KIM IL SUNG
With the Century
THE ANTI-JAPANESE REVOLUTION
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
I was released from prison at a time when the situation in
Things were unimaginably dreadful with the
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
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
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
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
“Even Zhang Zuo-xiang has become powerless,
so there is no influential person whom we can expect to protect and support us
He asked me what I was going to do at a
time when the Japanese imperialists might invade
“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?”
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
The minister close associates who
frequented his house had all gone into hiding in Liuhe, Xingjing,
The minister himself went to
When the minister arrived in
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
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
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
The minister’s problem concerned his eldest
daughter Son Jin Sil’s marriage to Yun Chi Chang. The independence fighters in
“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
“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
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 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
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
The Rev. Son Jong Do had bought 50 hectares
of land by
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
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
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
“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
He looked at me with something of the air
of playing on my affection as he used to do in the old days in
“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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
I could perceive in this man who had
remained outside politics the untainted innocence of the boy in
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
That day, bidding farewell to me, the
minister said, “Don’t stay any longer in
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
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.
suggested to me that the situation did not permit me to stay in
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
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
An armed struggle was a mature requirement
of the specific situation in
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Pak H Pha said he would get his father to
negotiate with the authorities at
Pak Il Pha was the son of the nationalist,
Pak Ki Baek, who published the magazine Tongu in
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
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
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
Six families out of the dozens which had
moved to east
Ko Jae Bong, who attended
Ko Jae Ryong, his younger brother, was one
of my classmates at
In those days a great number of patriots
and independence fighters visited my house in
“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
In less than six months after moving to
Sidaohuanggou Ko Jae Bong had established
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
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
I learned from them that the uprising
sweeping the east of
The Korean people living in
At that time the Korean communists in the
northeastern region of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
On that visit to Kalun I stayed at the
houses of Ryu Yong Son and Jang So Bong, teachers at
Jang So Bong taught the children at
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
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
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
The Chinese people greeted the 1930s in the flames of a second civil war.
The revolutionary struggle in
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
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
The Korean Communist Party, founded in
1925, ended its existence without working out the scientific tactics and
strategy suited to the actual situation in
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.
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
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
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
But we thought that if we waged an armed
struggle for three or four years we could defeat
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
In the spring of 1928 we dispatched him to
the rural communities in the
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I took charge of the work of forming party
organizations in the homeland. In the autumn of 1930 I went to
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
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
The large number of Korean party members in
It was after the Japanese imperialists
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
In 1928 or 1929 Choe came to
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
When I returned home after leaving
“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
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
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
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
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
Early in September my uncle and Jong Ung
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
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
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
My uncle was thrown into Mapho prison in
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
“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
“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
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
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
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.
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
“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
“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
“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
“Seeing you. Comrade Song Ju, in
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
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
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
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
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
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
From the summer of 1928 Kim Hyok, together
with Cha Kwang Su, worked in
Around the time when I was in east
Manchuria after my release, Kim Hyok was travelling between Guyushu and
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
While we were in
The main purpose of sending Kim Hyok to
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
“Song Ju, don’t worry about matters in
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
We gave them the assignment of forming an
There were many stalwart young people in
the revolutionary organizations in
When the group of the Korean Revolutionary
Army under the command of Kim Hyok arrived in
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
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
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
It was when they were studying in
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Koreans in east
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
Several times a day I went in disguise to
visit those who had been involved in the organization,
I was angry at the thought that it was
difficult to see familiar faces in the streets of
When parting from me, my comrades had
advised me not to stay for long in
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
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
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
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
The day I left
He said, “I am going to
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
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
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
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
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
At Hailong I, together with a Chinese
comrade, boarded a train bound for
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
Han Yong Ae had returned to Jiaohe after
leaving school in
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
At the liaison office of the Comintern at
the approach to
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
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
I knew about the college in
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
The Comintern appointed me to the post of
chief secretary of the Young Communist League in the eastern region of
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
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
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
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
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
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
Immediately after her arrest she was sent
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
Later she went to
She married belatedly, having tried to go
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
Han Yong Ae led an honourable life to her
dying day. She lived her whole life with the spirit of the
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
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.
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
Therefore, as early as the time I was in
prison I was resolved to make the northern border area of
The Japanese imperialists had also been
viewing this area for a long time. While we intended to make the northern
border area of
Under the pretext of “protecting the
Koreans” the Japanese imperialists sent their troops into Longjing,
Therefore, I never ceased to think that the
thick forest areas of
When I told my comrades about my intention
to go to east
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
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
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
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
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
Helong was the first place I visited when I
went to east
In Helong there was a Chinese man named Cao
Ya-fan who had worked in our YCLK organization when he was attending
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
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
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
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
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.
man O Thae Hui’s family was a very large one. The four brothers of the old man
had lived in Kojak village,
After leaving secondary school O Jung Hwa
taught at the private
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
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
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
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
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
On hearing of this when I was in
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
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
The reason that Choe Chang Ik left Onsong
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,
Ma Tuk Han and
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,
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.
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
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
Some of my comrades attending
I went from east
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
The majority of the population of the
village was from Phyongan and
In view of the fact that I hailed from
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
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
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
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
“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
“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
“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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Kim Kwang Ryol, who had been at the liaison
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
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
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
I answered, “I am very grateful to you for
your interest in me, but I intend to go to east
Cha Kwang Su, Pak So Sim and other
comrades, too, had once advised me in Toroju to go to
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.
We were planning to go to east Manchuria,
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
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.
Once I met Comrade Fidel Castro in
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
Whenever I tried to sleep with my head on a
wooden pillow in a classroom at
He was a member of the
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
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
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
Whenever I passed the northeastern area of
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
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
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
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
While directing a meeting of the Peasants
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 ‘
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
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
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
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
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
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
Every student of the advanced course at
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
Ryu Chun Gyong lived in various parts of
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
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
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
When he was living in
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
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
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
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
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
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
I was told of this by Dong Chang-rong, the
then secretary of the east
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
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.
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
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
“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.”
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
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
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
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
I set this as the object of the first stage
of my work in Jiandao as I hurried on my way to east
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
“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
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
The Japanese imperialists shifted the
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
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
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
I was particularly shocked by the
Wanbaoshan incident. Wanbaoshan is a small rural village about 20 miles
The Japanese egged the Korean peasants on
to complete the project, and thus extended the dispute into
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
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
At that time I judged that the invasion of
As was mentioned in Tanaka’s Memorial to
the Throne, it was basic Japanese policy to swallow up
The Japanese imperialists massed the
Kwantung Army in
Chen Han-zhang was very worried at this. He
said, “The Japanese army is going to invade
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
Then the September 18 incident broke out
and the hundreds of thousands of men of Zhang Xue-liang’s army surrendered
“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
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
I showed Chen Han-zhang into my room and
said quietly, “Comrade Chen, don’t get excited. We expected the Japanese army
“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
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
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
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
But the imperialists, headed by the
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
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
The complicated process of the break-up between
patriotism and betrayal of the nation, resistance to
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
With the sending of Japanese troops to
It was generally the police of the Japanese
Before the Manchurian incident the Japanese
However, with the September 18 incident
The occupation of Manchuria by the Japanese
troops caused great difficulties to us in our struggle, which we were waging
I realized that the iron club of the “new
public peace maintenance act” enforced in
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.
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
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
The whole world will denounce imperialist
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
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
I decided to speed up the formation of armed ranks.
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
We considered that a good opportunity had arisen for us to harden the masses in the struggle.
Frankly speaking, in those days all the
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
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
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.
“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: