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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 10 2. A Polemic at Dahuangwai

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 10  2. A Polemic at Dahuangwai

  

   


 

2. A Polemic at Dahuangwai 

 



It would be incorrect if someone were to think that I had started a polemic about the “Minsaengdan” issue at the Dahuangwai meeting with the people at the helm of the east Manchuria Party\organization. The argument had begun already as early as October 1932. My unit, which had started moving towards north Manchuria, had stopped over at Wangqing for some time.


During my first days in Wangqing, I guided the Party work in district No. 1 (Yaoyinggou). There I saw that the anti-“Minsaengdan” campaign was being conducted haphazardly, in an ultra-Leftist manner, by officials of the county\and district Party\organizations, contrary to revolutionary principles.


One morning I was looking around the village, accompanied by Ri Ung Gol, head of the\organizational department of the district Party committee. Someone screamed in the office of the district Party committee. I stopped.


“Who’s that?” I asked.


For some reason Ri Ung Gol looked embarrassed.


“People rom the county Party committee are questioning a man named Ri Jong Jin.”


“Why? Is he a ‘Minsaengdan’ suspect?”

 

“It seems so. The man has denied it for three days, but they keep on torturing him to squeeze a confession rom him. I’m so distressed at the sound that I can’t work properly all day long. Let’s go by quickly.”


“Why is he suspected?”


“He worked in the enemy-held area\and returned a few days later than expected. That must be the reason.”


“Can that be a reason?”


“Comrade Commander, be careful of what you say. One word like that can be the cause of being labelled a ‘Minsaengdan’ member. The whirlwind of the ‘Minsaengdan’ has made it very hard to live here.”


I walked into the office in spite of Ri Ung Gol’s advice.


A man rom the county Party committee\and some Red Guards of the district were brutally questioning Ri Jong Jin. As I entered the room the cadre rom the county Party committee thrashed the victim furiously as if to show off to a stranger how splendidly the Wangqing people were conducting the class struggle.


Ri Jong Jin had been a servant of a Chinese landowner for more than ten years. His wife had been killed during the enemy’s “punitive” atrocities,\and he had left his two children in the care of other people to join the revolution. After he came to the guerrilla zone he had worked as Party secretary of a branch of the district. The masses had held him in high esteem. There could be no reason for such a man to involve himself in the hostile\organization\and counterrevolution. How could his delayed return rom work, an inadvertent mistake in work, be the cause of suspecting him for involvement in the “Minsaengdan”?


I gave the cadres rom the county\and district Party committees some needed advice\and made them stop the questioning.

 

“Comrades, as far as I understand there’s no reason for dealing with Ri Jong Jin as a ‘Minsaengdan’ member. It isn’t right to whip him without exact evidence simply because he made a mistake in his work. The ‘Minsaengdan’ should be combatted prudently on the basis of scientific evidence,” I said.


The questioning was suspended, but after I left Yaoyinggou\and went to Macun, Ri Jong Jin was murdered.


The incident occasioned the spreading of the news that Commander Kim Il Sung rom Antu had stopped the county Party cadres rom questioning a “Minsaengdan” suspect\and had denounced them. The news reached the ears of the cadres of the Wangqing County Party Committee\and the East Manchuria Special District Committee. The news spread throughout Yanji, Helong\and Hunchun beyond the bounds of Wangqing. Some people commented apprehensively: “What disaster did he wish on himself by interfering in the matter? He seems to be blind to fire\and water.” Others said: “Commander Kim did that because he hasn’t experienced Wangqing. He’s a man rom Antu, isn’t he?” Still others praised me cautiously, saying: “Anyway, he’s a man with plenty of guts.”


What I said\and did in the office of the district Party committee was, in effect, the beginning of my arguments with the Leftist elements on the issue of the “Minsaengdan”.


The polemic intensified rom the beginning of the year 1933 when the purge in connection with the “Minsaengdan” issue was most scandalous in the guerrilla zones of east Manchuria. That year many Korean military\and political cadres\and revolutionaries, who had been stigmatized as “Minsaengdan” members, were either killed\or ran away.

 

I also was nearly caught in the “Minsaengdan” intrigue. The chauvinists\and factionalist sycophants, who were swaying the “purge” to an ultra-Leftist mess, tenaciously attempted to connect me with the “Minsaengdan”.


The evidence they advanced was ridiculous, including what they called the case of a kidnapped landowner rom Tumen.


A Chinese anti-Japanese nationalist army unit of over a hundred soldiers, stationed in Liushuhezi in those days, had requested me to help them obtain clothing. We had persuaded a landowner to help us in this matter, a landowner whom the nationalmst army had captured for obtaining economic aid, but failed. With the help of the escaping landowner we had procured cloth\and cotton enough for 500 uniforms. The event was called the “case of the kidnapped landowner” rom Tumen. We had provided all the nationalist army soldiers in the Wangqing area with clothing rom the aid goods.


Judging rom the situation at the time, it was quite probable that, if they were not properly clothed in the severe winter cold, the soldiers of the nationalist army would defect\or surrender to the enemy. By itself, without cooperation of a friendly army like the national salvation army, the revolutionary army would have found it difficult to maintain the guerrilla zone.


Kim Kwon Il, who was promoted to the office of Wangqing county Party secretary as a successor to Ri Yong Guk, denounced, in league with some cadres of the East Manchuria Special District Committee, the guerrilla army’s procurement of winter clothing for the national salvation army with the help of a landowner as an act of Rightist capitulation; he said that Kim Il Sung, who was in command of the army\and connived at and encouraged the work of the “Minsaengdan”, must be held responsible.


The fact that they fussed about responsibility even by mentioning my name showed that they had, in fact, schemed to do away to the last man with the Korean cadres with any authority to speak in east Manchuria. They went so far as to make the ridiculous allegation that a large number of “Minsaengdan” members had wormed their way into the Wangqing guerrilla army because Kim Il Sung had neglected the anti-“Minsaengdan” campaign. They tried to bring me to the “purge” tribunal by hook\or by crook.


Their intrigues led to a frontal clash between them\and me.


I refuted them with a strong argument that the procurement of clothing for the national salvation army with the help of the landowner could never be a Rightist act, still less the work of the “Minsaengdan”,\and then I unhesitatingly expressed my opinion about the anti-“Minsaengdan” campaign:


“Since combatting the ‘Minsaengdan’ means combatting spies, nobody has the right to be indifferent to it. I do not wish to see the ‘Minsaengdan’ infiltrate into our ranks, either. But I cannot remain an onlooker at the murder of innocent people perpetrated on the excuse of purging the ‘Minsaengdan’. Such an act of murder undermines the revolution\and benefits the enemy. Can we remain silent? Take a look— what kind of people are they, whom you’ve labelled ‘Minsaengdan’ members? Aren’t they indomitable fighters who have shared all our hardships in the guerrilla zone with death hovering? Why would fighters like that join the ‘Minsaengdan’ which is against the revolution? Your arguments are untenable.”

 

The Leftist elements became angry at my statement\and shouted, “Do you object then to the line of the anti-‘Minsaengdan’ struggle?”


“If your line of anti-‘Minsaengdan’ struggle is for killing your friends who are loyal to the revolution, I cannot support it. If you’re\selecting ‘Minsaengdan’ members, you have to truly identify them on the basis of scientific evidence. Why are you disposing of people one by one who are working for the revolution, enduring hunger\and hardships in this mountain? Isn’t this strange?” I refuted.


I criticized them incisively\and brought the matter to a critical point. The Leftist elements on the East Manchuria Special District Committee said that I lacked knowledge of the “Minsaengdan”.


“Well, if you say so, I myself will see the people you’ve defined as ‘Minsaengdan’ members”, I said. “If you want to hear what the prisoners say, you may be present at the hearing.”


A company commander nicknamed Hunter Jang (his real name was Jang Ryong San) was among the “Minsaengdan” prisoners kept in the gaol at Lishugou. His father was a renowned hunter in the Wangqing area.


Jang Ryong San had learned marksmanship by frequently accompanying his father when hunting. He was such a crack shot that once he had prepared dough\and then hunted eight roe deers to cook dough-flake soup. During the battle to defend Xiaowangqing he had sniped at least 100 of the enemy. He was one of my dearest commanding officers.


