

The Kos had been on special terms with our family from our days in Fusong. They spared nothing if it was for my parents. They helped my father and mother a lot while running their inn.

In those days a great number of patriots and independence fighters visited my house in Xiaonanmen Street at all hours. Some of them would stay at my house for a few days. My mother used to be on her feet in the kitchen all the time preparing food for them. This attracted the attention of the warlords. Knowing that the police were watching my father, Ko Jae Bong’s mother (Song Gye Sim) came one day and said:

“Mr. Kim, please don’t receive any more guests in your house. If your house is crowded with visitors as it is now, something evil might happen to you. We will look after the visitors from the Independence Army, so please send them to my house.”

So, she was held in high trust by my father, and I became friendly with Ko Jae Bong.

When my mother was running about to find a school building after the closure of Paeksan School, the Kos offered one of their rooms without hesitation.

In less than six months after moving to Sidaohuanggou Ko Jae Bong had established Tonghung Uisuk School and was teaching children. Taking advantage of being the deputy head of 100 household units, he formed YCLK organizations and the Paeksan Youth League in Sidaohuanggou and the surrounding area and made preparations for forming the Anti-Japanese Women’s Association and the Peasants Union.

 Ko Jae Bong’s mother was delighted to see me and recollected our days in Fusong with tears in her eyes. When I said that I had been behind bars from the previous autumn and that I had come to Sidaohuanggou directly on my release a few days before she said, looking closely into my face, that, although she recognized me, I looked so pale and puffy that my mother would be pained if she saw me.

I stayed at their house for more than one month, enjoying their kind care. Ko Jae Bong’s mother went to a lot of trouble to nurse me back to health. She prepared meals of barley, millet and seasoned green herbs and served them to me at a separate table, always saying that she was very sorry that the meals were so frugal. But I could not eat with an easy mind at the thought of the family which, unable to run an inn in that strange mountain village, had begun farming only that year and also had to support the daughter’s children who were staying there.

The mistress, knowing what was my favourite food from our days in Fusong, borrowed a noodle-press, the only one in the village, and made some noodles for me. Ko Jae Bong went to the walled city of Dunhua and bought some salted trout for me. His sister’s husband would go to the spring at dawn every day to catch sanggol to reduce my swelling. Under their warm care I quickly recovered my health.

Ko Jae Bong went to visit my mother in Antu and returned. It was about 50 miles from Sidaohuanggou to Antu and he could cover this distance in a day. He told me he had walked 75 miles in a day like Hwang Chonwangdong in the novel Rim Kkok Jong.

On hearing that I was staying in the Dunhua area after being released from prison, Chol Ju came with Ko Jae Bong to Sidaohuanggou, bringing a letter and my underwear from mother. The letter said that my family, after leaving Fusong, had lived in a rented room at the house of Ma Chun Uk outside the west gate of Jiuantu and then moved to Xinglongcun. While in Jiuantu my mother had hired a sewing machine from Ma Chun Uk and had worked hard to earn a living as a seamstress. In Xinglongcun, too, she had worked day and night to eke out a living.

Chol Ju did not feel comfortable in the new place. Until then he had lived in such towns on large rivers as Junggang, Linjiang, Badao-gou and Fusong. For him Antu which was far from the railway and the lowland was too quiet and too strange a place to feel settled.

“Brother, did you go to Fusong after your release?” he asked me all of a sudden.

“I wanted to, but I didn’t. How could I visit Fusong when I came straight to Dunhua without even dropping in at my own house?” I answered.

“The people in Fusong miss you very much,” my brother said. “Zhang Wei-hua used to come to our house every day to ask after you, The people were very kind.”

What he said revealed that he was yearning for the people in Fusong.

“Yes, they were.”

“I often think of my friends in Fusong. Please remember me to them if you happen to go there.”

“Of course I will. By the way, have you made any new friends in Antu?”

“Not many. There aren’t many boys of my age in Antu.” I realized that my brother was longing for the old days in Fusong and that because of that, he had not settled in the new place. His sad eyes and melancholy look told me all this. His unsettled mental state, a sort of resistance to the reality that was common among boys of that age, disturbed me.

“Chol Ju, just as a good farmer does not complain of bad land, so a revolutionary should not be particular about where he finds himself. Why shouldn’t there be good friends for you in Antu? You will find them if you look. As you know, father used to say that comrades do not fall from the sky of their own accord and that we should look for them, just as jewel hunters look for jewels. Find many good friends and make Antu an ideal place to work in. You are old enough to join the YCLK, aren’t you?”

I stressed that he should prepare himself well for membership of the Young Communist League.

“I understand. I am sorry to have troubled you,” he said, bracing up, a serious look on his face.

Not long after that he joined the YCLK.

During my stay in Sidaohuanggou I helped Ko Jae Bong and his brother form branches of the Children’s Expeditionary Corps, the Peasants Union and the Anti-Japanese Women’s Association and tried to contact the members of the revolutionary organizations scattered around the east and south of Manchuria. On receiving the letters I had sent through Ko Jae Bong to the liaison offices in Longjing, Helong and Jilin, ten of my comrades including Kim Hyok, Cha Kwang Su, Kye Yong Chun, Kim Jun, Chae Su Hang and Kim Jung Gwon came to Sidaohuanggou. They were all leaders of the Young Communist League and the Anti-Imperialist Youth League.

I learned from them that the uprising sweeping the east of Manchuria had reached greater heights than I had expected.

The Korean people living in Manchuria were the main force behind the uprising; they had been instigated to revolt by Han Pin and Pak Yun Se, who claimed that in order to be admitted to the Chinese Communist Party they should be recognized by the party as having distinguished themselves in the practical struggle.

At that time the Korean communists in the northeastern region of China had abandoned the campaign to rebuild the party in accordance with the Comintern’s principle of one party for one nation and were conducting brisk activities to become members of the Chinese party. The Chinese party had proclaimed that it would admit the Korean communists on an individual basis after testing them individually through a practical struggle. Worse still, officials from the Comintern went round encouraging people to start an uprising, so the Korean communists under the Manchuria general bureau, who were trying to join the Chinese party, drove the people into a reckless uprising out of their own political ambition and lust for higher positions.

They expropriated those who should not have been expropriated and even set fire to schools and power stations.

The May 30 Uprising gave the Japanese imperialists and the Chinese reactionary warlords a good excuse for suppressing the communist movement and the anti-Japanese patriotic struggle in Manchuria. The Korean communists and revolutionaries in Manchuria became the target of their ruthless white terrorism.

Having incurred tremendous losses, the masses had to retreat to rural and mountainous areas. Atrocities similar to those committed during the great cleaning-up in the year of Kyongsin(1920)3 were perpetrated throughout east Manchuria. The police cells and prisons were overflowing with captured rebels. A lot of them were dragged to Seoul, Korea, and condemned to severe punishment, even death.

The Fengtian warlords, tricked by the Japanese imperialists, suppressed the uprising in a brutal way. In order to drive a wedge between the Korean people and the Chinese people the Japanese started rumours that the Koreans had risen in revolt in east Manchuria in order to conquer Manchuria. The leading warlords believed these rumours and clamoured that all Koreans were communists and that the communists should be killed for they were the puppets of the Japanese imperialists. They killed the rebels right and left. The foolish warlords identified the communists with the puppets of the Japanese imperialists.

Thousands of people were arrested and killed during the uprising; most of them were Koreans. Many of those arrested were executed. The uprising caused tremendous harm to our revolutionary organizations. It aggravated the relations between the Koreans and the Chinese.

Li Li-san’s line was later denounced as “a reckless line” and “petty bourgeois lunacy” by the Chinese party. Yet his line of the Soviet Red Army was an adventurous line that did not suit the situation in northeast China. The Third Plenary Meeting of the Sixth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held in September that year sharply criticized the Left adventurist line of Li Li-san. The Comintem, too, criticized his error in a letter dated November 16. The provincial party committee of Manchuria convened an enlarged meeting of the committee and a joint meeting to expose his error to criticism.

We also criticized his line at a meeting held in Mingyuegou in May 1931 and adopted measures to overcome the Left adventurist errors. However, the aftereffects of his line were not eradicated and it badly affected our revolutionary struggle in northeast China for several years.

The young people who had gathered in Sidaohuanggou bitterly lamented the fact that Korean blood had been wasted and wondered how long our revolution would have to drift in confusion. In order to encourage them, I said:

“It is true that the loss in the uprising is great. However, what is the use of crying over that loss? We must stop crying and go where we are needed to rehabilitate the organizations and straighten out the situation, It is important to expose the factionalists’ wild ambitions and remove the masses from their influence. To this end, we must show them the path the Korean revolution should take. The uprising ended in bloodshed, but the masses must have been trained and awakened to consciousness through that uprising. During the uprising the Korean nation displayed its militant and revolutionary spirit to the full. I was greatly encouraged by this great, self-sacrificing fighting spirit of our nation. I am sure that when we teach them scientific fighting methods and tactics and show them the path our nation should follow, a fresh upsurge will take place in our revolution.”

My comrades were not greatly impressed by my call. They said, “You are right. Comrade Han Byol. But where is the new line that is acceptable to the masses?” They looked at me with impatience.

I said, “It will not fall from the sky, nor will it be brought to us on a plate. We must map it out for ourselves. I gave some thought to this while I was in prison. I’d like to hear your opinions.”

So we held a discussion on the line of the Korean revolution which I had already discussed with Cha Kwang Su, Kim Hyok, Pak So Sim and others. This was the Sidaohuanggou Meeting. The meeting approved my proposal.

The appalling bloodbath that had taken place throughout the east of Manchuria caused me to feel resentment and awakened me to my sense of duty to the nation. As I pictured the people falling down with bleeding hearts in the midst of the turmoil, I racked my brains over how I should rescue the revolutionary masses of Korea from the sea of blood and how I should save the national liberation struggle of Korea from adversity and lead it to victory.

The revolution needed arms. It was awaiting a well-organized and trained revolutionary army and people, a programme that would guide the 20 million people to victory and a political general staff capable of putting the programme into effect. The situation at home and abroad required that the Korean communists effect a turn in the noble struggle to liberate the country and nation. Without a change our nation might suffer further bloodshed and tragedy.

With a determination to make a breakthrough in effecting the change and to bring about this turn, in the summer of 1930 I jotted down in my pocket-book the essence of the ideas that were floating in my mind.

I promised with the organization members and political workers as they left Sidaohuanggou to meet them again in Kalun in the second half of June after they had carried out their assignments.

Afterwards a meeting of the party committee of the eastern region of Jilin Province was held in Dunhua. The issue of the uprising was discussed at the meeting. The factionalists were planning to organize another uprising like the May 30 Uprising. I pointed out that the May 30 Uprising had been reckless, and I opposed their plan.

I had gained a lot of experience from my life behind bars and from the May 30 Uprising.

Indeed, the spring of 1930 was a spring of growth and of trial, an unforgettable spring in my life. In that spring our revolution was preparing for a fresh upsurge.


3. The Kalun Meeting


In late June our comrades began to gather in Kalun as prearranged. We already had revolutionary organizations in Kalun. In 1927 we had realized the need to make a base at a traffic junction which afforded easy access to the different parts of Manchuria and began to send hard-core elements of the Young Communist League to the area to explore it.

We decided to hold a meeting in Kalun, in view of the fact that the place was easy of access and that it was a secluded base that ensured secrecy and the safety of those attending the meeting.

Kalun was frequented by the champions of the anti-Japanese movement, but it was not exposed to the enemy. The place was ideal for holding a meeting because the people there had volunteered to aid us.

On arriving at Kalun I found that Jong Haeng Jong, head of the Children’s Expeditionary Corps, was waiting for me at the station. When I went to Kalun, he always came to meet me at the station and accompany me.

On my arrival I found that the atmosphere in Kalun was somewhat calmer than in Dunhua and Jilin. The May 30 Uprising having just finished, the atmosphere in Jiandao was very serious. The situation became more tense with the imminent dispatch of the Japanese troops to east Manchuria. The Japanese imperialists were intending to send their troops to Jiandao to suppress the rapidly-spreading revolutionary movement there, occupy Manchuria and Mongolia and secure a bridgehead for their invasion of the Soviet Union. With this aim Lieutenant General Kawashima, commander of the 19th Division of the Japanese army stationed in Ranam, was on a tour of inspection of the Longjing, Yanji, Baicaogou and Toudaogou areas. At the same time the chief of staff of the Kuomintang troops in Jilin and the civil administrator were on a tour of inspection in east Manchuria.

It was during this period that the revolutionary organizations in the Jiandao area appealed to the people to drive out the lieutenant general of the Japanese army, the chief of staff of the Kuomintang troops and the civil administrator from east Manchuria.

On that visit to Kalun I stayed at the houses of Ryu Yong Son and Jang So Bong, teachers at Jinmyong School.

Jang So Bong taught the children at Jinmyong School and at the same time worked as the branch manager of the newspaper Tong-A Ilbo. Like Cha Kwang Su he was a well-informed, good writer and carried out his duties with credit. So he was loved by his comrades.

A blot on his character was that he often quarrelled with his wife. When his comrades offered him advice, he complained that she was too feudalistic. Time and again I tried to persuade him and I criticized him so that he took an interest in his family life, but it was of little avail.

Jang So Bong was arrested by the police when he went to Changchun to buy weapons after the formation of the Korean Revolutionary Army and became a turncoat. He is said to have undertaken “submission work” against me.

Kim Hyok and Jang So Bong had rendered particularly distinguished service in making Kalun revolutionary. Pooling their efforts with the public-spirited men of the locality, they had set up schools and evening schools, launched an enlightenment movement centred on these schools, reformed the enlightenment organizations such as the peasants association, youth league, children’s association and women’s society into revolutionary organizations such as the Peasants Union, the Anti-Japanese Youth League, the Children’s Expeditionary Corps and the Women’s Association respectively. They also trained people from all walks of life to work for the anti-Japanese revolution.

It was in Kalun that magazine Bolshevik had been founded under Kim Hyok’s auspices.

In Kalun I continued to speculate on the path for the Korean revolution as I had done in Sidaohuanggou. Sorting out and reviewing what I had been thinking for the past month, I wrote it down, and this became a long article.

I wrote the article with the keen realization of the urgent need of the national liberation struggle in our country for a new guiding theory.

Without a new guiding theory the revolution could not advance even a single step forward.

The revolutionary advance of the oppressed people demanding independence made further strides in the 1930s on a worldwide scale. Asia was the continent in which the liberation struggle of the oppressed peoples against the imperialists was fiercest.

Asia became the central arena of the national liberation struggle in the colonies because in those years the imperialists more openly intensified their aggression to wrest concessions from the developing countries of Asia and because the people of many Asian countries fought bravely in the struggle to safeguard their national independence.

No force could check the Eastern people’s just struggle to drive out the foreign forces and live in a new society which was free and democratic.

The revolutionary tide raged furiously in China, India, Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia and other Asian countries as the revolution advanced in the Soviet Union and Mongolia. Around this time weavers in India, which had attracted the attention of the world for her non-violent resistance movement, held demonstrations in the streets under a red banner.

 The Chinese people greeted the 1930s in the flames of a second civil war.

The revolutionary struggle in China and many other Asian countries and the active struggle of the people in the homeland greatly excited and inspired us.

We became convinced that if a party was founded and the right guiding theory was advanced it would be fully possible to rouse the people and emerge victorious in the struggle against the Japanese imperialists.

In this period, too, in the arena of the national liberation struggle of Korea there appeared different isms and doctrines representing the stands and interests of different parties and groups that would lead the masses this way or that. None of these theories was free from time and class limitations.

We deemed the armed struggle of the Independence Army to have been the highest form of the national liberation struggle up to that time. This struggle was participated in by the most active anti-Japanese independence champions from the Left wing of the nationalist movement and patriots. They had formed the Independence Army and launched an armed struggle because they believed that only by fighting a war of independence was it possible to win back the country.

Some people thought that it was possible to win independence only through the military action of large troops and other people maintained that the best way to drive out the Japanese imperialists was to employ terrorist tactics, while some others said that the strategy suited to the actual situation in Korea was to preserve some well-trained troops and achieve independence in cooperation with the Soviet Union, China, the United States and the like once they were at war with Japan. All these arguments presupposed a bloody fight against the Japanese imperialists.

But in its struggle the Independence Army had neither the scientific tactics and strategy for pursuing its initial aims to the end nor a strong and seasoned leadership capable of fighting the war to the end nor a firm mass foundation capable of supporting the army with manpower, materials and finance.

Among the reformist arguments An Chang Ho’s “theory on preparation” called “the theory on the cultivation of strength” was much talked about by the independence champions.

We respected An Chang Ho as an honest and conscientious patriot who devoted his life to the independence movement but we did not sympathize with his theory.

The Shanghai Provisional Government’s line of a non-violent independence movement did not receive the support and sympathy of the masses. Some time after its formation the Shanghai Provisional Government disappointed people because it wasted time, constantly resorting to the diplomatic policy of non-violence which provided no hope. So, the Independence Army which held the military line to be supreme gave it the cold shoulder.

Syngman Rhee’s petition asking the League of Nations to place Korea under its mandatory administration did not deserve to be called a line of any sort. The “self-government” idea advanced by the right wing of the nationalists was a wild dream which went against the national spirit of independence.

The Korean Communist Party, founded in 1925, ended its existence without working out the scientific tactics and strategy suited to the actual situation in Korea.

Generally speaking, the common weak point of the strategies and lines of the preceding generation was that they did not believe in the strength of the masses and turned away from them.

The movement champions from the preceding generation all ignored the fact that the people are the masters of the revolution and the motive force of the revolution. Only by drawing on the organized strength of millions of people was it possible to overthrow Japanese imperialism, but the champions of our anti-Japanese movement thought that the revolution and the war of independence were conducted by a few special people alone.

Proceeding from this viewpoint, those who were allegedly engaged in the communist movement founded a party by proclaiming the party centre to be composed of a few people from the higher levels of society without laying any foundation to speak of. They were divided into groups in such a way as to form parties of three and groups of five and became involved in a scramble for hegemony over several years.

The line and strategy of the preceding generation had the serious drawback that they were not firmly rooted in the Korean reality.

I decided that in order to work out a correct guiding theory suited to the Korean reality it was necessary to take an independent view of all problems and settle them in an original way that was suited to our own specific situation, instead of holding classic works or the experiences of other countries supreme. It would not do to copy the experience of the October Revolution on the plea of providing a guiding theory or to sit back with folded arms, expecting that the Comintern would provide a recipe for success.

“We believe in the strength of the masses alone. Let us believe in the strength of our 20 million people and, uniting them, let us wage a bloody war against the Japanese imperialists!” This cry came often from the bottom of my heart.

Urged by this impulse, I tried to enunciate the idea we now call Juche in a draft report. What I intended to write in that draft report concerned the serious problems facing our revolution.

I gave a particularly great deal of thought to the question of the armed struggle.

In my draft report I put it forward as the basic line of the anti-Japanese national liberation struggle, as the foremost task for the Korean communists, to wage a comprehensive anti-Japanese war.

It took a long time to decide upon the armed struggle and to fix it as our line. Before it was adopted as a line at Kalun, we were virtually empty-handed. I proposed that if an armed struggle was to be launched, the young communists should found a new type of army.

At that time some people were of a different opinion, and said, “Since the Independence Army is already in existence, it will suffice to join it and fight. Is there any necessity to found a separate army? We fear that the anti-Japanese military forces will be divided.”

Since the Independence Army had become Rightist and reactionary, it was irrational and impossible to renovate it from within and take military action.

In 1930 the strength of the Independence Army was insufficient. The strength of the Independence Army under Kukmin-bu was only nine companies. Even they were divided into the Kukmin-bu group and the anti-Kukmin-bu group due to a split at the higher levels.

The Kukmin-bu group was the conservative force which stuck fast to the line the Independence Army had adhered to for over ten years. The anti-Kukmin-bu group was a new force which opposed the old line and pursued a new line. People from the anti-Kukmin-bu group even attempted to join hands with the communists, claiming to sympathize with communism. The Japanese imperialists named them the “third force” in the sense that they were not nationalists or communists but a new middle-of-the-road force. The appearance of this “third force” of the anti-Kukmin-bu group within the nationalist movement proved that the trend to switch the nationalist movement to a communist movement had entered the stage of implementation. The strength of the Independence Army was reduced due to the antagonism between the Kukmin- bu group and the anti-Kukmin-bu group, and the nationalist movement was thrown into confusion.

The companies of the Independence Army were generally stationed in villages on the plain, but this did not favour guerrilla warfare. It did not have enough equipment, its discipline was loose and its training was at a low level. On top of this, its relations with the inhabitants were not very good.

The Independence Army was on a gradual decline since its golden days in the early 1920s when it had mowed down large troops of Japanese at the battle of Qingshanli4 and the battle of Fengwugou5.

When I went to Wangqingmen to attend the conference of the General Federation of Korean Youth in South Manchuria, I talked with Hyon Muk Kwan about Kukmin-bu and asked him, “Are you sure that you can defeat Japan with the strength of Kukmin-bu?” I raised this question to goad him because he boasted a lot about Kukmin-bu.

“If we fight on like this and if the great powers help us, we will win our independence.”

I was disappointed at his reply. I wondered how an army which was fighting blindly without confidence in victory, turning to the great powers for help, could prove its worth. So I said to him by way of a joke, “Will the people of Kukmin-bu hand all their weapons over to us? If they do we will drive out the Japanese in three or four years.”

This was before the terrorist outrages were committed against the members of the preparatory committee for the meeting, so I could afford to joke. Hyon Muk Kwan had always taken my jokes well since my Jilin days.

He made a wry smile but didn’t reply. He must have thought that I was indulging in idle dreams.

It was difficult to maintain the status quo in the army of Kukmin-bu. So, we came to the conclusion that it was necessary to form a new type of army.

I was convinced that an armed struggle led by communists alone could wage a thorough anti-Japanese war of resistance and be revolutionary. This was because communists alone could rally in their armed ranks workers, peasants and other broad sections of the anti-Japanese patriotic forces and lead the Korean revolution as a whole to victory, taking charge of and waging the noble war by employing scientific tactics and strategies which would accurately reflect the interests of the masses.

The Japanese imperialists we would have to overthrow were a newly-emerging military power that had, in the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, easily defeated great powers with territories tens of times larger than that of Japan.

It would be no easy matter to defeat this power and win back the country.

To overthrow Japanese imperialism meant to defeat the military power of Japan, which had received universal recognition. It meant to overpower the fanatical Japanese spirit and to emerge victorious in a war of attrition against Japan, a country which had been accumulating manpower, materials and financial power for nearly 70 years since the Meiji Restoration.

But we thought that if we waged an armed struggle for three or four years we could defeat Japan. It was an idea which no one except hot-blooded young people could conceive. If the Japanese warlords had heard of this, they would surely have thrown their heads back and burst out laughing.

If we are asked what guarantee we had for our judgment, we have nothing to say. What guarantee could we, with empty hands, have? We had only patriotism and young blood. We said three or four years not because we made light of the strength of Japan but because we thought that our patriotism was stronger and we were righteous. Our guarantee was the strength of our twenty million people. We were convinced that if we trained the twenty million people well and induced them to rise in a struggle everywhere and beat the Japanese troops and police we could win our independence.

So, we thought that if an armed struggle was to be waged on a grand scale a firm mass foundation should be laid.

That is how the idea of the anti-Japanese national united front came into being.

I first felt the necessity for an organization in my Hwasong Uisuk School days, whereas it was at the time of the March First Popular Uprising that I first felt the strength of the nation and engraved it in my heart. It was in my Jilin days that I decided to go deep among the people, rally them and make the revolution by depending on their strength.

Without nationwide resistance through the enlistment of the twenty million people it would be impossible to shake off the yoke of colonial slavery. We maintained that in the pure class struggle the workers and the peasant masses alone could be the motive force of the revolution, but since by its nature the Korean revolution was a revolution against feudalism and imperialism not only the workers and peasants but also the young people and students, intellectuals, patriotic-minded men of religion, and non-comprador capitalists could be the motive force of the revolution. Ours was the principle of rallying and enlisting all the anti-Japanese patriotic forces interested in national liberation.

When we advanced this line, some people shook their heads dubiously, saying that no such definition could be found in the classics. They said it was a wild dream that communists should be allied with the social classes other than the workers and peasants and that they could not join hands with religious men or the entrepreneur class. Proceeding from this point of view the Tuesday group6 removed Kim Chan from the post of head of the Manchuria general bureau of the Korean Communist Party simply because he had been associated with some people from Kukmin-bu.

Many nationalists gave communists the cold shoulder. Nationalism was a taboo within the communist movement, while communism was a taboo within the nationalist movement. This tendency resulted in the division of the nation’s forces into the two camps of communists and nationalists.

Sensible people were all pained at this state of affairs. Through their efforts, however, a movement for collaboration between the two camps of the communists and nationalists was launched in the mid-20s, and this resulted in the founding of the Singan Association in 1927. All the people warmly welcomed it as an indication that the communists and nationalists could unite for the cause of the nation, although they had different ideas.

But the association had to proclaim its dissolution in 1931 due to the ceaseless destructive manoeuvres of the Japanese imperialists and the subversive activities of the reformists who were corrupted and used by them.

If the two forces had united firmly in the great cause of patriotism, the association would not have been so easily destroyed even if there had been subversion within and without.

We greatly regretted the end of the collaboration between the communists and nationalists with the dissolution of the Singan Association. If ideas alone were held supreme without priority being given to the nation, genuine collaboration could not be attained. It was my view in those days that if top priority was given to national liberation it was possible to join hands with any social class.

Proceeding from this standpoint we collaborated, after liberation, with Kim Ku who had opposed communism all his life and now are appealing for great national unity. If great national unity is attained, there will remain only the foreign forces and traitors to the nation as obstacles.

When Choe Hong Hui and Choe Tok Sin7 visited Pyongyang, although they had passed their lives at the anti-communist front with their guns turned on us, we welcomed them out of compatriotic love without caring about their past because great national unity was our supreme task as well as our policy.

I said to Choe Tok Sin, “Whether one lives in the north or in the south, one must consider the question of reunification with top priority given to the nation. Only when the nation exists are there social classes and isms, don’t you think? What is the use of communism, nationalism or a belief in ‘God’ without the nation?”

When we elaborated the line of the anti-Japanese national united front in Kalun over 60 years ago, we made the same appeal.

Politics must be comprehensive and statesmen, broad-minded. If politics is not comprehensive, it cannot embrace all the people. If statesmen are not broad-minded, the people turn away from them.

In my draft report I dwelt on the founding of the party, the character and tasks of the Korean revolution, and the basic standpoint for Korean communists to adhere to in struggle.

When I had prepared the draft report, I immediately submitted it for discussion to the leading cadres of the Young Communist League and the AIYL who had come from different places to attend the Kalun Meeting. In those days we held discussions at the edge of the field or in the willow grove by the River Wukai in the daytime while we worked in the field, and in the evening reviewed the opinions raised in the daytime in the night-duty room of Jinmyong School. During the mass discussions many opinions concerning interesting practical problems were offered.

At first a dispute arose as to how to define the character of the Korean revolution. The definition of the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution given in the draft report provoked a heated debate. The focus of the debate was whether a new definition of the character of the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution which was not found in the classics and which had not been advanced in any other country conflicted with universal principles and the law of the revolution or not. According to the understanding of the young people of those days, bourgeois and socialist revolutions were the only revolutions which brought about a radical change in modern history. So, they were fully justified in questioning a new concept of the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution which was neither a socialist nor a bourgeois revolution.

We characterised the Korean revolution as an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution on the basis of the conclusion we had formed concerning the class relations prevailing in our country and the tasks facing our revolution. The most urgent revolutionary task for the Korean nation was to overthrow Japanese imperialism, eliminate the feudal relations shackling our people and effect democracy in our country. Hence we defined the Korean revolution as an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution.

If one squeezes the definition of the revolution into another pattern, one will be guilty of dogmatism. It is not the pattern that is most important but the actual situation. Communists should accept without hesitation a scientific definition suited to the actual situation in the country even if it is not found in the classics or elsewhere. This represents a creative attitude towards Marxism-Leninism.

When I thus explained why I had defined the Korean revolution as an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution, the delegates said that they understood and warmly supported it.

 The question of the anti-Japanese national united front was most hotly debated. In those days it was publicly recognized as a difficult problem in both theory and practice, a problem of which an open discussion was troublesome. People around us approached the question cautiously because some people from the Comintern indiscriminately qualified those who supported the united front policy as reformists, citing the failure of the collaboration between Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China. So those without courage could not propose the national united front policy as a line, for to do so might have been taken as a challenge to the standpoint of the Comintern.

Then the comrades raised many questions.

Should the son of a landlord support the revolution, how should he be treated? Should a capitalist have donated a lot of money and provided a great deal of material aid to the Independence Army but wants nothing to do with communists, how should he be approached? Should a sub-county head mix well with both the people and the Japanese, can he be enlisted in the revolution? In reply to these questions I said, in short, that people should be judged mainly by their ideological tendency.

Our views of those days later took shape in the Ten-point Programme of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland and were specified as state policy in the 20-point programme after liberation.

The validity of the anti-Japanese national united front policy we advanced in Kalun was later proved in practice.

Our comrades’ opinions were a great help in perfecting the draft report.

The Kalun Meeting was formally opened in the evening of June 30, 1930.

Our comrades in Kalun prepared a meeting place in a classroom of Jinmyong School. They spread straw mats on the floor of the classroom for the delegates and hung lamps from the ceiling.

On the first day of the meeting the delegates listened to my report. The next day they began to discuss measures to carry out the tasks set in the report. The discussions took place in groups or all together on the riverside or in the willow grove, while we helped the peasants in their work. Thus the meeting was held in an original way. We held the meeting with easy minds because the members of the revolutionary organizations in Kalun were keeping guard in the village. Members of the Children’s Expeditionary Corps also did a lot to protect us during the meeting.

The Japanese imperialists, having smelled out that a large number of young communists had gathered in central Manchuria, dispatched many secret agents to the counties of Changchun, Huaide and Yitong which were the arena of our activity. Some secret agents carried a photograph of me with them and asked where I was.

Informed by the secret agents from the Japanese consulate in Manchuria and from the police affairs department of the government-general in Korea that some young communists belonging to a group different from those of the old-time communists who differed from them in the way they conducted their activities had appeared around Jilin in Manchuria and were expanding their forces, the Japanese imperialists chased us persistently in an effort to capture the leading core elements, straining their nerves from the beginning. Because we had established a wide foothold and went deep among the people without making much fuss, they seemed to take us seriously.

At that time Kim Won U was in charge of the guard at the village and commanded the members of the Children’s Expeditionary Corps and the AIYL. Even when he was attending a meeting, he would leave stealthily and patrol the village to check the guard. When I sat up at night because of the pressure of work in the classroom of Jinmyong School, he kept watch outside to ensure my personal safety. Sometimes at night he roasted potatoes in the fire-place in the kitchen of the night-duty room of the school, and offered me some.

Kim Won U rendered great service in exploring Kalun, Guyushu, Wujiazi and other areas. He did a lot of work in leading the youth and student movement in Jilin.

In the spring of 1928 we dispatched him to the rural communities in the Changchun area to make them revolutionary. At the time he was teaching at Jinmyong School and educating the young people by touring the Kalun and Guyushu areas. Beginning in the spring of 1930 he took part in the preparations for the formation of the Korean Revolutionary Army, helping Cha Kwang Su. As he had a handsome face we once disguised him as a woman and sent him to do underground work, “pairing” him with Hyon Gyun as man and wife.

When he went about to buy weapons after the formation of the Korean Revolutionary Army, he was arrested by the enemy and imprisoned for several years. Even behind bars he fought staunchly.

When the internal and external situation was complicated after the Korean war, Kim Won U fell at the hands of the factionalists while fighting in defence of the Party’s line in the provinces. At that time factionalists plotted in various ways to harm those who were faithful to the Party. His original name was Pyon Muk Song.

Kalun became a reliable base for our activities and a revolutionary village for realizing our ideas due to the persistent efforts Kim Won U, Kim Ri Gap, Cha Kwang Su, Kim Hyok and other young communists made earlier to explore the village.

Before we arrived the people there were divided into the southern provinces group and the northern provinces group and lived with their backs turned on each other. Once the two groups had a gang fight over water from the River Wukai. When people from the southern provinces group blocked the irrigation ditch to reclaim their field, the people from the northern provinces group came rushing out with their shovels and reopened the ditch, shouting that their paddy fields were drying up. Even their children were divided into two groups and would not play together, which was very sad.

Kim Hyok, Kim Won U, Kim Ri Gap, Jang So Bong and others made a great deal of effort to straighten out the situation. They put an end to the gang fight through persuasion and formed various mass organizations, set up a school in Kalun and provided free education.

In the evening on the second of July the delegates again gathered in the classroom of the school and resumed the meeting. That evening the meeting was concluded with the announcement of an assignment plan.

Towards the close of the meeting Cha Kwang Su who was presiding over the meeting rose abruptly from his seat and made a fervent speech. Nicknamed “boisterous,” he often acted rashly and easily got excited, but he never lost his reason. He stirred up the hearts of people, addressing them in an impassioned and fluent speech.

He shook his fist as he spoke:

“While the Korean communist movement is going through ordeal and the people are lamenting its setbacks, we here in Kalun have made a historic statement marking a fresh start of the Korean revolution. With this statement heralding a new dawn we Korean communists will advance along a new path.

“Comrades, let us take up arms and come out in a life-and-death struggle against Japanese imperialism.”

Having heard his speech, we raised shouts of joy and sang the Revolutionary Song.

 We could proclaim the new path for the Korean revolution in Kalun because already in the course of the youth and student movement launched in our days in Jilin we had established the Juche stand on and attitude towards the Korean revolution and cleared a new path for the communist movement. I made public in The Path of the Korean Revolution the idea and standpoint I had perceived in my days of struggle and elaborated in prison.

This has become the line of our revolution and its guiding idea.

We can say that the content of the treatise was based entirely on the Juche idea.

Since then the idea has been steadily developed and enriched through the various stages of the revolution, including the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle, and through a difficult and complicated practical struggle and it has become a philosophical idea in which ideas, theories and methods have been brought together as an integral whole as we ‘now see it.

It was when we were building the foundation of socialism after the war that we particularly stressed the need to establish Juche after liberation.

I delivered a speech on eliminating dogmatism and the worship of the great powers and establishing Juche to Party propaganda and agitation workers in 1955. It was made public in the document On Eliminating Dogmatism and Formalism and Establishing Juche in Ideological Work.

Later I stressed the need to establish Juche whenever the occasion offered itself.

Time and again I explained, in my talks with foreigners, the essence of the Juche idea, how it had been created and implemented.

But I never thought of systematizing it and publishing it in book form. If our people accepted the idea as just and implemented it in their revolutionary practice, I was satisfied.

Later Secretary Kim Jong Il systematized the idea in a comprehensive manner and published his treatise On the Juche Idea.

