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[Reminiscences]Chapter 7  2. The Enemy’s Ground by Day; Our Ground by Night 

  

   



2. The Enemy’s Ground by Day; Our Ground by Night 



 

 

On arrival at Macun, we were again accorded a hearty welcome, which I thought was more than we deserved. The news of our success in the battle at Yaoyinggou had quickly spread throughout Jiandao,\and the inhabitants of Xiaowangqing greeted us with wild enthusiasm.
Life in the guerrilla zone, which was completely free rom the enemy’s rule, fascinated us.
However, not everything that happened in this new world was to my liking. We were not always pleased by the attitude to work\and the way of thinking of some of the people at the helm of the revolution in Jiandao.
What surprised me most was the Leftist tendency that was spreading like an epidemic among revolutionaries in east Manchuria.
This tendency was especially conspicuous in the work of consolidating the guerrilla base.
When discussing the establishment of the guerrilla bases at meetings held at Mingyuegou\and Xiaoshahe we had agreed on the definitions of three types of bases–a full-scale guerrilla zone, a semi-guerrilla zone,\and a base of activity–and on the need to ensure a reasonable balance among them.
Some communists in east Manchuria, however, expressed enthusiasm only for the development of a full-scale guerrilla zone in the form of a liberated area,\and paid insufficient attention to the establishment of the semi-guerrilla zone\and the base of activity. In the early days, efforts in Wangqing were also\limited to the establishment of liberated areas. The Xiaowangqing guerrilla zone, for instance, was made into a Soviet district in the form of a liberated area which was as large as a county in our country today. This district was under the control of the revolutionary forces. In those days a full-scale guerrilla zone was also called a Soviet district.
Having the Soviet flag that symbolized a worker-peasant government over this wide territory, the cadres busied themselves with nothing in particular, simply creating a lot of fuss amid shouting “Revolution! Revolution!” They seldom fought outside the guerrilla zone, but spent day after day mouthing empty slogans about establishing a proletarian dictatorship\and building a society for the proletariat. On public holidays they assembled in the yard of the soldiers’ barracks\or in a children’s playground to dance Russian dances\or sing the May Day. Sometimes cadres rom the east Manchuria ad hoc committee\and rom the county would get together\and have a heated argument about something\or other.
 
We, too, spent the spring season in this atmosphere, unable to concentrate on anything. By degrees, however, we came to recognize this Left-wing communist mistake for what it was\and seek ways of correcting it.
The guerrilla zone was crowded with people. During its formation thousands of refugees\and exiles had flocked to the Wangqing base alone. The situation was similar in Hunchun, Yanji\and Helong.
Such large numbers of people in a mountain valley with a very\limited area of arable land posed the problem of food supplies. Everyone had to eat bean gruel. The beans were ground with a millstone\and cooked, together with a pinch of grain, into a gruel. When this gruel was available, people might complain about it, but when these supplies ran out, we had to eat cakes made of pine bark which was first boiled in caustic soda water\and then pounded,\or else we were compelled to allay our hunger with boiled bracken, the shoots of Atractylodes,\and the roots of broad bellflower, Codonopsis lanceolata\or Solomon’s seal. In spite of this, we sang revolutionary songs\and made speeches, waving our fists in the air\and calling on the people to overthrow imperialism, the pro-Japanese elements\and the coterie of parasites. That was the way things were done in the early days of our life in the guerrilla base.

Of course, we engaged in a number of small battles, such as raids on police stations, attacks on the enemy’s supply convoys,\and counter-attacks on enemy forces which had invaded the guerrilla zone\and rom which we captured weapons. When we returned rom triumphant battles, the people shouted hurrah,\and waved flags, but there were not many major battles,\and we spent most of our time on standing guard on hilltops\and protecting refugees. The territory under our control was large, but there were not many rifles\or armed troops. A few rifles were allotted to each of the groups of soldiers, mostly in\order to guard the base.
When we tried to increase the ranks of our armed soldiers, we were obstructed by weak-kneed secretaries\or committee-members, who whined that the revolutionary army was not a united-front army,\and that therefore, it must recruit only the most stalwart of the workers\and peasants, not taking just anybody, in case it should become a rabble. In those days the anti-Japanese guerrillas in the Soviet area were called the worker-peasant guerrillas.
The defence of a territory that covered thousands of square kilometres was overtaxing the strength of a few companies. Since there were many gaps in the defence structure, the “punitive” forces could easily penetrate deep into our defences,\and then thousands of the local inhabitants had to pack up their things\and seek refuge. Such situations caused panic among the population almost every day.

