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[Reminiscences]Chapter 10 5. The Seeds of the Revolution Sown over a Wide Area

  

   


 

5. The Seeds of the Revolution Sown over a Wide Area 

 

When the whole of east Manchuria was groping for a way out, shedding tears of grief over the catastrophic consequences of the whirlwind of the “purge”, we advanced a new line of dissolving the narrow guerrilla bases in the form of liberated areas\and launching into wider areas for active large-scale operations; we brought this line up for discussion at the Yaoyinggou meeting in March 1935. The overwhelming majority of the military\and political cadres attending the meeting supported it fully.


Nevertheless, not all expressed an understanding of\and sympathy with it; some of the cadres of the Party\and Young Communist League were against dissolving the guerrilla zones. They attacked us, arguing: “What’s all this silly talk about dissolving the guerrilla bases? Why did we build them in the first place if we’re to abandon them? Why did we shed our blood for three to four years defending them\and starving in rags? This is a Rightist deviation, capitulationism\and defeatism.” The academic circles now call their idea the theory of defending the guerrilla zones to the last man.


The strongest proponent of this theory at the Yaoyinggou meeting was Ri Kwang Rim, one of the founders of the Ningan guerrilla unit. Ri had conducted work mostly among the youth at the Ningan County YCL Committee\and at the eastern area bureau of Jilin Province of the YCL. He was later sent to the Wangqing area to make preparations for the formation of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army with Chai Shi-rong, Fu Xian-ming\and other commanders of the Chinese nationalist anti-Japanese armed units. I think he attended the Yaoyinggou meeting as an acting secretary of the East Manchuria Special District Committee of the YCL.


He attacked those who insisted on evacuating the guerrilla zones, arguing: “If we quit the guerrilla zones\and move over vast areas, what will become of the people? You say that the people will be evacuated to the enemy area rom the guerrilla zones, but doesn’t this mean throwing the people right into the jaws of death, the people who had shared life in the shadow of death, forming an integral whole with the army? Can the revolutionary army conduct guerrilla warfare without relying on the military\and political stronghold called the guerrilla zones? If the revolutionary people tempered in the guerrilla zones go to enemy-held areas, doesn’t it mean that we’d be losing tens of thousands of revolutionary masses whom we have trained with so much effort? Won’t the dissolving of the guerrilla zones result, finally, in the revolution retreating to the point\where it started in 1932?”


The discussion which seemed to come to a conclusion without a hitch gradually assumed complicated aspects with Ri Kwang Rim’s long harangue. Even some of the supporters of the line began to nod their heads at his argument. The participants of the meeting were divided into two groups, one for dissolving the guerrilla zones\and the other against it,\and bickered with each other. When the argument reached a climax, some badly-trained people tried to forcibly overpower their opponents, resorting to personalities. One man disproved Ri’s insistence while finding faults with his private life.


He said that Ri had carried a torch for a girl when he had been working as the head of a district YCL committee in Ningan County. He had been earnest in his love, but the girl did not accept it. What he had received though, were the love-letters he had sent to her but which had come back without replies,\and the girl’s heartless, cold response, turning away each time she had seen him. Love could not be won by the subjective desire\and zeal of one side alone. Ri had expelled the girl who had broken his heart to Muling County\and had had a love affair with another woman before coming to Wangqing. That was the inside story of Ri’s life the people narrated to refute his argument, so that it was impossible to draw a hasty conclusion about its authenticity.


They attacked Ri by resorting to such a low-down method of referring to his personal life just to prove that he would do anything to beat his opponents in argument, as he was a man with such a retaliatory spirit as expelling the woman he had loved to a strange land.


Another man reminded the meeting of the fact that Ri was a “remnant of the Tuesday group” who had zealously followed certain officials of the Manchurian general bureau of the Communist Party of Korea. He even disparaged Ri by saying that it would not be unreasonable to view his opposition to closing the guerrilla zones as a relapse of the disease of factionalism.


It was mean in all respects to pick holes in one’s opponent’s argument by telling a love story that had ended in failure\or by labelling him as a remnant of factionalism. But Ri Kwang Rim was also to blame, for while describing himself as the most faithful defender of the people\and the most thoroughgoing spokesman of the people’s opinions\and interests, he did not hesitate to label others preposterously as Right opportunists, betrayers of people\and as those inviting unpardonable suicides.


We could understand why Ri Kwang Rim was dead set against the evacuation of the guerrilla zones. Dissolving them was painful also for us.\where on earth could such people be found who would be cold-hearted enough to abandon without regret\and affection the home bases which they had built with their own hands, tended with their hearts\and defended like an impregnable fortress, regarding them as “heaven”? We had anguished over this with boundless reluctance\and attachment before coming to the tearful decision to evacuate them.


Needless to say, Ri Kwang Rim must have felt no less attachment to the guerrilla zones than we. Nevertheless, in view of the prevailing situation at the time the long frontal confrontation with a powerful enemy having enormous military potentials while confining ourselves in fixed guerrilla zones—the liberated areas—could be called pure adventurism by the measure of all fair yardsticks. It would lead to self-destruction.


In 1933\or in 1934, when the vitality of the guerrilla zones was at its height, we did not dare mention it. At that time we had regarded them as an oasis\or an earthly paradise.


Why, then, did we decide to relinquish them now, in 1935? Was it a whim? No, it was not. It was neither a whim, nor a vacillation nor a retreat. It was a bold, strategic measure which could be called “one step forward”.


We were determined in 1935 to close down the guerrilla zones because it was a requirement of the objective\and subjective circumstances prevailing in those days.

We could say that the guerrilla zones set up along the Tuman River had fulfilled their mission\and tasks. The greatest task of the guerrilla zones had been to protect\and train the revolutionary forces\and, at the same time, to lay firm political, military, material\and technical foundations for further expansion\and development of the anti-Japanese armed struggle. But, at that time we had not defined the period of the fulfilment of the task as three\or four years. We had only thought that the shorter the period, the better it would be.


