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[Reminiscences]Chapter 11  3. On Lake Jingbo

  

   


 

3. On Lake Jingbo 

 

The southern shore of Lake Jingbo, an unprecedented scenic beauty-spot in Manchuria, is home to a small village called Nanhutou, which means village on the southern tip of the lake. The village Beihutou is located on its northern shore. Several miles up, River Xiaojiaqi flows into Lake Jingbo: here you used to come across two old log-cabins in a deep valley at the foot of a mountain. We held a meeting in February 1936 in one of them. I was told that it is difficult now to determine the site of the cabin owing to the surrounding thick grass\and trees but 50\or 60 years ago a tall ash tree\and pine-nut tree stood in front of that cabin, serving as a reference point for all those who were coming to the meeting place. The developments in the latter half of the 1930s can be traced back to this cabin known by our historians as the “log-cabin on River Xiaojiaqi”.


In mid-February 1936, on the eve of Usu (the day of the first rains in the year—Tr.) after Ripchun (the day when spring begins—Tr.) we made our way to this place, after the second expedition to north Manchuria. It marked the beginning of spring according to the calendar, but the biting cold of north Manchuria was still rife\and the wild continental wind whipped against us. Now\and then the sound of breaking ice rang out on Lake Jingbo, accompanied by the reverberations of oaks\and birches cracking rom the cold in the thick forests along River Xiaojiaqi. It was so cold there that even our experienced cooks could not boil rice in the open-air kitchen.\whereas the rice at the bottom of the pot burnt to a cinder, the rice in the upper layer would not boil, affected by the biting cold of 40°C below zero. North Manchuria still impinges on me as the one place in my life,\where I ate half-cooked food more often than anywhere else.


Almost four years had passed, since we had launched the war against the Japanese imperialists. Our revolutionary force had grown on a large scale in its military\and political aspects,\and the future looked bright. The anti-Japanese revolution had experienced a thorny path,\and was now clearly advancing dynamically towards a fresh turning-point.


As I hastened towards Nanhutou to meet Wei Zheng-min, without a rest rom the expedition, various thoughts of our revolutionary prospects surged inside me.


I had waited eagerly throughout the expedition in north Manchuria\and also during our days in Xiaojiaqihe after the expedition for the envoys who had been sent to Moscow half a year earlier.


The major issue Wei Zheng-min was to bring to the attention of the Comintern by the decision of the Yaoyinggou meeting was apparently about the “Minsaengdan” case in which thousands of Korean communists in east Manchuria had been removed, but, in essence, it was about the independent nature of the Korean revolution. In other words, it was about whether the Korean communists’ struggle under the slogan of the Korean revolution was right\or wrong, legitimate\or illegitimate,\or whether it contradicted the Comintern’s principle of one party for one country. rom today’s stand-point, it is natural\and does not leave even a shadow of a doubt about its validity, but at that time, when the Comintern existed\and the principle of one party for one country was regarded as inviolable, it was a complicated\and serious issue, what defied a ready answer, but was vital to our destiny.


The tenacious argument of people, who wielded the principle of one party for one country, the contention that the Korean communists’ struggle for the Korean revolution constituted a heretic act unworthy of a communist,\and a factional practice alien to the Party, was terrible. They said, “A communist is an internationalist. How can he be preoccupied with the thought of his country, which lacks a Party of its own\and be captivated by a narrow nationalist idea, instead of devoting himself to the revolution of the country whose Party he belongs to? This is the same attitude, expressed by the revisionists who adhered to the ‘defence of the fatherland’ slogan in the days of the Second International. Lenin labelled them traitors\and enemies of the cause of socialism\and communism\and condemned them. If you Korean communists continue to insist on the Korean revolution, you could also be labelled traitors\and enemies of the cause of socialism. Consequently, you would be wise not to act rashly.”


Naturally enough, I was not that worried about this matter,\and in a sense can say that I already had a rough estimate of the answer Wei Zheng-min would bring, because our opinion was just\and Wei had understood it fully. I had no doubt that Comintern officials would approve the appeal we had submitted on the fundamental issues of the Korean revolution.


My conviction that the Comintern would treat our problems fairly was both based on the consistent belief that our appeal to Moscow through Wei conformed in all aspects with the revolution’s principles\and interests\and related to the situation at that time, when the Comintern was seeking a new line.

 

Until 1919, when the Communist International was\organized by Lenin, the Russian Communist Party was the only political party of the working class in power. The revolutionary left-wing broke with the revisionist Social Democratic Parties of the Second International\and formed Communist Parties. However, they were very young in both ideological\and\organizational aspects\and still not strong enough to independently carry out revolution in their own countries.


The victory of the socialist revolution in Russia sparked vigorous struggles to break the chains of capitalism\and establish Soviet republics on a world-wide scale, but these efforts were frustrated. Despite the favourable objective situation, created by the emergence of the first socialist state in history, the revolutionary forces of each country were not sufficiently prepared to overcome the enemy\and gain a conclusive victory.


In these circumstances, the communists all over the world were compelled to reorganize the international communist movement\and unite\organizationally with newly-emergent Russia\and the Russian Communist Party as the axis. They had to establish the principle of democratic centralism in the form of the Comintern’s\organization\and mode of its activities to make sure that the parties\and revolutionary movements in separate countries obeyed unconditionally the directives of the international centre.


By accepting this requirement in a dogmatic way, some communists revealed a flunkeyistic tendency to blindly follow directives rom Moscow, disregarding the revolutionary aims in their own countries\and their own national interests; this tendency caused a considerable loss to the revolutionary movement in individual countries.

 

However, the revolutionary movement developed\and revolutionary forces grew in separate countries under the unified guidance of the Comintern. Communists in these countries began to emerge as forces, capable of independently carrying out their revolutions.


From the early 1920s onwards, Communist Parties sprouted in the colonies\and semi-colonial countries in Asia\and, under their leadership, the national liberation struggles advanced rapidly. The parties of many countries could now have their say\and demanded the right to independently define their own lines. It was in actual fact difficult for the Comintern, situated as it was in Moscow at the helm of the world revolution, to formulate policies in good time which would suit the actual situation in many countries of the world’s continents\or regulate\and guide their revolutionary struggles in such a way, as to meet the ever-changing circumstances\and conditions. The Comintern, composed of people rom various countries, was restricted somewhat in the formulation of lines\and policies\and in their dissemination.


The international communist movement was beginning to understand the need for a gradual change in its\organization of revolutionary force\and guidance of the struggle’s development. Revolution cannot be imported\or exported. This fact, coupled with the pressing need to unite the revolutionary efforts of each country into one single force, aroused the communists in every country to the need to establish Juche, formulating\and implementing their own line\and maintain their party’s independence. This change in the situation constituted an important guarantee, that the Comintern would confirm the independent nature of the Korean revolution.


When he set off for the Soviet\union via Hunchun in summer 1935, Wei Zheng-min promised to return via Harbin\or Muling\and meet me in Ningan. Consequently we planned to go to Ningan after the Emu campaign.


At around the time when we hurried to Nanhutou, the fascist threat was looming ever larger on the international scene.


The Spanish Civil War was developing into a violent war\and was assuming an international character, owing to the fascists’ overt armed intervention.


Japan was to be the hotbed of a new war in the East. She was being precipitated towards militarism. With the formation of the Saito Cabinet in the wake of the “May 15 incident” in 1932, Japan’s party politics came to an end\and the country was placed under the rule of a military cabinet. Japan thereby vehemently told the world, without the slightest hesitation, that “war is the father of creation\and the mother of culture”.


The fascist trend in Japan culminated in the coup of February 26, 1936, at the time when we planned to convene the meeting at Nanhutou. The incident finally led to the oppressive phase,\where the doctrine of overseas aggression, advocated by the junior officers’ group, began to be implemented. The young officers, 1,000 non-commissioned officers\and men who took part in the coup, assaulted the residences of the Prime Minister\and several of the ministers, killing\or seriously wounding important government officials, including the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, the Minister of Finance, the Inspector-General of Military Education\and the Grand Chamberlain; they occupied the Metropolitan Police Agency, the Ministry of War, the General Staff Office\and the residence of the Minister of War, thereby gaining control of the “heart of Japanese politics”. The coup, staged under the slogan of “respecting the Emperor\and eliminating treacherous subjects”, was put down in four days. The political confusion was smoothed over by the execution of the masterminds behind the plot. This, however, constituted a danger signal of the rampage of Japanese militarism.


The incident on February 26, a product of conflicts among Japanese military circles, between the Imperial Way\and Control factions, proved the grave stage of Japan’s impending fascism\and marked the advent of a military dictatorship. The manoeuvres of the militarist force inside Japan itself implied the danger that they would launch a new war\and larger-scale military actions.


Keeping a vigilant eye on the developments in Japan, we re-examined our fighting strategy in a bid to anticipate their consequences. Although the coup failed, it clearly demonstrated the outrageous nature of Japanese militarism in its participation in Japan’s domestic politics\and its aggressive intentions towards other countries. In actual fact Japan provoked the Sino-Japanese War less than a year\and a half later\and precipitated a still greater aggression.


The emergence of fascism in Japan weighed more heavily upon Korea, her colony. A frenzied campaign was launched on the Korean peninsula to wipe out all that was Korean\and crush all forms of anti-Japanese struggle\and anti-Japanese elements. To use Korean language instead of Japanese, wear white clothes instead of dyed colours\and failure to hoist the Hinomaru (the national flag of Japan—Tr.), visit the shrines, learn the “Pledge of the Imperial Subjects”,\or put on geta (Japanese wooden sandals—Tr.)—these acts were all termed anti-Japanese, anti-state\and treacherous behaviour accompanied by a fine\or penalty, arrest\or even imprisonment.


Some former proponents of patriotism now abandoned the last vestiges of their conscience in this violent campaign of national extinction, became turncoats\and declaimed that “Japan\and Korea were one”\and that “the Japanese\and Koreans came rom the same stock”, in\order to save their skins. Patriots were murdered while traitors cut a wide swathe. The whole of Korea was being stifled.


This suppressive situation made it imperative for us to move to Mt. Paektu\and demonstrate that Korea was alive, Korea was fighting\and that Korea would survive.


These shocking changes occurred successively at home\and abroad around the time when we met at Nanhutou.


