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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 13 5. The Secret Camp on Mt. Paektu

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작성자 편집국 작성일20-07-26 13:17 댓글0건





[Reminiscences]Chapter 13  5. The Secret Camp on Mt. Paektu




5. The Secret Camp on Mt. Paektu 



Towards the end of August, when the late crop of potatoes was in full bloom, we left the village of Manjiang. The barley in slash-and-burn fields, which had been awaiting the harvest season, had just begun to be reaped.

We marched southward in silence. All my comrades, ranging rom the regimental political commissar Kim San Ho to the boyish\orderlies Choe Kum San\and Paek Hak Rim, were fully aware of the importance of our advance to Paektu mountain area.

Mt. Paektu was an impregnable natural fortress, so to speak, for its terrain features were so favourable to defence, that even one single man could repel 1,000 attackers. No base was more suited to the expansion of guerrilla warfare than the mountain. Yun Kwan5 of Koryo\and Kim Jong So6 of the Ri dynasty had fulfilled their heavy duty of national defence\and pioneering of the frontier, by basing themselves on that mountain area. On that mountain General Nam I7 also conceived the high aim of pacifying the country, inscribing his idea in a poetic form on a pumice rock.

Mt. Paektu also provided an ideal fortress for the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. The establishment of a new base in this mountain by the revolutionary army to step up its advance to the homeland did not mean that we were abandoning the Manchurian theatre of operation, which had been pioneered with great difficulty. We planned to fight, moving freely around Korea\and China rom the base in this mountain.

We attached special importance to the mountain as a natural fortress for military action\and also as our moral background.

Mt. Paektu, soaring majestically as if the ancestor of this land, is the symbol of Korea\and cradle of the 5,000-year-long history of her nation.

The spiritual effect of this mountain on Koreans can be illustrated by the inion, “Monument to the Dragon God of Heavenly Lake, Guarding Mt. Paektu”, on a rock at the foot of the Janggun Peak, on the shore of Lake Chon. At the beginning of the 20th century, when the people were feeling apprehensive about the survival of the nation, the monument was erected by the religionists, connected with Taejong faith\and Chonbul faith. As the inion indicates, the people who erected the monument prayed to the Dragon God for the lasting security of the nation.

Their veneration of Mt. Paektu implied veneration of Korea\and love for their motherland.

Ever since childhood we loved\and venerated Mt. Paektu especially as an ancestral mountain. This was the natural sentiment of the Korean nation. Listening to the stories of Pu Pun No\and Ul Tu Ji at the time of Koguryo’s territorial expansion, chanting General Nam I’s magnificent poem,\and listening to the accounts of Yun Kwan’s\and Kim Jong So’s defence efforts\and their pioneering of the frontier, we were deeply moved\and fascinated by the forerunners’ patriotic spirit, enshrined in Mt. Paektu.

The mountain, which soared higher\and higher in our minds as we grew up, became the symbol of our struggle for national liberation as well as that of Korea.

Our belief that we could only muster all the forces of the nation for resistance\and ensure an ultimate victory of the struggle by entrenching ourselves in Mt. Paektu, was derived rom our experience of the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle during the first half of the 1930s as a natural conclusion drawn rom the summary of the struggle.

To reach Mt. Paektu rom Manjiang, we had to cross Duoguling Pass. The pass was a primeval forest,\where even an experienced mountain hunter used to lose his way.

Kim Ju Hyon, who had been to Changbai as the leader of an advance party three months before, guided us on our way. His advance party had reconnoitred the enemy situation, the ground in the Mt. Paektu area\and the climate of public opinion, choosing the sites of secret camps,\and pioneering the path for the advance of the main force.

We followed the River Manjiang deep into the valley, until we entered the dense forest of the Duoguling Pass. It was still summer, but the alpine broadleaves had begun to turn red\and yellow,\and the cool weather had set in.

During our march across the pass we marked the 26th anniversary of the day of national disgrace.

Our southward march through the rugged terrain almost coincided with the arrival in Seoul of General Minami of the Japanese army, appointed the seventh Governor-General of Korea. On the eve of the battle of Fusong county town, we learned through a newspaper of his appointment as successor to Ugaki\and estimated that he would arrive in Korea at about the same time we would.

The coincidence between his appearance in Seoul\and the advance of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army to Paektu mountain area had a subtle psychological effect on me.

