[Reminiscences]Chapter 21 Roar of Gunfire in the Large-Unit Circling Operations 1. A Woman Came to Visit the Secret Camp > News

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 21 Roar of Gunfire in the Large-Unit Circling Operations 1. A Woman Came to Visit the Secret Camp

  

   

 


 

Chapter 21 Roar of Gunfire in the Large-Unit Circling Operations

1. A Woman Came to Visit the Secret Camp


 One day in the autumn of 1956 the secretary of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung received a long phone call rom the secretary-general of the North Hamgyong Provincial People’s Committee. The message was that the secretary-general was sending a woman working at the creche of the Hakpho Coal Mine to Pyongyang because she said she had fought in the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army before liberation\and had eagerly requested him to let her meet the fatherly leader.

A few days later the woman called at the building of the Cabinet. When the great leader’s secretary asked her why she had come, she barely managed to answer, with tears in her eyes: “Simply because I’m eager to see. ...”


At that time the great leader was very busy working with a foreign delegation. When he had finished the work, his secretary reported about the woman’s visit. Hearing this, the leader said, “Ji Sun Ok, Kang Hung Sok’s wife... so she is still alive,”\and sank into deep thought.

What sort of a woman was Ji Sun Ok? We compiled the following account of Ji Sun Ok’s activities by combining the fatherly leader’s remarks on three occasions: in May 1972, as he looked around the Korean Revolution Museum; in March 1976, while attending the music\and dance epic, Large-Unit Circling Operations;\and in October 1985, when he was inspecting the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery on Mt. Taesong.


I suppose it was in the summer of 1939 that this happened, for we had just wound up our successful offensive in the Musan area\and were conducting military\and political activities in the northeastern area of Mt. Paektu. I was giving guidance to the 8th Regiment.


One day O Jung Hup, commander of the 7th Regiment, came to see me with a report about the state of affairs in his unit. Finishing his report, he added that on his way to Headquarters he had met Kang Hung Sok’s wife on the upper reaches of the Wukou River\and had brought her to the secret camp of the 8th Regiment. This was Ji Sun Ok.


When she suddenly appeared in our secret camp, saying she had come because of her desperate longing to see her husband, we all admired her passion.


The mountain areas along the Songhua\and Wukou Rivers were dan-gerous zones of guerrilla activity, crawling with enemy soldiers, policemen\and spies. One might easily die rom a stray bullet,\or be executed on a charge of being “in secret contact with communist bandits”. Yet despite such dangers she, a lone woman, had come to see her husband. It was natural that we should admire her courage.


Kang Hung Sok, Ji Sun Ok’s husband, was famous not only as a crack shot but also as a devoted husband. His knapsack was rumoured to be full of letters addressed to his wife. They had married as teenagers,\and soon after the wedding Kang had left home to join the revolution. Since then he had not seen his wife for nearly ten years. Ji Sun Ok also yearned greatly for her husband.


The Japanese imperialists, it was found out later on, had made inquiries into this through intelligence channels\and inveigled Ji Sun Ok into espionage activities under threat.


Anyhow, it was going to be a happy event for Kang Hung Sok to hold a dramatic reunion with his wife.


Kang Hung Sok was not with us just then because he was out on a mission to obtain provisions, so we sent him word to come back to Headquarters immediately.


When I met Ji Sun Ok, I found her neat in appearance\and well-mannered. I had lunch with her that day. My men told her that the char on the table had been caught for her by the General himself,\and asked her to help herself. Ji Sun Ok seemed to be astonished to hear this, but she took only a few spoonfuls. No matter how we encouraged her to take more, it was of no avail.


I made one woman guerrilla keep her company. They seemed to have talked a lot throughout the night, sleeping under the same blanket.


With the couple’s reunion approaching, everyone was boisterous, as if personally awaiting a happy event. This was the first reunion of a young married couple in nearly a decade of tough armed struggle. I was eager to congratulate them too. Everyone was waiting with impatience for Kang Hung Sok’s return.


Having met Ji Sun Ok, however, I was suspicious about one thing: How had she found out her husband’s\whereabouts\and come to this mountain, a place that was virtually the jaws of death? How had she discovered the exact location of our unit? Others who talked with her also said that she was inconsistent in her statements.


Three\or four days after her arrival at the secret camp, O Jung Hup\and O Paek Ryong came rushing over to me, out of breath. O Jung Hup reported that out of his tender heart he had brought a spy of the Japanese imperialists to Headquarters without checking out her identity first. The report was like a bolt rom the blue. He begged my pardon. O Paek Ryong said it was an evil thing that the wife of a platoon leader in the revolutionary army should have come as a spy for the Japanese instead of coming to help the guerrillas. His suggestion was that we shoot her there\and then.


They told me that the woman guerrilla in whose tent Ji was staying had become suspicious about her because her conduct was so dubious\and her statements were so incoherent. So in the middle of the night she had closely examined Ji’s lined garment\and had discovered a packet of poison stitched into the lining. At that time our comrades were so used to the enemy’s poisoning schemes that they could easily discern that sort of thing.


When I asked whether Ji Sun Ok knew that the poison packet had been found, they said no, but added that they were keeping a close watch on her.


I was greatly shocked by this incident\and could not calm myself down for quite a while. As a matter of fact, there had been other instances of either Japanese spies\or saboteurs slipping into our unit\and being exposed.\and many of the exposed spies were people rom the lower classes, who in general should not have been hostile to us. The Japanese imperialists sent even simple-hearted farm servants\or workers to us to act as their spies.


However, there was no precedent for training as a spy a woman who had sent her husband to the revolutionary army, the wife of a platoon leader at that,\and dispatching her to our military camp. The appearance of such a person on an espionage mission was a new trick indeed. Those working in Japanese intelligence services were really base\and cunning.


Having received O Jung Hup’s report, I wondered how Kang Hung Sok would take this astonishing news. There was great danger of his marriage breaking up.


Despite the objections of O Jung Hup\and O Paek Ryong, I decided to meet Ji Sun Ok again.


I had a comparatively long talk with her. I asked her about Kang Hung Sok’s family, about the hardships she had undergone on her way to look for the revolutionary army\and about her maiden home.


The topic of our conversation naturally changed to Kang Hung Sok. When I said that Kang Hung Sok would be coming back to camp the next day\or the day after, Ji Sun Ok suddenly burst into tears, covering her face with her hands. She then tore off the stitched part of her coat\and took out the poison packet. Shivering all over, she said, “General, I’m a wretched woman who must be punished by God. I deserve death.”


I got her to drink some water\and calmed her down somewhat. Then I said: “It’s a good thing that you confessed. The revolutionary army shows leniency to those who frankly confess their crimes. Moreover, you are the wife of platoon leader Kang Hung Sok. Don’t be afraid\and tell me everything. Tell me in detail how you became a spy, what kind of training they gave you after you became a spy\and what tasks you were given before you set out to find the revolutionary army.”


Ji Sun Ok confessed everything in detail\and talked about how she had got to the mountain.


O Paek Ryong, who witnessed this scene, said later in recollection:


“At that moment I felt as if my life had been shortened by ten years. A cold shiver ran down my spine\and my whole body broke into a cold sweat. How dared she appear before the General with poison! What would have happened if she had sneaked it into the cooking pot\or rice bowls? That little woman was on the verge of spoiling the entire Korean revolution! The mere thought of it still makes me shudder.”


For this reason the anti-Japanese fighters are still reluctant to think of Ji Sun Ok even today. The confidential documents prepared by the Japanese consul in Hunchun contain the following information about the aim of sending Ji Sun Ok as a spy,\and about other things:


The circumstances of sending her


1. The content of\order


(1) Disrupt the guerrilla ranks after catching Kang Hung Sok in mesh.


(2) Poison senior officers.


(3) When interrogated by the guerrillas, the agent should state that she has come to the mountains to see her husband under the coercion of her parents.


2. Method of communication


The agent should report about herself\and the guerrillas directly to Police Field Officer Katada of the secret service section,\or to Police Lieutenant Minami.


3. Date, time\and place of entering the mountains


Obtained her parents’ approval for this operation, gave her all the necessary information in Yanji for five days, rom August 5 to 9,\and sent her to the mountains on August 10, accompanied by a man in charge of her. Let her proceed to her destination–Height 1088 southwest of Menghedong, Helong County,\and Yilan, west of this, both considered to be guerrilla hide-outs (judging rom the fact that at 10 p.m. on August 8, 120 soldiers of Kim Il Sung’s main-force unit raided Longzecun, Helong County\and fled into the thick forests in the southwest).


4. Estimated date of return


An estimated two to three months are needed. (Secret information of Hunchun consul No. 186, July 26, Showa 15 (1940), report rom Hunchun consul Kiuchi Tadao)


The Japanese imperialist special service agency called Ji Sun Ok a “live agent”. A “live agent” is a term used in Sun-tzu’s Art of War. It means an agent who must come back alive without fail. Judging rom the fact that the enemy chose Ji Sun Ok as a “live agent”, it seems they expected a great deal rom her. They might have intended to use her as a professional agent later.


The enemy said to Ji Sun Ok: “Your husband as a machine-gunner of the guerrilla army has killed numerous soldiers of the Imperial Army, so you cannot atone for this crime even if we kill three generations of your family. However, if you go to the communist army\and persuade your husband to submit to us,\and if you carry out the task we assign you, we’ll give you a liberal reward\and provide you with a life of comfort.”


Ji Sun Ok had no choice but to obey the enemy because they had threatened to kill three generations of her family. Having heard her con-fession, I felt my heart ache with pity for her.


I could not repress my indignation at the vicious cowardice of the Japanese imperialists who did not hesitate to use even a woman’s pure love\and affection against us. The imperialists resorted to all kinds of methods to stifle the revolution. It was the habit of the Japanese imperialists to abuse the love between a man\and his parents, a husband\and wife, a man\and his children, brothers\and sisters,\or even the love between a teacher\and student, in\order to disrupt\and undermine the revolutionary ranks rom within. Not satisfied with their scheme to crush the soul of our nation, they attempted to stifle even the beautiful nature of our people. In other words, they tried to turn Koreans into brutes.


Our armed struggle was not only a struggle to regain our territory\and sovereignty, robbed rom us by foreign forces; it was also a showdown against beasts to safeguard man\and defend everything human.


The real nature of imperialists is to turn people into brutes\and cripples\and to deform them. Giving espionage training to a wife, forcing her to interfere with what her husband is doing\and to poison her husband’s Commander\and his comrades-in-arms–this was nothing less than making a brute of her.


The world is talking a lot about environmental pollution these days. It is-true that environmental pollution is a great threat to mankind. However, a greater danger than this is the moral collapse\and human pollution being perpetrated by the imperialists. In the gutters\and refuse heaps of this world, beasts, monsters\and defectives in human form are produced every day by the imperialist reactionaries\and their henchmen. Human pollution is the greatest brake on the progress of history today. Placating Ji Sun Ok, who was lying prostrate\and sobbing, I said:


“Don’t worry. You have realized your crime, although belatedly, so we don’t think ill of you in the least. You’ve been forced to commit the crime to avoid death, so it cannot be helped. Please get up.”


Everyone in the secret camp was aghast when they heard that Ji Sun Ok had come there with an espionage mission. I intended to keep Ji Sun Ok’s case a secret, but Comrades O Jung Hup\and O Paek Ryong made it public for the sake of the safety of the unit\and to get the soldiers to maintain a sharper vigilance.


Kang Hung Sok, who came to Headquarters at a run, almost lost his mind when he heard the others talking in whispers about his wife. He had a pistol in his hand\and was going to finish her off himself. He looked as if he really were about to do something terrible, so I got him to cool down\and sent him off to the upper reaches of the Hongqi River,\where his regiment was stationed. I felt sorry to have to separate once more this couple, who were supposed to meet again after such a long, long time apart.


Even Chen Han-zhang, who held the position of a corps commander, had wanted to behave with disrespect towards his father, who had come to talk him into submission. So it was understandable how Kang Hung Sok must have felt.


One year even An Kil, a magnanimous\and extremely sympathetic man, was going to personally dispose of a member of his family who had come to urge him to turn traitor. He gave up the idea after he had been persuaded not to do it.


Whenever they reacted violently, I reasoned with my men: “You should not wield your weapons recklessly. Just think: If soldiers fighting in the interests of the people shoot to death their own blood relations for the sake of upholding revolutionary principles, who will support them? The enemy wants our revolutionary army to think exactly as you’re thinking right now. It wants father\and son, brothers\and sisters to become enemies\and to carry on a fratricidal war. You must understand this\and not act recklessly.”

 

However, this kind of reprimand did not have much effect on Kang Hung Sok.


For this reason, the majority of the men in the secret camp did not trust Ji Sun Ok, but guarded against her for some time. They even suggested that she be punished severely.


However, I trusted Ji Sun Ok. She had been compelled to accept the espionage mission to save her kinfolk,\and she had misunderstood the purpose of the revolutionary army, deceived as she was by the enemy propaganda. One can fall into such a trap if one lacks class awareness. Ji Sun Ok had not received systematic education through any revolutionary\organization. However, once she understood the truth about me\and our army, she frankly confessed her crime without delay, resolved to face death if need be. Had she not abandoned her evil intention, she would have poisoned our food rather than confessing. She had ample chance to do so. However, she had confessed, even though belatedly. Such a woman will inevitably come to our side; she cannot go over to the side of the enemy.


Once I heard rom Comrade Kim Chaek about Ri Kye Dong’s murder. Ri Kye Dong was a veteran Party member who served his term in prison with Kim Chaek\and\organized the Zhuhe guerrilla unit. A graduate of the Yunnan Military Training School, he was said to be an efficient commander in battle. A spy named Zhou Guang-ya killed this excellent military\and political officer. Following his infiltration into the guerrilla unit, Zhou Guang-ya had wormed his way into the post of chief secretary in a unit. Taking advantage of the slackened discipline in the unit, he murdered Ri Kye Dong.


With this example in mind, our men naturally guarded against Ji Sun Ok. Nevertheless I forgave Ji Sun Ok. Why? Because I had read her conscience, which had made her confess her crime out of her own mouth. A human being is the most developed being in the world because he has reason, conscience, moral sense\and sense of duty. Without a conscience we are worthless. When we disgrace our conscience, we forfeit our value as a social being.


Although Ji Sun Ok had defiled her conscience, she regained it through struggle with herself. She disclosed her mistake because of her good intentions towards us. It is easy to slip into a quagmire, but not easy to get out. However, Ji Sun Ok managed to escape, thanks to our help\and through a hard struggle with herself. This showed that she had the strength to turn over a new leaf. Why should we then push back into the quagmire a woman who had candidly reflected on her wrongs\and resolved to make a fresh start?


Revolution is a struggle to defend human conscience\and preserve it. I wanted to make Ji Sun Ok remain faithful to her conscience.


Even if there was just one revolutionary in a family, the Japanese imperialists schemed to isolate\and exclude him rom his kinsmen. The enemy’s consistent scheme was to crush our patriotic forces at random, disintegrating\and destroying them one by one. Sometimes they misused the ties of kinship among our nation for their “surrender” schemes. The enemy’s ultimate aim was to sever the communists rom the masses. The most pernicious method in their scheme was to make blood relations mistrust each other, hate\and kill each other.


Nothing would be stupider than for us to continue to be fooled by such an evil design by the enemy once we are aware of it. Therefore, we saw to it that even though she had come on an espionage mission, she was pardoned\and encouraged to turn over a new leaf, because she had not committed the unforgivable crime of betraying her country\and her fellow countrymen.


Once a spy dispatched by the Government-General came to see us in the guise of a Christian. The spy brought several bags of flour. He said that the flour was a gift he had brought rom Korea for the revolutionary army who were experiencing such hardships far away rom home,\and asked us to make dumplings with it.


I told the cooks to prepare dumplings with the whole lot of the flour. Before long a cook came to me with a dish full of dumplings. The spy declined my offer to have some. When I asked him to help himself to the dumplings again, his face turned pale. Small wonder, since he had mixed poison with the flour.


I said to him: “Why on earth are you trying to kill us when we’re having such a hard time living\and fighting in the open air to regain our lost country? Being a Korean, you should behave like a Korean. You should not act so contemptibly. You can still mend your ways even now\and make a fresh start.” I reasoned with him in this way. We treated him well in a hut before sending him back. I heard later that this story was reported in a magazine.


Despite O Paek Ryong’s objection, I saw to it that Ji Sun Ok remained in the secret camp\and was educated by us. Some time later we sent her to the sewing unit. The sewing unit had been assigned the task of making 600 uniforms for the coming large-unit circling operations, but it was having difficulties because of the shortage of hands.


Kang Wi Ryong, who was working with the sewing unit, did not welcome Ji Sun Ok. Therefore, I gave Choe Hui Suk\and some other women Party members the task of treating Ji kindly\and of educating her carefully. They took sincere care of her\and educated her well.


Leaving for Hualazi after we had celebrated the Harvest Moon Day, I summoned Kang Hung Sok, who was with his unit on the upper reaches of the Hongqi River.


This is how the dramatic reunion of the couple finally took place in the thick forest of Hualazi.


Staying there for some time, we conducted military\and political studies. Ji Sun Ok studied hard, using the teaching materials we had prepared. She was a fairly learned woman who had received primary school education. Later during the march she managed to keep pace with the unit\and cooked meals for the men. She was unaccustomed to the guerrilla life\and found it hard, but the smile never disappeared rom her face.


However, just as everything was going well for her, she was hit by a tragedy: Kang Hung Sok fell in the Battle of Liukesong.


For some time we did not tell Ji Sun Ok about this because we thought she would not be able to bear the great shock.


Whenever the unit was on a march, Ji Sun Ok would gaze at the machine-gun on Kim Un Sin’s shoulder. It was the machine-gun Kang Hung Sok had used while still alive. My men told Ji Sun Ok that the machine-gun had been handed over to Kim Un Sin because Kang was out to work in a local area, but this was merely a way to sidetrack her.


After the Battle of Liukesong we\organized an art performance in a forest on the Songhua River. At the performance I noticed how melancholy Ji Sun Ok was.


Now that her husband was gone, we could not keep her in the unit any longer, so later we sent her back home. Otherwise, there was a danger of her kinfolk being killed by the Japanese.


As she left the secret camp, we gave her a travel allowance\and sent a guide to accompany her. I still vividly remember her looking back at me again\and again until she disappeared into the forest.


After the armistice I heard that Ji Sun Ok had come to see me, but I could not meet her then because I was so pressed for time. She might have been disappointed by this. After that I had no time to spare with one thing\or another. Many people had to go away without meeting me after covering a long distance to come to Pyongyang.


Judging rom the fact that Ji Sun Ok proudly came back to see me, it seems that she must have been living without committing any crimes against the country after parting rom us. If I had met her at that time, I might have heard in detail how she had lived after leaving the mountains. Fortunately, comrades sent me a book entitled Information of Modern History. I could roughly piece together the outline of her life through the contents of the book. I was able to guess how Ji Sun Ok had behaved back home in front of the enemy who had sent her to the secret camp\and how she had described the life of the revolutionary army.


The contents of the report submitted by Kiuchi, consul in Hunchun, to his superiors are as follows: All the cadres of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army have sound ideology\and constantly strive for victory in the revolution. It is therefore natural that the fighting men are charmed by this, completely trusting them\and obeying their\orders without a murmur. This is why they find it so easy to carry out all their operations. The Second Directional Army is fired by a fighting spirit\and has a full capacity for united action. This is because Kim Il Sung, Commander of the army, has intense national communist ideology\and is strong\and healthy. Moreover, he is skilful in controlling his men.


I believe that the real state of things in our unit is comparatively fairly outlined in this report, which means that Ji Sun Ok correctly described the life of our revolutionary army\and the psychological state of our men. Her deion was free of bias.


If one wants to know how the enemy treated Ji Sun Ok after she returned home, it is sufficient to read the following rom the report submitted by consul Kiuchi:


I. My view of her\and disposal


1. My view


(1) Her testimony is convincing because it is perfectly logical in view of the prevailing situation. Nevertheless, she was not punished\and lived with the communist bandits for over one year; moreover, she was set free despite the fact that the poison she concealed when leaving for the mountains was discovered. rom this one may suspect that her return is a sham, fabricated in accordance with the intention of the guerrilla army. Therefore, serious attention needs to be paid to her speech\and behaviour.



2. Disposal


(1) We have handed Ji Sun Ok over to section leader Katada in Antu.


Watching her in secret, we are trying to appease her under the premise that her coming back home is a sham. At the same time as examining her, we have assigned her to a special task. (Secret information of Hunchun consul No. 186, July 26, Showa 15 (1940), report rom Hunchun consul Kiuchi Tadao)


It is said that the Japanese imperialists were very nervous about Ji Sun Ok’s safe return. No wonder, for how were they to understand this when they themselves regarded human beings as nothing more than talking animals?


Some claimed that Ji Sun Ok should have been punished. Nevertheless, we pardoned her without prosecuting her for her crime. What would have happened if we had punished her? Her husband’s home\and all her relatives would have been labelled a reactionary family.


Our revolution is aimed not at ostracizing people but at loving\and protecting them, as well as at upholding human nature\and allowing it maximum expression. It is easy to ostracize a person, but very difficult to save him. We must, however difficult it might be, give those who have committed mistakes a chance to redeem themselves. We must trust them\and help them to lead a true human life. The value\and greatness of the revolution lie in the fact that it treats people as human beings\and helps them to renew their lives.


The imperialists forsake people like pieces of rubble, but we must value them as the most precious beings\and save them.\and once we have gone so far as to trust a person, we must never neglect him. As I frequently say, the best point in Comrade Kim Jong Il’s disposition is that he highly appreciates people\and dearly loves them,\and that once he trusts someone, he never abandons him.


Once Comrade Kim Jong Il told his subordinates: “Napoleon said, ‘Because you trust me, I also believe in you.’ On the contrary, I tell you, I trust you. You believe in me, too.’ ” This is Comrade Kim Jong Il’s philosophy.


Whenever I see Comrade Kim Jong Il who believes in the people, shows affection for them\and works devotedly for them, I feel relieved about the future of our country\and our people.


Whereas the imperialists habitually disgraced man\and destroyed his destiny, our leader Comrade Kim Il Sung showed in practice that the communists value people most dearly\and protect their political integrity,\and that human relations must be integrated with the noble morality\and faith that rest on the principles of love\and trust\and on the principle of saving people. These are the sacred moral principles of the Korean revolution.



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