The Leftist leaders, who regarded the size of our liberated territory as the decisive factor in the triumph of the revolution, were bent on maintaining a large territory, without any scientific assessment of the balance of hostile\and friendly forces\and were motivated only by their subjective desires. They even demarcated the guerrilla zone\and the enemy-ruled area in an artificial manner, by calling the former the “Red territory”\and the latter the “White territory.” They labelled the inhabitants of the enemy-held area as “reactionaries”\and those in the intermediate zone as “double-faced”\and suspected\or rejected them for no reason. The people rom the homeland were also treated as “reactionaries”\and that was the most serious problem.
The women in the “Red territory” had their hair bobbed in\order to distinguish themselves rom those in the “White territory.” A “Red” style of written\and spoken language, songs, schools, education\and media differed rom the “White” style. People travelling to the “Red territory” rom the “White territory” were strictly checked\and even after interrogation, they were not allowed to go home immediately.\orders to deal with the “White” people who came to the “Red territory” as enemy spies were issued rom the top of the hierarchy down to the Children’s Corps\organizations. Some of the members of the Wangqing county party committee harboured continuous ill feelings towards the people who had moved rom the Xiaowangqing valley to the towns.
Some men of the Red Guards who had been posted as long-range look-outs at Dongricun once detained a peasant rom Daduchuan who had come to buy an ox in the guerrilla zone. A Leftist element on the county party committee, informed of the interrogation of the unidentified peasant, told the investigators to press the suspect person to reveal his identity even by torturing him, saying that he might possibly be a spy. No matter how severely they tortured him, the peasant insisted that he was not a spy. In fact, the peasant was neither a spy nor an agent of the enemy. But the Leftist wronged this innocent man\and\ordered his money to be confiscated.
Recollecting the undisclosed abuses perpetrated by the Leftists in the guerrilla zone in those days, Choe Pong Song, who worked for the Young Communist League in Wangqing for many years, said:
“The mere mention of the Leftist deviation always reminds me of events in the guerrilla zone in the early days. The Leftist abuses in Jiandao were really shocking. Once we guerrillas captured a cart-load of salt rom the Japanese on the Wangqing Pass\and took it to Xiaowangqing. This was probably at the time when you, Mr. President, were operating in south Manchuria. The carter was a Korean who led a hand-to-mouth existence in the lower depths of society. The Leftist elements labelled him as one of the ‘double-faced’ people\and dealt with him as a criminal. They said he was a traitor because he had carried supplies for the Japanese. So naturally the people outside the guerrilla zone did not view the ‘Red territory’ in a favourable light. It was disgusting.”

Such abuses as the punishment even of innocent people, without discriminating friend rom foe, were also frequent in the guerrilla zones in other counties as well. The problem was very serious, because all these cursed acts were committed unhesitatingly in the noble name of the revolution,\and they forced a large number of revolutionary people who were opposed to the Japanese to move across to the “White territory.”

The Leftists went so far as to arrest the relatives of old man Ri Chi Baek, when they came rom Onsong to Shangqingli to attend the memorial ceremony for their parents, who had been killed in a “punitive” action by the enemy. The Leftists regarded them as “reactionary” people.
Whenever I saw cases of such injustice, I felt thoroughly ashamed. If a man who professes to be a communist punishes an innocent person by labelling him a reactionary, he is no longer a communist, but the worst of criminals.
Even after our arrival in Wangqing, these criminals continued to throw their weight about, behaving like “privileged revolutionaries” that no one could ever touch,\and lording it over the masses.
Some people regarded the Soviet as everything,\and this viewpoint was a serious problem to us. We came to the conclusion that if we were to preserve the base\and develop the revolution, we must overcome the tendency of isolation\and extend the theatre of our operations. In other words, it was imperative to abandon the shortsighted practice of clinging only to the defence of the guerrilla zone,\and to form large elite forces so as to launch active military\and political operations with freedom of mobility.

If the army was to launch full-scale operations, it had to be relieved of the burden of defending the base. We found a solution to this problem in creating\and expanding many semi-guerrilla zones in the vast territory surrounding the full-scale guerrilla zone, and in getting them to support it. We sought our breakthrough to fresh victory in the creation of semi-guerrilla zones.
I met\and talked with Tong Chang-rong on many occasions in\order to learn the experience of guerrilla zones established in China proper.
In the autumn of 1931, a Chinese Soviet Provisional Government was proclaimed in Ruijin, Jiangxi Province,\and a Soviet zone was established. According to Tong Chang-rong, the central Soviet zone, in which the headquarters of the Chinese revolution was located, covered a very large area with millions of inhabitants\and the military forces of several armies. Tong Chang-rong himself had experience of establishing a Soviet zone in Henan Province.
In those days the Red Army under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party numbered more than a hundrend thousand,\and controlled a vast area extending rom the southern part of Jiangxi Province to the northern area of Guangdong Province.
My interview with Tong Chang-rong convinced me that the experience of the establishment of the Chinese Soviet zone, which was equivalent to a sizable independent state in terms of territory\and population, could not be applied to our efforts in the area on the Tuman River,\and that establishing semi-guerrilla zones in the area that surrounded the full-scale guerrilla zone\and in the northern region of Korea was the only way for the Korean communists active in the base of Jiandao to defend their revolutionary headquarters\and launch a guerrilla war on a large scale.
 
The need for a semi-guerrilla zone became ever more pressing in the course of the practical armed struggle. The overwhelming task of defending a large area with a small force made it imperative to work out a fresh solution as soon as possible. If we had tried to formulate a theory at our desks by merely analyzing classical theory\or drawing on the experiences of Russian Bolsheviks\or the Chinese in Ruijin, we might merely have recognized the need for the guerrilla base of a new type, different rom the type of the liberated area, but failed to press forward at speed with its establishment in a correct understanding of the pressing nature of this question.
The question of the semi-guerrilla zone was not taken up as a matter simply of the form of the base. The discussion reflected the ideological question of whether to establish the principle of Juche in the revolution by overcoming dogmatism\and the worship of the great powers; it concerned the view to be taken of the masses\and the need to overcome the Leftist error\and accept as the motive force of the revolution the broad masses of the people who had been rejected as the “double-faced”; this was a serious question of direct relevance to the formation of the revolutionary forces, the question of whether\or not to rally them in an anti-Japanese national united front.

