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[Reminiscences]Chapter 24 5. For Unity with the Anti-Japanese Patrioti…

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 24 5. For Unity with the Anti-Japanese Patriotic Forces




5. For Unity with the Anti-Japanese Patriotic Forces 


 Liberating the country by means of unity of the entire nation, particularly by rallying all the anti-Japanese patriotic forces, was the strategic line that the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung consistently maintained in the whole course of the anti-Japanese revolution.

Ever since the beginning of the mighty struggle against the Japanese, the great leader devoted all his efforts to the unity of all the anti-Japanese patriotic forces at home\and abroad.

Here is what he said about his efforts to this end in the first half of the 1940s.

I have maintained all my life the important principle of uniting with the patriotic progressive nationalists,\and exerted great efforts to put it into practice.

At one time the nationalist movement, together with the communist movement, was one of the two components of the national liberation struggle in our country. The national liberation struggle of Korea started with the nationalist movement. In the first half of the 1940s, nationalism still existed as an ideological trend\and as an anti-Japanese patriotic force, though it was weak. Under the banner of anti-Japanese struggle, the majority of nationalists, except for the reformist wing, continued resistance against the Japanese imperialists at home\and abroad. The nationalist movement did have some influence on our compatriots in the homeland\and overseas.

In spite of our failure to cooperate with Ryang Se Bong, we did not hesitate to make tireless efforts to build a united front with the anti-Japanese nationalist campaigners.

The anti-Japanese nationalists, too, tried in every possible way to cooperate with us. Those who had utterly rejected\or shunned communists in former days began to turn to us.

The moves of the anti-Japanese independence fighters to ally with us became a general trend in the latter half of the 1930s. After the formation of the ARF in May 1936, we developed the united front movement, passionately appealing to the entire nation to fight for national liberation. The nationalists made a positive response to this appeal.

This was illustrated by the facts that Yun Il Pha, chief of staff of an Independence Army unit in southern Manchuria, sent us a letter of support, that a Mr. Pak, an independence fighter among the Korean residents in Shanghai, came to southern Manchuria to visit Ri Tong Gwang, the ARF representative in that area,\and that the remnants of the Independence Army, which had been under the command of Kim Hwal Sok, came over, led by Choe Yun Gu, to the KPRA.

What made the nationalist camp abandon their chauvinistic attitude\and attach great importance to cooperation with us?

It was because the KPRA had built up a high reputation\and increased its influence. The anti-Japanese armed struggle became the principal factor in the Korean national liberation movement,\and the KPRA was the main force in that front. It represented the nation’s aspiration for independence\and its faith in the cause\and it was\organizing\and leading the revolution against the Japanese.

Various forces were fighting to liberate the country rom Japanese occupation, but it was the KPRA that was dealing the heaviest blows to the enemy. It was the KPRA that struck the greatest terror into the Japanese imperialists; it was also the KPRA that inspired the Korean people with the greatest hope.

The Korean people believed that the KPRA was the only real armed force capable of driving the Japanese imperialists rom their country.

According to his assistants, Kim Ku shouted for joy at the news that Japanese imperialists had been destroyed at the Battle of Pochonbo.

The\organ of the Korean National Revolutionary Party published in Nanjing also gave a detailed account of this battle under the title Happy News about the Korean Revolutionary Armed Movement. Its editorial staff sent that article to the Hamhung branch of the Joson Ilbo, I was told. This was an expression of pan-national support, encouragement\and solidarity that transcended political ideas\and doctrines. The Korean independence campaigners in China proper, too, were apparently excited at the news of the battle.

Kim Ku tried to find a way for armed resistance rom his early days. The Worker-Soldier Society\organized by him in the early 1920s, in fact, aimed at armed resistance. He hated those people who were trying to gain the independence of Korea by cultivating personal ability without resistance\or in a diplomatic way.

He regretted his failure to raise a big army\and launch a powerful armed struggle. So he took great interest in our armed struggle\and expected a great deal rom it.

Immediately after liberation, The Independence of Korea, a newspaper for overseas Koreans published in Los Angeles, carried an article which criticized Kim Ku. The gist was that Koreans in the United States had raised a large sum of money for Kim Il Sung’s army\and the Korean Volunteers in response to an appeal by Kim Ku, but Kim Ku himself had frittered it all away.

His failure to send war funds was understandable, however. To deliver the money he would have had to contact our\organization, but that must have been difficult to do.

By the fact that Kim Ku appealed for donations of money for us, I knew that he tried in every possible way to support our armed struggle.

The Battle of Jiansanfeng, too, had a great impact on those in China proper who were fighting for independence.

Rapidly growing interest among the nationalist\organizations abroad in our struggle\and their rapid turn towards alliance with communism also resulted rom the fact that we had founded the ARF\and published its ten-point programme, the common fighting programme of the nation which was acceptable to all the people.

In those days the anti-Japanese patriotic forces in China proper were divided because of differences in their political ideas\and doctrines,\and in their fighting methods. They were divided mainly into two groups; one was Kim Ku’s nationalist faction\and the other Kim Won Bong’s leftist faction called the people’s front which was close to communism.

The two factions were independently connected with Jiang Jie-shi’s Kuomintang, the military commission of China’s Nationalist Government\and the CPC.

Two problems had to be settled to realize a united front with the independence fighters in China proper. To begin with, the anti-Japanese nationalist\organizations had to be rallied into one. In other words,\organizations with different ideas, doctrines\and fighting methods had to be amalgamated into a single front under the banner of anti-Japanese patriotism, regardless of their differences. The next step was to effect cooperation on a new basis between us\and all these patriotic forces.

From the time of the founding of the ARF, we made consistent\and sincere efforts to find a solution to the problem. After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, we worked even harder to effect cooperation with the movement in China proper.

With the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, the second Kuomintang-Communist Cooperation was realized in the Chinese revolution, attracting great attention worldwide. This ushered in a new phase in the national-salvation resistance of the Chinese people\and gave a strong impetus to the development of the Chinese revolution.

In this political context, Kim Ku’s faction\and Kim Won Bong’s faction succeeded in forming a single front,\and published a joint declaration in September 1940, putting an end to their past confrontation. Their joint declaration contained many items similar to those of the Inaugural Declaration\and Ten-Point Programme of the ARF. Afterwards, the provisional government drew Kim Won Bong’s faction into left-right collaboration.

This change in the strategy of the nationalist movement attracted our attention.


Also in the first half of the 1940s, we tried hard through different channels to win over the anti-Japanese patriotic forces in Manchuria\and China proper, as well as those in the homeland\and Japan.

As the Pacific War\and the Sino-Japanese War raged, Japan sank deeper into a morass. One event after another heralded its defeat.

The rapidly changing situation demanded that all the anti-Japanese forces at home\and abroad should unite\and prepare for the last decisive battle against the Japanese imperialists. Decades of anti-Japanese struggle had made the people understand that the most effective way to liberate the country was to form a strong\union of national forces irrespective of their ideas\and party affiliation.

Uniting the broad sections of the patriotic forces at home\and abroad\and building up the impetus of national resistance was our historic task as well as the common desire of patriots of different classes\and the masses of the people.

The following is taken rom Japanese police records about the fighting methods of the

Koreans battling for independence\and the change in the popular sentiment in the 1940s:

“The scheming of the Koreans, both nationalist\and communist, at home\and abroad, is aimed at the independence of Korea. They declare that their objective is the independence of Korea. Those under the wing of the Chongqing provisional government, those under the influence of the United States …\and those connected with the Soviet\union\and the CPC, all pursue the independence of Korea as their final objective.” (Report by the head of the police bureau of the Korean Government-General to the heads of police departments of all provinces, May Showa 19 (1944).)

“Special aspects of ideological offences:

“They are focusing on the independence of Korea, their central objective, not constrained by particular ideas\or doctrines,\and establishing a closer relationship with the communist movement, towards which they were formerly antagonistic. The incidents of joint scheming by nationalist elements\and leftist elements are not rare at present.” (Monthly Bulletin of External Affairs of the Political Police, No. 51, p. 5, Public Security Section, Police Bureau, the Korean Government-General, March\and April Showa 19 (1944).)

The Provisional Government in Shanghai was one of the\organizations to which we paid attention to establish relations with the anti-Japanese patriotic forces in China proper.

After the Japanese invaded China proper, the provisional government frequently moved rom place to place. Because it moved here\and there, following the Kuomintang government, it was barely able to maintain its name. The people connected with the provisional government recollected that they drifted rom place to place with no time to unpack. Sometimes they just sat in hotel rooms without having even time to unpack their luggage before moving elsewhere to escape the ravages of war.

In the turmoil of ceaseless factional strife, amendments to its constitution\and reorganization of its Cabinet, the provisional government was constantly haunted by the danger of insolvency\and assassination.

They were in such dire straits at that time that Kim Ku said in recollection: “Because of economic difficulties we could hardly maintain the name of the government. The rent of the office building was only 30 yuan\and the salary for an office boy was less than 20 yuan, but we had no means to pay our way. The owner of the building dunned us for payment many times. I slept on the wooden floor of the government building\and survived only on handouts rom compatriots who had jobs. I was the most wretched of beggars.”

In 1940 the provisional government settled in Chongqing,\where Jiang Jie-shi had set up the headquarters of the Chinese government. rom that time on, they were able to lead a comparatively settled life,\and\organized the Liberation Army. This meant a step forward in their activities.

In those days some people who worked for the Liberation Army carried in their publication accounts of the struggle of the KPRA\and the activities of the NAJAA mentioning the names of Kim Il Sung, Yang Jing-yu\and Zhao Shang-zhi.

Their army, however, had little experience\and was weak in terms of equipment. The members of the provisional government themselves considered that the development of their armed force was\limited. Analyzing the circumstances of the overseas anti-Japanese forces among the Koreans, Ri Chong Chon frankly admitted that it was difficult for the provisional government to assume leadership,\and that it was not prepared to greet liberation on August 15, 1945.

Following is a report by the Japanese police about the Liberation Army.

“The battle array of the Liberation Army is very poor, contrary to the exaggerated propaganda of the provisional government. No detachment has more than ten soldiers, except for the fifth detachment, which has 50 men. But 20 of them are anarchists under the direct command of Ra Wol Han,\and the rest are Koreans taken prisoner rom the Japanese army. Most of them are nearly illiterate\and former drug smugglers. The army is so weak that it does nothing notable.” (Political police section, police department of Hwanghae Province, February Showa 18 (1943).)

However, we tried to join hands with them. We considered that if we achieved cooperation with Kim Ku’s faction, their force too would be mobilized for the final push to liberate the country.

At first Kim Chaek was not very keen on my proposal to cooperate with Kim Ku, an anti-communist element,\and did not expect much rom the venture even if it was realized. Hearing my explanation, however, he supported me, saying that he saw only Kim Ku’s anti-communist tendency\and not his patriotism. He also proposed to get in touch with the anti-Japanese forces in China proper through Ho Jong Suk.

Choe Yong Gon was also reticent about cooperation with Kim Ku. He was more sceptical than Kim Chaek in his attitude towards the provisional government. “We should not join hands with those who are enmeshed in factional strife,” he said. “It will do us no good. We should rather cooperate with Kim Won Bong’s faction.” Of course, Choe Yong Gon too finally came round to my way of thinking.

Kim Won Bong formed the Justice Group,\and engaged in assassinations, raids\and sabotage in China proper, Northeast China\and in the homeland. Afterwards he\organized the Korean Volunteers Corps. The commander of its first company, of about 40 men, was Pak Hyo Sam, who acted as the commandant of the Central Security Officers School for a short period after liberation.

Later Kim Won Bong told me that the Korean Volunteers Corps was so weak in strength\and equipment that it could not take independent actions, but went round among Chinese units launching anti-war propaganda\and operations to demoralize the enemy forces using loudspeakers.

However, we attached importance to their resolve to defeat the Japanese imperialists by force of arms, in spite of the fact that they were a puny force.

We directed considerable attention to the continued existence of the Korean Independence\union\and the Korean Volunteers in North China.

In those days Mu Jong played a great role in North China. He was renowned for his contribution to the building of the Chinese Red Army\and the liberation struggle of the Chinese people as well.

After returning home he worked as Vice-Minister of National Defence\and as an artillery commander. At that time I offered him a house near mine.

He rendered distinguished service in army building in the liberated homeland, but he was criticized for severe bureaucratic actions during the Fatherland Liberation War\and was dismissed rom military service.

Though he had been relieved of his post, we did our best to cure him when he fell seriously ill. In Changchun, China, there was a hospital run by a Romanian medical team. Mu Jong received treatment in that hospital. He wanted to breathe his last by our side, so we brought him home. When he died I had a decent funeral held for him, highly appreciating his distinguished services.

When I met Mu Jong for the first time, he said, “I have heard a lot about you, General Kim,\and the news has encouraged me. Whenever I thought that in Korea there was a general who was striking terror into the Japanese I was delighted. I was in the 8th Route Army in body, but my mind was always on Mt. Paektu. I tried in every possible way to join hands with you, General Kim, seeking a way for the Korean Volunteers to join forces with your army, the KPRA, hoping to destroy the Japanese imperialists through joint operations by these two forces.”

