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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 9 2. The Haves\\and the Have-nots

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 9  2. The Haves\and the Have-nots

  

   


 

2. The Haves\and the Have-nots  

  

The guerrilla base was my home\and secure nest, but I did not always stay there.
An army which is cooped up behind a fence will invite tactical self-destruction.
Consuming the people’s provisions\and gadding about the Xiaowangqing valley went against the grain. We were also disgusted by the doings of the Leftists\and chauvinists who destroyed innocent people on their own side by labelling them as “Minsaengdan.”
I used to go to fight behind the enemy lines in command of my unit whenever the situation permitted me to do so. After the semi-guerrilla zones were set up, I did this more frequently.
The people liked us to do this because they knew well that our actions behind the enemy lines would bring them rice\and clothing. However the enemy might slander communism, the people did not believe him if we once stayed with them overnight. The personalities of the communists, expressed in their morality\and manners had a stronger effect on the people than the enemy’s propaganda.

Men who had had interesting experiences in the enemy-held area vied with one another to accompany me.
I used to take the 5th company with me. Taking too many men could mean problems with food\and attract too much attention to our activity, so I kept my company between 50\and 60 men. When more men were needed, I used to call on the 1st company. As I frequently operated behind the enemy lines, Choe Chun Guk, who was in command of the 2nd company,\and Jang Ryong San who was in command of the 3rd company, earned the burden of defending Wangqing. The 4th company defended Yaoyinggou.
The 5th company was the crack unit in Wangqing. If they were\ordered to march with an interval of three steps between men, they did so; when\ordered to suppress the sound of their breathing, they did so. We used to hit a moderate target\and then withdraw five\or a dozen miles like lightning, avoiding major commitment.
Our harassing operations behind the enemy lines prevented the enemy rom committing all his forces to the attack on the guerrilla base.
Some officials in charge of Party propaganda work after liberation gave no publicity to the experience of the Korean communists in fighting behind the enemy lines during the war against the Japanese. Instead, they propagandized only the traditions\and experience of a foreign country. The flunkeyist fever spread by these people developed to such an extreme that immediately after liberation our people were not even aware that there had been a heavy battle fought for the defence of Xiaowangqing during the anti-Japanese war, though they knew all about the battle of Stalingrad\and tank battle at Kursk. At one time the Hero Ri Su Bok12 was called the “Korean Matrosov.” At the time of the Fatherland Liberation War our people believed that Matrosov of the Soviet\union was the first hero in the world ever to block an enemy pillbox with his own body. They were totally ignorant of the fact that Kim Jin, one of the anti-Japanese martyrs of their own country, had done this much earlier than Matrosov.

If we had educated people in our revolutionary traditions immediately after liberation, many of them would not have been killed during the temporary wartime retreat. They could have formed small units of five to six people\or 15 to 20 people, each carrying an axe\and one\or two mal (a mal approximates to two pecks—Tr.) of rice,\and moving rom mountain to mountain, firing several shots now\and then\and posting up leaflets; in this way they could have endured one month\or two in mountains. But such education was not given in advance, so during the war we incurred losses that could have been avoided.
Most of my activity behind the enemy lines was conducted in the rural villages in the area on the Tuman River. In one year I travelled by rail in the area along the Tuman River\and I could recognize the mountains\and ravines across the river, which looked exactly the same as in the old days.
As the saying has it, the darkest place is under the candlestick— it was a good choice to operate under the very nose of the enemy.
 
Our unit advanced to a mountain at the back of Tumen. We all operated in plain clothes there. We posted a sentry on the top of each of three hills,\and carried on our operation without haste, reading\and sleeping in the forest. The enemy had no idea there was a guerrilla unit operating under his very nose.
In the summers of 1933\and 1934 we operated around Tumen\and Liangshuiquanzi on the Tuman River. While I was conducting mass political activities in the vicinity of Liangshuiquanzi following my return to Wangqing after the negotiations with Wu Yi-cheng, I had sent some of my men to the Tumen area\and I myself had talked to the local inhabitants with a view to finding a suitable place for my headquarters. In general, they recommended three places, Mt. Songdong, Beigaoliling,\and Caomaodingzi, as ideal; in fact, these places provided safety for the headquarters but were unsuitable for the purposes of our activity.
Something attracted me to the mountain at the back of Tumen. As I travelled to\and rom Onsong, I had thought it resembled Moran Hill in Pyongyang. I examined the place on the map\and found it ideal for our purposes.
It had several ravines\and dense forests, which made it an ideal place to spend the summer in improvised grass-thatched huts. Our\organizations had been active in many places around this mountain since 1930, but there were still many villages\where we had no\organizations. Our intention was to turn these virgin villages into revolutionary ones.

I had intended to go to the mountain at the back of Tumen as soon as the Luozigou battle was over. But I had to put off my departure\and stay at Xiaowangqing for a while, since I had to obtain food\and clothing for a Chinese anti-Japanese nationalist army unit. It was already the beginning of hot period but the men of the Qingshan unit were still wearing worn-out cotton-padded clothes\and barely managing to survive on potatoes the size of sparrows’ eggs. In consequence, the potato fields around the place\where the troops were stationed had been all ravaged. The owners of the fields resented the Qingshan unit. Relations between officers\and men, who were ill-fed\and ill-clothed, had naturally deteriorated,\and the unit was turning into a gang of bandits. Some of them showed signs of wishing to surrender. The state of affairs in Kaoshan\and Shi Zhong-heng’s units was much the same. At that time Kaoshan unit had not yet been admitted to the KPRA.
We attacked Gayahe in cooperation with the Qingshan unit\and divided the captured food\and clothing among the Chinese anti-Japanese nationalist army units\and made another raid on the enemy in Diaomiaotai before we set off for the mountain behind Tumen. On my arrival at the mountain I found Han Hung Gwon, the company commander, had arrived before me. In the battle at Luozigou he had been wounded in the belly so heavily that his guts had fallen out of his abdomen,\and he had been sent to guerrilla hospital. Now he had slipped away rom hospital\and had been secretly following our company.

The wound in his belly had almost healed up during the past month, but the marks of the suture were still reddish. Afraid that his scar might split again, I\ordered him go back to the hospital. This giant of a man pleaded with a tear-stained face not to be sent back. So I instructed the acting company commander, Comrade Wang, to take good care of him even on the mountain, so that the wound would not be aggravated.
The\original name of Tumen was Huimudong. It was a village\where the Koreans had built huts\and baked lime. The place was surrounded by limestone mountains.
The Japanese imperialists who occupied Manchuria after the September 18 incident extended the Jilin-Hoeryong railway rom Chaoyangchuan to Huimudong\and named the terminal Tumen. They built houses around the station, set up a branch office of the Japanese consulate, built a police station\and a customs house\and stationed a garrison there. Thus they had turned the quiet village which had existed on limestone into a crowded town of consumers constantly pestered by army\and police. The new street was named Tumen\and the old village at the foot of the mountain to the west retained the old Korean name of Huimudong. A railway was soon built across the border between Tumen\and Namyang. rom then on, Tumen was an eastern gate protecting the Japanese concession in Manchuria. On the opposite side of the river lay Namyang, an important town on the route connecting Korea\and Manchuria.

In the latter half of the 1930s, Japanese intelligence services involved in preparing for aggression against the Soviet\union made their base in this town. As we have seen above, Tumen was a place of considerable military\and political significance.
 
In many respects it was an advantage for us that Tumen became a base for our activity\and an important point on the route to the semi-guerrilla zones in the homeland.
We had formed an\organization in Huimudong in the early days of our activity. This\organization was under the influence of O Jung Song. When I crossed the river to Onsong in September 1930 I was helped by the comrades rom Huimudong\and when I went to Jongsong in May the next year I also received assistance rom them. It was with the help of this\organization that Choe Kum Suk had obtained apples\and pears to tempt my appetite when I was ill.
Tumen, a transit point which connected us with Onsong, could in effect be called a supply base for the guerrillas.
The objective of our operations on the mountain at the back of Tumen was to frustrate the enemy’s scheme of “severing the people rom the bandits.” In those days the enemy called the revolutionary army “communist bandits.” The Japanese imperialists made it their policy to isolate the revolutionary army rom the people\and strove frantically to achieve this. They devised various schemes, namely, an ideological conversion operation, the policy of concentration villages, the ten-household joint responsibility system, the five-household joint surveillance system,\and surrender operations.