By a semi-guerrilla zone we meant an area which would be partly under our own control\and also partly under the control of the enemy, an area which would be under the enemy’s formal territorial rule, but effectively, under our control, which would provide support for the anti-Japanese guerrilla army, train revolutionary forces, including reserve forces for the guerrilla army,\and play the role of a liaison between the guerrilla zone\and the enemy-ruled area. Figuratively speaking, it would be governed by the enemy during daylight, but would come under our control at night.
The semi-guerrilla zone was suited to our struggle to build a revolutionary base. We found no significant examples of this type of guerrilla zone in the foreign experiences of guerrilla warfare. It was the development of our revolution that posed the establishment of the semi-guerrilla zone as a pressing task.
In mid-March 1933, we advanced to the area around Mt. Wangjae, Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, in\order to extend the armed struggle to the homeland\and bring about a rapid acceleration of the Korean revolution as a whole, centring on the anti-Japanese armed struggle. The strategic objective we had maintained since we began fighting the Japanese was to spread the armed struggle to the homeland\and liberate the country, an idea which nothing could ever erase rom our minds. Creating a semi-guerrilla zone in the area of the six towns\and the surrounding area of the northern part of Korea was a prerequisite for extending the armed struggle to the homeland. A firmly-structured semi-guerrilla zone would contribute to the elimination of various Leftist practices in the development of the guerrilla zones.

We had formed a detachment consisting of 40 men rom the 2nd company of the Wangqing battalion, who had been operating from their base at Sancidao,\and ten commanding officers\and political workers who had been\selected rom the companies, a detachment to be sent to the homeland. We then sent an advance party of several men under the command of platoon leader Pak Thae Hwa to the Onsong area.
Certain people, who were influential in the east Manchuria party\organization at the time were very displeased with our plan of operations in the homeland,\and obstructed its implementation in every possible way. They warned us that the Korean communists in China were demonstrating a nationalist tendency to “extend the revolution to Korea” by fighting for the Korean revolution,\and that we should abandon the idea of operations in the homeland because it was contrary to the principle of one party in one country.
I rejected their objection\and continued to prepare for the operations, being convinced that loyalty to my national duty meant loyalty to my internationalist duty,\and that the Korean revolutionaries had an inviolable right to fight for the liberation of Korea.
At about this time, I was incensed by an incident that cast a shadow over the anti-Japanese guerrillas’ advance to the homeland. A man rom the 2nd company who had been to Onsong of the homeland on a liaison mission was arrested on his return by a man named Kim Song Do\and taken to the east Manchuria ad hoc committee.

The 2nd company commander An Ki Ho\and its political instructor Choe Chun complained furiously denouncing the arrest knowledge.
 
Guk hurried to see me at Macun\and of Kim Song Do’s abuse of power, of this man without his commanders’
 
Choe Chun Guk, who used to be as gentle as a newly-wed bride\and so well-mannered that he seldom spoke ill of anybody, even went so far in his abuse of Kim Song Do as to call him by his nickname “one-eyed Wang.” I simply listened in silence, for I was not acquainted with Kim Song Do. All that I knew of him was that he had been the head of the propaganda department of the east Manchuria ad hoc committee of the Young Communist League, had recently been appointed to the east Manchuria party ad hoc committee,\and was now inspecting different counties in east Manchuria. In the east Manchuria party\organizations, those cadres rom higher structures who travelled around\and gave guidance to their subordinate\organizations were called inspectors.
I rebuked Choe Chun Guk sternly for his indecent manner of speech.
“Comrade Chun Guk, when did you get into the bad habit of calling people by indecent nicknames? True, Kim Song Do has ignored us\and gone too far, but can’t you have the magnanimity to respect his person?”

Choe Chun Guk was very tolerant of criticism.

“I am sorry,” he apologized with a serious expression. “Forgive me if I was indecent\or rude.”
“The guerrilla zone is a place\where people live close together, so people may well have nicknames. But ‘one-eyed’ is too rude a nickname.”
At that moment, I was more offended by the Wangqing people who called Kim Song Do “one-eyed Wang” than by his arrest of the 2nd company man.
I asked why Kim was called Wang. Choe Chun Guk answered that the inhabitants of Jiandao had probably nicknamed him Wang because Kim Song Do, a Korean, smelt like a Chinese\and grovelled too much to his superiors.
On my way to the east Manchuria ad hoc committee, I\dropped in at the county party committee\and discovered that there, too, Kim Song Do was known by the name of “one-eyed Wang.”
From Ri Yong Guk in the office of the county party committee, I learned that Kim Song Do was a veteran party member who was admitted to the Korean Communist Party as early as 1927,\and worked as a member of a party cell committee under the Manchurian general bureau of the Tuesday group before being arrested by the Japanese consulate police\and imprisoned\and beaten. After his release rom prison, he quickly transferred to the Chinese party\and was promoted to a post at ad hoc committee level. He wore dark glasses, probably in\order to disguise his ruined eye,\and went about in dabushanzi.

Ri Yong Guk described Kim Song Do as a “man not only eloquent but also tactful enough to slip socks onto the feet of a flying crow.”
I had interviewed Kim Song Do for about three hours in the office of the east Manchuria ad hoc committee.

As I sat face to face with him, my intention of accusing him of an abuse of power gave way to a feeling of pity for him. The eye that had withered away\and his darkish complexion gave him an exhausted look that aroused pity in me. How praiseworthy\and moving it was that despite the physical handicap of the loss of one eye, this man was trekking across steep mountains in Jiandao in the service of the revolutionary cause!
“Comrade Inspector,” I addressed him, trying to be courteous\and refraining rom raising my voice. “Why did you arrest the man at his workplace, without so much as discussing his case with us?” Kim Song Do gazed at me over his glasses. His look seemed to express displeasure with me\and question how I dared to ask such
an insolent question of an inspector of the ad hoc committee.

“It is strange that you should ask me such a question. You know quite well that this man’s act in crossing the border is an expression of nationalism, which contradicts proletarian internationalism.... We consider him to be a member of the ‘Minsaengdan.’ ”
“On what grounds?”