A Japanese government document concerning the activities of the North China detachment of the Korean Volunteers to establish relations with General Kim Il Sung reads as follows:

“The movements of the North China detachment of the Korean Volunteers:

“In about May\or June 1941 a new detachment of the Korean Volunteers was formed in North China.

“While recruiting men\and making fallacious propaganda in the Beijing-Hankou line area,\where we are in occupation, it is trying to cooperate with Kim Il Sung, a Korean rebel in Manchuria,\and to have relations with comrades in Korea. ... It has made a declaration as follows: ‘We will continue the anti-Japanese struggle to liberate Korea by consolidating the unity of our unit, rallying the 200,000 compatriots in North China\and cooperating with revolutionaries\and revolutionary\organizations\and armed ranks in Northeast China\and Korea.’ ” (Political police section, police department of Hwanghae Province, February Showa 18 (1943).)

Ho Jong Suk, who served as the first Minister of Culture\and Information after liberation, was in Yanan in the 1940s. She said that there were many renowned champions among the Korean fighters in Yanan,\and they all yearned to join our army. She, too, was so attracted by our army that she asked Zhou En-lai\and Zhu De to allow her to go to Manchuria, but was criticized by her Chinese comrades for harbouring nationalism.

From what she said I knew that when we were trying to get in touch with the Korean fighters\and patriotic figures in China proper, they also earnestly wished to cooperate with us.

At that time they participated in many of the operations of the 8th Route Army to demoralize the enemy,\and their main target was the young Koreans serving in the Japanese army.

They called to those young men through loudspeakers, saying that they should not serve as cannon-fodder for the Japanese, but come over to the Korean Volunteers\or the 8th Route Army–those in central\and southern China to the Korean Volunteers Corps\or the New 4th Army\and those in Manchuria to Kim Il Sung’s army.

They also issued rules about the treatment to be given to the Korean soldiers who came over to their side. They stimulated desertion by promising that those coming over with heavy machine-guns would receive a certain sum of money\and special supplies of daily necessities for three years, those with light machine-guns, grenade-launchers\or rifles would get a certain sum of money each\and those who surrendered unarmed would receive education\or medical treatment in accordance with their needs. The demoralization operations produced great results.

There were communists\and nationalists among the Korean patriots who were active in the mainland of China. All of them aspired after solidarity\and cooperation with us, irrespective of their ideas\and doctrines. It was a laudable thing in many ways.

We never discriminated against people with different ideas\and doctrines. We did not care whether they were under the influence of the CPC\or under the wing of Jiang Jie-shi,\and considered everyone who loved the country as the object of our cooperation.

We were able to use different channels to establish relations with the people in China’s mainland–the channels of the Soviet military authorities\or the Comintern, as well as messengers rom the NAJAA to China proper. Sometimes we directly sent our messengers to the necessary targets.

Among the channels we used to get in touch with people in China proper when we were waging the armed struggle in Northeast China there was a liaison channel of the 7th Corps of the NAJAA in the Raohe\and Tongjiang areas. In addition, the international channels to Yili in Xinjiang Province, Lanzhou in Gansu Province\and Yanan in Shaanxi Province were available to us. Another was the guerrilla channel rom Dongbiandao, Manchuria, to the Manchurian-Chinese border.

At the training base in the Far East region were staying Liu Ya-lou\and Lu Dong-sheng, who had served in the Chinese Red Army as division commanders\and were giving lectures to the IAF before receiving military training in the Soviet\union, as well as Wang Peng, the CPC liaison officer. I intended to send letters with them to the Koreans in Yanan\and Chongqing when they returned to China proper, but they did not return to Yanan until the day the Japanese imperialists were defeated.

Lu Ya-lou was the chief of staff of the Northeast Field Army during the operations to liberate Northeast China. Later, he became the Commander of the Air Force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Lu Dong-sheng, too, remained in Northeast China as the commander of the Songjiang Military District. Apparently he had another name, Song Ming. He fell in action at the end of 1945.

We tried to contact the people in China proper through the small units sent to Northeast China, as well as through the underground\organization channels in the homeland.

As advised by Kim Chaek, I expected much rom Ho Jong Suk. If our contacts reached Ho Jong Suk we could open a way through her to join hands easily with the anti-Japanese forces around Yanan\and Chongqing.

We paid special attention to her, partly because the record of her patriotic struggle was admirable\and partly because she was the daughter of Ho Hon, who was closely connected with Kim Chaek.

We sent an instruction to an underground\organization in Sinuiju which had once been under the leadership of Kang Pyong Son, a DIU member, to establish relations with the patriots in China proper. In accordance with this instruction, the underground\organization in Sinuiju gave its agent in Tianjin an assignment to open a KPRA liaison channel to Yanan\and Chongqing.