Under the tyrannical policy of “severing the people rom the bandits” many of our\organizations were destroyed\and the people began to panic. Some people went so far as to sign surrender applications. This tendency was most glaringly evident in the southern part of Wangqing on the Tuman River.

We promulgated a slogan—Let us frustrate the enemy’s isolation scheme by the unity of the people\and the army!—and to implement it we set out to restore the\organizations among the masses. We restored the\organization in Nanyangcun\where O Jung Hup was living,\and we also formed new\organizations with the Choes, based in Dalazi. After completing this work in the adjacent villages, we gradually moved towards Liangshuiquanzi, working among the masses,\and infiltrating the lumberjacks\and peasants. Once I led a small group to Xiongjidong, Mijiang, Hunchun County by way of Solgol,\and re-established the\organizations in Kyongwon (Saeppyol)\and Hunyung across the Tuman River. As we did this, those people who had been distressed by the enemy’s isolation scheme became active as their ties with the revolutionary army were strengthened.
During our operations rom the mountain behind Tumen, I frequently visited the area of the six towns in the homeland in\order to improve the guidance system of grassroots-level party\organizations\and other revolutionary\organizations in various parts of the homeland\and extend the work of building the party deep into Korea.

Since the formation of a party\organization on Turu Hill in Onsong County in October 1930, a number of basic party\organizations had also been created in the areas along the Tuman River through the efforts of hardcore members of the party leadership such as O Jung Hwa, Kim Il Hwan, Chae Su Hang, O Pin\and the political workers, Ri Pong Su, An Kil,\and Jang Kum Jin. Many basic party\organizations had been set up in Hoeryong, Yonsa, Unggi (Sonbong), Musan, Kyongwon (Saeppyol), Rajin, Puryong, Sinam-dong in Chongjin\and other places.
In August 1933, a training course on underground party work was given in Paksokgol, Kyongwon (Saeppyol) County. The two-day training course, which was conducted under a tree near a charcoal kiln in Paksokgol, was attended by political workers\and those leaders of underground revolutionary\organizations who had been working in the northern region\and other parts of Korea. The lectures on the building of underground party\organizations were given by me, on questions of YCL work by Jo Tong Uk, on women’s work by Pak Hyon Suk,\and on Children’s Corps work by Pak Kil Song.
It was about this time that a meeting of representatives of party\and other revolutionary\organizations in the homeland was held under our guidance in Onsong. The meeting took place in Jinmyong School in Phungin Workers’ District (the present name of the place), Onsong County in February 1934. The main topic of discussion was expanding party\organizations into wider areas of the country,\and establishing the system of guidance for party\organizations. The meeting also decided to establish regional\organs of guidance such as district party committee.

As a result of this decision the Onsong district party committee headed by Jon Jang Won was formed. The meeting was important because it marked a turning-point in expanding the work of party building in the homeland in the first half of the 1930s.

At that time Joson Ilbo (the Korea Daily—Tr.) reported that “The party meeting held in Jinmyong School decided on a few radical slogans\and circulated them in print.” The report gave a brief impression of the meeting.

The operations on the mountain behind Tumen gave rise to many amusing anecdotes.
I still remember one story about a stingy landowner who was made to pay dearly for his niggardliness. I do not remember the name of the village\where the landowner lived, but it was certainly a Korean village.
One day I let the soldiers take a rest on the mountain at the back of Tumen\and went down in plain clothes to the village\where this landowner lived. At that time civilian wear was not a suit in the western style but Korean clothes. We always carried these clothes in our rucksack. Without wearing these clothes it was impossible to work in the enemy-controlled areas. Those who spoke fluent Japanese carried Japanese clothes.
That day I was accompanied by my\orderly Ri Song Rim\and two other men.

It was late afternoon,\and we had a few hours till sunset. I wanted to sound out the feelings of the people in the village, which we had not visited yet. I was also feeling bored after living in the mountain for days at a time. I intended to ask for help\and form an\organization in the village if the villagers were well-disposed. There were no Japanese soldiers\or policemen there.
 
We made for the largest, most imposing house with a tiled roof\and I asked if the master was in. There was no answer\and the door was locked rom the inside in the middle of the day. We took the handle of the gate\and rattled it. Only then did we hear someone coming out, dragging his shoes lazily. A middle-aged man opened the gate\and cast a frowning glance at us. This was the landowner who would be taught a lesson.
“Sir, we are travellers. It’s getting late\and we’re looking for lodgings. Will you be kind enough to let us stay overnight at your house?” I asked him politely.
The master spat abusive language at us, calling us crazy. He was unpleasant\and ill-tempered.
“Why have you chosen to come to this house in the village? There is an inn a little over a mile rom here. Do you think this is the village mill?” His manner of rolling his eyes\and shouting abuse betrayed an ugly temper. Without any preliminaries he denounced us as crazy\and treated us with contempt, as if we were beggars. I felt indignant. But I was tolerant\and said politely once again, “Sir, I have pain in my legs\and blisters on my feet. So I can walk no farther. Let us stay overnight here, please.”

He yelled back at us, foaming with rage, “I say the inn is not far rom here. Why do you cling to me like a leech? I haven’t even met you bastards at a fair.”
My\orderly, standing behind me, begged for the man to have mercy on me. “Master, we have no money to pay for the inn. It is said that God blesses the kind-hearted. You could pretend that you are treating us to a feast, you may....”

“Do you want me to give you money?” he cut the\orderly off in mid-speech\and spat, “What nonsense!” He shut the gate\and disappeared inside.
This was the first time I received such treatment in ten years of revolutionary activity. There were many rich people in central Manchuria,\where I had been engaged in underground activity. None of them was as cold-hearted as this landowner.
My\orderly was quivering with rage. He had never imagined that his commander would be treated so badly by such a worthless country landowner. He suggested shooting the brute. He said he would at least like to fire a blank in his ear to scare him into fainting.
I, too, was on fire with rage. It is only natural that fellow countrymen should become more friendly when they meet in a foreign land. Even people whose lives set them against each other in their own land share a feeling of fellowship in a foreign land. This is the nature of human beings. The landowner who insulted us by calling crazy had not an iota of compassion.
Could human nature become spoilt in this way because the country had been ruined? There is a saying that misery loves company.

No nation is so compassionate as the Koreans. That is why we have the saying: an evil spirit cannot resist ritual prayers, a human being cannot resist compassion.
Koreans are especially hospitable to visitors,\and this is a virtue.
 
It is the kind-hearted custom of our people to accord cordial hospitality to their visitors. Although the head of our family was only a grave keeper, our family had always been kind to its visitors. If we had a visitor when our provisions had almost run out\and we had to live on gruel, my mother used to add a bowl of water to the gruel pot so that the visitor might share the meal with us. In those cases, my mother\and my aunt used to eat the thinnest portion of the gruel.
Even though the women of my family might skip one\or two meals, they never complained about the family’s poverty\or misfortune. This was the true image of the Korean nation, which was engraved in my heart in my boyhood.
Since ancient times people in this country had been so hospitable that even a penniless man could have travelled throughout the country if he had chosen to. That is why foreigners who have been guests in an\ordinary Korean home have spoken highly of our country as an eastern country of great courtesy.
Was it not Korean blood, then, running in the veins of that wicked landlord? How could he be so cold-hearted towards a fellow man?

He was immoral.

A nation whose power has decayed can be dispossessed of its country. A people without a country can be deprived even of their written\and spoken languages\and their surnames. But how can they discard their kind hearts? If all of the people were to become brutes like this landowner, the Korean people could never win back Korea.

It is fortunate, however, that only a tiny handful of Koreans were like the landlord.
I was obliged to revise my views of the rich.

In the summer of 1933, a unit of the Chinese national salvation army stationed in Shiliping made a raid upon Shixian\and, as one of the operations for collecting economic contributions, held a wife of a Chinese rich man for ransom. She had had her feet tightly bound to keep her feet rom growing according to Chinese custom,\and she had been detained for a few days in her simple underwear in Shiliping. The unit sent a notice to her husband informing him that if a certain amount of money was brought before a certain date, his wife would be sent back home. The rich man, however, did not show up in Shiliping, saying that with that amount of money he could get married to a prettier woman. It was her own father, instead of her husband, who ransomed her. This showed what the ill-tempered rich people were like.