In the heat of the armed struggle the army\and people had become unconquerable fighters. The guerrilla army which had had several dozens of soldiers at the outset had now developed into a people’s revolutionary army with enormous strength that was capable of large-scale battles to defend the guerrilla bases\and of attacking cities. The people’s revolutionary army accumulated a wealth of political\and military experience, the experience of fresh,\original guerrilla warfare.


The guerrilla war was a blast furnace\and a political\and military academy that produced fighters.\and this blast furnace produced only pure steel. Those who had tilled stony fields\or raised cattle\and horses in the landlords’ stables had become competent fighters after having been tempered in this blast furnace. The anti-Japanese political\and military academy made fighters of even those rustic dunces\and casual labourers who had thought that wealth\and poverty depended on the lines of their palms,\or on what the fortune tellers\and sorceresses had to say.


I once had been convulsed with laughter by Kim Ja Rin’s story about the days when he was a manservant, for that story had been tinted with such comedy that no one could listen to it without laughing.


One day Kim Ja Rin had driven an ox of the landlord, his master, to the field at dawn as usual. While he was cutting the grass edible for the ox with a sickle, a train had suddenly appeared at a mountain bend, running at full speed. He had stopped working\and had sat down on the ridge of the field to gaze for a while at the train. By chance his eyes had caught a glimpse of a smart gentleman smoking at the entrance of one carriage. For no reason he had thought the man’s smart appearance detestable, so he had shaken his fist at the gentleman, which had been a sort of provocation at those who ate their fill\and were well-clad. The gentleman, too, had shouted back\and shaken his fist, glaring fiercely at him. His straw hat had blown away during his tirade. He had waved his hands a few times in the air in dismay trying to catch it, but after a short while he had disappeared with the speeding train.\and his hat had fallen to a swamp along the railway.


Kim had run to the marsh to pick up the hat. He put it on his head\and climbed up the railway dike, thinking that now he had become a rich man. As luck would have it, he had found a five-fen silver coin wrapped in a handkerchief on the dike. The handkerchief had flown along with the straw hat rom the head of the gentleman.


Kim in his teens had pondered for a whole day on what to buy with that five fen ; he had gone to a casino that night with the hat of that gentleman on his head, a casino\where the young folk of well-to-do families gathered at night to enjoy themselves. With that five fen as capital, he had fortunately won a great sum of money rom them in one night.


Kim had cleared off his debts to the landlord with the money\and given some of it to a poor old neighbour who had lived his whole life in poverty\and tears. Though the remainder was small, this young servant had reckoned that the money was still enough for him to live fairly well for some years.

 

However, in less than a year he had again begun to suffer rom debts. He had worked like a horse to earn as much money as possible. He had had the idea that if he worked hard he could become well-off, improve his lot\and even rise in the world. But labour had not given him wealth nor improved his standard of living. The harder he had worked, the more wretched he had become\and the more ill-treated. He was a clever man with great strength, however, he had not been treated as a human being, but as a beast, because he was poor.


Kim Ja Rin resisted point-blank those who ill-treated\and molested him. If he was in a bad temper, he would grab those who had annoyed him by their throats\and give them a good punch. But he was unable to eke out a livelihood. Later he had come to the guerrilla zone in Wangyugou\and had joined the guerrilla army; he became one of the five best machine-gunners in Jiandao.


Ri Tu Su, the hero of the battle at Hongtoushan, widely known among our people as an undying man, was once a beggar.


The guerrilla zone was a cradle that nurtured tens of thousands of anti-Japanese heroes, heroines\and martyrs. Even toothless old women became agitators who cried for an anti-Japanese struggle once they came to a guerrilla zone. Every person was a hard worker there, a guard, a combatant, an efficient\organizer, propagandist\or man of action. Jo Tong Uk, Jon Mun Jin, O Jin U, Pak Kil Song\and Kim Thaek Kun were all prominent revolutionaries who were trained in the Wangqing guerrilla zone. The anti-Japanese heroes\and heroines shed sweat\and blood to forge an unprecedented history of resistance that won the world’s admiration.


The revolutionary ranks became united into a great family that no force could ever break through arduous struggle against factionalism\and Left\and Right opportunism. A firm mass basis for the armed struggle\and Party building was laid\and the anti-Japanese allied front with the Chinese people became unbreakable—all these successes were won in the three to four years after the guerrilla zones were established. Would it have been possible for the Korean\and Chinese communists to register all of them without a strategic base, without the guerrilla zones? Would it have been possible for them to carry out in such a thoroughgoing, wonderful way the strategic tasks facing the first stage of the anti-Japanese revolution without the launching base, supply base\and rear base of the guerrilla zone?


Kim Myong Hwa had been a woman in the lowest rung of society who had eked out her living by making hats out of horsehair. She now lived a life worthy of a human being in the guerrilla zone\and grew to be a soldier of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army in the heat of the anti-Japanese war. She could not have trodden this amazing path of development if she had not been in the guerrilla zone. She would not have been able to exist, not to speak of developing.


Among the revolutionary fighters born of the anti-Japanese war were former hunters, butchers, schoolteachers, raftsmen, smiths, a drugstore keeper like Rim Chun Chu,\and a physician like So Chol. There were young men\and women who came rom the General Federation of Korean Youth in East Manchuria, the General Federation of Korean Youth in South Manchuria\and the General Federation of Korean Youth in China\or fresh rom schooling in urban communities as well as simple young men rom the countryside. The guerrilla zones reared people with different family backgrounds\and rom all walks of life into faithful soldiers who acted strictly to command, into beloved men\and women of the time who fought for their fatherland\and nation at the risk of their lives in the forefront of the anti-Japanese, national salvation struggle.


Our decision to set up guerrilla zones in the form of liberated areas in the mountainous sites in Jiandao was proved right\and timely through practice. But, at the time when the vitality of the guerrilla zones was still being demonstrated, we emphasized in Yaoyinggou the urgency of the dissolution of the guerrilla zones. Why? Because there was no need to defend the guerrilla zones any longer as they had fulfilled their mission\and tasks.


The revolutionary situation in the Jiandao area in the mid-1930s required the Korean\and Chinese communists to change their line to cope with the developments in the new age.


To defend the guerrilla zones in the same way as we had done while shouting for a do-or-die battle while entrenched in them, was, strictly speaking, tantamount to maintaining the status quo without any will to develop the revolution any further. If the revolution could be likened to flooding water, their contention was nothing but arguing for it to stay in a lake\or in a reservoir, instead of flowing out to the sea.


Revolution can be likened to a large, long river, which, breaking against steep rocks\and roaring, whirling\and eddying through gorges, meanders towards the sea, taking billions of tiny\drops of spray with it. Have you ever seen a long river flowing back towards mountains, instead of flowing into the sea? A backward flow\or standing still is not for rivers. The river flows forward all the time. It runs ceaselessly to the distant sea, its destination, while overcoming obstacles\and embracing its tributaries. The river does not become stale because it moves without stopping\or rest. If it stops its flow even for a moment, decay will set in some corner\and all sorts of plankton will reproduce in it to build their kingdoms.


If the revolution excludes innovation\and regards existing policies as absolute, it will be like a river that has stopped flowing. The revolution must renovate its tactics steadily as required by new circumstances\and conditions to attain the strategic goals it has set. Without such renovation, the revolution cannot escape stagnation\and standstill. If there is a man who thinks that a method will be valid 50 years later\and will keep its value absolute even after 100 years, then\where on earth could an illusory man more foolish than he be found? We cannot call it otherwise than a stand that neglects the independence, creativity\and consciousness of the human being.


Tactics are always of relative significance. They can represent a moment, a day, a month, a quarter\or a period. In the process of leading a strategy to success, there can be ten\or a hundred tactics. Emphasizing one preion of tactics for a strategy is not a creative attitude towards the revolution; this is a dogma. A dogma means a foolish suicide of binding oneself hand\and foot.\where dogmatism prevails, one can expect neither fresh, vital politics nor a vigorous revolution.


Creativity\and innovation are the sources of power that make revolution as dynamic as a long river because they really represent the essential demands of the popular masses who desire indefinite progress\and prosperity in\order to live a life of independence. In this sense, creativity\and innovation can be called an engine propelling the revolution. It will not be exaggerating to say that the speed of the development of a nation depends on the horsepower of this engine.


The Korean revolution has reached the threshold of the 21st century, driven by this engine.

What is the most important political subject our Party is discussing today when we are within a stone’s throw of the 21st century? This is the methods by which we should defend\and develop the socialism of our own style centred on the masses still further, confronted with the strong blockade imposed by allied imperialism.


Even a century ago the Korean peninsula was surrounded by the Great Powers. Their warships were always on the sea off Inchon. Whenever the feudal government took a stand of rejecting Westerners\and the Japanese, sticking to the policy of national isolation, they would fire several shells\and demand open-door policy. The Japanese imperialists fabricated a pro-Japanese cabinet\and manipulated it to enforce the reform of the nation’s politics. The Japanese advisers, ministers\and emissaries they had sent hovered around the King\and Queen. This was also a form of encirclement.


Encirclement\and blockade have been trials imposed upon the Korean nation historically by foreign aggressors\and imperialists. I, along with my nation, have lived my whole life in this encirclement\and blockade. Is this a fate brought about by the country’s geopolitical characteristics? Needless to say, these could be the reason. If the Korean peninsula was situated at a corner of a glacier in Alaska\or in the Arctic, the predilection of the Great Powers for our country might possibly be changed, isn’t that so? But such an “if” does not exist. It does not matter\where a country is situated. The nations following an independent road without kowtowing to the Great Powers must always be prepared to become targets of the Green Berets\or victims of many Torricelli Bills\wherever they are situated on Earth. Therefore, those who are determined to live independently must always be ready throughout their lives to break the siege imposed by the imperialists.

 

The anti-Japanese guerrilla bases in Jiandao were in a tight siege in 1935, too. That year the enemy’s siege reached its apex. While we had decided to come to a finale in the revolution by changing our lines, the enemy attempted to achieve a decisive victory in their purge of “communist bandits” by tightening the siege to the maximum. The Japanese imperialists mobilized hundreds of thousands of their crack troops, encircled the guerrilla zones in double\and triple rings\and launched a “punitive” attack every day to stamp all the living creatures there off the face of the earth.


The enemy’s main scheme to break the relations between the revolutionary army\and the people lay in its policy of the concentration village. In accordance with this policy the people living in all the administrative districts outside the jurisdiction of the people’s revolutionary government were driven into the concentration villages surrounded by earthen walls\and forts whether they liked it\or not to lead a mole’s life under such immoral laws as the five-household joint surveillance system\and the ten-household joint responsibility system, subject to the medieval\order.


The enemy set fire to tens of thousands of houses\and villages that were scattered all over Manchuria, issued ultimatum-like\orders for people to evacuate; they mercilessly moved them to earthen-walled villages in the flat areas in\order to easily rule them by relying on the “peaceful villages” guarded by their army, police\and armed self-defence corps. But the main purpose was to break the blood-sealed ties of unity between the army\and the people once\and for all, that great obstacle in their “purge of communist bandits”, by means of such man-made barriers as earthen walls, forts, moats, fences, searchlights\and wire entanglements. The enemy knew that the guerrilla army was the protector of the people\and that the latter was a rear base\and an important information source of the former.


Once they had confined the people within the earthen walls, they could mobilize them en masse for various kinds of compulsory labour such as the construction of road\and other military facilities, keep such projects in strict secret,\and easily requisition manpower, funds\and materials whenever necessary.


The enemy intensified anti-communist propaganda with the building of the concentration villages. They said that it was because of the Communist Party\and the revolutionary army that the people were forced to leave their beloved homes\and go to live in concentration villages\and that because the Communist Party\and the revolutionary army, in collusion with the people, were disturbing the peace, the authorities had been compelled to do away with all the scattered villages\and build “peaceful villages” in which the people could live free rom the troubles the “communist bandits”\and mounted rebels caused.


The enemy built square earthen walls\and drove 100\or 200 households into each of the walled villages. Houses were built in rows like the residential quarters in a modern industrial centre in\order to facilitate police surveillance. The people rom one village, once they were in the concentration villages, were separated in a way that they could not become neighbours; even the people who were relatives\or intimate friends could not be neighbours as they had been dispersed in different directions. This measure was for preventing like-minded people rom conspiring for a disturbance of the peace\and rom an attempt to form secret societies.


How they schemed to sow the seeds of dissension\and estrangement between the residents of the concentration villages can be seen rom the five-household joint surveillance system alone. They formed a group of five households\and, if one of them was found to be communicating with the guerrilla army, they punished all the households in that group; in the worst cases, they killed all the people of the five households. This was the notorious five-household joint surveillance system.


The administrative officials, armed police\and army strictly controlled food grains to prevent even a pound of rice rom getting out to the people’s revolutionary army. When the people went to work beyond the earthen walls, the police searched their lunchboxes to see if they had extra rice for the “communist bandits”,\and indiscriminately deprived them of their lunchboxes if they had more than their share. The peasants living in the concentration villages were not allowed to go beyond the walls before dawn even though they wanted to begin work earlier to deal with the arrears of field work,\and they had to be back before dusk. It was almost impossible for the revolutionary army to expect any food supplies rom the people in the concentration villages.


The farm products rom the guerrilla zones could not satisfy the food demands of the soldiers\and the inhabitants. Worse still, the enemy incessantly hampered their farm work. The crops as well as the people became objects of their scorched-earth operations. They trampled sprouting crops, burnt growing crops, harvested\and carried away ripe crops by mobilizing armed men. This was a mean hunger operation\and strangling siege for starving the army\and people to death in the guerrilla zones whom they were unable to annihilate through arms.


The “Minsaengdan” had been dissolved, but the enemy’s scheme to divide\and disintegrate the revolutionary ranks rom within\and without was more vicious than ever. The leaflets enticing our men to surrender carried pictures of pretty nude girls\and pornographic pictures of intimate relations. Beautiful women, bribed by money, wormed their way into our ranks under the guise of a Rosa Luxemburg\or Joan of Arc\and became absorbed in corrosive schemes to benumb the military\and political cadres\and to hand them over to the police\or the gendarmerie.


All this was a great murderous farce used to reduce the guerrilla zones in Jiandao into a solitary island totally isolated rom the world of humanity, to raze them to the ground\and strangle them.


If we had failed to comprehend the developments\and become engrossed in defending the exposed guerrilla zones, the revolutionary army would have ended up in a loss of military initiative\and in being drawn into an endless war of attrition. Then, the revolutionary forces trained for several years would have broken up. To have become preoccupied with the defence of the narrow guerrilla zones would have resulted in playing into the hands of the enemy frenziedly trying to crush all the soldiers\and people in the Red territory through three-dimensional warfare.


It was justifiable that the majority of those attending the meeting criticized the argument of defending the guerrilla zones to the last man as adventurism. What I still think strange is that most of those who insisted on the defence of the guerrilla zones at the Yaoyinggou meeting were self-important men extremely dogmatic\and Leftish in their everyday life. Strangely enough, they gave wide berth to people who had a creative\and innovative attitude\and belittled those with dreams\and imagination.


Nevertheless, we managed to persuade these radical, self-opinionated people at long last at the Yaoyinggou meeting. The issue on relinquishing the guerrilla zones, unlike the issue on the anti-“Minsaengdan” struggle which had been decided to be submitted to the Comintern, was settled by the meeting’s decision. This was yet another success achieved in our fight against Leftist adventurism.


The Yaoyinggou meeting marked a turning-point for the people’s revolutionary army to switch over rom strategic defence of the guerrilla zones to a new stage of strategic offensive. Thanks to the decision of the meeting, we were able to leave the narrow guerrilla zones to greet a new age in which we could energetically conduct active guerrilla warfare with large units in the vast area of northeast China\and Korea. The arena of the people’s revolutionary army activities, which had been confined to the five counties in Jiandao, would expand dozens of times. Needless to say, the wider the scope of our activities became, the deeper the quandary the enemy, blockading the narrow area, would find itself in. It would be comparatively easy for them to surround the five counties, but it was quite a different matter with the several provinces in northeast China. So far they had had an easy time of it, cooped up in fixed areas after encircling the guerrilla zones, but rom that time on they were forced to fight battles which had been unprecedented\and had not been dealt with in military manuals, treading on the heels of the people’s revolutionary army.


The enemy described our evacuation of the guerrilla zones as “signifying the decline of the communist bandits in Jiandao” as a “result of the thoroughgoing punitive operation of the Imperial Army through dispersed disposition”, but they had to recognize it as a voluntary act based on new tactics for switching over to large-scale guerrilla actions\and as an offensive measure. This new strategic measure made the enemy uneasy, striking terror into them.


Knowing that we were evacuating the guerrilla zones, the enemy interfered with our efforts in every possible way. They further tightened the military blockade, on the one hand, to prevent the army\and people rom slipping out of the guerrilla zones\and, on the other, conducted an ideological offensive in every way to confuse the minds of the people by misleading public opinion. They said that the abandoning of Red territories meant the end of the armed struggle\and that the communists’ quitting of guerrilla zones signified abandoning the guerrilla movement. These manoeuvres of the enemy were the major obstacle to our efforts to evacuate the guerrilla zones.


In addition, the people did not welcome the evacuation\and this more than anything else troubled us. It was no wonder that they did not accept the new line without mental agony which even a political\and military cadre like Ri Kwang Rim had not readily agreed to. Some people entreated us not to do away with the guerrilla zones, asking, “Why are you so eager to suddenly abandon the guerrilla zones today, zones which you publicized as ‘heaven’ until yesterday? What is it all about?” The old man, O Thae Hui, submitted a petition to us on behalf of the people in Shiliping entreating us not to relinquish these zones.


Various conjectures\and judgements were made by the people in the guerrilla zones. Each day one\or two ominous rumours of doubtful\origin spread, confusing the people. Rumour had it that the revolutionary army was evacuating the Red territories to lighten its burden of protecting the people\or that the guerrilla army was leaving Jiandao to fight in the homeland by basing itself on the Rangrim Mountains in Korea. Some people said that the revolutionary army might be going deep into the Soviet\union\or China proper to recover rom its state of exhaustion\and to expand its forces on a large scale before coming back to Jiandao. On top of these conjectures, misleading rumours set afloat by the enemy’s appeasement squads were rife, plunging the public opinion of the guerrilla zones into chaos.


We held a joint meeting of the army\and the people in Yaoyinggou\and patiently explained the urgency\and correctness of dissolving the guerrilla zones. The delegates dispatched to various counties\and revolutionary\organizational districts in east Manchuria convened meetings of like nature\and enlightened the army\and people. The people understood very well that not to dissolve the guerrilla zones meant death,\and accepted the policy as a justifiable strategic measure.


However, the majority of the people backed out at the practical stage of dissolution, refusing to go to the enemy-controlled area. They pleaded, saying, “It’s alright if we have to live on grass\and water boiled with animal hides in the guerrilla zone. We’d rather die of hunger here than go to the enemy-ruled area. How can we live there under the harassment of the Japs? We’ll die here if we have to, but don’t send us there.”


Under the slogan, “Let us persuade the people repeatedly!” we called at their houses every day. We held meetings of districts\and\organizations to persuade them, but quite a few of the people stuck to their opinion that they would not move to the enemy area.


I am one of those who well know what great strength the propaganda\and agitation of the communists produce. Some comrades say that it is an infinite strength. But you can’t say that it works in all circumstances. This can be proved by the fact that many people did not move to the enemy area, but went deep into the mountain valleys instead.


Some people volunteered to join the army to escape rom having to live under enemy rule. Even the Children’s Corps\and Children’s Vanguard members who were not old enough to join the army irritated us with their requests to follow the revolutionary army. At that time Hwang Sun Hui clung to the sleeves of the guerrillas\and insisted that if they would not take her with them, they had to shoot her. So the Yanji guerrilla unit accepted her into the guerrilla army. It probably was due to her persistence that she, as a small\and fragile woman, surmounted the difficulties of armed struggle, risking her life thousands of times,\and is still adding glory to herself as a revolutionary fighter today. Thae Pyong Ryol\and Choe Sun San are also veterans who joined the revolutionary army when the guerrilla zones were being evacuated.


At that time we recruited many young men\and women\and even children into the guerrilla army. Officials of the Party, the YCL\and the people’s revolutionary government, who had braved all sorts of hardships with the people for years in the guerrilla zones, took up arms\and joined our ranks. Some people volunteered to work in the sewing units, arsenals\and hospitals of the revolutionary army. In the course of evacuating the guerrilla zones, the ranks of the people’s revolutionary army expanded rapidly in this manner.


The units of the people’s revolutionary army, with the people’s warm support\and encouragement, tried their best to make preparations, obtain supplies\and improve the arms needed for guerrilla warfare in extensive areas. In those days the Women’s Association members worked with full devotion, emptying the drawers of chests to make uniforms, knapsacks, handkerchiefs, puttees\and tobacco pouches for the soldiers of the revolutionary army who were leaving the guerrilla zones.


We, in turn, gave of our best for their evacuation. The main thing was to expedite the preparations for the people’s evacuation, to meet their demands\and the actual situation. How detailed\and substantial the preparations for moving them were at that time can be seen rom the census, taken in the guerrilla zones in Jiandao shortly before the evacuation of the people. The census contained the names of the people who were to leave the guerrilla zones for other places, their ages, occupations, the names\and addresses of their relatives\and friends, their official duties, their levels of education, technical skills, destinations, the amount of food grain they had,\and so on.


In accordance with this list, the officials of the guerrilla zones classified the people to be sent to the enemy area, to the homeland,\and to deep mountains\where they would be able to farm. They also grouped separately the people who could go to their relatives\and those who could not, children without any support\and patients,\and evacuated them in a trustworthy manner with an armed escort.


Each of the families evacuated to the enemy area, homeland\or to mountainous areas was granted about 30 to 50 yuan of aid money,\and was also supplied with fabrics, footwear, vessels,\and a variety of other necessities\and kitchen utensils. We fought several battles to obtain the money\and materials to be distributed among the people. Of these battles I still vividly remember the dramatic raid on the concentration village in Dawangqing, an unusual battle in which O Paek Ryong taught his uncle a lesson. It was also a kind of tragi-comedy in the history of the suffering of our nation that O Paek Ryong slapped his uncle’s face.


We had captured a large amount of weapons\and supplies in the battle of the village—20 Model 38 rifles, 40 cattle\and horses, dozens of sacks of rice\and wheat flour, tens of thousands of yuan of money\and so on\and so forth. These trophies were too much for the soldiers to carry themselves. The officers fetched people rom the village 500 to 600 metres away rom the battle site. An important tactical principle of guerrilla warfare was swiftness in the attack\and withdrawal; unless the trophies were disposed of quickly, the withdrawal of our unit would be delayed\and it would give the enemy a chance to counterattack.


At this urgent moment a moustached peasant would not carry a load\and only grumbled. He even prevented others rom carrying loads, saying, “Hey, you’ll get into trouble for carrying loads for the guerrilla army. Don’t be rash for the sake of the future!”


Unable to bear with him, O Paek Ryong said, “If you don’t feel like carrying loads, sir, then go home.”


But the man, instead of going home, continued fussing about their meeting with disaster if they carried the loads.


O Paek Ryong lost his self-control\and slapped his face. Then, he asked a distant relative, “Isn’t that fellow a reactionary?”


“Why? That’s O Chun Sam, your uncle.”


O Paek Ryong was very surprised. It surprised him that his uncle was behaving like a fool, not as a Korean would do,\and what was even more surprising, he had not seen his uncle until he was over 20 years old. When he was still a baby, his uncle had left his family\and wandered rom place to place. So he did not know his uncle\and vice versa. While he had grown up to be a revolutionary, his uncle had turned into a weak man who feared the revolution,\and was so feeble-minded\and cowardly that he not only shunned the revolutionary struggle himself but also hated to see his children take part in it.


O Paek Ryong was sorry that he had slapped his uncle’s face, but did not know how to apologize. Instead, he sent him a letter through a distant relative, which read:


Dear Uncle:

 

I behaved badly to you because I didn’t know you, so please forgive me.


If you don’t want to be treated badly by the young people, join the revolution.


As his nephew had advised, O Chun Sam did revolutionize his family later on. He not only became a revolutionary himself but led his wife\and children to participate in the anti-Japanese struggle. His son, O Kyu Nam, sacrificed his youth on the road of struggle.


It was said that whenever he had the opportunity, O Chun Sam would say to his friends, “After all, my nephew’s hand reformed me.”


O Paek Ryong was, of course, severely criticized for having harmed the relations between the army\and people. An uncle is the nearest relation to a man after his parents, but rom the point of view of the people’s revolutionary army, O Chun Sam was one of the people. Although he had played a part in the tragi-comedy, the trophies he had carried through the enlisting of the people were of great help to the evacuees in their future lives.


The correctness of the measures for dissolving the guerrilla zones was verified in life by the process of the overall development of the history of the anti-Japanese, national liberation struggle, which glorified the anti-Japanese revolution that was on the upswing in the latter half of the 1930s\and which was waged dynamically for the finale of the country’s liberation.


The units of the people’s revolutionary army, after dissolving the guerrilla zones on their initiative, launched into wider areas, frustrating the enemy’s attempt to corner our resistance forces into the narrow mountainous area in Jiandao\and to stifle them. The large\and small units of the people’s revolutionary army undauntedly defeated the enemy’s numerical\and technical superiority in the vast areas of south\and north Manchuria\and the northern region of Korea. The people’s revolutionary army’s dissolution of the guerrilla zones in the form of liberated areas\and advancing into wider areas was a great event of launching out onto a vast plain rom a valley.


With the armed struggle as a powerful background, the people who had left the guerrilla zones struck root in the vast plain\and expanded their\organizations; they began to sow seeds of the revolution in that vast land. Each of the people, except a few who had signed notes of submission, became a kindling\and a match that set the continent on fire. Our political operatives churned up the enemy area.


The dissolution of the guerrilla zones started in May 1935\and ended in early November of that year when the Chechangzi guerrilla zone was evacuated.


The evacuation of the guerrilla zone in Chechangzi was finished about half a year later than in the others, primarily because of the tenacious siege by the enemy who had surrounded it in double\and triple rings\and waited for the people to starve to death,\and also because of the irresponsible attitude\and inefficiency of the officials in charge of the people’s lives in this district.


When choosing the sites for the guerrilla zones at the Mingyuegou meeting, the people rom Helong had strongly insisted that Chechangzi was a suitable place. Kim Jong Ryong, a delegate rom Antu County, had also said that Chechangzi was ideal. This area with its fertile land, thick forests\and steep mountains was an ideal natural fortress on which both we\and the enemy had set eyes. It was a desolate, mountainous area, no different rom any other areas in Jiandao, but it was very highly evaluated by the modern geomancers who had acquired a knowledge of military affairs in the course of guerrilla warfare.


This place, in view of its name, had nothing mysterious in the military sense. The natives had said that Chechangzi meant a place\where carts were made. In\order to prove the military importance of Chechangzi for the guerrilla army the people rom Helong had asserted that the unit of Hong Pom Do had allured the Japanese army to the banks of the River Gudong\and annihilated it in Qingshanli probably because of the unique features of this place.


We had dispatched the Independent Regiment to the area of Antu in the spring of 1934 to give armed support to the construction of a guerrilla zone in Chechangzi. Kim Il Hwan, Kim Il\and other political workers had also gone to Chechangzi. The Independent Regiment chased a company of the puppet Manchukuo army out without great difficulty, which had been stationed in the vicinity of Chechangzi,\and became the new master of the place. With the backing of this regiment, the people in the Yulangcun guerrilla zone swarmed into Chechangzi\and established the Helong county people’s revolutionary government across the River Gudong; later the people rom Wangyugou\and Sandaowan arrived one after another via Shenxiandong to this place\and hoisted the flag of the Yanji county people’s revolutionary government at the entrance of the Dongnancha valley. In this way, the people’s revolutionary governments rom two different counties existed side by side for one year—a strange phenomenon.


The Chechangzi guerrilla zone had advanced in high spirits just like a vehicle with two engines,\or like a carriage pulled by a pair of white horses with bluish manes. The food situation had not been so bad in the early stage.

The members of the Party leadership who had been dispatched rom Antu, according to the decision of the Yaoyinggou meeting, were to guide the work of evacuating the Chechangzi guerrilla zone. But they did not even inform the army\and people of the policy of dissolving the zone; worse still, they attempted to kill the special representative we had sent there, under the charge of being a “Minsaengdan” suspect. When I heard about it later, I was very surprised.


Chechangzi was the last stronghold on which the revolutionary masses in Jiandao, particularly in Yanji, Helong\and Antu, relied. Probably it was because this was the last stronghold that the officials in charge of the evacuation of this zone had taken such an irresolute stand.


I must say that it was indeed admirable how the people of Chechangzi, shoulder to shoulder with the army, had defended the guerrilla zone in the suffocating blockade until November 1935. As I briefly mentioned above, the atmosphere in Chechangzi at that time was not a tranquil one. The Leftists caused anarchy in the zone on the pretext of the struggle against the “Minsaengdan”; worse still, a great number of the revolutionary people suffered severely rom famine.


When we started large-unit combined operations in the area of Mt. Paektu, Kim Phyong, Ryu Kyong Su, O Paek Ryong\and Pak Yong Sun often recalled the hunger they had suffered in Chechangzi. Even after liberation, Kim Myong Hwa, Kim Jong Suk, Hwang Sun Hui, Kim Chol Ho, Jon Hui\and other women veterans, whenever they sat down to a meal, would cry on remembering the days in Chechangzi. Kim Myong Hwa\and Kim Jong Suk had been cooks for the corps headquarters at that time.


The situation of the guerrilla zone was reflected on the headquarters’ dining-table. The cooks climbed the mountains every morning to bark the pine-trees for Wang De-tai\and other commanders at headquarters. They had to prepare two bundles of pine-tree bark as large as the bundles of bean stalks for a day’s meal of the headquarters. They boiled the bark in a water of strong ashes of oak for over three hours, scooped it out after it had become soft, rinsed it in the river before pounding it with a paddle\and then washed it again in fresh water. They repeated these processes several times until suppertime\and then mixed it with rice bran to make gruel\or cakes. This was the best food in Chechangzi.


If one ate these cakes, one had clogged anuses. Children had a hard time of it in those days to make their bowels move. Their mothers would dig out the clogs in their anuses with sticks, with tears stinging their eyes. Even grown-ups suffered a great deal rom clogged anuses.\and yet, they again ate the food made of pine-tree bark the next day.


They had to eat food without salt. They could eat saltless gruel\and cakes, but it was difficult to eat salad\or soup made of edible herbs without salt. Sometimes the messengers who would come there gave them a few grains of salt rom the small pouches they carried at their waists. Several people would touch a grain of it with their tongues lightly by turns before handing it over to others. It was indeed tantalizing.


When the pine-tree bark ran out, they would go to the rice mill\and collect rice bran\and make gruel. That gruel was much better for eating than the gruel made rom old herbs. Herb gruel was so coarse\and hard that they felt pain in their throats each time they ate it. Even such gruel was not sufficient,\and many people died of hunger.


All the people waited for spring. They believed that in spring the merciful, plentiful land would deliver their pitiful lives rom starvation. But even spring could not prevent death of hunger, either. What spring gave them were weak, negligible new sprouts that had emerged rom under the snow. These sprouts were not enough to sustain them.


The people began to catch snakes that had not yet awoken rom their winter sleep.\and then they caught rats. Rodents were extinguished in Chechangzi. Frogs\and their spawn became the people’s foodstuff. When Kim Chol Ho was recalling how tasty boiled frog spawn had been as they were glutinous\and soft like boiled millet, I, on the contrary, shuddered as if that sticky stuff was in my throat. Even though I had partaken of a variety of food with the guerrillas, I could hardly have any reasonable imagination of the taste of boiled frog spawn.


The fur-lined shoes11 which they had used while ploughing, were also put into the pots. After drinking a bowl of tasteless water boiled with these shoes, the people of the guerrilla zone sowed seeds, crawling just as the soldiers do. They dug out the seeds after two\or three days of sowing to eat them. The people’s revolutionary government\and mass\organizations kept sentries at the fields sown with seeds to prevent the seeds rom being dug out. But even the guards, unable to endure the hunger, ate them stealthily.

At night children would creep into the kitchen of corps headquarters, thinking that they would find leftovers in the mess hall\where important persons, like the commander of the army corps, had their meals. But that was an absurd dream. They did not know that, as they were starving, Wang De-tai, the commander of the army corps, too, was starving. Nevertheless, the children would have died of despair if they had not expected to find some scorched rice at the bottom of the pots in the kitchen of headquarters. When the cooks gave them the scorched rice, they would weep\and gulp it down, saying for shame that they would not come again. But the cooks found them prowling around the kitchen the next day, too.


In this famine the people crawled along the furrows of the crop fields to weed them. They scraped the field with their fingers before collapsing; they would rise again\and scrape it until the tips of their fingernails became worn out. After a second weeding, the ears of barley came out. The people stripped off the grains of barley which were only juicy without seeds\and ate them. They were so weak that they were unable to rise; they reached their hands out with great difficulty for the ears\and chewed on a few grains.


The people of Chechangzi were able to remain pure human beings even though they were nearly dying of hunger, thanks to the fact that the communist ideal which had influenced their way of thinking\and conduct for years\and the communist ethics of sacrificing themselves for the collective had transformed all the revolutionary masses in Jiandao into saintlike, virtuous men\and women. The inhumane idea of a man eating another man’s limb dared not assert itself in Chechangzi.


In the famine that came before the harvesting of barley, the children, before anybody else, began to die one after another, unable to stand the hunger, followed by the men. A greater misfortune fell upon the women who had been born with the obligation to help their husbands\and children until the last moment of their lives even though they, too, were starving; they had to suffer a still worst agony—of covering their husbands\and children who had died of hunger with fallen leaves without coffins\and not being able to shed tears for a lack of energy, even though they wanted to weep, until they became insensible in front of each corpse.

 

The famine in Chechangzi was the result of none other than the Japanese aggressor army which had blockaded this zone\and of its repeated brutal “punitive” attacks on it.


The officials in charge of the guerrilla zone did not make every effort to provide food to the people, either. The reactionaries\and wicked elements, who had wormed their way into the leadership, fooled the people with such super-revolutionary speeches as “We must endure hunger. Never give in! To die is to surrender!”


The people of Chechangzi defended the guerrilla zone to the last, refusing to go to the enemy-ruled area, even though they were murdered on a false charge of being a “Minsaengdan” suspect\or died rom hunger. Their fortitude\and their unbreakable revolutionary spirit still move our hearts today after half a century has elapsed.


In October 1935, when the evacuation of the guerrilla zone was on the\order of the day, 20 people of “Minsaengdan” suspect families, including those of Kim Il, Nam Chang Su, Ri Kye Sun\and Kwon Il Su, formed a solidarity household in the deep valley of Dongnancha\and continued their struggle to cast off the stigma of “Minsaengdan” even in this way until the summer of 1936. This was a unique way of living by which several families joined into one household to eke out a living\and to fight in unity. They pooled their household goods into a log-cabin,\and elected their head; he would give appropriate assignments to every one by the day, week\and month,\and review the results of their work; in this way they led an\organized life. They were the last defenders of Chechangzi.


The enemy sent in thousands of their troops to effect a tight siege; they changed the previous scorched-earth tactics of “punitive” attack by the army\and police into a comprehensive, great siege tactic in military, political, economic\and other fields,\and repeated the “punitive” operations to crush Chechangzi once\and for all, only to be defeated every time.


In October 1935 they committed thousands of their troops for a large “punitive” operation. The brave defenders of Chechangzi repulsed the enemy’s attack heroically this time, too. They even brought down an enemy plane with small arms that was bombing the guerrilla zone.


In November of that year most of the people of Chechangzi evacuated rom the guerrilla zone towards Naitoushan, together with the army.

One of the defenders of Chechangzi Paek Hak Rim who also suffered hunger, fell ill\and fought for a long time shoulder to shoulder with the people during the siege, still says, “If you don’t know the extreme misery the people in Chechangzi suffered in the days of the anti-Japanese war, don’t dare to utter a word about a hard life! If you don’t know how the soldiers\and people of Chechangzi endured hunger\and cold\and survived the enemy’s ‘punitive’ atrocities even during the siege, don’t dare to pride yourself on overcoming some difficulty!”


While\organizing\and conducting the evacuation of the guerrilla zones we appreciated our people’s sense of\organization\and steel-like discipline\and their faithfulness to the revolution\and indefatigability,\and became confident that we would emerge victorious in any difficult circumstance if we mobilized such people\and guided them properly.


Once a people rise as a single unity to combat injustice at the risk of their lives, no blockade\or scorched-earth operation will succeed against such a people. This is a convincing lesson demonstrated by the history of the international communist movement. The people all over the world still clearly remember how the international blockade the armed interventionists of 14 countries imposed on the new Russia ended.

 

Germany under Hitler’s rule did not succeed in blockading Leningrad, either. Even under the rain of bombs, the defenders of Leningrad continued to bake bread, manufacture tanks\and promote production. In 1943 when the world bourgeoisie was noisily claiming that Leningrad would fall, the working people of this city wrought a miracle by attaining a higher productivity than that of 1942.


The blockade\and the “punitive” attacks the army of Jiang Jie-shi launched on several occasions against the anti-Japanese bases in China ended in repeated failures. The United States has been blockading Cuba for 30 years, but has not succeeded. She is spending enormous energy to blockade this small island country, but her scheme has not worked out. Recently the draft resolution proposed by Cuba, in opposition to the Torricelli Bill, was passed at the UN General Assembly. The international community cast a cold glance at the United States’ anachronistic policy of blockade. Fidel Castro said, “When a man finds himself in a dangerous situation, a great amount of adrenalin is secreted in his body.” Adrenalin is a hormone which strengthens the function of the heart. This adrenalin symbolizes the optimism of the Cuban communists.


The United States, Japan\and other modern imperialist states are now blockading our country in the political, economic\and military spheres. But the Korean communists have a sufficient amount of vitamins of the Juche type with which to frustrate that blockade. The attempt to conquer the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea\and the Korean people by military means\or to stifle them politically\and economically is a wild daydream, like an attempt to break a rock with an egg.

 

After the evacuation of the guerrilla zones, small units\and political workers actively infiltrated into the homeland. The seeds of the revolution were sown in the vast lands of Manchuria\and Korea.


I never forgot Wangqing after the evacuation of the guerrilla zones nor slighted Jiandao. Even though they were evacuated, the five counties in Jiandao were a major theatre of war against the Japanese, which we regarded just as important in subsequent years. The large\and small units of the people’s revolutionary army, including the unit led by Choe Hyon, fought many battles in Wangqing\and its vicinity—raids on the concentration village of Shangcun in Beihamatang, on Sidaohezi, on Zhongpingcun in Baicaogou, on Dalishugou, an ambush at Zhangjiadian, raids on Shangbarengou, on Taiyangcun,\and on Dahuangwai, an ambush at Jiapigou, raids on Yongqiucun in Xiaobaicaogou,\and on the felling station in Shiliping, the battle of Shitouhe in Chunfangcun, a raid on Shanglaomuzhuhe in Luozigou. Thus, they dealt a telling blow to the enemy.


The enemy diligently tried to check the elusive attacks of the anti-Japanese guerrilla army. The military\and passenger trains running along major trunk lines in Jiandao, were always escorted by a heavily equipped armoured car for their safety. Whenever a passenger train passed mountainous areas at nights, the shades at all the windows were drawn down for a total blackout,\and the military police, plainclothes men\and railway guards supervised\and controlled the passengers of every carriage. If a man looked outside, drawing up a shade, he was abused as an associate with the bandits\and his face was slapped.


The enemy tightened the guarding of the concentration villages\and mobilized the people by force for guard duty. In some settlements they distributed wooden rifles\and an explosive with an ignition device to the residents in\order to counter the raiding revolutionary army. How frightened they had been at the energetic activities of the people’s revolutionary army can be seen rom the fact that the Japanese policemen posted only Chinese\and Korean guards of the self-defence corps in the concentration villages at night\and they themselves moved rom one bedroom to another every night.


Among the Japanese policemen\and the members of the self-defence corps of Manchukuo, drug addicts appeared one after another who were weary of war\and of armed service.


The “Matsumura incident”, which took place in the Shixian area, illustrates what inglorious defeats the Japanese imperialists suffered in the mid-1930s. Matsumura was an intellectual who had been a teacher in Japan before taking refuge in Manchuria; he had been suspected of having become involved in a Red teachers’\union. He took 2,000 yen as an advance payment\and promised to work as a superintendent at the felling station of Mt. Paektu, a station run by a Japanese. A few months after his appointment, we attacked that felling station. Matsumura carried the trophies for the revolutionary army,\and had a talk with me. He enjoyed our concert performance. Then he said that he now clearly understood how strong the revolutionary army was. He submitted his resignation to the head of the felling station on his return\and went back to his native village. He was sure that Japan’s defeat was just a matter of time.


The lumberjacks who had been under the influence of the guerrilla zones derailed one train after another in Wangqing\and in its vicinity. Although the guerrilla zones had been evacuated, the spirit of these zones remained in Jiandao, striking terror into the hearts of the enemy.




    

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