That agent tried hard to build a liaison office for our cooperation with Yanan\and Chongqing, I was told.

The Japanese police collected various items of information concerning the fact that when he was fighting in the IAF the great leader tried in every possible way to achieve a national united front with the anti-Japanese patriotic forces in China proper\and an anti-imperialist joint front with the Chinese anti-Japanese forces, including the CPC:

“Activities of Kim Il Sung:

“Working in the Okeyanskaya training camp near Vladivostok in the Soviet Far East region, he is bent on recruiting\and leading Korean rebels in Manchuria. According to recently acquired information, he is now making preparations to dispatch agents to Manchuria in secret to disrupt military transportation by destroying railways in Manchuria\and Korea,\and to instigate popular unrest, in concert with air raids on Manchuria\and Korea to be made by the American air force in China, in accordance with a secret agreement between the United States\and the Soviet\union.

“After visiting Moscow twice in mid-June he went to Chongqing\and Yanan to discuss many matters with the Soviet\and American embassies in China\and the CPC\organs,\and to plan his future activities. He reorganized railway destruction teams\and ideological operation teams with the Korean\and Manchurian rebels who had been active along the Amnok River. These secret agents are now undergoing training around Khabarovsk in the Soviet\union.” (Monthly Report by the Special Political Police, p. 76, Public Security Section, Security Police Bureau, Ministry of the Interior, November Showa 19 (1944).)

When we were seeking to establish relations with the patriotic anti-Japanese forces in China proper, these forces in Chongqing, too, were trying in every way to collaborate with us.

According to An U Saeng, secretary to Kim Ku\and nephew of An Jung Gun, Kim Ku also dispatched a messenger to us. However, the country was liberated when he was still on his way to Manchuria.

I was told that a Mr. Kim had come as far as Mudanjiang in the capacity of the representative of the provisional government, but had returned to Chongqing, unable to meet us.

A Japanese source acknowledged that we were in touch with the group of Koreans in China proper who belonged to the CPC, centred on Junggangjin, Linjiang, Hyesanjin\and Tonghua.

In the days of the IAF we were also interested in contacting religious circles, while carrying out small-unit actions.

Towards the end of 1942, Yun Se Bok, the third-generation leader of the headquarters of the Taejong sect,\and many other religious people were arrested by the police.

These religious people launched anti-Japanese activities, declaring that the mission of Taejong sect was to pray for the freedom of the Korean nation rom the fetters of Japan\and Manchukuo,\and reconstruct their country. One of its leaders openly declared that the defeat of Japan in the great East Asian war was inevitable, so the followers of the sect should take the opportunity to hasten the day of national liberation. He also said that,\whereas there was Ba Maw in Burma there was Kim Il Sung in Korea,\and that the happiness of the Korean nation would be achieved by its independence.

Having heard rom a small unit that had returned rom a mission that the Mudanjiang police were rounding up Taejong activists, I gave instructions to the Anti-Japanese Association under the influence of the 2nd Directional Army whose headquarters was situated in Ningan County, instructions to frustrate the enemy suppression, take measures to defend patriotic religious people\and step up the work of uniting the patriotic forces in Huadian, Dunhua\and Antu behind the\organization.

The anti-Japanese nationalist\organization in the homeland to which we paid attention when we were preparing the final battle against the Japanese was the Korean Nation-Building\union,\organized by Ryo Un Hyong. This\union was an underground\organization formed in 1944. It had an affiliated\organization, the Peasants\union, which had been formed mainly with the farmers around Yangphyong, Kyonggi Province, Ryo’s native place.

In that year the Japanese repression of nationalist\organizations was at its severest. With their defeat in the offing, the Japanese imperialists arrested, questioned\and punished anyone they suspected of being against them, wielding the national mobilization law\and other fascist instruments at random.

Organizing such an anti-Japanese body as the Korean Nation-Building\union in such a situation showed how audacious Ryo Un Hyong was.

They kept their activities so thoroughly secret that our political operatives in Seoul did not know for some time that such an\organization was active under their very noses. It was not until 1945, in fact, that we learned of the existence of the Nation-Building\union.

After the founding of this body, Ryo Un Hyong sent a man to me\and a liaison officer to the Korean Independence\union. Unfortunately, the first had to return without finding our\whereabouts. But his envoy met the members of the Korean Independence\union in Yanan, I was told.

The messenger failed to meet me because we were at the training base in the Soviet\union at that time.

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