We went around the village again to find a lodging. We decided to ask for help at a thatched house instead of a tile-roofed house. We saw a thatched house not far rom the landowner’s house: the members of the household were having supper with the doors of the rooms wide open.

I spoke to the master of the house just as I had done to the landowner. “Good evening, we are travellers. It is late\and we are seeking a lodging. Can we stay overnight at your house?”
 
He rose\and looked out at us, resting his hand on the upright of the door. “Come in\and sit down. Join us in this humble gruel. We apologize, but it is our only meal. Please, come in, though the room is not in good\order.”
“Don’t mention it. We are in no position to complain.”

He led us into the room. Even though the room was shabby, his words\and deeds showed how kind-hearted he was.
The husband asked his wife if there was another bowl of gruel. She said yes. At this the thought came to me that people who live in poverty were quite different. The common people possess good hearts but the rich people do not. Their sincere invitation to join them at supper moved both of us.
“What will you do if we eat your supper? All we need is a lodging.” We declined the offer with thanks, thinking it too much to eat their supper.
The man chided me for my refusal.

“There’s no such rule of etiquette in the world. Guests are supposed to accept their host’s kindness. I’m afraid you are declining it because it is not very tasty. But this is all we can offer. Wife, bring a few more roots of leek\and a plate of bean paste.”

The mistress did as told by her husband.

We were moved almost to tears by the warmth of their hearts; they were treating us as if we were their own kinsfolk. I sat at the table but the thought of the comrades standing guard on the outskirts of the village prevented me rom taking up my spoon.
“Thank you, master! I’ll eat it later. Help yourself first. Our comrades are outside the village.”

“How many of you are still to come?” He looked worried as he asked this. Naturally he was worried about more visitors coming, because there was only one extra bowl of gruel.
“There are two more comrades\and they have blisters on their feet, they cannot walk. Master, they say there is an inn around here, is it true?”
“Yes, certainly. It is about two miles away. How can they walk all that distance with blistered feet? You should stay here tonight\and go there tomorrow morning, though you’ll have to share gruel with us. Please bring the others here, too.”
I asked him what sort of a man the landowner was.

He replied that, in a word, he was miserly\and ill-tempered\and added: “He has turned his back against the villagers but he is fairly friendly with policemen\and officials. A few days ago, a young man who came rom Korea to visit his relatives here, was arrested for no particular reason\and tortured almost to death at the police station before being released\and going back home. I suspect this was the landowner’s work.”
Meanwhile, it had become dark.



I\ordered the\orderly to send the men on guard duty to bring the men rom the mountain, because we were going to stay the night in that village.
Some time later, the company commander, Han Hung Gwon, led the unit to the village.
At the sight of 60 to 70 soldiers entering the village, the landowner realized something was happening\and presented himself to our comrades, flattering them\and saying, “How can I help you, sirs?” Then he fussed over the guerrillas\and invited them to his house. How can a man live that way, spending his energy on double dealing?
Han Hung Gwon, not knowing his true motive, was very moved\and said to me, “Comrade Commander, that landowner is kind-hearted, just like the landowner Jang in Xiaowangqing\and the one in Tumen.” The landowner Jang had given sincere assistance to the guerrillas, but had been banished rom the guerrilla zone to Daduchuan by\orders of the Soviet government. The Tumen landowner was a conscientious man who had responded to our request for cloth\and cotton wool\and other materials sufficient to make 500 uniforms for the Chinese anti-Japanese nationalist army, which was a difficult problem for us at the time. We made clothes with that materials for all the soldiers of the Chinese anti-Japanese nationalist army in Xiaowangqing.
The Tumen landowner used to come to Shiliping to visit his relatives. Once our comrades somehow found out when he was coming\and detained him in\order to collect funds. When we returned rom our operations behind the enemy lines, the comrades in the headquarters had released him, saying that the method was wrong. I sent for the landowner, who was fleeing rom the guerrilla zone\and frankly explained to him the situation with clothing for the Chinese anti-Japanese nationalist army\and appealed to him for help. He promised to help us\and went back home,\and later he kept his word.

