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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 14 4. With the Comrades-in-Arms in Southern Man…

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 14 4. With the Comrades-in-Arms in Southern Manchuria

  

   


 

4. With the Comrades-in-Arms in Southern Manchuria 

  

I recall with pleasure the political\and military activities on the Amnok River after building up many secret camps around Mt. Paektu, especially the days when I consolidated militant friendship\and solidarity with the 2nd Division, 1st Corps of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army through joint life\and joint operations, when they called on my unit.

The cooperation between the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army\and the Chinese communist armed units had already been deliberated at the meeting held in Yaoyinggou in March 1935. On the decision adopted at the meeting, our unit later made a second expedition to northern Manchuria\and the other unit left for southern Manchuria across Xinkai Hill. The typical Chinese armed units on our flank were Zhou Bao-zhong’s unit active in Ningan area, Li Yan-lu’s unit in Mishan area, Yang Jing-yu’s unit in southern Manchuria\and Zhao Shang-zhi’s unit in Zhuhe area. In those days, these units conducted a brisk joint struggle with their neighbours on their own initiative.


The 1st Independent Division, which had moved to southern Manchuria rom eastern Manchuria, held an emotional meeting with comrades-in-arms of the 1st Corps at Naerhong, Mengjing County in August\and September 1935. This occurred, when we were conducting joint operations with Zhou Bao-zhong’s unit, after crossing Laoyeling Mountains again.

The unit dispatched to southern Manchuria included O Jung Hup\and Kim Phyong, commanders rom Wangqing.

O Jung Hup recalled with emotion in later days that the comrades in southern Manchuria had accorded the guerrillas rom eastern Manchuria an enthusiastic reception, by erecting a gate of pine decorations, flying flags, preparing a rostrum\and making a welcoming speech. Apparently the ceremony had been spectacular. That day Yang Jing-yu made a welcoming speech on behalf of the unit in southern Manchuria\and Li Xue-zhong made a reply address on behalf of the unit rom eastern Manchuria; their speeches were interrupted several times by the applause of hundreds of people. As far as I remember, the scene of that day was described concisely in a special issue of the People’s Revolution.


When Cao Guo-an came to Heixiazigou Secret Camp, leading the main force of his division, we were not around, as we had gone out to fight battles. A messenger sent by Kim Ju Hyon informed us on the battle field of the arrival of the unit rom southern Manchuria. Apparently Kim Ju Hyon, in charge of our unit’s food, clothing\and housing, was taking considerable trouble to give the guests a generous reception. To see comrades rom southern Manchuria as soon as possible, we left for the secret camp immediately after battles.

It was a great pleasure for us to meet the comrades-in-arms rom our adjacent area. We yearned for people—this was a valuable\and intense feeling, which was deeply rooted in the minds of all of us. How come we missed only one\or two things, when we lived on the mountains far away rom inhabited areas? We missed our home villages, kinsfolk, schoolmates, beloved ones, civilization in all its hues\and shades\and everything else. But the strongest of all these yearnings was the yearning for our comrades\and the yearning for people. For this very reason, the days we stayed in residential quarters were holidays for us all. In an outburst of this feeling, my comrades-in-arms\and I raised a shout of joy\and embraced the messenger, when we heard that the men of Cao Guo-an’s unit had come to our secret camp.


As we arrived at the camp, 70-80 men rom southern Manchuria rushed out of the quarters\and surrounded us. We were bewildered by incessant embraces\and handshakes. If a stranger had seen that scene, he might have got the wrong idea that we were receiving a welcome at the secret camp of the south Manchurian men.

 

Thanks to this meeting, I got acquainted for the first time with division commander Cao Guo-an. Cao Guo-an looked like a strong-willed, rigorous instructor at a military academy; this was my first impression. But after a few days of living under the same roof, my opinion changed. He was very tenderhearted\and sociable. He was a self-possessed man, a dozen years older than me.

The fact that he had been born in Yongji County, Jilin Province,\and graduated rom Jilin Normal School, instilled in me an intimate feeling that we were rom the same native town. After graduating rom this school, he once taught at the Jilin Middle School No. 1. Later he attended the military\and political academy in Shandong\and also studied in Beijing. He said that he had become absorbed in studying Marxism-Leninism rom the days in these two institutions. Taking part in the anti-Japanese armed struggle, he worked as political commissar of the 7th Regiment, 1st Division, 1st Corps\and had, since the autumn of 1934, been working as commander\and political commissar of the 2nd Division, 1st Corps.