“His journey to\and rom Korea is an expression of nationalism,\and this nationalistic error has made him a member of the ‘Minsaengdan.’ Can he be anything else?”
“Is this your own view?”

“Yes.\and my superior’s also.”

After this answer, I was tongue-tied for a short while, because I felt more pity than repugnance for him.

It was strange that I should feel a certain sympathy for him, not contempt, at that moment. I should have been angered by the tomfool\and shattered his nonsense with cogent argument. His totally absurd prejudice\and childish way of thinking, so much out of keeping with this illustrious position of inspector on the east Manchuria ad hoc committee, must have aroused this sense of pity for him in me.
“How miserable that he should be mentally crippled in addition to his physical handicap!” I thought to myself. “Of course, the stamina with which he devotes himself to the revolution, even wearing dark glasses to conceal his withered eye that could be noticed by secret agents is laudable. How good it would be if this mettle were reinforced with a sound intellect! How can a man suffer rom such miserable mental disorder?”
“You seem to be identifying nationalism with the ‘Minsaengdan,’ ” I said in a quieter tone of voice. “How can you dare to weigh them on the same balance? Is it not too fallacious a syllogism to tar the two with the same brush because a few nationalists like Pak Sok Yun, Jo Pyong Sang\and Jon Song Ho have suggested the formation of the ‘Minsaengdan’? As far as I know, you, too, first belonged to an\organization which was under nationalist leadership,\and then later you joined the communist movement. Would you accept it if for this reason you were labelled a ‘Minsaengdan’ member? Answer me.”

“How could I....” he mumbled.
 
I gave him a few minutes to reflect,\and then resumed my forceful argument, “I presume you had Tong Chang-rong in mind when you mentioned a superior of yours. But I don’t think he is such a narrow-minded man. If Secretary Tong Chang-rong had made such a decision out of minor prejudice\or misunderstanding, without being fully informed of the actual state of affairs, you comrades, who are familiar with the Korean situation, should have advised him in every possible way so that he had a correct understanding, shouldn’t you?”
Kim Song Do was silent.

On my way back to my headquarters, taking with me the arrested comrade, I could still hardly rid myself of a feeling of pity for him.
To be candid, I always felt sympathy for him through all the many conflicts we had during debates on theoretical matters, until he directed the purge of revolutionaries, dancing to the tune of others.
But I ceased to sympathize with him then, when I saw him murdering many staunch revolutionaries under the pretext of purging the “Minsaengdan.” Later, he himself was executed on a charge of being a “Minsaengdan” member. My experience over decades of turbulent events showed me that terrorists fell at the hands of terrorists, that Leftists were tried\and executed by Leftists,\and that self-destruction was the fate in store for those who lacked the guts to stick with their own conviction\and tried to run with the hare\and hunt with the hounds.
 
The detachment to the homeland that had left Macun early in March, arrived on this side of the Tuman River opposite Thamakgol, Onsong County. It billeted itself on the village of Solgol\and during the week while it awaited the arrival of the advance party that had infiltrated the Onsong area, it set about the work of revolutionizing the village\and its surrounding area to build a semi-guerrilla zone. During daylight, we had combat training at the western foot of Mt. Songdong\and at night we visited the villagers, establishing underground\organizations among them.
At that time, we also worked among the chiefs of ten households\and a hundred households, who were at the bottom of the administrative hierarchy of the puppet state of Manchukuo. Because we respected the interests of the people\and established our relations with the local inhabitants in accordance with the code of conduct of the revolutionary army, we left an excellent impression on the people. While staying at the village of Solgol the guerrillas gave the peasants a helping hand with many jobs. Some of us brought bush clover down rom the mountain\and even mended the fences of the villagers with whom we were billeted.

The story of an axe, well-known rom the reminiscences of Pak Yong Sun, occurred during our stay in the village.
One day, with a view to helping my Chinese host, I took an axe\and a water pail to the Tuman River. In winter the villagers used to fetch drinking water rom the river. The water was drawn rom a hole made by breaking the ice with an axe\or a pickaxe.
 
When I had nearly finished breaking a hole in the ice, the sharp head of the tool slipped rom the handle\and fell into the hole. I raked about for hours with a long pole with hooked prongs on its end, but it was in vain.
I offered a generous price to the master of the house, apologizing to him sincerely for my carelessness. The old man would not accept the money, saying that, although he was too old to help the revolutionary army, he was grateful to me for my helping hand every morning. I insisted on his taking the money, saying that if I were to leave the place without making good his loss, I, the commander, would be violating the discipline of the revolutionary army.
Although I had paid generously for the axe, I was still haunted by the thought of it. No amount of money would be able to make up for the old man’s loss of his cherished tool. In the spring of 1959, I asked a group of visitors to old battlefields of the anti-Japanese armed struggle in northeast China to apologize once again for me to the old man in the village of Liangshuiquanzi.
To our regret, however, when the group arrived at the village, the old man was no longer in this world.

We crossed the Tuman River,\and then, guided by the advance party, climbed Mt. Wangjae at about four\or five o’clock one afternoon.
The heads of the revolutionary\organizations in the region of the six towns\and the political workers, who had been in hiding among the larches on the ridge, came out to meet us.
 
On the summit of the mountain, which was densely covered with young oak trees, I surveyed the scenery for a long time. There is a saying that a decade changes the world, but this part of the country had been changed in less than three years. The slag heaps rom a coal-mine were a new sight that had not existed when we were forming the homeland party\organization on Turu Hill,\and so was the train that was running along the Onsong-Unggi (Sonbong) line, one small piece of the new Onsong, which had not been there in the autumn of 1930\or in the spring of 1931.
Along with the mountains\and the rivers, the people\and the revolution had grown\and advanced. Since we were here last, new anti-Japanese revolutionary\organizations had been created one after another\and begun their activity.
The fighters in the six towns\and surrounding areas had been enveloping the enemy’s administrative machine in an immense steely network of revolutionary\organizations in the northern frontier zone of Korea,\where the heads of the Japanese military\and police structures in charge of keeping the peace boasted of perfect security on the border.
Our armed struggle, too, had grown. The guerrilla forces in east Manchuria, for instance, had developed into battalions. The battalions in different counties were to develop into regiments\and then into divisions before very long. The armed guerrilla forces of the Korean communists were active in south\and north Manchuria as well. The day when our divisions\and corps would advance in force into the homeland\and destroy the enemy was not too far away. We, their advance party, were already on the soil of Onsong. As I stood, lost in these thoughts, I recalled a piece of poetry composed in Chinese characters by General Nam I, which I had learnt at Changdok School rom my maternal grandfather. I chanted it in a calm voice:

Grinding my sword wears down Mt. Paektu’s rock: My horse gulps\and dries the Tuman River. Should a man at twenty fail to subdue the land, Who will in later years call him a man of calibre?

My grandfather had explained to me that General Nam distinguished himself in the battle against invaders rom the north\and was promoted to the post of minister of the army at the age of twenty. My grandfather encouraged me to become a general\or a commander of the vanguard when I was grown up,\and to fight the Japanese invaders. Hearing that General Nam was executed on the basis of a false accusation against him by a treacherous subject, I had lamented his death. I resolved to grow up to stand in the van of the war, repulse invaders\and fight for the security of my country\and my fellow people just as General Nam had done.

On the summit of Mt. Wangjae I pledged to myself: “As General Nam repelled the invaders rom the north by fighting on the strong basis of the six forts on the northeastern frontier, so we will spread the armed struggle deep into the homeland by drawing on the support of the semi-guerrilla zone created around the six towns,\and will trap the Japanese imperialists\and destroy them!” The political workers\and heads of revolutionary\organizations
who assembled on the mountain reported to me the situation in the homeland\and the activities they had conducted.
I spoke words of encouragement to them, telling them that the work of laying the mass foundations for the anti-Japanese revolution was proceeding without a hitch in the northern frontier. I also set them the task of developing the armed struggle\and extending it into the homeland.
In this question, I laid special emphasis on the task of establishing the semi-guerrilla zone. We intended to establish semi-guerrilla zones in the Onsong area\and many other regions of the homeland, secret rendezvous points\and other bases for our activities in the dense forests,\and thus lay the cornerstone of the armed struggle in the homeland.
The meeting on Mt. Wangjae discussed the task of rallying the whole nation as a single political force under the banner of an anti-Japanese national united front on the basis of a worker-peasant alliance, as well as the task of the revolutionary\organizations in the homeland in speeding up the development of the mass movement\and the preparations for founding the party.

The guerrillas’ advance to the Onsong area was a prelude to the spreading of the anti-Japanese armed struggle to the homeland,\and it marked a new milestone in the development of the national liberation struggle. It demonstrated at home\and abroad our unshakable conviction in the view that the Korean communists had an inalienable\and inviolable right to fight for the Korean revolution.
The advance of the anti-Japanese guerrillas to the Onsong area\and the meeting on Mt. Wangjae proved the correctness of our policy of establishing semi-guerrilla zones around full-scale guerrilla zones\and in the homeland,\and that the subjective\and objective conditions for the establishment of semi-guerrilla zones in Jiandao\and in the area of the six towns on the northern frontier of Korea were mature.
After this meeting, we visited Ryuda Islet\and Paksokgol in Kyongwon (Saeppyol),\and Kumsan Hill at Sinhung village in Jongsong County\and many other places in the homeland,\where we held meetings, gave short courses\and conducted political work, mainly for the purpose of teaching the political workers\and heads of revolutionary\organizations in the homeland the principles\and methods of the underground revolutionary struggle.
In the homeland we frequently met with revolutionaries in\order to instil in them the Juche-orientated revolutionary line\and working methods,\and help them to guide the complex practical struggle with due care. The proper political\and practical training of the leaders of the revolutionary\organizations\and their hardcore elements in the homeland was a prerequisite for success in the creation of the semi-guerrilla zones.

The elites who had been sent on the mission of guiding the revolutionary struggle in the homeland became active within the very fabric of the country, in trade\unions\and peasants’ associations, which were concentrating their efforts on the resistance against the Japanese,\and they formed revolutionary mass\organizations in many parts of the country. These political workers extended the network of their activity to Seoul\and other parts of southern Korea.
The party\organizations formed in the area on the Tuman River played a decisive role in establishing durable semi-guerrilla zones around the six towns\and in pushing forward the revolutionary movement in the homeland.
Following this, the cadres in east Manchuria adopted our policy on the establishment of semi-guerrilla zones,\and set out to implement this policy themselves. Some people denied the correctness of our proposal\and called it a Rightist deviation, but they were refuted on the spot.
From the spring of 1933, strenuous efforts were made to establish semi-guerrilla zones in the Soviet districts of east Manchuria. Semi-guerrilla zones were established in wide areas–in Luozigou, Dahuangwai, Zhuanjiaolou\and Liangshuiquanzi in Wangqing County, in Yanji, Hunchun, Antu\and Helong. They made a great contribution to the development of the anti-Japanese armed struggle. Some full-scale guerrilla zones which were unsuitable for defence were reorganized into semi-guerrilla zones.