This man had suddenly been labelled as a “Minsaengdan” member\and was locked up in a gaol no better than an animal shed. What did I feel on seeing him there?

 

“Hunter Jang, speak up clearly! Are you really a ‘Minsaengdan’ member?” I asked him point-blank.


“Yes, I am,” he admitted dully.


“If that is so, why did you shoot so many Japanese?”


The Leftists who had followed me to the gaol to listen were looking at me triumphantly.


I calmed down\and reasoned with Jang Ryong San.


“Look here, Hunter Jang. The ‘Minsaengdan’ is a reactionary\organization formed by the Japanese\and serves them.\and you’ve killed more than a hundred of them. Isn’t that strange? Speak the truth even though you’ re threatened with a sword at your neck. Speak frankly.”


Only then did he burst out sobbing, grasping my hand. He spoke appealingly, in a hoarse voice:


“Comrade Commander, why would I join the ‘Minsaengdan’? I’ve denied it, but they wouldn’t believe me, only flogged me. I had no alternative but to say I’m a ‘Minsaengdan’. I’m sorry to have thrown mud at you.”


“It isn’t important whether you throw mud\or black ink at me. The point is that you’re a dishonest man—you say you’re a ‘Minsaengdan’ to the tyrants who torture you,\and deny it in front of me. I don’t need a coward who says two things with one mouth.”


I was so infuriated when I left the gaol that the Leftists did not dare to speak to me.


That day I met Tong Chang-rong\and lodged a strong protest against him.


“I see that your work is questionable. The ‘Minsaengdan’ must not be combatted in this way. How come you arrest\and lock up innocent people on a charge of involvement in the ‘Minsaengdan’? The ‘Minsaengdan’ must be combatted in a democratic way, not by a few high-ranking authorities, but through mass discussion to identify friend rom foe. A ‘Minsaengdan’ must not be produced through torture\and intimidation. Nobody in Wangqing but you regards Hunter Jang a ‘Minsaengdan’ member. I stand surety for him on my life. You must release him at once.”


I told the Leftists that the so-called “Minsaengdan” suspects in the guerrilla army must not be touched without the political department’s permission. On my return to the unit, I punished the commanding officer who had turned over Jang Ryong San to the “purge” headquarters at his discretion.


That day the East Manchuria Special District Committee released Jang Ryong San as I had demanded.


Later Jang was sent to Zhoujiatun, Ningan County, to procure provisions. He fought well there until the last moment of his life.


The Pak Chang Gil incident, widely known to the public, was also a sort of trial. It occurred while we were stationed at Gayahe.


One day we brought a cow of the “People’s Association” rom a village near Tumen\and had it slaughtered for the soldiers\and the local people. Many of the people, who had eaten the beef, suffered a bowel complaint.


My comrades-in-arms crowded into my lodgings, saying that all the comrades were ailing after drinking the water rom a well poisoned by the “Minsaengdan”,\and that they were afraid many may die. If that had been true, the whole company would have perished.


I\ordered the company to climb the hill at the back of the village\and alerted them against a possible enemy attack.

 

Strange as it may be, I myself did not feel any stomach-ache until a long time had passed, nor was there any sign of the enemy attack I had anticipated.


I summoned the company commander, the political instructor, the Young Communist League secretary, the youth worker\and other officers of the company\and asked them if they, too, believed that the well had really been poisoned.


“Yes, probably,” the officers answered unanimously, without considering the matter.


“But I have no stomach-ache although I ate the beef late in the evening\and early this morning,” I said. “If other people suffer rom stomach-ache, the company commander\and I should also suffer, but we don’t. How can this be explained?”


“The commanders may not suffer probably because they were served with clean soup,” the company commander hazarded.


“That’s not true. The commanders\and the men ate the soup rom the same pot,\and there’s no law that the poison doesn’t foul up the portion for the officers.”


Meanwhile, a platoon leader who was patrolling the village brought a boy as tall as a rifle to me, saying that the boy was a “Minsaengdan” member\and that he had poisoned the well. The boy was Pak Chang Gil now under suspicion. The platoon leader said that the boy had frankly admitted his crime before the villagers.


Hearing the news that the culprit had been arrested, the village was astir. Some people cursed him as a good-for-nothing,\and some hurled abuse at his mother, that she deserved to be flogged to death.


Chang Gil had grown up in hardship, herding pigs for a Chinese landowner. One of his brothers was serving as a company supply officer of the guerrilla army,\and another was working in a branch Party\organization. I could hardly believe that the boy with such a family background could do such a harmful thing that might destroy a company of the guerrilla army.


I talked with the boy for hours. At first he admitted his “crime” to me. But in the end he denied it, crying. His admission of the “crime” in front of the villagers had been motivated by his repulsion towards the village women who had shifted the blame for the accident upon him even though he had denied it.


I immediately brought the company down rom the hill\and declared the boy innocent at a mass meeting:


“This boy did not poison the well. Then, who has poisoned it? None of you, villagers, has poisoned it. No one has been poisoned. There are, of course, the people who suffered rom a stomach complaint for a day\or two. But that was because they had eaten too much beef for the first time in many months. So there is no question of the ‘Minsaengdan’ here,\and there cannot be such a question. I declare here\and now that the boy, whom you accused of being a ‘Minsaengdan’ member, is enlisted in the guerrilla army.”


The village women listening to me began to sob, even those who had accused the boy.


The Leftists took issue with me about the Pak Chang Gil incident, saying that I had settled it rom a Rightist point of view.


After his enlistment in the guerrilla army, Pak Chang Gil fought courageously in the battle to defend Xiaowangqing.


Thus, I ran a few big risks against the Leftists around me. The rescue of Hunter Jang\and Ryang Song Ryong rom the “Minsaengdan” gaol was one risk,\and the declaration of Pak Chang Gil’s innocence\and his enlistment in the guerrilla army was another.


To be candid, it was very dangerous to implement the politics of trust\and benevolence, which means seeing people as they are, treating comrades as comrades,\and serving the people as such, at a time when shallow-minded, bigoted people, mad for power, were judging everyone rom their prejudiced opinion\and behaving like prosecutors, judges\or executioners. But it was imperative for me to combat them at the risk of my own life.


The best self-protection under the surveillance of distrust, which suspected everything as the work of the “Minsaengdan”, was to refrain rom meddling\and shutting one’s eyes to everything. But I raised the banner of revolt against everything that I considered unjust with courage\and my belief that if a man lacked the resoluteness to condemn injustice as he saw it, he was as good as dead\and had no need to live. If one cared for only one’s own comfort, how could one be a revolutionary? I was convinced that, no matter how violent the whirlwind of “purge” was, it was a passing phenomenon, that if we dedicated ourselves to the struggle against it we could ward it off.


The Left chauvinists\and factionalist sycophants who had become addicted to an abuse of power through the purge of what they called the “Minsaengdan”, had even cooked up\and published a “Minsaengdan” structure of the east Manchuria Party\organization\and a “Minsaengdan” structure of the people’s revolutionary army—exact copies of the\organizational systems of the Party\and the guerrilla army in the east Manchurian guerrilla zones.


The Leftists schemed to give us the impression that the “Minsaengdan” had sent many of its agents into the guerrilla army\and to drive a wedge between my men\and me to prevent me rom stopping their campaign against the “Minsaengdan”.


One day a cadre came to my unit with a letter rom the head of the\organizational department of the east Manchuria Party committee. I was amazed after reading it. It did not mention the source of information, but it said that one of my men, named Han Pong Son, was plotting a “Minsaengdan” action in a big way\and was going to kill me,\and that in view of the seriousness of his crime he must be arrested without delay.


Han Pong Son’s “crime” was awful, but somehow it was difficult for me to believe the letter. In the first place, the attempt for a big “Minsaengdan” action seemed unfounded. Han Pong Son had been fighting courageously, at the risk of his life,\and what devil could have caught him\and made him a “Minsaengdan” member?


Judging rom his character, he was not violent\or wicked,\and was incapable of harming\or killing his commander. He was so good-natured, handsome\and well-mannered that he was jealously envied by others. He was very close to me in everyday life. It was hardly probable that such a man would harm his commander who heartily loved him.


But it was impossible to brush off the letter. Was the head of the\organizational department able to tell such a lie? I was very displeased.


I told the messenger to return without worry, saying that I myself would test the man\and then deal with him.


“An undesirable situation may break out any minute... You’re really a strange man,” the messenger said\and left reluctantly.


Thoughts crowded in on me: Has Han Pong Son really attempted to take my life? Why is he trying to kill me? I can’t see any reason for him to do so. It’s good that I haven’t turned him over to the special district committee. But what if he sows seeds of trouble?

 

A few days after, I called Han Pong Son to headquarters.


Beaming, as usual, he asked me, “Comrade Commander, what do you want me for? Are you going to send me to the enemy area on a mission?”


“You’ve guessed it. Go to Sanchakou\and capture a secret agent\and bring him to me today. You have a good sense of smell.”


“Is that so? Last night in my dream I went sight-seeing to Tumen,\and my comrades in the company read that as an omen of a mission to the enemy area. They interpreted the dream excellently.”


“I’ll give you a pistol to protect yourself. Take it with you.”


“No, I won’t; it’s cumbersome. I’ll lure him by words. Don’t worry, please.”


“All right, hide the pistol in the ground\and retrieve it on your way back.”


Han Pong Son buried the Mauser on the way as he was told,\and walked on to the town of Sanchakou. He found the named secret agent,\and said, “Wouldn’t you like to go\and see the communist zone? I’ll guarantee your safety.” That is how he coaxed the agent\and brought him to the guerrilla zone.


I questioned the secret agent myself.


“I know that you’re a dog of the Japanese. But I won’t kill you. In return you must do something for us. Since you’ve taken an oath of allegiance at the gendarmerie, you may continue to do as you’re told by the Japanese. Only inform us in advance of coming ‘punitive’ attacks on us. I won’t give you any other mission. If you acquit yourself well, you’ll be recognized as a revolutionary. Can you do that?”

 

The spy said that he would do whatever I told him to,\and begged for ensurance that the members of the revolutionary\organizations would not kill him.


I saw to it that Han Pong Son escorted the spy back to Sanchakou.


Needless to say, he performed the mission with credit.


After this assignment was fulfilled, I said to the cadres of the East Manchuria Special District Committee:


“I gave Han Pong Son a pistol to test him, but he didn’t run away. I told him to capture a dog of the Japanese\and he did. As I gave him both a pistol\and cartridges, he could have harmed me easily if he had wanted to. But he didn’t. Can such a man join the ‘Minsaengdan’?”


They retorted:


“A ‘Minsaengdan’ member can imitate this sort of an act. He didn’t run away\or harm you to win the confidence of the cadres, to worm his way deeper into our ranks,\and launch a big ‘Minsaengdan’ venture. So we cannot trust him.”


I gave Han Pong Son a second assignment. It was to bury an explosive in the Tumen-Jiamusi railway line.


He again smiled\and left for his destination without delay. When I had mentioned that he was too adventurous\and warned him to be careful lest he should be captured, he answered, “I’m not afraid of being captured. Trust me. I wouldn’t turn coat even if I were. The worst thing that might happen to me would be being shot.”


A third assignment I gave him was to lead a storm troop. A fierce battle was being fought during our raid on a concentration village near Wangqing. While leading the storm troop in the attack of a fort, he lost a hand unfortunately. But, in return for the sacrifice, this peerless courageous optimist was completely rid of any charge of involvement in the “Minsaengdan”.


I proved his innocence through these three test missions. If I had sent him to the head of the\organizational department without testing him, he would no doubt have been executed as a reactionary. My suspension of the execution of the Leftists’\orders to save Han Pong Son through testing was, in effect, a hair-raising adventure on which I had to stake my own life. If he had killed a cadre with the pistol\or had run away to the enemy area, there would have been no escape rom my being held responsible for trusting him.


That was my third adventure, so to speak. This type of adventure was repeated in subsequent days.


In the whirlpool of a monstrous “class struggle” in which the fates of tens\and hundreds of people were decided by the shout of an\order\or a single gesture of individuals, I had to meet the challenges of blockheads every minute who lacked every human feeling,\and still less sober revolutionary reasoning\and discretion. But I was able to fight openly\and squarely with my conviction, without yielding to any pressure, on the strength of my unsullied reputation, my successes in battle as a man in command of the guerrilla army,\and my theoretical support.


Besides, many of the Chinese cadres in the leadership of Jiandao had been greatly influenced by me during my days in Jilin,\and they did not dare attempt to connect me with the “Minsaengdan”\and dispose of me.


When the raging wind of the anti-“Minsaengdan” campaign was sweeping the guerrilla zones in east Manchuria, I rose rom my sickbed\and prepared for my trip to Dahuangwai.


I was not strong enough to attend the meeting after weeks of illness, but I had to participate in it in spite of everything as I had proposed holding it. Nevertheless, the 4th Company commander, its political instructor\and many other comrades in the army objected to my departure for Dahuangwai.


“Comrade Commander, it’s said that representatives rom both the Manchurian Provincial Party Committee\and the Manchurian Provincial Committee of the Young Communist League have arrived. That isn’t a good sign. No matter how well justice is behind you, Comrade Commander, you’re alone\and they have the majority,” the political instructor of the 4th Company tried to convince me.


Even my\orderly O Tae Song was apprehensive about my trip to Dahuangwai. There was not a single optimist to encourage me with smiling prospects\and blessings that one would like to expect rom the meeting at Dahuangwai.


It was not without reason that they were worried about my trip.


It was February 1935. By that time the Party headquarters at all levels\and Party members in east Manchuria had been secretly alerted by the Manchurian Provincial Party Committee to step up the purge operations\and the campaign on two fronts against the Left\and Right trends to remove all the counterrevolutionaries lurking in the Party\and wipe out factional strife, nationalism\and social reformism, in\order to make the entire Party Bolshevik. After receipt of these instructions, all the Party\organizations in east Manchuria were mercilessly conducting the anti-“Minsaengdan” campaign in a more ultra-Leftist manner.


Before that my arguments with the Leftists about the “Minsaengdan” had been made spontaneously at informal places. By contrast, at Dahuangwai\where all the important people rom the Party, the army\and the Young Communist League were to meet, a formal, heated polemic was expected. While I was alone in opposition to the Leftist tendency, ten\or twenty\or more people might rise against me, as it had become a practice for most people to keep as silent as dumb animals when it came to the issue of “Minsaengdan” although they had something to say about it. That meant I had to fight against heavy odds, surrounded by people of the Leftist trend. Their arguments might condemn me as a “criminal”\or the meeting hall might become a tribunal that would ostracize me. If the worse came to the worst, they might attempt to label me a “Minsaengdan”\and bury me politically\and physically.


This was precisely the reason for the great apprehension of my comrades-in-arms. They were well aware how cold-hearted the manipulators of the “purge” were.


That was why they were worried, begging me not to go to Dahuangwai.


And yet, I did go, saying:


“Comrades, I must tread this path, whatever the future may hold for me, life\or death. If I do not go to Dahuangwai, I shall only invite self-destruction. A critical moment has arrived for us to save the destiny of the Korean communists,\and the Korean revolution rom crisis. A confrontation cannot be avoided,\and black\and white has to be cleared.”


With the help of O Tae Song\and another\orderly, I walked to Dahuangwai\and arrived there when the meeting was in its second day of session.


In the office of the peasant committee of district No. 8, which was guarded strictly by men of the people’s revolutionary army, I was received by Wei Zheng-min, the representative rom the Manchurian Provincial Party Committee, Wang Run-cheng, Zhou Shu-dong, Cao Ya-fan, Wang De-tai, Wang Zhong-shan\and other cadres of the East Manchuria Party\and League Special District Committees. In this spacious office building the meeting, which the Chinese termed the joint meeting of the East Manchuria Party\and League Special District Committees, was in session. In Korea the meeting is called the Dahuangwai meeting. At one time some historians called it the meeting of military\and political cadres of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. This cannot be considered accurate.