We became convinced, while waging the anti-Japanese armed struggle after the Kalun Meeting, that the line we advanced at the meeting was just. The enemy likened us to “a drop in the ocean,” but we had an ocean of people with inexhaustible strength behind us. Whatever line we put forward, the people easily understood it and made it their own, and they aided us materially and spiritually, sending tens of thousands of their sons, daughters, brothers and sisters to join our ranks.

We could defeat the strong enemy who was armed to the teeth, fighting against him in the severe cold of up to 40 degrees below zero in Manchuria for over 15 years, because we had a mighty fortress called the people and the boundless ocean called the masses.


4. The First Party Organization—the Society for Rallying Comrades


The fact that we formed a new type of party organization on July 3, 1930, the day following the Kalun Meeting, was made public many years ago and the speech I made at the meeting has been published.

It is known to everyone that the party plays the role of the general staff in the revolution and that victory in the revolution depends on the role of the party. If the revolution is the locomotive of history, the party can be called the locomotive of the revolution. This is the reason why revolutionaries attach importance to the party and work heart and soul to build up the party.

The fact that Marx founded the League of Communists and issued The Communist Manifesto at the start of his practical struggle following his creation of a scientific theory on communism is praised even now as the greatest of his exploits. This is because the mission and role fulfilled by the party in the struggle of the communists to transform the world are very important. It can be said that the various opportunist and reformist tendencies that appeared in the international communist movement and working-class movement resulted, in the final analysis, from a wrong view and attitude towards the party.

Among all the epoch-making changes that have been made up to the present day by communists throughout the world since the appearance of communism in the arena of the working-class movement as the new thought of the time, there is nothing that is not linked with the noble name of the party.

In order to implement the tasks put forward at the Kalun Meeting, we first of all started to form a party organization.

It was after hearing that the Korean Communist Party had been expelled from the Comintern that we resolved to found a new type of party and started to make all-out efforts to find the way.

It was in April 1925 that the Communist Party was formed in our country. In those days in various countries political parties representing the interests of the working class had appeared and were leading the masses. The fact that, in keeping with this worldwide trend, a communist party was founded in our country, a land where no freedom of political activity and no rights were allowed, proves how quick and rich was the political sensibility of the Koreans towards the new thought and the trend of the times.

The founding of the Korean Communist Party was the inevitable result and law-governed product of the development of the working-class movement and the national liberation movement in Korea.

After its foundation the Korean Communist Party disseminated the socialist idea among broad sections of the masses, such as the workers and peasants, and led the working-class movement, thus turning a new page on which the national liberation struggle in our country was guided by communists. While the Korean Communist Party existed the Korean communists displayed the mettle of our nation by leading such a large-scale struggle as the June 10th Independence Movement. They also contributed to the work of rallying the anti-Japanese patriotic forces by forming such a mass organization as the Singan Association with the cooperation of the nationalists.

The fact that the Korean Communist Party was founded and the mass movement of various social sections such as the working-class movement and the peasant movement was conducted under its leadership was a historic event that promoted the development of the national liberation movement to some extent and marked the beginning of the communist movement in our country.

However, the Korean Communist Party ended its existence as an organized force in 1928 owing to the cruel suppression on the part of the Japanese imperialists and the factional strife in its highest circles.

At its Sixth Congress held in the summer of 1928 the Comintern pronounced the withdrawal of its recognition of the Korean Communist Party. This was tantamount to the expulsion of the Korean Communist Party from the ranks of the Comintern.

It goes without saying that while the Korean Communist Party existed we were not satisfied with its highest circles who were engrossed in factional strife. However, we could not repress our indignation and shame at the news that the party had even been expelled from the ranks of the Comintern. We regretted the action of the Comintern. It was at that time that I began to think that, although we were young and had little experience in the communist movement, we ourselves must become masters and work hard to found a new type of party.

If we were to found a party of a new type which would be pure and original, we had to overcome many obstacles and difficulties.

The greatest difficulty was that there was still factionalism in the communist ranks. Because factionalism had not been eliminated the communists of the early years could not conduct the movement to rebuild the party in a unified manner but did it divided into various factions.

After the Korean Communist Party was expelled from the Comintern the communists of our country conducted an intensive movement at home and abroad to rebuild the party. But no faction succeeded owing to the indiscriminate suppression and obstructive moves of the Japanese imperialists. The Tuesday group and the M-L group8 abandoned their efforts to rebuild the party and declared that they would dissolve the general bureau that had been formed in Manchuria. Following this the Seoul-Shanghai group made an effort to rebuild the party at home, but even this became known and ended in many party members being dragged off to prison.

So we came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to found a revolutionary party by rebuilding the party that had been dissolved or by relying on the existing generation that was infected with the vicious habit of factional strife.

Another difficulty in founding the party was that it was impossible for the Korean communists to found their own party in Manchuria because of the principle of one party for one country laid down by the Comintern.

In the general provisions of its Rules adopted at its Sixth Congress the Comintern laid down this principle, to the effect that each party belonging to the Comintern should carry the name of the communist party of the country concerned (the branch of the Comintern) and that in each country only one communist party could exist within the Comintern.

The eastern propaganda department of the Comintern convened the Conference of the Korean and Chinese Communist Parties in Khabarovsk in May 1930 and informed the delegates of the decision of the Comintern on the organizational question regarding the Korean Communist Party. In that decision the Comintern set the Korean communists in Manchuria the task of joining the Chinese party and working as members of that party.

Such being the case, those communists who had been working hard to rebuild the party changed their attitude and issued a statement on dissolving the party. Then they started to convert to the Chinese party and, with this, the flames of the May 30 Uprising swept east Manchuria.

The matter of the Korean party members having to work in the Chinese party could not but seriously excite the young Korean communists who had a stronger national pride than others. Our comrades had a heated argument on the matter. Some young people denounced the order of the Comintern as irresponsible and as an incomprehensible decision, some regarded the measure as fair and yet others gave vent to their pent-up anger and indignation, saying that the demand of the Comintern that the Korean communists should join the Chinese party meant rejecting for ever the possibility of rebuilding the party.

My comrades brought this matter up as a topic of conversation and asked me my view.

I told them clearly that the demand of the Comintern that the Korean communists should join the Chinese party in accordance with the principle of one party for one country should not be censured and that the demand did not imply depriving the Korean communists of the possibility of rebuilding their party.

“In the present circumstances the demand of the Comintern is somewhat inevitable. If the Korean communists had their own party, why would it demand that they live in a rented room? Therefore, we must respect the decision of the Comintern. That is an internationalist standpoint. If one becomes a member of the Chinese party, it will be all right if one does not forget Korea and fights for the Korean revolution. However, on the plea of following the instructions of the Comintern, one cannot abandon the building of one’s own party and live in rented room for ever. Koreans must have a party for Koreans.”

This was my view and standpoint with regard to the problem of converting to another party.

However, I could not be sure that this view accorded with the principle of the Comintern of one party for one country.

In order to deepen my understanding of the principle of one party for one country and decide upon a policy for party building as soon as possible, I met Kim Kwang Ryol (Kim Ryol), a liaison officer of the Comintern, in Jiajiatun in the latter part of June 1930. Kim Kwang Ryol was an intellectual who had graduated from Waseda University in Japan and had been in the Soviet Union before going to Jiajiatun. He stayed for a long time in Guyushu, Wujiazi and Kalun, which were the areas of our activity. In his capacity of a liaison officer, he strove to link us with the Comintern. Jang So Bong and Ri Jong Rak were unsparing in their praise of him, saying that he had been greatly influenced by socialism in the Soviet Union. So I met him with hope. I found him to be a well-read man, as was his reputation. He had a good command of Russian and Japanese, danced Russian dances just as well as Russians and was a good public speaker. Kim Kwang Ryol advised me to go to the Comintern instead of listening only to his opinion. He said that he would introduce me to the Harbin liaison office of the Comintern and asked me to go there and argue about the principle of one party for one country.

After meeting Kim Kwang Ryol I repeated the argument about the principle of one party for one country with my comrades.

We construed the principle of one party for one country as meaning that two or more communist parties in a country could not join the Comintern, that only one communist party could become a member of it, and that no more than one centre of the communist party could exist in one country.

The essence of this principle was that there should not be more than one party centre with the same interests and aim in a country.

The fact that the Comintern advanced the principle of one party for one country and demanded its strict observance was mainly aimed at eliminating the different forms of opportunism, including factionalism, in the international communist movement and ensuring the unity and cohesion of its ranks. The historic lesson of the international communist movement made the Comintern put forward the principle of one party for one country and strictly guard against the infiltration of alien elements into the communist movement.

That the Comintern laid down the principle of one party for one country was connected with the fact that the enemy was making vicious attempts to split and break up the communist ranks from within.

However, the Rules of the Comintern merely laid down the principle of one party for one country. They did not clarify how those conducting the communist movement in a foreign country should be converted to the party of the country of their residence and how revolutionary tasks should be set for them after their conversion. It was precisely because of this that the matter of the Korean communists active in Manchuria converting to the Chinese party gave rise to extremely complex arguments. So some people even regarded the formation of their own party organization by the Korean communists in China as contradictory to the principle of one party for one country.

At a time when, owing to the various interpretations of the Comintern’s principle of one party for one country, terrible confusion and vacillation were created in the activities of the Korean communists for the liberation of their country, and even the right of the Korean revolutionaries to fight for their country was regarded as doubtful, I was seeking tirelessly the way to found a party.

Was there no way which would conform with the instructions of the Comintern and also powerfully promote the Korean revolution? The way out which I discovered at the end of my search was steadily to lay the organizational and ideological foundation for the formation of a party and, on the basis of this, found a party that was capable of playing both nominally and in fact the role of the general staff of our revolution, proceeding from the lesson of the preceding communist movement, instead of hastily proclaiming a party centre. It was impossible to found a party proceeding only from one’s subjective desire without training an organizational backbone of people who were awakened to class consciousness and qualified, without the unity of the ranks in ideology and purpose and without laying down a mass foundation on which the party could rely.

I considered that forming the party by setting up basic party organizations first, with communists of the new generation, who had nothing to do with factions, as the backbone and then steadily expanding them, was the most suitable and realistic method for us of founding a party. I was convinced that the Comintern would welcome it if we founded a party in this way.

I believed that if we formed party organizations first with the communists of the younger generation whom we had been training and steadily increased their role, at the same time as expanding and strengthening the basic party organizations everywhere our steps reached, we would be quite able to lead the communist movement and the national liberation struggle and also fulfil our internationalist duties satisfactorily.

If we refrained from forming a separate party centre in China lest it should coexist with the Chinese party, we would not be contradicting the Comintern’s principle of one party for one country.

By establishing this idea we advanced the policy of founding a party at the Kalun Meeting and formed the first party organization.

Forming a revolutionary party organization was also an inevitable requirement of the development of our revolution.

Because there was no party in Korea, the leaders of the Tanchon Peasant Uprising visited the Comintern to get its opinion on the tactical problems of the uprising. If there had been a revolutionary party in Korea representing the interests of the workers and peasants, as well as a seasoned leadership force, they would not have had to spend money on going to the Comintern.

The national liberation movement in our country at the beginning of the 1930s developed much further, to an extent which was incomparable with the anti-Japanese struggle of the past in its width and depth.

Our struggle also became much more advanced compared to its first stage. The sphere of our activities passed beyond the bounds of Jilin and spread to far-off east Manchuria and areas of northern Korea. Our revolutionary struggle, which had been confined to a youth and student movement, stretched to the broad sections of the workers and peasants and became underground activities. When we had accumulated experience and the military and political preparations had been made, we would have to form a standing revolutionary army and wage a full-scale guerrilla war with large units. The Young Communist League, however, was not equal to leading all this. The leadership given by the Young Communist League to various mass organizations in the past was a transitional phenomenon, not a perpetual one.

Now it was necessary to form a party which would have to control and guide the Young Communist League and various other mass organizations, give leadership to the national liberation movement as a whole, establish relations with the Chinese party and work with the Comintern. In the name of the Young Communist League it would be impossible for us to deal satisfactorily with the Comintern.

The communists of the early years visited the Comintern to obtain its recognition, each group posing as the “legitimate party.” Therefore, the Comintern was quite at a loss. The Comintern began gradually to realize that it would be impossible for a genuine vanguard of the working class to appear in Korea unless factions were eliminated and that, in order to eliminate the factions and found a new party, there should appear a new generation who had nothing to do with the factional strife and had no ambition for power. So they became interested in our struggle and tried various ways to join hands with us.

Over many years of revolutionary activity we laid down the foundation for forming a new type of revolutionary party organization.

The formation of the DIU was the starting point for the founding of a new type of revolutionary party which differed from the previous party in the Korean communist movement. Everything started from the DIU. The DIU developed into the Anti-Imperialist Youth League and then the Young Communist League.

The hardcore detachment of our revolution trained by the Young Communist League and the mass foundation of our revolution laid by the Anti-Imperialist Youth League immediately became the basis for founding the party. In those days when the Young Communist League had been formed and was leading the revolutionary movement as a powerful vanguard organization, the communists from among the new generation overcame the mistakes made by the communists of the preceding generation and pioneered a new way of winning over the masses and employing the art of leadership. The heroic fighting spirit and the revolutionary fighting traits displayed by the communists of the new generation became the motive force enabling us to defeat the Japanese imperialist aggressors. Later they became the spirit and moral strength of our Party.

A peak in the activities of the communists of the new generation was that the guiding idea of the Korean revolution was established with the Kalun Meeting as the impetus. The decision of the Kalun Meeting clarified the strategic points which the communists had to observe as their principles in the struggle to effect the programme of the DIU and the Young Communist League. They constituted the ideological basis for the foundation of a new type of party and a guide in the activities of the communists who had long been groping blindly in the dark, suffering failures and setbacks, to find the way ahead.

The guiding idea, leadership core and mass foundation—these can be said to be the essential elements for the formation of a party organization. We had all these elements.

On July 3, 1930 we formed the first party organization in a classroom at Jinmyong School in Kalun with Comrades Cha Kwang Su, Kim Hyok, Choe Chang Gol, Kye Yong Chun, Kim Won U and Choe Hyo Il. Although they were not present at the meeting, Comrades Kim Ri Gap, Kim Hyong Gwon, Pak Kun Won and Ri Je U also became members of the first party organization as did Pak Cha Sok and Ri Jong Rak whom I was intending to appoint as the commander of the Korean Revolutionary Army.

Jinmyong School stood in the fields in front of Jiajiatun, some 500 metres away from the village. Pussy willow fields covering some five or six hectares stretched to the east and south of the school, and in the middle of the willow fields a wide river, the River Wukai, flowed around the southeast side of the school. There were ponds and marshes from the east side of the school to the village. There was a path to Jinmyong School only from the west. If the comer was properly guarded there was no knowing if anything was happening at the school. Even if there was some danger one could easily escape into the willow fields.

That night we held a meeting by posting double and treble sentries on the west gateway where spies might appear. I still remember how the frogs croaked noisily in the rice fields. This noise stirred up mysterious feelings in me.

My most unforgettable impression of when the first party organization was formed is how Kim Won U took such trouble to put up a red flag beside the speaker’s table when preparing the meeting place. The red colour of that flag clearly reflected our determination to fight for the revolution till the last drop of our blood.

Even now I think of Jinmyong School whenever the first party organization is mentioned, and when I think of Jinmyong School I picture in my mind the unforgettable flag that stood slantwise by the speaker’s table.

That day I did not make a long speech. We had talked a great deal about forming the first party organization during the Kalun Meeting. Therefore, there was no need to explain our aim in forming it at length.

I simply set the tasks for the members of the party organization of expanding the basic party organizations and establishing a system of unified guidance over them, of achieving firm organizational and ideological unity within the ranks and comradely solidarity, and of laying a solid mass foundation for the revolution. As the means for realizing this I emphasized the need for the party organization to hold fast to the independent stand in all its activities and closely combine the work of building up the party organization with the anti-Japanese struggle.

We did not adopt a new Programme and Rules for the party. The Programme and Rules of the DIU clarified the ultimate goal and immediate fighting tasks for us communists, and the revolutionary line and strategic policies adopted at the Kalun Meeting provided details on the path we should follow and the rules for our conduct.

We gave the first party organization the simple name of the Society for Rallying Comrades. That name embodied the high aims and will of us who were taking the first step in the revolution by winning over comrades, and who were determined to develop the revolution in depth and achieve its final victory by continually discovering and rallying those comrades who would share their fate with us.

All the comrades who joined the Society for Rallying Comrades stood up and made fiery speeches full of strong emotions. Kim Hyojk recited an impromptu poem the content of which was: “Now we are sailing. Our ship has left the port. We’re rowing towards the ocean on a heavy sea.”

Following Kim Hyok’s recitation Choe Hyo Il stood up and delivered a speech. On finishing his speech he said:

“Song Ju, if we were not in a classroom but on a mountain, I would like to fire a salute in memory of this occasion!”

I told him he should fire a gun to his heart’s content on the day we confronted the Japanese, and that the day was not far off. We felt the urge to fire big guns, not just pistols, in commemoration of the formation of the first party organization. Indescribable indeed were our joy and pride as we solemnly pledged to the times and history that, being party members of Korea with their own party organization, we would devote our lives to the revolution.

When, 15 years later, I was lying on a straw mat in the floor-heated room of my home which smelled of my childhood, following the founding of the Party in the liberated country, I set aside all my cares and recollected with deep emotion how we had formed the first party organization in Kalun.

The first party organization—the Society for Rallying Comrades— was the embryo and seed of our Party; it was an organization with the importance of a parent body in forming and expanding the basic organizations of the party. Since acquiring its first party organization our revolution has been winning victory after victory under the leadership of the communists from the new generation who have not been influenced by factions and are as pure and fresh as driven snow. From that time the struggle of the Korean communists to build an independent party made dynamic headway on the strong current of the great anti-Japanese war.

Afterwards we sent the members of the Society for Rallying Comrades to various areas and formed party organizations in the northernmost part of Korea along the River Tuman and in many regions of Manchuria.

I took charge of the work of forming party organizations in the homeland. In the autumn of 1930 I went to Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, where we had a reasonably great influence, and there formed a party organization in the homeland.

Sharing life and death, good times and bad with the popular masses, our young party organizations marched through the anti-Japanese war, always in the vanguard. In the course of this they became tempered as an iron-strong vanguard detachment and grew into an indestructible force which enjoyed the absolute love and trust of the masses.

We had our own organization, but in conducting our work we maintained close relations with the Chinese party. Although we were Korean communists we consistently supported the Chinese revolution and fought in the interests of the Chinese party and people, proceeding from the time-honoured neighbourly relationship between the Korean and Chinese peoples, the similarity of the circumstances in which the two countries found themselves and the commonness of the mission which the revolutionaries of the two countries assumed before the times. Whenever the Chinese party and people won a victory in their struggle to liberate their nation, we rejoiced over it as over our own, and when they experienced a temporary setback or went through twists and turns, we shared their sorrow.

Since the Korean communists were conducting their activities in China, they could not receive help from the Chinese people nor could they firmly maintain the anti-imperialist united front unless they had contact with the Chinese party.

We attached importance to our relations with the Chinese party also because there were many Koreans in the party organizations under the Manchurian provincial party committee. There were also many Koreans in the east Manchuria special district party committee; the leadership bodies of the county party committees and district party committees in east Manchuria were made up mainly of Koreans, and more than 90 per cent of party members in east Manchuria were Koreans. They played a central, leading role in the party organizations in east Manchuria.

The large number of Korean party members in Manchuria was attributable to the fact that Koreans comprised the greater part of those pioneers who launched the communist movement in Jiandao.

It was after the Japanese imperialists occupied Manchuria that I began to have relations with the Chinese Communist Party. When I was forming the DIU at Hwasong Uisuk School and when I was working in Jilin and Wujiazi I had no contact with the Chinese Communist Party. A revolution is naturally an undertaking that is launched independently in accordance with one’s own conviction and aim, not at the dictation of somebody else. Therefore, we ourselves evolved the guiding ideology for our revolution and formed the DIU, the genesis of our Party, independently.

Imperialist Japan’s occupation of Manchuria after the September 18 incident created a new situation in which Japanese imperialism became the common enemy of the Korean and Chinese peoples. This new situation required that we establish relations with the Chinese Communist Party.

Around the time of the meeting at Mingyuegou in the winter of 1931 I, while staying at Cao Ya-fan’s house, began to have relations with the Chinese Communist Party for the first time. When he was studying in Jilin, Cao Ya-fan did Young Communist League work with me, and later at Hailong he taught at a school, and was in contact with the Chinese Communist Party. Later, when I was conducting activities in Wangqing and other areas after forming the guerrilla army, I established contact with Wang Run-cheng who, in a high position on the Ningan county party committee, was also in charge of east Manchuria. When Dong Chang-rong was transferred from Dalian to the east Manchuria special district party committee, I established contact with him.

I established relations with the Chinese Communist Party in this manner, and in the course of this I became a cadre of an organization of the Chinese party. After the death of Dong Chang-rong I came into contact with Wei Zheng-min, as well as with Comrade Pan, an inspector from the Comintern.

I maintained my relations with the Chinese Communist Party throughout the whole period of the anti-Japanese armed struggle, and these relations contributed to extending the common front against the Japanese imperialists and to developing the joint struggle.

We developed the joint struggle by maintaining close relations with the Chinese Communist Party. This was a flexible measure we adopted to cope with the complex situation in those days when the Korean communists had to wage the revolutionary struggle in a foreign land. The measure also accorded with the Comintern’s line of recognizing one party for one country. While developing the joint struggle with the Chinese Communist Party in every possible way, we always held high the banner of Korean liberation, the independent line of the Korean revolution which we carried out honourably. Our Chinese comrades-in-arms spoke highly of our principled stand and sincere efforts, calling them a shining example of properly combining national revolutionary duty with international duty.

Upholding the banner of proletarian internationalism, tens of thousands of the fine sons and daughters of the Korean people took part, together with the Chinese communists, in the protracted anti-Japanese struggle, experiencing trials and hardships.

When Comrade Choe Yong Gon visited China in 1963, Premier Zhou En-lai arranged a banquet in Shenyang in honour of his birthday at which he made a congratulatory speech. In his speech he said: “The Koreans played a leading role in paving the way for the revolution in northeast China. Therefore, the friendship between China and Korea is unbreakable and lasting. The Anti-Japanese Allied Army was a united armed force of the best sons and daughters of the Chinese and Korean peoples.”

Comrades Yang Jing-yu, Zhou Bao-zhong and Wei Zheng-min also said on numerous occasions that the Koreans had performed great exploits in clearing the way for the revolution in northeast China.

Because we had freely given our aid in the Chinese revolution, the Chinese helped us in our cause, even at the risk of their lives.

After the reorganization of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army into the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, we formed the party committee of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army within the guerrilla units. That was a fruit of the expansion and development of the first party organization formed in Kalun. Later our independent party organization spread its roots to the Korean National Liberation League, an organization at home of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland, as well as to the peasants’ associations and trade unions.

We were able to found a party within a month of our triumphal return home. This was because we had gained success and experience in the course of the struggle to realize the cause of party building during the protracted anti-Japanese revolution.


5. The Korean Revolutionary Army


The building of a party organization put forward as an important task at the Kalun Meeting was started with the formation of the Society for Rallying Comrades, the first party organization. But we could not rest content with this. Ahead of us lay the difficult task of making rapid preparations for an armed struggle. As the first step by way of preparation for an armed struggle we formed the Korean Revolutionary Army at Guyushu. In founding a temporary political and paramilitary organization such as the Korean Revolutionary Army while planning to form standing revolutionary armed forces within a year or two, our intention was to prepare ourselves for the building of a large guerrilla force through the army’s operations. We intended to lay a mass foundation for an armed struggle and gain the necessary experience for it in the course of the political and military activities of the Korean Revolutionary Army. The fact was, we had little of the knowledge we would need for the armed struggle. Our armed struggle would have to be conducted not in our own land but on the territory of a foreign country, and we needed appropriate experience. But there was no military manual or experience for us to learn from. All we had as resources was some people from the Independence Army, a small number of former cadets of Hwasong Uisuk School and a few pistols. Beyond this we had nothing. We had to secure our own arms and accumulate military experience for ourselves.

We formed the Korean Revolutionary Army as a temporary setup in order to attain this goal. At Guyushu Kim Won U and Ri Jong Rak made preparations for founding the Revolutionary Army initially and then, later, Cha Kwang Su was sent to complete the preparations. Such preparations were promoted extensively in many places. The main aspect of the preparations was to select young people as recruits and obtain arms. As a guideline for gaining people and arms we set good work with the soldiers of the Independence Army and the winning over of sensible people who fell in with progressive ideas. If many ex-soldiers joined the Revolutionary Army, they could form its first teaching staff so that it would be quite possible to train those young people who were novices in military affairs. That was why our comrades did a great deal of work among the Independence Army men under the influence of the Kukmin-bu organization. It was our policy to persuade and win over to our camp the progressive-minded men of the Independence Army and enlist them in the Revolutionary Army when they were fully prepared ideologically.

In this period the Kukmin-bu organization was still divided into two groups—the pro-Kukmin-bu and anti-Kukmin-bu factions—and the struggle for power continued. The pro-Kukmin-bu faction had control over the Korean residents in Manchuria and the anti-Kukmin-bu faction held sway over the Independence Army. This led in the end to an estrangement between the people and the army. In the summer of 1930 the antagonism between the two factions developed into terrorist activity to assassinate the cadres of the other side, and this resulted in a complete rupture between the two forces. This being the situation, not only the rank and file but also the platoon leaders and company commanders looked upon the people of the highest levels with distrust and would not readily obey their orders. They were more willing to listen to our operatives.

Cha Kwang Su conducted his work with the soldiers of the Independence Army in the Tonghua, Huinan and Guanxi areas, and Ri Jong Rak educated his men at Guyushu in preparation for their enlistment in the Revolutionary Army. Ri Jong Rak had originally belonged to the first company of the Independence Army under the control of Jongui-bu at Guyushu before coming to Hwasong Uisuk School, where he joined the Down-with-Imperialism Union. The cadets at the school who came from the first company with Ri Jong Rak included Pak Cha Sok, Pak Kun Won, Pak Pyong Hwa, Ri Sun Ho and many other young men. After the school had closed, Ri Jong Rak returned to his old company at Guyushu and was appointed its deputy commander and then commander. In those days, unlike now, the strength of the army was quite small, so the company counted for a great deal as an armed force. Even the Kukmin-bu machinery, which was regarded as the most powerful of all Korean organizations in Manchuria, had only nine companies under it. Naturally, therefore, a company commander was highly respected among the Independence Army soldiers. At Guyushu Ri Jong Rak enjoyed great prestige.

As Kim Hyok, Cha Kwang Su and Pak So Sim conducted revolutionary activities vigorously under the protection of the Independence Army force controlled by Choe Chang Gol in the Uuhe area in the years 1928-29, so our comrades dispatched to Guyushu worked under the protection of the Independence Army unit commanded by Pi Jong Rak. Ri Jong Rak still had a very strong will and was extremely enthusiastic about the revolution. After Hwasong Uisuk School was closed down, he returned to his old company and acquitted himself well in the assignment I had given him in Huadian to work efficiently with the Independence Army men. He was daring, resolute, quick of judgement and had great ability to command. On the other hand he lacked cool reason and thinking power. He was rash, hot-tempered and self-opinionated. These I think were his chief faults which in later days led him to betray the revolution.

Certain people said that since the Independence Army’s line of command was in disorder and there was great confusion within it, the companies scattered in different areas should be disarmed and the reactionaries of Kukmin-bu purged. They insisted that the mantle of the Independence Army be thrown off and operations conducted openly, arms procured and a showdown be had with the Kukmin-bu organization. We strictly guarded against such a tendency, so as to avoid a Left error being committed in work with the Independence Army.

My uncle Hyong Gwon formed two operational groups and went to the Changbai area. He set up his base of operations on the mountain behind Zhiyangjie and formed branch organizations of the Paeksan Youth League, Peasants Union, Anti-Japanese Women’s Association and Children’s Expeditionary Corps throughout Changbai in order to obtain weapons and awaken the people politically. Young people in the area were drawn into these organizations and given military training. Through the efforts of uncle Hyong Gwon the Independence Army forces in the Changbai region came under our influence.

In parallel with the work of selecting new recruits and creating military reserves, activities to obtain weapons continued at full pace. In the procurement of arms, the greatest feat was performed by Choe Hyo Il. Choe was a salesman in a Japanese guns shop in Tieling. At the time many Japanese dealt in firearms in Manchuria. They sold guns both to bandits and to Chinese landlords. Choe Hyo Il was a young man with only a primary school education, but he was proficient in Japanese. When he spoke it, he was so fluent that nobody could tell if he was a Korean or a Japanese. Because he was too bright for a shop-assistant and because he spoke Japanese so well, the owner of the shop put great trust in him.

The man who won him over to our cause was Jang So Bong. When we were working to establish a base in Kalun, Jang So Bong moved about the areas of Changchun, Tieling and Gongzhuling and, by chance, made the acquaintance of Choe Hyo Il. Having met him several times, he realized that Choe was a faithful and upright man. He drew him into the membership of the Anti-Imperialist Youth League and introduced him to Ri Jong Rak. From that time on Choe Hyo Il conducted activities among our enemies in Tieling. Maintaining contact with Ri Jong Rak, he secretly sold weapons to the companies of the Independence Army. Although the owner of the shop knew that the weapons sold by Choe Hyo Il were going to Koreans, he was so eager to boost his sales that he showed no signs of knowing about it. At first he sold weapons to the Chinese and then to the Independence Army men but, in the end, turned the Japanese shop in Tieling into something of an exclusive shop for supplying and delivering weapons to the communists. In the process of this his world view changed beyond recognition. Every time Ri Jong Rak and Jang So Bong met me, they boasted that they had taken in a fine young man in Tieling. So inwardly I came to entertain great expectations of Choe Hyo Il.

In 1928 or 1929 Choe came to Jilin to see me. I found him handsome, with the fair complexion of a young girl. Nevertheless, despite his looks, he was a heavy drinker. According to the criterion of a revolutionary, this was something of a drawback. We dined together and talked for many hours in a hotel. When he, imitating the insinuating voice of a Japanese “madam,” told me some scandal about the emperor and high-ranking military and political figures of Japan and the five quisling ministers of Korea, I held my sides with laughter. He had a wife of rare beauty and was looked on with envy by others, but he was carefree and quite indifferent to the comforts of home. For all this, he was amazingly bold and strong-willed in the revolutionary struggle, which belied his fair, girlish features. It was on the eve of the Kalun Meeting that he fled to Guyushu with his wife, bringing ten or so firearms along with him from the Japanese shop. He was given a hearty welcome because he had come when we were busy preparing for the formation of a small military and political organization as a temporary step towards building a permanent revolutionary armed force.

We realized through reports made by our comrades that everything was ready for founding the Revolutionary Army. When I arrived in Guyushu I found that the list of names of the men selected for the army and the necessary weapons were all in order and that even the site for the ceremony of founding the army and the names of those attending the ceremony had been decided.

The ceremony of founding the Korean Revolutionary Army took place in the yard of Samgwang School on July 6, 1930. Before distributing the arms I made a brief speech. I made it clear that the Korean Revolutionary Army was a political and paramilitary organization of the Korean communists formed in preparation for launching an anti-Japanese armed struggle and announced that it would serve as the basis for building a permanent revolutionary armed force in the future. The basic mission of the Korean Revolutionary Army was to enlighten and awaken the masses of the people in towns and farm villages and unite them under the banner of anti-Japanese resistance and, at the same time, to gain experiences in the armed struggle and prepare for the formation of fully-fledged armed forces in the future. In the speech I set out the immediate tasks of the army—to build up a backbone to serve as the basis for the formation of anti-Japanese armed units in the future, to lay a mass foundation for the revolutionary army to rely on, and to make full military preparations for starting an armed struggle.

We formed many units under the Korean Revolutionary Army, calling them by number. On my recommendation Ri Jong Rak, who was a veteran of military affairs and had great leadership ability, was appointed commander of the Korean Revolutionary Army.

Some historians confuse the Korean Revolutionary Army created by Kukmin-bu with the military organization of the same name we founded at Guyushu. They have good reason to do so because many of the members of the former were admitted to our Revolutionary Army. The two military organizations had the same name but differed in their guiding idea and mission. The Korean Revolutionary Army produced by the Kukmin-bu setup had no real identity because its name and commanders were changed often due to the continued antagonism and disputes in its practical activities, which was a reflection of its internal conflicts. But our Korean Revolutionary Army was a political, paramilitary organization guided by the communist idea which engaged in both mass political work and military activities.

When we founded the Korean Revolutionary Army, we debated a great deal over its name. Because it was the first armed force organized by the Korean communists, its name should have the flavour of something new, we said and discussed the matter heatedly. Various proposals were made.

I persuaded them to call our armed force the Korean Revolutionary Army, adopting the name of the army of Kukmin-bu. I told them that when forming the Down-with-Imperialism Union we had named it without using words suggestive of communism in order not to irritate the nationalists, and that if the army we were founding should assume the cover of the Korean Revolutionary Army, it would not offend the nationalists and would be convenient for it to operate. The name the Korean Revolutionary Army benefitted our force in many ways in its later activities.

After its formation the Korean Revolutionary Army was organized into many groups and these groups were dispatched to various areas. A few groups were sent into the homeland. When we sent them into Korea, we wanted to lay the mass foundation for an armed struggle and step up the revolutionary struggle at home while at the same time aiming to test the feasibility of an armed struggle in the homeland.

We decided to form an operational group to work in the homeland with Ri Je U, Kong Yong, Pak Jin Yong and others who had been absent at the foundation ceremony of the Korean Revolutionary Army and to assign it the task of forming revolutionary organizations among the broad masses by going to North Phyongan Province by way of Sin-galpha and the Rangnim Mountains. Ri Je U was to lead the group. In 1928 we gave instructions to those who were operating in the areas of Fusong and Naidaoshan to move their operational base to the Changbai area where there were many Koreans. On these instructions Ri Je U moved to the Changbai area where he organized people and conducted activities for the political enlightenment of the masses, going deep into the homeland.

We decided to send into the homeland another operational group headed by my uncle Hyong Gwon and consisting of Choe Hyo Il, Pak Cha Sok and another. The task of this group was to cross the River Amnok at Changbai and advance almost as far as Pyongyang, going via Phungsan, Tanchon and Hamhung. The inclusion of Pak Cha Sok in this group was due to uncle Hyong Gwon’s friendship with him. He had been engaged in underground activities while working as a teacher in the rural areas outside Jilin until the winter of 1928 when he took part in forming revolutionary organizations in the Fusong area together with Kye Yong Chun and Ko Il Bong. At that time Pak Cha Sok became a bosom friend of my uncle. When he heard that my uncle was going into the homeland, Pak insisted on going with him. Understanding his feelings, we readily granted his request. The members of the Korean Revolutionary Army who had left for their appointed areas of activity conducted their operations fearlessly everywhere.

There was a man by the name of Hyon Tae Hong among the members of the Korean Revolutionary Army who were working in the Sipingjie and Gongzhuling areas. He was arrested while working among the masses in Sipingjie and taken to Changchun. At the moment of his arrest he handed over his weapon to his comrade unnoticed. The police tortured him brutally to get him to tell them where he had concealed his weapon. Hyon Tae Hong mentioned the name of a railway station and “confessed” that he had buried it under an aspen tree near the station. He was seeking a chance to escape. Pleased to hear this, the police took him by train to where he said he had buried his pistol. While the train was moving Hyon knocked down the two policemen escorting him with his handcuffs and jumped off the train. Then he crawled on all fours using his elbows and knees and returned to his revolutionary organization in Kalun. His comrades in Kalun released him from the handcuffs by using a file. Even after undergoing this dreadful ordeal, he went to Gongzhuling as soon as he was restored to health and continued to work, only to be caught again, this time by the Japanese police. Gongzhuling was a leased territory wrested from China by the Japanese imperialists, so it was under the jurisdiction of the Japanese. He fought bravely in the court, too. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and was serving his term in the Sodaemun prison in Seoul when he died of the injuries he had suffered at the hands of the brutal Japanese imperialist torturers.

Entering the 1930s, the strength of Ri Je U’s group increased to dozens of men. Through their efforts, successive anti-Japanese organizations came into being in the Changbai area, a school and an evening class were opened in every village, and debating contests, entertainments and athletics meetings took place frequently. This filled the people with revolutionary ardour. But at that time the Japanese imperialists played the trick of sending an armed group of blackguards disguised as mounted bandits to rob a Korean village to lure out Ri Je U and his company. But we had warned them to be wary of mounted bandits, so they did not allow themselves to be caught in the trap. There was only a skirmish in which a few men were wounded, and the incident did not develop into a full-scale battle.

Later the soldiers of a reactionary warlord, in league with the mounted bandits of the Japanese imperialists, launched a surprise attack on the armed men of Ri Je U causing a great damage. Pak Jin Yong died a heroic death during the battle and Ri Je U was taken prisoner. In an attempt to escape the disgrace by killing himself, Ri Je U, though bound hand and foot, thrust a kitchen knife into his throat, but he failed. He was handed over to the Japanese police and escorted to Seoul. There he was sentenced to death and died immediately in prison. Kong Yong was also killed, trying to form a united front with some bogus communists who had been sent there by the Japanese imperialists to lure out and capture the anti-Japanese fighters in Manchuria.

It was immediately after the massive peasants’ uprising in Tanchon that I received word of the tragic fate of Comrades Kong Yong, Ri Je U and Pak Jin Yong. When the messenger told me of the fact, I could not calm myself for a long time. My head fell, above all because I felt I had committed the sin of being seriously undutiful to my father. The three men were all members of the Independence Army my late father had particularly cared for and were pioneers of the change of course from the nationalist movement to the communist. My bitter grief over the tragic fate of Ri Je U, Kong Yong and Pak Jin Yong was partly due to having lost a reliable operational group that was committed to the implementation of the decision of the Kalun Meeting, but mainly it was due to the regrettable loss of pathfinders in the change of course who had been striving to make my father’s will the reality.

At my father’s funeral Kong Yong and Pak Jin Yong had led the pallbearers. They told my mother they would dress in mourning in my place, so that I need not wear a mourning suit. They must have thought it would be a pitiful sight if I, a boy of 14, took to mourning. For three years the two of them remained in mourning, wearing mourner’s hafs made of hemp. At the time the Independence Army training centre was located at Wanlihe a short distance from the town of Fusong. Once or twice every week Kong Yong would come to my home with a load of firewood on his A-frame carrier and pay his respects to my mother. His wife, too, often visited my home bringing with her edible herbs such as aralia shoots and anise. Sometimes, Kong Yong would come with a sack of rice over his shoulder. Their support was a great help to our family. My mother treated them as kindly as she would her own brother and sister, sometimes, even admonishing them sternly for their mistake with the authority of an elder sister. After Kong Yong left for Manchuria to join the independence movement, his wife had lived alone in Pyoktong. Then one year she had come to Fusong, to her husband. On her face was a scar from a burn she had got while cooking noodles at home. As he looked at her scarred face, Kong Yong said sullenly that he would not live with her any longer because her face was so ugly. My mother got angry and scolded him severely, “I say. Are you in your right mind to say that? Your wife has come a long way to see you, and instead of seating her on a cushion of gold for that, you have the outrageous idea of saying that you won’t live with her.” Kong Yong had always been submissive to my mother, and that day he apologized to her with a deep bow.

I first learned through a newspaper report about the activities of the armed group led by my uncle Hyong Gwon that had gone into the homeland. I cannot remember accurately if it was when I was in Harbin or somewhere else that a comrade brought me the newspaper. It said that an armed group of four men had appeared in Phungsan and shot down a police sergeant, before hijacking a car coming from Pukchong and disappearing in the direction of Huchi Pass.

 The comrade who brought me the newspaper was in raptures about the gunshot that had rung out in the homeland, but that gunshot caused me great anxiety. How was it that they had fired shots in Phungsan, which could be called the threshold of the country? I remembered my uncle’s fiery temper. It seemed likely that he had lost control of himself and fired his gun.

From his early childhood he had behaved in a manly fashion and was as stubborn as a mule. In mentioning uncle Hyong Gwon, I recall the episode of a bowl of gruel made from coarsely ground millet. As this happened while I was staying in Mangyongdae, my uncle must have been eleven or twelve years old at the time. Our family used to eat gruel of coarsely ground millet every evening. Needless to say it tasted bad, but the most irritating thing of all was that every time we swallowed it the husks of millet pricked our throats. I hated the gruel. One day my uncle, who was sitting at the table, hit his bowl with his head and overturned it, spilling the hot millet gruel placed before him by his mother, that is, my grandmother. He knocked his head so hard against the bowl that the bowl went flying down to the floor and his forehead began to bleed. He was still young and not fully matured, and was angry to be so poor as to have to eat gruel, so he had vented his grievance on the bowl of coarse gruel. Grandmother gave him a good scolding, saying, “To see you complain about your food, you won’t amount to anything.” But turning round, she wept.

As he grew up, my uncle would bother about the scar on his forehead. When he came to China to live with us, he used to wear quite a long forelock to hide the scar. He came to China when we were living in Linjiang. My father had him stay with us in order to educate him. As he was a teacher, he could see that his brother, while he lived with us, would get through a secondary school course without even attending school. His idea was to bring him up to be a revolutionary. While my father was alive, my uncle grew up reasonably soundly under his influence and control. But after my father’s death, he lost control of himself and began to behave recklessly. His disposition of his younger days when he had hit his head against the bowl of coarse millet gruel revived, to our astonishment. Now that his eldest brother was gone, he could not remain calmly at home but roamed everywhere, including Linjiang, Shenyang (Mukden) and Dalian. He had been betrothed to a girl of his parents’ choosing when he went home. People with an inside knowledge of our family would say that having returned from home he was unsettled because the girl was not to his liking. Indeed, that could have been the reason, but the main reason for his restlessness was that he could not overcome the despair and sorrow he felt over my father’s death.

When I returned home after leaving Hwasong Uisuk School, my uncle was still continuing to live recklessly without coming to his senses, like a drunken man. Life for my family was very difficult; my mother was barely eking out a living from her job of washing and sewing. Ri Kwan Rin had come to my house with some money and rice and was helping my mother in her work. She must have felt sorry to see how hard life was for our family. My uncle should have acted as the head of the family in place of my deceased father. In our household there were things he could have attended to. There was my father’s surgery, where some medicines remained, though not very many, but if it had been run properly, it could have been of some help to us. But my uncle ignored the surgery. Frankly speaking, I was extremely displeased at his behaviour at the time. So one day at home I wrote a long letter to be read by my uncle when I was away. As I was in my secondary school days, and had a strong sense of justice, I could not stand anything that was unfair, no matter if it concerned someone older than me or not. I placed the letter under my uncle’s pillow before leaving for Jilin. My mother, however, thought it quite improper for me to criticize my uncle in that way.

“Although your uncle is now up in the air like a cloud unable to set his mind on anything, he will surely join the right path in due course. Say what you may, he will not lose sight of the main thing. He can be relied upon to return home when he gets tired of roaming. So don’t do anything, not even criticize him. How dare a nephew criticize his uncle?”

Thus my mother admonished me. It was typical of my mother to think that way. But 1 still left the letter for my uncle.

When I returned to Fusong on a holiday after a year at Yuwen Middle School in Jilin, I was surprised to find my uncle Hyong Gwon leading a steady life. My mother’s prediction had been correct. He did not say a word about my letter, but I could surmise that the letter had had a considerable effect on him. In the winter of that year he joined the Paeksan Youth League. After my departure from Fusong he became deeply involved in the work of expanding the youth league. The next year he was admitted to the Young Communist League on the recommendation of his comrades. This was how he became associated with the revolutionary ranks. From 1928 he guided the work of the Paeksan Youth League organizations in the Fusong, Changbai, Linjiang and Antu areas on the instructions of the Young Communist League.

After their neighbours, who had read in the newspapers that in Phungsan there had occurred an incident in which a Japanese police sergeant was shot dead, reported the fact, our family in my home village of Mangy ongdae learned of my uncle’s arrest. Hearing of it, my grandfather said, “Why, just as his eldest brother did, is he also shooting the Japanese to death? Who knows what will come of it in the end? But in any case, it was well done.”

Only after some time had passed did I hear the full story of the activities conducted by the operational group in the homeland at Phungsan. On August 14, 1930, on its way to Tanchon, after crossing the River Amnok, the group stopped for a while in the blueberry fields of Hwangsuwon near Phabal-ri, Phungsan, where they were regarded suspiciously by the wicked police sergeant Opashi (real name Matsuya-ma) who was passing on a bicycle. The fellow was a devil who came to Phungsan in 1919 and had been tormenting the Koreans ever since. So the local people called him by the nickname Opashi (stinging bee—Tr.). The inhabitants of the area harboured a deep-seated grudge against this villain. As the group were passing in front of the police sub-station this Opashi called them into his office. No sooner had he set foot in the house than my uncle fired and killed the scoundrel. Then he made an anti-Japanese speech openly before the people. Dozens of people listened to his speech. Ri In Mo, the war-correspondent of the Korean People’s Army, who is known to the world for never having recanted in spite of many years in prison in south Korea, said that he heard his speech in Phabal-ri.

Although the members of the group had the enemy at their heels, they attempted to approach the areas being swept by the flames of the peasants’ uprising.

We considered the peasants’ uprising in Tanchon to be very important. In the places where the uprising broke out there must, without doubt, have been leaders of the mass movement and a large organized force of politically and ideologically awakened and active revolutionary people. While the enemy was searching frantically for the prime movers in the rebel areas, we were eager to find the central figures from among the insurgent masses such as O Jung Hwa of Wangqing, Kim Jun of Longjing and Jon Jang Won of Onsong. By establishing contact with such core elements and exerting a good influence on them, we could lay the foundation for promoting the revolutionary struggle at home. If we could open the door into the Tanchon area, we could proceed by this route to Songjin, Kilju and Chongjin and, further, advance to Pyongyang by way of Hamming, Hungnam and Wonsan. This was why we had given the operational group at home led by my uncle Hyong Gwon the assignment of meeting the heroes of the peasants’ insurgence in Tanchon.

The armed group which had left Phabal-ri after the shooting captured a motor coach carrying the head of the criminal section of the Phungsan police station at the approach to the valley of Pongo. They disarmed the police officer and then made an anti-Japanese address to him and the other passengers. They proceeded to Munang-ri, Riwon County, and talked to the charcoal burners in the valleys of Paedok and Taebawi and in various other places to enlighten them politically. They worked actively all the time in spite of the difficult conditions. On their way to Pukchong, they divided the armed group into two teams—one with my uncle and Jong Ung and the other with Choe Hyo Il and Pak Cha Sok. They agreed that the two teams would meet in the town of Hongwon before going on their way.

Early in September my uncle and Jong Ung raided the Kwangje Temple on Mt. Taedok, Pukchong County, where an enemy search party was ensconced and then, while moving towards Hongwon and Kyongpho, encountered an enemy squad in the vicinity of the Jolbu Temple. There they shot the head of the Jonjin police sub-station dead. My uncle entered Hongwon that very day and went to the house of Choe Jin Yong which was where they had promised to meet.

Choe Jin Yong had been a member of the Independence Army and a close acquaintance not only of my uncle but also of myself. When he had been the head of the Ansong area control office in Fusong, he had often called at our home. Earlier, when he had been a sub-county chief in Korea, he had embezzled some public money and, when this was brought to light and a scandal ensued, he had absconded to Manchuria where he had placed himself under the orders of the Jongui-bu organization. He had once stayed with us for many months, eating the meals served him by my mother. When the Japanese imperialists showed signs of invading Manchuria, Choe left Fusong on the excuse that he was too old to work for the Independence Army any longer. He left for Hongwon saying that he would buy a small orchard, and spend the rest of his life honestly. As soon as he arrived in Hongwon he became a secret agent of the Japanese imperialists. My uncle did not know this.

Choe hid my uncle in a comer of the yard on the pretext that the enemy was keeping a sharp lookout, and then rushed off to the police station and informed them that the armed gang from Manchuria was staying at his house. When my uncle was taken to the police station, Choe Hyo Il was already there. Needless to say, it was Choe Jin Yong that had informed against Choe Hyo Il, too. Only then did my uncle realize that Choe Jin Yong was a stooge of the Japanese imperialists. The treachery of Choe Jin Yong was a shock, a bolt out of the blue. He used to repeat over and over again, like a chant to Amitabha, that he would never forget, even in his grave, the kindness of Song Ju’s mother who had served him with three hearty, warm meals and a bottle of wine every day for many months. Who could have imagined that this creature would some day turn traitor? When I first heard that Choe Jin Yong had turned informer against my uncle, I could hardly believe my ears. Even now I say that it is good to believe in people but that it is mistaken to harbour illusions about them. Illusions are unscientific things and so, if one harbours illusions, one may commit an irreparable mistake, no matter how perceptive one may be.

Jong Ung was the only one who slipped out of the enemy’s net. He had been taken into the group as a guide by my uncle when leaving for the homeland. Being a native of Riwon, he was familiar with the area on the east coast. But later he, too, was arrested in Chunchon because of a spy.

My uncle was detained in Hongwon police station for a while after his arrest, and then transferred to Hamhung gaol where he was put to mediaeval torture. The news of his litigating action in Hamhung local court reached me through many lips. Having accused the Japanese imperialists of their crimes, he had loudly declared that armed burglars should be fought off with arms, I heard. What force was it that had made him behave so proudly in the court? It was his faith in and devotion to the revolution, I believe. If there was anything my uncle feared more than death, it must have been the betrayal of the faith which makes a man righteous and courageous and enables him to be the most dignified being in the world.

Choe Hyo Il was sentenced to death and my uncle to 15 years imprisonment. My uncle and his comrades-in-arms sang revolutionary songs loudly in the court. After singing they shouted slogans. The members of the operational group appealed to the Seoul court of review in order to continue their struggle for a longer period. The Japanese imperialists, after their bitter experience at the trial in Hamhung, heard the case behind closed doors in Seoul, without an audience. They sustained the decision of Hamhung local court. Choe Hyo Il was hanged shortly after the court ruling. He walked out to the gallows with perfect composure after making his last request to his comrades that they fight on unyieldingly.

My uncle was thrown into Mapho prison in Seoul, a prison intended mainly for long-term prisoners sentenced to more than ten years. He did not cease his struggle in prison, either. When the Japanese ruffians tried to seduce the long-term “political offenders” to abandon their stand, my uncle made a passionate speech against ideological conversion before a crowd of prisoners to stir them up and then waged a dauntless struggle at the head of the prisoners for an improvement in their treatment. I think the facts about his stmggle are already widely known to the public.

Stepping up their war preparations, the Japanese rogues drove the prisoners out to work on making ammunition boxes. The prisoners were forced to do murderous labour on seventh-grade rations. Indignant at this, my uncle led a prisoners’ strike in the prison factory to protest against the jail guards who were forcing them to do the murderous labour, the anniversary of the October Revolution marking its launch. A large number of prisoners participated in this strike. In an attempt to stay the influence of my uncle, the prison authorities locked him up in a dark isolation cell and, not content with this, put irons on his wrists and ankles so that the irons cut into his flesh whenever he made the slightest movement. He was given only one meal a day, and this a ball of rice mixed with soy beans as small as a child’s fist. Since my uncle continued with his struggle in such terrible conditions, the prison authorities whimpered that Kim Hyong Gwon was turning the Mapho prison red. One day, while working in the prison factory, Pak Cha Sok heard that we were actively engaged in an armed struggle throughout Manchuria. He conveyed this news to my uncle. On hearing it, my uncle wept for the first time since being put behind bars and, holding the hands of Pak Cha Sok, said in a faltering voice, as I heard later:

“I think my days are numbered. But you survivors, I pray that you fight on to the last. When you have served your time and get out of here, be sure to go and see my mother in Mangyongdae and tell her about me.... If you meet Song Ju some day, tell him my story and let him know that I fought to the last moment of my life without yielding. This is my last request.”

My uncle was now so weak that he was confined to bed. When he was on the verge of death, the prison authorities sent notice to Mangyongdae permitting us to go and see him. My uncle Hyong Rok got a loan of 40 won and went to Seoul with Pong Ju, a relation, and met his younger brother Hyong Gwon for the last time.

“When we arrived at the prison, a warder took us to the infirmary. I saw all the other sick prisoners sitting up, but our Hyong Gwon who was at death’s door was lying in bed looking like a skeleton. To think how bitter I felt at that time!... Seeing me, he just mumbled, unable to utter a word. He was so ghastly I could hardly believe he was my brother. In spite of that, he smiled at me and said, ‘Elder brother, although I’m going before attaining my aim, the Japanese villains are bound to fall.’ Hearing him say this, I thought it was just like our Hyong Gwon.”

This is what uncle Hyong Rok said to me when I visited my old home after my triumphal return to the homeland. When I heard this, I wept at the thought of uncle Hyong Gwon. And I felt remorse for the criticism I had once levelled at him in a letter.

My uncle Hyong Rok, who had almost fainted at the sight of his brother in such a terrible condition, said to the warder:

“Please allow me to take my brother Hyong Gwon home for treatment.”

“No,” said the warder, “your brother will live in prison if he should live and should die the ghost of a prison if he should die.... You can’t take him home.”

“Then I will take his place in prison. After he has received treatment and recovered, he can come back here.”

“You fool, where is there such a law that permits a man to serve a prison term in the place of another?”

“Why, you make up laws as you please, so why can’t you do this? Grant me my request, I beg you.”

“You rogue, where do you think you are to talk such nonsense? Just as the younger brother is a rogue, so the elder brother is, too. You’re all a bad lot. Get out of here right away!”

The warder shouted at him and turned him out of the prison. At his wit’s end, uncle Hyong Rok put 16 won in the hand of the warder and asked him, “ Please take care of my brother Hyong Gwon.” With this he left for Mangyongdae. Doubtless such a small amount of money had no effect on the prison guard, but that was all he had.

After returning from the prison, my uncle could not sleep for a month. When he closed his eyes, the vision of his brother rose before him and he could not bring himself to sleep. Three months later, uncle Hyong Gwon died in prison. It was early in 1936 and I was on the way to the Nanhutou area with the guerrilla unit, having returned from the second expeditionary campaign to north Manchuria. My uncle was 31 years old when he died.

So, by then gone were my father, my mother, my younger brother and now even my uncle. So all my family who had gone through unspeakable hardships and privations for the sake of the revolution were no more. When I received word in the mountains that my uncle had passed away, I made up my mind that I would not die but by all means survive to avenge the death of my uncle who was lying alone on a nameless hill in the homeland with his grief over the nation’s ruin unassuaged, and would win back my country, come what may. I have already mentioned the painful fact that when the notice of his death came, our family at Mangyongdae could not go and recover his body because they could not afford the travel expenses, and that therefore, his body was buried in the cemetery of the Mapho prison.

Just before he breathed his last, uncle Hyong Gwon told the other inmates of a fact he had been keeping secret:

Kim Il Sung is my nephew. He is now leading a large revolutionary force in Manchuria, thrashing the Japanese swines. It will not be long before his army storms into the country. Wait in arms to greet them. Only when we fight can we expel the Japanese ruffians and liberate the country!”

Whenever I think of my uncle Hyong Gwon, I see before my eyes my innumerable comrades-in-arms who laid down their young lives without hesitation on the road to the implementation of the decision of the Kalun Meeting. Uncle Hyong Gwon had a daughter called Yong Sil. After liberation she attended the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School. I thought I would bring her up with all care to succeed her father. But his only child was killed during a bombing raid during the war.

The feats performed by the members of the Korean Revolutionary Army who had opened up the path ahead of our revolution were truly great and noble. It was by drawing on the experiences and lessons of their heroic struggle and at the cost of the precious blood shed by them that the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army came into the world as a permanent revolutionary armed force.


6. Revolutionary Poet Kim Hyok


A revolution begins with the recruiting of comrades. For a capitalist money is capital; for a revolutionary the people are the source of his strength. A capitalist builds up a fortune in money, whereas a revolutionary changes and transforms the society by drawing on the efforts of his comrades.

When young, I had many comrades. Some of them I had become friendly with in my everyday life, and some had come to share the same idea as me in the course of our struggle. Each of them was worth his weight in gold.

Kim Hyok, who nowadays is known as a revolutionary poet, was a comrade of mine. He made a lasting impression on me in my youth. It is more than half a century since his death, but I still remember him.

One day, as I was talking with my teacher Shang Yue in the corridor after a Chinese lesson, Kwon Thae Sok hurried up to me and told me that I had a visitor. He said that the stranger was standing with a spectacled man named Cha Kwang Su at the front gate.

I found a young man with a girlish, handsome face, standing, a trunk in his hand, at the gate with Cha Kwang Su, waiting for me. It was the young man, Kim Hyok, whom Cha Kwang Su had been extolling as a talent whenever he had the opportunity. Before Cha Kwang Su had time to introduce him to me, he introduced himself, saying, “I am Kim Hyok,” and held out his hand for a handshake.

I gripped his hand and introduced myself. I felt a special attraction towards Kim Hyok not only because his name was already familiar to me, thanks to Cha Kwang Su’s enthusiastic “advertisement,” but also because his face resembled that of Kim Won U.

“Will you take Kim Hyok to the hostel and wait for me there for an hour? I could excuse myself from an ordinary lecture, but the next lesson happens to be a literature lesson given by Shang Yue,” I said to Cha Kwang Su, after apologizing to Kim Hyok.

“Oh! Everyone is fascinated by his literature lessons. You are set on becoming a man of literature like Kim Hyok, aren’t you?” Cha Kwang Su said, jokingly, pushing back his spectacles.

“There’s no reason why I shouldn’t. The revolution seems to require a knowledge of literature, doesn’t it, Kim Hyok?”

“It is only now and here in Jilin that I hear what sounds sweet to my ear!” Kim Hyok exclaimed. “It is impossible to talk about a revolution apart from literature. The revolution is the object and source of literature. If the literature teacher is so popular I, too, want to see him.”

“I will introduce you to him later.” With this promise, I went to my class.

When I went out to the gate after the lesson, the two were still there waiting for me, talking about something like variable and invariable capital. I was caught up in the enthusiasm emanating from their voices. Remembering that Cha Kwang Su had told me that Kim Hyok was a born enthusiast, I was secretly glad to have gained a fine comrade.

“I told you to wait at the hostel, so why are you still standing here?”

“Why should we crawl about in a room like cockroaches on this fine day?” Kim Hyok remarked, looking up at the glorious sky, with one eye half-closed. “I would rather walk from here through the streets of Jilin all day, talking.”

“There is a saying that it takes a full stomach to appreciate even the best of scenery. So let’s have lunch and then go wherever you like, to Beishan or Jiangnan Park. It would be very impolite not to buy a lunch for a man who has come all the way from Shanghai to see us, wouldn’t it?”

“Seeing you. Comrade Song Ju, in Jilin, I think I wouldn’t feel hungry even if I missed several meals.”

Kim Hyok was a man of passion, a liberal in action and words.

As luck would have it, I had no money in my pocket at the time. So I took them to the Sanfeng Hotel where I would be welcomed free of charge. The people there were not only kind-hearted, but also good at cooking noodles. I explained to the hostess that I was in financial difficulties, and she served us six bowls of noodles, two for each of us.

Kim Hyok stayed with me in my room for three days, and we talked every night. On the fourth day he left for Xinantun, where Cha Kwang Su was working, in order to acquaint himself with the situation in the rest of Jilin.

At my first meeting with him I realized that he was a man of great passion. While Cha Kwang Su was boisterous, Kim Hyok was fiery. Usually he was calm and quiet but, once excited, he boiled like a blast furnace, and was extremely vehement. He had travelled the three Far Eastern countries living through weal and woe just as Cha Kwang Su had done. Though an adventurer, he was upright. Through the conversations we had I found him to be widely informed and a great theoretician. In particular, he had a profound knowledge of literature and the arts.

We talked a great deal about the mission of literature and the arts. He emphasized that literature and the arts must deal with man. After a period of gaining experience of affairs in Jilin, his views developed; he said that literature and the arts must sing the praises of the revolution. His outlook on literature was revolutionary. In consideration of his abilities, we gave him the assignment of dealing with mass cultural enlightenment for a while. Thus he gave frequent guidance to the activities of the art propaganda troupe.

Because he was good at poetry, we nicknamed him Eugene Pottier9. Some of us called him Heine. He himself spoke more highly of Heine and Eugene Pettier than any other poets. He liked Ri Sang Hwa10 best of all the Korean poets.

On the whole he liked impassioned revolutionary poems. Strangely enough, however, he liked the lyrically descriptive novels of Ra To Hyang11 better than the strongly assertive works of Choe So Hae12. His conflicting literary tastes led us to reflect on how strange the laws of nature were. Around us there were many instances of the harmonious combination of contrasting things. Cha Kwang Su likened them to the “harmony of positive and negative.” He said that Kim Hyok was a literary individual produced from such a harmony.

In spite of the pressure of the difficult and complex work for the revolution, Kim Hyok found time to write excellent poems. The girl students who belonged to our revolutionary organization used to jot down his poems in their pocketbooks and recite them fondly.

Kim Hyok did not struggle with his poetic expressions on paper, writing and re-writing them, but polished them from the first line to the last in his head until he decided that they were perfect. Then he would bang on the desk with his fist and write the poem down on paper. Our comrades, who knew that when he banged his fist on the desk he would produce a poem, were delighted at this, exclaiming that he had laid another “egg.” We all rejoiced over each of his new poems.

Kim Hyok had a beautiful girlfriend named Sung So Ok, who belonged to the Young Communist League. She was of slender build, but daring and ready to stand on the gallows if it was in the cause of justice. She was faithful to the Young Communist League. During the mass struggle in autumn that year against the construction of the Jilin-Hoeryong railway, I heard a speech she made in the street and found her to be extremely articulate. She loved to chant Kim Hyok’s poems, carrying them in her pocketbook. She was good at chanting poems, singing and making speeches, and she always went about in a white jacket and dark skirt, whatever the season, so almost every young man in the town of Jilin knew of her.

Kim Hyok, who always approached life with warm feelings and fused it into his poetry, was also ardent in his love for his girlfriend. Young communists loved the other sex while they worked for the revolution. Some people say that communists are devoid of human feelings and know neither life nor love that is worthy of human beings. But such people are totally ignorant of what communists are like. Many of us loved while fighting for the revolution and made our homes in the rain of fire. In holiday seasons we used to send Kim Hyok and Sung So Ok together to Guyushu, giving them a few assignments to work among the masses. Guyushu was the girl’s home town. In their leisure hours after working among the masses, they would go for walks in the thick willow woods on the River Yitong, or they would go fishing. When Kim Hyok went fishing, his girlfriend would bait his hook or pick the fish off the hook. In Beishan Park and on the River Songhua where the scenery was beautiful and on the River Yitong, their love deepened as the revolution advanced.

For some unknown reason, however, the girl’s father Sung Chun Hak did not seem to be pleased with the affair. He was the founder and headmaster of Changsin School, the predecessor of Samgwang School. Having travelled and studied in the Maritime Province of Siberia, he had had some taste of modern civilization, and as such he was a particularly enlightened man. He had been the first to express his understanding of and active support for our work when, in Guyushu, we were reforming Changsin School into Samgwang School and the nationalist mass organizations into communist, revolutionary organizations. Because such a man was against their love, Kim Hyok, though normally bold, could not help feeling embarrassed.

The girl’s mother, who regarded Kim Hyok as an ideal match for her daughter, connived at their association and often spoke to her husband in favour of their love. After a long period of close observation of the personality of Kim Hyok, the girl’s father, too, recognized him as a stalwart revolutionary and approved their engagement. On the day of their engagement, Kim Hyok and Sung So Ok had a photograph taken together; the girl’s family had a camera.

At the news of Kim Hyok’s death, the desperate girl tried to drown herself in the River Yitong. Some of our comrades dragged her out of the river and managed to calm her. Later the girl continued to work faithfully for the revolution. She married Choe Il Chon, the author of A Short History of the Korean Revolutionary Movement Overseas, after the death of his wife. She considered it ideal to be the life companion of a man who was as revolutionary as Kim Hyok, even though it meant raising stepchildren.

Kim Hyok’s fiery character was expressed in practice in his loyalty to the revolution. As a revolutionary, he had a high sense of responsibility and loyalty. He was older than me by five years and had studied in Japan, but he never revealed any sign of such things. He always accepted sincerely the assignments we gave him. That was why I treasured him and loved him particularly.

From the summer of 1928 Kim Hyok, together with Cha Kwang Su, worked in Liuhe County. Around this time, under their guidance the social science institute (special class) was set up at Tongsong School in Gaoshanzi and a branch of the Anti-Imperialist Youth League was formed, Kim Hyok taught the history of human evolution, the political geography of the world, literature and music. He was very popular among the students and young people of Gaoshanzi.

Around the time when I was in east Manchuria after my release, Kim Hyok was travelling between Guyushu and Jilin to carry out the assignments given him by the organization. When I went to Dunhua, I gave him the written assignment of preparing to issue a new publication, while guiding the revolutionary organizations in Jiangdong, Jilin and Xinantun.

A while later, on my way to Kalun from Dunhua where I had been working, I dropped in on Kim Hyok and found that he was carrying out the assignment well. When I told him about the plan I had conceived while in prison and about the work that should be done at Kalun, he became excited and said that he would go at once with me to Kalun. I told him to follow me later after carrying out his assignment. He was very sorry to hear that, but he remained in Xinantun and accelerated the preparation of a new publication; then he came to Kalun.

After the meeting at Kalun we stepped up the preparation of a new publication in real earnest. Now that establishing a new revolutionary line had become the order of the day, and now that the first Party organization with a mission to mobilize the masses for its implementation had been formed, the issuing of a publication to play the role of the Party organization’s ideological mouthpiece had become a most pressing task.

With a clear understanding of this need, Kim Hyok, even after his arrival in Kalun, worked day and night preparing the manuscripts for the publication. The publication was called Bolshevik at his suggestion. We planned to publish Bolshevik in bulletin form for the purpose of equipping the masses with the revolutionary idea and then, after making full material preparations, to enlarge it into a newspaper and increase its circulation. On July 10, 1930 the inaugural issue of Bolshevik was finally published. It was circulated to the branch organizations of the Young Communist League and the Anti-Imperialist Youth League, many other anti-Japanese revolutionary organizations and to groups of the Korean Revolutionary Army, as well as to schools under our control to be used as teaching material. An explanation of my report at Kalun was also carried in the bulletin. Bolshevik played an extremely important role in giving publicity to the policy adopted at the Kalun Meeting. After a while the monthly bulletin became a weekly newspaper to meet the requirements of the readers and the developing revolutionary situation.

As the first editor of Bolshevik, Kim Hyok, before he left Kalun, stayed up almost every night, writing articles for publication. He was fired with enthusiasm and had hardly any rest. He went to Harbin at the head of a group of the Korean Revolutionary Army early in August 1930. Having worked mainly in Jilin, Changchun, Liuhe, Xingjing, Huaide and Yitong, he was nearly a stranger to Harbin. I myself hardly knew about the situation in this city, either.

While we were in Jilin, we realized the importance of Harbin. The city had a large industrial population. In order to go among the working class, it was necessary to venture into large cities like Changchun and Harbin and develop our strength there. As was demonstrated by the struggle against the construction of the Jilin-Hoeryong railway and the struggle against the treacherous anti-Soviet acts of the warlords in attacking the Zhongdong railway, the workers, students and other young people of that city had a strong revolutionary spirit. If proper organizational lines were laid in such a city, many people could be organized.

We considered Harbin important also because the liaison office of the Comintern was in the city. The Young Communist League organization under the Comintern was also in that city, and it maintained relations with the Young Communist League which I had formed at Yuwen Middle School in Jilin. In order to contact the Comintern, it was imperative to establish a channel in this city for free access to it.

The main purpose of sending Kim Hyok to Harbin was to enlarge our revolutionary organization in that city and establish a liaison with the Comintern. I still remember Kim Hyok who, unable to hide his excitement, cheerfully accepted that task we gave him. It was Kim Kwang Ryol (Kim Ryol) who wrote a letter of introduction for him to the Comintern.

When bidding me farewell, Kim Hyok held my hand in his for a long time. Though he used to accept and carry out instantly any task we gave him, regardless of its importance, he was always reluctant to part with us when going on a mission on his own. He liked to work with many comrades. He hated loneliness more than anything else.

Once I said to him that it was a good idea for a poet to experience solitude frequently as a part of his literary endeavours, and asked him why he was afraid of being alone. He answered frankly that, when he had wandered in indignation, solitude had been a good companion, but now that he no longer did so, he did not like it. He said that after a few months of solitude in Jiangdong he found it interesting to work among his friends in Kalun, sitting up all night, and he was sorry to be parting from us.

I gripped his hand and said, as if coaxing a child, “Kim Hyok, we have to part with each other because we are working for the revolution. When you are back from Harbin, let us go to east Manchuria and work there together.” Kim Hyok smiled a lonely smile.

“Song Ju, don’t worry about matters in Harbin. I will carry out the task given me by the organization at all costs and come back to you comrades. When you go to east Manchuria, please make sure that I am the first you call.”

That was the last time I bid him farewell. After parting with him, I myself felt lonely.

It was towards the end of 1927 that our line began to stretch into Harbin. At that time several students who had been working their way through Jilin Middle School No. 1 had a battle with the teacher of history, a reactionary, who had insulted the Korean nation. They left the school and ran away to Harbin. Among them were some members of the Ryugil Association of Korean Students which was under our guidance.

