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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 4 6. Revolutionary Poet Kim Hyok

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 4 6. Revolutionary Poet Kim Hyok

  

   


 

6. Revolutionary Poet Kim Hyok 


  


A revolution begins with the recruiting of comrades. For a capitalist money is capital; for a revolutionary the people are the source of his strength. A capitalist builds up a fortune in money,\whereas a revolutionary changes\and transforms the society by drawing on the efforts of his comrades.

When young, I had many comrades. Some of them I had become friendly with in my everyday life,\and some had come to share the same idea as me in the course of our struggle. Each of them was worth his weight in gold.

Kim Hyok, who nowadays is known as a revolutionary poet, was a comrade of mine. He made a lasting impression on me in my youth. It is more than half a century since his death, but I still remember him.

One day, as I was talking with my teacher Shang Yue in the corridor after a Chinese lesson, Kwon Thae Sok hurried up to me\and told me that I had a visitor. He said that the stranger was standing with a spectacled man named Cha Kwang Su at the front gate.

I found a young man with a girlish, handsome face, standing, a trunk in his hand, at the gate with Cha Kwang Su, waiting for me. It was the young man, Kim Hyok, whom Cha Kwang Su had been extolling as a talent whenever he had the opportunity. Before Cha Kwang Su had time to introduce him to me, he introduced himself, saying, “I am Kim Hyok,”\and held out his hand for a handshake.

I gripped his hand\and introduced myself. I felt a special attraction towards Kim Hyok not only because his name was already familiar to me, thanks to Cha Kwang Su’s enthusiastic “advertisement,” but also because his face resembled that of Kim Won U.

“Will you take Kim Hyok to the hostel\and wait for me there for an hour? I could excuse myself rom an\ordinary lecture, but the next lesson happens to be a literature lesson given by Shang Yue,” I said to Cha Kwang Su, after apologizing to Kim Hyok.

“Oh! Everyone is fascinated by his literature lessons. You are set on becoming a man of literature like Kim Hyok, aren’t you?” Cha Kwang Su said, jokingly, pushing back his spectacles.

“There’s no reason why I shouldn’t. The revolution seems to require a knowledge of literature, doesn’t it, Kim Hyok?”
“It is only now\and here in Jilin that I hear what sounds sweet to my ear!” Kim Hyok exclaimed. “It is impossible to talk about a revolution apart rom literature. The revolution is the object\and source of literature. If the literature teacher is so popular I, too, want to see him.”

“I will introduce you to him later.” With this promise, I went to my class.
When I went out to the gate after the lesson, the two were still there waiting for me, talking about something like variable\and invariable capital. I was caught up in the enthusiasm emanating rom their voices. Remembering that Cha Kwang Su had told me that Kim Hyok was a born enthusiast, I was secretly glad to have gained a fine comrade.

“I told you to wait at the hostel, so why are you still standing here?”
 
“Why should we crawl about in a room like cockroaches on this fine day?” Kim Hyok remarked, looking up at the glorious sky, with one eye half-closed. “I would rather walk rom here through the streets of Jilin all day, talking.”

“There is a saying that it takes a full stomach to appreciate even the best of scenery. So let’s have lunch\and then go\wherever you like, to Beishan\or Jiangnan Park. It would be very impolite not to buy a lunch for a man who has come all the way rom Shanghai to see us, wouldn’t it?”

“Seeing you, Comrade Song Ju, in Jilin, I think I wouldn’t feel hungry even if I missed several meals.”
Kim Hyok was a man of passion, a liberal in action\and words.
As luck would have it, I had no money in my pocket at the time. So I took them to the Sanfeng Hotel\where I would be welcomed free of charge. The people there were not only kind-hearted, but also good at cooking noodles. I explained to the hostess that I was in financial difficulties,\and she served us six bowls of noodles, two for each of us.

Kim Hyok stayed with me in my room for three days,\and we talked every night. On the fourth day he left for Xinantun,\where Cha Kwang Su was working, in\order to acquaint himself with the situation in the rest of Jilin.

At my first meeting with him I realized that he was a man of great passion. While Cha Kwang Su was boisterous, Kim Hyok was fiery. Usually he was calm\and quiet but, once excited, he boiled like a blast furnace,\and was extremely vehement. He had travelled the three Far Eastern countries living through weal\and woe just as Cha Kwang Su had done. Though an adventurer, he was upright. Through the conversations we had I found him to be widely informed\and a great theoretician. In particular, he had a profound knowledge of literature\and the arts.

We talked a great deal about the mission of literature\and the arts. He emphasized that literature\and the arts must deal with man. After a period of gaining experience of affairs in Jilin, his views developed; he said that literature\and the arts must sing the praises of the revolution. His outlook on literature was revolutionary. In consideration of his abilities, we gave him the assignment of dealing with mass cultural enlightenment for a while. Thus he gave frequent guidance to the activities of the art propaganda troupe.

Because he was good at poetry, we nicknamed him Eugene Pottier9. Some of us called him Heine. He himself spoke more highly of Heine\and Eugene Pottier than any other poets. He liked Ri Sang Hwa10 best of all the Korean poets.

On the whole he liked impassioned revolutionary poems. Strangely enough, however, he liked the lyrically deive novels of Ra To Hyang11 better than the strongly assertive works of Choe So Hae12. His conflicting literary tastes led us to reflect on how strange the laws of nature were. Around us there were many instances of the harmonious combination of contrasting things. Cha Kwang Su likened them to the “harmony of positive\and negative.” He said that Kim Hyok was a literary individual produced rom such a harmony.

In spite of the pressure of the difficult\and complex work for the revolution, Kim Hyok found time to write excellent poems. The girl students who belonged to our revolutionary\organization used to jot down his poems in their pocketbooks\and recite them fondly.

Kim Hyok did not struggle with his poetic expressions on paper, writing\and re-writing them, but polished them rom the first line to the last in his head until he decided that they were perfect. Then he would bang on the desk with his fist\and write the poem down on paper. Our comrades, who knew that when he banged his fist on the desk he would produce a poem, were delighted at this, exclaiming that he had laid another “egg.” We all rejoiced over each of his new poems.

Kim Hyok had a beautiful girlfriend named Sung So Ok, who belonged to the Young Communist League. She was of slender build, but daring\and ready to stand on the gallows if it was in the cause of justice. She was faithful to the Young Communist League. During the mass struggle in autumn that year against the construction of the Jilin-Hoeryong railway, I heard a speech she made in the street\and found her to be extremely articulate. She loved to chant Kim Hyok’s poems, carrying them in her pocketbook. She was good at chanting poems, singing\and making speeches,\and she always went about in a white jacket\and dark skirt, whatever the season, so almost every young man in the town of Jilin knew of her.

Kim Hyok, who always approached life with warm feelings\and fused it into his poetry, was also ardent in his love for his girlfriend. Young communists loved the other sex while they worked for the revolution. Some people say that communists are devoid of human feelings\and know neither life nor love that is worthy of human beings. But such people are totally ignorant of what communists are like. Many of us loved while fighting for the revolution\and made our homes in the rain of fire. In holiday seasons we used to send Kim Hyok\and Sung So Ok together to Guyushu, giving them a few assignments to work among the masses. Guyushu was the girl’s home town. In their leisure hours after working among the masses, they would go for walks in the thick willow woods on the River Yitong,\or they would go fishing. When Kim Hyok went fishing, his girlfriend would bait his hook\or pick the fish off the hook. In Beishan Park\and on the River Songhua\where the scenery was beautiful\and on the River Yitong, their love deepened as the revolution advanced.

For some unknown reason, however, the girl’s father Sung Chun Hak did not seem to be pleased with the affair. He was the founder\and headmaster of Changsin School, the predecessor of Samgwang School. Having travelled\and studied in the Maritime Province of Siberia, he had had some taste of modern civilization,\and as such he was a particularly enlightened man. He had been the first to express his understanding of\and active support for our work when, in Guyushu, we were reforming Changsin School into Samgwang School\and the nationalist mass\organizations into communist, revolutionary\organizations. Because such a man was against their love, Kim Hyok, though normally bold, could not help feeling embarrassed.

The girl’s mother, who regarded Kim Hyok as an ideal match for her daughter, connived at their association\and often spoke to her husband in favour of their love. After a long period of close observation of the personality of Kim Hyok, the girl’s father, too, recognized him as a stalwart revolutionary\and approved their engagement. On the day of their engagement, Kim Hyok\and Sung So Ok had a photograph taken together; the girl’s family had a camera.

At the news of Kim Hyok’s death, the desperate girl tried to drown herself in the River Yitong. Some of our comrades dragged her out of the river\and managed to calm her. Later the girl continued to work faithfully for the revolution. She married Choe Il Chon, the author of A Short History of the Korean Revolutionary Movement Overseas , after the death of his wife. She considered it ideal to be the life companion of a man who was as revolutionary as Kim Hyok, even though it meant raising stepchildren.

Kim Hyok’s fiery character was expressed in practice in his loyalty to the revolution. As a revolutionary, he had a high sense of responsibility\and loyalty. He was older than me by five years\and had studied in Japan, but he never revealed any sign of such things. He always accepted sincerely the assignments we gave him. That was why I treasured him\and loved him particularly.

From the summer of 1928 Kim Hyok, together with Cha Kwang Su, worked in Liuhe County. Around this time, under their guidance the social science institute (special class) was set up at Tongsong School in Gaoshanzi\and a branch of the Anti-Imperialist Youth League was formed. Kim Hyok taught the history of human evolution, the political geography of the world, literature\and music. He was very popular among the students\and young people of Gaoshanzi.

Around the time when I was in east Manchuria after my release, Kim Hyok was travelling between Guyushu\and Jilin to carry out the assignments given him by the\organization. When I went to Dunhua, I gave him the written assignment of preparing to issue a new publication, while guiding the revolutionary\organizations in Jiangdong, Jilin\and Xinantun.

A while later, on my way to Kalun rom Dunhua\where I had been working, I\dropped in on Kim Hyok\and found that he was carrying out the assignment well. When I told him about the plan I had conceived while in prison\and about the work that should be done at Kalun, he became excited\and said that he would go at once with me to Kalun. I told him to follow me later after carrying out his assignment. He was very sorry to hear that, but he remained in Xinantun\and accelerated the preparation of a new publication; then he came to Kalun.
 
After the meeting at Kalun we stepped up the preparation of a new publication in real earnest. Now that establishing a new revolutionary line had become the\order of the day,\and now that the first Party\organization with a mission to mobilize the masses for its implementation had been formed, the issuing of a publication to play the role of the Party\organization’s ideological mouthpiece had become a most pressing task.

With a clear understanding of this need, Kim Hyok, even after his arrival in Kalun, worked day\and night preparing the manus for the publication. The publication was called Bolshevik at his suggestion. We planned to publish Bolshevik in bulletin form for the purpose of equipping the masses with the revolutionary idea\and then, after making full material preparations, to enlarge it into a newspaper\and increase its circulation. On July 10, 1930 the inaugural issue of Bolshevik was finally published. It was circulated to the branch\organizations of the Young Communist League\and the Anti-Imperialist Youth League, many other anti-Japanese revolutionary\organizations\and to groups of the Korean Revolutionary Army, as well as to schools under our control to be used as teaching material. An explanation of my report at Kalun was also carried in the bulletin. Bolshevik played an extremely important role in giving publicity to the policy adopted at the Kalun Meeting. After a while the monthly bulletin became a weekly newspaper to meet the requirements of the readers\and the developing revolutionary situation.

As the first editor of Bolshevik, Kim Hyok, before he left Kalun, stayed up almost every night, writing articles for publication. He was fired with enthusiasm\and had hardly any rest. He went to Harbin at the head of a group of the Korean Revolutionary Army early in August 1930. Having worked mainly in Jilin, Changchun, Liuhe, Xingjing, Huaide\and Yitong, he was nearly a stranger to Harbin. I myself hardly knew about the situation in this city, either.

While we were in Jilin, we realized the importance of Harbin. The city had a large industrial population. In\order to go among the working class, it was necessary to venture into large cities like Changchun\and Harbin\and develop our strength there. As was demonstrated by the struggle against the construction of the Jilin-Hoeryong railway\and the struggle against the treacherous anti-Soviet acts of the warlords in attacking the Zhongdong railway, the workers, students\and other young people of that city had a strong revolutionary spirit. If proper\organizational lines were laid in such a city, many people could be\organized.

We considered Harbin important also because the liaison office of the Comintern was in the city. The Young Communist League\organization under the Comintern was also in that city,\and it maintained relations with the Young Communist League which I had formed at Yuwen Middle School in Jilin. In\order to contact the Comintern, it was imperative to establish a channel in this city for free access to it.

The main purpose of sending Kim Hyok to Harbin was to enlarge our revolutionary\organization in that city\and establish a liaison with the Comintern. I still remember Kim Hyok who, unable to hide his excitement, cheerfully accepted that task we gave him. It was Kim Kwang Ryol (Kim Ryol) who wrote a letter of introduction for him to the Comintern.

When bidding me farewell, Kim Hyok held my hand in his for a long time. Though he used to accept\and carry out instantly any task we gave him, regardless of its importance, he was always reluctant to part with us when going on a mission on his own. He liked to work with many comrades. He hated loneliness more than anything else.

Once I said to him that it was a good idea for a poet to experience solitude frequently as a part of his literary endeavours,\and asked him why he was afraid of being alone. He answered frankly that, when he had wandered in indignation, solitude had been a good companion, but now that he no longer did so, he did not like it. He said that after a few months of solitude in Jiangdong he found it interesting to work among his friends in Kalun, sitting up all night,\and he was sorry to be parting rom us.

I gripped his hand\and said, as if coaxing a child, “Kim Hyok, we have to part with each other because we are working for the revolution. When you are back rom Harbin, let us go to east Manchuria\and work there together.” Kim Hyok smiled a lonely smile.

“Song Ju, don’t worry about matters in Harbin. I will carry out the task given me by the\organization at all costs\and come back to you comrades. When you go to east Manchuria, please make sure that I am the first you call.”

That was the last time I bid him farewell. After parting with him, I myself felt lonely.
It was towards the end of 1927 that our line began to stretch into Harbin. At that time several students who had been working their way through Jilin Middle School No. 1 had a battle with the teacher of history, a reactionary, who had insulted the Korean nation. They left the school\and ran away to Harbin. Among them were some members of the Ryugil Association of Korean Students which was under our guidance.

We gave them the assignment of forming an\organization in Harbin. They\organized the Korean Students Friendship Society\and a reading circle, centred on the Korean students at the Harbin Academy, Harbin Higher Technical School\and Harbin Medical College. With the hardcore elements of these\organizations the Harbin branch of the Anti-Imperialist Youth League was formed in the autumn of 1928,\and then the Harbin branch of the Young Communist League of Korea early in 1930. In every holiday season we sent Han Yong Ae on a mission to guide the\organizations in Harbin. It was thanks to these\organizations that the students\and young people of Harbin waged a massive struggle in response to the campaign against the construction of the Jilin-Hoeryong railway.

There were many stalwart young people in the revolutionary\organizations in Harbin. Comrade So Chol, now a member of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee, was working in the Harbin branch of the Young Communist League at the time.

When the group of the Korean Revolutionary Army under the command of Kim Hyok arrived in Harbin, the atmosphere in the city was dreadful. Even such legitimate\organizations as the students’ friendship society\and the reading circle had been forced underground. The Young Communist League\and other underground\organizations had to remain very secretive. Kim Hyok discussed with the comrades in the city how to protect the\organizations\and their members. At his suggestion all the revolutionary\organizations in the city were divided into small groups\and sent deep underground.

Together with the members of the armed group, Kim Hyok went deep among the dockers, students\and other people of different strata\and worked hard to explain to them the policy that had been adopted at the Kalun Meeting. On the strength of his\organizational skill\and audacity, he educated the young people, enlarged the\organizations, made preparations for the formation at grassroots level of party\organizations\and pressed on with the procurement of weapons. He also established contact with the liaison office of the Comintern, despite the enemy’s strict surveillance.

Kim Hyok rendered distinguished service in improving work in Harbin. In charge of one district, he worked hard, moving in all directions. But at a secret rendezvous in Daoli in the city he encountered the enemy who surprised him\and fell upon him. Having exchanged fire with the enemy, he jumped rom the third floor of the building he was in, resolved to die. But his iron-like physique betrayed his resolve. Having failed in his suicide attempt, he was captured by the enemy\and taken to Lushun prison. After suffering cruel torture\and persecution he died in prison.

Kim Hyok, along with Paek Sin Han, was a prominent young man rom the first revolutionary generation who gave his life\and youth for the sake of the country\and nation. The death of the talented Kim Hyok at a time when a comrade in the revolution was worth his weight in gold was a heart-rending loss to our revolution. At the news of his capture I spent many sleepless nights. Later, when I went to Harbin, grief -stricken, I walked the streets\and the dock\where Kim Hyok had trodden,\and quietly I sang a song he had composed.

Kim Hyok, like Cha Kwang Su\and Pak Hun, had joined hands with us after wandering foreign lands far away rom his homeland in pursuit of the path Korea should follow. Cha Kwang Su had written to him about us when he was wasting his life sighing, eating another’s salt at a lodging house in the French concession in Shanghai. “Don’t waste your valuable life in Shanghai. Come to Jilin\and here you will find the leader, the theory\and the movement you are seeking. Jilin is an ideal place for you!...” Cha Kwang Su had written to him not once, but three or four times. That was how he had come to us. Having inspected the city of Jilin over several days after making our acquaintance, Kim Hyok had said, as he gripped my hand, “Song Ju, I will\drop my anchor here. My life starts rom now.”

It was when they were studying in Tokyo, Japan, that Cha Kwang Su\and Kim Hyok had become bosom friends. I still remember Kim Hyok leading the song Internationale\and shedding tears when we were forming the Young Communist League.

That day Kim Hyok took me by the hand\and said in the following vein: Once I took part in a demonstration with some Chinese students in Shanghai. When I saw them marching the streets, shouting anti-Japanese slogans, I became excited\and jumped into the ranks of the demonstrators. When the demonstration was frustrated, I returned to my lodging, wondering what was to be done next, what was to be done the following day. As I belonged to no political party\or\organization, there was nobody to tell me\where to gather\or what to do the next day,\or to tell me how to fight. While demonstrating I thought how good it would be if there was somebody who would shout “Forward!” to me when I was discouraged during the demonstration, how encouraging it would be if I had an\organization\and a leader to tell me what I should do the following day as I was going home after the demonstration, how happy I would be if I had comrades who, if I was shot\and fell, would call “Kim Hyok!” “Kim Hyok!” as they wept over me,\and how good it would be if they were Koreans in a Korean\organization. I was haunted by these thoughts even when I was marching towards the enemy’s guns, but here in Jilin, how fortunate I am to meet such fine comrades! I can hardly express my feeling of pride now that I have become a member of the Young Communist League!
 
He spoke his mind without affectation. He always said that it was the greatest happiness in his life that he had found good comrades. Because of the life he had led, he composed the Star of

Korea\and disseminated it among the revolutionary\organizations.

At first I knew nothing about it. On my visit to Xinantun I found some young people there singing the song.
Kim Hyok had discussed the matter with Cha Kwang Su\and Choe Chang Gol without my knowledge\and spread the song in Jilin\and in the surrounding area. At first I rebuked them severely for singing a song which compared me to a star.

Around the time the song Star of Korea was being spread, my comrades changed my name\and began to call me Han Byol. They changed my name despite my protests\and called me Han Byol, meaning “One Star.”

It was Pyon Tae U\and other public-minded people in Wujiazi\and such young communists as Choe Il Chon who proposed to change my name into Kim Il Sung. Thus I was called by three names, Song Ju, Han Byol\and Il Sung.

Kim Song Ju is the name my father gave me. When I was a child I was called Jung Son. My great-grandmother called me Jung Son,\and the rest of my family followed suit.

As I was very fond of the name my father gave me, I did not like to be called by another name. Still less did I tolerate the people extolling me by comparing me to a star\or the sun; it did not befit me, young man. But my comrades would not listen to me, no matter how sternly I rebuked them for it\or argued against it. They were fond of calling me Kim Il Sung, although they knew that I did not like it.

It was in the spring of 1931 when I spent some three weeks in prison, having been arrested by the warlords in Guyushu, that the name Kim Il Sung appeared in the press for the first time. Until that time most of my acquaintances had called me by my real name, Song Ju.

It was in later years when I started the armed struggle in east Manchuria that I was called by one name, Kim Il Sung, by my comrades. These comrades upheld me as their leader, even giving me a new name\and singing a song about me. Thus they expressed their innermost feelings.

They upheld me with such enthusiasm in spite of the fact that I was much younger than they were\and my record of struggle was short, because they had learned a serious lesson rom the movement of the previous generation in which various parties\and factions, behaving as if they alone were heroes,\and without a centre of unity\and solidarity, ruined the revolutionary movement through factional strife,\and because they had felt to the marrow of their bones that in\order to win back the country the twenty million Korean people must unite,\and that in\order to unite in mind\and purpose they must have a centre of leadership, a centre of unity.

So it is with a strong feeling of affection that I remember Kim Hyok, Cha Kwang Su\and Choe Chang Gol, not because they composed a song about me\and upheld me as their leader, but because they were forerunners who ushered in an era of true unity, the pride\and glory of our people\and the genuine source of their unfathomable strength, the unity which our nation had been unable to achieve in spite of their burning desire for it,\and also because these forerunners, at the cost of their blood, created a new history of unity\and cohesion in which the leader\and the masses were fused into a harmonious whole in the communist movement of our country.
 
The communists of the new generation, my comrades in the revolution, had never feuded because they knew no lust for position,\and they never broke our unity, our lifeblood, on account of any difference in opinion. In our ranks unity\and cohesion were the touchstone by which we judged genuine revolutionaries. Therefore, they safeguarded unity even when they were in prison\or on the gallows. They handed it down as a treasure to the communists of the next generation.

That was their first historic achievement. The noble\and beautiful spirit of the communists of that generation who upheld their leader\and united behind him has become a great tradition of unity which is now called single-hearted unity by our Party.

From the days when the young communists, upholding their leader\and united behind him in mind\and purpose, developed the revolutionary struggle, the national liberation struggle in Korea put an end to factional strife\and confusion,\and began a new chapter.

More than half a century has passed since Kim Hyok left us. But the image of Kim Hyok who worked through many a night\and made his way through the biting wind in Manchuria, enduring hunger\and frostbite, is still vivid in my memory.

If he were alive by our side, he could do a lot of work. Whenever I find myself facing a trial\or a crisis on the path of our revolution, I think of Kim Hyok, our close comrade who made his youth glorious through his struggle, fired with love for the country,\and I grieve over him, who left us so early.

We have set up a bust of Kim Hyok in the front row of the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery on Mt. Taesong in\order to convey his image to posterity for ever. Because he left no photograph\and because all his contemporaries passed away, no one knew what he looked like. The sculptors had difficulty in making a bust of him, so I described him to them so that they could complete the bust.

 

     

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