The meeting went on for about ten days. Attendance was irregular as some people kept coming in\and leaving. Most of those present were Chinese,\and I remember, there were only several Korean cadres including Song Il, Rim Su San, Jo Tong Uk\and me. Jo Tong Uk was a translator throughout the meeting for the Korean cadres who did not know Chinese well. I attended the meeting in the capacity of a member of the East Manchuria Special District Party Committee.


The Dahuangwai meeting was convened because Zhong Zi-yun (alias Little Zhong), in the capacity of an inspector rom the Manchurian Provincial Committee of the Young Communist League, while visiting Jiandao to become acquainted with the work there, had made the absurd report to the provincial Party committee that 70 per cent of the Koreans in east Manchuria were “Minsaengdan” members. If his report had been true, what would have happened to the revolution in east Manchuria? It was natural that the Manchurian Provincial Party Committee dispatched its representative to east Manchuria to take measures in dealing with the situation. Arguments continued day\and night.


The argument began to grow heated when Zhong Zi-yun repeated his view expressed in that report that 70 per cent of the Koreans in east Manchuria\and 80 to 90 per cent of the Korean revolutionaries were “Minsaengdan” members\or suspects,\and that the guerrilla zones were “Minsaengdan” training centres.

 

The atmosphere of the meeting was swayed towards supporting his report. Some people said that the purge committee should be strengthened, others uttered high-sounding phrases, insisting that the purge of the “Minsaengdan” was a special revolutionary measure to surround\and destroy the counterrevolutionaries lurking in the ranks,\and still others clamoured for the seeds sown by the “Minsaengdan” to be rooted up mercilessly\and more thoroughly.


I put a few questions to them:


“If most of the Korean revolutionaries active in east Manchuria are ‘Minsaengdan’ members, it means that I\and other Korean comrades present here are members of it. If so, are you holding this meeting with the ‘Minsaengdan’? If we belong to the ‘Minsaengdan’, why have you called us here to discuss politics with us, instead of locking us up in a gaol\or killing us?


“Do the statistics you have compiled include the revolutionaries who laid down their lives on the battlefield? If the statistics include them, how can their death in the war against the Japanese be explained? It follows that the Japanese have killed a large number of their own people. Was it necessary for the Japanese to kill these ‘Minsaengdan’ members whom they had tried so hard to train?


“Do you consider 80 to 90 per cent of the 1st Company, now guarding the conference hall, as ‘Minsaengdan’ members?”


As I posed these questions, an icy silence fell suddenly over the conference hall which had been in a state of excitement. The silence seemed strange even to me. The audience simply stared at Wei Zheng-min’s face on the platform who made no reply.


I continued:

 

“As you know, if heterogeneous elements occupy 80 to 90 per cent of something, that thing changes into something else. That is science.


“The allegation that 70 per cent of the Koreans in east Manchuria belong to the ‘Minsaengdan’ implies that all the Koreans except aged people, children\and women are ‘Minsaengdan’ members. If so, is the ‘Minsaengdan’ fighting for the revolution in east Manchuria, in a bloody war against their masters?


“Some people openly say that most of the Korean communists active in east Manchuria are ‘Minsaengdan’ members. This is also illogical. If they were, what have they been fighting a hard battle for in the guerrilla zones which have been in a state of constant blockade over the past three years, without housing, clothing\and being fed properly even in the severe winter cold?


“If 8 to 9 per cent of the Korean revolutionaries, let alone 80 to 90 per cent, were ‘Minsaengdan’ members, it would be impossible for us to safely hold this meeting, because this conference hall is guarded by the 1st Company of fully armed Koreans. All the renowned revolutionaries\and cadres rom east Manchuria, whom the enemy has been trying to destroy for years, are present here. If your statements were true, most of the 1st Company must belong to the ‘Minsaengdan’. So, isn’t it strange that they don’t attack us with their efficient weapons\and make a clean sweep of us?”


The people who had declared that we were all “Minsaengdan” members were likewise unable to answer this question.


“The 1st Company was miserable when you declared it to be a ‘Minsaengdan’ company. According to the investigation which I myself conducted in the company for about 20 days, there was no evidence that proved any of the company belonging to the ‘Minsaengdan’. On the contrary, it has become a model company during my guidance\and inspection,\and has given birth to another company, the 7th Company. The results of testing people in the practical struggle have also eloquently proved your statement to be unfounded, the statement that most of the Koreans\and Korean revolutionaries in the guerrilla zones in east Manchuria were ‘Minsaengdan’ members.


“The report says that the guerrilla zone is a ‘Minsaengdan’ training centre, that the Party\and the League are also ‘Minsaengdan’\organizations,\and that Ri Yong Guk is the head of the Wangqing county Party ‘Minsaengdan’, that Kim Myong Gyun is in charge of\organizational\and military affairs of the ‘Minsaengdan’ in Wangqing County, that Ri Sang Muk is in charge of\organizational affairs of the east Manchuria Party ‘Minsaengdan’, that Ju Jin is in charge of the ‘Minsaengdan’ in the 1st Division of the people’s revolutionary army,\and that Pak Chun is the chief of staff of the ‘Minsaengdan’ in the people’s revolutionary army. If so, can the east Manchuria Party\organization, the Wangqing county Party\organization\and the 1st Division of the people’s revolutionary army be considered to belong to the ‘Minsaengdan’? Am I to regard the cadres of the east Manchuria Party\organization as the controllers\and leaders of the ‘Minsaengdan’?”


The audience still kept silent.


Only Wei Zheng-min, the representative rom the provincial Party committee, who was on a mission to analyze, sum up\and evaluate the developments of the struggle correctly\and objectively, eased the tension slightly by expressing his view that it was a mistake to identify the Party\and League\organizations themselves as the “Minsaengdan”,\and that the whole\and a part should be distinguished.

 

I emphatically declared that the labelling of most of the east Manchurian people as “Minsaengdan” members was an insult to the Korean people,\and that such a view must be rectified immediately at this meeting.


My assertion met with an instant rebuff rom Cao Ya-fan. He said:


“You’re flatly denying the existence of the ‘Minsaengdan’; however, that is your subjective view. There are now hundreds of ‘Minsaengdan’ suspects in gaols. They have confessed with their own mouths that they have joined the ‘Minsaengdan’\and have written confessions with their own hands. What do their\oral\and written confessions mean? Does it mean that you don’t recognize material proof?”


“I don’t recognize what you call\oral\and written confessions because most of your material evidence has been squeezed out through torture. I have been to your gaols\and interviewed dozens of your suspects,\and none of them admitted to his confession. I trust their loyalty more that has been displayed in their life\and work than your material evidence. Tell me frankly, how did you wrest those confessions... Most of your ‘Minsaengdan’ suspects have made false confessions, unable to endure the painful tortures by the ‘purgers’.


“You are now manufacturing a ‘Minsaengdan’ which is not a ‘Minsaengdan’.”


At that moment, Cao Ya-fan shouted, “Budui!” (No!)


The word “budui” grated on me to the point of anger. Cao Ya-fan, of all people, dared to say “No!”?


My fist banged on the floor as I retorted, “What do you mean by ‘no’? The Koreans in Jiandao are now watching you, because you have hunted people at random by abusing your authority.

 

“Who killed Kim Jong Ryong, political commissar of the Antu guerrilla unit? Who killed Kim Il Hwan, secretary of the Helong County Party Committee? Answer me frankly here\and now! Cao Ya-fan in the days of Jilin was neither brutal nor covetous of position. I cried in indignance at the news of Kim Il Hwan’s death. He was your senior in the revolution. How could you murder him, you who should have saved him?”


As Kim Il Hwan’s comrade-in-arms, I had bitterly moaned over his death. I criticized them scathingly.