We gave them the assignment of forming an organization in Harbin. They organized the Korean Students Friendship Society and a reading circle, centred on the Korean students at the Harbin Academy, Harbin Higher Technical School and Harbin Medical College. With the hardcore elements of these organizations the Harbin branch of the Anti-Imperialist Youth League was formed in the autumn of 1928, and then the Harbin branch of the Young Communist League of Korea early in 1930. In every holiday season we sent Han Yong Ae on a mission to guide the organizations in Harbin. It was thanks to these organizations that the students and young people of Harbin waged a massive struggle in response to the campaign against the construction of the Jilin-Hoery-ong railway.

There were many stalwart young people in the revolutionary organizations in Harbin. Comrade So Chol, now a member of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee, was working in the Harbin branch of the Young Communist League at the time.

When the group of the Korean Revolutionary Army under the command of Kim Hyok arrived in Harbin, the atmosphere in the city was dreadful. Even such legitimate organizations as the students’ friendship society and the reading circle had been forced underground. The Young Communist League and other underground organizations had to remain very secretive. Kim Hyok discussed with the comrades in the city how to protect the organizations and their members. At his suggestion all the revolutionary organizations in the city were divided into small groups and sent deep underground.

Together with the members of the armed group, Kim Hyok went deep among the dockers, students and other people of different strata and worked hard to explain to them the policy that had been adopted at the Kalun Meeting. On the strength of his organizational skill and audacity, he educated the young people, enlarged the organizations, made preparations for the formation at grassroots level of party organizations and pressed on with the procurement of weapons. He also established contact with the liaison office of the Comintern, despite the enemy’s strict surveillance.

Kim Hyok rendered distinguished service in improving work in Harbin. In charge of one district, he worked hard, moving in all directions. But at a secret rendezvous in Daoli in the city he encountered the enemy who surprised him and fell upon him. Having exchanged fire with the enemy, he jumped from the third floor of the building he was in, resolved to die. But his iron-like physique betrayed his resolve. Having failed in his suicide attempt, he was captured by the enemy and taken to Lushun prison. After suffering cruel torture and persecution he died in prison.

Kim Hyok, along with Paek Sin Han, was a prominent young man from the first revolutionary generation who gave his life and youth for the sake of the country and nation. The death of the talented Kim Hyok at a time when a comrade in the revolution was worth his weight in gold was a heart-rending loss to our revolution. At the news of his capture I spent many sleepless nights. Later, when I went to Harbin, grief-stricken, I walked the streets and the dock where Kim Hyok had trodden, and quietly I sang a song he had composed.

Kim Hyok, like Cha Kwang Su and Pak Hun, had joined hands with us after wandering foreign lands far away from his homeland in pursuit of the path Korea should follow. Cha Kwang Su had written to him about us when he was wasting his life sighing, eating another’s salt at a lodging house in the French concession in Shanghai. “Don’t waste your valuable life in Shanghai. Come to Jilin and here you will find the leader, the theory and the movement you are seeking. Jilin is an ideal place for you!...” Cha Kwang Su had written to him not once, but three or four times. That was how he had come to us. Having inspected the city of Jilin over several days after making our acquaintance, Kim Hyok had said, as he gripped my hand, “Song Ju, I will drop my anchor here. My life starts from now.”

It was when they were studying in Tokyo, Japan, that Cha Kwang Su and Kim Hyok had become bosom friends. I still remember Kim Hyok leading the song Internationale and shedding tears when we were forming the Young Communist League.

That day Kim Hyok took me by the hand and said in the following vein: Once I took part in a demonstration with some Chinese students in Shanghai. When I saw them marching the streets, shouting anti-Japanese slogans, I became excited and jumped into the ranks of the demonstrators. When the demonstration was frustrated, I returned to my lodging, wondering what was to be done next, what was to be done the following day. As I belonged to no political party or organization, there was nobody to tell me where to gather or what to do the next day, or to tell me how to fight. While demonstrating I thought how good it would be if there was somebody who would shout “Forward!” to me when I was discouraged during the demonstration, how encouraging it would be if I had an organization and a leader to tell me what I should do the following day as I was going home after the demonstration, how happy I would be if I had comrades who, if I was shot and fell, would call “Kim Hyok!” “Kim Hyok!” as they wept over me, and how good it would be if they were Koreans in a Korean organization. I was haunted by these thoughts even when I was marching towards the enemy’s guns, but here in Jilin, how fortunate I am to meet such fine comrades! I can hardly express my feeling of pride now that I have become a member of the Young Communist League! He spoke his mind without affectation. He always said that it was the greatest happiness in his life that he had found good comrades. Because of the life he had led, he composed the Star of Korea and disseminated it among the revolutionary organizations.

At first I knew nothing about it. On my visit to Xinantun I found some young people there singing the song.

Kim Hyok had discussed the matter with Cha Kwang Su and Choe Chang Gol without my knowledge and spread the song in Jilin and in the surrounding area. At first I rebuked them severely for singing a song which compared me to a star.

Around the time the song Star of Korea was being spread, my comrades changed my name and began to call me Han Byol. They changed my name despite my protests and called me Han Byol, meaning “One Star.”

It was Pyon Tae U and other public-minded people in Wujiazi and such young communists as Choe Il Chon who proposed to change my name into Kim Il Sung. Thus I was called by three names. Song Ju, Han Byol and Il Sung.

Kim Song Ju is the name my father gave me. When I was a child I was called Jung Son. My great-grandmother called me Jung Son, and the rest of my family followed suit.

As I was very fond of the name my father gave me, I did not like to be called by another name. Still less did I tolerate the people extolling me by comparing me to a star or the sun; it did not befit me, young man. But my comrades would not listen to me, no matter how sternly I rebuked them for it or argued against it. They were fond of calling me Kim Il Sung, although they knew that I did not like it.

It was in the spring of 1931 when I spent some three weeks in prison, having been arrested by the warlords in Guyushu, that the name Kim Il Sung appeared in the press for the first time. Until that time most of my acquaintances had called me by my real name, Song Ju.

It was in later years when I started the armed struggle in east Manchuria that I was called by one name, Kim Il Sung, by my comrades. These comrades upheld me as their leader, even giving me a new name and singing a song about me. Thus they expressed their innermost feelings.

They upheld me with such enthusiasm in spite of the fact that I was much younger than they were and my record of struggle was short, because they had learned a serious lesson from the movement of the previous generation in which various parties and factions, behaving as if they alone were heroes, and without a centre of unity and solidarity, ruined the revolutionary movement through factional strife, and because they had felt to the marrow of their bones that in order to win back the country the twenty million Korean people must unite, and that in order to unite in mind and purpose they must have a centre of leadership, a centre of unity.

So it is with a strong feeling of affection that I remember Kim Hyok, Cha Kwang Su and Choe Chang Gol, not because they composed a song about me and upheld me as their leader, but because they were forerunners who ushered in an era of true unity, the pride and glory of our people and the genuine source of their unfathomable strength, the unity which our nation had been unable to achieve in spite of their burning desire for it, and also because these forerunners, at the cost of their blood, created a new history of unity and cohesion in which the leader and the masses were fused into a harmonious whole in the communist movement of our country.

The communists of the new generation, my comrades in the revolution, had never feuded because they knew no lust for position, and they never broke our unity, our lifeblood, on account of any difference in opinion. In our ranks unity and cohesion were the touchstone by which we judged genuine revolutionaries. Therefore, they safeguarded unity even when they were in prison or on the gallows. They handed it down as a treasure to the communists of the next generation.

That was their first historic achievement. The noble and beautiful spirit of the communists of that generation who upheld their leader and united behind him has become a great tradition of unity which is now called single-hearted unity by our Party.

From the days when the young communists, upholding their leader and united behind him in mind and purpose, developed the revolutionary struggle, the national liberation struggle in Korea put an end to factional strife and confusion, and began a new chapter.

More than half a century has passed since Kim Hyok left us. But the image of Kim Hyok who worked through many a night and made his way through the biting wind in Manchuria, enduring hunger and frostbite, is still vivid in my memory.

If he were alive by our side, he could do a lot of work. Whenever I find myself facing a trial or a crisis on the path of our revolution, I think of Kim Hyok, our close comrade who made his youth glorious through his struggle, fired with love for the country, and I grieve over him, who left us so early.

We have set up a bust of Kim Hyok in the front row of the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery on Mt. Taesong in order to convey his image to posterity for ever. Because he left no photograph and because all his contemporaries passed away, no one knew what he looked like. The sculptors had difficulty in making a bust of him, so I described him to them so that they could complete the bust.


7. The Summer of 1930


Before and after August 1, 1930, international peace day, the factionalists of the M-L group again caused a reckless revolt in the areas along the Jilin-Dunhua railway, having failed to learn a lesson from the failure of the May 30 Uprising.

The revolt placed a serious difficulty in the path of our revolution. A few organizations which had gone deep underground after the May 30 Uprising were exposed to the enemy. The organizations which we had gone to such pains to restore by touring different places after our release from prison were again dealt a blow and destroyed. Fine leading-core elements in different parts of Manchuria were arrested en masse and executed. The enemy also got another good excuse for slandering communism and suppressing the communist movement. No particular explanation is necessary as to what a great help the revolt was to the racial alienation policy of the Japanese imperialists. Because of the two revolts the Koreans completely lost credit with the Chinese people. It was only later, through the guerrilla war, that we were able to restore our credit.

The Koreans in east Manchuria gradually began to be awakened to the danger of Left adventurism through the August 1 Uprising and to look on the factionalists and flunkeyists who had driven the masses into such a reckless uprising with disfavour and alarm.

We immediately dispatched political workers to the areas swept by the revolt in order to prevent the revolutionary masses from again being duped by the factionalists’ propaganda.

I decided to go to Dunhua via Jilin and spend a short time restoring the organizations there.

In Jilin I found the atmosphere to be as terrible as it had been immediately after the May 30 Uprising.

Several times a day I went in disguise to visit those who had been involved in the organization, Jilin station, the city gates and the crossroads were all enemy checkpoints. The secret agents of the Japanese consulate wandered the streets searching for Korean revolutionaries. Because the nationalist movement was on a decline the enemy placed cordons in various places to arrest the young people engaged in the communist movement rather than chasing the heads of the Independence Army as they had done at the time of the An Chang Ho incident.

I was angry at the thought that it was difficult to see familiar faces in the streets of Jilin which had previously been astir with the struggle against the Jilin-Hoeryong railway project.

When parting from me, my comrades had advised me not to stay for long in Jilin and to hurry to Hailong, Qingyuan or somewhere else. Nevertheless, it was not easy for me to leave Jilin. When I thought that I had worked hard day and night to clear a new way for the revolution there for three years, it was not easy for me to turn towards another place. If I had not taken such pains to make the revolution, even being imprisoned, I might not have felt so much affection for the city. A man naturally likes a place where he has worked heart and soul.

Fortunately I met a comrade who had been engaged in the work of the Young Communist League and he told me the whereabouts of several organization members. I gathered them together and told them not to expose any more organization members and, for the time being, bring underground such legitimate organizations as the Association of Korean Children in Jilin and the Ryugil Association of Korean Students in Jilin.

 I discussed with them measures for implementing the line of the Kalun Meeting. I gave the most reliable comrades the assignment of restoring the revolutionary organizations, and I sent them to the areas assigned to them.

I decided to leave Jilin. I had too much work to do. While I was handling affairs in Jilin, I ardently desired to go to east Manchuria and restore the wrecked organizations there.

I decided to go to Qingyuan or Hailong and take refuge at the houses of some Chinese comrades for the time being and then eliminate the aftereffects of the revolt by touring the areas that had been seriously ravaged by the enemy. If I were to go to Hailong and Qingyuan I would be able to establish contact with Choe Chang Gol whom I had not met since the Kalun Meeting and, together with him, explore the route to south Manchuria. The area around Liuhe was where Choe Chang Gol was conducting his activities.

Choe Chang Gol had formed some basic party organizations and was extending the YCLK, AIYL and other mass organizations, touring the Liuhe, Hailong and Qingyuan areas. The revolutionary movement in these areas was suffering greatly from the antagonism between the pro-Kukmin-bu group and the anti-Kukmin-bu group. With the influence of the August 1 Uprising reaching these areas at this time, revolutionary organizations were being destroyed en masse.

Between Hailong and Qingyuan lived a schoolmate of mine from my Jilin days. He was a Chinese comrade who served in our unit in the early years of the guerrilla war and returned home after the expedition to south Manchuria. I thought that if I stayed at his house for a while the white terrorist outrages would lessen and I would survive the most dangerous period.

The day I left Jilin, several female comrades saw me off at the station. They were finely dressed, like the daughters of a rich family, so I boarded the train without causing suspicion. The warlords did not think that gentlemen could possibly be involved in the communist movement. I caught my train at a station in the suburbs which was loosely guarded by the enemy instead of at Jilin station. On the train I unexpectedly met Zhang Wei-hua.

He said, “I am going to Shenyang to study. I went to Jilin to see you and talk with you about a path for the revolution, but the city was empty. My Korean friends had all hidden themselves and only soldiers, police and cat’s paws of the Japanese could be seen. I went there to see you but I could not. Having no friends, I am going to Shenyang.” In spite of my protests, he took me to a first-class carriage. He seemed to have guessed that I was concealing my identity to avoid the terrorist outrages.

That day the police examined the passengers particularly closely. Shutting all the carriage doors, they checked the identity of each passenger as he boarded the train and even examined the belongings of some passengers. The ticket inspectors, too, were unusually careful in checking the tickets of the passengers. The aftermath of the August 1 Uprising had reached not only the cities and rural communities but also the trains. The police rudely examined the passengers but did not dare to approach Zhang Wei-hua who was wearing a good-quality Chinese robe. Because I was sitting beside him, I was not examined by the police either. The ticket inspector passed us by, without asking us to show our tickets. It was because of Zhang Wei-hua, and thanks to him I arrived safely at Hailong station.

I had papers and secret documents about me. If the police had searched me, I would have been in danger.

When I arrived at Hailong station, I saw an imposing array of policemen from the Japanese consulate standing on the platform and by the ticket gate. I sensed danger.

I became nervous when I saw that the police at the station were Japanese. Chinese police and Japanese police were all alike, but if one was caught by the Japanese police, one could expect no mercy. When they arrested Korean revolutionaries in Manchuria, they escorted them to Korea or tried them at the court of the Guandong government-general and sent them to prison in Lushun, Dalian or Jilin.

As I gazed steadily out of the window, at a loss what to do, Zhang Wei-hua invited me to go with him if I had no particularly urgent matter to attend to. He suggested that I meet his father and talk with him about his future.

According to my initial plan I was to leave the train at Caoshi station and continue to my destination. I should have gone through five or six stations more to reach Caoshi station. If Zhang Wei-hua alighted from the train at Hailong station, there would be no one to protect me and I might be in danger.

So I decided to accept his invitation.

Zhang Wei-hua’s father was waiting for him at the station. On hearing that his son was coming to Hailong, he had come to meet him on his way back from Yingkou where he had been selling insam (ginseng), he said. A group of privately employed soldiers with Mausers in wooden cases stuck through their belts brought a luxury carriage for us to ride in. Their appearance was imposing. Awe-struck, the police from the consulate did not dare to approach us.

We rode proudly in the luxury carriage along the street in front of the station, escorted by the personal bodyguard. That day Zhang Wei-hua and I stayed at a luxury hotel where we rested well.

Zhang Wei-hua posted sentries of his personal bodyguard. They threw a two and three-deep cordon around the hotel.

His father said that he was glad to meet me again after such a long interval. He conducted me to a luxury room and treated me to a good meal. Whenever he had met me since the Fusong days he had treated me kindly. When his guests asked who I was he, by way of a joke, introduced me as his adopted son.

At first he called me his adopted son as a joke, but later came to call me so in earnest.

I had been on good terms with Zhang Wei-hua since we lived in Fusong, in the full knowledge that he was a rich man’s son. As a child I had the conception that landlords were exploiters, but this was no hindrance to my relations with Zhang Wei-hua. I was on close terms with him, since he was honest, conscientious and had a strong anti-Japanese feeling. He had helped me at a critical moment, at which I was greatly moved. If, as I would normally have done, I had given him a wide berth on the plea that he was a landlord’s son, he would not have protected me in the critical situation.

Zhang Wei-hua, who could have lived in luxury all his life without taking part in the revolution or supporting it, helped me out of danger together with his father. He did so because he valued our friendship.

Ever since I attended primary school in Fusong, Zhang Wei-hua had been on close terms with me, ignoring the fact that he was rich and I poor and that he was Chinese and I Korean. He showed a deep understanding for the sorrow of our people who were deprived of their country, sympathized with us and wholeheartedly supported our determination to liberate our country. He did so because he was a patriot who ardently loved his country and his nation. He saw the misfortune of the Chinese people in the misfortune of the Korean people.

Though he was a rich man, Zhang Wei-hua’s father was a firm patriot who advocated national sovereignty and driving out the foreign forces. His patriotic spirit is reflected in the names of his sons. When his eldest son was bom, he named him Wei-zhong. The second character of his name was derived from the first character of “Zhong Hua Min Guo” (Republic of China). He named his second son Wei-hua, his third son Wei-min and would have named a fourth son Wei-guo, if one had been born. If these characters were added together, they made up the name of the Republic of China.

Then Zhang Wei-hua asked, “In spring or autumn next year the Japanese are likely to invade. What are you going to do then?”

“If the Japanese invade, I am going to fight to repulse them. My idea is to wage an armed struggle,” I said.

Zhang Wei-hua said that he, too, would fight, and wondered whether his parents would allow him to do so.

So I said, “What is a home without a country? If you want to fight against the old society, you should make a revolution. There is no other way. Otherwise, what is there to do except merely talk about communism as a public-spirited man and read books? These are the only two ways. So, you should carry out the revolution without asking your parents. This is the way to serve China and save the Chinese people. There is no other way for you. You should make the revolution with the Chinese people. If the Japanese invade, both the Chinese and the Korean people will rise in the struggle.”

Thus I implanted the anti-Japanese idea in his mind while I stayed at the hotel for two or three days. Having heard my advice he said that he, too, would make the revolution after leaving school.

I said to him, “When I am in trouble, I might need your help again. Please give me your address in Shenyang.” After he had given me his address I asked him whether he could help me to reach my destination safely.

He said he would do anything to help and protect me. With this he took me in his carriage to the house of a Chinese comrade on the border between Hailong County and Qingyuan County.

The family of the man I called on was rich like Zhang Wei-hua’s. Among the pioneers of the Chinese revolution there were many such people. That is why I always consider the Chinese revolution to be a special one. Many intellectuals and rich people, together with the workers and peasants, took part in the revolutionary movement, the communist movement.

When people from rich families discover contradictions that suppress a man’s independence and check social development, they may be ready to take part in the revolutionary movement to do away with those contradictions. That is why fighters and pioneers defending the interests of the working people are also produced from the propertied classes, I think. What is important is not one’s class origin but one’s world outlook. If a man regards life as enjoyment he cannot make the revolution and merely tries to live in clover. If a man prefers a life worthy of a man, he, even if he is rich, takes part in the revolution.

If such far-sighted people are given a wide berth in the class revolution, the revolution suffers a great loss.

I stayed at the house of the Chinese comrade for several days. He treated me well as Zhang Wei-hua had done. I am not sure now whether his surname was Wang or Wei. I had him search for Choe Chang Gol for a few days, but of no avail. Choe Chang Gol was said to have gone deep underground after the August 1 Uprising.

I met a member of the Young Communist League in the neighbourhood of Caoshi and requested him to convey to Choe Chang Gol a letter asking him to restore the ruined organizations in the Hailong and Qingyuan areas as soon as possible and to push ahead with the preparations for an armed struggle.

The few days I stayed at the house of the Chinese comrade, though I was treated as guest, were boring and painful for me. I was eager to throw myself into free and brisk activities, treading the earth as I liked even if my life was endangered. I had to disguise myself and start my political activities, but rash action was likely to bring trouble. It was difficult for me to return to Jilin again and it was not easy to take a train because the south Manchurian railways were managed by the Japanese. I wanted to go to Jiandao but I did not think that I would survive the wave of arrests of communists there. Nevertheless I thought I should go. I decided to go to east Manchuria by all means and there to prepare for the armed struggle.

At Hailong I, together with a Chinese comrade, boarded a train bound for Jilin where I changed trains and headed for Jiaohe. In Jiaohe there were many organizations under our influence. Han Yong Ae, who had been on close terms with me since our Jilin days, and her uncle Han Kwang lived there.

I intended to prepare a hiding place with their help to avoid the pursuit of the warlords and restore the organizations. I had decided that, if I met Han Yong Ae, I would establish contact with Harbin’s higher organizations under the International Young Communist League.

Han Yong Ae had returned to Jiaohe after leaving school in Jilin early owing to the family’s circumstances towards the beginning of 1929, but continued to maintain contact with us.

After thinking over whom I should visit, I called first on Jang Chol Ho who had been a company commander in the Independence Army.

Having broken away from the upper echelons of the Independence Army after the formation of Kukmin-bu and left the service, he came to Jiaohe and became engrossed in running a rice mill. I called on him because he loved me dearly as my father’s friend and was a reliable patriot. I needed a temporary hiding place until I could meet the organization members.

He was delighted to see me but did not invite me to hide at his home. As he seemed to be overcome with fear, I did not tell him why I had called on him. I headed towards the house of Ri Jae Sun. When my father was alive, he had aided the independence champions well, while running an inn. He, too, welcomed me, but suggested that we part after treating me to a Chinese meal at a Chinese restaurant.

I needed a hiding place more than a meal or two. He must have known why I had visited him but simply bade me goodbye without even inviting me to stay overnight at his home. He seemed to have considered the trouble that might befall him and abandoned his sense of duty and friendship as an old acquaintance.

From this I learned a serious lesson. Father’s friends, too, counted for nothing without ideological cohesion. I drew the bitter lesson that the revolutionary struggle cannot be shared only by relying on friendship or sympathy.

If an ideological mood and faith change, the sense of friendship and of humanity changes. If one of two people who had been on intimate terms with each other in the past, sharing joy and hardship, changes his mind, their friendship is impaired and they part. Friendship which was supposed to be invariable and eternal is impaired if one side degenerates ideologically. Later in the course of the protracted revolutionary struggle I learned the lesson that without holding fast to an idea it is impossible to maintain a sense of duty as a friend and friendly relations. After parting from Ri Jae Sun, I headed for Han Kwang’s house. I thought that Han Kwang might have hidden himself somewhere but that Han Yong Ae might be at home, being a woman, and I entertained the hope that if she understood my situation she would help me, even at the risk of her life.

But neither Han Kwang nor Han Yong Ae was at home. When I asked their next-door neighbour where they were, she told me that she did not know. As all the young Koreans who were supposed to be engaged in the movement had hidden, I had no one to call on.

In the meantime someone must have informed on me to the police. There were policemen on my heels. I thought I was caught and despaired of my situation, but the woman living next door to Han Kwang saved me from the danger. She said to me, “You seem to be in danger, though I don’t know who you are. Be quick and go into the kitchen.” Quickly she put on my back the baby she was carrying on hers. She said, “I will answer the door. Sit quietly and tend the fire.” It seemed that I looked old enough to be disguised as the baby’s father.

With the baby on my back, I tended the kitchen fire with a poker as she had told me to. While engaged in the revolution, I faced critical moments and danger many times, but I had never been in such a situation before.

The police opened the kitchen door and asked her, “A young man just came this way. Where has he gone?”

The woman replied with composure, “What kind of young man? No one has come to my house.” Then she said in Chinese in a casual manner, “There is no one inside. Please come in and have a meal if you like.” The baby on my back cried incessantly, as it was shy of me. I wanted to soothe the baby but could do nothing, fearing that an awkward act on my part might reveal my identity, so I merely stoked the fire with the poker.

The police talked among themselves, wondering where I had gone and whether they had missed me, before heading for another house.

After they had gone the woman said with a smile, “Please act as if you are my husband until the police leave the village. My husband is out in the field. I will call him home. Stay here and don’t worry. When he comes back, let’s discuss what we should do.” After inviting me to a meal, she went to the field and later returned.

After a while the police came back and shouted at me to come out as they wanted to send me on an errand. She said calmly, “How can this sick man run an errand? If you have some urgent errand, I will do it in his place.” Then she went on the errand in my place.

Thus, with her help I escaped from the critical situation. Though she was a simple country woman, she was possessed of both wit and wisdom. She also had a fairly high degree of revolutionary awareness.

I received an unforgettable impression from this woman whom I did not know. Instead of my father’s friends whom I had visited, counting on our friendly relations of the past, it was this strange woman who had helped me at the risk of her life. Out of a pure desire to aid a revolutionary she had helped me out of danger with a self-sacrificing spirit. A person reveals his true worth in adversity.

An unstained and sound sense of duty as a comrade to which revolutionaries could entrust their lives without hesitation was found among the working people. So, I always told my comrades-in-arms to go to the people when difficulties arose while making the revolution. I told them to call on the people when they were hungry or thirsty and when misfortune befell them.

She was a good woman. If she is alive, even now I would like to bow before her.

That winter in Wujiazi the commanding officers of the Korean Revolutionary Army and the leaders of underground organizations active in Manchuria held a meeting at which I spoke about the woman.

Having heard my story, the comrades there said, “Comrade Song Ju, you’re lucky. You were born under a lucky star, so heaven helped you.”

It was not because I had good luck that the warlords failed to catch me but because the people were good. I think that the people are precisely Heaven and the people’s will is Heaven’s will, I said. From then on the words “Madam Jiaohe” were used as words symbolizing our resourceful, self-sacrificing people, words symbolizing the women who make it a rule to help revolutionaries out of their difficulties, even at the risk of their lives.

Even now when I recall the bloody summer of 1930 under the scorching sun, I think of Jiaohe and picture “Madam Jiaohe.” When I recall the woman whose whereabouts I failed to discover although I inquired after her for decades, I am seized with remorse for having left Jiaohe 60 years ago without asking her name.

If I had leamt her name I could have placed an advertisement in the newspapers.

Since liberation many of my benefactors have called on me. Some of them appeared before me as grey-haired men and women half a century after parting from me in a foreign country. Many of my benefactors who helped me in adversity met me and returned to the liberated homeland where they received words of gratitude from me.

But “Madam Jiaohe” did not appear. She might have forgotten the dramatic event in the summer of 1930, regarding it as an ordinary matter.

My benefactor of 60 years ago still remains unknown, leaving no news or trace. The better the jade, the deeper it lies underground.

Only when her husband returned from the field, did she take her baby from me. What happened that day is like a detective story.

I could not give them my real name, so I gave her a pseudonym. Introducing myself as a revolutionary, I exchanged greetings with the husband.

He had been engaged in the revolution but was unsure what to do, having lost contact with the organization, he said. He warned me against the secret agent living in the house opposite his. According to him, Han Kwang had fled to north Manchuria and Han Yong Ae always concealed her identity because of the harsh suppression, and it would be difficult for me to meet her.

When I heard his story, gloomy thoughts came to my mind. With a secret agent living opposite, I could not stay at his house. It would have been better for me to observe the situation, while hiding in his house, and then go to Dunhua again, but Dunhua was searched closely because it served as a base for the Japanese, and the headquarters of the Tuesday group of the communist party was situated there. Most of the Koreans there, except the women, had been arrested immediately after the May 30 Uprising. The question was whether it was possible to gain a foothold in that place.

After it grew dark the husband conducted me to a secluded straw-thatched cottage some six kilometres from Jiaohe. The elderly master and mistress of the house were very kind to me.

That night I was once again clearly aware that we revolutionaries always could believe in and depend on the people alone.

I lay down but could not sleep; various thoughts came to my mind—I had met none of those I wanted to meet and wasted several days; what a shame! At such a time one should not be on the defensive but brave adversity: If we remain on the defensive, we shall be finished:

We must act: It will not do to go about by stealth. I decided that I should escape the critical situation and go to east Manchuria to activate the revolution.

At early dawn Han Yong Ae unexpectedly came to the cottage. On hearing that I was coming to east Manchuria, Han Yong Ae had asked her mother, when she was leaving home to go into hiding, to send word to her if a man with a dimple on his right cheek should come. We were meeting after a year’s separation. We were so glad to see each other after all our difficulties that we gazed at each other without a word for a while. Her face had become terribly thin beyond recognition in only a year, and she was not so cheerful; previously once she burst out laughing she split her sides.

According to her, the atmosphere in Jiandao, too, was terrible. I said to her, “It will not do to remain in hiding like this. We should by all means conduct the movement. The Japanese will soon invade. We should not stand by with folded arms but rise and prepare to fight them, shouldn’t we? We should restore the organizations as soon as possible and awaken the people ideologically. We should not remain in hiding out of fear, should we?”

She was of the same opinion and, on hearing what I said, was encouraged.

I said, “We can do nothing by sitting here where there is no one. Let’s go to Harbin. I will contact the organization for you.”

Han Yong Ae was delighted at this, for she had been unsure what to do, having lost contact with the organization.

I had sent Kim Hyok to Harbin to establish contact with the Comintern, but I decided that I should go there immediately and meet the people from the Comintern before he returned to report to me the results of his work. The utter wreckage of the organizations because of the revolt and the cities and rural communities where there was a terrible atmosphere, as if they were under martial law, made me realize once again the great harm done by the Left adventurists to the revolution. I became clearly aware that, if the aftereffects were not removed, our revolution would inevitably suffer a great loss from the beginning of the 1930s.

A theoretical argument alone could not prevent the factionalists and flunkeyists and the Left adventurists from acting rashly. They would not willingly accept our arguments which were reasonable and beneficial to the revolution. They did not want to understand our view. The outbreak of the August 1 Uprising which caused us a great deal of concern in the wake of the May 30 Uprising meant that they entirely ignored the view we offered at the meeting of party organizations in the area east of Jilin.

It was necessary to get help from the Comintern in order to check the Left adventurism which was being committed without restraint in Manchuria.

I wanted to learn the Comintern’s view on the revolt and confirm whether it had been launched on the orders of the Comintern or whether it was a rash act undertaken by some people arbitrarily. Even if the Comintern had given the orders, I wanted to prevent the spread of adventurism, although it would mean controversy.

We decided to go by train, but disguised as Chinese, for the enemy’s control was strict.

Han Yong Ae spent the whole day going about the Jiaohe area to get good clothes and shoes for us to wear, as well as our travelling expenses. We also put some cosmetics in the trunk to allay the suspicions of the army and police. With her help I got safely to Harbin.

At the liaison office of the Comintern at the approach to Xiangfu Street near Harbin pier, I met a man and introduced Han Yong Ae to him. I informed him of the situation created by the May 30 Uprising and August 1 Uprising in Manchuria and of the Kalun Meeting.

The liaison office of the Comintern, too, called the two revolts adventurous. The man I met in the liaison office told me that in his view the resolutions we had adopted at the Kalun Meeting were appropriate for the situation in Korea and agreed with the principle of the revolution, saying that our creative attitude towards Marxism-Leninism was encouraging. He went on to say that in putting forward the new policy of founding a party at the Kalun Meeting and forming the Society for Rallying Comrades, the parent body, as the basic party organization we had not been in conflict with the principle of one party in one country.

Thus I received the Comintern’s unreserved support for the principle of independence and the creative principle which were the lifeblood of our revolution, and for all the lines we had advanced.

Then the people from the Comintern asked me whether I would like to study at its communist college in Moscow.

I knew about the college in Moscow and that our young people who aspired after communism studied there on the recommendation of the Korean Communist Party. Jo Pong Am, Pak Hon Yong, Kim Yong born and others were attending the college. In those days the young people of Manchuria had so strong a yearning to study in Moscow that they even sang the Song of Study in Moscow.

I did not want to be alienated from revolutionary practice, so I replied, “I want to go and study, but at the moment I am in no position to do so.”

When I met the Rev. Moon Ik Hwan in 1989 and mentioned the story about Harbin, he said that around that time his father had been engaged in sending students selected by the Comintern to the Soviet Union.

The Comintern appointed me to the post of chief secretary of the Young Communist League in the eastern region of Jilin Province.

Through the liaison office of the Comintern I learned that Kim Hyok had thrown himself from the third storey of a house and had been taken to prison.

Han Yong Ae and I were gloomy during our stay in Harbin because of Kim Hyok’s arrest. Pained by the shackling of Kim Hyok we once even went to stand in front of the house in Daoli from which he was said to have thrown himself.

There was a lot of tasty food in the shops and restaurants in Daoll, but they were beyond our means.

The Comintern gave us 15 fen a day as expenses, but 15 fen was far from enough for living in Harbin. Revolutionaries could not stay at ordinary hotels because rigid control was enforced over lodgers. All the hotels were frequented by the police and requested identity papers from lodgers, except the hotel run by white Russians. This hotel’s charges for board and lodging were very high. It was a luxury hotel which was accessible only to rich men and not to people like us. After careful consideration I decided to stay at the safe luxury hotel even if it meant eating only one meal a day. I persuaded Han Yong Ae to stay at an ordinary hotel where control over female guests was lax. I discovered the interior of the luxury hotel to be splendid. The hotel was furnished with a shop, a dining hall, an amusement hall, a dance hall and a cinema.

While I stayed at the luxury hotel I experienced many difficulties because I had no money. The first day I entered the hotel a Russian female attendant accompanied me to my room and offered to attend to my nails. I said I had already done it, for I had no money to pay her. Another attendant came in after her and asked what I wanted to order for my meal. I was obliged to say that I had already eaten at my friend’s house. Although I was harassed every day like this, I only slept at the hotel without taking meals there, having no money. As for my meals, Han Yong Ae and I went out to the street after finishing our day’s business and bought a cheap maize pancake or two.

I related this story to Liu Shao-qi when he visited our country. He said, “I, too, was in Harbin that year. Among the party members there was no one Chinese, but there were several Korean communists.” He asked whether I had contacted the Comintern at that time. In view of the dates, it seems that I went to Harbin and met the people of the Comintern immediately after he had left, having conducted his activities there.

I gave Han Yong Ae the assignment of searching for the dispersed organization members.

Han Yong Ae established contact with a certain Han who had served in a branch of the Young Communist League in Harbin and with whom she had been in contact since the Jilin days. Through him she discovered the organization members in hiding one by one and explained to them the line of the Kalun Meeting.

I went to the railways and harbour where Kim Hyok had been active and met the workers who were under the influence of the revolutionary organizations. Thus I restored the underground organizations in Harbin and established contact with some comrades before departing alone for Dunhua, leaving Han Yong Ae behind. I was very pressed for time and parted from her without expressing my gratitude properly. When I left, Han Yong Ae asked me to take her with me. But as the comrades in Harbin had entreated me to leave her there, I could not agree to her request. After going to east Manchuria, the matter always weighed on my mind. Since the rules of underground activity did not allow correspondence we did not hear from each other.

A long time later I learned what had happened to Han Yong Ae, from material gathered by people from the Party History Institute.

When I left for Dunhua, I left behind me a letter addressed to the revolutionary organizations in Harbin. Han Yong Ae was arrested by me police in the autumn of 1930, while carrying out the assignments I had given the comrades in Harbin in the letter. An ordinary woman would have returned to Jiaohe, simply because of homesickness, but she remained in Harbin and carried out the assignments I had given her, forgetting even to sleep. Though quiet and gentle, she acted tenaciously and boldly once she was engaged in revolutionary work.