Japan’s occupation of Korea is known to the whole world as rank piracy, although they tried to justify it rom the outset. Robbers have their own way of thinking. They rob another man of his property\and argue that the owner who tries to take it back is a robber.

The Japanese imperialists, who adopted the robbers’ way of thinking, called the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army a “horde of bandits”, “mounted bandits”\or “communist bandits”.

In the world of robbers everything turns topsy-turvy.

The uninvited guest, Minami, strode into Seoul in broad daylight like a master,\whereas we, the masters, had to steal our way to the homeland through an untrodden forest. What a deplorable situation!

After climbing the Duoguling Pass, I changed the march plan\and decided to take a route round about the area on River Amnok to see our compatriots in the border area\and let them hear our gunshots.

The first village we visited was Deshuigou. My unit included a recruit rom Dadeshui, who had worked for many years among the young people of an underground\organization in Changbai, which had once been guided by Ri Je U\and my uncle Hyong Gwon. The name of the recruit was Kang Hyon Min. He had joined the revolutionary army, when we were operating in Fusong area. He frequented Fusong, dealing in opiate\and cattle. During this time he met our operatives\and on their recommendation met me\and joined the guerrilla army.

Kang Hyon Min\and Kim Ju Hyon’s advance party provided detailed information about the political climate among the inhabitants of Deshuigou.

The villagers were more revolutionary-minded than any other peasants in Changbai. This place maintained the tradition of anti-Japanese patriotic struggle, developed by independence fighters after the March First Popular Uprising (1919), as well as a reliable force of the masses, which had been trained through the struggle.

Deshuigou was the home base of the Independence Army led by Kang Jin Gon. The Independence Army founded a four-year primary school course in that village\and enlightened the younger people\and peasants as well.

In his days at Badaogou my father had also been to the village on many occasions.

When the Independence Army movement was on the decline, owing to the dissolution of the army, Ri Je U\and his armed group brought the programme of the Down-with-Imperialism\union to the village\and launched military\and political activities.

After Ri Je U’s arrest, my uncle Hyong Gwon, together with Choe Hyo Il\and Pak Cha Sok, had established their base in Deshuigou\and roused the masses in the village\and surrounding area to revolutionary awareness\and\organized them. Thanks to their efforts, a subordinate\organization of the Paeksan Youth League was formed in Changbai.


The league established a politico-military training centre\and produced many political operatives\and reserves for the guerrilla army.

Even after the departure of the armed group of the Korean Revolutionary Army for the homeland\and imprisonment of many of the league’s cadres, its members continued their underground struggle.

We pinned our hopes on the force of the masses, which had been educated\and given revolutionary training by many patriots\and communists.

When my unit arrived in the village, Kim Ju Hyon guided me to the house of an old man, Ryom In Hwan, whom he had marked off as reliable, while performing the mission of the advance party.

The country doctor’s house itself was steeped in poverty. A renowned acupuncturist, he was apparently called on by the people of Deshuigou, as well as Changbai, Linjiang,\and even by the people on the far side of the River Amnok, who came to take him by sleigh\or cart. It was impossible for him, however, to cover the cost of drugs, so that his wife had to beg with her empty gourd hidden in the folds of her skirt. The family experienced much the same strained circumstances, as we did at Badaogou\and at Fusong,\where my father practised medicine.

The old man took my pulse\and said that I was weak both mentally\and physically owing to overwork\and poor nourishment. He offered me a root of wild insam. Jang Chol Gu\and Paek Hak Rim had told me that they had been given a few roots of wild insam to improve my health by old man Ho Rak Yo at our departure rom Manjiang.

“Rumour has it that hundreds of Japanese\and Manchukuo troops were destroyed at Fusong by the allied anti-Japanese force under your command, General Kim,” old man Ryom said to me. “Is that true?”

The news of the battle of Fusong county town seemed to have already reached the village.

When I said this was true, the old man slapped his knee, exclaiming, “Bravo! Korea has now come to life again!”


The old man was subsequently dragged to the Erdaogang police station\and murdered for the kindness he had accorded us in providing us with a night’s shelter\and a meal of potato\and barley. The thought of his tragic death still boils my blood. As I was passing by the village in command of a small unit one day, I took time off my schedule\and paid a visit to his grave, poured a cup of wine\and bowed to him.