Kim Il Hwan was one of those whom we had won over to the revolution when we were initially raising the revolution in east Manchuria. He\and O Jung Hwa were the two prominent figures of those days. I don’t remember clearly now whether it was at Cao Ya-fan’s\or at Ri Chong San’s that I first met Kim Il Hwan. But I still have a vivid memory of the heart-to-heart talk I had with him through the night at the time of the Mingyuegou meeting. It was a very impressive talk. He was my senior by many years, but he treated me modestly, on an equal footing, without putting on airs\or behaving haughtily. Kim Jun\and Chae Su Hang, who moved about together like twins in the streets of Jilin\and Longjing, introduced Kim Il Hwan to me just as they had O Jung Hwa.


“The man who has won an ox at a football game,” was always an introductory remark Chae Su Hang used to explain Kim Il Hwan to me. This epithet was also used when he introduced him to those attending the Mingyuegou meeting. Chae Su Hang, a noted sportsman, was in the habit of judging a man by his skill in a football game. In a way it was an interesting criterion.

 

Thanks to Chae Su Hang’s introductory epithet, Kim Il Hwan was widely known as an able sportsman to many of the revolutionaries in east Manchuria.


Kim Il Hwan was a seasoned, experienced political worker. Like O Jung Hwa, he was one of those who set the first example for the rest of the communists in the Jiandao area to follow in revolutionizing his family. His whole family were remarkable revolutionaries\and ardent patriots, who laid down their lives for the revolution.


His mother, O Ok Kyong, was a veteran Communist, who dedicated her life to the care of revolutionaries. His wife, Ri Kye Sun, was a laudable daughter of the Korean nation who fought bravely\and preserved her honour as a revolutionary until the last moment of her life. His younger brother, Kim Tong San, was an underground operative\and was killed by the enemy in a “punitive” action. Kim Jong Sik, of the Helong guerrilla unit, was a cousin of Kim Il Hwan’s. His relations on his wife’s side, too, dedicated their lives to the revolution. His wife’s brother, Ri Ji Chun, was one of those who paid a visit to us in Jilin\and received directions for struggle rom us.


In short, Kim Il Hwan was a ripe seed. He was well-informed. Kim Il\and Pak Yong Sun, who had done underground work with Kim Il Hwan in Helong for many years, often recollected that his method\and style of work was seasoned\and that he was popular among the masses. Kim Il\and Pak Yong Sun developed as Party workers under his influence. I think it was because of these merits that Kim Il Hwan was sent now\and then on missions to work among the men of the national salvation army. In those days, the soldiers of this army in Helong all respected him\and treated him cordially.

 

Once Ri To Son’s unit rom Antu suddenly crowded into Chechangzi in\order to “mop up” the national salvation army. The soldiers of the Jingan army searched the village for the national salvation army. They thus discovered a bundle of leaflets at Kim Il Hwan’s house, a bundle of important leaflets which his mother was to deliver to another local\organization.


Saying that he had discovered the Communist Party, Ri To Son began questioning the whole of Kim Il Hwan’s family. Kim’s mother said that a stranger had left the bundle, but the interrogator did not believe her. Ri To Son’s eyes glared maliciously. While Kim’s family was being threatened, their neighbour, a landowner, begged the interrogator to be merciful, saying that they were not Communist Party members, but innocent peasants,\and that he was standing surety for them on his honour. Thus the crisis was warded off. This was because Kim Il Hwan had had such a good influence on the landowner in everyday life.


What was most characteristic of Kim Il Hwan was his uncompromising attitude towards injustice\and unshakable revolutionary principle. Because of these qualities Kim Il Hwan was stigmatized as a “Minsaengdan” member later\and persecuted\and finally murdered by the Leftists. The Left chauvinists\and factionalist sycophants hated those most who lived to their own convictions, guided by principles, without kowtowing to power\or dancing to the tune of others, because injustice could not hold sway\and there was no room for the devil to set foot\or act freely\where there were principles.


There was a man in Kim Il Hwan’s village named Ri Ok Man, who was in charge of the local Party\organization. The man had accidentally found a place in the revolutionary ranks. He was an opium addict\and was leading a dissipated life. He flirted with many women by abusing his official authority. Kim Il Hwan advised him comradely to refrain rom such behaviour\and to give up opium smoking. If Ri Ok Man had been a reasonable man, he would have accepted the criticism with thanks. But, by way of retaliation, he instigated his Leftist superiors to stigmatize Kim Il Hwan as a “Minsaengdan” member\and to oust him rom the office of county Party secretary.


Even after his dismissal, Kim Il Hwan worked loyally. In\order to test him the Leftists sent him to a coal-mine owned by a capitalist with an assignment to work among the miners.


Kim Il Hwan\and his family could have fled to the enemy area during his test period in\order not to be persecuted by the Leftists. But he did not want to be disgraced as a defector rom the revolutionary ranks, even if he were to be killed in the presence of the people in the guerrilla zone on the false charge of involvement in the “Minsaengdan”.


“I shall be arrested\and killed.


“It cannot be that I am a member of the ‘Minsaengdan’, an\organization of Japanese stooges, nor have I ever thought of being one. However, it would be appropriate for me to uphold the honour of a revolutionary even if it means being killed here on a false charge of involvement in the ‘Minsaengdan’, for if I surrendered to the enemy\and turned coat to save my life, it would mean a greater loss to the revolution.


“Then the crime of betraying the revolution would not be atoned for ever.


“My last wish is that my whole family should fight staunchly until our country is liberated\and becomes independent.”


That was what he had said to his mother\and wife when he had had a premonition that his days were numbered.

 

One day in November 1934 the Leftists brought him to trial. Ri Ok Man’s malicious charge against him was absolutely false:


“This man is the worst of reactionaries. He has not confessed a single word in spite of long questionings. There is no knowing whether a serpent\or a viper is coiling inside him. If this fellow were kept alive, our revolution could be shattered to shreds in less than ten years. Should he be allowed to live\or should he be killed?”


None of the audience answered the question.


Some people whispered: how could a communist revolution be carried out if such people were all killed? But nobody spoke out openly against the charge.


The people of Chechangzi knew that the charge was unfounded, but could not speak against those in power, for if they had they, too, would have been accused of being “Minsaengdan” members.


The Leftists sentenced him, one of the founders of the Helong guerrilla unit, to death.


“Wait\and see who is a real ‘Minsaengdan’ member\and who is a true communist... History will make black\and white clear,” Kim Il Hwan shouted, glaring at them, on his being sentenced to death.


Hearing this, the men of the national salvation army unit under the command of Sun Zhang-xiang shouted angrily, wielding their rifles:


“Why are you killing Kim Il Hwan? He is our teacher\and benefactor. If such a revolutionary is a ‘Minsaengdan’ member, is there anyone who is not a ‘Minsaengdan’ member? We stand surety for him. If you do not repeal the death sentence, we’ll molest you.”


Under the pressure of the men of the national salvation army, the Leftists withdrew the sentence\and released him; however, they murdered him that night.

 

“I ask you,” I shouted hoarsely, glaring at Cao Ya-fan, “did you really believe that Kim Il Hwan was a ‘Minsaengdan’ member? Didn’t you shoot him with an ulterior purpose because you knew that he was not a ‘Minsaengdan’ member? If he was a ‘Minsaengdan’ member, who on earth is not a ‘Minsaengdan’ member in this land of Jiandao?”


I continued in a calmer voice: “Comrades, stop gambling on people’s destinies. Treat human beings as humans, treat comrades as comrades,\and treat the people as people. Aren’t we fighting to change\and transform the world with the weapon of human love, love for our comrades, love for the people? If we lack this love, how do we differ rom the bourgeoisie\or the bandits? If we mock at people in the name of ‘purge’ any further, the people will turn against us for ever,\and our posterity will not forgive us. The only way to redress the murder of thousands of martyrs on a false charge of involvement in the ‘Minsaengdan’ is to stop this pointless murder\and concentrate all our efforts on the struggle against the Japanese on the strength of the politics of love\and trust\and unity. Spit out the bait of the ‘Minsaengdan’ thrown by the enemy\and don’t yield to factionalism, chauvinism\and adventurism having any room in our ranks. This alone will pave the way to healing the wounds caused by the ‘Minsaengdan’ for years, will save the people, save the revolution\and strengthen the internationalist ties between the Korean\and Chinese communists on a new higher level. The real harmony of the revolutionaries of our two countries must be based on mutual respect, mutual understanding, class confidence\and fraternity. We must guard against the pursuit of hegemony more vigilantly than anything else in our joint struggle. If one side pursues a selfish purpose\or sacrifices the other for this purpose, such cooperation will not be a durable one. In short, our harmony will last only if it is motivated by trust\and love.”