These developments were indeed oppressive, but they did not depress us. I was convinced that we could defeat the Japanese imperialists, if we moved the armed struggle deep into the homeland.


The march was arduous\and exhausting, but the men’s spirits were high, as they anticipated the advance to the Mt. Paektu area. It was probably during our march to Nanhutou that we debated the significant lessons of the legend of Zhenzhumen village, situated off Lake Jingbo. It is a very interesting legend.


A poor man\and his daughter once lived in the village of Zhenzhumen on Lake Jingbo. The daughter, nearly twenty years of age, was a rare beauty,\and all the young men around wanted to marry her.


Her father had been endowed with the divine gift of seeing through waters of any depth. He once told his daughter, “While angling the other day, I saw a golden mirror lying deep in the lake. To retrieve that mirror, I must first get rid of a three-headed monster living in the water. To do this, however, I need a very brave\and bold assistant. I’ve been trying to work out these days how to find a suitable assistant.”


His dutiful daughter answered, “I will marry the young man who helps you bring out that mirror.”

 

He backed his daughter’s idea. He disseminated the rumour about his daughter’s decision in the neighbouring villages. Many young men came to Zhenzhumen on hearing the rumour. However, when they heard the man’s plan to get the mirror, none of them expressed a readiness to become his assistant. However, one young man whose surname was Yang, volunteered. The old man\and his daughter accepted his offer at once\and promised him that the girl would marry the lad if they managed to bring back the mirror.


One fine day the man went to the lakeside with the young man. After rowing out onto the lake, the man gave the lad three swords—large, medium\and small—and said, “When I come to the surface for the first time, you must give me the small sword, the second time—the medium one,\and the third time—the large one. When you hand me the swords, you must act as quick as lightning. Don’t be frightened. If you take to flight in fright, before getting the mirror out, both you\and I will die.”


The boy comforted him, saying, “Please don’t worry, sir.”


Soon the man jumped into the water. The lad sitting in the boat gazed into the water’s depths,\and the girl on the shore watched him. A few moments later the man’s pale face broke surface. The boy swiftly handed him the small sword, as he had been told. The man dived into the water with the sword. The lake then began to surge in the depths. The man rose to the surface with one of the bleeding monster’s heads, as large as a man’s,\and disappeared into the water with the second sword. In a few minutes, the lake ran high\and the waves rose\and seemed about to capsize the boat. The man, who was stained with blood emerged, this time holding another of the monster’s heads, the size of a horse’s,\and plunged again into the surging water with a third sword. Thunder boomed in the sky\and the waves raged. The boat rolled heavily on the waves, as if it were sinking. At this horrible sight, the girl on the shore felt as if her heart had stopped beating. She was so tense\and fretful that she held her breath.


The lad became deranged\and rowed the boat with all his might towards the shore, forsaking his promise to the man\and his attachment for the girl, who had been watching him. Enraged, the girl shouted at him, stamping her foot,\and persuaded him to turn the boat back; she climbed in\and rowed with the lad to the centre of the lake in search of her father. The wind\and raging waves subsided, but the man was nowhere to be seen. The boy\and girl called out for him again\and again, but the man died in the water\and therefore there was no reply. The girl tearfully reproached the boy for breaking his promise. Quarrelling, having no idea of the time, they both disappeared in the fog.


Although the story varies a little rom village to village,\or rom Emu to Ningan, this is the general outline. Apparently the name of Lake Jingbo\originated rom the Zhenzhumen legend. On hearing the legend we thought deeply about loyalty\and a self-sacrificing spirit. My comrades cursed the young man as disloyal\and cowardly. The legend affected them tremendously. Whenever a coward appeared in our ranks, the guerrillas would condemn him as “the boy Yang on Lake Jingbo”.


To discuss measures\and decide how to cope with the urgent historic tasks raised by the country\and the nation, whose destiny was at stake, I considered it necessary to convene a meeting of military\and political cadres of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army at Xiaojiaqihe, before leaving for Mt. Paektu.


One evening in mid-February, when I was putting the finishing touches to the draft report for the meeting\and waiting for the envoys, who had gone to Moscow, the door of the log-cabin was flung open\and Wei Zheng-min appeared before me.


He apologized profusely for arriving later than schedule, explaining that he had been laid up in hospital for a few months. Although he arrived late, he was met with our congratulations for returning to Manchuria, after recovering rom his illness. He looked much better now, probably because he had been to Moscow. I could guess just by looking at his composed air that his trip had been successful.


Wei’s return journey had not been smooth. He arrived in Ningan via Harbin by rail\and met the comrades of the 5th Corps of Zhou Bao-zhong; on his way to Nanhutou he had been stopped near Wangou village by the patrol police. After a short interrogation, the policemen had suspected him\and wanted to take him to their substation. Wei was carrying important documents rom the Comintern in his bundle; everything would have been ruined if he had been taken to the station. He gave the policemen 50 yuan ,\and they let him go.


Wei said jokingly that he had thought his body would be worth tens of thousands of yuan but it turned out that it was only worth 50 yuan .


For some strange reason, he said: “Let me shake your hand once more, Comrade Kim Il Sung.”


“We’ve just shaken hands. What’s it all about?” I asked, puzzled.


