In mid-February of 1933, guided by old man Ma, we marched towards the Wangqing guerrilla zone. When they reached the road, the 18 guerrillas, who had spent the long tedious hours of the last 20 days in the mountain hut in constant discussions of political affairs, lengthened their stride in high spirits. Although the traces of the winter-long trials they had undergone still lingered about them, the marching column was lively\and moved at a brisk pace.
It is said that the inhabitants of Wangqing, if asked nowadays what are the distinctive features of their district, will remark wittily that the place is noted for the long speeches made by their county chief, the long primary school buildings,\and the long valleys. This comment must be the brainchild of a local humorist fond of cracking jokes to express his feeling of attachment to the place.
If such a witty phrase had occurred to me at the time in 1933 when my comrades-in-arms asked me what Wangqing was like, I could have given them a chance to laugh following their terrible hardships. But I merely replied that it was a place\where many exiles had settled.
By exiles I meant revolutionaries.
In Wangqing the anti-Japanese independence struggle had raged more fiercely than in the other counties of the Jiandao area, evenrom the early years. It was in this county that Hong Pom Do, a famous veteran commander of the volunteers’ army, dealt a crushing blow to the Japanese “punitive” forces,\and it was here too that Korea’s Independence Army under the northern political\and military administration headed by So Il, Kim Jwa Jin\and Ri Pom Sok had established its base. It was in this county that Ri Tong Hwi set about the training of cadres for the Independence Army.
The vigorous activity of the Independence Army\and the frequent appearance of independence fighters in this area had awoken the inhabitants’ national consciousness\and stimulated them to fight for their country against the Japanese.
As the tide of the Independence Army movement receded\and the independence fighters withdrew into the Maritime Province of Siberia\and Soviet-Manchurian border districts, the leadership of the national liberation struggle in the Wangqing area gradually passed into the hands of the communists,\and the main trend of the struggle shiftedrom nationalism to communist movement. On the patriotic soil which had been fertilized by the blood of the nationalists, the forerunners of a new ideological trend developed the communist movement.
For all this, the motive force of the struggle remained basically unchanged. The overwhelming majority of the nationalists became converts to the communist movement. The ranks of the communist movement thus included not only those who had,rom the outset, taken the communist path, but also those nationalists who had gradually come to accept communism. It would have been impossible to launch the communist movement if it had been restricted to people free of all political taint. This is the principle of inheritance\and innovation, one of the principles which have guided us in the development of the revolution. Communist ideology is the acme of human thought,\and the communist movement is the highest stage of the revolutionary movements, but it would be a mistake to think, for this reason, that the communist movement starts\and developsrom a tabula rasa.
In any case, Wangqing was famous for its long record of anti-Japanese struggle, for the favourable mood among its masses\and its firm political footing. It was also located near the six towns in the northern frontier region of Korea,\and adjacent to Yanji\and Longjing, which were the centres of the patriotic cultural enlightenment movement in the Jiandao area. These circumstances presented various advantages. The saying has it that deep pools attract fish,\and this place naturally attracted many revolutionaries.
In those days people used to say; those who wish to work their way through university should go to Japan, those who wish to eat bread should go to the Soviet\union,\and those who wish to work for the revolution should go to Jiandao. This reflected the thinking of the young people of Korea in those years, when they regarded east Manchuria as the theatre of battle for national liberation\and aspired to join the struggle there.
Going to Jiandao was as dangerous as approaching the opening of a pillbox, but we marched straight towards the pillbox without hesitation in\order to forward the triumph of the revolution.
We marched with light steps towards the guerrilla zone, not because a sumptuous meal\or comfortable beds awaited us, but because there we would find the comrades\and people with whom we would share life\and death, the ground which we would tread with the step of freedom,\and a land of our own, which defied the\ordinances of the Japanese Emperor\and the decrees of the governor-general.
By February 1933, when we advanced towards Zhuanjiaolou under the guidance of old man Ma, the work of developing guerrilla bases in many parts of east Manchuria had been almost finished,\and they had begun to demonstrate the effect they could have.
To establish the guerrilla bases\and use them as a source of strength to launch a powerful armed struggle was one of the major policies adopted by the Korean communists at their winter meeting at Mingyuegou. At this meeting we had stated that in\order to launch a campaign of armed resistance we must establish our positions, which was simply an expression of our intention to develop guerrilla bases.
At the meeting at Xiaoshahe in the spring of 1932 we raised the matter again, as a separate item on the agenda,\and discussed seriously how we could develop the guerrilla bases in the form of liberated areas–a matter which had already been discussed at the Mingyuegou meeting the previous winter. After the meeting at Xiaoshahe, we sent able leaders to different parts of the Jiandao area\and increased the tempo of revolutionary training for the rural villages. This was the first stage in our work of establishing the guerrilla bases.