Many of the village heads who had been appointed by the puppet state of Manchukuo sympathized with us\and supported us. The area surrounding Luozigou, for instance, was completely under our control,\and nearly all of its inhabitants took our side.
 
The experience of the development of semi-guerrilla zones proved valuable for the activities of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army in the Mt. Paektu area in the subsequent years,\and the validity of the policy was fully demonstrated through these activities.
The semi-guerrilla zone had proved very effective, so when we established our bases in the Mt. Paektu area on the Amnok River in the latter half of the 1930s, we built secret camps only in the places\where the revolutionary army units were stationed,\and established semi-guerrilla zones elsewhere. We formed revolutionary\organizations among the masses, without defining them as either “Red”\or “White,”\and we sent political workers to them. We did not remain in one spot, but moved rom place to place, so as to prevent the enemy rom discovering the base of our operations. The semi-guerrilla zones produced many patriots such as Jong Tong Chol, Ri Hun, Ri Ju Ik (Ri Chwi)\and many others rom among the district heads, the heads of a hundred households\or ten households, sub-county chiefs, policemen\and self-defence corps men. In those days we planted clever men as our operatives in the lowest administrative\organs of the enemy. We also won over many other junior officials, so that they supported the revolution. During daylight, they pretended to work enthusiastically for Manchukuo; at night, they helped us, guiding the revolutionary army on the march, meeting operatives rom the revolutionary army to hand over information they had collected during the day,\and collecting goods to be sent to support the revolutionary army. The semi-guerrilla zones established in east Manchuria\and Korea became reliable satellites which protected the army\and the people in the liberated areas\and the people’s government established there, as well as the achievements of the struggle for democracy.
Drawing on the support of the full-scale guerrilla zones\and the semi-guerrilla zones which had been established in the vast area surrounding the former, the anti-Japanese guerrillas penetrated deep into the enemy-ruled area, revolutionized the masses,\and expanded the mass\organizations as well as the vanguard\organizations of the party\and Young Communist League. They were thus able to strengthen the mass foundations of the anti-Japanese armed struggle\and switch rom the defensive to the offensive. As we went over to the offensive in the war against the Japanese, we were able to break the enemy’s tight economic blockade\and find easier solutions to the problem of food, the greatest headache in the life of the guerrilla zone.
The semi-guerrilla zones enabled us to overcome the Leftist deviation that had discriminated between “Red”\and “White” territories\and driven a large number of people over to the enemy side,\and also to rally broad sections of the population into a single political force under the banner of the anti-Japanese national united front. They also contributed greatly to the elimination of flunkeyism\and dogmatism,\and the establishment of the principle of Juche in the development of the Korean revolution.

Luozigou\and Liangshuiquanzi were the most exemplary of all the semi-guerrilla zones in the Wangqing area.

Ri Kwang rendered distinguished service in transforming Luozigou into a semi-guerrilla zone. When he was dispatched there, he built up strong footholds for us by working among the soldiers of the anti-Japanese army of Chinese nationalists as well as among people rom the Independence Army.
Luozigou had been made a major base of the independence movement led by Ri Tong Hwi\and his group since the beginning of the 1920s. The old people who had joined him in the Independence Army movement had great influence in the area. Under the auspices of these people, Ri Kwang was able to educate\and\organize the inhabitants on revolutionary lines.
Many able political workers were sent to Luozigou to help transform it into a semi-guerrilla zone. Some of them laid down their lives. Choe Jong Hwa, who contributed greatly to the work of revolutionizing Luozigou, was one who died there.
Pak Kil Song, an able detachment commander of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army,\and Choe Kwang were working underground at Luozigou in those days.
The enemy formed reactionary\organizations such as the concord society\or cooperative society in that area\and made frantic efforts to stamp out the revolutionary forces,\whereas we formed large mass\organizations like the Anti-Japanese Association\and united all the patriots. Luozigou also served as food-supply base for the revolutionary masses of people in Wangqing. Whenever there was a food crisis in the Xiaowangqing guerrilla zone, messengers were sent to a revolutionary\organization in Luozigou to fetch emergency supplies. The members of the revolutionary\organization in Luozigou would carry loads of cereal on their backs as far as Shimen at Shiliping\and deliver them to the people rom Wangqing. Even after Luozigou was occupied by the enemy, food was still carried rom there to liberated areas. It would be no exaggeration to say that, rom the latter half of 1935, when the guerrilla zone was disbanded\and the main force of the KPRA left on its expedition to north Manchuria, the revolutionaries in Wangqing County survived by eating food rom Luozigou. Some of the revolutionary masses who took refuge rom the enemy’s “punitive” operations on the hill to the west of Luozigou also ate the food rom Luozigou during the autumn\and winter of 1935 as did the soldiers of the 3rd company of Wangqing.
Luozigou became such an excellent source of food supplies for the revolutionaries in Wangqing partly because the place was a natural granary surrounded by fertile land,\where even passing beggars were welcomed to share meals of millet, but more especially because many revolutionary\organizations had taken root there\and given the inhabitants a good education.

Kim Ryong Un, a head of a hundred households in Luozigou, a grassroots civil-servant who enjoyed the confidence of the Manchukuo authorities, was a member of our\organization. He took advantage of his official position in\order to help us revolutionaries a great deal.
 