The next day we left for Dadeshui in the morning dew. Sitting on the shoulder of a mountain which commanded a view of the village at a close distance, we ate a few potatoes each for our morning meal. I instructed the company commander, Ri Tong Hak, to prepare a flagstaff\and fly our flag at the head of our column\and sound the bugle, when we climbed down to the village. I wanted to show the depressed people the gallant-looking Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.

The villagers of Dadeshui greeted us with immeasurable delight\and surprise. They said that ever since their settlement in the place they had never seen in broad daylight hundreds of Korean soldiers, equipped with modern rifles\and even machine-guns, marching\and blowing a resounding bugle, with a flag flying at the head.

I set up an impromptu stage to give the villagers a dramatic performance, as we had done at Manjiang. But the performance we planned to give after lunch was aborted. When we were about to take lunch, the enemy surprised us. A battle was held in a yellow-ripening barley field between the opposing forces.

I still remember I was afraid of damaging the ripe crop.

The enemy was closing in upon us, along the furrows of the barley field. I waited until the enemy had almost cleared the field,\and then gave my signal for firing.

My men fought triumphantly. The enemy suffered dozens of casualties\and retreated towards Erdaogang. This was the first engagement we had with the enemy in Changbai. The gunshot at Dadeshui announced the arrival of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army on Mt. Paektu to the people in the homeland\and the enemy.

The village became animated\and festive. Even the people rom neighbouring villages came to congratulate us upon our victory. The people prepared potato cakes\and starch noodles\and welcomed us,\and we danced\and sang songs in return. I made a stirring speech.

The audience responded positively to the speech.

An old man with a slanting moustache said:

“General, please say loudly on Mt. Paektu: ‘All those who want to fight for Korea’s independence, come here!’ Then, crowds of people will throng here rom all parts of Korea. Bent as I am rom old age, I can still do my bit.”

Later on I learned the old man was rom Xiaodeshui\and nicknamed “Old Hunchback”.

The Hunchback was an old acquaintance of “Tobacco Pipe”. When old man “Tobacco Pipe” was in charge of the South Hamgyong Provincial Bureau of Communications of the War Fund-Raising Association, the Hunchback was a company commander of the same\organization.

Tobacco Pipe proudly introduced to me his old comrade-in-arms, whom he met in excitement after an interval of more than a decade. Hunchback’s real name was Kim Tuk Hyon, alias Kim Se Hyon during the years of his service in the Independence Army\and ever since. He was not a born hunchback. His back was unusually bent like a hunchback. While still young he had been erect, square-shouldered\and well balanced. The story behind the hunchback roused in me a feeling of deep respect. He was born in Hamgyong Province. In the dreary year immediately after the “annexation” of Korea by Japan, he moved to Deshuigou in search of livelihood. The settlement had been pioneered by drifting people, who were haunted by nostalgia for their hometowns\and homeland. When the War Fund-Raising Association made its appearance in Deshuigou, which preached how to win back their country\and return to their homes, Kim Tuk Hyon joined the\organization without hesitation. To raise money for the association he did not hesitate to send his 13-year-old daughter into another man’s family as his future-daughter-in-law. To obtain weapons, he ventured into the battlefield in Russia, which was in a state of civil war.

However, more than ten years of devoted efforts ended in a longer prison term for himself than any fellow members of the association. The convicts were forced to work on handlooms for fourteen to fifteen hours every day. Whenever he tried to straighten up his back a little he was lashed\and flogged on the back mercilessly. Seven\or eight years of slavery made him an incurable hunchback.

The Hunchback looked like an invalid but his patriotic spirit\and fighting will were as strong as ever. Not surprisingly, he was the first to join Ri Je U’s armed group. He said he had been waiting impatiently for our advance to Mt. Paektu, ever since he had met Kim Ju Hyon. Kim Ju Hyon had made friends with him, while in Changbai in charge of the advance party.

After a brief art show\and my speech, I\ordered the unit to withdraw. The villagers begged us to stay at least one night, asking why on earth we should go away, when they had only just grown attached to us. I explained that if we stayed the village would suffer, as the enemy would bring his reinforcements\and fall upon us any minute. The Hunchback guided us on our way.

I gave the old man a pamphlet, which contained a mimeographed copy of the Ten-Point Programme of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland\and its Inaugural Declaration. He was the first man to receive the pamphlet rom me since our advance to the area on River Amnok. Soon subordinate\organizations of the association appeared in Deshuigou area.