The revolutionized rural areas had served as temporary bases for the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army pending the establishment of the guerrilla zones,\and they provided the ground on which to develop the guerrilla bases. One guerrilla base after another had been developed in the places we had\selected as most suitable at the Mingyuegou meeting in winter, that is, in the mountainous areas around Antu, Yanji, Wangqing, Helong\and Hunchun–Niufudong, Wangougou, Hailangou, Shirengou, Sandaowan, Xiaowangqing, Gayahe, Yaoyinggou, Yulangcun, Dahuanggou\and Yantonglazi. All this was achieved through the titanic efforts of the Korean communists\and at the cost of their blood in a fierce struggle against the enemy.
The blood spilt\and the efforts dedicated to the establishment of these guerrilla bases in the area along the Tuman River by the Korean communists Ryang Song Ryong, Ri Kwang, Jang Ryong San, Choe Chun Guk, Ju Jin, Pak Tong Gun, Pak Kil, Kim Il Hwan, Cha Ryong Dok, Kang Sok Hwan, An Kil, Ri Kuk Jin, Ri Pong Su\and others will be long remembered in history.
Prominent figures of the time were quick to assemble in the guerrilla bases in the Jiandao area, travellingrom the homeland and abroad. Many people came to the Wangqing area, including Kim Paek Ryong, Jo Tong Uk, Choe Song Suk, Jon Mun Jin\and other communists of north Manchuria, who settled at Xiaowangqing. The new inhabitants of Xiaowangqing also included communists\and independence fighters who had been operating in the Maritime Province of Siberia, as well as the people who, after many years of underground activity in the enemy-held area, had moved here because their identity had been exposed,\and patriots\and Marxists who, on hearing that Jiandao was the centre of the Korean revolution, had crossed the borderrom the homeland.
The guerrilla bases in east Manchuria thus became the assembly area for the elite who were firmly resolved to work for the revolution,\or already tempered by experience of the practical struggle. Therefore, the political character of the population was as transparent as the limpid water of the River Dawangqing. In terms of their morale\and determination, each of them was a match for a hundred.
Exploiting the favourable conditions created by the establishment of this strategic centre of the revolution, the Korean communists expanded the ranks of the guerrillas, established party\and Young Communist League\organizations, the Anti-Imperialist\union, the Peasants’ Association, the Anti-Japanese Women’s Association, the Children’s Corps, the Red Guards\and the Children’s Vanguard, i.e.,\organizations uniting various sections of the population\or paramilitary\organizations, in preparation for resistance struggle involving the entire people.\organs of the revolutionary government were established in every district of the guerrilla zones. They set about building homes for the people,\and providing them with genuine democratic rights\and freedoms which their ancestors had never experienced. They were true champions of the people’s interests. The revolutionary government distributed land among the people, guaranteed them the rights to work, free education\and free medical care,\and thus built a society in which, for the first time in history, everyone enjoyed equality,\and everyone supported\and led each other forward, a society in which the noble morality of mutual respect prevailed. In the guerrilla zone there were neither rich people who threw their weight about nor poor people who were weighed down by the heavy burden of debts\and taxes.
The guerrilla bases were vibrant with a rapturous enthusiasm which no suffering\or hardship could ever dampen. It was the optimistic enthusiasm of people who, completely freerom the fetters of social oppression, were building an independent new life. The happiness of the peasants, who danced to the beat of gongs as they drove in the stakes to mark off their plots of the land distributed by the people’s revolutionary government, heralded the approach of the greatest event of the century, that sweeping transformation of the world which was first effected by the Korean communists in the wilderness of Jiandao. Their life went on amid continued trials such as had already cost constant bloodshed\and sacrifice, but the people’s dreams of a bright future gave them hope\and inspired their songs.
The guerrilla bases in the Jiandao area, a tall citadel in one corner of the East, were writing a magnificent new chapter in the history of national liberation in defiance of the enemy’s constant attacks. They became a symbol of future happiness winning the adoring admiration of people in the homeland.\wherever they lived,\and whatever their ideals, the Korean people regarded this citadel, built by the communists at the cost of their own blood, as their only beacon-light\and gave it heartfelt support\and encouragement.
In short, the guerrilla zones inspired the people with hope, optimism\and joy; they were the land of promise, the promise of the happiness dreamed of by the people since time immemorial.
The guerrilla bases became a source of constant headaches for the top brass of the imperial headquarters in Tokyo. Having guerrilla zones located just across the Tuman River, on the northeastern boundary of Korea, was a sore point for the enemy. Takagi Takeo1 once aptly described the Jiandao area as the “centre of resistance against Manchukuo\and Japan as well as a communist artery that runsrom the north to Japan through Korea.”
Japanese militarists called the guerrilla bases in east Manchuria a “cancer destructive to\oriental peace,” an expression which clearly reflected their fear of the guerrilla zone.
The Japanese imperialists feared the zone, not because the area was particularly extensive,\or because a large communist force capable of overpowering their Kwantung Army was encamped there,\or because there was any possibility of a shell launchedrom Jiandao falling upon the roof of the royal palace\or the imperial headquarters in Tokyo. They dreaded it because Koreans who harboured a bitter hatred for the Japanese made up the vast majority of the population in that region,\and most of these Koreans were committed to the revolution strongly enough to give their lives without hesitation in the battle against Japanese domination.
The fact that more than 90 per cent of the communists\and Young Communist League members in that region were Koreans is sufficient to explain why the rulers of Japan were so concerned by the guerrilla zone, regarding it as the greatest obstacle to their effective rule of Manchuria. Both the valorous generals of the Righteous Volunteers’ Army, who had fought for over a decade in the homeland\and in the wilderness of Manchuria against the “Ulsa Treaty” (the protectorate treaty concluded in 1905–Tr.)\and the “annexation of Korea by Japan” forged by the Japanese militarists,\and the surviving forces of the Independence Army, equipped as they were with matchlock rifles, were still operating in that region against the Japanese army\and police.
The example of indissoluble fraternal ties between the Korean\and Chinese communists was established there,\and spread throughout Manchuria\and China proper.
The guerrilla zone in Jiandao was not a “cancer destructive to\oriental peace,” but the very beacon-light of that peace.
Our efforts to fulfil our strategic task of establishing guerrilla bases for our revolution suffered a severe test when the Japanese militarist forces launched a wholesale “punitive” operation intended to smother the anti-Japanese armed struggle in its cradle. The result of their scorched-earth operations, however, was to speed up the establishment of guerrilla bases in Jiandao.
In the spring of 1932, the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria\and their army forces in Korea discussed measures for dealing with what they called the Jiandao affair. The scheme was to dispatch a task forcerom their army in Korea to Jiandao in\order to put down the revolutionary movement there. Accordingly a Jiandao task force composed of a regimentrom the Japanese army division in Ranam, Korea, reinforced by the troops of the Kyongwon garrison, a cavalry troop, a field artillery battery\and an air-force company, set out on an expedition to the four counties in east Manchuria\where the flames of rebellion had raged during the harvest season\and the seasonal spring food-shortage. The task force wrought havoc in the villages\and towns, massacring\and burning down the homes of those who rose in revolt for their country’s freedom, for a life of independence.
The enemy’s atrocities began with his assault on Dakanzi in the early part of April 1932\and drowned the fields\and mountains of Wangqing in a bloodbath. Dakanzi was the village\where Ri Kwang, Ri Ung Gol\and Kim Yong Bom had led the harvest-time struggle\and\where Kim Chol, Ryang Song Ryong, Kim Un Sik, Ri Ung Man, Ri Won Sop\and other comrades had captured weapons by raiding the public security office. As the large force of the Ranam 19th Division pressed forward under cover of artillery fire, machineguns\and aircraft, the national salvation army unit under the command of Wang De-lin, which was stationed in the village, withdrew in haste across Mt. Mopan to Xidapo,\and the defence corps of the village surrendered to the “punitive” force.
Having occupied Dakanzi, the Japanese bombed the streets of Wangqing,\and then attacked the town, killing its inhabitants, setting fire to houses\and plundering them of property. Even the house of Li Heng-zhong, the richest man in Wangqing, who owned the largest estate in the district, was burnt down by the occupation force.
There followed the destruction of the villages of Deyuanli\and Shangqingli.
The atrocities were so cruel\and violent that the inhabitants of Wangqing composed a song about them;
On the sixth of April, 1932,
Dakanzi was attacked by the Japanese,
Shells bursting, roaring across the hills all around.
Under the rain of bullets\and shrapnel
And bombs\droppedrom aircraft The poor people were massacred.
Flamesrom Daduchuan soared into the sky,
The village of Deyuanli was reduced to ashes.
Innocent people were killed all over the fields
And the fields of Wangqing became deserted.
Proletarian masses of Manchuria, rise in unity
And fight the enemy.
Boiling blood drives us out to take the field
And raise the flag of victory.
Throngs of people who had lost their homes\and families in this barbarous “punitive” operation, surged into the valleys of Xiaowangqing\and Dawangqing. The Japanese aircraft even bombed the defenceless refugees. The crystal-clear water of rivers in Wangqing was suddenly stained red with blood. The guts of dead people drifted down the rivers.
The village of Zhuanjiaolou, to which we were guided by old man Ma, had suffered heavilyrom the atrocities perpetrated by the Jiandao task force. The barbarous beasts who fell upon the defenceless village had locked up scores of young people, women\and children in a house\and burnt them to death. The village had been instantly reduced to ashes. The fact that many counties in east Manchuria circulated a written protest, “An Appeal to Our Fellow Countrymen in Protest against the Massacre at Zhuanjiaolou!” indicates just how extensive\and how brutal the “punitive” action was.
Zhuanjiaolou which is located near Luozigou\and Xiaowangqing, one of the major bases of the revolution in Jiandao, had been under the powerful revolutionary influence of the anti-Japanese strugglerom the early years. The valley, which was home to thousands of peasants, raftsmen\and lumbermen, provided fine ground for the activities of vanguard\organizations such as the party, the Young Communist League\and the revolutionary\organizations of various sections of the population. During the spring struggle, these\organizations had mobilized the masses in the destruction of the defence corps which had been entrenched in the village.
The members of the defence corps, frightened by this mass uprising, had fled into the mountains\and become bandits.
The struggle had been successful, but 13 people were killed. The heated vortex of these struggles transformed Zhuanjiaolou
into a breeding-ground for stalwart revolutionaries. Jang Ryong San, who was the commander of the 3rd company of the Wangqing guerrilla unit, had worked as a raftsman between Zhuanjiaolou\and Shanchakou. Hamatang,\where Ri Kwang had worked in the guise of a headman of a hundred households, was only several milesrom Zhuanjiaolou.
The enemy did not hesitate to destroy a whole village in\order to kill one communist: they even had a motto, “Kill a hundred people to destroy one communist.” The three-point policy of killing everyone, burning everything,\and plundering everything, which was applied in the attack launched on the liberated area in north China by Okamura Yasuji, commander of the Japanese forces in north China, during the Sino-Japanese war had, in fact, been applied earlier in the “punitive” expedition to Jiandao in the 1920s,\and had culminated in a scorched-earth policy when the guerrilla zones throughout east Manchuria were destroyed in the early 1930s.
The three-point policy\and the so-called village-concentration policy, which had been adopted by the Japanese imperialists in Korea\and Manchuria for the purpose of “severing the peoplerom the bandits,” were applied by the French colonialists in military operations to put down the Algerian resistance forces\and were perfected by the Americans in Vietnam.
Sandaowan, Hailangou, Longjing, Fenglindong\and all the other renowned revolutionary villages in Yanji County were littered with dead bodies. In Sanhanli\and in its surrounding area in Hunchun County more than 1,600 houses were burnt down. The number of people massacred in Yanji County alone amounted to ten thousand. No words could be strong enough to condemn all the crimes committed by the Jiandao task force.
The Japanese even destroyed simple kitchen utensils, in addition to killing the inhabitants of Jiandao\and plundering their property. They destroyed cooking pots\and overturned under-floor heating facilities. They pulled down the houses remaining\and carried off the structural elements to the town of Daduchuan. The refugees had to sleep in improvised grass huts\and cook on hot stones, without cooking pots.
The villagers who were unable to flee were threatened with death if they would not allow themselves to be dragged to the towns of Dakanzi\or Daduchuan.
The “punitive” force made no exceptions for landlords in applying their forced evacuation\orders. It was no secret that a considerable portion of the food supplies\and other goods needed for the anti-Japanese guerrillas had comerom landlords\and propertied people. The enemy therefore attempted to cut off the source of these supplies\and stifle the revolutionary army, already sufferingrom constant shortages of food\and clothing.
Harassed by the enemy’s tenacious pursuit, the revolutionary masses roamed the mountains, without eating regular meals. But the mountains did not always provide safe shelter. Even the deepest of the valleys had dead ends,\where the refugees had to hide in the forest. In such situation a baby’s cry meant death for everyone.
When the “punitive” troops were searching close to one group’s hiding people, a woman gave breast to her baby\and hugged it hard to prevent it crying\and bringing destruction on the revolutionary masses. When the “punitive” troops withdrew, the woman found her baby was dead. Similar tragedies took place in every village\and every valley of Jiandao.
To avoid such accidents, some women used to doze their babies with opium to keep them fast asleep. Unable to endure the ceaseless atrocities perpetrated by the “punitive” troops, some women even gave their beloved babies to strangers.
The women of this country suffered heart-rending trials for the sake of the revolutionary masses\and their comrades-in-arms, for the sake of the anti-Japanese struggle which was dearer to them than their own lives.
Bourgeois humanists may mock at the maternal love of communists, asking how a woman could be so cruel towards her baby\or be so irresponsible with its life.
But they must not hold these women responsible for the deaths of their infants. If they knew how many bitter tears were shed as these women buried the soft bodies of their babies in dry leaves\and left their babies in the care of strangers,\and if they knew what deep scars were left in the hearts of these women, they would condemn\and hate the Japanese imperialists who sent their human butchers to Jiandao. The crime of trampling upon the maternal love of this country’s women was committed by none other than the fiends of Japanese militarism.
If she is to make amends for her past, Japan must repent of these crimes. Remorse for past crimes cannot, of course, be a pleasant feeling, but no matter how bitter\or shameful such remorse may be, it will be much easier to bear than the heart-rending agony that our mothers\and sisters felt as they were compelled to leave their own flesh\and blood behind in the shadow of strangers’ fences,\or as they thrust lumps of opium down the throats of their babies. In demanding evidence of their past crimes, the rulers of Japan continue to mock the memory of millions of Koreans who were slaughtered by their army.
The revolutionary masses faced the alternative of being dragged down to urban communities by the Japanese\or going deeper into mountains to live there\and continue the fight.
How many of these Koreans who had abandoned their fertile paddy-fields to come to Jiandao would obey the enemy’s\orders to move to towns which were under the rule of the Japanese army?
Most of the inhabitants of Jiandao were poor peasants who had been deprived of their livelihood by the Japanese colonialists,\and left their home districts in pursuit of the promised land like Ryultoguk.2 Although bled white by the local officials\and landlords, the poor peasants had reclaimed steep hill slopes\and valleys in the mountain ranges of Laoyeling\and Haerbaling, removing the stones\and pulling up tree roots by dint of herculean efforts. Exhausting as slash-and-burn farming was,\and poor as they remained, these peasants had been contented with their lot simply because they were free of molestation by the Japanese. Which of them would ever obey the Japanese\orders to follow them to towns, leaving behind homes\and lands which they had made fertile with their own sweat\and blood? This was the test set for the people of Wangqing who had experienced the massacre.
A few people, terrified into submission by the enemy’s atrocities, began to move down to the towns. But the overwhelming majority, who yearned to see a new world, moved deeper into the mountains in spite of the menace of the enemy. People who only yesterday had shared joy\and sorrow in one mind for the revolution in the same village were now parting with each other, some going to towns\and others to mountains.
The people who chose the mountains moved to the great forests of Xiaowangqing\and Dawangqing, 25 miles awayrom the Wangqing county town (Baicaogou). It was around this time that the family of Ri Chi Baek movedrom Zhongqingli to Macun.
The Wangqing county party committee\and other county-level\organs had established their bases in Xiaowangqing. The east Manchuria ad hoc committee which had been operating by moving between Xilinhe in Yanji County, Taipinggou, Wangougou\and Beidong finally settled in the spring of 1933 in the valley of Lishugou at Xiaowangqing, which became the revolution’s centre\and capital in Jiandao. The tide of history brought ourselves\and the Chinese party, our revolution\and the Chinese revolution, together,\and we came to share a single pulse.
The Wangqing guerrilla base consisted of five\organized revolutionary districts, including district No. 1, which included Yaoyinggou under its jurisdiction,\and district No. 2, which had Macun\and Shiliping under its control.
In those days the Wangqing guerrillas were grouped into three companies; their prominent commanders\and leaders were Ri Kwang, Ryang Song Ryong, Kim Chol, Jang Ryong San, Choe Chun Guk\and Ri Ung Man.
That was what I learned on my arrival in Wangqing,rom a briefing given by Ryang Song Ryong, one of the founders of the Wangqing guerrilla force,\and Ri Yong Guk, secretary of the county party committee. These comrades had shown me around the Wangqing guerrilla base when I visited the place to acquaint myself with the situation there in the autumn of 1932.
At that time, as I made the rounds of the guerrilla zones in the Wangqing County I had given guidance to the work of the primary party\organizations, the Anti-Japanese Association, the Anti-Japanese Women’s Association\and other mass\organizations. I had also received reportsrom the political workers operating in the Chinese nationalist anti-Japanese units.
Also around this time we had given a short training course on explosive weapons for workersrom the munitions factories in different counties of east Manchuria\and for the commanders of the guerrilla army.
In those days the leaders of Wangqing County were racking their brains in the search for solutions to the food problem. More than one thousand people had thronged into the narrow valley at Xiaowangqing,\where there were only a few dozen houses. The food reserves were too small to feed them all. Now\and then the guerrillas had attacked the enemy\and captured food, but the amounts were not enough to satisfy the hunger of the many people in the bases. The contribution of the harvestrom the small plots of arid land in the guerrilla zone was also negligible.
In these circumstances, it was suggested that the food problem could be solved for the moment by harvesting the crops in no-man’s land. By no-man’s land I mean the deserted farm lands between the guerrilla bases\and the enemy-ruled areas.
There were deserted villages near Xiaowangqing\and Dawangqing. Unable to endure the atrocities perpetrated by the barbarous “punitive” force, the villagers had fled, some of them to the enemy area,\and others to the guerrilla zone, leaving their crops unharvested. Some of the crops belonged to the landlords\and reactionaries who had fled to the enemy area,\and some of them belonged to the peasants whom the Japanese had forced at bayonet-point to move to Baicaogou\and Daduchuan.
The abandoned crops were also coveted by those who had fled to the enemy area. The landlords\and reactionaries came every day with horse-drawn carts\and other vehicles under the escort of armed self-defence corps men, harvested the crops\and carried them away. Sometimes they even approached the guerrillas’ threshing floor\and opened fire.
In view of this, we decided to form harvesting teams in all the guerrilla districts\and mobilize all the people in the base to gather the crops in no-man’s land without delay. We informed the Wangqing people of the decision\and discussed the measures required for its implementation with them. The harvesting team began reaping the crops at the entrance of Xiaowangqing\and advanced towards Daduchuan. The grain was threshed as soon as it was reaped, then it was stored for distribution to the inhabitants of the guerrilla zone.
Harvesters working in the fields below the village of thirteen households had to be protected by the Red Guards against the self-defence corps, which was equipped with rifles capable of taking five cartridges at a time. There were occasionally fierce engagements between the two sides, who fired over the heads of the harvesters. We were deeply moved by the heroism of the Wangqing people who worked day\and night to gather the crops at the risk of their lives.
Arduous as the struggle was, I was satisfied, as I left Xiaowangqing, that everything in the base was being done as we had intended.
On my way back to the guerrilla base, I set myself two major tasks. The first was to achieve a large-scale expansion of the ranks of the guerrillas\and the second was to intensify the efforts of the united front to rally the patriotic forces of all social strata in line with the new situation, in which the theatre of our operations was shifting to the area of the Tuman River. We also needed to work with the anti-Japanese units of the Chinese nationalists.
Having guided us as far as Zhuanjiaolou, old man Ma returned to Luozigou.
The jovial fellow, whom the Anti-Japanese Association provided as our guide in place of old man Ma, told us an interesting story about the small units of the Wangqing guerrillas,\and how they had defeated the Japanese “punitive” troops that had invaded Yaoyinggou\and Sishuiping.
The following day, we marched into the guerrilla zone of Yaoyinggou, the centre of Wangqing district No. 1, with the flag of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army flying\and bugles blowing at the head of our advancing column.
Hong Yong Hwa, a woman whose nephew Choe Kum San was my\orderly in later years before he was killed in battle, came running up to the roadside with about 20 members of the Children’s Corps,\and they welcomed us, waving their hands. She was in charge of the work with women under the party committee of Wangqing district No. 1. She was highly respected by the soldiers\and the people for her devoted work for the guerrillas\and the Chinese anti-Japanese units.
That day the people of Yaoyinggou prepared millet cakes\and buckwheat noodles for us. In the evening they invited us to a performance given by the Children’s Corps.
Ri Ung Gol, head of the\organizational section of the Wangqing district No. 1 party committee, watched the soldiers\and people enjoy their party together with tears in his eyes. “General Kim Il Sung,” he said, “we have been hearing news of your unit for many months. We heard that, after your expedition to south Manchuria, you attacked Dunhua\and Emu in north Manchuria. The people here have been waiting for your unit for a long time. Now our hearts feel strong.”
I left the celebration\and followed him to the office of the district party committee. We spent hours in discussion of the work of the guerrilla zone. Our attention was focused on how we should go about expanding the party\and the other revolutionary\organizations in places like Zhuanjiaolou,\and how we should arm all the people in the guerrilla zone.
When we were elaborating measures for the defence of the guerrilla zone, a messenger came to us with a secret noterom the enemy-ruled area. The note stated briefly that the Japanese garrison troops at Daxinggou would attack the guerrilla zone the next day.
“They must be coming to avenge themselves on the guerrillas who attacked them in December last year,” Ri Ung Gol remarked with a wry smile, as if he were responsible for the enemy’s attempt
to attack Yaoyinggou. “Those devils can’t even show proper respect for guests who have made a journey of hundreds of miles. We were planning to give your unit a few days’ good rest before you left. What an unfortunate coincidence!”
“Oh no!” I said. “It’s a happy coincidence. The men’s hands have been itching after all these months without a fight. It seems the moment has come for the enemy to pay for the blood spilt by our people at Dakanzi, Zhuanjiaolou, Deyuanli\and Sanhanli.” I sent a messenger to Ri Kwang, telling him to transfer his unit to Yaoyinggou in a hurry.
Ri Ung Gol puffed at his hand-rolled cigarette in agitation for a while, then stood up to go to the party\and summon the commander of the Red Guards. It was clearrom his expression that he had decided to give\orders for a general mobilization.
Smiling, I took him by the sleeve\and pulled him back into his seat.
“Comrade Ung Gol, you are going to tell the Red Guards that the enemy is coming, aren’t you? The party seems to be at its height at the moment. So don’t disturb them, please. Send them all home in an hour\and let them sleep well until early next morning.\and I, too, will send my men for a sound sleep early tonight.”
It might seem contrary to normal military practice to allow the men\and the people to enjoy themselves, instead of alerting them, when we knew that the enemy was going to attack us very soon. It was quite natural that the head of the\organizational section of the district party committee, who was also in charge of military affairs, should glance at me uneasily.
Nonetheless, we kept the message about the enemy’s intentions to ourselves. The men were sent to their beds as I had suggested. I did not wish to excite them when they were still tiredrom the march. I knew quite well that no stout-hearted man could sleep when his spirits had been aroused by combat\orders.
“At least tonight I must not let their sleep be disturbed. How many sleepless nights they have already spent during the last winter!” This was the thought uppermost in my mind that night. Perhaps it was a case of indulgence inappropriate for a guerrilla commander. In any case, the men were fast asleep by eleven o’clock.
Our guiderom Zhuanjiaolou\and the messengerrom the enemy-held area could not get to sleep until midnight, probably because they did not feel sure that my decision was correct. Ri Ung Gol, head of the\organizational section, too, tossed\and turned in his bed.
“On our march I found the hills at the entrance to Yaoyinggou fascinating. What about giving battle there?” I suggested in whisper. “There’s a motor road running along the foot of the hills, isn’t there?”
Ri Ung Gol responded to my words by sitting up. “You mean the hills west of Dabeigou? They are a natural fortress.”
We were still discussing this question at about four o’clock in the morning.
Not long afterwards we climbed the hills, which were the gate to Yaoyinggou, so to speak. The commander of the Red Guards\and the member of the Anti-Japanese Associationrom Zhuanjiaolou accompanied us. The southern sides of the hills were craggy cliffs, along the bottom of which ran a vehicular road. Parallel to the road flowed a river called the Xiaotonggou. The hills were full of rocks which provided natural shelters for the guerrillas.
We built up piles of stones between crags\and then called together all the men of the Red Guardsrom Yaoyinggou\and my unit\and some members of the special detachment\and took them to the hills. I told them to dig themselves in on the frozen ground\and gave them combat\orders, which concluded with an encouraging speech to the following effect:
Our ancestors used to describe such features of the terrain as impregnable. Highly advantageous to the defenders,\and disadvantageous to the attackers! An impregnable fortress is a fine thing, but I have more confidence in your combat efficiency. Comrades, sing the song of tragedy no more, but let the enemy pay dearly today for the blood shed by our people. Blood for blood!
That day, more than 80 Japanese troops who were advancing on four trucks into the valley of Yaoyinggou, were caught in our ambush\and scores of them were killed\or wounded.
The next day, the Japanese garrison troops at Daxinggou launched an all-out attack on Yaoyinggou again, only to suffer heavy casualties before they fled.
That was the first battle we fought in a guerrilla zone in Jiandao. It was probably named the defensive battle of the Yaoyinggou guerrilla zone by the historians.
On the evening of the following day the inhabitants of Yaoyinggou celebrated the victory in the village of Dabeigou. I still remember the event. The representatives of the various\organizations delivered speeches of passionate congratulation, waving their fists in the air. Of course, I also made an impassioned speech that night.
I think it was during that winter\or the previous autumn that I met O Jin U at Yaoyinggou. On that occasion the villagers of Xiaobeigou held a welcome meeting in our honour at the Children’s Corps school\where O Jin U was working as an instructor. He occasionally looks back with deep emotion upon our first meeting, saying that he was strongly impressed by me as I spoke then, holding a Model 38 rifle in my hand, with the butt resting on the ground. He was then fifteen\or sixteen years old,\and he would follow at my heels, toying with the Mauser that hung on my waist. He seemed to be very envious of it. We were all equipped with Model 38 rifles\or with the most modern pistols.
I asked O Jin U if he wished to join the guerrilla army. He said he had applied, but had not been accepted because he was too young. We accepted him into the 4th Wangqing company the following year\or the year after,\and took him on an expedition to north Manchuria.
While we were preparing to leave for Xiaowangqing after having repulsed the enemy\and acquainted ourselves with the work of the party\and mass\organizations, a messenger arrived with a summons for us to go to Macun to discuss an important military matter.
We left Yaoyinggou immediately.
On our arrival at Xiaowangqing we were received by Wang Run-cheng, alias Ma Ying,\and two other men. He was more often known by another nickname–Wang danaodai–which meant a man with an unusually large head.
Dagezi\and some other personnel of the guerrilla zone guided me to the foot of the hill at the back of Macun\and the house of old man Ri Chi Baek\where I stayed\and\where I met the representatives of the east Manchuria party committee. Dagezi is Ri Yong Guk’s nickname, it means a long fellow. He was the secretary of the Wangqing county party committee at the time. There was a bachelors’ quarters which had been made into a “travellers’ home,” but I was persuaded to stay at the old man’s house because the “travellers’ home” was crowded\and noisy. Ri Chi Baek was Kim Jung Gwon’s father-in-law,\and the name of the old man’s wife was So Song Nyo.
Ri Chi Baek’s family were all patriots\and revolutionaries.
In his house I dressed in dabushanzi (a Chinese gown–Tr.) for talks with Wang Run-cheng\and his company.
“Congratulations upon your arrival in Wangqing!” Wang danaodai greeted me.
“I am glad to see you again,” I replied, shaking his hands.
I was lucky to meet a revolutionary who was an old acquaintance of mine in Wangqing,\where I was a stranger.
I had first met him at Antu, when I was concentrating on work with the anti-Japanese units of the Chinese nationalists, following my returnrom the campaign in south Manchuria. In those days he\and Chen Han-zhang had been working with the soldiers of Commander Meng’s regiment of the national salvation army.
Commander Meng’s regiment had movedrom north Manchuria to the Antu area in\order to make contact with Tang Ju-wu’s units of the self-defence army in the Liaoning area\and enter into cooperation with them. The Chinese communists who were working with Wu Yi-cheng in his national salvation army unit had been trying to extend the anti-Japanese struggle throughout Manchuria by arranging an alliance of the anti-Japanese forces in north\and south Manchuria.
Commander Meng’s regiment had been sent to Antu by Wu Yi-cheng on another mission to obtain opium needed to raise funds for military purposes. The Antu area was a major source of opium\and insam (ginseng–Tr.). Tang Ju-wu had also sent his men to Antu with a view to establishing a monopoly of the opium trade in that area. In those days opium was used in place of currency.
“Comrade Kim Il Sung,” Wang Run-cheng said half-jokingly at a meeting of the anti-Japanese soldiers’ committee held at Ri Kwang’s house, “the success of the national salvation army units in cooperation with your unit in the attack on Dunhua\and Emu can be attributed to opium. The large amount of opium that was obtained in Antu\and distributed among my men had strengthened their morale.”
We were familiar enough with each other to speak our minds frankly on such matters.
Wang helped us a great deal in the course of our work in Antu. He used to carry messages to maintain contact between myself\and Hu Jin-min\or Zhou Bao-zhong. Since he was in charge of propaganda in the national salvation army, he had had free access to the commander’s headquarters, to say nothing of regimental, battalion\and company headquarters. He was a good messenger for me\and for the communists who had been posted to the national salvation army.
As was usually the case with intellectuals who had been trained in a normal school, Wang, though a man of large build, was gentle\and good-natured. He had taken up the revolutionary cause during his normal school days at Ningan, under the influence of schoolmates who had studied in large cities like Beijing, Nanjing\and Tianjin. His final commitment to the revolutionary cause was due especially to the influence of Comrade Pan, who was on the provincial party committee.
“Comrade Kim Il Sung,” Wang said. “The revolution is raging fiercely in east Manchuria now,\and in this situation we expect a great dealrom you. We are very glad of your arrival in Wangqing at a time when the revolution in east Manchuria needs able strategists to develop party work, guerrilla activities,\and work with the national salvation army.”
He analyzed the developments in north\and east Manchuria in considerable detail,\and we had a frank exchange of views concerning the tasks facing the party\organizations in east Manchuria at that time. The most urgent task we discussed was the establishment of a system of unified command over the companies that had so far been operating autonomously in the different guerrilla zones,\and also the increasing of our military forces\and the improvement of their quality. This matter was also later discussed in detail with Tong Chang-rong.
As a result, the guerrilla companies in Wangqing were brought under the unified command of their battalion headquarters.
This was followed by a regrouping of the companies in other counties in east Manchuria into battalions,\and by the reappointment of their commanders. These were preparations for the full-scale development of guerrilla warfare.
These were the impressive events that marked our arrival in Wangqing. We soon became used to the new surroundings. The sense of exotic newness we usually felt whenever we changed our theatre of activity soon gave way to an attachment to the new place\and curiosity about it.
By 1933 I had lost nearly all the people dearest to me. The death of my mother had\orphaned her three sons,\and the sweet home of these three boys at the village of Xiaoshahe among the field of reeds had been left deserted\and filled with cobwebs. All that remained with me were my two younger brothers, who were in the charitable care of strangers,\and my grandparents who had given their beloved sons to the country,\and were now living in isolation at my old home in Mangyongdae, for which I felt a bitter nostalgia. My feelings of filial devotion to them could not reach out to the hearth of the home,\and my desire to take loving care of my brothers was a source of futile worry.
The only place\where the tender feelings of my heart could produce any effect was the guerrilla zone in which I was to fight. The people here would become as dear to me as my own grandparents, my own parents\and my own brothers. In the personality of the mistress of the house, So Song Nyo, I rediscovered the warm character of my own mother, her love\and benevolence.
Because of the enemy’s constant blockade\and “punitive” assaults, the guerrilla bases in east Manchuria faced numerous trialsrom the outset. In this historic land of Wangqing which is fixed for ever in my memory, many battles were fought, much blood was spilt,\and we endured great agonies. Sometimes scores of people were killed,\or scores of houses\and barracks burnt down, in a single day. The hospitals were crowded with wounded soldiers\and sick people. Food-shortages throughout the guerrilla zone\and recurrent famine caused innumerable deaths. Sometimes an epidemic threatened the entire population of Jiandao with extinction.
In that part of the world there were neither shops, nor markets, nor merchants, nor any money in circulation. Here the law of value had no effect. Shoes\and clothing for the population were obtained by capturing the enemy’s supplies.rom time to time Leftist deviation shook the guerrilla zone\and plunged it into apprehension.
Nonetheless, all these difficulties by no means dominated life there. A new way of living in freedom\and happiness–although in a somewhat\limited\and relative sense–together with the optimistic spirit of a people who had been liberatedrom the tyranny of the enemy, defined the main line of development in the guerrilla zone. The difficulties were enormous, but the morale of the soldiers\and civilians was high. In this isolated region, beyond the reach of the administrative power of Manchukuo\and Japan, the Korean communists created a culture\and a morality which were more progressive\and revolutionary than those in any other part of the world.
For this reason we treasured the guerrilla base with all our hearts.
The heroic action of our nation to defend the guerrilla base was displayed daily throughout the whole of east Manchuria.
The remote valley of northern Jiandao,\where the day dawned in battle\and the sun set in battle, the guerrilla base\where a new way of life\and a new ethics were beginning to thrive even amidst the thunder of bursting shells–this became my dear home.