In\order to prevent the guerrilla operatives rom infiltrating into the walled town\and the people rom maintaining secret contact with the revolutionary army, the enemy strictly controlled the flow of people going in\and out of the town by posting young men on guard at all times, while at the same time taking stringent measures against the smuggling of food\and consumer goods out of the town. The guards were each equipped with a club, which served as a sort of credential issued by the puppet state of Manchukuo.
When soldiers of the revolutionary army went to Luozigou to obtain food, Kim Ryong Un used to\select only young men under our influence for guard duty. When the soldiers who had come for food reached the town, the guards would hand over their clubs to them, then run back to the head of a hundred households. Under his direction they collected food\and delivered it to the provisions detail.
Members of revolutionary\organizations in Luozigou would coax soldiers of the puppet Manchukuo army into selling their ammunition to them. One shop in the town was run by a veteran of the Young Communist League. In\order to obtain goods to assist the revolutionary army, he swore an oath of brotherhood with soldiers of the puppet Manchukuo army.

One puppet army soldier, who desperately loved money, would buy things at low prices in various places\and then ask the shopkeeper to sell them for him at a high price. The soldier did this because, if he were discovered selling things himself, he would be punished. He swore brotherhood with the shopkeeper\and even sold him ammunition. The shopkeeper bought it at 25 fen a piece\and sent it on to the revolutionary army. As many as five thousand cartridges were obtained in this way.

This is merely one simple instance proving the validity\and effectiveness of the semi-guerrilla zone.
The semi-guerrilla zone established around the village of Liangshuiquanzi in the southern tip of the Wangqing area gave a great support to the revolutionary army. The revolutionary\organizations in that village sent food\and goods to the liberated area on dozens of occasions.
In those years, we obtained much of our cereals, clothing, matches, drugs, explosives, salt\and other essentials required for the guerrilla zone rom the revolutionary\organizations in Onsong\and Liangshuiquanzi.
Salt was the scarcest commodity in the guerrilla zone. Things were so hard that we had to satisfy our craving for salt by putting a tiny grain of it into our mouths after eating every five spoonfuls of gruel. In\order to make life impossible in the guerrilla zone, the enemy used every conceivable means to stop food\and salt finding its way there. In autumn, the peasants were forced to bring all their harvests into the stores of the concentration villages under the enemy’s control,\and then receive daily rations based on the number of mouths in each household. The enemy knew that any surplus food would find its way across into the guerrilla zone.

The enemy even went so far as to form anti-contraband squads, the salt police,\and have them make surprise searches of the peasants’ houses. Any surplus of soy sauce\and bean paste was taxed,\and the owners of the surplus were whipped with triangular wooden sticks.
In the autumn of 1934, we sent a large group of people, including 30 men rom the 2nd company with horses,\and even some children, to Liangshuiquanzi to obtain salt.
It was 50 miles to the village\and back rom Wangqing. Notified in advance of the salt operation, the revolutionary
organization of the village made piles of salt near the bank of the Tuman River with the salt that they had obtained rom the underground revolutionary\organizations in Onsong\and the Namyang shipping agency. They met the salt convoy near the river.
The convoy loaded two to three sacks of salt on each of the horses\and carried them to Sancidao safely. The remainder was transported to the guerrilla base, 20 to 30 kilograms on each man’s back. Some of the salt was exchanged for flour at Luozigou.
Most of the supplies which the\organization of Liangshuiquanzi sent to us came rom the six towns including Onsong on the northern frontier of the homeland. The people there also obtained many of the goods they sent to the guerrilla base rom Tumen\and Longjing, because it was impossible to procure large amounts of consumer goods in the homeland, which was under the enemy’s strict surveillance\and control. People in the\organizations in the homeland would cross the river in secret\and travel to commercial centres like Tumen\and Longjing to buy essentials which were later sent to anti-Japanese guerrilla bases through the appropriate channels.
Tumen\and Longjing were in effect our reliable sources of supplies. For this reason, we seldom attacked such places as Tumen, Longjing\and Baicaogou,\where many of our revolutionary\organizations were working underground. Once in the early days of our guerrilla war, our comrades attacked Baicaogou. Immediately after the raid, Ri Kwang’s father informed us of the adverse effect the battle had on the rich people whom he had intended to draw into the united front. He said they had been frightened by the attack. rom then on, we refrained rom attacking such places. The semi-guerrilla zones in the six towns rendered historical\and highly meritorious services to the survival of the soldiers\and civilians in Wangqing\and other liberated areas.
We established a large number of concealed bases of activity in the enemy-ruled areas, in addition to the full-scale guerrilla zones\and semi-guerrilla zones. These bases supported the military actions\and political activities of the guerrillas as well as providing liaison links. The combination of underground revolutionary\organizations\and liaison points provided a type of temporary\and mobile base, which was established in many large cities such as Longjing, Hunchun, Tumen, Laotougou,\and Baicaogou\and along the railways in the enemy area.

Whenever I recall the unforgettable days when the semi-guerrilla zones were being established in Jiandao\and in the homeland, I remember O Jung Hwa, a man who made a most powerful impression on me.

On his release rom the Sodaemun prison in Seoul, O Jung Hwa took a train bound for the north, stopped at his wife’s family home in the vicinity of Huimudong for a few days to recuperate,\and then immediately returned to Shixian\and came to see me.
His release\and his reappearance in Wangqing were a great joy\and consolation to me at the time when I had just arrived in the guerrilla zone rom my expeditions to south\and north Manchuria.
The first thing he asked for in the interview with me was a major assignment. Judging rom his unhealthy complexion, I thought he needed a few months of convalescence, but since he insisted on having something to do, I told him to establish a semi-guerrilla zone in some part of the area around Gayahe.
District No. 5, in which he worked was adjacent to Liangshuiquanzi, Tumen, Yanji, Baicaogou, Daduchuan\and other major bases of the enemy’s “punitive” forces,\and in Gayahe there was a substation of the Japanese consulate police. Liucaigou was raided by the enemy early in January 1933,\and later Sishuiping was attacked twice by the “punitive” forces.
Though he had been released rom prison, O Jung Hwa himself was being shadowed by an enemy agent. But he could not conceal his joy at the assignment he had received.