The old man became a member of the Shiliudaogou branch of the association. This branch constituted the hard core of the many grassroots\organizations in that area. If we had introduced a title such as a model branch as Chongryon, the Shiliudaogou branch would have been the first to be awarded the title. Old man Kim Tuk Hyon raised several dogs. These ferocious, clever dogs, with a keen sense of smell, kept enemy agents\and policemen off his house.


These animals were clever at identifying different people. They did not bark at our men, even if these men were strangers to them. Kim Ju Hyon, Kim Hwak Sil, Kim Jong Suk\and other members of our small units, who were working separately in that area, as well as our messengers sent there, were greatly indebted to the old man.

Kim Jong Suk once worked on a separate mission to Zhonggangqu, Changbai County, in the early winter of the year, when we advanced to Mt. Paektu. The comrades on a separate mission in those days carried cooked rations such as rice balls\or potatoes, instead of raw rice. Individual messengers in the guerrilla bases in Jiandao did the same. A group of people working together could post a watch\and then cook their meals, but it was impossible for an individual, working single-handed, to make fire\and cook, because he would be suspected as a “mountain man”. Jong Suk, also left Yaofangzi with a bundle of boiled potatoes\and met on her way an old woman\and a child chewing frozen leaves of dry vegetable. She shed tears of sympathy about the wretched sight. She gave her potatoes to the vagrant\orphan\and old woman,\and then plodded shakily on her way up the mountain. As she recollected in later years, she did not know how she could manage to get to Hunchback’s house. When she came to herself, she found the old man\and his wife holding a bowl of gruel\and a spoon\and weeping over her.

They nursed her with all their hearts, serving her gruel, green-bean pancakes\and stewed chicken, which they had been keeping for breeding. In the years after liberation Jong Suk reiterated this experience, saying that without their nursing she would have been unable to return alive to the secret camp on Mt. Paektu.

Old man Hunchback paid many visits to our secret camp. He used to carry aid goods on his deformed back to the camp\and grab chances of seeing me without the knowledge of others.

In the battle of Banjiegou he served as our guide. He represented the peasants at the May Day celebrations held in the forest of Xiaodeshui in 1939, which pleased us.

Early in 1942 I heard the sad news of his death rom illness.

I recollected him occasionally in my days on Mt. Paektu\and later years. One day in November 1947, on hearing that uniforms for the children of the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School had been prepared, I sent for some of the schoolchildren, as I wanted to see them in uniform. The children who came to my house at that time included the old man’s son, named Kim Pyong Sun.

On her visit to the school later, Kim Jong Suk met the boy separately\and gave him a fountain-pen, which had been her favourite since her days in the guerrilla army, encouraging him to be a good schoolboy.

One day in August 1949, Kim Pyong Sun, wearing an officer’s uniform with the shoulderstraps of platoon leader, appeared before Kim Jong Suk\and me. He had been appointed leader of the guard platoon for Headquarters. It was, indeed, a strange convergence of events.

From that day on he never left our side. He shared with me the sorrow of losing Jong Suk, accompanied me to the front headquarters at Suanbo, North Chungchong Province,\and stayed with me at the Supreme Headquarters in Kosanjin, Jagang Province. He worked by my side for many more years.

Whenever I felt his father’s image hovering around me, I recollected the words of the old man in the village of Dadeshui\and the moonlit night scene on the Xiaodeshui tableland.

We camped overnight on this tableland\and the next day I moved my unit into the forest of Madengchang\and\ordered my men to take a rest. I also lay down on the grass\and, while reading, fell fast asleep. Sudden gunshots woke me up. Enemy forces rom the directions of Shiwudaogou\and Erdaogang swooped upon us almost simultaneously rom north\and south. The dense forest made it difficult to identify friend rom foe. If we slipped away, it would create an ideal opportunity to make the enemy forces fight\and kill each other in an attempt to catch us.


We withdrew rom the forest by stealth\and climbed up the high ground along the valley of Shiwudaogou,\where we watched the enemy fighting among themselves. The event is known as the battle of Xiaodeshui\or the remote observation battle of Madengchang.

The enemy forces fought each other for three to four hours, so long that onlookers even felt tedious. In the end, the enemy rom the direction of Erdaogang was pressed too hard to hold on\and sounded the bugle for retreat. On hearing the bugle sound, the enemy rom Shiwudaogou realized that they were fighting among themselves\and ceased fire.

Where did the hundreds of guerrillas vanish? Surely this was a mystery, which even the devil wondered at.