I briefed Han Hung Gwon on what had happened in the village. “Comrade Han, don’t be deceived by flattery. He is an ill-
natured man who refuses to open his gate to a visitor.”

When he heard this he gave a hollow laugh of blank dismay.

Then, with his fist clenched in rage, he said:

“I see he is a wicked fellow. Such a man should not be forgiven. Let’s try him\and shoot him.”
I waved my hand to calm him down\and stop him trembling with rage.
“No, don’t do that. What is the use of executing a landowner? That will only upset the public pointlessly. It would be better to tell him not to lose his conscience as a Korean.”
“Then we must teach him a good lesson. That son of a bitch should not be allowed to get away with it.”
“But you must not behave like bandits,” I warned him lest he should go too far.
When Han Hung Gwon came to his house, the shrewd landowner pressed himself close under his jaw\and asked him who was the commander. His intention was to let the commander\and a few other officers stay in his house,\and do nothing for the other men, because they would have to be billeted on several villagers anyway. This cold-hearted man was quick in his calculations.

Han Hung Gwon introduced himself as the commander\and suggested slyly.
“This household seems to be fairly well off. I think we can stay here for a month\or two eating your rice. Even if we do, you will not run short of food, will you?”
“Well, I cannot guarantee two months, but I can afford to take care of you for a few days.”
The landowner’s face turned pale for fear that the guerrillas might really stay in his house for two months.
With an air of indifference to the landlord’s anxiety, Han Hung Gwon went on to say something that would really stun him.
“Master, how many pigs do you have in your house? Our men have not tasted meat for several months. I think you have a pile of a hundred sacks of rice in reserve, haven’t you, though I am not sure about other houses?”
“Oh, my God, a hundred sacks you say? I’ve never had that much. Even though the other houses pretend to be poor\and eat gruel, they all have enough rice.”
“Whether the others have rice\or not, you should treat us. You are rich, so you don’t need to worry about it. If you have any conscience as a Korean, you must contribute your share to achieving the country’s independence. You mean that we should eat the rice of the poor people who are short of food? How can the peasants farm if we eat up their seed grain?”

Intimidated by Han Hung Gwon, the landowner butchered pigs\and offered the men rice. The men who had been billeted on peasants also ate rice brought rom the landowner’s. If he had treated us properly, he would have not suffered this misfortune.
After teaching him a good lesson, Han Hung Gwon returned to me, bringing a rush mat\and a quilt rom the landowner’s to make up my bed. He was a man who enjoyed playing such jokes on people.
That night at the good-natured peasant’s house we had rice which Han Hung Gwon brought rom the landowner’s.
“Will there not be trouble if we do this?” the peasant asked me apprehensively.
“Master, don’t worry,” I assured him, “there is nothing for you to worry about. You have only lent us your cooking pot. If the landowner finds fault with you later, tell him that you had nothing to do with what the guerrillas did.”
“If you are guerrillas, I can set my mind at ease. It was foolish of me not to recognize you as guerrillas.”
The man\and his wife had not known who we really were. Out of their simple kindness as Koreans they invited us to share whatever they were eating, whether it was gruel\or bean paste. But the landowner was devoid of such courtesy. If a Japanese policeman had come to see him, however, he would have flattered him, offering him a cushioned seat.
This was how the rich differed rom the poor. But not all the rich people were cold-hearted\or totally lacking in love for their country. Jiang Wan-cheng, Jiang Wei-hua’s father, was a wealthy landowner, but he was an ardent patriot of high reputation. I must also speak highly of the wealthy widow Paek13 because she was a renowned patriot who spared no money for the enlightenment\and development of our nation. That is why she was later named Paek Son Haeng (virtuous deeds—Tr.).

Most of the rich people, however, were miserly\and cold-hearted, like the landowner we met. There is some truth in the saying that charity comes rom the granary, but it does not always apply. Was the peasant who treated us to barley gruel hospitable because he had a large stock of rice? In fact he had nothing but one sack of early-harvested barley in the corner of his room.
No matter how much money a man may have, he will be forsaken by the world if he has no compassion. Even though one lives in a hut, one can be morally rich, have many friendly neighbours\and be held in high esteem by everyone, if one is kind to one’s fellows. If a man’s worth is judged by moral excellence, the landowner who turned us away must be called a miserably poor man not worthy of human respect.
In this case true virtue was found in a hut in which\ordinary people lived, not in a grandiose house.
Ri Pong Su\and his wife once contracted an eruptive typhus when they were working in Machang. At that time Ri Pong Su was the head of a hospital,\and his wife An Sun Hwa was working in the hospital. She crawled out to bury their child, who had died of starvation,\and covered the body with oak leaves. Ri Pong Su had a feeling that soon he might also die just as his child had. He took off the new clothes which his comrades had brought him a few days before, folded them neatly,\and set his last will\and testament on them.