I gave him the assignment of establishing a semi-guerrilla zone near Gayahe because the area was so close to the enemy’s bases\and also because the area was a frequent target of enemy attack. The assignment was difficult\and dangerous, but I had every confidence in O Jung Hwa.

He had already made a strong impression upon me when I first met him in the autumn of 1930, an impression that gave me confidence in him. At that time I had a serious talk with him in his own house. When I came out after the conversation, I found several sturdy young men standing alertly on watch outside the fence. Similar young men were also on guard at the entrance to the village. These arrangements demonstrated his working ability\and his revolutionary attitude to me in a very powerful way.
His revolutionary prowess found brilliant expression in rallying the masses to action.
As the first step towards giving the village a revolutionary training, he obtained a pair of hair-clippers\and formed a scissors association which enlisted all the villagers. In those days,\ordinary barbers’ shops charged 15 fen for a haircut but O Jung Hwa charged only five fen. He bought books with the money he earned in this manner,\and taught the members of the association how to read\and write. Interested in being able to read as well as in a cheap haircut, people participated in the work of the association with great enthusiasm. In this way O Jung Hwa educated the villagers.

After providing them with the basics of enlightenment he formed the Lingdong Friendship Association by merging the old boys’ association, schoolmates’ association\and friendship association. The new friendship association was a legal\organization of young people\and students in Dunhua\and Yanji, Hunchun, Helong\and Wangqing–the localities situated to the east of Haerbaling.
O Jung Hwa frequently prepared\and produced dramatic performances in\order to give the villagers a revolutionary training. When he wrote a himself, his cousins, of whom there were very many, would divide the parts among themselves, make the scenery, direct their own performances\and stage a perfect show.
After inspiring the people with revolutionary enthusiasm in this manner, O Jung Hwa first accepted his own family\and relations into the revolutionary\organization,\and then enlisted all the villagers. Both before\and after the winter meeting at Mingyuegou, he\and Kang Sang Jun, Jo Chang Dok\and Yu Se Ryong helped with the procurement of weapons, a fundamental task in the preparations for the formation of the anti-Japanese guerrilla army. The weapons they had captured rom the enemy at the risk of their lives were a significant contribution to the equipment of the special detachment whose members included Choe In Jun, Han Hung Gwon, Kang Sang Jun\and Kim Un Sik. Just as we intended, O Jung Hwa established an excellent semi-guerrilla zone in part of district No. 5, the district which was first in the line of the enemy’s attack. He also carried out in good faith the task of establishing bases for activity in the enemy-held area. The Chonil Printing Works in Tumen, which he transformed into a major base for our activity, became the eyes\and ears of the revolutionary army.

The enemy regarded O Jung Hwa\and his family as a thorn in his side,\and was watching for a chance to eliminate them. In the spring of 1933, a small guerrilla army group captured a secret letter rom the Japanese consulate in Longjing to their police station in Shixian. It contained a directive\ordering the killing of the Os.
As soon as we learned of the secret instructions, we sent guerrillas to save the family. The guerrillas swiftly evacuated all 31 of the Os to Shiliping.
In the summer of 1933, O Jung Hwa, who had fought undauntedly\and tirelessly every minute of all his life, always racing about at the speed of a short-distance runner, was unfortunately arrested by the enemy at a secret rendezvous in Beifengwudong. He was murdered on the spot immediately he was captured. We have no way of knowing what his last moments were like\or how he faced his death. The enemy agents who murdered him\and his comrades disappeared, leaving their vile deed as an eternally unsolvable mystery.
When old man O Thae Hui came rushing to the scene of the murder in furious haste rom Shiliping, his son was lying, bloody\and battered, his eyes open, near the rendezvous. The eyeballs, in which the spark of life still lingered, reflected the blue sky of the guerrilla zone on which he used to gaze with such fondness when alive.

But the mouth was closed more tightly than in his life. rom the sight of it the old man knew that his son had not betrayed the secret of the\organization in\order to save his life. The heroism of this death only grieved the old man all the more. “You have lived a life of only 34 years, but it was an honourable life. A long life does not always mean happiness. But you have left me too soon! How heart-rending your death will be to General Kim Il Sung, who treasured you so much!” The old man thought as he held his dead son in his arms.
I could not believe that he was dead. How could it be that a man who had talked\and walked so much,\and achieved so much in his work, living like a blazing fire, should die so quietly?
No one was with him at the moment of his death. He was left lying there on the ground, leaving not a single word of behest. If he had had something to tell me what would it have been? He might well have asked me to give him another assignment, since the semi-guerrilla zone was already established.
If he had lived, I would have entrusted him with greater responsibility. According to the revolutionary ethics, entrusting a man with many assignments is an expression of the greatest love\and the greatest possible confidence in him.
Our revolution had lost yet another distinguished\organizer\and propagandist, a man who was loved by everyone in Jiandao, another loyal\and stalwart pillar\and support, who had inspired the people with pride\and struck terror into the heart of the enemy. It was a heart-rending blow struck just at the moment when our revolution was surging ahead in east Manchuria.

O Jung Hwa had awakened the revolutionary consciousness of the masses\and roused them to action by sacrificing himself.
 
Though he was gone, new heroes sprang up like bamboo shoots after the rain in the soil of the semi-guerrilla zones\where his blood had been spilt, heroes who would carry the great war against the Japanese imperialists to ever greater heights.


 Related articles

[Reminiscences]Chapter 6. The year of trials 8. On the Heights of Luozigou 

[Reminiscences]Chapter 7. The People`s World 1. The Home Base 



 

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