Immediately after her arrest she was sent to Sinuiju prison where she served her term of imprisonment. At the time Ri Jong Rak, Pak Cha Sok and others involved in the DIU were also thrown into prison. She and Ri Jong Rak were in the same prison.

When Ri Jong Rak met Han Yong Ae, he said to her, “I was on good terms with Kim Song Ju and you were led by him. Why don’t you join me in persuading him to return to an allegiance? If you want, you can join our ‘submission work team.’”

Han Yong Ae reproached him to his face. She said, “That will not do. How can we commit such a filthy betrayal, even though we cannot help Kim Song Ju? If I am in no position to make the revolution after my release from prison, I may not take part in it. But I will not betray him.”

Ri Jong Rak admitted this in the winter of 1938 when he appeared at the meeting we held in Nanpaizi, where he tried to persuade me to give my “submission.”

That was how I learned about Han Yong Ae, from whom I had not heard, and how she had remained faithful to the revolutionary principle despite being put to harsh torture in prison. On being thrown into prison Ri Jong Rak, Pak Cha Sok and other men signed a written declaration of their conversion, but Han Yong Ae, a woman, endured the hardship bravely.

After the “Hyesan incident”13 revolutionaries were arrested en masse everywhere and some of those who had taken the path of struggle became traitors, causing great damage to the revolution. So the news of her greatly moved and encouraged me.

Han Yong Ae worked as a shoemaker at the rubber factory in Dan-dong, China. At the factory she disseminated among the Korean workers the revolutionary songs of the Jilin days and put forward different demands in defence of the workers’ rights and interests. She worked energetically to rouse them to the struggle to implement them.

Later she went to Seoul, where she passed several more years at the house of Mr. Hong Myong Hut’s son.

She married belatedly, having tried to go to Manchuria again to seek an organization. She buried herself in her family life, but did not abandon her conscience and the principle she had adhered to in the years when she had worked to make the revolution with us. When we, arms in hand, beat the enemy in the Mt. Paektu area she, hearing the news in Seoul, prayed inwardly for our victory, calling her comrades of the Jilin days by their name one by one, so I am told.

Her husband was engaged in underground work, being a member of the Workers’ Party of South Korea after liberation, and was murdered by the enemy during the retreat in the Korean war.

During the war Han Yong Ae was a great help at the front, taking charge of a women’s organization in the Seoul area. After her husband’s death she came to Pyongyang with her children to see me. But she could not meet me and, on the night of the 14th of August 1951, she and her two children were tragically killed in an enemy bombing raid.

Han Yong Ae led an honourable life to her dying day. She lived her whole life with the spirit of the Jilin days. When singing, she sang the songs of the Jilin days.

Revolutionaries, even on a solitary island, should, like Han Yong Ae, not lose faith or abandon their conscience.

Han Yong Ae, too, was a benefactor I have never forgotten. She was a kind woman who called on me in adversity and helped me, at great personal risk.

I inquired after Han Yong Ae’s whereabouts in the homeland after liberation, but she was not in the northern half of the country.

I had not met her again before liberation as I was engaged in the anti-Japanese war. But still vivid in my memory is the way she went about in the sweltering heat to obtain Chinese clothes for my disguise, the way she protected me, deftly overcoming crises when the police examined the passengers on the train, and the way she divided a piece of a pancake into two and quietly placed one half before me.

All the services she did me were the result of a pure, unselfish comradeship transcending feelings of love.

I deeply regret that she was killed in Pyongyang in the bombing without seeing me.

Fortunately a photograph of her in her younger days which survived miraculously came into my hands. When I think of my late benefactors, I admire her noble spirit which left a deep impression on me in my youth and express my heartfelt gratitude to her, as I gaze at her photograph.


8. Crossing the River Tuman


My father said on many occasions that the people of Jiandao had great fighting spirit. Having experienced the May 30 Uprising and then the August 1 Uprising, I realized that the Koreans in Jiandao had an extraordinary revolutionary spirit.

Jiandao and the northernmost areas of Korea had for a long time been the stage of the activities of the volunteers and the soldiers of the Independence Army. Under the influence of the October Socialist Revolution in Russia, Marxism-Leninism was disseminated in these areas before anywhere else. Although the communist movement in Jiandao was going through many twists and turns owing to the petty-bourgeois impetuosity that appeared among its leaders, the revolutionary advance of the popular masses was continuing.

Therefore, as early as the time I was in prison I was resolved to make the northern border area of Korea with Mt. Paektu as the centre and Jiandao, an important strategic position once I started the armed struggle.

The Japanese imperialists had also been viewing this area for a long time. While we intended to make the northern border area of Korea with Mt. Paektu as the centre and Jiandao, an important strong point for the anti-Japanese armed struggle, they wanted to make the area a strategic point for invading Manchuria and Mongolia. It was with the aim of creating an occasion for realizing this ambition that the Japanese imperialists provoked various incidents in east Manchuria from the beginning of the 20th century.

Under the pretext of “protecting the Koreans” the Japanese imperialists sent their troops into Longjing, Yanji County, in August 1907, and there they set up the “police sub-station under the residency-general in Korea.” In 1909 they induced the reactionary Chinese government to conclude the Jiandao Treaty and, further, they even obtained the concessions for the Jilin-Hoeryong railway project. Afterwards the “police sub-station under the residency-general in Korea” in Longjing was raised to the status of a Japanese consulate general. It was not with the aim of ensuring that the Koreans in Jiandao could live in luxury that the Japanese imperialists set up a consulate general in Longjing and five branch consulates under it. In addition to these consular machines, they established police stations in various places and set up numerous organizations of their lackeys, such as the Association of Korean Residents and made them watch with sharp eyes every movement of the Koreans living in Jiandao. The branch office of the Oriental Development Company and the financial circles also exerted their influence on the area. East Manchuria was under the complete control of Japanese imperialism both politically and economically.

Thus, east Manchuria was turning into a place of acute confrontation between revolution and counterrevolution.

Therefore, I never ceased to think that the thick forest areas of Mt. Paektu and east Manchuria should be made the base of the armed struggle. After experiencing the August 1 Uprising I felt many omens of the imminent invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese imperialists. So I became more firmly resolved to unite the people in east Manchuria who had strong revolutionary spirit and launch an armed struggle as soon as possible. So, I went to east Manchuria.

When I told my comrades about my intention to go to east Manchuria they tried to dissuade me from doing so. They said that going to a place where the Japanese imperialists had established a strict repressive apparatus and intelligence network was like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. However, I left for east Manchuria without fear, fully determined to make the revolution among the workers and peasants there.

It can be said that until then I had worked mainly among young people and students in urban communities. If we were to take our struggle onto a new, higher stage to meet the demands of the revolutionary line adopted at the Kalun Meeting, it was essential for us to mix more closely with the masses from all social sections, such as the workers and peasants, and prepare them as soon as possible for the war of resistance against the Japanese imperialists.

The Comintern supported my idea of going to east Manchuria.

First I headed for Dunhua. This was because this area had suffered most in the August 1 Uprising. Dunhua was the source of the uprising, and its central stage.

Here were stationed the headquarters of a garrison of the Japanese army, a branch consulate under the Jilin consulate general and the headquarters of the 677th regiment of the former Northeast Army. That such a reckless revolt as the August 1 Uprising had broken out there where the enemy’s forces of repression were so concentrated had something to do with the fact that many Left adventurists worked there. Along with Panshi, Dunhua was the base of the M-L group and also the centre of the movement to rebuild the Korean Communist Party. Such prime movers of the August 1 Uprising as Pak Yun Se and Ma Kon were also based there.

In Dunhua there were various revolutionary organizations, such as the party, the YCLK and the AIYL, which we had established, as well as such reliable comrades as Chen Han-zhang, Ko Jae Bong and Ko Il Bong.

When I arrived in Dunhua I made my home at Chen Han-zhang’s house. Wearing the Chinese clothes of Shandong Province, I worked to remove the evil consequences of the uprising. Chen Han-zhang, who had attended middle school when I was forming groups of the Young Communist League in Jilin, was also conducting organizational activity in Dunhua. After the occupation of Manchuria by the Japanese imperialists he worked as chief secretary at the general headquarters of the unit under Wu Yi-cheng. In the Anti-Japanese Allied Army in Northeast China he worked as divisional chief of staff, division commander, commander of a route army, and secretary of the south Manchurian party committee. But at that time he was a simple and quiet YCLK member.

Chen Han-zhang was the son of a rich man, like Zhang Wei-hua. However, he led a perfectly sincere life in the YCLK organization, displaying extraordinary passion for the revolution. Being a very rich farmer, his father had hundreds of horses and many rifles. His house was surrounded by an earthen wall and looked awe-inspiring. He told me jokingly that his family was one which should have been overthrown and that they did not encroach on other people’s land because all the land around his house belonged to them. Although I do not know exactly how much land his family owned, they were very rich.

Chen Han-zhang treated me hospitably, saying that it was I who had taught him communism. Because they were leading a comfortable life, his family did not grudge me taking my meals without paying for them.

I started to search for the dispersed organizations through Chen Han-zhang and Ko Jae Bong. In the daytime I dressed in Chinese clothes and spoke Chinese when calling on my comrades, and at night I restored the organizations clad in Korean dress and speaking Korean. After dealing with the evil consequences of the uprising like this, I formed in Dunhua the YCLK committee of the eastern region of Jilin Province as I had been authorized by the Comintern.

Afterwards Ko Jae Bong and some other YCLK members left for the area along the River Tuman with the task, entrusted to them by me, of going to the towns and rural communities in the area, making the masses revolutionary and establishing party organizations there.

After giving Chen Han-zhang the task of conducting YCLK activities at Dunhua Middle School, I also left Dunhua.

Helong was the first place I visited when I went to east Manchuria.

In Helong there was a Chinese man named Cao Ya-fan who had worked in our YCLK organization when he was attending Jilin Normal School. There was also a Korean whose name was Chae Su Hang. I believed that, by relying on them, I would be able to deal with the aftermath of the uprising and also expand the organizations.

I went first to a place called Dalazi where I met Cao Ya-fan.

Pointing out that the consequences of the August 1 Uprising were very serious, Cao Ya-fan told me that, after the uprising, Koreans were nowhere to be seen and that there was no knowing where they were hiding. He said that the people in prison were likely to be released soon and asked me to meet them.

Several days later Chae Su Hang came to see me after having been informed of my arrival. Formerly he had attended Tonghung Middle School in Longjing. When I was attending Yuwen Middle School he came to Jilin and enrolled at the normal school. At that time he started to work for the revolution under our influence. Chae Su Hang was a popular football player among the young people and students of Jilin. In those days many young people from Helong were studying in Jilin. Kim Jun conducted propaganda about us in the areas of Longjing and Onsong, whereas Chae Su Hang gave publicity to our revolutionary idea going around Helong and Jongsong. Afterwards, together with Comrade Kim Il Hwan who, while working as secretary of a county party committee, was later killed on a false charge of being involved in the “Minsaengdan,” he formed the Young Communist League and such revolutionary organizations as the Anti-Imperialist Youth League, the Peasants Association and the Anti-Japanese Women’s Association, rallying many people to them. Comrade Pak Yong Sun who was famous as a master at making the Yanji bomb, was working as a member of the AIYL in the Badaogou Mine in Yanji County.

However, the organizations which had been built up with such trouble had been scattered in all directions because of the two uprisings. Many hardcore elements had either been arrested or gone into hiding, and the few remaining members of the organizations were at a loss what to do and trembling with apprehension, not being fully seasoned.

This made me think a great deal about the faith of a revolutionary. On my way to Helong via Jilin, Hailong, Qingyuan, Jiaohe, Harbin and Dunhua after leaving Kalun, I saw many people who were wavering either frightened by the counterrevolutionary attack or having lost conviction in the victory of the revolution. A firm belief in the victory of the revolution comes into being when one realizes in theory that one has a correct revolutionary line and strategy and tactics that are capable of winning the sympathy of all the people and rousing them, as well as one’s own revolutionary force. This belief becomes firmer through the struggle.

However, those who had instigated the uprising failed to put forward any programme or strategy and tactics which could serve as a banner for the masses. The revolutionary line we adopted in Kalun was not being propagated widely among the people. I held a conference with Chae Su Hang and some other cadres of the YCLK and AIYL and gave them a detailed explanation of the revolutionary line adopted at the Kalun Meeting.

Furthermore, I emphasized the need to build up leading hardcore elements with those who had been tested through the struggle and were popular with the masses, restore the destroyed mass organizations as soon as possible and build up their ranks. It was also at that time that I gave the task of forming a district revolutionary organization in each county along the River Tuman.

Although all the organizers of the uprising had fled, leaving the masses to the mercy of the bayonet and afraid of the prisons and gallows, we emphasized the need to contain the consequences of the uprising as soon as possible. Because I was wearing Shandong clothes, my comrades in Helong called me the “Shandong youth.”

The second place I visited was Wangqing. I went there in order to meet O Jung Hwa.

It was Kim Jun and Chae Su Hang who had told me about O Jung Hwa. Whenever they met me in those days on a visit to Jilin, they told me about many people. They told me that a certain man was in a certain place, that if I went to a certain place there was a certain man there who was doing a certain job, what a certain man was like and how clever a certain man was. Therefore, even when I was in Jilin I was comparatively well aware of the situation in Jiandao.

I listened to them attentively and bore in mind all those whom they regarded as clever.

When he was told about a good man, my father covered any distance, however long, no matter where he might be, joined hands with him at any cost and won him over as a like-minded man. He taught me that talented people decided everything and that the victory of revolutionary work depended on how many genuine comrades were won over.

In those days I did not mind going hungry for three days, or even ten days, if only I could win over a like-minded man. It was with this feeling that I went to Wangqing. Chae Su Hang accompanied me from Helong to Shixian in Wangqing.

In Shixian I met O Jung Hwa, O Jung Hup and also old man O Thae Hui.

 Old man O Thae Hui’s family was a very large one. The four brothers of the old man had lived in Kojak village, Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province before moving to Wangqing around 1914. They had dozens of children and grandchildren. They were conducting revolutionary work in wide areas of Wangqing and Onsong with the River Tuman separating them. In those days O Jung Hwa was working as the party secretary of the fifth Wangqing district and O Jung Hup was doing YCLK work in Wenjiadian in Chunhuaxiang, Wangqing County. O Jung Song, O Jung Hwa’s younger brother, had conducted YCLK activities in Shixian, Wangqing County, before moving to Phungri-dong, Onsong County, at the beginning of 1929 and was now conducting revolutionary activities while working as a teacher at Pomun School.

After leaving secondary school O Jung Hwa taught at the private Hwasong School in Helong.

When I met him in Shixian I told O Jung Hwa repeatedly that, in order to make the masses revolutionary, he must first become a revolutionary, then make his family revolutionary and then the villagers.

Later O Jung Hwa made his family revolutionary. More than ten of his brothers and near relatives were killed while working as faithful revolutionaries. It was not by chance that such fine communists as O Jung Hwa, O Jung Song and O Jung Hup were produced from among them.

When I finished my work in Shixian I made up my mind to cross to the Onsong area at once. Having been born in a western province and lived in a foreign land at a young age, I had no good understanding of the six towns14 south of the River Tuman.

The area covering the six towns was where, during the Ri dynasty, noblemen who had been dismissed from their official posts were exiled. In this area there was a shortage of grain and the climate was harsh. Moreover, because of the unbearable maltreatment and cruelty of their leaders, those soldiers who had been mobilized to defend the frontier here used to flee very quickly. Even those who were in government service regarded it as terrible to be appointed as a public official in this area. Even after receiving notice of their appointment, they idled away their time in the streets of Seoul under various pretexts because they were reluctant to go there. It is said that the feudal rulers worried about this for 500 years.

Whenever Kim Jun told me about the six towns I said to him, “Although our ancestors did not take good care of this land, regarding it as barren, let us turn this area into a revolutionary fortress by making strenuous efforts.” According to this far-reaching plan I started dispatching people there.

Onsong was a place where such people as Kim Jun, Chae Su Hang and O Jung Song began to work on a wide scale under our influence from the end of the 1920s. We had already grasped the importance of the area of Mt. Paektu and that of the six towns along the River Tuman, including Onsong, in the development of the Korean revolution and intended to make this area a strategic base for the anti-Japanese revolutionary war. We also planned to open the way for a fresh upsurge in the revolution in the homeland there. In those days some 100 to 150 young people from Onsong were studying in Longjing. When they came back home during their holidays they exerted the influence coming from Jilin in this area under the guidance of such far-sighted people as Kim Jun and O Jung Song who were in close contact with us. Branches of the Young Communist League of Korea and the Anti-Imperialist Youth League were formed in Onsong. It was a promising foothold for us to extend our influence into the homeland. Thanks to this foothold our idea spread to the area of Onsong.

I went to the area of Onsong with the aim of expanding and developing the Korean revolution as a whole by forming a party organization in the homeland and adopting the measures needed for implementing the policy set at the Kalun Meeting.

O Jung Hwa’s cousin who had accompanied us from Shixian, crossed first to Phungri-dong where O Jung Song was in order to inform him that we were coming.

At the approach to a valley of Huimudong, on the far bank from Namyang, Onsong County, we met O Jung Song and other members of the organizations who had come there on receiving the summons. That was my first meeting with O Jung Song. He was taller than his elder brother O Jung Hwa and had a magnanimous disposition. O Jung Hwa had said that his younger brother was a good dancer and singer as well as a fine poetry reader.

We quietly crossed the River Tuman by boat at night. O Jung Song rowed the boat quickly and well. As I looked at the fields and mountains veiled in darkness, I could not repress my beating heart at my deep emotions at returning to my homeland after five years.

Having left the boat at Namyang Sangtan, I told O Jung Hwa how good it would be if we were crossing the river after winning the independence of the country.

In a positive response to what I had said, O Jung Hwa said that he felt the same each time he crossed the River Tuman.

Having passed Namyang Sangtan village we took the uphill path leading to Mt. Namyang. There we went into a straw-thatched cottage prepared by O Jung Song and examined the work of the revolutionary organizations in the Onsong area as well as the trend of the masses.

The people of Onsong had achieved many successes in establishing mass organizations.

I spent a week guiding the work of the underground revolutionary organizations at home. In the course of this I discovered that although the revolutionaries in the Onsong area had formed many organizations throughout the country, they were lapsing into extreme passivism in expanding and developing them.

In this area it was a universal practice to form an organization with a few reliable core elements and then shut the door and neglect the expansion of its ranks. For this reason the organizations had failed to take deep root among the broad sections of the masses.

The Onsong Young Communist League which was formed in the spring of 1929 as an organization under the YCLK, also built a high fence around a few members and did not go among the masses. In those days various organizations and factions such as the Local Association, the Promotion Association, the Singan Association and the Group for Rebuilding the Party were competing to win young people over to their side. Under these circumstances the mass organizations were merely maintaining the status quo while trembling with fear, in an effort to prevent the slightest bad influence from being exerted on them.

An official of the YCLK whom I met in Phungri said that people were extremely unwilling to open their hearts to him because the enemy was resorting to severe machinations. Another YCLK official said that he had no idea of how to deal with those young people who were associated with the youth league or the Singan Association. Jon Jang Won, who was working as the head of the Peasants Association in Phungin-dong, would not speak his mind even to those of his close relations who were working in the enemy’s government organs. This was because he was nervous, fearing that the enemy’s tentacles might extend to the revolutionary ranks through the many of his relatives who were working as village heads, sub-county heads and policemen.

All this was an expression of distrust in the masses.

Without putting an end to these wrong practices it would be impossible to develop the revolution in the Onsong area in depth to meet the requirements of the new situation.

 The life of a revolutionary can be said to begin with his going among the masses and the failure of the revolution with a failure to believe in the strength of the popular masses and a neglect of mixing with them.

I said earnestly to O Jung Song:

“It is impossible to make the revolution with only a few people from a good class origin. You should boldly believe in the masses and keep the door to the organization wide open for them. Now that youth organizations with every kind of name are each trying to win the young people over, the organization of the YCLK should not become passive but win over many young people through a positive campaign. You must politically awaken and lead the young people who were once involved in the organizations of the youth league or the Singan Association, as well as those who are either following people from the Group for Rebuilding the Party or are being unconsciously used by them, so as to win them over to our side.”

I also told Jon Jang Won about the tactics that must be employed in the work with those who were serving in the enemy’s establishments. I said:

“A man who is making the revolution must not be frightened or discredit himself because his family contains a village head, sub-county head or policeman. On the contrary, you must resolve to paralyse the lowest government machinery of the Japanese by going into the enemy establishments, taking advantage of family relations and working on a big scale. If you are to make the area of the six towns a strategic base for the armed struggle, you must be bold and win over those who are serving within the enemy’s government organs at the same time as making the masses revolutionary. Try it and acquire experience in this work.”

The most unforgettable event from my stay in Onsong was how I, together with Kim Jun, O Jung Hwa and O Jung Song, met men working on the railway project in Wolpha-dong, Mipho sub-county.

From the beginning of 1929 the Japanese imperialists had been pressing ahead with the project to lay a railway along the River Tuman. Over 1,000 labourers from all parts of the country, including the three southern provinces, as well as from Jiandao gathered there and formed in the Wolpha village a congested residential district called Kaephung Street. Those labourers who had been working on the Jilin-Hoeryong railway project also crowded into this street where they had a hard time of it making a living.

On hearing of this when I was in Jilin I met Kim Jun and told him to go among the workers and try to form an organization when the railway project got under way in Wolpha-dong.

Kim Jun could not conceal his eagerness, saying that it was something worth trying. He went to Onsong as he had promised and formed in Wolpha-dong a working youth association and an Anti-Imperialist Youth League organization.

When I expressed my intention to visit the railway project my comrades in Onsong asked me to abandon the idea because the enemy was keeping a strict watch.

In those days they went to extremes to protect me, telling their comrades, “A representative of the Comintern has come.”

They organized a guard for me, even giving me the official title of “representative of the Comintern” because, in the homeland, the Japanese police maintained close surveillance against revolutionaries.

Needless to say, I also knew that, if I went to Korea, I must be careful in everything I did and sharpen my vigilance. However, I felt an urge to grasp the hands of the workers and tell them something that might be of some help to them, although I might not achieve much among them immediately. All the work I had conducted with the young people and students until then was aimed at building a bridge for going among the working class. Our ultimate goal was to carve out and complete the Korean revolution by giving prominence to the working class. How ardently had we been yearning for the working class of Korea from the day when we set out its liberation as our programme and pledged to devote even our lives to this end! I joined the workers at the construction site unloading gravel, carrying sand and taking the meals they offered me at their quarters for a day and a half.

Kim Jun introduced me as a man who had been studying in Yanji and had come there to earn money to pay his school fees.

Even now I think that it was very good for me to go among the workers at that time. At their quarters and at the construction site I witnessed not only the sad plight of the workers who were toiling with might and main for a few pennies, but also workers who were eager for a struggle, workers who were seeking the correct way for them to shape their future.

This had a strong impact on me. My heart was burning with an eager desire to devote my whole life for the happiness of the working class.

At the railway project I got acquainted for the first time with Choe Chun Guk and Choe Pong Song, anti-Japanese fighters from Onsong.

While guiding me to his quarters, Choe Chun Guk told me that he had secretly stored up some powder while he had been working as a dynamiter and that he intended to blow up a tunnel with it when the project was completed.

I told him that under the prevailing circumstances building up the organization and politically awakening and organizing the workers was more urgent than running such a risk as blowing up a tunnel and advised him to keep the powder and use it when it would be needed during our future armed struggle.

At that time I talked a great deal with the workers.

I told them about the matters of launching an armed struggle, founding a party and forming an anti-Japanese national united front. It would be a great gain if we could clearly implant at least the spirit of the Kalun Meeting in the minds of the workers in the homeland. Then, if we told something to one man it would be conveyed immediately to ten people, and would reach the ears of 10,000 people through the mouths of 100 and 1,000 people. Our idea would ultimately be the faith and banner of the people at home. All this was certain.

When the workers at the railway project learned about our line, they expressed full support for it.

If they gained confidence from our line, I gained confidence from their looks full of delight at being told of the line.

The greatest success achieved in Onsong was the formation of a party organization on Turn Hill on October 1, 1930.

In the course of visiting the revolutionary organization in Onsong I realized that the fighting will and preparedness of the revolutionaries in this area were far stronger than I had expected, although they committed some mistakes in their understanding of the strategic problem and were timid in their work with the masses. I also reached the conclusion that the foundation existed for establishing a party organization in this area.

All those revolutionaries of the Onsong area who were to take part in the meeting gathered on Turn Hill dressed like firewood gatherers. Jon Jang Won had asked the man in charge of the organization in Wol-pha-dong to bring an ox-pulled sleigh up to the meeting place.

We held the meeting to set up a homeland party organization on a quiet, vacant spot on the top of Turu Hill with the River Wolpha flowing nearby.

Firstly I told those attending the meeting about the line adopted at Kalun and made clear that the primary task for implementing that line was to build a revolutionary party. Then I explained the aim of forming a hew type of party organization in the Onsong area. I also set the task for the party organization in the Onsong area of continually increasing and strengthening the party ranks with fine progressive elements who had been tested through an organizational life and practical struggle, and of organizing and mobilizing the masses for the anti-Japanese struggle.

On my recommendation O Jung Song, Jon Jang Won, Jon Chang Ryong, Choe Chun Guk, Choe Pong Song and Choe Kun Ju were admitted to the Onsong party organization. O Jung Song was elected to head the party organization.

Those who had the honour of being party members stood up in succession to relate their past life and briefly state their determination.

I have forgotten the determination of all the others, but that made by Jon Jang Won is still fresh in my memory. Jon Jang Won said that he would never forget the fact that we had admitted to the party even such a man as he who had a problematic family background, and pledged to saw off his bones, slice away his flesh and even offer his life if it was needed for the revolution. He said that if he was ever so silly as to break his pledge, he would not mind even if his body was cut to pieces and thrown into a river. Although his words were violent and plain, they expressed his feelings frankly.

Afterwards Jon Jang Won, true to his resolve, performed great exploits in making Onsong a semi-guerrilla zone and aiding the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.

In order to keep it secret, there was no record of what was discussed at the meeting. The meeting adopted no inaugural declaration or manifesto.

Those attending the meeting said to the following effect:

“We feel something is lacking because this meeting, a historic meeting held to establish a party organization, is so simple and informal. Even such an organization of the lowest class as the equity society makes public a manifesto and circulates it to the world, so we feel our meeting will fall flat if it is concluded merely by a brief pledge.”

I encouraged them as follows:

“The pledge you have just made is far more substantial than a statement or a manifesto amounting to hundreds of pages. What is the use of continually drawing up documents? You must not think of a party organization as something which only makes a fuss and wins a name for itself. Party members do a lot of work without making a fuss. Therefore, display your party spirit and patriotism through a practical struggle.”

The formation of a party organization in the Onsong area was the start of the laying of the foundation for party building in the homeland and an important turning point in promoting the anti-Japanese struggle of the people there. Thanks to the activities of the party organization in the Onsong area, the process of the political awakening and organization of the masses was stepped up rapidly and the anti-Japanese struggle gained momentum in the area of the six towns.

As the masses started to follow us and the revolution gained momentum, Choe Chang Ik, who was hanging about in this area, his native place, in order to expand the influence of his own faction, fled to Seoul. After liberation he told us frankly what had happened at the time. He said: “I thought the M-L group had gone to Onsong because that is my native place. However, when I reached there, our force was not to be seen and instead the influence of Jilin had reached there. That influence was so powerful that everywhere I could see only your people, Comrade Kim Il Sung. I thought you must be quite old. However, people told me that it was not true and that you were a youth in your twenties and very strong. So I resolved to visit you, but gave up the idea.”

The reason that Choe Chang Ik left Onsong for Seoul was that he knew that we disliked factions and did not compromise with factionalists like him.

Following the formation of the party organization, I guided the meeting of the political workers and those in charge of the underground revolutionary organizations from various areas including the six towns before starting on my way back. We crossed the river by ferry from the Ojong ferry. My heart was much lighter than on my way to the homeland. I felt like soaring high up into the sky now that everything had turned out as I had wished. My visit to the homeland at the risk of my life was something worthwhile.

The week we spent in the homeland was an important period which proved that the revolutionary line we had put forward in Kalun was a correct one acceptable to all. It was as if we had had our line judged by the people at home.

From that time the people of Onsong remained always faithful to us.

Having crossed the River Tuman in safety I, guided by O Jung Hwa, reached Chaoyangcun, Yanji County, going via Liangshuiquanzi and Changgou. Together with Longjing, Chaoyangcun was a place where we were exerting the greatest influence in the Yanji area.

Ma Tuk Han and Ra Il, members of the secretariat of the party and YCLK in the Jiandao area, were working in Chaoyangcun. Rim Chun Chu, who later worked as a member of the party committee of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, also conducted revolutionary work here as “Rim Chun Bong—Physician of the Pongchun Dispensary.” Before coming to Yanji, he had been arrested for being involved in a student incident and was sent to prison. Working as a doctor of traditional Korean medicine, he carried out the duty of liaising between the party and YCLK secretariat in the Jiandao area and various counties.

At that time I met Rim Chun Chu for the first time, in Chaoyangcun. He, who had managed to acquire skill in traditional Korean medicine at a young age, quite impressed me. Thanks to his skill in traditional Korean medicine, our guerrillas got a lot of help throughout the anti-Japanese armed struggle.

The May 30 Uprising and the August 1 Uprising had caused a big loss to the revolutionary organizations in Yanji. Here the enemy’s terror had been more overpowering than in Dunhua. Many who had been making the revolution lost heart and hesitated, and those people who were not sufficiently awakened, clamoured that “they were being brought to ruin because of the communist party.”

I met leading cadres of the party and YCLK such as Ma Tuk Han, Ra Il and Rim Chun Chu and discussed the problem of eliminating the consequence of the Left adventurist machinations as soon as possible and further expanding and strengthening the revolutionary struggle.

After leaving Onsong I did not go straight to Wujiazi but went as far as Chaoyangcun via Liangshuiquanzi. This was because I foresaw that this area would be the field of our future armed struggle. I had done some preparatory work for laying the mass foundation in Onsong, Wangqing and Yanji of an armed struggle in the future.

Afterwards this area became the most reliable base of the anti-Japanese war, as we had foreseen.


9. An “Ideal Village” Is Transformed into a Revolutionary Village


At one time the independence fighters in our country conceived a plan to build “ideal villages,” and they tried in every way possible to implement it. When one hears the word “ideal village,” one visualizes a village in which everyone is free from any exploitation, oppression and inequality and leads an equally free and happy life. From time immemorial our people have dreamt of such a Utopian world.

The nationalists’ endeavour to build “ideal villages” might be considered a reflection of our ancestors’ aspiration to a rich, harmonious, peaceful and comfortable life for everyone.

An Chang Ho was a proponent and champion of the “ideal village” scheme. Immediately after the proclamation of the “annexation of Korea by Japan” An Chang Ho, Ri Tong Hui, Sin Chae Ho and Ryu Tong Yol held talks in Qingdao, China, where An Chang Ho put forward a proposal to build “ideal villages.” After serious consideration the leaders of the independence movement decided to buy the land of the Taedong Business Company (in Mishan County, China) which had been managed by Americans, bring it under cultivation and train Independence Army soldiers by establishing a military academy there. They intended to build such “ideal villages” in order to raise funds and educate cadres, and thus lay the material, personnel and financial foundations for the independence movement.

Even after this plan had failed. An Chang Ho made painstaking efforts for many years to procure funds and obtain suitable sites for such villages, because he felt the necessity for an independence movement base which could render material support to his “theory of the cultivation of strength.” The attempt to build such villages was a trend in the independence movement at that time. Many nationalists tried to realize their unsophisticated dream of cultivating strength by reclaiming uncultivated land and making it suitable for farming and establishing military academies.

The rural community on the Liaohe was born of this trend. This community was developed by the nationalists who had been active in south Manchuria. Some of the nationalists in south Manchuria, particularly Song Sok Tarn, Pyon Tae U (alias Pyon Chang Gun), Kim Hae San, Kwak Sang Ha and Mun Sang Mok drifted west before settling on the Liaohe. Saying that they were building an ideal Korean village, they created a community of 300 Korean families there and began to develop it according to their own principles by cutting it off from the surrounding world. This community was named Wujiazi (a village of five families—Tr.) after the five families that had settled there originally.

Some of my comrades attending Wenguang Middle School in my days in Jilin were from Guyushu and Wujiazi. They used to say that Wujiazi was a good village. So I became interested in Wujiazi and made up my mind to transform it into a revolutionary village.

I went from east Manchuria to Wujiazi in October 1930. Originally I was planning to convene a large meeting in east Manchuria for the preparation of an armed struggle but, in view of the situation there at the time, I considered the place unsuitable for the meeting and changed the site to Wujiazi. I decided to stay there for some months while I prepared for the meeting and make me village revolutionary. I found the people kind-hearted and their customs agreeable, as I had been told they were.

The people in this village, unable to roof their houses with tiles because of the strong wind, plastered clay on the roofs. The saline clay did not allow the rain in. They also built neat clay walls, walls of adobe which, they claimed, were even bullet-proof.

The founders of the village never tolerated the infiltration of any heterogeneous ideological trends into the village. They, together with the peasants, had converted the marshy land into paddy fields and established a school in the village. They formed such mass organizations as the Association of Fellow Peasants, the Youth Association and the Association of Schoolchildren. They also formed a village council, an autonomous organ. Every year on August 29, the day when Japan proclaimed the annexation of Korea by Japan, the village people gathered and sang the song National Humiliation Day. It is no wonder that the people of Wujiazi called their village a “heaven,” it being out of the reach of the Japanese army and police and the reactionary Chinese warlords.

The majority of the population of the village was from Phyongan and Kyongsang Provinces. Those from Kyongsang Province were under the influence of the M-L group in the General Federation of the Korean Youth in South Manchuria and those from Phyongan Province were mostly affiliated to Jongui-bu.

In view of the fact that I hailed from Phyongan Province I stayed in most cases at the houses of the people from Kyongsang Province, as I had done in Kalun before. If not, I might have upset them.

When I was in Kalun, I had sent some members of the Korean Revolutionary Army to Wujiazi as political workers but they had proved ineffectual because they could not win over the leading figures of the village who were obstinate, yet well established.

I spent the winter there through the good offices of my comrades. I stayed in that one place for so long, more than just a week or two, because we attached such great importance to Wujiazi. We regarded this village as the last stronghold of the nationalist forces in central Manchuria. If successful here, we could turn Wujiazi into a model for making the rural areas revolutionary and, drawing on that experience, bring the rural villages in the whole of Manchuria and the northern border areas of our country under our influence.