“These clothes have not been worn for long\and I ask the
 
comrade who finds this testament to wear them in my place.”

This  incident  shows  how  superior  the  compassion  of  the

revolutionaries was to that of the landowner.

Ri Pong Su miraculously survived\and continued to work for the revolution, but his testament remained as proof of his humanity\and still moves the people’s hearts, an example of the noble\and warm world of humanity which only communists can create.
When we returned to the guerrilla zone rom the mountain behind Tumen, we gathered the soldiers together\and told them about our experience in the village.
“Look! This is a clear example of people’s class character. The poor peasant invited us to share his gruel,\whereas the rich landowner drove us away rom his gate, let alone inviting us to share his meal. He is a wicked man, isn’t he? We must overthrow the exploitative society in\order to do away with such wicked men.”
The incident was good material for class education. This story about the rich landowner\and the poor peasant became a common topic of conversation in the villages on the Tuman River. People who were told the story condemned the landowner as a wicked man\and praised the peasant as a kind-hearted man. When our plain clothes squads approached the vicinity of a village, the young people rom the village came out to them\and informed them which households were rich\and which families had cattle belonging to the “People’s Association.”

In those days the cattle of the “People’s Association” were raised in rural villages. After Japan occupied Manchuria, the “People’s Association,” a reactionary\organization, had distributed its cattle among peasants to be raised. The animals were raised by peasants but did not belong to them; when they were fully grown, they had to be returned to the association. It was a mechanism for exploiting the peasants’ labour. These animals had seals on their horns.
When they said that certain families had these oxen, the young people of the village meant that the guerrillas could slaughter them for meat without damaging the people’s interests. The guerrillas picked out these oxen\and butchered them. The Japanese became frantic at this, saying that the villagers were all bad people: How could the communist army know which houses had been raising the cattle of the “People’s Association”? The people of the village must have informed them.
The peasants would answer them, “How could we know? We know nothing about it. They have a list. We could do nothing to stop them, they picked them out rom the list.”
Long experience had bred in my bones the feeling that the richer people were, the more cold-hearted they were, the more devoid of virtue. Wealth which is opposed to goodness\and morality itself is not a source of virtue but a trap which swallows\and destroys virtue. The landowner in the village on the Tuman River hurt me deeply. Because of him, my impression of the village was not good.

The incident hardened my resolve, when the country became independent, to wipe out the old society of immorality\and corruption, in which the landowners\and capitalists lorded it over others,\and to build a beautiful\and sound society\where all the people would live in harmony like one family, with no gulf between the poor\and the rich.
We are striving to make all our working people rich, not to have rich people who live in luxury, growing fat on others’ sweat\and blood, but materially\and morally rich people who are honest, industrious,\and create social wealth by their own labour. We cannot tolerate a capitalist society in which money is all-powerful. When an era in which everyone enjoys equitable material\and moral wealth is ushered in, humanity will be free rom all social evils for ever.



 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

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

[Reminiscences]Chapter 7. The People`s World 3. The Choice between the Soviet\and the People’s Revolutionary Government

[Reminiscences]Chapter 7. The People`s World 4. The Man F rom the Comintern

[Reminiscences]Chapter 7. The People`s World 5. The Memory of a White Horse

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 1. Ri Kwang

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 2. Negotiations with Wu Yi-cheng

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 3. The Battle of the Dongning County Town

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 4. A Comment on Ultra-Democracy in the Army

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 5. Operation Macun

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 6. Arsenals in the Thick Forests

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 7. An Immortal Flower

[Reminiscences]Chapter 9. The First Expedition to North Manchuria 1. The Korean People’s Revolutionary Army 



  

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