“I want to congratulate you on one matter. This is a significant handshake. So, be happy, Comrade Kim Il Sung. After a serious discussion on the matters you’ve raised, the Comintern concluded that your opinions are all correct\and issued some important directives backing them. Everything was settled just as the Korean communists desired.”

 

Feeling tears welling up in my eyes, despite myself, I grabbed Wei’s two hands.


“Is that true?”


“Yes. The Comintern criticized the east Manchuria Party committee for committing such grave Leftist mistakes in its struggle with the ‘Minsaengdan’\and other activities. All the senior officials of the Comintern\and its Chinese Communist Party representatives expressed the same opinion on this matter.


“But most importantly, the Comintern has recognized the inalienable\and inviolable right of the Korean communists to be solely responsible for the Korean revolution\and has given its support to the revolution. The Comintern gave the clear-cut answer that the responsibilities should now be divided between the Chinese\and Korean communists in such a way that the former would engineer the Chinese revolution\and the latter the Korean revolution.”


Wei Zheng-min stopped speaking for some minutes for some unknown reason. I soon realized that his conscience\and remorse were bothering him. Were reminiscences of the heated argument,\where he had tried to prove the validity of his own opinion, making him blush? What serious arguments we had exchanged at the meetings at Dahuangwai\and Yaoyinggou\and beyond the conference hall!


Thanks to Wei Zheng-min’s visit to Moscow, the complicated issues were settled smoothly, just as we had expected\and desired.


One source had alleged that Wei did not attend the Seventh Congress of the Comintern during his time in Moscow\and merely left Hunchun, accompanied by ten local Party\and YCL cadres on a study tour,\and that he aimed primarily to report on the issue of the “Minsaengdan” to the Chinese representatives to the Comintern. Other materials were also untrue. The archives of the Comintern still maintain records of Wei Zheng-min’s attendance of its Seventh Congress.


Wei Zheng-min told me that he had given the Comintern a detailed account of the guerrilla struggle in Manchuria. It went under the title “Feng Kang’s Report”. In Moscow he used the pseudonym Feng Kang, as well as his real name.


There were discrepancies in the reports of Leftist errors, committed during the anti-“Minsaengdan” struggle. Some of them blamed Wei for the errors, while others asserted that the deviations in the struggle against the “Minsaengdan” were righted, following his appointment as secretary of the East Manchuria Special District Committee.


I did not believe that he was totally responsible for the injurious consequences of the anti-“Minsaengdan” struggle. Frankly speaking, however, it is true that in the early days when, in his capacity of secretary of the Harbin City Party Committee, Wei came to east Manchuria in the winter of 1934 as an inspector rom the provincial committee, he was at a loss as to how to deal with such a complicated issue as the “Minsaengdan”. At that time, he was more\or less influenced by the prevalent opinions that many of the “Minsaengdan” members had infiltrated the revolutionary\organizations\and the guerrilla army\and should therefore be purged to the last man. He subsequently confessed that at first he had suspected that most Koreans belonged to the “Minsaengdan”.


This statement would seem to be more\or less true, judging rom his report about me to the Comintern; it reads, “Kim Il Sung. Korean. Brave\and active. Speaks fluent Chinese. A guerrilla. Many people say that he is a ‘Minsaengdan’ member. Fond of talking to his men\and trusted\and respected by them as well as by the NSA soldiers.”

 


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Despite his mistakes in the early days, it is only fair to say that he contributed greatly to correcting the ultra-Leftist deviation in the purge, going as far as Moscow\and receiving the Comintern’s answer on the “Minsaengdan”. In fact, he had expressed his agreement with me on the issue at the Dahuangwai meeting. I was grateful to him for the accurate\and objective report he gave the Comintern about the situation in east Manchuria, avoiding all forms of national prejudice\and the satisfactory settlement of everything in our favour.


“Thank you. I’m grateful to the Comintern\and all the more grateful to you, Comrade Wei, for taking such trouble to travel all the way to Moscow, despite your poor health. I won’t forget all that you’ve done for me.”


This was my heartfelt acknowledgement to him.


Wei said awkwardly that my praise was more than he deserved. He continued, “When combatting the ‘Minsaengdan’, the East Manchuria Special District Committee\and the Chinese communists under it made a serious mistake; they were narrow-minded\and went to the extreme in dealing with people’s destinies. Many Korean communists\and revolutionaries suffered undeserved punishment. I am first\and foremost to blame for not combatting the ‘Minsaengdan’ in a just way. This was severely criticized by the Comintern.”


I considered his remark a piece of honest self-criticism.


“A communist is also a human being, Mr. Wei. Consequently, he is also prone to mistakes. I’d like to say that the ‘Minsaengdan’ issue became complicated, basically because the Japanese had sought to sow dissension between our nations.”


“You’re right. After all, we’ve been trapped in their scheme for quite some time\and committed fratricide. We killed our own people. When I first arrived in east Manchuria, someone told me that the Koreans were claiming Jiandao\and were thinking of restoring it. He added that I must be vigilant against their attempts to occupy it with Japanese help. For some reason, at first I believed him,” Wei said\and smiled bitterly.


I felt sorry for him .


“Mr. Wei, everything’s fine now, so forget about the past. Frankly speaking, I felt heavy-hearted when I saw you off to the Comintern. But I felt complete trust on you, when you sincerely accepted our proposal\and said that you’d convey it to the Comintern responsibly.”


“Thank you. I was also convinced that you’d think so.”


The Comintern made it clear that the Korean communists were not guilty in any way when they raised the slogan of the Korean revolution\and that was in fact their sacred duty to do so, something the Comintern should have entrusted to them\and their legitimate right inalienable even in terms of the principle of one party for one country. I felt as if I were a bird which had been freed rom a cage\and could now fly high up into the sky. We now had wings, so to speak,\and the Korean revolution could now take off.


Wei Zheng-min provided me with a detailed account of the Seventh Congress of the Comintern.


In those days the Comintern was preoccupied with the urgent task of launching a world-wide struggle against fascism.


The emergence of fascism in Italy\and Germany\and its consolidation after the First World War had ushered in a dreary, unstable political climate in many European countries\and was precipitating mankind into a new war. The fascism created by Fasci di Combattimento,\organized by Mussolini of Italy, attained its highest peak under Hitler of Germany\and the Nazi Party he founded.

 

Fascism advocated extreme national chauvinism. Consequently Germany became the source of a new world war. The extreme anti-communist mentality of fascism, combined with anti-Semitism, was the most vicious\and pernicious trend of all reactionary views which had existed in all ages\and all countries by that time. Fascism reared its ugly head as a force, which could not be ignored in the political lives in Germany\and other countries.


Germany’s bourgeoisie considered iron fists of fascist dictators like Hitler to be the only instrument to be able to rid Germany of all its crises, overpower communism\and bring about the restoration of the Third Reich.


Hitlerite fascism conspired against the German Communist Party as its first undertaking on usurping power. The notorious burning of the Reichstag building, which startled the whole world, was a rare farce which they staged. The political objectives of Hitler\and Göring in this incident ended in ignominious failure. Of course, after the Reichstag fire, they outlawed the Communist Party\and reduced the Reichstag to a mere rubber stamp, but also they vividly revealed the true nature of fascism to the world as the most reactionary\and undisguised bourgeois political system. The world condemned German fascism as a provocateur, dictator\and warmonger.


The rise of fascism in Germany awakened the political consciousness of the progressive people throughout the world.


With the onset of fascism\and the threat of an imminent new war, the Comintern set the important strategic task of preventing dissension between Communist\and Socialist Parties\and resisting fascism by concerted efforts. This culminated in the launch of an anti-fascist popular front movement on an international scale.

 

In these circumstances, the oppressed nations in the East\and colonies initiated an anti-imperialist, national united front movement to rally all national efforts into a single force to counter imperialist aggression.


On the basis of this strategic objective, the Seventh Congress of the Comintern required the Communist Parties of all countries to rally all anti-fascist\and anti-imperialist forces.


Wei Zheng-min conveyed his respect for Dimitrov, saying that his report on the development of the struggle against imperialism\and fascism on an international scale had been very impressive.


We believed that Dimitrov, hero of the Leipzig trials, which attracted the attention of the whole world, including progressive intellects, was an outstanding man of the times. His appeal to wage an active struggle against fascism gripped the hearts of progressive people throughout the world.


I would like to mention here that the fact that Dimitrov, a Bulgarian,\and not Zinoviev, Bukharin\or Manuilsky of the Soviet\union, was at the helm of the Comintern symbolized a new phase in the development of the international communist movement; it marked the advent of a new age when the Comintern would function on the basis of the independent activities of separate Communist Parties. We can say that these demands of the times were reflected in the resolutions of the Comintern’s Seventh Congress, which accorded considerable independent activities to each party.


It was fortunate indeed that the congress fully recognized the rights\and responsibilities of the Korean communists for the Korean revolution.


I was even more firmly convinced, on hearing Wei’s report, of the justness of our cause\and the correctness of our lines. When he gave me the Communist International , the\organ of the Comintern, carrying an article On the Anti-Imperialist United Front in Manchuria written by Yang Song,\and a letter rom the Comintern to a senior official of the eastern area bureau of the Jilin Province, signed jointly by Wang Ming\and Kang Sheng, working at the Comintern’s\oriental department, Wei Zheng-min added that both the article\and letter explained the main content of the resolution adopted by the Comintern on Korea.


Yang Song proposed in his article to overcome Left-wing opportunist deviations\and form an anti-Japanese united front at the earliest possible date,\and maintained that the Chinese Communist Party should rom that moment on adhere to the slogan of a united front of the oppressed nations of China, Korea, Mongolia\and Manchuria. He also stressed that the Chinese\and Korean nations should unite to overthrow Japan’s rule of puppet Manchukuo\and set up a Jiandao autonomy by the Korean nation,\and that the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, operating as part of the Chinese-Korean Anti-Japanese Allied Army, should fight for the independence of the Korean nation as well. Yang Song was in reality Wu Ping, a representative rom the Comintern, I had met in Zhou Bao-zhong’s hut during the first expedition to north Manchuria.


The Comintern did not only provide moral\and political backing; it also revealed its support of our activities by proposing measures to help us to speed up the Korean revolution in future.


One of them was a directive that the anti-Japanese guerrilla forces, which had so far conducted a joint struggle, should be reorganized separately into Korean\and Chinese armies. This was, in effect, the nucleus of the issue on the responsibilities\and rights of the Korean communists for the Korean revolution\and played an important role in maintaining the Juche character\and independence of the Korean revolution.

 

If we had\organized a separate army of only Koreans, picking them out rom all the guerrilla units in Manchuria, as directed by the Comintern, such an army alone could have proved to be a formidable force, capable of countering the two Japanese army divisions in Korea. If we had fought the Japanese army in a spirit of one man as a match for ten, the young people in Korea would not have remained mere onlookers. If they had joined us, the tide of the war would have changed\and the country would have been liberated at a much earlier date.


Nevertheless, as communists, who had fought jointly in the same trench against the Japanese, our common enemy, for years, we could not be disloyal to our brothers\and comrades-in-arms. If we had removed all the Korean soldiers to our advantage, then such a unit as the 2nd Corps, comprising 90 per cent Korean soldiers, would have come to an end. Chinese soldiers constituted the majority in other guerrilla units. However, most of them had come rom the nationalist army: there were only a few communists in each of these units. Moreover, most of the commanders in each unit were Koreans. The core elements of each unit were also Koreans. If separate units of Koreans\and Chinese had been created in this situation, it would have been difficult to maintain the Anti-Japanese Allied Army.


The Korean communists had carried out the anti-Japanese armed struggle with immense success by\organizing the Anti-Japanese Allied Army with the Chinese communists in the mid-1930s\and developing a joint struggle under anti-Manchukuo, anti-Japanese slogans. In the new circumstances, the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army was to advance to the border areas, directing its main effort to the Korean revolution. However, we could not run the risk of weakening the joint struggle with the anti-Japanese armed units of the Chinese people. At a time when the progressive forces supporting the popular front in Spain were fighting together against the allied forces of the fascists, it would have been irrational\and contrary to the trend of the times to separate the Korean-Chinese anti-Japanese armed units into Korean\and Chinese armies. If the Koreans had formed their own army, when fighting in China, the Chinese people’s support might have weakened towards them.


We needed sovereignty, rather than a division of forces. We demanded recognition\and respect for the Korean people’s right to independence, their right to carry out the Korean revolution, without any restraint, restriction\or interference but not divided forces.


Needless to say, Wei Zheng-min\and other Chinese comrades were well aware of this fact. But Wei seemed to think that the greatest gift he could give me on his return rom Moscow was separate authority. He repeated his proposal to plan the reorganization of the armed forces by nationalities as the Comintern had advised.


I replied:


“I fully understand what you think, Comrade Wei. But I believe that we cannot look at the matter rom only one angle. As we’re communists, we have to consider everything on the basis of revolutionary principles\and class interests. When they talk about the Korean revolution, Korean communists do not seek to support narrow national interests. We believe that the national interests of the revolution should always be combined with international interests\and that international interests must not be detrimental to national interests.


“Therefore, I must give deep thought as to whether it would be more advantageous to the revolution to preserve the united Korean-Chinese anti-Japanese armed forces, which have been fighting for years in the same trench,\or separate them on the basis of nationality. Perhaps you’re suggesting the reorganization of the anti-Japanese armed forces on the basis of nationality out of respect for the Korean communists, but we don’t view this superficially. Furthermore, we are actually operating as the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, although fighting shoulder to shoulder with the Chinese communists. Consequently I don’t see any need to separate them.”


Wei was clearly pleased, but then asked anxiously, “Does that mean we will adhere to the directives of the Comintern? rom a moral point of view, we have no right to bind you, Korean comrades in the Anti-Japanese Allied Army.”


“I don’t think you need to worry about that,” I said. “I would suggest that, while operating as an allied army, we call ourselves the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, when we’re in our homeland\and Korean villages in northeast China,\and then announce ourselves as the Anti-Japanese Allied Army, when we’re in Chinese villages. Surely that would mean preserving the allied army system\and also carrying out the directives of the Comintern.”


“Thank you, Comrade Kim. I didn’t expect such generous understanding. This magnanimous approach of the Korean communists represents strong support for the Chinese revolution.”


Smiling, I shook Wei’s hand\and said, “Have we been fighting together for only a few years?\and must we part after fighting together only a few more years? Our friendship will last for ever, as long as China remains our neighbour\and communism emerges victorious in your country.”


“Thank you, Comrade Kim. It is indeed an honour for me to fight in the same ranks with Korean communists like you. I’d like to become your political commissar, Commander Kim Il Sung. I will assist the Korean revolution by uniting more closely behind our Korean comrades.”


We embraced each other\and laughed long\and heartily.


To be candid, I had formed a new opinion of Wei Zheng-min after meeting him in Nanhutou. He regretted his past mistake. After restructuring the Party\organizations in Manchuria, following the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, he was appointed to responsible posts of secretary of the South Manchuria Provincial Party Committee\and political commissar of the 1st Route Corps of the Northeast Anti-Japanese Allied Army; but he accompanied my unit most of the time, rather than the unit of the Chinese comrades. As he said jokingly, he was virtually performing the role of political commissar of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army under my command. For some reason he was fond of my company. It was not surprising that the Japanese official records listed Wei Zheng-min (alias Wei Ming-sheng) as my political commissar. He stayed for a long time in the Changbai area in my company\and visited the secret camp on Mt. Paektu several times. He seldom objected to our lines\or proposals in the years following the meeting at Nanhutou.


The alliance between the Korean\and Chinese communists, which had undergone temporary trials due to the anti-“Minsaengdan” struggle, entered a new stage around the time of the Nanhutou meeting.


After it, we continued the armed struggle against the Japanese imperialists for nearly 10 years jointly with the Chinese communists\and Chinese anti-Japanese forces, developing the Korean revolution\and providing active assistance to the Chinese revolution. History of the mutual support\and cooperation between the Korean\and Chinese communists can thereby be traced to the early 1930s.

 

A Chinese leader, referring to this fraternity\and assistance, said that the Korean people’s support for the Chinese people was thin\and yet long-term,\and that the latter’s support for the former was thick\and yet short-term. I think that this constituted a sincere evaluation of what our people, a small nation, had been doing for a long time to help the fraternal Chinese people.


The meeting with Wei Zheng-min is an impressive event, which will remain in my memory for the rest of my life. As his visit to Moscow contributed greatly to the removal of obstacles to the Korean revolution, I am still grateful to him.


The following anecdote made my meeting with Wei still more memorable.


One day towards noon, when we were making preparations for a meeting of military\and political cadres, my\orderly hurried to tell me that a big tigress was threatening our long-range observation post\and asked for permission to fire. He explained that the post was located on the top of a rocky cliff, commanding a good view, but that down below the cliff there was a den\where a big tigress lived with her two cubs. He continued that the guards had tried to change the post out of fright, but they continued to get along because they had had no other suitable place\and the tigress had meant no mischief, but she had gone wild since the previous day.


I figured that there must be some reason behind the tigress’s sudden anger\and went to the observation post. I looked down rom the cliff\and saw a very large tigress crouching in front of a cave. I asked what had happened\and learned that our comrades standing guard had angered her. They had played with the cubs, sunbathing outside the cave; the cubs had accidentally scratched the backs of their hands with their claws, so the men had slapped the cubs lightly on the head. The tigress who had been out searching for prey had seen this,\and rom then on had roared thunderously several times a day at the observation post\and jumped half way up to the middle of the cliff.


I said, “Don’t be alarmed. The tigress must be rampaging to demonstrate her ability to prevent the sentries rom harming her cubs. This is a warning that she wouldn’t forgive you, if you were to molest her cubs again. She wouldn’t become involved in a hopeless fight with a man armed with a gun, so don’t worry.”


Only then did the sentries abandon the idea of killing her. They decided to maintain friendly relations with the fierce “Queen” of the mountain. As a first step, they threw the limb of a roe deer down the cliff. They continued providing them with food for some days. The tigress grew calmer. rom then on she became our friendly neighbour. After our departure rom Nanhutou\and advance to the area around Mt. Paektu, the officers\and men of the people’s revolutionary army operating in this place maintained “good-neighbourly relations” with the tigress.


According to Rim Chun Chu, Choe In Jun’s company first discovered the tigress’s cave, when camping in the valley of Dajiaqihe. A hospital, an arsenal,\and a communication station were situated in this valley. The supply workers also resided there.


At the end of 1935 Rim, on our summons, had come rom Wangqing to the direction of Nanhutou in search of the expeditionary force,\and opened a hospital for a time in a vacant hut in Xiaogou, treating the wounded; when he found a better site for a secret camp on the plateau in Dajiaqihe, he moved the hospital there. The hut had been occupied by people, who had led a secluded life in the mountains. They used to come to the mountains when young\and led a solitary life in huts, isolated rom the outside world throughout their lives until they were 70\or 80; they engaged in hunting, picking medicinal herbs\and cultivating opium. Most of the masters of these huts lived to a great age, but they, too, were only mortals. When their solitary life ended, the huts became bare.


The hospital Rim Chun Chu ran treated the guerrillas rom our corps\and those rom the 5th Corps. Ryu Ran Han, chief of staff of the Wangqing Regiment, died while being treated in this hospital.


The Wangqing 3rd Company, led by Choe In Jun, was entrusted with protecting\and supporting the patients. The company assaulted the barracks of the puppet Manchukuo army unit stationed in its vicinity to obtain weapons\and provisions. They captured about 100 weapons in that battle. When they looked for a place to keep the weapons, they found a cave on the cliff below the plateau,\where the hospital\and communication station were located. Choe In Jun piled the rifles in the cave\and blocked its entrance with stones. On his way down the cliff, he found another cave—the den of the tigress.


Whenever I look back on that Nanhutou meeting, I recall Wei Zheng-min\and, at the same time, the tigress in the secret camp at Dajiaqihe, which became an interesting topic during the meeting.


We held a meeting of military\and political cadres of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army in Xiaojiaqihe for nearly a week in late February 1936. This meeting is also called the Nanhutou meeting. It was attended by 30 to 40 military\and political cadres including Wei Zheng-min\and other Chinese comrades\and Kim San Ho, Han Hung Gwon, Choe Chun Guk, Jon Man Song, Choe In Jun, Pak Thae Hwa, Kim Ryo Jung, Rim Chun Chu, Jon Chang Chol\and others. Yun Pyong Do, who had been to the Comintern\and returned after receiving treatment at a Soviet hospital, also took part. He experienced quite an emotional reunion with Wei Zheng-min at Xiaojiaqihe after several months of separation.


Wei Zheng-min conveyed the opinions of the Comintern at the meeting on some issues we had submitted at the Dahuangwai\and Yaoyinggou meetings\and its directives. The meeting expressed its deep gratitude to Wei for his journey to Moscow despite his poor health\and congratulated him on the good results.


In my report I reviewed the experience of the military\and political activities we had carried out in the areas along Tuman River in the first half of the 1930s. I made proposals on the important tasks facing the Korean communists to develop the anti-Japanese national liberation struggle in a period when we greeted a new turning-point in the revolution,\and the new strategic policies for implementing them. In other words, I advanced new ways of ensuring a major upsurge in the overall Korean revolution centring on the anti-Japanese armed struggle, including policies to transfer the main force of the KPRA to the border point\and the area around Mt. Paektu\and gradually extend the armed struggle to the homeland, expand the movement of the anti-Japanese national united front, step up moves to found a party,\and reorganize the Young Communist League into an Anti-Japanese Youth League. I brought all these points up for discussion.


Everybody who took the floor expressed their full backing\and agreement with the policies I had set out in the report. There was scarcely any bickering\or arguing for\and against a policy. Of all the meetings I had presided over since the start of the anti-Japanese revolution, this was the first one\where the discussion of lines went so smoothly\and the attendants were in such high spirits. The meeting began\and ended in smiles. The attendants vied with one another to take the floor\and looked forward to the day when they would advance to the area around Mt. Paektu, deep into the homeland to fight a decisive battle with the enemy.


Our advance to the area around Mt. Paektu\and deep into the homeland was vital to consolidate the motive force of our revolution\and defeat the Japanese imperialists through the efforts of the Korean people themselves, by enlisting all their forces. The meeting expressed its absolute support for our proposal to proceed to the area around Mt. Paektu, strengthening our main force, first seizing the border\and then extending the theatre of our struggle deep into the homeland.


If we built our bases in the area around Mt. Paektu\and launched an intensive armed struggle in the border area\and the homeland, we could inspire our people, suffering the brutal fascist military rule of the Japanese imperialists, with hope of national liberation,\and promote confidence of victory in the minds of 20 million fellow countrymen, who were eager to see our revolutionary army. This would have a greater demonstrative effect than a hundred words.


The meeting adopted the strategic policy of our revolution on the\organization of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland\and making preparations for founding a Communist Party on a nation-wide scale.


The Korean revolution enjoyed a fresh lift with the meeting at Nanhutou acting as a turning-point. In this sense, the meeting can be called a watershed in the Korean revolution, marking off the two halves of the 1930s. Thanks to the decisions adopted at the meeting, the Korean communists could set up a new landmark to raise the overall Korean revolution to a higher plane, centring on the anti-Japanese armed struggle.


The meeting at Nanhutou can be described in brief as the first time when we fully established Juche in the history of the Korean communist movement\and the anti-Japanese national liberation struggle. The decisions it adopted enabled the Korean communists to adhere to a Juche-oriented stand during subsequent stages of the revolution\and invariably uphold it as the lifeline of the nation in the face of any adversity.


The meeting can also be called a festival of victors. Victory had been won at the cost of innumerable sacrifices\and blood\and the strenuous efforts made by the Korean communists unsparingly for the fatherland\and the people,\and history\and the times. The Korean communist movement, shunned by the Comintern, parties of fraternal countries,\and by our people, albeit in part, owing to the factional strife among early communists, the break-up of the Korean Communist Party\and the mistakes committed by the Leftist opportunists in the struggle against the “Minsaengdan”, could remove these stains of the past\and help us embark along the ever-victorious road with the Nanhutou meeting as a momentum.


A short course to implement the policies set forth at the meeting was conducted in Xiaojiaqihe for about a week. A meeting of Party\and political workers was held to debate ways of implementing the policy of building the Party.


At the short course\and during the meeting we provided a detailed explanation of the policies established at the Nanhutou meeting\and proposed a slogan for the immediate period ahead, which reflected the basic spirit of the meeting: “Let us advance to the homeland\and raise the battle cry!”—in the hope of providing fresh impetus to our revolution.


After the Nanhutou meeting we embarked with spirits high on our advance to the homeland.


The anti-Japanese armed struggle was entering a new development phase.


 Related articles

[Reminiscences]Chapter 9. The First Expedition to North Manchuria 6. In the Bosom of the People

[Reminiscences]Chapter 10. With the Conviction of Independence  1. A Raging Whirlwind

[Reminiscences]Chapter 10. With the Conviction of Independence  2. A Polemic at Dahuangwai

[Reminiscences]Chapter 10. With the Conviction of Independence  3. Revolutionaries Born of the Young Communist League

[Reminiscences]Chapter 10. With the Conviction of Independence  4. An Answer to the Atrocities at Sidaogou

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

[Reminiscences]Chapter 11. The Watershed of the Revolution  1. Meeting with My Comrades-in-Arms in North Manchuria

[Reminiscences]Chapter 11. The Watershed of the Revolution  2. Strange Relationship



  

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