We recognized that the workers, peasants and working intellectuals were the main force of the revolution, and made particularly great efforts to transform the peasants into revolutionaries in view of the position they occupied in the class composition of our country. The peasantry accounted for more than 80 per cent of the population of our country. The situation in Jiandao was the same. More than 80 per cent of the population of Jiandao were Koreans about 90 per cent of whom were peasants. Owing to the persecution by the warlords and the ruthless expropriation by the landlords and usurers, they were living in dire poverty, enjoying no rights, and were subjected to harsh exploitation through land rents and to such physical extortions as those imposed upon serfs and slaves. The case was similar with the peasants in the homeland. This showed that the peasantry, along with the industrial working class, was the class which had the keenest interest in the revolution and that the peasants, together with the workers, should become the main force of our revolution.

To make the rural areas revolutionary was the foremost task in laying the mass foundation for the anti-Japanese armed struggle.

As the young people in Wujiazi grew more and more enthusiastic about our cause as a result of the activities of our political workers, the village elders shook their pipes and threatened that those who would introduce socialism onto the Liaohe plain would not be safe; they complained that the young people in those days were affected by an alien ideology. Some of them warned that, if the crazy communist ideology that had ruined Jiandao was tolerated in Wujiazi, the village would not be safe, either.

 If we were careless and rash, we might fall before the pipes of the old people. Some of the young people wavered. They wanted to march to the communist tune, but they hesitated lest they should offend theh” elders. Only a few determined young men opposed the elders.

On hearing a report from the political workers, I judged that the prerequisite for making Wujiazi revolutionary was to work well with the influential people. Unless we corrected their way of thinking we would be unable to awaken Wujiazi from its pipe dream of building an “ideal village” or execute our plan to transform the village on the Liaohe into a model village in central Manchuria. Once the elders were reformed, the others would follow us.

Our political workers, however, had not approached them for three months, and had only been feeling out their views. It was no simple job to deal with such people. No ordinary man dared argue with them, these learned people with theoretical views as well as records of conducting the independence movement. The group of elders had the village under its control.

One old man, Pyon Tae U, ran the village council behind the scenes and supervised all the affairs of the village. He was at the head of both the group of elders and the village itself. The villagers called him Pyon Trotsky because he frequently mentioned Trotsky. Pyon had travelled through the homeland and various parts of Manchuria in his early years in the interests of the independence movement. At first he had established schools in Hanchon (South Phyongan Province), his home town, and Jasong, and Daoqinggou (in Linjiang County, China), working as a teacher. He had been involved in armed activities from 1918, the year when he joined the Independence Army unit which had its headquarters at Maoershan, Linjiang County. In those days he had frequented our house to contact my father. When he was unable to come, my uncle, Kang Jin Sok, would maintain contact between them. Having held the posts of propaganda chief of the Korean Independence Association, deputy-commander of the National Independence Army, chief of the military law section and commander of the 1 st battalion of the Liberation Corps and then head of the business section of Thongui-bu, he had devoted himself to building up the movement of the Independence Army. He retired from his military posts in 1926, and applied himself to building an “ideal village.” Once he had been to the far eastern region of the Soviet Union, allegedly to launch a communist movement. He had the blue-covered membership card of the Communist Party of Koryo.

It was impossible to reform the bigoted village elders and make the village revolutionary unless old man Pyon was won over.

Learning that I had arrived in Wujiazi, the old man’s son, Pyon Tal Hwan, came to see me. He was in charge of the Association of Fellow Peasants. He said that he had intended to transform the “ideal village” into a revolutionary village by prevailing on the nationalists, but had been unable to do anything because of his father and the other village elders. He suggested that, now that I was there, we should do away with those good-for-nothings.

Dumbfounded, I asked him, “Do away with them? What do you mean by that?”

“I mean we must form our own organizations, ignoring what the old men say, and make Wujiazi a socialist village on our own,” was his absurd answer.

“No, we cannot do that. It will split the village into two. And it is not in accordance with our policy, either.”

“Then, what shall we do? We can’t leave Wujiazi in the hands of these backward old men, can we?”

“The point is that we should win their support. I am going to work with your father. What do you think of that?”

“It will be useless. Many people have been here from Kukmin-bu, from the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai and from the committee for rebuilding the communist party affiliated to the M-L group, to establish footholds in this village, but they have all been given the cold shoulder by my father. Ordinary people have not even been granted an interview with him, and even high-ranking nationalist leaders have been thrown out after being taught a good lesson.”

“Your father and mine were on friendly terms and you and I are old friends. So I think I stand a better chance than a total stranger.”

Pyon Tal Hwan said with embarrassment that an old friendship would not influence his father. He had been to my house in Linjiang 10 years before with a letter from his father to mine.

I talked with Pyon Trotsky for days at his house, where the village elders used to gather.

On the first day Pyon talked more than I did. He sat haughtily, his legs crossed, and as he spoke he now and then tapped his pipe on the floor. He said he was glad to see Mr. Kirn’s son but he treated me as just a boy. He merely gave me condescending advice, every time addressing me as “you youngster.” He was a man with good features and a gallant spirit and he had a high theoretical level, so I found him awesome from the start.

When he asked me how old I was, I answered that I was 23, five years older than I actually was. If I had said I was 18, he would have treated me as a mere boy. I looked older than I was, so no one doubted me if I said I was 23 years old. In those days, I always claimed to be 23 or 24. That was favourable for me in my work with both the village elders and the young people.

I behaved politely, listening to old Pyon with patience, not retorting or interrupting him even though what he said did not Stand to reason. He said that young people would find fault with him, labelling him as feudalistic and so on, while not understanding even one out of the ten words he said. He said it was interesting to talk to me.

One day he invited me to dinner. He said that he had frequently been accorded warm hospitality by my father in Linjiang and that, therefore, he had prepared a dinner, though humble, for me.

After chatting with me for a while, he asked me suddenly:

“Is it true that you youngsters have come here to do away with our ‘ideal village’?”

Pyon Tal Hwan had been right when he said that his father was guarding against the communists with the highest vigilance.

“Do away with your ‘ideal village’? Why should we destroy the results of you old people’s hard work, if we are unable to help you? We do not have the strength to destroy it.”

“Hm, is that so? But the youngsters in Wujiazi who follow my son Tal Hwan are always finding fault with the ‘ideal village’; they think only of knocking down the old people and hoisting the red flag in this village. Rumour has it that you. Song Ju, are manipulating the youngsters in Wujiazi. Do the young people from Jilin hate the ‘ideal village’? Tell me frankly what you think.”

“We don’t think it bad. Why should we hate the ‘ideal village’? You have built it to get the wandering Korean exiles in this foreign land to settle down in one place and live in comfort. It is marvellous that you have built a Korean settlement of this size on the swampy land on the Liaohe. You old people must have worked very hard to build it.”

Satisfied at my complimentary remarks, he stroked his moustache. He no longer called me “you youngster.”

“Yes, that’s it! As you will learn, there is neither a policeman nor a prison nor a government office here. All the village’s affairs are dealt with in a democratic way by the Koreans themselves through an autonomous organ called the village council. Where else in the world is there such an ideal village?”

 I thought that now was the time to state our opinion of the “ideal village” clearly.

“Sir, I think it is patriotic of you to have built a village where the Koreans lead a fair life by democratic methods through an autonomous body. But do you think we can achieve the independence of the country by building villages like this?”

The old man who was speaking in a dignified manner with his legs crossed, waving his pipe, shut his mouth and raised his eyebrows. Then, he heaved a sigh.

“No, we can’t. You have touched me on the raw. We have built an ‘ideal village,’ but it is of no help to the independence movement. That is why I am in anguish. How good it would be if we could win the independence of the country by building ‘ideal villages’!”

I did not lose the opportunity to prove the absurdity of the building of such villages. I said: “It is impossible for a ruined nation to build ‘ideal villages’ in a foreign land. It is true that Wujiazi, thanks to your efforts, has become a more comfortable village to live in than other Korean settlements, but we cannot say that the ideal of the Korean people has been realized. The ideal of the Korean nation is to live in their motherland which is independent of the Japanese and free from exploitation and oppression by landlords and capitalists. How can you say you are living an ideal life when you are in debt to landlords? When the Japanese invade Manchuria Wujiazi will not be safe. And sooner or later Japan will invade Manchuria. They do not want the Korean people to lead an ideal life.”

“Then, you mean we should give up the idea of building an ideal village?” he asked with irritation.

“We wish to transform this village into a revolutionary village that fights for the liberation of the country, rather than seeing it so quiet.”

“That means you are going to spread socialism in Wujiazi? No, you can’t. I detest socialism. When your father said in Kuandian in 1919 that we should switch over to the communist movement we all supported him. But, while following the Communist Party of Koryo, I discovered the communists all to be crazy. They were all involved in factional strife. Since then I’ve been disgusted by the mere mention of communism.”

Then he showed me his membership card of the Communist Party of Koryo.

“However hard you may be working for the revolution, you don’t have such a membership card, do you?” the old man said in a casual manner, looking at me craftily.

I opened the card and examined it before putting it in my coat pocket. He found this so unexpected that he looked at me in blank dismay.

“Allow me to keep as a souvenir your membership card of the Communist Party of Koryo that has gone bankrupt on account of factional strife.”

I thought he would want it back, but he didn’t. He asked me if we had any special policy for making the village revolutionary.

I spent a good while explaining to him how we had made such villages as Jiangdong, Xinantun, Naidaoshan, Kalun and Guyushu revolutionary. He listened to me attentively. Then he said, “What you say smacks of Stalinism, but I am not against you. Nevertheless, you should not pay tribute only to Stalin. There is some sense in what Trotsky said.”

He then expounded Trotsky’s theory. Yet he did not seem to be opposed to Marxism-Leninism. I learned that he had an extremely good impression of Trotsky. I had talked to many people who were known to be well-versed in communist theory, but none had spoken so highly of Trotsky as he did. Out of curiosity I asked, “Why do you worship Trotsky?”

“Frankly, I don’t worship him. I just don’t like the young people nowadays worshipping people from major powers indiscriminately. Trotsky is Trotsky and Stalin is Stalin. Young people nowadays are in the habit of quoting from them, but I don’t see what is so great about their propositions. It is for the Russian people to consider their propositions. The Korean people should speak in the spirit of Korea in order to promote the revolution in their own country, don’t you think?”

The old man was right in a sense. In the course of my conversations with him over several days I found him to be no ordinary man. At first I wondered if he was a Trotskyite, but I learned that, tired of factional strife, he was just warning us young people, warning us against the blind worship of everything, against talking only about other countries, about Russia and Stalin, and against copying everything from Russia. In short, he was telling us to live in the Korean spirit.

He continued: “I don’t care what the young people do, nor do I interfere in my son’s work. Whatever he does, it is up to him. But I will fight to the end against those who put on airs, chanting foreign propositions without having their own principles.”

What he said convinced me that our consistent stand against factionalism, flunkeyism and dogmatism was correct and that our policy of carrying out the revolution through the efforts of our own people and by believing in our own strength was correct.

The following day I talked a lot more than the old man. I explained to him in detail the line we had adopted at the Kalun Meeting. He seemed to be strongly impressed by my explanation that we should form a party and an army of a new type, organize an anti-Japanese national united front by enlisting all social strata irrespective of ideology, religious belief, status of property, age and sex and liberate the country through the resistance of our 20 million people. In particular, he hailed our intention to organize an anti-Japanese national united front.

Pyon Tae U was a widower and his son was a bachelor. The old man’s daughter kept the house, but she could not sweep away the lonely, dull air prevailing in the family. After repeated discussions with Pyon Tal Hwan and other comrades about choosing a suitable match for him, I singled out a girl with the surname Sim who lived in a rural village near Wujiazi and got my comrades to prepare for a wedding ceremony for them. I felt it presumptuous and awkward for a bachelor to arrange the marriage of his elders, but after their wedding the villagers were happy, and gave me unstinted praise.

The event won us the trust of the village elders. One day Pyon Tal Hwan came to see me and inform me of his father’s attitude. He quoted his father as saying to the village elders, “Some new masters who will take over the ‘ideal village’ from us have now appeared. They are Song Ju and his friends. If socialism is what they adhere to, we can accept it without a worry. We must not take Song Ju for a mere youngster. We are old and lagging behind the times, so let us hand over the whole of Wujiazi to Song Ju and his friends, and help them in all sincerity.” The other elders were said to have expressed their admiration for what we had said.

Hearing this, I went to old man Pyon. I said, “I have come to return you your membership card of the Communist Party of Koryo.” But he replied, without so much as glancing at it, that he did not need it. I was at a loss what to do with it. Later the card was passed around my comrades.

In 1946, the year following the liberation of the country, the old man came to Pyongyang to see me. When I reminded him of the happenings in Wujiazi, he looked back upon the old days with emotion and then grinned. He said that now that he had witnessed the northern half of the country having become a great and ideal land, a land of perfect happiness, he would not regret it even if he were to die there and then. He was 67 years old at that time. That year he passed away in Yitong County, Jilin Province, China, so I learned much later.

 His son Pyon Tal Hwan worked in Wujiazi as the head of the Peasants Union organization. On the charge of having been involved in the anti-Japanese struggle under our guidance, the Japanese put him in Sinuiju prison in 1931, and there he served a term of several years.

Thus the breakthrough in making Wujiazi revolutionary was achieved. After that, the village elders’ attitude towards the political workers from the Korean Revolutionary Army changed. They vied with each other to invite them to dinner.

During the revolutionary transformation of Wujiazi I made great efforts to win over the Chinese people. Without winning over influential Chinese people, it would have been impossible for us to establish a foothold for conducting free activities in central Manchuria, Therefore, I did not hesitate to bring even landlords around to our side and make use of them, if it was possible.

At that time a landlord named Zhao Jia-feng was living near Wujiazi. Once he quarrelled with another landlord in the neighbouring village over some farm land and resolved to bring a law suit against him. But he did not know how to write the indictment. He had a son who had received secondary education in a nearby town, but the son did not know how to draft it, either. It seems he had idled away his time at school.

Zhao Jia-feng asked Kim Hae San, a doctor of Korean medicine in Wujiazi, to recommend someone capable of writing the indictment for him. Kim Hae San came to see me one day and asked me if I knew how to write it. When we were engaged in underground activity, books on the composition of letters, funeral orations and indictments had been available in China for students and the public in general to use as reference.

Kim Hae San and I were invited to a dinner at the landlord’s house. The host explained at length that he was seeking judgement over a land dispute. I wrote an indictment in Chinese for him and went with him to the county town where I helped him behind the scenes to win the case. Had it not been for my assistance, he would have lost dozens of hectares of land. The landlord told me that I was a very good man, not a communist. Regarding me as his benefactor, he gave me unqualified support in everything I did. On holidays he never failed to invite me to dinner. There I met many influential people in China and gave them anti-imperialist education. Thus my revolutionary activities, including the work of the Korean school at Wujiazi, became legitimate, and the foothold for our revolutionary struggle began to be consolidated.

After winning over the village elders and other influential people, we set about reforming the mass organizations into revolutionary ones. First we restructured the Youth Association, making it the Anti-Imperialist Youth League. It had previously been under the nationalist influence. Thanks to the activities of the detachment of the Korean Revolutionary Army, the core members of the association had been educated. But the association itself was not yet completely free from the remnants of nationalism. First of all, its fighting objective and tasks were not clear. In addition, its membership was small and it had no proper working method. It was an organization that existed in name only, doing almost nothing to rally the young people. The Wujiazi area consisted of hamlets sprawling over distances of 4, 8 and even 24 kilometres away from one another, but the association had no branches in those hamlets. This being the situation, the youth organization could neither strike root among the young people nor motivate them.

Some people insisted that we should reform the Youth Association into the AIYL right away. But it was premature to reform the existing organization into a new one without taking into account the political and ideological preparedness of the young people, they being still under nationalist influence and still believing in the association.

The men of the KRA visited the nearby hamlets with cadres from the association and conducted ideological work for forming the AIYL. In the course of this our revolutionary line was propagated among the young people. I also had conversations with them every day.

After making such preparations we formed the Anti-Imperialist Youth League of Wujiazi in a classroom of Samsong School. The league established branches in the hamlets. Choe Il Chon was elected chairman of the league committee, and Mun Jo Yang chief of the organizational section.

Later the Association of Fellow Peasants was reformed into the Peasants Union, the Association of Schoolchildren into the Children’s Expeditionary Corps and the Wujiazi branch of the Educational Federation of Korean Women in South Manchuria into the Women’s Association, and thus a fresh upsurge was brought about in the activities of the mass organizations in Wujiazi. After their restructuring the organizations admitted many new members. Almost all the people living in Wujiazi became affiliated to an appropriate organization and led a political life.

We also restructured the village council, an autonomous administrative organ, into a self-governing committee, a revolutionary one. The pioneers of Wujiazi had formed the village council in the first half of the 1920s. The council paid primary attention to economic and educational affairs and improving the peasants’ life by maintaining normal relations with the Chinese government authorities and operating a rice sales agency at Gongzhuling and similar agencies under it.

But the people of Wujiazi openly accused the councillors of having no popular spirit and of being dishonest.

In the course of talking to the peasants I learned that the councillors were not distributing some foodstuffs and daily necessities that had been purchased by the sales agency at Gongzhuling to the peasants equitably and were disposing of them as they pleased out of their own selfish desires. I sent a man to Gongzhuling to ascertain whether this was true. On his return he told me that the village council was corrupt. He confirmed that the councillors were misappropriating money collected from the peasants and were feathering their own nests.

Because the village head was dealing with most of the affairs of the council by himself in a subjective and arbitrary manner, the opinions of the masses were ignored. As they had no right to participate in the work of the council, the masses did not know about the mistakes made by it. Since the people, their life and the way they worked were all in the process of being transformed, the village council could not work as the masses required with the existing organizational structure and conservative work method.

We called a consultative meeting attended by the cadres of the council, the chiefs of all the hamlets and the chairmen of the organizations of the Peasants Union, and reviewed the work of the village council. At the meeting we restructured the council to form a self-governing committee. The committee eradicated subjectivism and arbitrariness as we had intended and gave full play to democracy in its work.

We paid particular attention to the rice sales agency at Gongzhuling which was under the control of the self-governing committee. The peasants of Wujiazi had previously had to take their rice as far as Gongzhuling 25 miles away on oxcarts or horse carts to sell it. Normally it was good business to store it somewhere when the price of rice was low and sell it when the price had risen. But there was no one for them at Gongzhuling to entrust with their rice. This being the case, they had sold it to anybody without waiting for a better price. Then, in the autumn of 1927, in order to remedy the situation they installed a rice sales agency at Gongzhuling.

We appointed to the agency the most popular people from among the members of the mass organizations. We also sent Kye Yong Chun, Pak Kun Won and Kim Won U, men of the KRA, to help the agency in its work. After we had taken over the agency it performed the secret mission of establishing contact with revolutionary organizations and providing the KRA with the information it needed in its activities while still fulfilling the function of a legal commercial organ serving the peasants.

Our restructuring of the village council to form a self-governing committee and our conversion of such a legal commercial organ as the rice sales agency at Gongzhuling into a servant of the revolution were a great experience in our revolutionary struggle in the early 1930s.

In Wujiazi we sent political workers to many parts of Manchuria to expand our organizations and widen the scope of our activities. In those days we also sent several political workers to the Kailu area. Pak Kun Won, one of the first members of the DIU and a former pupil of Hwasong Uisuk School, worked for some time in that area.

Many Mongolian people lived in the Kailu area. Cut off from the civilized world, they did not know how to treat illnesses and, when they were sick, they only prayed to God. So our comrades took medicines with them whenever they visited that area and administered them to the sick, which were very effective. From that time the people of Kailu treated Korean visitors with hospitality.

In order to improve the political and professional qualifications of those in charge of organizations, we gave a short training course to the heads and core members of every organization. Cha Kwang Su, Kye Yong Chun and I gave lectures for two or three hours every night on the Juche line of revolution and the strategic and tactical policies adopted at the Kalun Meeting, as well as on how to conduct political work among the masses, how to expand organizations and consolidate them, and how to educate the organization members and guide their life in their organizations. After the short course we took the people into the field and taught them working methods—how they should form organizations, train core elements, give assignments and review their fulfilment, conduct meetings, talk to individuals and so on. Then the leading personnel of Wujiazi went boldly among the masses.

We put great efforts into enlightening and educating the people of Wujiazi.

We paid primary attention to education. We appointed men of the KRA and able young men from among the members of the underground organizations as teachers at Samsong School and ensured that they played the leading role in improving the education provided by the school in a revolutionary manner. It was after we began to run the school that the subjects which inculcated nationalist and feudal-Confucian ideas were discontinued and political subjects were included in the curriculum. And it was around this time that tuition fees were abolished at Samsong School. The upkeep of the school was financed by the self-governing committee. All the children of school age in Wujiazi were given free education from that winter.

We later included an article on free and compulsory education in the Ten-point Programme of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland, but in fact the communists of Korea first tried and implemented free education in Guyushu, Kalun and Wujiazi. Samsong School in Wujiazi, along with Jinmyong School in Kalun and Samgwang School in Guyushu, was an important educational establishment, the first to introduce free education in our country.

We also ran night schools for the education of the grown-ups, particularly housewives, who could not go to school. I saw to it that night schools were organized not only in the village but also in the surrounding hamlets, and that all these people were enrolled in them.

Drawing on the experience we had gained in launching Bolshevik in Kalun, we published a magazine Nong-u in Wujiazi. The magazine played the role of the organ of the Peasants Union. While Bolshevik was a little hard to understand, the articles in Nong-u were written in a concise and plain fashion so that the peasants could understand them. This magazine, along with Bolshevik, was circulated as far as Jiandao.

In those days we propagated many revolutionary songs to the villagers through the pupils. If the Red Flag and Revolutionary Song were taught at the school, they would spread throughout the village on the same day.

In Wujiazi we had formed an art troupe. This troupe was based at Samsong School and worked successfully under the guidance of Kye Yong Chun. I worked hard to complete the libretto of The Flower Girl which I had begun to write in my days in Jilin and then staged rehearsals for it. Once the libretto was finished, Kye started the production of the opera with the members of the drama group that had been formed at the school. We staged this opera in the hall of Samsong School on the 13th anniversary of the October Revolution. This opera was not seen on stage for many years after liberation, and then was improved and adapted for the screen, re-written as a novel by our writers and artistes under the guidance of Organizational Secretary Kim Jong Il and presented to the public in the early 1970s. At that time the Organizational Secretary did a lot of work.

With the strong support of the people of Wujiazi, we transformed the village on the Liaohe into a reliable operational base for the KRA in a short span of time. We had worked among the peasants in the outskirts of Jilin and in the vicinity of Changchun, but we had never so thoroughly transformed a rural village into a revolutionary one as we did with Wujiazi.

Kirn Kwang Ryol, a liaison officer of the Comintern, expressed his admiration for all the success we had achieved in Wujiazi.

Because we had put forward an original revolutionary line and were paving the road of revolution in an independent way, the Comintern showed great interest in us. It seems that the Oriental Department of the Comintern discussed us a lot at that time. They seemed to have been curious about the emergence in Korea of revolutionaries of a new generation who were quite different from those of the previous generation and who, while not affiliated with any faction, were working independently and without fuss on a sound mass foundation. It must have been out of curiosity that the Comintern sent a liaison officer.

Kim Kwang Ryol, who had been at the liaison office in Harbin, came to Wujiazi and talked to my comrades, the heads of the revolutionary organizations and the village elders. After talking to many people, he met me and made many encouraging remarks concerning our work. He said that the young communists of Korea had been paving an original road for the communist movement and for the struggle for national liberation from colonial domination, and that in the course of this we had accumulated rich experience. He gave his full support to our revolutionary lines and policies.

He expressed great surprise at our line of the anti-Japanese national united front. He said that a serious discussion about the definition of the supporters of, and sympathizers with the revolution was being conducted in the international communist movement, and asked me how he should understand our alliance with the bigoted nationalist forces, religious believers and even the propertied class.

I said: “A revolution cannot be carried out by a small number of communists or by workers and poor peasants alone. In order to defeat Japanese imperialism we have to enlist even middle-of-the-road forces. I don’t know about the situation in other countries, but in Korea most of the national capitalists and religious believers are all opposed to foreign forces. Only a handful of landlords, comprador capitalists, pro-Japanese elements and traitors to the nation are against the revolution. We intend to mobilize all the rest of the people in a nationwide resistance. The key to liberating Korea through the efforts of the Korean people is to win all the anti-Japanese forces over to our side.”

After hearing my explanation he said, “I am most gratified with the original way you are dealing with everything, without being restrained by the classics.” Then he advised me to study in Moscow, saying, “The practical struggle is important, but since you are a promising young man, you should study,”

Then he produced a suitcase containing a suit, a shirt, a tie and a pair of shoes, and told me that it would be a good idea for me to comply with his request because the Comintern was expecting a great deal from me. He had probably been to the Comintern and come to me with instructions to persuade me to go to Moscow.

I answered, “I am very grateful to you for your interest in me, but I intend to go to east Manchuria, to the masses. If I go to the Soviet Union and eat Russian bread, I may become a pro-Russian, which I do not want. There are many factions in Korea such as the M-L group, the Tuesday group, the Seoul group15 and others which I find distasteful. I cannot be the same. I shall learn Marxism-Leninism from my books.”

Cha Kwang Su, Pak So Sim and other comrades, too, had once advised me in Toroju to go to Moscow, after preparing daily necessities needed in my studying abroad.

Later in December that year I called a meeting of the leading personnel of the KRA and heads of the revolutionary organizations in Wujiazi. The meeting was to review the experiences and lessons gained in the struggle to implement the tasks put forward at the Kalun Meeting and to expand and develop the revolutionary movement as required by the prevailing situation.

Militarist Japan, resorting to the force of arms, had spurred up her preparations for war to seize new colonies and expand her territory by mobilizing all her strength. She ruthlessly destroyed anything she found standing in her way.

We were planning to go to east Manchuria, anticipating Japan’s invasion of Manchuria, and to entrench ourselves there to fight against the invasion. In order to go to east Manchuria we had to review our activities in the central part of Manchuria and take the necessary measures for preparing for an armed struggle, and the Wujiazi Meeting was convened for this purpose.

All the core members of the KRA and heads of the revolutionary organizations attended the meeting. Chae Su Hang and many other heads of revolutionary organizations came to Wujiazi from the Jiandao, Onsong and Jongsong areas, braving the severe cold of 30 degrees below zero. Many young revolutionaries, who had not known one another, became acquainted, exchanged opinions and conducted a serious discussion on the future of the Korean revolution.

The focus of the debate at the meeting was the matter of radically strengthening our activities in east Manchuria. We were firmly resolved to move the main theatre of our activities to east Manchuria. This was a pressing need in view of the prevailing revolutionary situation. That was why I, though staying in Wujiazi, did not forget east Manchuria and was waiting impatiently for the day when I could move there.

At the meeting I also proposed that the preparations for the anti-Japanese armed struggle be speeded up and solidarity with the international revolutionary forces be strengthened.

The meeting fully displayed our determination to switch over from the youth and student movement and from the underground movement in the rural areas to an armed struggle and a decisive offensive against the enemy. While the Kalun Meeting had crystallized the will of the Korean nation to defeat Japanese imperialism by force of arms and liberate the country, the Wujiazi Meeting reaffirmed that will and indicated a shortcut to the theatre of the great war against the Japanese.

This meeting served as a bridge between the meeting held in Kalun and the meetings held in Mingyuegou in the spring and winter of 1931 and the meeting held in Songjiang in the same year, meetings which led us young communists to the field of the decisive battle against the Japanese imperialists.

Our youth and student movement finally developed to the stage of the armed struggle in the 1930s. Wujiazi played the role of a springboard, so to speak.

When I was leaving Wujiazi, Mun Jo Yang followed me for 4 kilometres to see me off, with tears in his eyes.


10. Unforgettable Men and Women


Once I met Comrade Fidel Castro in Pyongyang, and I talked to him for a long time about my experience in the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle. He asked me many questions, one of which was how we had obtained food while conducting the armed struggle.

I said that we had taken food from the enemy sometimes, but that the people always supplied us with it.

During our youth and student movement and underground work, too, people offered us food and bedding.

The Shanghai Provisional Government, Jongui-bu, Sinmin-bu, Chamui-bu and other Independence Army organizations each made laws and raised subscriptions and war funds from their compatriots, but we did not do so. Of course, we needed money for our revolutionary activities, but we could not enact laws to collect taxes. Restricting the people by laws and rules and raising funds by travelling about villages with a book in which was noted down which family should contribute how much money, did not accord with our ideals. Our attitude was that we would take what the people offered us, but if they did not offer us anything, we would not mind.

However, the people helped us in any circumstances even risking their lives. They were awakened to political awareness and always ready to help revolutionaries as they would their own children. Therefore we always trusted them. Where the people lived we never had to skip a meal. We could emerge victorious, even though we had started the struggle empty-handed, solely because the people trusted and supported us. Hyon Jong Gyong, Kim Po An and Sung Chun Hak in Guyushu, Ryu Yong Son, Ryu Chun Gyong, Hwang Sun Sin and Jong Haeng Jong in Kalun, Pyon Tae U, Kwak Sang Ha, Pyon Tal Hwan, Mun Si Jun, Mun Jo Yang, Kim Hae San, Ri Mong Rin and Choe Il Chon in Wujiazi, they were all unforgettable men and women who helped us in south and central Manchuria.

Though they lived on gruel, the people treated us kindly, offering us boiled rice.

Sometimes we slept in the night-duty room of a school on the excuse that we had an urgent task to perform that night, because we were sorry to bother the family. We used classrooms at Jinmyong School as a lodging in Kalun and those at Samgwang and Samsong Schools were our bedrooms in Guyushu and Wujiazi.

Whenever I tried to sleep with my head on a wooden pillow in a classroom at Samgwang School, Hyon Kyun would come and seize me by the hand in a fit of anger.

He was a member of the DIU and a soldier of the Korean Revolutionary Army. He was clever, upright and kind-hearted. His elder brother Hyon Hwa Gyun worked in the Peasants Union in Guyushu and helped us a lot in our work.

Two brothers were involved in our organizations and, what is more, their father, too, was an independence fighter, as a result of which their family was exceptionally kind and warm towards us.

As a man of some social standing Hyon Kyun’s father Hyon Ha Juk enjoyed high prestige among the independence fighters. Ha Juk was an alias, his real name was Hyon Jong Gyong. Instead of addressing him by his real name, the people of Guyushu called him Mr. Ha Juk. In those days all the Koreans resident in Manchuria knew of him.

In his lifetime my father, too, was on intimate terms with him and spoke a lot about him. Not only as mere friends but also as comrades who shared one idea and purpose for the independence movement, they had frequent contact and discussed matters until they came to a mutual understanding. They devoted themselves to the independence movement, respecting each other as close friends.

Mr. Hyon Ha Juk was the chairman of the central legal commission in the days of Thongui-bu16, a member of the central committee in the days of Jongui-bu and, in the days of Kukmin-bu, the head of the political department of the Korean Revolutionary Party which was known by the nationalists as the one and only party of the nation. He had a deep understanding of communism and always sympathized with the young men who aspired to communism, mixing freely with them.

When Comrades Kim Hyok, Cha Kwang Su and Pak So Sim were establishing the Anti-Imperialist Youth League organizations following the formation of the social science institute in Liuhe, he would often appear as a lecturer to enlighten the young people. Those who had attended his lectures in their school days in Wangqingmen and at Hwahung Middle School days frequently recalled him.

Whenever I went to Guyushu, Hyon Ha Juk invited me to spend the night at his house.

“Make yourself comfortable. Treat this as if it were your uncle’s house,” he would say. He was over ten years older than my father.

I stayed at his house for ten days, twenty days and even a month to work with the masses. One year I celebrated the Tano festival with his family in Guyushu. In those days, the family’s circumstances were so difficult that offering a guest food and bedding for a day or two, let alone several weeks, was no easy matter. Because the farmers offered food to the revolutionaries from the small amount of grain which remained after paying their farm rent to the landlord, they did not have even enough gruel to eat.

 Hyon’s family did all they could to feed me well. Sometimes they served chicken, bean curd, ground beans and chard soup.

Whenever the women of his family were turning a handmill to make bean curd, I rolled up my sleeves to help them. I still remember Hyon Hwa Gyun’s wife Kim Sun Ok, who was twenty-two or twenty-three years old and who, out of shyness, would not show her face when I helped her to turn the handmill.

Mr. Hyon Ha Juk belonged to Kukmin-bu, a nationalist organization, but he did not conceal his involvement in the progressive group within Kukmin-bu and said openly that he would follow communism in the future.

I was told that he went to Xian to avoid a quarrel within Kukmin-bu after I left Guyushu. Apparently he went there seeking something from Zhang Xue-liang when his army moved to Xian. Because Zhang’s anti-Japanese feelings were strong, many people wanted to conduct the anti-Japanese movement under his umbrella. Before and after the Manchuria incident many Korean independence fighters who had been active in the three eastern provinces of China moved the theatre of their activities to such places as Shanghai, Xian and Changsha.

Whenever I passed the northeastern area of China by air or by train on a foreign tour after liberation, I recalled Guyushu, Mr. Hyon and his family, as I saw the familiar mountains and rivers. He may have passed away, but one or two of his children must still be alive. However, there was no news from them. I have been able to do nothing because I do not know their address, but they could have written to me. I thought that it was easy for a man to receive kindness but it was difficult to repay it.

Unexpectedly, in the spring of 1990, I had an emotional meeting with members of his family. Kim Sun Ok, the eldest daughter-in-law of Mr. Hyon, sent to our revolutionary museum the brass bowl which I had used when I had eaten at their house, as well as the handmill which had been used to make bean curd for me. She had preserved them for 60 years as souvenirs. This story was carried in Toraji, a Korean magazine published in Jilin, and our Rodong Sinmun copied the article.

When I heard that my benefactors, from whom I had heard nothing for sixty years, were still alive, I could not control my feelings. I had intended to repay the debt I owed in Guyushu someday when the country was independent, so I was anxious to meet Kim Sun Ok to share our past experiences with each other, offering her simple dishes of my own.

Kim Sun Ok, too, said that she could wish for nothing more than to meet me again before she died.

So I invited her to Pyongyang in March 1990. When I met her I found her in her 80s, hardly able to walk because of a serious illness.

When she came to our country, she was accompanied by six of Mr. Hyon’s grandchildren who were all strangers to me. Hyon Kyun’s son was there. His lips closely resembled his father’s. As I looked at the familiar lips I felt as if Hyon Kyun had come to life again and was calling on me.

I made sure that her party stayed in a guest house for foreign VIPs for about a month while they travelled about the homeland. What troubled me was that she could not catch what others were saying because she was hard of hearing. Her pronunciation was not clear and she had a poor memory. Though I had met her, one of my benefactors, whom I had been anxious to meet for sixty years, we could not make ourselves understood to each other. I had hoped that we could spend a long time looking back on the days in Guyushu, she reminding me of what I had forgotten and I reminding her of what she had forgotten. I was very sorry that my wish had not been granted.