At the Dahuangwai meeting, there was a heated argument on the matter of personnel. The argument started when some of those at the helm of the special district committee made the assertion that only the people of the majority nation, not the minority nation, could be cadres, that it was inappropriate\and irrational that the minority nation should guide the majority nation. They pointed out that the Koreans of the minority nation were not in a position to lead the majority nation,\and that, worse still, the Korean revolutionaries could not become cadres for they were given to factional strife, were vacillating\and liable to turn reactionary.


It was a known fact that the Manchurian Provincial Party Committee had issued a secret directive that the policy of\selecting\and appointing mainly Koreans as cadres of the east Manchuria Party leadership should be switched over to the policy of centring on the Chinese. The import of this directive was that in the light of the Koreans’ failure in both the nationalist\and communist movements in the past, their being liable to vacillate\or to turn reactionary, the difference in language\and customs, the “revolutionary basis of the minority nation” was not durable, “success in independence\and the communist movements under the leadership of the minority nation was impossible”\and that, therefore, the “Korean basis in east Manchuria should be replaced by the Chinese basis”.


The directive demanded that the secretary of the East Manchuria Special District Committee\and other major cadres should be appointed by the Manchurian Provincial Party Committee,\and that Koreans should not be promoted, except in special cases, to company commanders\and higher ranks.


I did not believe at that time\and still do not believe that the directive was motivated by the will of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. When the directive was issued, the leadership of the Chinese Party was on a long march of 25,000 li, breaking out of the Jiang Jie-shi’s army encirclement. In the vortex of civil war, the Central Committee of the Chinese Party, treading a thorny path\and shouldering the heavy burdens of revolutionary war, was in no state to give attention to developments in the northeastern frontier of the country.


Many of the measures taken by the Manchurian Provincial Party Committee were copies of the directives issued by the Comintern’s\oriental department which was under the direction of Wang Ming\and Kang Sheng\or were adopted in line with its directives. The distance rom Harbin,\where the Manchurian Provincial Party Committee was situated, to Irkutsk, Vladivostok\or to Khabarovsk,\where the offices of Comintern’s\oriental department were, was much shorter than to Jinggang Mountains\or Yanan.


The contention that a minority nation was not in a position to lead a majority nation seriously affected our dignity. It was a fallacy that contradicted the communist principle of\selection\and appointment of cadres\and ignored the composition of the cadres in east Manchuria.


I again started on new arguments:


“The Korean\and Chinese communists have the noble task of fighting the Japanese imperialists, their common enemy, until the day of victory. The matter of personnel must, therefore, be settled in a way to strengthen the militant solidarity of the Korean\and Chinese peoples\and their common struggle against the Japanese,\and the principle of\selecting\and appointing cadres loyal to the revolution\and competent rom the point of view of Marxism-Leninism must be maintained.


“As you know the Koreans pioneered the communist movement in east Manchuria. The Korean people make up the overwhelming majority of the cadres\and Party members in east Manchuria. Why do you shut your eyes to this fact\and claim the guidance of the minority nation by the majority nation\or the replacement of cadres rom the minority nation by those rom the majority nation now after several years of joint struggle?


“We’re not advocating the theory of the Korean nation’s superiority\or of the inferiority of any other nation rom a nationalist point of view. But the tendency must be rectified of promoting incompetent\and unqualified people indiscriminately simply because they come rom the majority nation.


“The nationality\or political affiliation\or the magnitude of the population should not be the criterion for a\selection of cadres. Whether a person belongs to a minority\or to a majority nation, he can be a cadre if he is qualified,\and cannot be one if he is not.”


Then somebody spoke up, saying that most of the Korean revolutionaries had been involved in the nationalist movement\or in factions\and, therefore, they were not qualified to be cadres.


I refuted him then\and there:


“The overwhelming majority of the Korean revolutionaries working in east Manchuria are rom the unsullied new generation who have never been involved in any factions. You well know that the young communists rom the main class, whom we have trained stinting no efforts, make up the main force of the people’s revolutionary army. These young people are also working as cadres of the Party, government and mass\organizations. There are also people who had participated in the nationalist movement\or who were involved in factions in the past, but they have all been transformed on revolutionary lines.”


Scarcely had I finished when another man counterattacked me on another subject. He said that the “Minsaengdan” was the son of factionalism, that factionalism was the son of nationalism\and that nationalism was the son of Japanese imperialism. This absurd allegation stunned everyone. To put it in a reverse\order, he meant that Japanese imperialism had supported the people who participated in the nationalist movement\and those who were involved in factions in the past. It was an absurd allegation which had no theoretical justification; it was a display of distrust in the ranks of the Korean communist movement which embraced the former nationalists\and factionalists who had been re-educated.


I felt the need to attack the sophistry.


“People’s ideologies are not immutable. Those who had a nationalist ideology in the past can become communists through their firm efforts to make themselves over. It would be preposterous to regard people who participated in the nationalist movement in the past as the fathers of factionalism\or as the sons of Japanese imperialism.


“Fundamentally speaking, nationalism has its ideological basis in the love for one’s country\and nation. To regard it as reactionary, therefore, is tantamount to regarding patriotism as reactionary. Don’t indiscriminately consider nationalism to be heretical. So long as nationalism is not used as an ideological instrument of the bourgeoisie, there is no need to casually reject it. Nationalism can only be reactionary to history when it represents the interests of the bourgeoisie alone,\and not the interests of the whole nation.

 

“If anybody said that Sun Yat-sen, who authored the Three Principles of the People, namely, nationalism, rights of the people,\and people’s livelihood, was the son of imperialism, how would you accept such nonsense? Opposition to nationalism itself is an expression of extreme nationalist prejudice.


“Some of the Korean factionalists\and nationalists did go over to the enemy camp, but you must remember that they were few in number.


“Some people believe that factional strife is an innate quality of the Korean nation,\and perceive the Korean communists with prejudice as though they had connections with a faction. That is absolutely ridiculous.


“To be candid, factions existed not only in the ranks of the Korean communist movement, they also existed in Germany\and in the Soviet\union, they also exist in China\and Japan\and were also in the International. Why, then, should the Korean people alone be considered to have an ingrained factional habit,\and why should the name of a Korean communist be synonymous for factionalist?


“Some people argue that Koreans are not entitled to be cadres, saying that they, as a minority nation who were unsuccessful in the past independence\and communist movements, will not be successful in these movements,\or that they are very unsteady in the revolutionary struggle\and are liable to turn reactionary. All this is but an excuse aimed at ejecting the Korean cadres.


“You have disposed of dozens\and even hundreds of Korean communists in east Manchuria by this chauvinistic point of view\or murdered them on the false charge of involvement in the ‘Minsaengdan’, of military\and political cadres who had loyally fought side by side with you in the same trench for several years.

 

“So many hard-core elements of the leadership have been removed rom their office simply because they came rom the minority nation.\and are you still hankering for removing more Koreans?


“If you persist in your chauvinistic attitude towards the Koreans further\and maltreat them, we will not share the same room with you any longer.”


As I made this bombshell declaration, the entire audience raised their heads, staring at me.


The conference hall was tensed to such an extent that the gurgling of throats was audible.


If somebody had refuted me\or had uttered a single word to wound my dignity to the slightest degree, the argument would have leapt out of control. Fortunately, the discussion on the personnel stirred no further vehemence.


As the meeting proceeded, the battle of words between the Leftists\and me grew fiercer. Several other Korean cadres were present, but they kept silent the whole time.


Nevertheless, I sensed their mental support. Even Song Il, who had been an agent of the Leftists\and who had left many scars in my heart, came to see me\and encouraged me, saying that I had single-handed done what nobody else could have done. Wei Zheng-min\and Wang Run-cheng, too, showed understanding of my idea, although they did not express their opinions officially. Wei Zheng-min’s sober judgement\and fair attitude in particular were of considerable help to me.


I continued the battle of words day\and night, eating three meals of bean gruel a day. Only skin\and bone remained of me. I had to argue against them all day until late at night,\and was sick when I got into bed,\and when morning came I had to go back again to the argument. As I had to fight alone against many of them, it was inconceivable for me to stay away rom the meeting\or to abstain rom the exercise of my rights. I had to involve myself in the polemic, whether I liked it\or not, for the destiny of the thousands\and even tens of thousands of Korean communists\and Korean people in Jiandao.


Another point of argument at the meeting was how to appreciate the slogan of national liberation which had been raised by the Korean communists. In other words, the argument was whether the struggle of the Korean communists in China under the slogan of national liberation agreed with the Comintern’s principle of one Party for one country\or not,\and whether the slogan was essentially identical with the reactionary slogan of “Koreans’ autonomy in Jiandao ” professed by the “Minsaengdan”\or not.


Certain individuals said that the Korean communists’ slogan of national liberation was identical with the slogan of “Koreans’ autonomy in Jiandao” rigged up by the “Minsaengdan”, that it contradicted the Comintern’s principle of one Party for one country.


This view was shared by a considerable number of cadres. This was a dangerous point of view diametrically opposed to ours. According to their opinion, we would have to serve them for the revolution in a foreign country\or play the role of a small unit of the international force, instead of fighting for the Korean revolution.


I could not agree with their opinion in considering the Korean revolution to be an appendage of the revolution in a large country.


“The Japanese imperialists have granted the slogan of ‘Koreans’ autonomy in Jiandao’ to the ‘Minsaengdan’ for driving a wedge between the Korean\and Chinese peoples\and for disrupting the communist ranks rom within in\order to create favourable conditions for their colonial rule. There’s no need for an argument to prove that it has nothing in common with the slogan of national liberation raised by the Korean communists in Jiandao.


“Our national liberation slogan is aimed at liberating our country by overthrowing Japanese imperialist rule\and at providing our people with an opportunity to enjoy genuine freedom\and to exercise their rights in an independent new society without any exploitation\and oppression.


“Should the Korean communists relinquish their sacred right to liberate their country\and to provide their people with freedom\and happiness just because they are sharing the same room with you in a foreign country? If we were to carry out only the revolution of a foreign country,\and not the Korean revolution, why have we\organized\and trained the Korean people, without feeding\and clothing ourselves properly in this land of Manchuria for several years? Some people say that if the Chinese revolution emerges victorious, the Korean revolution will triumph automatically. That’s nonsense. A revolution in a country has its own path\and its own timetable. If the forces of one’s own country are not prepared, one’s revolution will not win of its own accord, no matter how the revolution in a neighbouring country may triumph. The communists of all countries must, therefore, struggle to effect revolutions in their own countries through their own efforts, instead of waiting for somebody else to help them. This is precisely the attitude one should maintain towards revolution, an attitude worthy of masters.


“Certain persons allege that the Korean communists should not raise the national liberation slogan, using the Comintern’s principle of one Party for one country as an excuse. This is, in effect, an attempt to make the Korean communists take their hands off the revolution in their own country. I cannot say otherwise.

 

“If the French communists had asked the Chinese communists, who were working in France, not to raise the slogan for the Chinese revolution, would the Chinese communists have agreed to the demand?


“No matter\where they’re working, the communists must fight under the slogan for the revolution in their own country,\and through the struggle, they must help the revolution in the country\where they are working\and also contribute to the world revolution. It is a right to independence as well as a sacred duty for Korean communists to fight for the liberation of their country, a right which nobody can ever prevent rom being fulfilled\or perform in place of the masters.”


The polemic that started at the Dahuangwai meeting was resumed at the Yaoyinggou meeting, held in March the same year. Many of those attending supported our contention\and admitted their mistakes. But the difference was not resolved completely at that meeting, either.


We decided to present a number of key points of the argument to the Comintern. We sent Wei Zheng-min\and Yun Pyong Do, a cadre of the East Manchuria Special District Committee of the Young Communist League, to Moscow to receive the Comintern’s answer to them.


The disorder in the Jiandao area was a nightmare, coming as a side effect of the “Minsaengdan” issue.


The Leftists’ blind “purge” campaign had demolished nearly all the foundations for the revolution which the Korean communists had built up through their arduous struggle. Were all those who had been “purged” “Minsaengdan” members? No. There is a record in an enemy document stating there were only seven\or eight “Minsaengdan” members. In\order to ferret out those seven\or eight, the “purge” campaign had massacred more than two thousand friends on the false charge of involvement in the “Minsaengdan”. This was a tragedy unprecedented in the history of the world communist movement. It was an abyss of stupidity, ignorance\and tomfoolery.


All the strong, solid people, who had come to Jiandao with a noble aim rom Korea\and rom many other parts of the world, fell victim to the “purge” in two to three years. There were a variety of talents among the unfortunate victims, to whom nothing seemed impossible. The icy wind of “purge” swept away laudable sons\and daughters of Korea, produced by our revolution against the Japanese.


If I say that the number of the people killed in the aftermath of the “Minsaengdan” hullabaloo exceeded the number of the people who fell on the battlefield, our posterity will not believe me. But it is the truth. The history of the war against the Japanese keeps records of innumerable battles, but it does not give data of 20 to 30 deaths in a single battle. By contrast, it was frequent in the guerrilla zones of east Manchuria that 20 to 30 revolutionaries were massacred in a single day on a false charge of involvement in the “Minsaengdan”. We could not even erect tombstones at their graves. What would be the use of moaning over\and praying for the souls of the departed? They will curse the murderers even in their graves.


Was the “Minsaengdan” really in Jiandao\where it had been dissolved?


I do not even feel the need to answer this question.


There were no “Minsaengdan” members even among the people who, afraid of the “purge”, had fled rom the guerrilla zones.


Was Ju Jin a “Minsaengdan” member? No.


Was Pak Kil a “Minsaengdan” member? No. He had worked in the Independence Army movement\and then plunged into the sacred anti-Japanese war of national salvation. He had been to the Maritime Province,\where he had imbibed the communist ideology,\and then arrived in Jiandao\where the sacred war of national liberation was raging most fiercely,\and engaged in underground political work\and took part in the armed struggle. By the time we were\organizing a small guerrilla unit, which went by the name of a secret guerrilla army, he had already won a high reputation as a political instructor; after the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army was formally founded, he worked as the political commissar of the Yanji Battalion.


Pak Kil had pioneered the revolution in the Yanji area. He was an able political worker\and agitator, who knew how to move the hearts of the masses, as well as a prominent military commander.


His was a patriotic family that had produced five\or six anti-Japanese revolutionary martyrs. His father, Pak Jung Won (alias Tiger), was a loyal peasant who set a remarkable example of support to the revolutionary army.\originally, as a sharecropper, he had dedicated himself to the independence movement. He had raised a calf received for his hired labour,\and when the calf grew up into a cow, he contributed it to the guerrilla army. He was a very enthusiastic supporter of the revolutionary army.


It was literally unreasonable to charge him with involvement in the “Minsaengdan” with such a family background. Nevertheless, the Leftists took issue with him about his service in the Independence Army in former days\and about his sister, who had been forced to become a policeman’s concubine\and had run away rom him. In the end, they murdered him.


Was Kim Myong Gyun a “Minsaengdan” member? No. He was one of the founders of the Wangqing guerrilla unit. He was the head of the military department of the county Party committee. Why would a man like him join the “Minsaengdan”? The Japanese record of his public trial stated that by the time he was imprisoned in the “Minsaengdan” gaol he had shot Japanese on more than 20 occasions, had raided Japanese\and Manchurian authorities over 20 times,\and had captured weapons rom the enemy on eight occasions. If he were a “Minsaengdan” member, how could he have performed such exploits? How could he, after his escape rom the guerrilla zone, teach children to inspire them with a national spirit? How could he have been shot to death by the enemy?


What about Ri Ung Gol? He was not a “Minsaengdan” member, either. I knew him well. He was the head of the\organizational department of the district No. 1 Party committee. He was the first to come to Xiaobeigou with two war-horses to meet me in October 1932 when we first marched into Wangqing. He narrowly escaped rom being executed on a charge of involvement in the “Minsaengdan”. That day I gained an unforgettable impression rom the hearty, courteous welcome accorded me, a young guerrilla commander, by this large man who had brought me two war-horses.


Ri Ung Gol was a revolutionary with an alert political responsiveness\and a rich experience of struggle. He was the secretary of a Young Communist League\organization in Helong County\and served his terms of imprisonment at Longjing\and Seoul; he also worked as political commissar of the special detachment under the command of Ri Kwang. I used to give guidance to district Party work through Ri Ung Gol,\and by generalizing this example I delved deep into Party work in the Wangqing area.


In the summer of 1933 Ri Ung Gol was arrested by the Leftists on a charge of involvement in the “Minsaengdan”; then he fled rom the guerrilla zone to the homeland, leaving a letter behind him which said, “The charge of my involvement in the ‘Minsaengdan’ is unfounded.” He established the base of his activity in the Puryong area, formed a communist\union by rallying young\and middle-aged patriots in North\and South Hamgyong Provinces,\and\organized the struggle against the Japanese, against their construction of military roads, against forced rice delivery,\and forced labour drafting. In the course of this struggle, he was arrested by the Japanese police\and was imprisoned at Seoul. He was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment. The Japanese court knew who he was.


Should such a man have been executed as a “Minsaengdan” member? The polemic at the Dahuangwai meeting was significant in that it removed the stigma of the “Minsaengdan” rom people like Ri Ung Gol. The polemic at the meeting\and the subsequent conclusion given by the Comintern absolved the executed people rom disgrace. Their physical lives could not be revived, but their political integrity was rehabilitated. Another significant point of the meeting was that it exposed the wicked\and brutal Japanese imperialists’ scheme\and the political absurdness of those who had been deceived by their scheme,\and also that, by so doing, it arrested the political coup by the Leftists, binding them hand\and foot. Indeed, the Leftist deviation of the “purge” was a political violence\and a coup against the lower echelons, a coup that was staged overtly by those in power in\order to physically destroy their subordinates.


Our activities were widely known to the Koreans living in east Manchuria after the Dahuangwai meeting. In this written effort, I have given a tedious account of the “Minsaengdan” incident as I recollect it. However, this is not aimed at particularly accusing the authors of the tragic event to the whole world\or at settling my account with the criminals. These reminiscences are intended to give the younger generation a clear picture of the enemy’s scheme\and stratagem to divide\and disrupt the revolutionary ranks rom within, to show that they were made not only yesterday, but are still being made today,\and will continue tomorrow,\and that chauvinism\and the political clumsiness of Leftist elements is still hovering like a spectre around us,\and to give the younger generation a lesson about the establishment of Juche of the Korean revolution\and about the national spirit of independence.


I keenly sensed in my heart, through the anti-“Minsaengdan” struggle\and the Dahuangwai meeting, the summary of the struggle, that independence is the lifeblood of the nation,\and that in\order to uphold\and maintain this independence every member of the nation, pioneer elements in particular, must fight with self-sacrifice.


Just as independence is the primary quality of the man, so it is the primary source of vitality that guarantees the nation’s survival. It can be said that independence is the basic factor that affects the lives of individuals as well as a nation, a large community. We describe the anti-Japanese revolution as a sacred war for winning back national sovereignty, because the first\and foremost desire of the Korean people for decades had been to win back their sovereignty, which had held the highest place in the programme of the Korean communists. In short, it was the final aim of the national liberation struggle.


All the activities of the Korean communists, therefore, had to be subordinated to this goal. We had to regard the defence of independence as vital in our way of thinking\and in practice. We became ferocious tigers\and thunderbolts in all battles for independence.


No one will present us with independence, nor will it come about of its own accord with the lapse of time. We must win it by our own struggle. Only those who fight in an indefatigable, self-sacrificing spirit can win independence\and maintain it for ever, because there are too many thieves on this earth who trample upon the sovereignty of other nations. There are also many people who regard their independence to be natural for them, but other people’s efforts to live in independence get on their nerves,\and they interfere with these efforts. Considering independence to be one’s own monopoly is an expression of anachronistic, imperialistic\and dominationist arrogance.


The fact that in the ranks of the struggle for a common goal there was a force trampling on independence was a historical whim going beyond common sense. The Korean revolution suffered severe pain\and frustration because of this whim. In\order to assume the offensive rom the setback, we fought self-sacrificingly like ferocious tigers against those who were trampling upon the Korean nation’s\and communists’ right to independence. The Dahuangwai meeting was a great ideological battle which the Korean communists fought, under the banner of independence, in\order to maintain the Juche line of the Korean revolution\and to defend their right to independence.


If we had been frightened by the ruthless iron fists of the brutal Leftists\or had even been slightly afraid of sacrifice, we would have been unable to save the revolution rom being crushed under the caterpillars of the madly-rushing Leftist vehicle. It was the staunch, self-sacrificing spirit of the Korean communists who jump into fire\and water in defence of justice, their communist principles\and their immutable faith in the validity of their cause that saved the revolution rom crisis.


Today when the imperialists are clamouring about the collapse of socialism\and are enhancing the political war of nerves in an attempt to sidetrack our Republic rom the Juche\orbit, it is vital to our nation\and our Republic that we continue to champion\and uphold independence.

The Korean communists will emerge victorious also in their confrontation with the imperialists, in defence of our own style of people-centred socialism\and independence.


I felt to the marrow of my bones during the struggle against the “Minsaengdan” the destructive intrigues\and underhand dealings both in everyday life\and in the revolutionary struggle. I learned the serious lesson of how impossible it was to work together with factionalists for the revolution. Suffice it to say that one should read the 500-year history of the Ri dynasty to fully understand the harm\and reactionary nature of intrigues, underhand dealings\and factional strife. A rattling of sabres between parents\and children, between brothers to satisfy their greed for power, is the nature of reactionary people,\and the bad habit of factionalists.


After liberation, our enemy used the Japanese imperialists’ method of the “Minsaengdan” in an attempt to disrupt our ranks. They once sent


forged letters to Paek Nam Un2, Kang Yong Chang3\and Choe Ung Sok, cadres rom south Korea who were loyal to the Party, to harm them surreptitiously. We were not fooled by the enemy because we had had the experience of combatting the “Minsaengdan” in the guerrilla zones. Had it not been for this experience, we might have committed a Leftist error in dealing with the people who were involved in the “peace maintenance corps”4\and their associates. We dealt with their political destiny leniently in a way to promote the interests of the revolution.


Whenever I appoint a new Minister of Public Security, I warn him not to commit a Leftist error, to say nothing of a Rightist mistake,\and not to forget the lesson of the “Minsaengdan” incident.


The Leftist tendency is a hotbed\where political impostors\and schemers can brew a new type of “Minsaengdan” hullabaloo. The owners of this hotbed talk about the Party, the revolution\and loyalty in a voice that is ten times\and even twenty times louder than that of other people. What difference is there between such ultra-revolutionary utterances\and the behaviour of the Leftists who played with the people’s political integrity with such impunity in the guerrilla zones?


The Leftist deviation is a covert counterrevolution,\whereas the Rightist deviation is an overt counterrevolution; the Leftist deviation is a poisonous mushroom as harmful as the Rightist deviation which is a malignant tumour. The Rightists\and Leftists seem to be dreaming different dreams while living on the same giant tree of revolution, but, in effect, they are linked with the same vein. Bear in mind that an individual’s Leftist mistake would harm a collective, but a government party’s Leftist error would lose the people\and bring the revolution to ruin. If we forget that, we shall be unable to preserve socialism. This is the lesson we learned rom the history of the anti-“Minsaengdan” struggle; it is an appeal to the communists of the whole world rom the countries which have gone through the painful experience of enormous bloodshed caused by a Leftist error.


To oppose\and guard against the Leftist tendency, which poses under the mask of super-party words\and acts,\and to protect the people’s political destiny rom Leftist encroachment—this is the eternal principle which the communists of government parties must adhere to, without neglecting it even for a moment.



 

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