Pointing at his men surrounding us, Cao Guo-an said with an awkward smile, “Please, Commander Kim, don’t feel reproachful that the people you are going to cooperate with are so indecent. This is the result of my inefficient command of my unit, so please understand.”

The guests rom southern Manchuria, both officers, rank\and file, all wore shabby summer clothes. Their threadbare military uniforms, revealing even their underwear, graphically told us of the arduous\and long road his division had traversed.

“Commander Kim, although we are ashamed of it, we have not yet provided our men with winter clothes,” said Cao Guo-an, casting an envious glance at my men, who were wearing soft, cotton-padded coats. He maintained a sad smile on his face.

“Oh, don’t. How many battles you might have fought\and how much hardship you might have undergone for your clothes to have become so shabby!

 

We looked no better than you when we returned rom the expedition to northern Manchuria. We have some winter clothes in reserve, but I am afraid I don’t know how much. If you don’t disagree, we will give them to you to begin with\and we will make new ones for the rest.”

Cao Guo-an was very pleased. He said, “Then I can sleep soundly.”


The division commander Cao\and I exchanged our opinions on joint struggle for about 20 days, sharing board\and food in the camp; during this time, I grew closer to him. We exchanged our views on the cooperation of our two units, to begin with, the management of units, education of soldiers, ways of reinforcing troops\and working among the masses, guerrilla tactics, the future of the revolution in Korea\and China,\and also talked about our personal backgrounds.

What I thought charming about his personality was his simplicity\and frankness. He was exceedingly frank\and modest. The ten-year age gap did not matter in the interview with him. He did not mind the differences in age\and position of his counterpart; if the counterpart was to his liking, he would even speak his inmost thoughts. He did not hesitate to tell me the ups\and downs his division had suffered\and its casualties.

The parent body of the 2nd Division, 1st Corps led by Cao Guo-an was the anti-Japanese people’s guerrilla unit, formed by the Koreans in Panshi,\and it comprised the 1st Regiment, 1st Division, which had been\organized with the defectors rom the puppet Manchukuo army\and mountain rebels. The main area of the division’s operations had been Panshi County\and the areas around it.


After being restructured into a division, the unit, in accordance with the operational plan of the corps headquarters, would go on an expedition to the north of River Huifa every summer\and return in winter to compensate for the loss it had sustained during the expedition\and replenish its troops, before embarking on an expedition to that area next summer. It had been a regular mobile operation, conducted once every year without fail, on the plea of expanding the area of guerrilla activities. However, these systematic operations

 

had attracted the enemy’s attention\and the unit’s unchangeable course of activities had entered the enemy’s operations map. The enemy had launched surprise attacks at vantage points,\and the unit had suffered great losses on each expedition.

In summer 1936, the division lost a large number of combatants during the expedition. In cooperation with the 1st Division rom eastern Manchuria, Cao Guo-an had led some of his division as far as Sansong, Emu County. On his return rom the expedition, he had gathered his division in the area of Huiquanzhan in Huadian County\and came directly to us via Fusong County. He added that the unit had consequently failed to\drop in at the supply base of the 1st Corps, situated in Naerhong, Mengjiang County\and, therefore, replace their summer clothes with winter clothes.


While groping in agony for a way to surmount the difficulties, facing his division, he had one day been informed of the battle at Fusong county town, we had fought rom Song Mu Son’s small unit, which had been to Sandaolazihe, Fusong County, to obtain provisions.

Cao Guo-an told me that he had been deeply moved by their story. He had thought: While the others win victory after victory even with a newly-organized division, why should my unit fight a hard battle each time? Why should we leave for the north of Huifa every summer in a mechanical way, although we suffer a considerable loss of our force at each expedition? We might be able to draw a lesson here.

He had held a consultative meeting of the leading officers,\where they had discussed several measures for ensuring a decisive turn in the military activities of the unit, including the implementation, as early as possible, of joint operations with my unit. The common view had been expressed at the meeting that joint operations would enable them to develop their strategy\and tactics\and accumulate useful experiences. The main proponent of this proposal was Song Mu Son\and the most active supporter was division commander Cao Guo-an.

 

The division had left Dadonggou, Huadian County immediately in the direction of my unit.

Presumably, they had fought battles not worth fighting, even though they had undergone severe difficulties. On hearing the trials\and sufferings they had endured, I felt they were not their own trials\and sufferings.

In actual fact, the 1st Corps of the Northeast Anti-Japanese Allied Army, also called the south Manchurian guerrilla unit, was a major neighbour of the main force of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army along with the guerrilla unit in northern Manchuria. Since the first days of the anti-Japanese war, we had displayed great concern in the development of the guerrilla unit in southern Manchuria\and exerted tireless efforts to effect a joint struggle with them. We had also dispatched many excellent Korean cadres there, who had been seasoned\and trained in guerrilla warfare in eastern Manchuria. In one effort in this direction, on our expedition to southern Manchuria in summer 1932, we tried to join hands with Ri Hong Gwang\and Ri Tong Gwang, by sending our representative to them. However, to our deep regret, we could not realize joint operations with them.


In the days, prior to the meeting in Nanhutou, we attached considerable importance to the cooperation with the guerrilla unit in northern Manchuria. This was why we had made expeditions on two occasions into northern Manchuria. We had conducted joint operations with the communists there\and allied operations with the Chinese anti-Japanese units. Although it had caused heart-rending losses\and sacrifices, cooperation with them demonstrated its validity.

Admittedly northern Manchuria was geographically nearer to us than southern Manchuria, when we fought by relying on the guerrilla base in Jiandao; northern Manchuria was located over a mountain.

In the latter half of the 1930s, when we began to fight with west Jiandao as a new theatre of our activities, southern Manchuria became nearer to us in geographical concept than northern Manchuria. The gun reports we raised everyday in the southwestern area of Mt. Paektu whetted the desire of guerrilla units in southern Manchuria to achieve cooperation with the People’s Revolutionary Army as early as possible. The formation of an alliance with these units was an urgent\and long-standing issue, which brooked no further delay. Cao Guo-an’s division can be called the first one we carried out joint operations with on a division level, after our advance to Mt. Paektu area.

As in eastern\and northern Manchuria, the guerrilla struggle in southern Manchuria had been pioneered\and led by the communists\and revolutionaries of Korea. In the national composition of the 1st, 2nd\and 3rd Divisions of the 1st Corps of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army active in southern Manchuria, the Koreans occupied the majority. Most of military\and political cadres, excluding Yang Jing-yu, Wei Zheng-min\and Cao Guo-an, were Koreans.

In a rally held in Jilin in December 1945, Zhou Bao-zhong made the following speech: The stalwart east Manchurian guerrilla army, set up in 1932\and the Panshi, Zhuhe, Mishan,\and Tangyuan guerrilla armies, formed in 1933, were all\organized by Korean comrades\and the revolutionary Korean masses; later they developed into several corps of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army. There were many excellent Korean comrades in the 5th Corps; the military\and political cadres at all levels of the allied army, rom corps commanders\and political commissars to platoon leaders\and instructors in each corps, included many Korean comrades. The Panshi guerrilla army he mentioned is the south Manchurian guerrilla army, the predecessor of the 1st Corps of the allied army.


As reflected in the conventional name, the Panshi guerrilla army, the cradle of the guerrilla struggle in southern Manchuria, was Panshi area.

Apparently, when the Party Committee of Panshi County was formed, it registered 40 Communist Party members, who were all Koreans. Ri Hong Gwang\organized the first armed unit with less than ten Koreans; this unit was the parent body of the south Manchurian guerrilla army. The first members of the south Manchurian guerrilla army, formed with 30 men, were all Koreans as well. Most of the heads of the Anti-Japanese Association, Women’s Association, Children’s Vanguards\and Peasants’ Committees, formed in Panshi guerrilla base, were also Koreans. Koreans played the role of pioneer, hard core\and helmsman in pioneering\and developing the guerrilla movement in southern Manchuria.

Cao Guo-an’s division also included a great number of Koreans. The majority of the commanders, including Song Mu Son\and Pak Sun Il\and many rom the rank\and file were Koreans. This basis was to facilitate their joint operations\and struggle with us.

The Korean communists in southern Manchuria dealt heavy military\and political blows against the Japanese imperialists via direct relations with us\or through their independent judgement, decision\and action. At times they would cross the Amnok\and raid the enemy on the Korean shore of the river.

The first half of the 1930s was a period, when we were making frequent inroads into the homeland rom eastern Manchuria. The small units of the People’s Revolutionary Army raided Onsong County alone on four occasions in one month in January 1935. When the units entered Namsan-ri, Wolpha-dong, Seson-dong\and Misan-dong in Onsong County\and had engagements with the enemy troops\and police, the newspapers published in Seoul reported that a great force of guerrillas had raided Onsong, Hunyung\and other areas in North Hamgyong Province.


In May 1935 a unit of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, after conducting political work among the masses in the area of Nongsa-dong, Samjang Sub-county, Musan County, fought a gunfight with the Japanese police on their heels, in the vicinity of Damalugou, Antu County in China, dealing them a telling blow.

Ri Hong Gwang, who had been compensating for his nostalgia, by fighting on the shore of the Amnok, availing himself of our inroads into the homeland, which had been becoming more\and more frequent with each passing year, led his unit across the river\and attacked Tonghungjin, Huchang County. On the night of February 15, 1935, three small units of the 1st Division, 1st Corps, led by him, encircled Tonghungjin\and raided a police station\and financial cooperative with two light machine-guns at the head of the units; this took the enemy aback.

Embarrassed by repeated inroads into the homeland by the People’s Revolutionary Army, the enemy shouted that these were unprecedented events in the history of defending border areas.

How could the units in southern Manchuria, which had distinguished themselves at home\and abroad with their raid on Tonghungjin, suffer such setbacks as those experienced by the division commander Cao Guo-an? I did not know why, but I felt upset when I saw his haggard face.

Heaving a heavy sigh, resembling a man who had given up everything,\and rubbing his face with both hands, he said:

“I recently came to the conclusion that the development of joint struggle with my neighbours constitutes the only way for us to exist. I learned this lesson too late. Frankly speaking, I regret slighting the relationship with your unit in the past, Commander Kim.”

“Comrade Cao, please take a good rest for some days in our unit\and recover your strength. As the saying goes, there is always a way out. We are only human beings, not God; we are apt to make mistakes. There is no need to fear temporary setbacks.”

I told him about the trials we had undergone on the Heights of Luozigou when the whole of my unit had been in a critical situation, confronted by potential annihilation owing to hunger, biting cold\and the enemy’s encirclement, as well as the first expedition to northern Manchuria, when we had been rescued rom another unfathomable crisis caused by the cold I had caught, the heavy snow\and enemy’s dogged pursuit, with the help of benefactors.

The first problem, raised by the sudden, unexpected influx of many guests concerned their board. I\ordered the commanding personnel of my unit to vacate the log-cabins, our men had been living in, for the sake of our guests,\and make preparations for them to sleep in tents around campfires. No sooner had I issued the\order than our men vacated their log-cabins, built campfires\and set up tents; their uncommon, swift workmanship aroused the admiration of the guests.

My men included masterly builders of campfires. They had invented an exquisite method for building fires with logs\and propagated it throughout the unit. The method was quite simple\and yet queer. They piled up the logs, cut appropriately in equal length in the form of a pyramid, 5-6 logs on the first layer, 4-5 logs on the second layer,\and 3-4 logs on the third layer,\and put dry twigs, as kindling on the last layer of 2-3 logs; then they lit the twigs. When the campfire was lit in this way, it lasted for a long time\and the wet logs burned well like dry ones without any crackling. It produced great heat to everyone’s delight.


The soldiers of the 2nd Division wondered at first, if the logs could catch fire, as they were set afire in that way. But when they saw how the logs piled up in the form of a pyramid soon became blaze, they only exclaimed in wonder.

Like his men, Cao Guo-an could not hide his admiration.


“Some time ago I met Wei Zheng-min in Manjiang. Do you know what he said to me?” he asked, with a meaningful smile on his face, keeping his eyes on the fire.

“What did he say?”


“That I should learn before anything else how to build a campfire, when I go to your unit, Commander Kim. The way you build it is quite extraordinary.” The most conspicuous impression he had got in my unit was rom campfire\and log-cabins. He confessed frankly, that he had become aware for the first time in our secret camp that his unit could live on without difficulty, even deep in a mountain\or in the wilderness, if they had campfire\and log-cabins.


Next day I instructed some carpenters, skilful in building log-cabins, as well as the 4th Company, 7th Regiment to build in one day quarters for exclusive use by the 2nd Division during their stay in our secret camp, so that they would not feel awkward. The master hands at building houses in our unit felled trees\and erected a big\and neat log-cabin in one day. The men of the 2nd Division helped their work with animation.

On learning that such secret camps had been set up in various places of the woods on Mt. Paektu, Cao Guo-an again became envious. He recounted that they had so far put up only at dwelling quarters, as they had thought that they could not stay in such no-man’s land as Mt. Paektu\and that they had hardly lived in a secret camp on the mountain. He continued that they had lodged separately in dwelling houses on their last expedition to the area on the north of the River Huifa.

As they had their “own house” in our secret camp, I\ordered Kim Ju Hyon in charge of supply work,\and Kim Hae San, to provide them with adequate provisions\and kitchen utensils for their life\and dozens of suits of uniform kept in the warehouse of our unit. The distribution of uniforms was not finished to the satisfaction of all, owing to the lack of some outfits, but as the sewing unit led by Pak Su Hwan had worked in a crash drive, burning the midnight candle, the remaining soldiers could throw their shabby summer clothes into the fire on the next day. Although not a boisterous well-doing, we showed our decorum as a host.


We\organized bathing\and hair-cutting for the 2nd Division. In those days we used a large pot for boiling water to take a bath in the secret camp in Heixiazigou. O Jung Hup\and his men had brought that pot after raiding a felling station in Hengshan; it had been used in the station for boiling cattle fodder. This pot was used very effectively. After improving their appearances, we gave them each a set of toiletries\and a few packets of cigarettes.

Cao Guo-an called on our Headquarters\and expressed heartfelt thanks on behalf of his unit. He said that he felt very guilty to receive only kindness in every particular, when they had come empty-handed\and that they were at a loss as how to repay that kindness.

 

I replied, “It is never a debt of gratitude, for we are neighbours fighting for a common objective\and ideal. If we had gone to your unit as guests, you might have accorded us such treatment. Don’t think that you are receiving kindness rom the other unit. You may presume that you are staying at your relative’s. If you are so eager to repay our kindness, please tell me during your stay in our camp about your interesting life experiences.”

He was afraid that, as a novice rom the ivory tower, he had no life experience great enough to arouse my interest. There was only uncommon thing worth mentioning, he said: It concerned the knowledge he had acquired in his days in Shandong military\and political academy\and he would tell it to me, if it would be of any help to me.

Later on he gave lectures on several occasions to the commanders of my unit, on the tactics of regular warfare. The lectures were very profound. His lectures served as a considerable asset for understanding in depth the regular warfare tactics, employed by the enemy\and completing the guerrilla tactics of our own style to cope with them.

In exchange, we told the commanders of his unit, the commanders\and political instructors of the company\and higher levels, about the guerrilla warfare experiences we had accumulated. As our story was woven with experiences of actual fighting, the guests rom southern Manchuria heard it with relish.

I stressed to them the need to pay particular attention to loving people: We must bear in mind that the people are our strength, wisdom,\and life\and soul; we therefore must trust them, learn rom them, rely on them\and fight by drawing on their efforts; to be placed under their obligation, we must be loved by them\and for this purpose we must love them in the first place; if a soldier does not hesitate to impose burdens on them, on the plea that they are living in a place he would leave behind after a night’s sleep, they will regard him as a nuisance; when he lays his hand on their property\and does them harm, the consequences will be irredeemable; if he loves them as his own flesh\and blood, they will follow him on their own,\and such a soldier will surely always be victorious.


During their stay in the secret camp in Heixiazigou the men rom southern Manchuria inspected on several occasions study sessions, meetings, military drills\and other daily programmes of our unit. Their reaction was very favourable; they unanimously exclaimed that it was right when others called it a student unit.

Cao Guo-an said sincerely that, accustomed as he was to roaming to areas north\and south of the River Huifa like duckweed, he had not thought of building secret camps\and realizing self-reliance, by basing himself on the camps\and had not intended to set up a network of underground\organizations in the area of his guerrilla activities, with the secret camps at the centre, to expand\and develop the struggle, by relying on the base comprising the secret camps\and the network of underground\organizations.

One evening, as he walked with me in the forest, after enjoying our unit’s recreation party, he said, “Commander Kim, your unit is an army in all aspects. I can now understand why your unit wins victory after victory.”

Our comrades-in-arms rom southern Manchuria made persistent efforts to acquaint themselves with the daily routine of our unit. They adopted our daily routine\and studied\and performed exercises as we did. During their stay in our secret camp, they reinforced their unit\and acquired a more rigid discipline, renovating their appearance.

“It seems that the time has come for us to fight big battles through the cooperation between our two units. Let us smite in a united effort the enemy, running amuck for ‘great winter punitive operations’. Taoquanli\and other areas in Changbai\and Linjiang Counties have a sound mass foundation. You can obtain active assistance\and support rom the underground revolutionary\organizations we have set up there,\and thereby replenish your ranks quickly with excellent young men. When our two units conduct a war of attrition, displaying firm unity on both sides, we will be able to achieve a great result in battles, I think.”

 

Cao Guo-an readily accepted my proposal. We decided to carry out joint operations whenever they seemed necessary.

The comrades-in-arms rom the 2nd Division were very regretful to leave our camp. The commanders\and men of my unit were also so sorry that tears welled up in their eyes.

Before parting, Cao Guo-an requested, “Commander Kim, will you give me one of your men as my\orderly?”

I found myself in the same position as I had been in northern Manchuria when Zhou Bao-zhong had requested me to send him Korean officers\and men. On his request a large number of Korean officers\and men, including Pak Rak Kwon, Jon Chang Chol, An Jong Suk\and Pak Kil Song, had been dispatched rom eastern Manchuria to the unit in northern Manchuria.

“I am grateful that you trust my comrades so much. Do you maintain any special relations with Koreans?”

Cao Guo-an replied, “Nothing special, but I have become attracted to Korean comrades, since my acquaintance with Ri Hong Gwang\and Ri Tong Gwang. The people in Jiandao might not know fully, how we were filled with admiration when Ri Hong Gwang annihilated Shao Ben-liang\and his ilk.”

Shao Ben-liang was an evil, high-ranking officer of the puppet Manchukuo army, who had been killing people at random\and plundering them in Liuhe County, like Ri To Son in Antu\and Commander Wang in Fusong.

Ri Hong Gwang had smashed this unit in the areas of Sanyuanpu, Gushanzi\and Liangshuihezi in Liuhe County. After annihilating Shao Ben-liang, Ri Hong Gwang had rescued Yang Jing-yu, by displaying audacity\and quick wits, when the headquarters of the 1st Corps had been surrounded by the enemy’s large force near Liangshuihezi. Since then Yang Jing-yu\and other cadres of the 1st Corps had loved him very much, regarding him as their saviour\and a symbol of bravery. Cao Guo-an told me that he could not find words to describe how the corps commander Yang\and all the other officers\and men of the 1st Corps had grieved for his death in battle.

 

I decided to comply with his request.


“There is a machine-gunner I have favoured since my days in Wangqing, but I do not know if he will be acceptable to you. Kang Jung Ryong is his name. A platoon leader\and machine-gunner, he is a very strong man.”

I discovered that Kang was an old acquaintance of the division commander\and Song Mu Son,\organizational section chief of the 2nd Division. So we agreed to assign him to the 2nd Division.

On knowing this measure Kang insisted that he would not leave me; but on becoming a soldier of Cao Guo-an, I learned that he fought bravely as leader of the machine-gun platoon guarding the headquarters of the 2nd Division.

Later Cao Guo-an’s unit conducted brisk military\and political activities in the areas of Changbai\and Linjiang Counties. Immediately after leaving our camp they went straight to Taoquanli\and, after spending about a week there, replenished their ranks\and searched for a suitable location for a secret camp with the help of the underground\organization. At that time I issued a written\order to Kim Jae Su to activate the lower\organizations of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland to render them proper assistance. Subordinate\organizations of the ARF had been formed in many villages in Xiagangqu including Taoquanli\and had given the guerrillas active assistance. These\organizations were brought into action\and rendered sincere help to the 2nd Division.


Thanks to their support, the unit rom southern Manchuria succeeded in the battle against the Jingan army unit which had swarmed into Taoquanli.

On receiving rom the local people information about the enemy’s movement one mid-November day, 1936, the headquarters of the division decided to attack the enemy by ambush at night\and laid an ambush before dusk along the road in Taoquanli,\where a fort stood. Their ambush position was only ten metres away rom the last house standing at the end of the village.

Entering the village, the large enemy troops dragged the people out of the houses\and forced them to reveal the\whereabouts of the guerrillas. Although they knew that the guerrillas were lying in ambush within a stone’s throw, the villagers feigned ignorance. They deserved gratitude. Had the secret been revealed through a moment’s mistake, the whole village would have been avenged mercilessly; in this critical situation they did not divulge the\whereabouts of the guerrillas at the risk of their lives.

Thanks to their self-sacrifice, the 2nd Division scored a great result in the ambush that day. Next day, on the information gained rom the people, they opened concentration fire at the enemy, who were coming in a convoy of 20 trucks to collect the bodies of those killed the day before, making them shudder with terror.

After reinforcing his unit\and achieving a great battle result in Taoquanli, Cao Guo-an sent me a letter, stating that he had already begun to feel the worth of his stay in the secret camp in Heixiazigou, that he could not forget my favour\and would send me only happy news in the future, as well.

Unfortunately, he never realized his dream. During their advance towards Linjiang, the 2nd Division came across the enemy near the timber mill in Qidaogou, Changbai County; at this battle the division commander Cao received a fatal wound. He entrusted Song Mu Son with command of the unit for the time being\and, at a safe place with his bodyguards, had his wound treated. However, a renegade reported his\whereabouts to the enemy. To capture him alive, the enemy encircled his place on all sides. His bodyguards fought a life-and-death battle to rescue the division commander. Despite their desperate efforts, Cao Guo-an was killed, after receiving many bullets in his body.


When I received news of his death, I was reminded of his words.


“When  decisive  operations  for  liberating  Korea  begin  in  the  future, Commander Kim, please call me. Then I will come to your side, leading my unit.” This is what he had said when parting rom me. However, he could not keep that promise. He was killed in action, to our profound regret, without seeing the liberation of China, his beloved motherland, not to mention the liberation of Korea. I regretted this.

It was early in 1937 when Pak Sun Il, head of the munitions section of the 2nd Division, visited our camp bringing with him a letter, reporting the death of the division commander.

Writing without any reserve on his sadness about the loss of the division commander\and his puzzled, impatient mind on how to command the unit in the future, Song Mu Son asked my advice on the direction of their activities.

Expressing my sympathy with their sadness for losing their commander, I wrote a fairly long letter. I stressed in particular that they should surmount in unity the crisis facing the division\and that collective wisdom should be given full play in the administration of the unit. I advised Song Mu Son to build a secret camp in the mountainous area in Limingshui, as it was virtually inaccessible to the enemy; it had snowed heavily there. I also told him to focus his efforts on political\and ideological work with the recruits\and on their military training. Then I expressed my intention of visiting his unit after the New Year’s Day on the lunar calendar.


Visiting them as an\ordinary condoler\and tendering my condolence was a duty\and obligation I had to fulfil as a comrade-in-arms who had maintained extraordinary relations with the deceased during his lifetime. My visit, when they had been bereaved of their division commander, could prove a comfort\and support for them.

As promised, I went to them after the battle at Hongtoushan. On our way, we fought a battle at Taoquanli\and, staying a night at the village of Simenkaiting, dispatched reconnaissance parties to the upper reaches of Limingshui\and Badaogou.

Immediately after receiving news about our arrival at Simenkaiting, the comrades of the 2nd Division rushed to the village at night, skipping their supper. I was reported of their arrival in the small hours. I called for Kim Ju Hyon\and\ordered him to prepare rice-cake soup for the guests; then I went outside with my\orderly to greet them.


As I greeted them rom a distance, the commanders rushed to me\and encircled me ring upon ring. Their skins were so frozen, that I felt as if a large piece of ice had touched my cheeks whenever I hugged them.

Song Mu Son, the acting division commander, did not let my hand go, until we reached our quarters.

“Thank you, Comrade Commander. We are grateful for the encouragement you have given us when our unit is faced with a grave crisis.”


“I scarcely deserve such a praise, Comrade Song. Am I not too late?”


As in the past, he expressed extraordinary intimacy towards me that day. As I had treated Cao Guo-an, he treated me as a man, hailing rom his hometown.

He had been engaged in the youth movement in a rural village called Wulihezi near Jilin, before joining the anti-Japanese armed struggle. Ri Tong Gwang had once directed the youth movement in Wulihezi. Under his guidance, Song Mu Son\and other young people there had\organized Hyoksin Youth Association,\and rallied young people behind this\organization. In those days youth\organizations, with such names as the Sinhung Youth Association\and Jonjin Youth Association, had been active in Yongji County area. Song Mu Son had been a member of the\organizational committee of the Hyoksin Youth Association. In spring 1928 the association had been reformed into the Anti-Imperialist Youth League by Ri Tong Gwang\and later into the Young Communist League.


When we conducted the struggle against the railway project between Jilin\and Hoeryong\and against Japanese goods, the youth\organization in Wulihezi had gone on a sympathy strike.

The period when Ri Tong Gwang led the youth movement in Wulihezi coincides with the period when I guided the youth\and student movement in Jilin.


Song Mu Son criticized some of the cadres of Jongui-bu, whenever he recollected his days in Jilin. When I reprimanded him that one had no right to accuse our forerunners, who had been making considerable efforts for independence, he replied burning with rage that he would feel improper if he did not go further. I asked him what made him think ill of the cadres of Jongui-bu. By way of an answer, he recounted a Jilin area meeting held early in 1928 at the initiative of Jongui-bu.

Apparently Song Mu Son had taken part in the meeting as a representative of Wulihezi. The meeting had also been attended by representatives of Shuanghezhen, Jiangdong\and Xinantun. The item of the agenda was the collection of compulsory money. That day Ko I Ho had made a violent speech on behalf of Jongui-bu. He had threatened that they would even collect the money by mobilizing soldiers, as the people under their jurisdiction were not willing to pay. His speech had engendered a squabble between the sponsors\and representatives. Song had made a rebuttal speech on behalf of Wulihezi. Owing to this speech he had been beaten after the meeting by the terrorists, dispatched by Ko I Ho,\and fallen unconscious.


Song Mu Son was well aware of the terrorism Kukmin-bu had perpetrated in Wangqingmen. I exchanged with him my opinions of O Tong Jin, Hyon Muk Kwan\and Ko Won Am. Every minutest detail of our life in Jilin had been reminisced. During his stay in the secret camp in Heixiazigou we talked a great deal about our days in Jilin.

But here in a farmer’s house in Simenkaiting we did not talk about those days. We only recalled Cao Guo-an, the division commander,\and discussed the destiny\and future of the division.

We treated the men rom the 2nd Division to rice-cake soup. A Chinese officer known as a glutton, ate three bowls of the soup, saying that he only celebrated New Year’s Day that day. I was told that they had missed lunch, as they had been chased by the enemy on their way back rom the raid on the timber mill in Gaolibuzi.

At dawn the commanding personnel of our unit\and the 2nd Division held a meeting on joint operations in the battle on Limingshui.

 

I had guessed rom my many years of experience that the enemy would pounce upon us around that day noon. To attract the enemy’s attention, I had ensured that traces leading to Limingshui had been left behind. The enemy rom Erdaogang would inevitably enter the valley on Limingshui. Furthermore, the enemy rom Badaogou would probably swarm there, as the comrades of the 2nd Division had come to Limingshui, after an engagement with the enemy at Gaolibuzi.

The confluence of Beishuigu\and Limingshui was the most suitable place for ambushing the enemy, pouncing upon us rom both sides. I had already chosen that place, when we entered the valley of Limingshui.

I informed those present at the meeting about my view of the enemy’s planned intentions on that day\and stressed the need for both units to jointly lead the ambush, in\order to smash the enemy’s large troops. I emphasized that, as the victory of an ambush largely depended on stealth, we should have breakfast before daybreak to advance to the ambush place,\and that, after the units had occupied their positions, nobody should produce smoke, talk, cough, desert his position\or fire without any\order. I also explained in detail what\and how to shout, to agitate the enemy during the battle\and also how to deal with the prisoners of war.


This was followed by the assignment of combat tasks to each unit. The information rom our reconnaissance revealed no particular change in the enemy’s movements. On my proposal the two units, ready to start, gathered in one place\and held memorial services for the division commander Cao Guo-an. Song Mu Son\and I made speeches in his memory.

Limingshui is a river, which flows to the west rom the watershed on Sidengfang Mountains in Changbai County\and joins Badaogou River. Simenkaiting was a village situated on the upper reaches of this river. About six kilometres down the river there was a village of about 15 slash-and-burn Korean peasant households. This was Limingshui village.

The units occupied their positions before daybreak\and dug out trenches. 


The steep slopes around them were covered with deep snow\and the Limingshui was iced over. It was bitterly cold, but the spirits of the combatants soared. Having heard that battles commanded by me always ended in victory, the comrades rom southern Manchuria predicted rom the moment they had received the combat\order that the battle would be a great victory.

I deployed the main force on a mountain ridge near a confluence of the river. The ridge with dry fields reclaimed rom wasteland was convenient for firing down on the valley. I located the command at the centre of the ridge\and deployed in ambush the 7th Regiment\and the guard company of my unit in front of the command, the 8th Regiment on the left\and the 2nd Division on the right. I made sure that a shock force of 60 to 70 valiant fighters lay in ambush on a low ridge across the valley. The high mountain standing opposite those two mountains was steep\and covered with thick woods, which the enemy could not escape through. The ground opposite the position,\where we were lying in ambush, was flat\and about 100 metres wide; it was a suitable place to mow down the enemy through concentration fire.

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