Mr. Hyon Ha Juk’s family knew little about his life and activities. So I told them how he had fought for the independence of Korea and how he had helped us in our revolutionary activities. I regarded this to be my duty as a man who knew well about his personal history.

The cause of the previous generation is not inherited naturally by the children of the same stock. Only when the younger generations know all about the distinguished service rendered by their forerunners and its value, can they inherit the revolutionary cause begun by their grandfathers’ and fathers’ generations.

When I met Kim Sun Ok, we sat together with Kong Kuk Ok, Mun Jo Yang and Mun Suk Gon who had helped us in our revolutionary activities in Wujiazi. Kong Kuk Ok is the daughter of Kong Yong who, when my father passed away, had remained in mourning for three years in my place. One year when I was studying at Jilin Yuwen Middle School I went home to Fusong for the holiday. At that time Kong Yong’s wife, whom he had treated badly because of a scar on her face, came to our house with a baby on her back. That baby was none other than Kong Kuk Ok.

While directing a meeting of the Peasants Union in Pyongyang immediately after liberation, I met a man from Pyoktong, a delegate to the meeting, and asked him if he knew where the bereaved family of Kong Yong lived. Because Kong Yong came from Pyoktong I guessed that his widow and daughter might be living there.

The delegate said that many people in Pyoktong had the family name Kong, but he had never heard of Kong Yong’s family. I was disappointed at what he said. My mind was troubled because I did not know the whereabouts of Kong Yong’s family, while other bereaved families had been found.

In those days we were preparing to establish a school for me bereaved families of revolutionaries at Mangyongdae. When I returned, after 20 years, to my old house where my grandparents were waiting for me after I had given my address on my triumphal return to the citizens in the Pyongyang public playground, my classmates from my primary school days called on me and suggested that a middle school named after me be established on the old site of Sunhwa School at which my father had taught. They said, “Mangyongdae is the famous place where General Kim was born. How wonderful it would be if we were to build a large school and name it ‘Kim Il Sung Middle School.’” At that time there was no middle school in my home village.

I said to them, “In the past innumerable patriots sacrificed themselves in the armed struggle while fighting at my side in the mountains. With their dying breath they asked me to educate their children and train them into fine revolutionaries after the independence of Korea. Since then, I have believed that, true to their last words, I should provide education for the bereaved children of my comrades and ensure that they inherit their parents’ will, after the country became independent. Now that we have won back our country, my determination has become firmer. A school for bereaved children of revolutionaries should be established at Mangyongdae, rather than a middle school.”

When I said this, the villagers asked me how many bereaved children of revolutionaries there were and if they were so many that a school should be established exclusively for them. Even some cadres who were working at important posts of the Party and administration said the same. They could not even guess how many martyrs had sacrificed themselves in the fight for the country. Whenever I met such people I was dumbfounded because I had buried innumerable comrades-in-arms in the mountains of a foreign country.

We established the school for the bereaved families of revolutionaries at Mangyongdae, using as capital rice donated by the peasants to the country as a token of their patriotic devotion out of their first harvest after the land reform.

I dispatched many officials to various places at home and in northeast China to find the bereaved children of revolutionaries. At that time hundreds of such children came home from China. Some of those children whom Comrade Rim Chun Chu brought back have now become members of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of our Party.

Some children who had been living by selling dyestuffs or cigarettes returned home on foot of their own accord after hearing that a revolutionary school would be established at Mangyongdae. Among them were descendants of Independence Army men and the children of the patriots who had died while fighting against the Japanese in labour unions or peasants unions.

However, only Kong Kuk Ok was nowhere to be found. Whenever I went to North Phyongan Province I searched for Kong Yong’s family by following up rumours, and I requested the officials of the province to find them. Whenever I visited the revolutionary school to enjoy the holidays with the children and saw them singing and dancing merrily, I felt a heartache at the thought of Kong’s wife who would come to my house in Xiaonanmen Street wearing straw sandals and with a wild herb package on her head, and Kong Kuk Ok who was licking her hand on her mother’s back.

I discovered Kong Kuk Ok at last in 1967. It was after her mother had died. If her mother had known that Kim Il Sung was Kim Song Ju, she would have called on me. Apparently she said nothing about her husband’s activities to her daughter because she had not known who Kim Il Sung was and, moreover, she was afraid that the communist party which had seized power was prejudiced against her husband who had belonged to the Independence Army.

I sent Kong Kuk Ok to the Higher Party School. After her graduation she worked for the Pyongyang City Party Committee and in the museum of the Ministry of Railways. Because she is now too old to work, she is spending the rest of her life at home on an old-age pension.

Kim Po An from Guyushu was a friend of my father’s, as Hyon Ha Juk was. Once he was a company commander of the Independence Army. He said with regret that I had never visited his house, and only went to Mr. Hyon’s, I was told. When friends of mine called on him, he said that he had been on intimate terms with Kim Hyong Jik and was friendly with Song Ju, too, but that I had not visited him.

From then on I dropped in at his house whenever I went to Guyushu. He had established a pharmacy and offered some of the money coming from it to support our Samgwang School. As a man of great enthusiasm for education, he was deeply concerned in enlightening the young people and children. Whenever we requested him to give a lecture at Samgwang School he readily complied. He said that the people of Guyushu did not know even how to count money, so he worried about how we would gain the independence of Korea with such ignorant people. Nowadays people may not believe that adults could not count money, but in those days many of the Chinese and Koreans living in Jilin were not able to calculate prices. The money issued in the province was different from that being circulated in the counties and, in addition, there were various kinds of money of different values, such as the Jilin government cheque, the Fengtian tayang, the Jilin syotayang and the silver coin. So many people could not calculate prices in the markets.

We got the peasants together at the night school and taught them how to calculate prices. Seeing that those who had been regarded so ignorant were now mastering the four rules of arithmetic, Kim Po An said with satisfaction, “Of course, Koreans are naturally clever.” He observed the lessons at the night school and at Samgwang School, saying that seeing their development from ignorance to intelligence was very interesting.

Every student of the advanced course at Samgwang School was clever and resourceful. Among them Ryu Chun Gyong and Hwang Sun Sin still remain in my memory as unforgettable figures. Both of them came to the school on the recommendation of the revolutionary organizations in Kalun. Ryu Chun Gyong’s father Ryu Yong Son helped us in our revolutionary activities, teaching the pupils at Jinmyong School. At that time Comrades Ryu and Hwang were only 14 or 15 years old. When we were returning to Kalun or Jilin after finishing our work in Guyushu, we would ask them to carry our weapons. The warlords were not so careful in searching women. The two girls always complied with our request. They would follow about 50 metres behind us with our weapons under their skirts. The warlord authorities searched us carefully, but they allowed the two girls to pass without taking any serious notice of them.

Hwang Sun Sin returned home after liberation and worked as a farmer in her home village. She worked well, worthy of a member of the Children’s Expeditionary Corps in her Samgwang School days and became famous for her good harvests. She enjoyed respect and love among the people throughout her life and, in the postwar period, worked as a deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly.

Ryu Chun Gyong lived in various parts of Manchuria before returning home in 1979, saying that she would spend the last years of her life in the homeland as Ri Kwan Rin was doing. If she had returned home at a young age as Hwang had done, she would have become a famous career woman and enjoyed a more worthwhile life in her old age for the society and people. Of the girl pupils at Samgwang School she was the best at writing and speaking. She was clear-headed and very promising.

When we were making preparations to found the guerrilla army in Antu, she wrote to me expressing her intention to continue the struggle. Because we were so busy launching the armed struggle at that time and because I considered that it would be difficult for women to follow men in the armed struggle, I failed to send for her. Though we advocated that women should have the same rights as men, at that time we did not regard women as being so good for the armed struggle. If she had returned home at the age of about fifty, we would have given her an education and had her take part in social activity.

We established a principle whereby, if we found those people who had taken part in the revolutionary struggle in the past or had been involved in it, we would educate them, even if they were old, and promote them to suitable posts before they started their political activities. However clever and useful a person may be, he will become ignorant of the world, his thinking ability will decrease and his view of life will get rusty if he coops himself up at home, away from social activity.

After liberation many fighters and those who had been involved in the revolutionary struggle became buried socially without being promoted to suitable posts. The factionalists did not promote the anti-Japanese fighters to cadres for a long time, saying that their background was good but they were useless because they were ignorant. They should have provided them with an education if they were ignorant, and trained them with a strong determination so that they could discharge their duties satisfactorily. But the factionalists excluded the anti-Japanese fighters and turned their faces away from them.

Therefore, we saw to it that the bereaved children of revolutionaries and those who had been involved in the revolutionary struggle, once they were found, studied at the Higher Party School or the University of National Economics before being promoted to cadres, according to their preparedness. If they fail to study and lead an organizational life, even veteran revolutionaries lag behind the times.

In this process, a lot of anti-Japanese fighters, bereaved children of revolutionaries and those who had helped the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle have grown up to become leading members of the Party and government and distinguished public figures.

 Mun Jo Yang of Wujiazi was one of such people. When he worked as the head of the organizational department of the Anti-Imperialist Youth League, he helped us substantially, together with Pyon Tal Hwan, Choe Il Chon, Ri Mong Rin and Kim Hae San. He worked enthusiastically with us, writing articles, making speeches and building up mass organizations. I think that the meetings were held mostly at his house. When I was staying in Wujiazi, I became indebted to his brother Mun Si Jun’s and Choe Il Chon’s families. Mun Si Jun was kind-hearted. He offered me food over several months without receiving any money. It is fresh in my memory how, when our party was active in Wujiazi, he went so far as to butcher his pig for us to eat, requesting us earnestly to liberate the country. I ate and slept at his house for a long time. I very much liked the pickled garlic which was put on the table at every meal in his house. Because it had such a distinct taste, it was the first thing I recollected when I met Mun’s daughter Mun Suk Kon after liberation. So I invited her to my house to teach us to make the pickled garlic. Whenever I go to the provinces the people there put pickled garlic on the dining table, but it cannot be compared with the pickled garlic I ate in Wujiazi with cooked millet. Not long ago Mun Jo Yang celebrated his 80th birthday. Recalling the days in Wujiazi I sent him some flowers and had a dinner prepared for him.

In Wujiazi I stayed at Choe Il Chon’s house for several days. He was the chairman of the Anti-Imperialist Youth League and the chief editor of Nong-u. In those days he was called Choe Chon or Choe Chan Son. The name Choe Hyong U printed on the cover of A Short History of Korean Revolutionary Movement Overseas was the pen name which he used when he was writing in Seoul after liberation. He was the most enlightened man in Wujiazi. He did not write poems as Kim Hyok did but had a distinguished literary talent in prose. That is why he worked as the head of the Changchun branch office of Tong-A llbo, while conducting activities as an underground political worker for several years under our orders. In this process he collected a lot of material about our activities and wrote many articles for publications.

Choe Il Chon was put on a blacklist by the Japanese intelligence service. The Japanese military policemen and secret agents were on duty every day outside the Tong-A llbo office to watch him. The enemy became interested in him because he continued to work among the young people in Changchun, too, and because he disseminated our activities widely among the patriots at home and abroad. After we started the armed struggle in east Manchuria, he sent to the Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Army many hardcore young men whom he had trained himself in the Anti-Imperialist Youth League organizations. We must conclude that the details of the national liberation struggle of Koreans in Manchuria that appear in A Short History of Korean Revolutionary Movement Overseas and the vigorous and passionate literary talent with which he described them were learned and polished through his revolutionary practice.

When he was living in Shenyang and Beijing Choe Il Chon went to Seoul many times to introduce the anti-Japanese armed struggle to the distinguished figures and the people from all walks of life at home. After the founding of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland he explained its programme to them. Influenced by his propaganda the Korean Language Society and the Korean folklore movement led by Ri Kuk Ro gave their full support to the Ten-point Programme of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland and, in accordance with this programme, conducted a struggle to safeguard the nation’s culture and the spirit of the nation.

As the persecution and surveillance by the Japanese authorities became stricter, Choe went to Seoul, taking with him material about our struggle and the independence movement which he had collected while travelling around Manchuria when he was working at the branch office of Tong-A llbo, and handed it all over to Ri Kuk Ro who was the head of the Korean Language Society. Among this material were copies of the magazine Nong-u we had published in Wujiazi.

“This material is worthy of being a national treasure. I am not able to keep it because I am followed constantly by the enemy. I will write the history using this material after the independence of the country. So I hope you will keep it until that time.”

Having made this request Choe returned to Manchuria. Immediately after liberation he took the material from Ri, who had kept it in safety at his request, and wrote A Short History of Korean Revolutionary Movement Overseas. This book was printed on reclaimed paper mixed with grains of sand, but it was so popular that the young intellectuals studying history and literature copied the full text out on white paper.

In the bloody atmosphere immediately after liberation in which the American military government defined anti-communism and anti-north as the “state policy” of south Korea and backed it with the bayonet, Choe even published cartoons depicting the anti-Japanese struggle to infuse in the young people and children the anti-imperialist and anti-Japanese spirit. It was wonderful that he wrote such a valuable book as A Short History of Korean Revolutionary Movement Overseas, tapping all his mental power, in Seoul where political confusion and disorder prevailed.

After entering the political world in south Korea he worked at important posts such as the head of the political department of the Korean Revolutionary Party, the department head of the Central Committee of the New Progressive Party, a member of the Committee for Welcoming General Kim Il Sung and a member of the executive committee of the National Independence Federation, and fought with devotion for the unity of the democratic forces and national reunification, joining hands with Ryo Un Hyong, Hong Myong Hui, Kim Kyu Sik and other important figures. He was assassinated in Seoul by the reactionaries during the Fatherland Liberation War.

Choe Il Chon’s A Short History of Korean Revolutionary Movement Overseas is unfinished. He planned to write the next volumes after publishing volume 2, but he failed to do so because he could not find time to write them after stepping out on the political stage in south Korea. I was told that he intended to write about our revolutionary activities in all their aspects in the next volumes. If Choe Il Chon had not been killed, the next volumes would have been published and, accordingly, more interesting material about our revolutionary history would have become known to the world.

Many decades have passed since then, so not many of those who can remember the days of the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle remain alive. What is worse, those who can remember the early days of our struggle are only a few. My memory, too, is limited. I have forgotten many experiences and sometimes I fail to remember the correct dates and names because my memory is dim.

Among those who helped us in our activities in central and south Manchuria, Kim Ri Gap’s girlfriend Jon Kyong Suk remains most vividly in my memory. As a hero of the “Kumgang restaurant (Taesong restaurant) incident,” Kim was included in A Short History of Korean Revolutionary Movement Overseas. In the spring of 1930 some Japanese consular policemen disguised as Chinese arrested him at O Sang Hon’s (O Chun Ya) house in Fuxing Street, Jilin, and escorted him to Changchun after gagging him and binding his arms and legs. In court he was sentenced to nine years in prison and transferred to Dalian prison.

Jon Kyong Suk’s parents refused to allow their daughter to marry a revolutionary such as Kim Ri Gap, but Jon disobeyed her parents and left home to follow her fiance to Dalian. At the time she was 18 or 19 years old. While carrying out her duties as the head of the Communist Youth League organization at a textile mill, she supplied Kim with food and clothing.

I was told of this by Dong Chang-rong, the then secretary of the east Manchuria special district committee of the Chinese Communist Party. He said that when he was engaged in underground party work in Dalian he happened to meet her and was deeply moved by her true and ardent love. He went on to say that when he saw her he felt that the faithfulness and will of Korean women was very strong.

Listening to him, I also admired her for her noble character. His words reminded me of her preparing a dinner for me and informing me of Kukmin-bu’s terrorist plan when we were staying in Wangqingmen to take part in the Conference of the General Federation of Korean Youth in South Manchuria. I thought that Kim Ri Gap must be a truly happy man.

On this occasion I cannot write the innumerable stories I would like to about my benefactors who offered me food and provided me with my school fees and travelling expenses from their trifling savings when we young communists were running about vast Manchuria to save the nation. Many of them remain undiscovered, whether alive or dead and, should they be alive, we don’t know where they are. If they appear before me even now it would satisfy a long-cherished desire of mine. How wonderful it would be if I could treat them and we could share our experiences of several decades ago. However, even by doing that I cannot repay all the sincere efforts they made for me in the past.

I consider it my best payment and gift to them to make the people prosperous, promote the well-being of the people and carry out the revolution initiated with the support of the people. Until he has made such a contribution to the people, nobody can say that he has fulfilled his duty as a communist.



CHAPTER 5: People in Arms



1. The Earth in Agony


With the advent of 1931 the whirlwind of white terrorism that had started in the wake of the May 30 and August 1 Uprisings swept across the whole territory of Manchuria with increasing force. In an attempt to root out the revolutionary forces that had been painstakingly fostered over many years by the Korean communists and patriots, the enemy resorted to bloody repression everywhere. When I arrived in east Manchuria, I found the atmosphere there more strained than in south or central Manchuria; the consequences of the uprising were even more horrible and devastating there. When I saw the heads of the rebels on spikes at the South Gate of Dunhua, I realized how far the offensive of the enemy against the revolutionary forces had gone. Even after the May 30 and August 1 Uprisings the factionalists and flunkeyists who were steeped in dogmatism and petty-bourgeois vainglory staged riots in the name of anniversary revolts, harvest revolts and terror revolts on such occasions as the anniversary of National Humiliation Day, the anniversary of the October Revolution and the anniversary of the Guangzhou Uprising. The number of such riots reached several hundreds. This was why the storm of terrorism by the enemy was continuing into the following year.

In the course of this nearly all the revolutionary organizations in Jiandao broke up. Even the people who had followed the insurgents with food for them, to say nothing of the hardcore men who had fought in the front line, were all captured or killed. The organizations we had rebuilt a year before when we were on our way to the River Tuman also suffered a considerable loss. Some of those taking part in the uprisings either surrendered to the enemy or fell away from the revolutionary organizations. When we visited villages in search of the organizations that had gone underground, some people would not speak to us and would only look at our faces fearfully. Others would say, “The communist party has ruined Jiandao,” “The whole area of Jiandao has become a sea of blood, a sea of flames due to the senseless moves of the communist party,” and “If you dance to the tune of the communist party, all your family will be exterminated,” and would turn away from or give a wide berth to people known to be communists, regardless of their affiliation.

When I went to Mingyuegou, Ri Chong San who was a member of the Weng district party committee told me of the afflictions he had gone through following the uprisings. He said:

“Those higher up tell me incessantly to go among the masses and restore and expand the organizations, but to be frank with you, I find meeting people now uninteresting and discouraging. Those people who used to treat me with respect as a revolutionary, and even those who were admitted to the organization on my recommendation, have been keeping out of my way for months now. I feel so sad I can hardly carry on my revolutionary work. The wind of revolt blew a few times and public feelings have turned nasty in Jiandao, I tell you. Sometimes I have the sudden thought that, if I have to live on like this with people giving me the cold shoulder, I would rather give up the revolution and go away somewhere just to earn a living, and then I shall find peace of mind. But it’s easier said than done. How can a revolutionary abandon his original aim that he was determined to attain, come what may? In any event there must be some measures taken to find a way out, but I’m quite at a loss what to do, and I only resent the confused situation.”

 This was the anguish of Ri Chong San and, at the same time, my anguish. All the revolutionaries in Jiandao experienced such mental agony in the years 1930-31. The situation was so grim and dark that even such a faithful and reticent old revolutionary as Ri Chong San had unburdened himself to me in that way. Of course, he did not abandon the revolution. Later I met him again in Antu. While I was away touring many counties on the banks of the River Tuman, he was transferred to the Antu district party committee. His face was much brighter than when he had been in Wengshenglazi. He said with great pleasure that things were going well at his new post. “Gone are the days of my nightmare,” he remarked. This expressed the change in his life. I could not find a trace of the bitter and dismal look he had worn on his face when he complained that people kept aloof from him. But until I met Ri Chong San at Wengshenglazi the revolutionaries in Manchuria had suffered terribly under the white terrorism and had had to suffer anguish due to the cold and wary attitude of the people.

I was also distressed with the same affliction. It was at that time that I had to eat watery maize gruel and pickled mustard leaves and stems for my meals and sleep in the cold, drafty front rooms of people’s houses at night, resting my head on a wooden pillow and fighting with my hunger pangs. The greatest pain molesting me in those days was that of hunger. Moving about Jiandao, I suffered much from the cold and hunger. I had to pass the winter in my Western clothes without a quilted coat, and so I always suffered more from the cold than other people did. In houses where no bedclothes were available, I would lie down in my clothes at night and try to fall asleep. When I stopped at the house of Ri Chong San, they had no bedding or pillow to offer me. So I lay down in my Western clothes at night, but I felt so cold that I could not fall asleep. It was such a tormenting experience that later when I went to my home in Antu I told my mother of what I had gone through that night. On hearing this, in a few days my mother made me a large quilted coat that looked like that of a cart driver. Whenever I happened to stop for the night at a house with no bedclothes I would cover myself with the quilted coat and sleep cuddled up with my head on a wooden pillow wrapped in a handkerchief.

But such hardships were nothing to me. During my tour of Jiandao in the spring of that year I never once had a good night’s sleep. When I lay down to sleep at night, I remained awake because of the cold and hunger and, to add to that, I could not calm my mind at the thought of my murdered comrades and of the ruined organizations. I was also tormented by feelings of despair and loneliness caused by the people’s unkind attitude. When I lay down in a cold room resting my head on my arm after meeting people who were cold and aloof, I could not get to sleep because of visions of distrusting people floating before my eyes. To tell the truth, we had pinned great hope on the Jiandao area. Although factionalism had been rife in Yanji, the other parts of Jiandao had been relatively free from the filth of factionalism. This had provided favourable conditions for the rapid growth of a new generation of communists in the area to develop the revolution in a new fashion. For many years our comrades had, through tireless efforts and painstaking work, pushed steadily ahead with preparations for taking the anti-Japanese revolution onto a higher stage in the area. Nevertheless, the two uprisings had severely impaired the results of their hard work. The Left tendency had bewitched the masses for a time with its ultrarevolutionary phrases and slogans, but the harm it did was as serious and destructive as this. I believed it was not absurd to say that the Left tendency was an inverted manifestation of the Right tendency. So we hastened to Jiandao, setting aside everything else, out of our desire to make good the damage caused by the Left excesses and speed up the preparations for switching over to the armed struggle as soon as possible. Our expectations had been great when we came to Jiandao, but the damage suffered there was more disastrous than anticipated and, moreover, the people regarded the revolutionaries with distrust and remained aloof from them. Witnessing such a state of affairs was terribly distressing. What could be sadder for the fighters who were devoted to the people than to be forsaken by the people, who had given birth to them? If a revolutionary should forfeit the people’s confidence and support even for a single day, he can scarcely be regarded as a living man. When the masses were cold and unkind towards the revolutionaries, regardless of their affiliation, we were deeply grieved because to our great regret the uprisings had discredited the communists, the masses had lost faith in their leaders and were falling away from the organizations, and barriers of distrust and misunderstanding had appeared between the Korean people and the Chinese people. This was our greatest anguish at the time.

But we did not just remain in a state of distress, anguish and agony. If a revolutionary did not face problems in his struggle, he was not conducting a revolution. Faced with an ordeal, he should strengthen his resolve and pull through it without flinching and full of confidence. In 1931 we worked tirelessly to sweep away the evil consequences of the May 30 Uprising in Jiandao. The first obstacle in the way of implementing the line adopted at the Kalun Meeting was the aftermath of this uprising. Without removing this obstacle quickly and regrouping the revolutionary forces, it would be impossible to save the revolution from the crisis and to develop it.

When departing for east Manchuria after winding up the Wujiazi Meeting, I set myself and my comrades two tasks.

One was to conduct a general review of the aftereffects of the May 30 Uprising. Although we had not planned or directed it, we felt it necessary to analyse and review the uprising in a scientific manner from various angles. Despite the fact that the revolt had gone from setback to setback, there were still fanatical believers in terrorism and adherents to Li Li-san’s line in east Manchuria and they were instigating the masses to conduct a reckless, violent struggle. Li Li-san’s line of “victory first in one or a few provinces” was a dogmatic application of Lenin’s proposition on the possibility of victory in the socialist revolution in one country. This line had been a powerful stimulant in urging the masses to riot. It was a line laid down by someone who held power in the Chinese party and passed down through organizational channels. Therefore, people followed it for a long time until the man responsible, that is Li Li-san, resigned from his post in the party and his view was labelled as Left adventurism. In spite of their bitter experience of failure and setback, the people could not shake themselves free from the sweet illusion they had been given by Li Li-san. A review of the May 30 Uprising would free them from this illusion. We decided to warn people against the careerism, fame-seeking and petty-bourgeois vainglory of the factionalists and flunkeyists through a review of the May 30 Uprising. I thought that the review would also mark a historic turning-point in awakening the revolutionaries in Manchuria to the importance of a scientific strategy and tactics and a method of leading the masses.

The other task was to put forward a correct line for organizing the broad masses into a single political force and to equip the new generation of communists with this line. The communists in the Jiandao area had no clear organizational line to serve them as a guide in restoring and consolidating the ruined organizations and expanding and strengthening them. The factionalists and flunkeyists active in east Manchuria were committing a glaring Left error also in organizing the masses. While advocating a “theory of class revolution,” they admitted only poor peasants, hired farmhands and workers to the organization. They regarded all the other sections of society as having nothing to do with the revolution. In consequence, the people left out of the organization would say in anger: “So this is what communism is like! The small fry are closeted together, leaving all the other people out in the cold. That’s communism, then.” In order to remove this exclusivist tendency and unite the patriotic forces of all social quarters, it was imperative to lay down and implement as soon as possible a correct organizational line which would make it possible to overcome the flunkeyist and dogmatic tendency of clinging to the propositions of the classics and the experience of other countries and unite and take in all the patriotic forces.

I set this as the object of the first stage of my work in Jiandao as I hurried on my way to east Manchuria. But while on my way towards Changchun in company with Ryu Pong Hwa and Choe Tuk Yong after giving guidance in the work of the mass organizations at Guyushu, I was arrested by the reactionary warlord authorities because of a report made by a spy. The warlord authorities had been keeping a sharp watch on our activities. They were as eagle-eyed as the Japanese police. They Were even aware that we were going to east Manchuria to prepare for an armed struggle. Having realized that Guyushu was a major operational centre of the Korean communists in central Manchuria, the warlord authorities had instructed the administration office of Yitong County to send an inspector there and had all our movements closely watched. In Guyushu there lived a Chinese landlord called Li Chu-yu, who, in touch with the inspector, had been spying on our movements. It was this Li who informed the inspector when we left Guyushu and set off in the direction of Changchun. We were arrested at Duonandun by guard corps members who had rushed to the spot on the instructions of the inspector. After a few days’ interrogation in the detention room of the county office, we were escorted to Changchun, where we spent some 20 days behind bars. That was my third time in prison. Headmaster Li Guang-han and teacher He from Yuwen Middle School in Jilin happened to be in Changchun at the time. On hearing of my arrest, they went to the warlord authorities and protested strongly, saying, “Kim Song Ju was found innocent and acquitted at Jilin prison, so why have you arrested him again? We stand guarantee for Kim Song Ju.” I was set free thanks to the help of the two teachers. They were both communist sympathizers who had an understanding of communism, and that was why, I presume, they did not hesitate to come to my rescue when I was in trouble. When I saw how they sympathized with me, protected me and understood our cause with their whole hearts as ever, I was deeply touched and filled with great emotion, an event which I could not forget all my life.

The first thing we did after arriving in east Manchuria was to conduct a short training course in Dunhua for the men of the Korean Revolutionary Army and hardcore members of the revolutionary organizations. In this short course lectures were given on the tasks for stepping up the preparations for an armed struggle in real earnest and the ways to implement them, on the cardinal problems arising in providing unified leadership to the basic party organizations, and on the question of uniting the dispersed revolutionary masses in organizations. This class, it could be said, was preparatory to the Winter Mingyuegou Meeting held in December that year.

After that short course, I toured Antu, Yanji, Helong, Wangqing, Jongsong and Onsong giving guidance to the work of the revolutionary organizations in those areas. On the basis of a full understanding of the actual situation in Jiandao and in the six towns on the Korean side of the River Tuman, we called a meeting of cadres of the party and the Young Communist League at the house of Ri Chong San in Weng-shenglazi in mid-May, 1931. Historically this meeting is called the Spring Mingyuegou Meeting. Wengshenglazi means a rock giving out the sound of a ceramic jar. Before the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, Mingyuegou used to be called Wengshenglazi. After they had usurped Manchuria, the Japanese established a railway station at Wengshenglazi and called it Mingyuegou. The name became accepted and people came to call the place Mingyuegou. At present Mingyuegou is the Antu county town, but when we held the meeting, it belonged to Yanji County.

The Spring Mingyuegou Meeting was attended by the cadres of the party and Young Communist League organizations, members of the Korean Revolutionary Army and underground workers, numbering dozens of people in all. Of the communists of the new generation in the Jiandao area, Paek Chang Hon and nearly all the other renowned revolutionaries were present at the meeting, I suppose.

My speech at the meeting was edited and published under the title Let Us Repudiate the “Left” Adventurist Line and Follow the Revolutionary Organizational Line. In this speech I mentioned the two tasks I set on leaving for east Manchuria. As I had planned, at the meeting we analysed and reviewed the true nature of the May 30 Uprising and put forward the revolutionary organizational line of uniting the whole nation into a political force by firmly rallying the masses of workers, peasants and intellectuals and banding together the anti-Japanese forces of all other social sections around them.

The meeting discussed the tasks for the implementation of this organizational line, the tasks of building up a hard core of leadership and enhancing its independent role, of restoring and consolidating the ruined mass organizations and enlisting people from all walks of life in them, of tempering the masses in the practical struggle, and of strengthening the joint struggle of the Korean and Chinese peoples and promoting their friendship and solidarity. At the same time, the tactical principles were laid down of advancing from small-scale struggles to large-scale ones and from economic struggles gradually to political struggles, and of skilfully combining legitimate struggles with underground ones, with special stress being laid on the matter of thoroughly overcoming the Left adventurist tendency.

It can be said in short that the Spring Mingyuegou Meeting in May 1931 was a gathering aimed at winning over the masses. The largest barrier to this was the Left adventurist line. This was why we resolutely criticized that line.

When we criticized Leftism and advanced the comprehensive organizational line, those attending the meeting voiced their whole-hearted approval of it. Many people took the floor, and all their speeches were revolutionary. The speakers were unanimous in their opinion that Japan’s invasion of Manchuria was imminent and that therefore they should make full preparations and fight a decisive battle when the time came. Since the meeting was attended by many revolutionary veterans, there were many things to listen to and learn from. I learnt many lessons from the meeting. Following it, political workers left for all parts of Jiandao and the homeland. I stayed in Mingyuegou for some time directing the work of the party and mass organizations in the area before proceeding to Antu. My plan was to help the revolutionary work in Jiandao and in the homeland while staying in Antu. Antu was situated in a mountain recess a long way from the railways, main roads and cities, well beyond the reach of Japanese imperialism’s evil power. Surrounded by steep mountains and thick forests, the place was a favourable location for establishing contact with the organizations in the six towns and other areas in the homeland, to say nothing of the regions of Yanji, Helong, Wangqing, Hunchun, Fusong, Dunhua and Huadian, and was very convenient for founding and training a guerrilla army and promoting the work of building party organizations. The composition of the population was also very good.

In addition, Mt. Paektu, our ancestral mountain, was nearby, and we, the people who had not forgotten our motherland even for a moment, could draw great mental comfort and inspiration from its solemn and majestic appearance. On a serene, bright day, the silvery grey peaks of Mt. Paektu were visible under the distant southwestern sky. At the sight of it in the distance, I felt my heart beating violently with a desire to take up arms and win back my country as soon as possible. Although we were going to launch an armed struggle in a foreign land, we desired to raise the sound of gunshots against Japan within sight of Mt. Paektu. This was a feeling common to us all.

In April, after the short training course in Dunhua, I happened to go to Antu and guided the work of the mass organizations there. My mother was weak with illness. Medical science was still backward and no correct diagnosis could be made of what was wrong with her. She would only say that she felt as if a “lump” were kicking about inside her and take some kind of decoction. She did not care how serious her illness was but she worried about my moving about strange places all the time without a penny and gave herself body and soul to the work of the Women’s Association.

As I went back to Antu after two months’ absence, I was anxious in my mind about my mother. But when I arrived, I was relieved to see an unexpected glow in her cheeks. She used to tell me not to care about my home but devote myself heart and soul to the work of winning back our homeland, and yet when I turned up, she could not repress her joy and would try to conceal her sickly appearance.

On hearing of my arrival, my grandmother who had come from Mangyongdae rushed out in her stocking feet and gathered me into her arms. Since coming to Manchuria in the year of my father’s death, she had stayed on in Fusong without returning home, eking out a scant existence with my mother. When my mother had moved to Antu from Fusong, she had gone, also. In Antu she had taken up residence at the house of Yong Sil’s maternal grandparents at Xinglongcun, and stayed there and at my home in turns. Yong Sil was the only daughter of uncle Hyong Gwon. After my uncle’s imprisonment, my aunt (Chae Yon Ok) had had a severe nervous breakdown. She had just had her first baby and was looking forward to a happy life when her husband was sadly taken away to prison. So she had good reason for falling ill.

After uncle Hyong Gwon had been condemned to 15 years’ penal servitude and started to serve his time in prison, I wrote to my aunt advising her to give her child to someone else and remarry. But she did not marry again. She wrote: Even my elder sister-in-law who has no husband has not remarried and is raising her three children in spite of all the hardships, so how can I marry for a second time when my husband is alive and well? If I take a second husband, how grieved the father of my Yong Sil will be when he hears of it in prison! If I give away Yong Sil to someone else and start a new home with another man, shall I be able to sleep in peace and shall I be able to eat? Never suggest such a thing again.

My aunt was a prudent, graceful and strong-willed woman. My mother had been living with her, but after coming to Antu, she had sent her sister-in-law to her parents’ home for a change. My grandmother, who was then staying with my aunt at her parents’ home, would look after her and keep her company. Then, when her thoughts ran to her sick eldest daughter-in-law, she would go hurriedly to my home and decoct some herb medicine and cook meals for my mother. While she looked after her two weak daughters-in-law, my grandmother silently worried a great deal. So she spent years in an unfamiliar land unable to return home readily. This I think was due to her kind and sympathetic affection as a mother-in-law for her two pitiable, lonely daughters-in-law. The night I arrived in Antu, she slept at my side. I awoke in the dead of night to find my head resting on my grandmother’s arm. It deemed to me that after I had fallen asleep, she had quietly pushed my pillow aside and taken my head in her arm. My grandmother’s kindness touched my heart and I could not bring myself to shift my head back onto the pillow. But she was not asleep. She asked me quietly: “You’ve forgotten your home, haven’t you?”

“How can I, grandma? Never for a moment have I forgotten Mangyongdae. I am longing to see my family and relatives at home.”