The enemy seemed to have found an answer to the mystery; they called it the occult art of transformation. In my opinion, since the battle of Xiaodeshui, rumour had it in the border area that we were rising into the sky\and dipping into the ground\or appearing rom\where\and disappearing into\where, God only knows.

The enemy was so short of stretchers that they tore the doors off every house in the village of Xinchangdong to carry their dead bodies away. The villagers had to keep the doorless openings screened with straw sacks for some time.

The gunshots raised by the People’s Revolutionary Army at Dadeshui\and Xiaodeshui evoked a great response rom the people in Changbai\and the homeland across the river.

When we said some words of sympathy for the battle-ravaged potato fields, a peasant of Xinchangdong said:

“Although our potato fields have been devastated, we find it more pleasant to see the Japanese being destroyed than have a rich potato crop.”

Many young people rom Deshuigou\and the neighbouring villages volunteered to join the army. Their enlistment marked the beginning of a widespread movement for armed service, which contributed to a rapid expansion of the revolutionary army in the Changbai area.


The enemy was terribly alarmed by the advance of the People’s Revolutionary Army\and its formidable strength. It became a trend among policemen in Changbai to apply to resign in groups\and shirk their official duties. The enemy’s ruling machinery was thrown into great confusion. The passage in\and out of the concentration village of Erdaogang was permitted only through the back-gate, rather than the front one.

In Changbai we conducted\organizational\and political work to educate\and\organize the masses, in addition to military actions. Our political operatives formed subordinate\organizations of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland in Deshuigou, Diyanxi\and in neighbouring villages.

Organizations also began to be formed in the homeland.

The\organizations, established in various places surrounding Mt. Paektu, became reliable political footholds for the new base to be established.

The battle of Xiaodeshui was followed by many actions in Shiwudaogou-Donggang, Shisandaogou-Longchuanli, Ershidao-gou-Erzhongdian in Changbai County\and many other places, while moving about various villages on River Amnok. The riverine area resembled a stirred hornets’ nest.

The objective we had set ourselves in taking a roundabout route was achieved. It was now time to entrench ourselves in Paektu Mountain\and establish our home base. Guided by Kim Ju Hyon\and Ri Tong Hak, I proceeded to the site\selected for the establishment of our secret camp on Mt. Paektu. I was accompanied by senior officers, the guards\and some combat companies. The other soldiers were instructed to continue harassing the enemy in Changbai area.

The Sobaeksu valley, reconnoitred by Kim Ju Hyon, Ri Tong Hak, Kim Un Sin\and others, was the first site of the secret camp on Mt. Paektu in the homeland. Mt. Paektu soared approximately ten miles northwest of the valley. About five miles northwest one could see Mt. Sono. Four miles northeast of the valley Mt. Kanbaek rose above a dense forest. The long elevation behind the valley was called the Peak of Saja.


Our arrival in Sobaeksu valley was a jubilant homecoming after many years of absence. In the historical context of the anti-Japanese revolution, it implied the shifting of our operation centre rom eastern Manchuria to Mt. Paektu.

A man’s homecoming is a matter of joy for his neighbours as well. But there was no neighbour of ours in the valley lying in the depths of Paektu mountains, rom which even “A bird flew away unable to endure the loneliness of the forest,” as one poet put it. We were greeted by the sighing forest\and murmuring stream. The people in the homeland were still not aware of our arrival in Sobaeksu valley.

Twenty-five miles south of the place, there were the homeland people who would welcome us warmly, but there were also uninvited guests rom the island country, who were aiming their guns at us. If this obstacle had not existed we would have gone to our beloved people\and met them in excitement. Fighting the enemy was the only way to meet our compatriots. To fight the enemy, we advanced to Paektu mountain area\and began to establish our base in the Sobaeksu valley.

The comrades with me in the valley at that time never imagined that the place would be a famous historical site, which would attract visitors rom the rest of the world.

Without leaving any trace of our movement, we walked up along the water edges of the stream, which was flowing with floating leaves.

Travellers to this place nowadays will never imagine that it was part of a primeval forest half a century ago. The quiet\and serenity of the old days have given way to the well-surfaced road,\where tourist buses\and visitors pass without cease, to the houses for the travellers\and travellers’ village, as well furnished as fashionable hotels,\and to the endless flow of pedestrians\and their songs ringing out in all seasons. But in those days we could hardly find a footprint of wild beast in that primeval forest. We were attracted by the exquisite scenery of the valley, which preserved its beauty at the time of genesis\and its terrain features, which provided us with a natural fortress.

The valley of Lishugou with the C.P. of the guerrilla army in my days in Macun, Xiaowangqing, had been excellent. The valley was deep\and ragged\and denied easy access for the enemy. If the enemy could ever manage to approach, they had been successfully repulsed. The terrain of the Sobaeksu valley at the fork of the streams down the Peak of Saja, rom which we made our way to the site of the secret camp on Mt. Paektu, was quite similar to the features of Lishugou valley.

There was a slight difference between the two; Sobaeksu valley was a little more spacious, deeper\and beautiful. The farther we climbed, the greater we found the difference. The valley, located in one of the great folds of thousands of peaks\and ridges of the majestic Paektu Mountain Range, was profound against its mammoth background.

Before dark we pitched tents by the stream\and at the foot of a peak on the opposite side of the Peak of Jangsu\and slept through the night. I usually sleep no more than three to four hours a day. When fighting on the mountains, I had the habit of waking up around two o’clock in the morning to read. But that night I was so tired that I did not read in the early morning, when I discovered that it had frosted during the night.

The alpine area had a longer winter\and experienced much more snowfall than elsewhere. The snow in the area did not melt easily. In late June\and early July one could see the snow of the previous winter,\and in late September\and early October one could find new snow on mountain tops. The accumulated snow was often deeper than a man’s stature\and made it necessary to dig a tunnel to open a passage through. Snow shoes were needed to travel outside the secret camp. Without them one might sink into the snow\and suffer an accident.

The rigorous climate of the alpine region, which was frequently threatened with gales\and heavy snowfalls, made distinctions between different seasons\and brought us different seasonal benefits.


I had eaten saussurea for the first time during the battle of Laoheishan\and found it delicious. Boiled rice wrapped in saussurea tasted better than in lettuce. I had tasted cacalia at Ri Hun’s house in Shijiudaogou, Changbai County. It was also very delicious. There were many types of wild vegetables in Paektu mountain area, saussurea in Taehongdan, cacalia in the area surrounding Lake Samji,\and musuhae in Pegae Hill. These wild greens, picked by the cooking unit members, enriched our summer dishes.

As we settled down in the secret camp on Mt. Paektu, the cooking unit formed a kitchen garden at an edge of a grassland\and grew various kinds of vegetables. Cabbage\and radish did not thrive, but lettuce\and crown daisy grew well.

Char, caught rom the Sobaeksu, was also served occasionally. In those days there were not many of them in the stream, but nowadays a lot of them have been bred.

On the day after our arrival I inspected together with other commanding officers, the site of the secret camp,\and the sites for barracks chosen by the advance party. I convened an officers’ meeting\and reviewed our expedition rom Nanhutou to Mt. Paektu, debated our task,\and then gave assignments to the officers. We aimed to establish the Paektusan Base as soon as possible. It comprised two aspects: the construction of secret camps\and establishment of underground revolutionary\organizations in the villages around Mt. Paektu.

There were considerable differences in content\and form between the guerrilla zone, established in eastern Manchuria in the first half of the 1930s\and the new Paektusan Base created in the latter half of the decade. The former was a fixed, visible open base of guerrilla warfare,\whereas the latter was an invisible revolutionary base, which consisted of secret camps\and underground revolutionary\organizations, serving as the base of military actions\and political activity.

The people in the base in the first half of the decade lived in line with the policy of the people’s revolutionary government; the people affiliated with underground\organizations in the latter half were under enemy rule in appearance, but in effect acted on our instructions\and lines.

Great efforts had to be devoted to the defence of the guerrilla zones in the first half,\whereas there was no need to do so in the latter half.

This enabled us to launch guerrilla activity over a wider area. In other words, the change in the form of the guerrilla base meant we could assume an offensive. Therefore, the wider the guerrilla base was expanded, the broader the area of our activity.

We intended to expand the guerrilla base, centring on the secret camp on Mt. Paektu, to the wide area of Changbai,\and then deep into the homeland along Paekmu, Kaema Plateaus\and Rangrim Mountains,\and then spread the flames of armed struggle rom the northern region to the middle\and southern regions of Korea, while at the same time expanding\and developing the Party\organizations, as well as the united front movement\and pushing ahead with preparations for nationwide resistance.

As the creation of the network of secret camps\and laying of the network of underground\organizations were burning issues, which our destiny\and the victory of the anti-Japanese revolution depended on, we had to direct our attention to the solution of these issues before all else. In the first place, we assigned each unit the task of building secret camps. Kim Ju Hyon was instructed to provide for food\and clothing. The two aspects of construction\and operation of the secret camps were, in plain terms, our problems of food, clothing\and housing.

The recruitment of able assistants for the establishment of the underground network\and combat actions to encourage the people to turn out in the sacred cause of national liberation were also important tasks. These tasks were given to Ri Tong Hak’s company.

The commanding officers immediately began to carry out their assignments to build the Paektusan Base. Kim Ju Hyon, Ri Tong Hak\and his company left us. Many other comrades were also sent away on individual missions to different places. Accompanied by the guards\and some members of the 7th Regiment, I made for Heixiazigou,\where we would meet the main body we had parted with at the village of Huanggongdong. Our experiences on our way rom Sobaeksu valley to Heixiazigou were very impressive.

At that time I saw Mt. Sono\and the Samdan Falls. The scenery was exquisite. We lost our way\and spent a great deal of time in the forest. I still remember our experience at Datuo Hot Spring. After roaming the forest for more than two hours, unable to find our way, I sent scouts off in many directions. One of them returned with an old man. The old man said that he was living alone on a foot hill of Mt. Paektu\and that, on his way back rom Manjiang,\where he had been to obtain salt\and foxtail millet, he met the reconnaissance party. The old man took us to his grass-thatched hut at Datuo. The hut was located by a good hot spring. The water was so hot that the crayfish we had placed there turned red. We took a bath, washed our clothes\and cooked crayfish in the hot spring. The Icelanders I watched taking an open-air bath in the depth of winter on television one day reminded me of my own experience at the hot spring.

At that time I talked a lot with the old man. I asked him why he was living in the deep mountain. He said he had been a lowlander, but on seeing the waning stars, had moved to the ancestral mountain.

“If I died a shameful death of an enslaved nation, it would make no difference\where I should die. But I wanted to live\and die at the foot of Mt. Paektu. My teacher at the village school, who taught me A Thousand Chinese Characters, used to say that the Koreans should live with Mt. Paektu in their embrace\and die with it as their pillow. His words were, indeed, a maxim, which should be inscribed on a monument,” the old man said.

Following endlessly his narrowed eyes, which were gazing at Mt. Paektu, I solemnly felt as if every phase of his wretched existence were unfolding before my eyes. His words, that he wanted to live at the foot of Mt. Paektu\and die with his head, resting on the mountain, moved me.

“Well, how do you like Mt. Paektu?”

“Wonderful. Hard as it is to live by growing potatoes\and hunting roe, I feel hale\and hearty, because I don’t have to see the Japanese.”

My talk with the old man reaffirmed my belief that Mt. Paektu offered strong moral support for our people. I keenly felt that I was absolutely right to make Mt. Paektu into the strategic centre of the revolution. The old man, who was living alone stoutly in the mountain in his late years, was really patriotic. I regret that I did not ask for his name.

Like the old man Ma in the highlands of Luozigou, he had many books. When we were leaving for Heixiazigou, after taking a bath at the Datuo Hot Spring, he gave me several story books. Later we built a recuperation centre at the hot spring for the wounded\and infirm.

One day after our arrival at Heixiazigou, the 2nd Regiment, which had been operating in Jiaohe, came to us. Kwon Yong Byok, O Jung Hup, Kang Wi Ryong\and some others came with the 2nd Regiment\and shared their innermost feelings with me.

They had endured many hardships on their way. Without wearing proper clothes\and half-starving in the winter cold on their way to Mt. Paektu, they attacked a lumber station\and captured cattle. They brought two of them to us alive. It was painful to see them, skin\and bones in rags. They also shed tears, hugging me. I supplied them with new clothes, both outerwear\and underwear, as well as leggings\and rubber-soled canvas shoes. I provided them with whole sets of toilet articles, tobacco\and matches.

On the\orders of Headquarters, Kang Wi Ryong, who had returned rom Jiaohe,\and Pak Yong Sun, built secret camps in Heixiazigou, Hengshan, Mt. Hongtou\and many other places. Pak Yong Sun\and Kang Wi Ryong were excellent carpenters. They used to build a log house large enough for a regiment in two to three days, using only axes. They did more work for the construction of secret camps in the Changbai area than any other comrades. When Cao Guo-an’s unit came to Heixiazigou, they admired the men of my unit for building their barracks in only one day, attributable to the two carpenters.

By the time I returned to Sobaeksu valley, after staying some time at Heixiazigou, log houses were built in many sites of the secret camp. The barracks for Headquarters, subordinate units, a printing shop, garment shop, guard house,\and checkpoints, had sprung up in the forest.

The doorhandles of the log houses in the secret camp were made of roe-hoofs. The trifle roe-hoof handle was engraved on my memory, as if a landmark of a historical period. Since the appearance of the roe-hoof handles on the doors of our “living quarters” on Mt. Paektu\and the establishment of our home base in the Sobaeksu valley, in other words, the secret camp on Mt. Paektu served as the strategic base of the Korean revolution, as the base for its central leadership.

The secret camp on Mt. Paektu was not only a strategic centre\and heart of the Korean revolution; it was also an important operational base, a base of activity,\and logistic base.

Many secret bases soon fanned out rom this very secret camp to different places in the northern\and middle regions of Korea.

From the secret camps, Kwon Yong Byok, Kim Ju Hyon, Kim Phyong, Kim Jong Suk, Pak Rok Kum, Ma Tong Hui, Ji Thae Hwan\and many other political operatives, carried the seeds of the revolution to every nook\and corner of the homeland. rom there, Ri Je Sun, Pak Tal, Pak In Jin\and many other representatives of the people, who had come to see us in Mt. Paektu, went with the kindling of the revolution back to the people. rom there our units took the field to destroy the enemy. All moves, both big\and small, directly related to the destiny of the revolution, were planned at the secret camp on Mt. Paektu.

Satellite secret camps in Korea\and China were part of the network of the secret camp on Mt. Paektu.

The Korean side included the Sajabong Secret Camp, Komsan Secret Camp, Sonosan Secret Camp, Kanbaeksan Secret Camp, Mudubong Secret Camp, Soyonjibong Secret Camp\and others. The west Jiandao area on the Chinese side included the Heixiajigou Secret Camp, Diyangxi Secret Camp, Erdaogang Secret Camp, Hengshan Secret Camp, Limingshui Secret Camp, Fuhoushui Secret Camp, Qingfeng Secret Camp,\and other secret camps in Fusong. We made use of all these secret camps whenever necessary.

The secret camps in Mt. Paektu area performed various missions\and duties. As well as purely secret camps, here clothes were sewn, weapons repaired\and the wounded\and ill were taken care of; some of them also served as liaison points\and shelters for the operatives.

The secret camp in the Sobaeksu valley was the heart of the network of the secret camp on Mt. Paektu. So we called the camp in Sobaeksu valley Paektusan Secret Camp No. 1 in those days. Nowadays it is called the Paektusan Secret Camp\or Paektu Secret Camp.

This camp was home to Headquarters\and departments directly under it,\and the guards\and some key units,\and passage in\and out of it was strictly controlled for maximum security\and secrecy. When subordinate units\or individuals, not in constant contact with us, came to Headquarters, we met them at Secret Camp No. 2 (the Sajabong Secret Camp), not at the secret camp in Sobaeksu valley. At Secret Camp No. 2, units\or individual persons on a visit to Headquarters were met, provided with rest\or sent away\and sometimes given short courses\or training. Secret Camp No. 2 was the reception centre for visitors to Headquarters. There the visitors waited for instructions, had interviews, slept\or received short courses\or training. In those days, it was a rule for messengers coming to Headquarters to make their way rom the direction of Limingshui\and follow the stream of the Sobaeksu rom the entrance to the valley, to avoid leaving any trace of passage to Headquarters. The locations of secret camps were not known to everybody. If they had been known, they would not have been secret.


The details of Paektusan Secret Camp\and other secret camps in the surrounding area were known to only several people, like Kim Ju Hyon, Kim Hae San, Kim Un Sin\and Ma Tong Hui, who performed all liaison missions,\and to a small number of commanding officers.

Fortunately these secret camps\and their “inhabitants” were able to keep their existence secret, until the anti-Japanese revolution emerged victorious.

Mt. Paektu was my “home” during my prime of youth. That “home” contained a large number of my messmates, an incomparably larger number than my family at my childhood home. They stayed with me in that “home”, w

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