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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 24 7. The Final Campaign

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작성자 편집국 작성일20-10-11 19:44 댓글0건

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 24 7. The Final Campaign

 

      


 

7. The Final Campaign 

 

 When the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung was on a visit to the USSR after the Korean war, a senior official of the Communist Party of the Soviet\union, greeting him in the Kremlin, introduced the Soviet cadres one by one to him. Among them was Minister of Defence Marshal Malinovsky. When it was his turn to be introduced, Malinovsky said, with a smile: “We are old acquaintances, so there is no need to introduce me to Comrade Kim Il Sung. When he was in the Far East region, we met each other for the first time in Khabarovsk.”


Comrade Kim Il Sung warmly shook hands with him, saying, “You’re right. We are old comrades-in-arms.”


The leading officials of the two countries were quite surprised.


How did the acquaintance of Comrade Kim Il Sung\and Malinovsky begin? What happened in Khabarovsk?


The preparations for the final campaign to defeat Japanese imperialism\and liberate our motherland were promoted full steam after victory over Nazi Germany.

In February 1945 a closed summit conference of three countries–the Soviet\union, the USA\and Great Britain–was held in Yalta. By that time the Soviet forces had taken Budapest, the capital of Hungary,\and were making preparations for the final assault on Berlin. The defeat of Germany was only a matter of time.


A major item on the agenda discussed at the Yalta Conference was Soviet participation in the war against Japan after the defeat of Germany. The Soviet\union promised that it would participate in the war against Japan two\or three months after victory over Germany. This decision was a great encouragement to the oppressed nations in the East under the rule of Japanese imperialism\and to the revolutionaries in this part of the world.

 

We sped up preparations for meeting the approaching great event of national liberation on our own initiative.


Not long after the Soviet forces started their final offensive on Berlin, the Headquarters of the Far East Front Forces informed us of the defeat of Germany. The officers\and men of the Soviet army in the IAF held a congratulatory party all night that day. It seemed that they were emptying the stores\and dispensaries of liquor. The Soviet people were heavy drinkers. The Soviets, Koreans\and Chinese danced\and sang in the joy of victory. We all regarded the victory of the Soviet\union as our own. Italy’s defeat was followed by Germany’s defeat,\and it was clear that this would soon be followed by the collapse of Japan.


The fascist forces that had once been rampant in the world were now tumbling one after the other to the grave in both the East\and the West. Now it was Japan’s turn to take the baton.

We had to make preparations for expediting Japan’s defeat\and win the country’s liberation.


After the party to celebrate victory over Germany, the Korean commanding personnel in the IAF gathered\and discussed for hours the operations for the liberation of the country. It was not a formal meeting, but its atmosphere was very sincere\and solemn. Full of passion, everyone was keen to destroy the Japanese imperialists\and win back the country. We were full of enthusiasm to cross the Tuman there\and then\and make a thrust into the homeland.


The focal point of discussion was the question of liberating the country by our own efforts\and of national resistance. They said to the effect that we must all maintain the Juche-orientated stand that we must liberate the country by our own efforts; to this end, the political\and military capabilities of the KPRA must be increased to the maximum\and the resistance\organizations in the homeland prepared to the full, so that when the KPRA launched the campaign to liberate the country, the entire nation would rise in revolt in response to the campaign;\and we must strengthen our military ties with the Soviet\and Chinese forces\and make preparations for cooperative operations in the context of the overall operations of the Soviet\union against Japan. Afterwards I had a consultation with the Headquarters of the Soviet Far East


Front Forces on several occasions about our military\and political cooperation with the Soviet\union. Sometimes I went there with Zhou Bao-zhong\or Zhang Shou-jian,\and at other times with Kim Chaek\or Choe Yong Gon.


To cope with a possible invasion by Japan, the Soviet\union had made careful preparations of its own for its campaign against Japan, before\and after the defeat of Germany.


Around Juche 32(1943) when the Soviet\union was fighting a full-scale war against Germany, the Soviet leadership took measures for strengthening the section of the General Staff in charge of the Far East,\and reorganized the Far East forces for wartime operations. Stalin replaced the commanders of the Far East Front\and armies with generals who had rich experience in the war against Germany. Front Commander Apanasenko was sent to the Voronezh Front south of Moscow as deputy commander\and Purkayev, commander of the Kalinin Front, was appointed commander of the Far East Front.


In Juche 33 (1944) when the Soviet forces were actively engaged in military operations in Eastern Europe, Stalin\ordered reinforcements to be sent rapidly to the Far East region so as to increase the forces there to the maximum.


After the defeat of Germany, the Soviet\union began to make a final review of its plans of operations against Japan.


On our part, we also formulated the directions of operations\and concrete plans for actions of the KPRA. Needless to say, the plans envisaged cooperation with the Soviet forces.

The high-ranking commanding personnel of the Soviet\union were expecting a great deal rom the activities of the KPRA\and the NAJAA. All the units of the IAF increased the intensity of their training several-fold in anticipation of the forthcoming campaign against Japan. The military training in these days paid attention to making all the national units of the IAF keep in step in the joint campaign while sustaining their own characteristics.


For the joint campaign to prove effective, it was important to define the mission of the national units in the campaign,\and ensure cooperation between different arms\and services. The IAF channelled its due efforts into solving these problems in training.

The units of the KPRA\and the NAJAA also made tireless efforts to perfect the tactics of guerrilla warfare created\and practised in the years of anti-Japanese war\and to find out the methods of employing these tactics effectively in large-scale regular-army operations. While promoting training in all forms simultaneously, we put emphasis on training for reconnaissance, engineering, wireless operation\and airborne training–skills badly needed for the campaign to liberate the country. We also made a full study of the latest experiences of the Soviet forces in the war against Germany,\and the level of our assimilation of the experiences was high.


In the early days of the IAF the Soviet teachers at our training base had mostly been participants in the Civil War. But in the days when we were making final preparations for the campaign against Japan most of the teachers were veterans of the Soviet-German War. As they had been tempered in modern warfare for some years, their lessons were fresh.


In\order to get the resistance\organizations in the homeland ready, we dispatched operatives to many parts of the homeland, including the Paektusan secret camp\and Mt. Kanbaek. In cooperation with the political workers who had already been guiding the\organizations, they stepped up preparations for the final campaign.


Around this time I also went to the homeland to direct the activities of the units in the homeland in relation to the impending operations,\and at the same time devoted much time to coordinating our operational plans with the overall preparations of the Soviet\union for its operations against Japan.


In the summer of 1945 the Soviet\union\organized the General Headquarters of the Soviet Far East Forces, with Vasilievsky as the commander-in-chief,\and put three large front armies under its command. The Zabaikal Front Army was commanded by Malinovsky, the 1st Far East Front Army by Meretskov,\and the 2nd Far East Front Army by Purkayev, former Far East Front commander.

 

The theatre of operations of the 1st Far East Front Army covered Korea\and the northeast area of China south of Harbin,\and that of the 2nd Far East Front Army was the northeast area of China west of Khabarovsk.


The IAF were\originally scheduled to operate under the 2nd Far East Front Army, but the units of the KPRA mostly kept liaison with the 1st Far East Front Army. After the General Headquarters of the Soviet Far East Forces were formed, I dealt mostly with Meretskov\and Stykov, commander\and military commissar of the 1st Far East Front Army, respectively. I was on intimate terms also with Chistyakov, commander of the 25th Army,\and Lebezev, one of its commanders. With the beginning of the campaign against Japan, they were to push into Korea.


The General Headquarters of the Soviet Far East Forces were situated in Khabarovsk. Frequenting the city, I became acquainted with Vasilievsky\and Malinovsky.

In the summer of 1945 the General Headquarters frequently convened meetings for the joint operations.


Vasilievsky explained in detail the operational plans of the General Headquarters. He said that they planned to encircle the main force of the Kwantung Army\and destroy it piecemeal.

We consistently maintained our\original operational plan for the liberation of Korea.


We had planned to move the units of the KPRA that had assembled in the area of Mt. Kanbaek by prearranged routes to different provinces to liberate them,\and airlift the units that remained at the training base in the Soviet Far East region to Pyongyang\and other areas to occupy the secret bases that had been built\and launch military operations in full swing. In addition, the small units\and political workers of the KPRA active in the homeland were to expand resistance\organizations on a large scale\and rouse the people to national resistance so that all the people would fight in response to the offensive of the KPRA all over the country.


I still think this operational plan was absolutely correct, because it could ensure a quick liberation in the military\and political situation of our country in those days. The airlifted paratroopers in cooperation with the national resistance forces in all provinces would strike the enemy rom all quarters without difficulty.

The Soviet forces were to attack the fortified zones along the coast after bombing\and bombardment,\and the infantry units were to push in waves across the frontier with armoured vehicles in the van. These actions were promised by the Soviet\union.


With the final campaign impending, we dispatched many small units\and groups to the homeland.


We also gave all the guerrilla units, people’s armed corps\and resistance\organizations assignments to abolish the colonial ruling machinery after the defeat of Japanese imperialism, protect the people’s lives\and property,\and set up Party\organizations\and the\organs of people’s power.


Of the commanding personnel of the Soviet forces in the Far East, I met Meretskov most frequently.


The general, with a little bald head, was in his late forties. In view of his past record, I thought it was not fortuitous that Stalin had appointed him a front commander in the Maritime region. Having served as an officer in a unit in the Far East, he had become the commander of the Leningrad Military District. Then he commanded the 7th Army that fought in the main thrust in the war against Finland. He had once been Chief of General Staff of the Soviet army,\and before coming to the Far East he had commanded the Karelian Front northwest of Moscow.


Seeing me, he shook my hands passionately as if he were meeting an old friend of his, saying he was glad to see me. Offering me a seat, he said, “In the war against Japanese imperialism, the Korean comrades are our seniors. Your role in the campaign against Japan is very important. We expect a great deal rom your activities.”


After acquainting himself briefly with the activities of the Korean Contingent in the IAF, he asked me to explain in detail the military\and political situation in Korea. He\and his colleagues showed great interest in the deployment of the military forces\and Japan’s method of administering Korea, the Korean people’s struggle against Japan, the distribution of revolutionary\organizations\and the activities of the armed corps associated with the secret bases.

One day on the eve of the campaign, I went to Moscow with the commanding officers of the IAF for a meeting convened by the General Staff of the Soviet army. Meretskov, Stykov\and other senior officers of different front headquarters related to the campaign against Japan were already there. It was there that I met Commander-in-Chief Vasilievsky again.


They all expressed their support for our plan of operations to liberate Korea by airborne operations. At that time the units of the NAJAA were given a mission to fly into major cities in Manchuria to open the routes for the advancing Soviet ground forces.


In Moscow I met Zhukov. In those days he was commander of the Soviet occupation force in Germany\and Soviet representative on the allied control commission for Germany. I didn’t know why he was in Moscow, but the meeting with him was very impressive. This famous veteran general was quite magnanimous\and open-minded.


The Soviet people accorded cordial hospitality to us, going far beyond diplomatic convention.


During our sojourn in Moscow we visited the Lenin Mausoleum, the History Museum\and the famous battle sites related to the defence of Moscow. We again enjoyed the film, Chapayev .


I did not know why, but even after the meeting the Soviet people showed us around Moscow without being in any hurry to send us back to the Far East.

After several days they introduced us to Zhdanov, Member of the Political Bureau\and Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet\union. Stykov was already there.


Saying that he was meeting us, the envoys rom the east, on behalf of Stalin, he highly praised the anti-Japanese armed struggle we had conducted. He had heard much about Kim Il Sung, the Korean guerrilla leader, rom Stalin\and Stykov,\and he was glad to see me much younger than he had heard, he said. According to him, Stalin was also showing exceptional interest in our activities.


Our talk with Zhdanov began with the question of the present military\and political situation. During the talk I felt he wanted to hear my opinion on how to develop Korea after liberation into a democratic, independent state.


In the middle of the talk he suddenly asked me how many years it would take for the Korean people to build a sovereign state after the liberation of their country.

I replied it would take two\or three years at most.


He seemed happy to hear this. He even rubbed his palms. At the same time, it was evident he was surprised at my answer.


At that time I guessed why he was so interested in our building of an independent\and sovereign state after liberation\and why he looked dubious about my answer.

This was because Roosevelt had proposed trusteeship when discussing the postwar Korean question at the Yalta Conference. Roosevelt consistently maintained that the small nations in Asia to be liberated rom colonial rule should be educated in democracy under the patronage of big powers.


In the spring of 1943, in talks in Washington with the US Secretary of State\and the British Foreign Minister, Roosevelt claimed that Korea\and the Indochinese nations must be placed under the trusteeship of big powers. He said that about 40 years would be needed as a transitional period for Koreans to win full independence. It seems he did not have a high opinion of the Korean nation.


I stressed that in the course of the lengthy anti-Japanese armed struggle\and national liberation struggle our people had been awakened to political consciousness\and tempered greatly, that in the course of this a steadfast leading hard core\and broad sections of the patriotic forces that could build a state by their own efforts had been prepared,\and that we had acquired rich fighting experience, boundless creativity, seasoned\organizing ability\and a strong capability to mobilize the people.


Listening carefully to my explanation, Zhdanov asked in what form his country could give assistance to the Korean people in their struggle to build their country after liberation.


I said, “Your country fought a four-year war with Germany\and it will fight another big war with Japan. So how can you help us? Your help will, as a matter of fact, be welcome, but we are going to build the country by ourselves to the best of our ability. Though difficult, it will be beneficial for the future. In our country worship of great powers has existed historically as the root cause of national ruin. We’re determined to prevent this malady rom doing harm to the building of our new country. What we expect rom you is your political support. We hope that in future the Soviet\union will actively support our country in the international arena,\and make efforts to ensure that the Korean issue is settled in the interests of the Korean people\and in accordance with their wishes.”


Zhdanov was satisfied with my answer.


He said, “Some days ago I met a man rom an Eastern European country. As soon as he saw me, he told me that the economy of his country was basically backward\and the difficulties it faces are manifold owing to the devastation of the war,\and that the Soviet\union should help his country as a big brother. What a contrast between his attitude\and yours! I wonder if this is the difference between the East\and the West, the difference between the country\where the sun rises\and the country\where the sun sets?”


His last words were of course a joke.


How could there be any difference between a sun-rising country\and a sun-setting country? If any, the difference was that the leaders of the Eastern European countries believed in the Soviet\union more than in the strength of their own people. Most of these countries were liberated by the Soviet army, so they built socialism after the Soviet fashion, relying utterly on that country,\and aping everything the Soviet people did\and said. Their worship of the Soviet\union was so extreme that it was said that when it was raining in Moscow, they also raised their umbrellas. One of the reasons why socialism went to ruin in Eastern Europe was precisely the worship of the great power.


Zhdanov said he would report to Stalin the result of his interview with me.


Later  I  met  him  on  several  occasions,  deepening  our  friendship.


Apparently Meretskov also told Stalin a lot about me.


I still remember meeting Meretskov in Lushun. I went there immediately after the liberation of Korea\and met him there. While talking this\and that with me, he said he would soon be going to Moscow to see Stalin\and asked me if I had anything to request of Stalin.


I raised the question of abolishing the currency notes issued by the Soviet army headquarters\and issuing our own national currency, the matter of nationalizing industries, the need for Soviet assistance in our work of reorganizing the KPRA into a modern regular army,\and some other problems.


In subsequent days, Meretskov helped us in our work in every way. When he was in command of the military district of the Maritime region, he often visited Pyongyang,\and each time he would visit my house before visiting the Soviet army headquarters.


Once he came to Pyongyang with Malinovsky. The commander of the Soviet forces in Korea tried to guide them to the hotel used exclusively by foreigners. Saying they had come to visit me\and would ask my wife to cook them dumplings, they declined his offer,\and came straight to my house.


They did not care whether I was at home\or not. They were quite magnanimous\and unpretentious. But Kim Jong Suk was embarrassed as she had to receive the guests without any prior notice.


Malinovsky told her that they had informed me when they were leaving for Pyongyang,\and it seemed I was very busy as I had failed to come to the airport\and I was not at home. He said they would help themselves to food without waiting for the busy man. He then asked Kim Jong Suk to bring Korean noodles\and “Korean bread”.


After the interview with Zhdanov I returned to the Far East region with Stykov.


My friendship with Stykov, established in the Far East region, continued in later years. He exerted great efforts for the settlement of the Korean issue. As head of the Soviet delegation to the Joint USSR-US Commission\organized by the decision of the Moscow conference of three foreign ministers, he conducted energetic diplomatic activities for the reunification\and independent development of Korea.


On returning rom Moscow, I summoned the officers of the KPRA\and briefed them on my activities in Moscow.


Under the agreement it had made with its allies, the Soviet\union declared war against Japan on August 9, 1945,\and entered into hostilities with the Japanese army.


On the same day, I\ordered the KPRA to start the general offensive for liberating the motherland.


I saw to it that the KPRA units, before launching the final operations, surprised several points of strategic importance in the fortified zones in the border area including Tho-ri, Unggi County,\and Nanbieli\and Dongxingzhen, Hunchun County, creating confusion in the enemy defence system\and striking the enemy troops\and weapons in the fortified zones.


In their joint operations with us, the 1st Far East Front Army headquarters was most intent on the choice of objectives to which they could deal the most effective blow, the choice of the link in the whole chain of fortified border areas, that, when struck, would shake the overall defence system of the Japanese army. I decided to solve this problem by our efforts.


By 1945 the Japanese army had built many concrete pillboxes in the areas bordering Manchuria, the Soviet\union\and Mongolia. The four fortified zones built in Korea were bases intended to spearhead an attack on the Soviet\union. Massed in the fortified zones that had been built up for 10 years along the Korean-Soviet, Korean-Manchurian\and Soviet-Manchurian borders were large forces of three services, including the Kwantung Army\and the Japanese army in Korea. The enemy boasted that these fortified zones formed an “impregnable defence line”.


All these fortresses had been built underground\and kept secret. To prevent the secret leaking out, the Japanese imperialists killed the people who had been mobilized to construct the fortresses. These fortresses were the greatest obstacles to the campaign against Japan. The Soviet officers considered it a major problem to destroy the Kwantung Army behind the line of these fortifications, but I considered that the most difficult problem was to break through the line. So I thought it necessary to probe the fortified zones at a few points.


When I suggested reconnaissance in force before starting the campaign, the high-ranking officers of the 1st Far East Front Army were dubious. I insisted that, in\order to make a breakthrough for the campaign, we had to strike a few targets of military importance so as to expose at once the defence system the enemy had reinforced in secret\and the troops\and weapons under cover.


Thus, one unit of the KPRA stormed Tho-ri at a corner of the fortifications on the Tuman River in heavy rain on the eve of the campaign. Tho-ri was situated at a vantage point between the Kyonghung fortified zone\and the Unggi-Rajin fortified zone. Our occupation of Tho-ri would compel the enemy to retreat rom a wide area around it\and also would threaten the Kyonghung fortified zone.


Our men set fire to the police station there,\and liberated the village. It was the first village the revolutionary army liberated in its final operations for liberating the whole country.

The enemy dispatched reinforcements, but when they reached Ungsang Pass, they saw the police station in flames\and retreated in fear.


A Japanese publication carries the following account of the KPRA unit’s raid on Tho-ri:


“At 11: 50 pm on August 8 a group of 80 Koreans, with Soviet soldiers, crossed the Tuman in speedboats\and raided Tho-ri. This village is within hailing distance of Soviet territory. The police station was the first to be attacked. ...


“Around 3 am on the 9th ... trucks were sent there, but it was too late ...\and the trucks turned back at Ungsang Pass.” (Records of the Conclusion of War in Korea, p. 29.)


The breakthrough made by the audacious actions of the detachment, an advance party, of the KPRA carried out in cooperation with the Soviet forces was decisive in our effort to carry out the operational plans for concluding the war against Japan at lightning speed.

The KPRA units which had been occupying offensive positions around the Kanbaeksan secret camp for the final operation advanced as planned, strengthening their ranks; the units on the Tuman River broke through the enemy fortresses on the frontier with one fell swoop, liberated Kyongwon\and Kyonghung,\and made a thrust into Unggi, liberating wide areas of the homeland. Some units, acting as an advance party of the landing force, landed at Unggi in close cooperation with the ground force\and, exploiting this success, continued to advance to the area of Chongjin.


Other units, having taken Jinchang, Dongning, Muling\and Mudanjiang, pursued the enemy troops\and gave fatal blows to the Kwantung Army before pressing on towards the Tuman River.

The small units\and political workers rom the KPRA who had been active in the homeland roused paramilitary corps, armed resistance\organizations\and broad sections of the people to armed revolt. They harassed the enemy in the rear by boldly attacking the Japanese imperialist aggressor troops, gendarmerie\and police establishments, in strong support of the advancing KPRA units.


Han Chang Bong rom Taoquanli fought outstandingly when attacking the fortress at Kyonghung. As a member of the advance party of the IAF, he crossed the Tuman before anybody else. Having crossed the river, the advance party, with the help of the local revolutionary\organizations, destroyed the enemy forts\and pillboxes\and liberated Wonjong.


In the operation for breaking through the fortifications on the Tuman River, the Battle of Mt. Mayu in Hunyung is a famous one.


The enemy had bragged that the fortifications around Mts. Mayu\and Wolmyong were impregnable. Having blown up the bridge at Hunyung, the enemy entrenched themselves on the heights\where pillboxes had been built\and prepared for a do-or-die battle.


Pak Kwang Son\and the scouts of the KPRA, disguised as Japanese, crossed the Tuman in the dead of night\and appeared at the back of Mt. Mayu to reconnoitre the enemy’s movements in detail. Two enemy battalions were defending the mountain. The scouts transmitted the enemy situation to the unit\and fought in the van of the unit that made a forced crossing of the Tuman. The people’s armed corps in the area of the mountain blew up the enemy’s powder magazines\and ammunition dumps, rendering a great contribution to the victory of the overall battle.


After raiding Tho-ri, O Paek Ryong’s advance party performed fine exploits in the Battle of Manhyang Pass.


The pass was an important inland gateway, rom which the enemy was able to keep the Unggi-Rajin fortress safe.


When the unit’s advance was frustrated at the pass, O Paek Ryong volunteered to destroy the enemy’s pillboxes\and gun emplacements on the pass with his advance party. Climbing the pass on all fours with his men, he blew up all the pillboxes\and ensured the unit’s advance. The Soviet officers\and men, with their thumbs up, said the Korean guerrillas were the best.


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