“To be honest, I came to Manchuria to take all my family here back home. If I could not take you along with me, I thought I would still take back home your mother, your younger brothers and all the others. But your mother won’t listen to me. She says that you have all come here pledging not to cross back over the River Amnok before winning back the country. How then can she turn back on the spur of the moment and retrace her steps just because your father has passed away? So stubborn is she that she would not even look back just once when we were leaving Fusong. So I cannot ask her any more to go back home. If your living here is helpful to the winning of Korea’s independence, I won’t try to take you away but go back to Mangyongdae alone. When you feel homesick and yearn for your grandfather and grandmother, please write us a letter. Then we’ll think we’ve seen you. You know I can’t come here often.”

Later I could not comply with my grandmother’s request even once. I did not write her a letter because I thought that she would hear of my name and the reports about the military achievements of the anti-Japanese guerrilla army carried often in the newspapers of my homeland. My grandmother sighed quietly as she said that if I was to do something great my mother should be in good health, and that it was embarrassing that she was working so hard while her illness was going from bad to worse. On hearing this, I could not sleep because of my anxiety about my mother. I had many things to worry about as her eldest son and the heir to the Mangyongdae family who should look to family affairs.

In those days it was much in vogue among the young people who were my revolutionary companions to think that a man who had stepped out on the road of struggle should naturally forget his family. The young revolutionaries were generally of the opinion that he who cared about his home was not equal to a great cause. Criticizing such a tendency, I would say that he who did not love his home could not truly love his country and the revolution. Yet, how much did I love and care for my home? It was my view of filial piety in those days that earnest devotion to the revolution represented the supreme love for one’s family. I never thought of pure filial duty detached from the revolution. This was because I believed that the fate of a family and that of the country were inseparably interrelated with each other. It is common knowledge that the peace of the country is a prerequisite to peace at home. It is a rule that national tragedy will inevitably affect the millions of families that make up the nation. Therefore, to safeguard the peace and happiness of families it is necessary to safeguard the country; and to safeguard the country, everyone must faithfully discharge his duties as a citizen. But a man should not lose sight of his family on the ground that he is engaged in the revolution. Love for his family constitutes a motive force which prompts a revolutionary to the struggle. When his love for his family cools, his enthusiasm for the struggle will cool also.

I knew in principle about the interrelation between a family and the revolution, but I had no clear, established view of how a revolutionary devoted to the revolution should love his family. As I looked around the house, inside and out, after getting up in the next morning, I found many things that needed a male hand to put them right. There was not enough firewood, for one thing. I decided that I would find time to lend my mother a hand in looking after the housekeeping. Putting aside everything else, that day I went up the mountain with my brother Chol Ju. I had decided to gather some firewood. But my mother came after us with a head-pad and a sickle in her hands. I wondered how she had discovered where we were, after she had gone out to the well. I implored her to go home but to no avail.

“I haven’t come just to help you. I want to have a talk with you here. Last night grandmother talked with you all night, didn’t she?”

Mother smiled brightly as she said this. Only then did I understand. At home grandmother was always beside me and when she let go of me, my younger brothers would hang on to me and would not let me go. While collecting firewood, mother kept close at my side, speaking to me all the time.

“Song Ju dear, do you remember a man named Choe Tong Hwa?”

“Yes. Choe Tong Hwa, isn’t he known to be in the communist movement?”

“He called at our house a few days ago. He asked me when you were likely to come to Antu and wanted me to let him know when you did. He said he would like to have a discussion with you.”

“Did he? But why did he say he wanted to discuss with me?”

“He said he wanted to tell you he was displeased with you for going around telling the people that the May 30 Uprising was a mistake. He shook his head and said he could not see why a sensible young man like Song Ju should be so critical of the uprising when it had been supported and countenanced by people higher up. I’m afraid you’re out of favour with the people.”

“That may be possible. It seems there are some people who don’t take kindly to my views. But mother, what do you think?”

“I can’t claim to know anything of the world. I only think it a serious matter when crowds of people are being killed and arrested. When all the hard core is gone, who will carry out the revolution?”

My mother’s simple yet clear thought delighted me. The people always had an unerring eye. There could never be a social phenomenon which defied the people’s judgement.

“You’re right, mother. You have passed fairer judgement on the matter than that man Choe Tong Hwa. Even now, the revolution is suffering because of the uprising, isn’t it? I have come to Antu to repair the damage.”

“So I suppose you must dash around busily as you did last spring. Don’t worry about household affairs again but devote yourself to your duties.”

This was the point of what she wanted to say to me. She must have begun talking about Choe Tong Hwa so as to tell me this.

After that I dedicated myself heart and soul to the work of building up organizations, as my mother wished. Antu also had been greatly victimized because of the May 30 Uprising. To add to that, the work of organizing the masses was unsatisfactory in this area. To make Antu revolutionary it was essential above all else to expand the party organizations and party ranks and firmly establish the organizational leadership system of the party in the area. So in mid-June 1931 we formed the district party committee of Xiaoshahe, Antu County, with Kim Jong Ryong, Kim Il Ryong and other core elements, and gave the party committee the assignment of sending out political workers to the areas of Erdaobaihe, Sandaobaihe, Sidaobaihe, Dadianzi, Fuerhe and Chechangzi to set up basic party organizations. Following the formation of the district party committee. Young Communist League organizations were extended to Liushuhe, Xiaoshahe, Dashahe and Antu, and anti-Japanese organizations such as the Peasants Association, Anti-Imperialist Union, Revolutionary Mutual-Relief Association and Children’s Expeditionary Corps were founded in these areas. As a result, the groundwork for organizing the masses was completed in the Antu area in the summer of that year. There was no village without an organization. The greatest problem in making Antu revolutionary was that the revolutionary ranks were divided among themselves. Antu was divided in two halves—north and south—with a river in between. Different youth organizations had these villages under their influence. The young people’s organization in the northern village was under the control of the followers of the Jongui-bu machinery and that in the southern village was under the thumb of such Chamui-bu people as Sim Ryong Jun. These two organizations were at daggers drawn, and even the young people’s organization of the M-L group led by Choe Tong Hwa was reaching out its hand to them, thus greatly complicating the situation within the youth movement. This being the situation we did not limit ourselves to restoring the youth organizations to their original state but educated and led the young people to unite them into one organization. We guarded against and ruthlessly criticized the slightest attempt to split the youth movement. This compelled people steeped in factional strife such as Choe Tong Hwa to adopt a prudent attitude to our opinion that a unified youth organization should be set up in the Antu area.

In the process of making Antu revolutionary we ran up against the vehement obstructive moves of the hostile elements. In places like Kalun and Wujiazi the village heads were all under our influence, but in Xinglongcun the village head cringed to the wicked landlord Wu Han-chang and acted as his spy. He always spied on the movements of the villagers and mass organizations and sent reports to the town. So we called a meeting of all the village inhabitants, men and women, young and old, to denounce the fellow, and threw him out of the village. A few days later Wu Han-chang came to bargain with me. He said:

“I am aware that you, Mr. Kim, are a communist. I am really worried because I am always away in old Antu and only my bodyguard remain here. If those reckless men in my bodyguard should find out who you are and do harm to you, I shall be an enemy of all the communists, shan’t I? I am worried that I have to get along as I am doing now. Should the Japanese find out that I know about you, they will behead me right away before anyone else. So let’s settle the matter amicably between ourselves. I pray you, Mr. Kim, to leave this place for all time. If you need money for your travelling expenses, I’ll give you as much as you like.”

After hearing him out, I replied:

“There is nothing for you to worry about. I believe that, although you are a landlord, you must have a conscience as a Chinese man and hate the Japanese imperialists who are out to swallow up China.

“I think you have no cause to turn against us or hurt us. I take no exception to you and the Chinese young people who are members of your bodyguard.

“If you were a worthless man, I would not talk to you in this manner. Rather than worrying about me, you ought to take care that you are not called a ‘running dog’ of the Japanese ruffians.”

At this, Wu Han-chang had nothing more to say and left Xinglong-cun village. After that, the man and his bodyguard behaved discreetly towards us, maintaining a more or less neutral position. The newly-appointed village head always considered our position and carefully performed only those of his administrative duties that he was obliged to.

If we had failed to carry through the line of organizing the masses in Antu, we would have been unable to subdue such an important landlord as Wu Han-chang and neutralize him in the vast, wild land of Jiandao that was swept by white terrorism. The power of the organized masses was truly unlimited and there could be no such word as impossible for this power. The revolutionary organizations in Xinglongcun and the surrounding area moved forward in high spirits, expanding their forces.


2. The September 18 Incident


When the revolutionary organizations in Antu became active, I went out to the local organizations in the Helong, Yanji and Wangqing areas in the summer and early autumn of 1931 and rallied the masses who had dispersed following the May 30 Uprising.

The September 18 incident occurred when I was conducting brisk activities based in Dunhua, establishing contact with the comrades in Antu, Longjing, Helong, Liushuhe, Dadianzi and Mingyuegou. At the time I was working with activists from the Young Communist League in a rural village near Dunhua.

Early on the morning of the 19th of September Chen Han-zhang arrived suddenly in the village where I was staying and told me that the Kwantung Army had attacked Fengtian.

“It’s war! The Japanese have at last started the war.”

Groaning, he plumped down on the earthen verandah like a man with a heavy burden. The word war that came from his lips sounded pathetic.

The incident had been foreseen long before and its date virtually coincided with our guess, but I was shocked when I thought of the calamity it would bring to hundreds of millions of Chinese people, as well as to the Korean people, and of the great change that would affect my fate.

Later we learned what had happened from various sources. On the night of the 18th of September 1931 the railways of Japan’s Manchurian Railway Company were blown up in Liutiaogou west of Beidaying in Shenyang. The Japanese imperialists then launched a surprise attack on the absurd excuse that Zhang Xue-liang’s army had blown up the railways and attacked the Japanese garrison, and they occupied Beidaying and seized the airport in Fengtian on the morning of the 19th.

After Shenyang, Dandong, Yingkou, Changchun, Fengcheng, Jilin, Dunhua and other big cities in the northeast of China were occupied in succession by the Kwantung Army and the army stationed in Korea which had crossed the River Amnok. The Japanese aggressor army occupied almost all of Liaoning and Jilin Provinces in less than five days and surged towards Jinzhou, extending the front. They were advancing at lightning speed.

The Japanese imperialists shifted the responsibility to China, distorting the truth of the incident, but no one in the world believed their version, for people knew only too well the nature of the crafty Japanese. As those who concocted the incident later admitted, it was the secret service of the Kwantung Army that blew up the railways of the Manchurian Railway Company and touched off the incident. In an article published in those days we disclosed that the Liutiaogou incident was caused by the Japanese imperialists as part of this scheme to swallow up Manchuria.

On the morning of the 18th of September 1931 when the Kwantung Army was on standby prior to the Manchurian incident one of the plotters, Colonel Dohihara Kenji (chief of the secret service in Shenyang), unexpectedly appeared in Seoul. During a call on Kanda Masatane, senior officer of the staff of the Japanese army stationed in Korea, he gave a roundabout account of the aim of his visit to Korea, saying that he was visiting him because of his annoyance at the press. What he meant was that he had come to Korea to avoid the harassment to which he would be subjected by the press when the Manchurian incident broke out.

 At the same time General Watanabe Jotaro, commander of the Japanese air force, is said to have visited General Hayashi Senjuro, commander of the Japanese army in Korea in Seoul to take a rest, hosting a banquet at the Paegunjang restaurant. Their trip was very peaceful and leisurely.

When I read this historical account, I was reminded of the fact that Truman had stayed at his villa without any particular reason at the time of the outbreak of the Korean war. We find common features in the September 18 incident and the Korean war not only in the fact that these two wars began without any declaration of war, but also in that those who provoked the two wars displayed the craftiness and impudence that are incidental to imperialists and their disposition to invade and dominate other countries.

Some say that history is a sequence of non-repetitive events, but we cannot entirely ignore the similarity and common trends existing in different events.

We had always known that Japan was going to swallow up Manchuria by provoking the like of the September 18 incident. We foresaw it when the Japanese imperialists had Zhang Zuo-lin assassinated by a bomb, when the Wanbaoshan incident took place with the result that the Korean and Chinese peoples were pitted against each other and when they created the incident in which Captain Nakamura, who was serving with the staff of the Kwantung Army and was spying in the guise of an agronomist, “disappeared.”

I was particularly shocked by the Wanbaoshan incident. Wanbaoshan is a small rural village about 20 miles northwest of Changchun. The Wanbaoshan incident was a dispute over the irrigation canal in the village between the Korean immigrants and the Chinese natives. The Korean immigrants had dug the canal to draw water from the River Yitong with a view to turning the dry fields into paddies, but the canal encroached upon the fields of the Chinese natives. Also the damming of the river might cause floods in the rainy season. So the natives were against the project.

The Japanese egged the Korean peasants on to complete the project, and thus extended the dispute into Korea, causing casualties and damage to property. Thus they deftly used a local dispute, common in the rural villages, to cause discord between nations.

If the Japanese had not sown discord, and if farsighted men from among the Korean and Chinese peoples had followed the dictates of reason, the dispute would have been a brief quarrel and would not have developed into a fight. The incident sowed great misunderstanding, mistrust and antagonism between the Korean and Chinese peoples.

I considered the matter all night without sleeping. Why should the peoples of the two countries who were suffering similar misfortune because of the Japanese imperialists fight a bloody battle with their fists? What a shame it was to be feuding with each other because of a canal when the two nations should fight the common anti-Japanese war! Why did the misfortune arise and who caused it? Whom did it benefit and whom did it harm? It suddenly struck me that the incident was a prearranged farce, a prelude to something terrible. Above all it roused my suspicion that the Japanese consul in Changchun was out to “protect” the interests and rights of the Koreans, while meddling in a casual conflict between peasants. It was in fact a political farce that should have been exposed to public ridicule that those who had taken away the farmland of Korea through the predatory “Land Survey Act” and pursued a murderous agricultural policy were suddenly out to “defend” the Korean peasants in the guise of protectors. I was suspicious of the fact that the branch office of the newspaper Kyongsong Ilbo had hastily reported the dispute in Wanbaoshan to its head office and that an extra issue was hastily put out and distributed in the homeland. Did this not mean that the best brains of Japanese imperialism had thought up a terrible trick, deftly using a small local dispute, and that it had worked? What was the purpose of it? The Japanese imperialists were evidently making hasty preparations for something while we were putting in order the revolutionary organizations in the mountain recess of Jiandao.

The “disappearance” of Captain Nakamura in the summer of that year when the aftermath of the Wanbaoshan incident was still evident brought Sino-Japanese relations to the brink of war. Simultaneously with this incident alarming events were taking place in Japan proper. Some young officers in Tokyo got together and held a memorial service for Nakamura at the Yasukuni Shrine, drew a Japanese flag with their blood and put it up on top of the shrine to fan the war fever of the nation. Various organizations with interests in Manchuria held a joint meeting to discuss the problems of Manchuria and Mongolia and told people that the use of force was the only way to settle the problems there.

At that time I judged that the invasion of Manchuria was only a matter of time. I had ample grounds for this.

As was mentioned in Tanaka’s Memorial to the Throne, it was basic Japanese policy to swallow up Korea, Manchuria, Mongolia and then China so as to dominate Asia. Militarist Japan, ambitious to become the leader of Asia, was advancing steadily in accordance with her national policy.

The Japanese imperialists massed the Kwantung Army in Shenyang and completed their arrangements for an attack, using as an excuse the “disappearance” of Captain Nakamura.

Chen Han-zhang was very worried at this. He said, “The Japanese army is going to invade Manchuria, yet we are as good as empty-handed, What should we do?” He had put some hope in the Zhang Xue-liang-led warlords of the Kuomintang. They were irresolute so far, but once the sovereignty of the nation was violated, they would have to resist in the face of the pressure of hundreds of millions of Chinese people, even if only to save their face, he thought. I said to Chen Han-zhang, “It is absurd to expect that the warlords of the Kuomintang will resist. Remember Zhang Zuo-lin’s assassination in a bombing17. Clearly it was the work of the Kwantung Army and they obtained convincing proof of the fact, but the warlords of the Northeast Army made no inquiries into the matter and did not call the Kwantung Army to account. They even received the Japanese who went to offer their condolences and pay their respects to the departed. How can this be attributed only to their prudence, weakness and irresolution? The Kuomintang is throwing an army of hundreds of thousands of men into the central soviet region in Jiangxi Province in an attempt to destroy the communist party and launch ‘punitive operations’ against the Worker-Peasant Red Army. The ulterior motive of the Kuomintang is to annihilate the communist party and the Worker-Peasant Red Army even if it means yielding part of the territory to the Japanese imperialists. It is the line of the Kuomintang to eliminate the communist forces and control the political situation in the country before beating back the foreign enemy. Zhang Xue-liang, who began leaning towards the Kuomintang after his father’s death, is blindly following its cursed line. Therefore, he will not resist the Japanese and it is absurd to pin your hopes on him.”

He listened to me attentively but did not express any support for my view. Nor did he relinquish his hope in the warlords, and he said, “Even if Zhang Xue-liang follows the line of the Kuomintang, surely he will resist the aggressors, since he is likely to lose northeast China, the political, military and economic base of his army.”

Then the September 18 incident broke out and the hundreds of thousands of men of Zhang Xue-liang’s army surrendered Shenyang without offering any resistance. That was why Chen Han-zhang had come running to me, his face pale and shaking his fist.

“Comrade Song Ju, I was naive and an idle dreamer.”

His whole body was shaking. He reproached himself in excitement, saying, “I was foolish enough to think that Zhang Xue-liang would defend northeast China. He is a coward and a beaten general who did not resist Japan, thus breaking faith with the Chinese nation. When I went to Shenyang before, the whole city was swarming with his troops. Every street was alive with troops shouldering new rifles. To think that an army of such strength retreated without firing a shot! How lamentable! I can’t understand it.”

That morning Chen Han-zhang, who was normally cool and mild, could not keep his feelings under control and was shouting. Later Zhang Xue-liang came to support resistance to Japan and contributed to collaboration between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party, but his failure to act at the time of the Manchurian incident lost him popularity.

I showed Chen Han-zhang into my room and said quietly, “Comrade Chen, don’t get excited. We expected the Japanese army to invade Manchuria, didn’t we? Why then are you making such a fuss? From now on we must closely watch developments in the situation and prepare ourselves to counter them.”

“Of course we must. How annoying! I seem to have pinned too great a hope on Zhang Xue-liang. I could not sleep all night, and this morning came straight here.

“Comrade Song Ju, do you know how strong is the Northeast Army under the command of Zhang Xue-liang? It is 300,000 men strong. I say, 300,000! It is a huge army. To think that a 300,000-strong army gave up Shenyang in a night without firing a shot. Is our Chinese nation so inferior and powerless? Is the homeland of Confucius, Zhu-ge Liang and Du Fu and Sun Yat-sen in such decline?”

Thus Chen Han-zhang lamented, beating his chest. Tears trickled from his eyes. It was natural that he should lament the tragic fate of his nation. He was lamenting out of the pure feeling of someone who loves his country. His lamenting was his inalienable right.

I once wept secretly in a pine grove in the homeland, thinking of the homeland that had been trodden underfoot by the Japanese. It was on Mangyong Hill on the evening of one Sunday when I had been in a gloomy mood all day, unable to calm my anger on returning from the walled city of Pyongyang where I had seen an old man, his body covered in bruises, writhing in agony as he was kicked by the Japanese police.

That day I was in a rage like Chen Han-zhang, thinking: How was it that our country with its proud history of 5,000 years should suffer the disgrace of being ruined in a day? How could we wipe away the disgrace? In this light Chen Han-zhang and I suffered the same disgrace. Formerly common ideas had brought us closer. From then on the same status promoted our friendship. In adversity people become more intimate with one another and their friendship and affection deepen. In the past the Korean and Chinese peoples and communists had fraternized easily with each other because they shared a similar status, goal and cause. Imperialists form temporary alliances for profit, whereas communists forge firm internationalist unity for the liberation and welfare of humanity, the goal of their common struggle. I regarded Chen Han-zhang’s sorrow as mine and the sufferings of the Chinese people as ours.

If Jiang Jie-shi, Zhang Xue-liang and other heads of the political and military circles who had command of several million men had had such patriotism and insight as this youth from Dunhua had, the situation would have developed otherwise. If they had put the fate of the nation ahead of their interests and the interests of their groups and collaborated with the communists instead of opposing them, and roused the whole nation and the entire army to a war of resistance, they would have frustrated the invasion of the Japanese imperialists at the start and defended the country and people with credit.

But they gave no thought to the homeland and nation. Prior to Japan’s invasion of Manchuria, Jiang Jie-shi restricted the army’s potential resistance by issuing to Zhang Xue-liang’s Northeast Army a written command to the effect that “In the case of a challenge by the Japanese troops prudence should be exercised to avoid conflict,” which later roused the resentment of hundreds of millions of Chinese people.

Even after the outbreak of the September 18 incident Jiang Jie-shi’s government in Nanjing issued a capitulationist statement to the effect that the Chinese people and army should maintain their composure and exercise patience instead of resisting the Japanese troops, and this dampened the morale of the army and nation. The fate of Manchuria was as good as decided before the September 18 incident. The government in Nanjing even sent delegates to Tokyo and held secret negotiation with the Japanese government in which the Japanese were told that Jiang Jie-shi did not scruple to commit such a treacherous act as agreeing to yield to Japan the border area between the Soviet Union and China on the condition that Japan would not seize other regions of China.

Jiang Jie-shi did not hesitate to commit the reckless act of sharing out to the Japanese a large piece of territory, abandoning his self-respect as the Head of State with a population of hundreds of millions and an area of several million square kilometres, because he feared the struggle of the people against the landlords, comprador capitalists and Kuomintang bureaucrats more than a Japanese attack.

The 300,000-strong Northeast Army fled, abandoning the whole of vast Manchuria with its inexhaustible natural resources, in the face of the Kwantung Army whose strength was less than one-25th of its own.

I said to Chen Han-zhang, who was so indignant at the nation’s min, “Now it is impossible to believe in any party, military clique or political force. We must believe only in ourselves and our strength. The situation requires that we arm the masses and come out in an anti-Japanese war. The only way out is to take up arms.”

Chen Han-zhang grasped my hands firmly without saying a word.

I passed the whole of that day with him to divert him. I suffered the sorrow of a ruined nation more than Chen Han-zhang. He had lost part of his country, whereas I was deprived of the whole of mine.

He invited me to his house, so the next day I left for Dunhua with him.

The September 18 incident shook not only Korea and China but also the rest of the world. The world, which had been alarmed at the annexation of Korea by Japan, raised a cry of protest at the September 18 incident. Mankind thought of the incident as a prelude to another world war.

Japan described it as an unexpected local incident which could be settled through negotiations between China and Japan, but the world’s people did not believe her version. Public opinion in the world denounced Japan’s attack on Manchuria as a violent act of aggression against a sovereign state and called for the withdrawal of the Japanese troops from the occupied area.

But the imperialists, headed by the US imperialists, assumed a sympathetic attitude towards the aggressive act of Japan, secretly hoping that Japan would turn her spearhead to the Soviet Union. The League of Nations sent the Lytton-led fact-finding commission to Manchuria, but it failed to discriminate clearly between right and wrong, adopting an ambiguous attitude, and did not even call Japan the aggressor.

The incident shook the continent, the large army of Zhang Xue liang’s military clique was routed in a day by the sweeping attack of the Japanese troops, and the morale of hundreds of millions of people was destroyed. The myth of the “invincible Japanese army” born of its victory in the Sine-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War became the reality. Waves of rage and horror swept not only Korea and Manchuria but also the rest of Asia. In the face of this terror all the armed forces, political forces, revolutionary organizations, public-spirited men and distinguished figures of different hues began to show their true colours.

The September 18 incident drove most of the remaining, disintegrated troops of the Independence Army into the mountains and pushed those who advocated the cultivation of strength into the embrace of the Japanese imperialists. Soldiers from the Independence Army, dejected, returned home, burying their rifles in the ground, while the national reformists advocated collaboration with Japan. The public-spirited men who had clamoured for a war of resistance for the salvation of the nation and had made a declaration of independence, went into exile abroad, singing the Nostalgia. Some independence champions fled to Jinzhou, Changsha or Xian, following Zhang Xue-liang’s retreating army and abandoning the former base of their activities.

The complicated process of the break-up between patriotism and betrayal of the nation, resistance to Japan and collaboration with her, and self-sacrifice and self-preservation proceeded rapidly within the nation after September 18. Each person attached himself to the positive or negative pole according to his view on life. The Manchurian incident acted as a touchstone revealing the tendency and true intention of each member of the nation.

I continued my discussion with Chen Han-zhang on the September 18 incident in Dunhua for a few days. At first I, too, was extremely alarmed. I judged that the time had come for us to take up arms, but I did not know what to do and how to act, with the Japanese troops surging in en masse. But I soon recovered my composure and coolly watched the situation develop.

At that time I thought a great deal about the influence Japan’s invasion of Manchuria would have on the Korean revolution.

With the sending of Japanese troops to Manchuria and its occupation we had the enemy at our side. The Japanese police authorities intensified their crackdown on the Korean independence champions and communists, getting help from the Chinese reactionary warlords on the strength of the “Mitsuya agreement,” but the instances were few in which the army and police from Korea entered Manchuria across the border. The agreement with China did not allow the Japanese army and police to cross the border.

It was generally the police of the Japanese consulate in Manchuria who searched for and arrested the Korean revolutionaries there.

Before the Manchurian incident the Japanese army in Korea was not allowed to enter Manchuria. When withdrawing from Siberia during the Russian civil war, two companies of the Korea occupation army were stationed in Hunchun on the agreement of the Chinese side. These were the only troops occupying Korea that were stationed in northeast China.

However, with the September 18 incident Manchuria swarmed with Japanese troops. Tens of thousands of soldiers surged into Manchuria from Korea; Shanghai and Japan. Manchuria became the front where friend fought foe. The border between Korea and Manchuria was as good as removed with the invasion of the Japanese troops.

The occupation of Manchuria by the Japanese troops caused great difficulties to us in our struggle, which we were waging with Manchuria as our base. We felt threatened by the Japanese army and police authorities in our activities, since one of the aims of Japan’s invasion of Manchuria was to suppress the mounting national liberation struggle of the Korean people there and promote the maintenance of peace in Korea.

I realized that the iron club of the “new public peace maintenance act” enforced in Korea would fall on the heads of the Koreans in Manchuria.

If Japan established a puppet state in Manchuria, it would present a great obstacle to us. In fact, “Manchukuo,” which was set up by Japan later, became a great hindrance to us in our activities. Japan’s occupation of Manchuria would reduce the hundreds of thousands of Korean people, who lived there with a fence around them, to misery.

So an end was to be put to the freedom of the Korean immigrants who lived out of the reach of the government-general administration in a place that had been free of Japanese. Leaving their home towns to seek a living in a foreign country was to become pointless for Koreans.

But we did not consider only the unfavourable aspects of the September 18 incident. If we had resigned ourselves to pessimism and merely lamented, considering only the unfavourable aspects of it, we would have remained dejected and failed to rise.

I was reminded of a Korean saying “If one wants to catch a tiger, one must enter the tiger’s den.” The philosophy of life our ancestors had grasped and formulated over several thousand years told me the profound truth.

I thought: Manchuria is a tiger’s den; in this den we must capture the tiger called Japanese imperialism; now is the time to take up arms and fight; if we do not fight to a finish at a time like this, we shall never prove our worth.

With this thought I made a firm resolve to rise, without losing the opportunity.

For victory in the future war the Japanese imperialists will intensify their colonial rule in Korea and become hell-bent on economic plunder to supply their war needs. National and class conflicts will grow extremely acute and the anti-Japanese feelings of the Korean people will mount. So if we form armed ranks and begin the anti-Japanese war, the people will actively aid and support us materially and morally.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese people will also rise in a nationwide anti-Japanese war of resistance.

The invasion of Manchuria will be escalated into aggression in China proper and China will be enveloped in the flames of an all-out war. It goes without saying that the Chinese people, who have a strong sense of independence, will not look with folded arms on the danger facing their homeland. By us stand numerous Chinese communists and patriots who are burning with the desire to frustrate the imperialists’ aggression and defend their national sovereignty, and hundreds of millions of Chinese brothers who love freedom and independence. Those who sympathize with us Koreans as stateless people will become reliable allies and fight our enemy in the same trench with us. The Chinese people, a great ally with an allied army, will always stand by us.

If Japan extends the war into China proper, she will come into head-on collision with the interests of the Western powers, which will lead to another war. If the Sino-Japanese War becomes protracted and Japan becomes involved in another world war, she will suffer difficulties due to shortages of manpower and material resources.

That Japan has swallowed up Manchuria means a further extension of the area controlled by her. The extension of the area she controls will inevitably weaken her ability to rule. Japan will not be able to maintain the rigidity of her colonial rule.

The whole world will denounce imperialist Japan as an aggressor and Japan will inevitably be isolated in the world.

All this will be strategically favourable for our revolution. This is what I thought.

With the general retreat of Zhang Xue-liang’s army and the sweeping attack of the Japanese aggressor army, a marvellous opportunity was created for us. The officials of the government and administration offices and security police stopped work and fled in all directions. The local offices of the rule of the warlords had all shut their doors within a few days.

With the flight of Zhang Xue-liang’s army the ruling system of the warlords was paralysed.

The Japanese aggressor army failed to direct its efforts to the maintenance of public peace, being bent on following up its success in the war. As a result, chaos prevailed for some time in Manchuria. We decided that the situation would persist for a while until the Japanese imperialists established their new ruling system on the continent. This void afforded us a golden opportunity to form armed ranks without anxiety. The opportunity was not to be lost.

The revolution was approaching a fresh turning point.

The time had come for each person to decide what he should do to carry out the duties devolving on the Korean revolution and to devote himself to fulfilling them.

The September 18 incident was aggression against the Chinese people and, at the same time, an attack against the Korean people and communists in Manchuria. So we Korean communists had to counter it.

I decided to speed up the formation of armed ranks.


3. To Oppose Armed Force with Armed Force


Owing to the September 18 incident we were confronted with the task of starting the anti-Japanese war immediately. The time was ripe for responding with the cannonade of justice to the cannonade of injustice which had heralded a new world war.

On hearing of the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese imperialists, all the revolutionaries came out of hiding. At the sound of the bombardment shaking the continent, the people in Manchuria generally came to their senses in the autumn of that year. The bombardment did not dishearten the people but rather awakened and inspired them to make renewed efforts. A new fighting spirit emerged in Manchuria, which had been reduced to ashes owing to the oppression of the enemy.

We considered that a good opportunity had arisen for us to harden the masses in the struggle.

Frankly speaking, in those days all the people in Manchuria were distressed owing to their feeling of frustration caused by the failure of the uprising. If we were to take the revolution onto another stage, we had to give them confidence. However, we could not do so if we merely made appeals and talked idly.

In order to give the masses, who were used to failure, strength and confidence, we had to inspire them to a new struggle and lead the struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only a victorious struggle could save the masses from their nightmarish inactivity. An armed struggle waged by a few farsighted people alone would not bear fruit; the masses had to be tempered through a struggle.

The outbreak of the September 18 incident afforded the people in east Manchuria the opportunity to rise in a struggle once again. The mutinous advance of the people in the homeland also gave them great impetus.

Successive tenancy disputes by the peasants and anti-Japanese uprisings were taking place in the homeland. Typical examples of this were the tenancy disputes at the Kowon Farm of the Oriental Development Company, at the Ryongchon “Fuzi” Farm and at the Kimje “Oki” Farm.

In the Ryongchon area the peasants’ struggle continued even after 1929. At that time the organizations there fought well in connection with us. Many of our underground workers worked there.

More than 3,000 peasants in Yonghung and over 2,000 peasants in Samchok started a huge uprising against the Japanese imperialists who, after the September 18 incident, were intensifying their fascist oppression and plunder on the excuse of a “time of emergency.”

At that time we organized a harvest struggle in Jiandao.

The struggle committees in various areas had propaganda squads and pickets under them and made full preparations, printing leaflets and appeals and formulating fighting slogans and so on. Then they started the harvest struggle with each area under the control of a revolutionary organization as a unit. At the beginning it was a legal, economic struggle aimed at cutting farm rents.

Some historians gave this struggle the name of “Harvest Uprising,” but I did not think this name to be appropriate. The harvest struggle was neither a copy nor a repetition of the May 30 Uprising. It was a victorious mass struggle waged according to a new tactical principle on the basis of completely getting rid of the evil ideological aftereffects of Li Li-san’s reckless Leftist action. While the factionalists had played the leading role in the May 30 Uprising, in the harvest struggle the communists of the new generation led the masses. The participants in the harvest struggle did not regard violence as their main resort. The participants in the May 30 Uprising had no scruples about committing arson and murder, setting fire to transformer sub-stations and educational institutions and overthrowing all the landlords and wealthy people. The participants in the harvest struggle, however, put forward just demands such as the three-to-seven or four-to-six system of tenancy and acted in an orderly manner under the unified leadership of the struggle committee and in concert with the neighbouring villagers.

Their demand for a cut in rent could in no way be considered unjustified in view of the circumstances of the peasants, who were on the brink of starvation. Because this demand was just, even the government of Jilin Province was obliged to proclaim that the tenancy system would be three to seven or four to six (30-40 per cent for the landlord and 60-70 per cent for the tenant).

Violence was never employed against those landlords who acceded peacefully to the demands of the peasants. Violence was employed against the evil landlords who stubbornly rejected the demands of the struggle committee, and against the soldiers and policemen who suppressed the struggle of the peasants by force of arms. In the case of the obstinate landlords who did not accede to the demands of the peasants, the participants in the struggle carried the share of the tenants—60 or 70 per cent of the crops—from the fields or seized their granaries and divided the grain in them among themselves.

The predatory Oriental Development financial institutions, usurers and reactionary organizations which assisted the Japanese imperialists in their rule, such as the “Association of Korean Residents,” were also targets of the struggle.

 The following happened when I returned to Antu after leading the harvest struggle in Yanji.

Choe Tong Hwa, who had been in hiding to avoid discovery by the Japanese imperialists after the May 30 Uprising, came to see me. He was worried that the harvest struggle was gradually assuming a violent character. He was the instigator of the May 30 Uprising in Antu. Furthermore, he later disagreed with us when we defined that uprising as a blind Leftist action and even tried to argue the matter with us. But he had suddenly changed and was talking about the harmfulness of violence. So, I was greatly surprised.

He said:

“Comrade Song Ju, what is the matter with you? You who once denounced the May 30 Uprising as a blind Leftist act, are now using violence in a purely economic struggle. How on earth should I understand this?”

Having asked me this, he walked round me several times, his arms folded inside his sleeves. He seemed to be inwardly pleased at the thought that he had hit home.

“Sir, you seem to misunderstand something. Do you consider the ‘red violence’ advocated by you during the May 30 Uprising to be similar to that which we are employing in the harvest struggle?”

I asked him this without even thinking that I was being impolite.

Choe Tong Hwa said: