페이지 정보작성자 편집국 작성일20-07-25 17:36 댓글0건
[Reminiscences]Chapter 13 4. The Women’s Company
4. The Women’s Company
Koreans once called Ri Kwan Rin, the only woman soldier of the Independence Army, a “red flower in luxuriant green”. But the thriving ranks of the revolutionary force, with the anti-Japanese guerrilla army at its core, included hundreds\and even thousands of beautiful red flowers of our nation.
The mothers\and daughters of this land, enthused with intense love for their country, dedicated their youth, homes\and lives to the sacred war to drive out the Japanese invadersrom this land, without yielding to adversity on the path of revolution, despite untold physical stress\and mental strain, overtaxing even the strength of the male sex.
Whenever I remember the laudable women fighters, I recollect a women’s company, which was formed in spring 1936, around the time when the main division of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army was\organized.
The formation of the separate women’s company, as well as the division, on our way to Mt. Paektu after the meeting at Nanhutou, was a momentous event, which heralded rapid expansion of the guerrilla force\and a fresh upsurge in the anti-Japanese armed struggle as a whole.
The birth of the women’s company signified that Korean women, locked up in feudal fetters in back parlours for ages, now stood on the first line of revolutionary battle.
When we talk about female social position nowadays, we say figuratively that women are “one wheel of the revolution”. However, many people rejected this idea during the revolution against the Japanese. It is no exaggeration to say that scarcely anyone believed that women could engage in manual combat a long time shoulder to shoulder with men.
To be quite frank, at first I also considered a female presence on the field as unnatural. The thought of their tender physical constitutions, which in my prejudiced opinion, would be unable to withstand all the hardships of guerrilla warfare, stood uppermost in my mind.
Of course, we were aware that in history some women had amazed the world by the battle exploits they had performed, when destroying aggressors\or had given rise to fascinating anecdotes. The exploits of Kye Wol Hyang, a renowned Pyongyang kisaeng, who participated in the beheading of Konishi, a commander of Japanese invaders,\and of the woman patriot Ron Kae in Jinju were well-known.
The readers of Imjinrok4 will be able to imagine how fierce the battle of Haengju mountain fort was,\and the gallant role played by Korean women in that battle. As General Kwon Ryul fought with his back to the wall on the mountain fort in Koyang County, Kyonggi Province, against 30,000 Japanese samurais, who had surrounded the fort, the women of Haengju were busy carrying stones in their skirts to supply them to Korean soldiers, who were slinging stone missiles. The short skirts worn by the women patriots in the battle served as the\origin for the apron worn by all Korean housewives, when doing kitchen work\or used as a decoration. The apron was named Haengju apron after the fort.
Sol Juk Hwa was also renowned for her accomplishments, dressed in male clothing, when she destroyed the maraudersrom Kitan during the Koryo dynasty.
There were historical accounts of the distinguished military services rendered by such individual heroines, but hardly any instance of a hand-to-hand combat fought by a purely women’s unit.
However, in the guerrilla war we were fighting, women would not only play an auxiliary role as nurses, sewing-unit members\or cooks. They would also be combatants. Once they joined the army, they would have to obey the implacable logic of war. The rigours of war would not make any exception for women. The battle situation would require them to do the same as men, to make at times a forced march, fully equipped\and heavily loaded, for several days on end, fight, prone on frozen ground, under heavy artillery fire\or plunge into a bayonet charge. They would have to be sent to an enemy-held area for political work\or the acquisition of food,\or would have to build earthwork in the severe cold. There was no knowing how long they would have to fight, for a few years\or decades, eating\and sleeping rough in severe winter cold.
Could women endure all these hardships? Would it be right to bring them to such a battlefield,\where the threat of death would loom over them at all times? This was a question I felt unable to decide.
Many women comrades, who had been working for the revolution since our days in Jilin, requested that I admit them to the army. Han Yong Ae, for instance, beseeched me to let her fight among the guerrillas. But I left her behind in northern Manchuria when I moved to eastern Manchuria. Some girl members of the Children’s Association in Jilin followed me as far as Dunhua, expressing a desire to join the guerrilla army. Some women comrades in central Manchuria wrote to me, asking to be recruited. Although I knew that they were intensely patriotic, I declined their requests.
In those days I thought: It would be unacceptable for women to participate in the armed struggle, which was for men. A woman’s place was elsewhere. It would be alright to bring themrom their back parlours\and let them work for the revolution, but how could I allow them to fight under arms?
As guerrilla units began to be formed in many places, after full preparations were made, women grew more vocal about participation in the armed struggle. Many women comrades, who had been working in underground\organizations, came to the guerrilla army without permission\and refused to leave for all the advice given by their comrades.
These circumstances obliged us to raise the issue of women’s armed service for earnest debate.
Some married men flatly rejected the very idea of recruiting them.
They said: “According to our ancestral customs, women have their place at home,\and men outside the home. Admittedly, Ri Kwan Rin was once a soldier of the Independence Army, who swaggered about, wearing a pistol. But she was one out of a thousand. How can\ordinary women trek rugged mountains\and endure the hardships of guerrilla warfare, which can even be difficult for a man to withstand? It would be foolhardy to take women on the battlefield.” Some comrades even argued against the need to debate the matter.
By contrast, Cha Kwang Su\and some other comrades brushed aside these arguments. Cha said, “Surely you accept that a matriarchal system existed for a long time in history,\and that according to this system men lived under women’s protection?
“If a child is caught in a fire, the mother is the first to rush in to rescue her child. What is more, when the country is bleeding, why should women remain onlookers? We should be aware that our sisters themselves want to join the army\and that the times call for them to fight in the army.”
The discussion was repeated over\and over again, but no decision was reached. We decided to\organize the guerrilla army with young men first\and then observe further developments, before discussing the matter again.
The deferred argument on women’s participation in the army was resolved, when the news of the women’s struggle to capture enemy weapons in Jiandao reached us. Two peerlessly daring women in Helong County had struck a Japanese policeman with washing clubs\and snatched his rifle. The report silenced all those, who had opposed women’s military action. The whole of Jiandao had turned out to obtain weapons.
Kim Su Bok, an eighteen-year-old girl, who had realized the importance of weapons with the help of her\organization, racked her brains on how to obtain a weapon. She went with a friend with a laundry basket on her head to the site of a single-log bridge over a stream. Heavy rain had washed off the bridge a few days before. Only piers remained. The two girls pretended to be washing, waiting for a good chance all day. Towards sunset a Japanese policeman appeared\and\ordered them to carry him on their backs across the stream. Kim Su Bok walked into the stream with the man on her back,\and her friend followed, pretending to help. When they reached mid-stream, she hurled the man into the water, as he was complaining of his feet being wet,\and then clubbed him to a pulp. The two girls thus avenged the murder of their parents\and joined the anti-Japanese guerrilla army in summer 1933. For this venture Kim Su Bok was nicknamed “washing club”.
Pak Su Hwan also captured a weaponrom the enemy by knocking him out with a washing club. She later became the sewing-unit leader of our army’s main force. In one instance a group of women lured policemen to drink wine\and seized many weapons.
No certificate provided better proof of the mental ability\and strong will of our women than the weapons they captured. In the northern border of Korea\and many parts of Manchuria a large number of women joined the army with the weapons they had captured.
What did the radical advance of these women\and their profound change signify? What impelled these women to take up heroic armed resistance, who used to tend their kitchen gardens, lamenting over their lot in feudal fetters, which had bound them hundreds of years? This was the terrible plight suffered by the Korean women,\where there was no way out other than manual combat.
The women had no other heritage than the chain of bondage\and grievances. This was the worst crime committed by Korean feudal society; it had kept all women in the bondage of male supremacy, a state of inhumane existence. Women had been considered no better than house servants, who were destined to produce offspring, cook\and serve food, weed crop fields\and weave cloth, until their fingers were worn out. Even young widows were compelled to remain widows all their lives. Women were sold off to pay debts.
The Japanese imperialists, who occupied Korea, made the women even more miserable by turning them into instruments\and commodities\and labelled them as the women of a ruined nation.
The anti-Japanese revolution acted as a tempest, which would sweep off all these misfortunes\and irrationalities, a historic event to lead the women of this country along a revolutionary path. The Korean women began to write their new history on the ground with their blood rather than a pen.
As the number of women soldiers increased, we thought that we should take better care of them. Although under arms, women were women. Even under the difficult circumstances of guerrilla warfare, we had to make sure that they lived like women.
After the appearance of women soldiers in the guerrilla army, we always took special care of them, as we would look after our own sisters. We equipped them with the best rifles, provided them with the snuggest shelters we could afford,\and gave them the best choice of booty.
During this time, I felt a need to upgrade their special treatment\and form a separate unit for women soldiers in\order to establish a single\organization for their daily routine\and military action. I believed that a separate women’s company would inspire them with greater revolutionary pride\and enthusiasm, encourage them to display their self-consciousness\and combat power to the maximum,\and relieve themrom life’s discomforts. They burned with a unanimous desire to take up arms\and take revenge on the enemy by killing at least a few of them, as this enemy had murdered their parents\and brothers. At the sewing unit, at the hospital\and cooking unit I heard them voice this earnest desire unanimously.
When we were forming a new division in Fusong I came to a firm decision to\organize a separate women’s company directly under Headquarters.
The hundred plus “Minsaengdan” suspects, who became the backbone of the new division, included Jang Chol Gu, Kim Hwak Sil\and many other women soldiers.
On learning that the files of the “Minsaengdan” suspects had been burnt\and that all suspects had been absolved, the other suspects hiding in different places came to us. They included many women, such as Ri Kye Sun, Kim Son, Jong Man Gum, etc. Many others came to us individually, like Pak Rok Kum, who brought her beddings on her head. Many women came in groups, together with small units, which had been operating independently at Dajianchang\and Wudaoyangcha\and were admitted to the new division.
When we went to the secret camp at Mihunzhen, Kim Chol Ho\and Ho Song Suk, members of the sewing unit there, entreated me to transfer them to a combat unit. However much I tried to dissuade them, they would not listen to me. The whole of the sewing unit insisted on following us to fight. I asked them who would make clothes for the soldiers if they were all gone; they replied that there was any number of infirm women who could take their place. As I was to discover, there were so many women comrades at Mihunzhen, that they were more than enough for the work of the sewing unit, hospital\and cooking unit. The surplus women had to be assigned to a combat company\or more effective measures had to be taken.
I thought of forming a separate women’s company on an experimental basis. But a company needed more than the surplus women at Mihunzhen. I confided in Choe Hyon that if the women continued to insist on fighting on the first line, he should try\and form a women’s platoon.
One day I hinted to Pak Rok Kum, “What about forming a purely women’s combat company?”
She welcomed the idea with cheers.
But Kim San Ho\and Ri Tong Hak inclined their heads dubiously.
“Can women fight alone?” Kim San Ho remarked. “It seems impossible for them to fight successfully alone hordes of ferocious Japanese, although things might be different, if the company\and its platoons were commanded by men....”
“If they are commanded by men, how can they be called a women’s company\or a women’s platoon? If they are women’s units, they must fight under female command,” I said in disagreement.
“I wonder if it is possible.”
“Did you become commanding officers by going to a military academy\or military university?”
Kim San Ho was speechless; he still seemed dubious. Ri Tong Hak also shook his head, exclaiming, “A women’s company! A women’s company!...”
Kim Ju Hyon was astonished at our mention of the women’s company. He said that the women’s company would ruin a battle,\and asked what would become of the reputation of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.
Around April 1936, when we were busy in Manjiang preparing for the formation of a women’s company, a composite unit of men\and women came to us. Although a composite unit, it contained only four\or five men, with the remainder made up of women, including Kim Chol Ho, Ho Song Suk, Choe Jang Suk\and Hwang Sun Hui.
I asked Kim Chol Ho why she had come, abandoning Comrade Choe Hyon, who was ill. She said that Choe Hyon had sent her to me. Choe Hyon, who had recovered by then, had formed a small unit of women by\selecting healthy women, as they tenaciously asked him to send them to a combat unit. He had told them to come to me\and added that on arrival they would find out why they were being sent. Obviously, he wanted to be relieved of any annoyance caused by the insistent women\and leave even their fate at my disposal.
The leader of Kim Chol Ho’s small unit was a young boy surnamed Jo. Feeling it strange to see a young recruit like a newly-hatched chicken leading the small unit, I asked why. Ho Song Suk complained, “Comrade Choe Hyon takes no account of soldiers in skirts. He only wants us to provide kitchen duty, rather than make one of us leader.”
The assistant leader of the small unit was also a young recruit named Thae Pyong Ryol.
The role of the real leader was played by Choe Jang Suk, a tall woman of sturdy build. As well as her rifle\and knapsack, she carried a cauldron, containing a sackful of grain, kitchen utensils, axe\and saw on her back; the load was larger than the individual. Ho Song Suk also carried a load, which was not much smaller than Choe’s. Truth to tell, I had never seen during my guerrilla activity any of my men\or women carrying a load larger than theirs. I helped Choe Jang Suk unload\and found it too heavy for me to hold.
“You are a titan!” I exclaimed.
“She swallowed a hundred dumplings for dinner,” Thae Pyong Ryol said with a grin. “She gulped down sixty\and then forty again, after being relievedrom her guard duty. She digested them all,\and nothing was wrong with her stomach. She really is a female titan!” We all burst into boisterous laughter.
Choe Jang Suk said, glaring at the boy, that he was telling a sheer lie.
“No, it isn’t a lie. How can you carry such a tremendous load if you don’t eat a hundred dumplings at a meal?” More laughter burst out as I supported the boy.
That day I tactfully arranged a strength contest for men\and women.
I called a soldier first, who was known to be as strong as a bear,\and told him to try lifting the knapsack which Ho Song Suk had brought. His young bones were said to have grown hard, as he worked with a hoe,\and he had gained renown as a first-rate wrestling champion in the area of Wangqing. He was also known as a glutton, who had eaten at one meal thirty-five glutinous-rice cakes by dipping them in cold water.
He stood up easily with the load on his back. I slung two taotongs on his shoulders\and asked him how long he could walk with all the load on his back without taking a rest. He replied that he could go about four kilometres without a break.
Then, I told him to try Choe Jang Suk’s load. With the load on his back he stood up with great difficulty. I slung the two taotongs on his shoulders again\and asked how long he could march. He answered that he could go about two kilometers.
When I asked Choe Jang Suk how much distance she had covered with the load, she was too shy to answer. Kim Chol Ho answered that Choe had marched all the wayrom Dapuchaihe without a rest after the battle there. Everyone became wide-eyed. It was nearly 25 milesrom Dapuchaihe.
Choe Jang Suk was the winner in the contest. I told Ho Song Suk to provide an account of the experience of the women’s small unit in the battle of Dapuchaihe.
She was a robust woman of darkish complexion. She was kind-hearted\and taciturn. But she was upright\and never failed to say what she ought to say.
The women’s small unit, with Choe Jang Suk as the “vanguard leader”, had run out of food supplies on its way to us. After suffering many hardships, they met a Chinese anti-Japanese unit in a mountain\and jointly raided with them a concentration village near Dapuchaihe. In that battle the women fought as courageously as men.
The Chinese soldiers were armed with modern rifles, but when they were counterattacked by the Manchukuo police force who had at first retreated, they ran away in all directions. The women, however, fought the enemy bravely, although they were equipped with outmoded taotongs. They destroyed the enemy force, which had been attacking in the direction of the line held by the Chinese.
The woman who stood watch that day fought self-sacrificingly. Although bleedingrom a wound on her side, she stubbornly contained the enemy. One enemy soldier after another fellrom her shots. Some of the enemy began to retreat dragging dead bodies away. The women charged at the fleeing enemy shouting war cries. The commander of the Chinese shouted at his men, “You sons of a bitch! You’re running away, while the Korean women fight courageously even with taotongs.” The men of the anti-Japanese unit now joined in pursuit. The battle ended in our victory.
Hearing the battle story, we were all moved deeply by the courage, audacity\and fortitude of the women soldiers.
The birth of the women’s company was formally announced in a forest near Manjiang in April 1936. We kept the company under the direct control of the headquarters, forming its platoons\and squads. Pak Rok Kum was appointed company commander.
The women’s company was the first of its kind in the development of the armed forces in our country.
The birth of the company broke the convention of male supremacy, a social evil, which had been considered incurable for thousands of years,\and put women’s mental\and social positions on a par with those of men.
Ever since ancient times male supremacy had been practised in the military field more strictly than in politics. Certainly, the women’s franchise had been almost totally neglected in the political field. In many instances, the women’s influence, which had worked invisibly like a magical power on the opposite sex, affected politics\and politicians\and resulted even in the rise\and fall of states.
Nevertheless, the fair sex, which was said to be more powerful at times than an emperor\or army commander, was powerless in the military field. Military affairs were the monopoly of the male sex. By realizing women’s equality in the military field, we emancipated women, albeit in the\limited scope of our revolutionary army.
The emergence of the women’s company was also significant in that it emphasized the national scale\and popular character of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.
The existence of a women’s company in the revolutionary army\and its combat efficiency, which was no inferior to male units, soon became known to the whole nation\and amazed the world as a whole.
In the latter half of the 1930s, a newspaper in the homeland carried a report entitled, “More Than a Dozen Women Soldiers in Kim Il Sung’s Unit”. The brief title had a tremendous effect on the minds of our people.
The fact that women were engaging in manual combat against the Japanese as courageously as men inspired all Korean women\and other people with great strength. The news encouraged a large number of people at home\and abroad to volunteer to fight for the People’s Revolutionary Army.
After the formation of the women’s company, we helped it carefully stand on its own feet\and toughened it through battle. At every opportunity available, we told the women soldiers moving stories to enhance their political enthusiasm\and awareness.
I recall how at Xiaotanghe we told them the story of Kim Stankevich.
Kim Stankevich was born\and grew up in Russia. She was a renowned Korean woman fighter, who dedicated her all life to the cause of communism. Her parent camerom Kyongwon County (Saeppyol County), North Hamgyong Province.
She graduatedrom a normal college\and taught at a primary school. As more\and more Korean compatriots\and exiles came to Russia, she gave up teaching\and moved to Vladivostok,\where she devoted herself to championing the rights\and interests of the Korean workers living in various parts of Russia.
After the Tsar was overthrown, she joined the Bolshevik Party\and left her husband\and children at home, becoming a professional revolutionary, in\order to protect the gains of the October Revolution. While in charge of external affairs at the Far-Eastern Department of the Bolshevik Party in Khabarovsk, she encouraged Ri Tong Hwi, Kim Rip\and other Korean independence fighters to\organize the Korean Socialist Party.
Her remarkable activity was admired by all Koreans in the Maritime Provinces\and other parts of Russia,\and won their active response.
When the Far-Eastern Department of the Bolshevik Party withdrewrom Khabarovsk, as the situation in this part of Russia turned in favour of counterrevolution, she remained there to wind up unsettled affairs\and then left there by steamer, but was unfortunately captured by the White Party on the River Amur\and shot to death.
At the last moment of her life she shouted at the enemy, “I am not afraid of death. You, rascals, your days are numbered. You resemble a pack of dogs in a mourning house\and will never overthrow communism. Your goal is a pipedream.”
She died at the age of thirty-four.
As well as Kim Stankevich, Sol Juk Hwa, Kye Wol Hyang, Ryu Kwan Sun, Ri Kwan Rin\and other heroines became close spiritual friends of our women soldiers.
Immediately after its appearance, the women’s company attracted public attention.\wherever they went, the women soldiers were loved\and respected by the people. Whenever women soldiers wearing caps with five-pointed star emblems\and carbines on their shoulders appeared at a distance, people used to shout, running around the whole village, “Women soldiers are coming!”
The women soldiers won exceptional loverom the people, because they behaved themselves properly in all situations, sincerely helping\and respecting the people\and displaying noble\and beautiful moral characters. Whenever in billets, we could see women soldiers sweeping the yards of the houses, they were staying in, fetching water, washing up the dinner things\or weeding kitchen gardens to help the mistresses.
The women soldiers danced\and sang songs for the people, made speeches before them\and taught them how to read\and write. The women’s company was the pride\and rare flower of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.
To tell the truth, the company in its incipient days was not properly equipped. Most of its weapons were taotongs. Some of the women did not even have such weapons. We intended to arm them with light\and attractive carbines\and fought a few battles, but had no chance of capturing carbines.
Meanwhile, we received information that the garrison troops of the puppet Manchukuo army in the vicinity of Xinancha were moving on horseback. Through reconnaissance I discovered they were building barracks. I decided to raid the construction site\and gave the combat mission to the women’s company. I accompanied them close to the construction site to encourage them. The battle was very impressive.
A downpour was looming. The enemy stopped working\and even the sentry was off his guard. At the signal shot given by the company commander Pak Rok Kum, the women, lying in ambush near the construction site, rushed at the enemy like angry tigers\and pointed their gun muzzles at the enemy’s breasts, shouting, “Hands up!” “Hands up!” here\and there. An enemy soldier picked up a riflerom the rack\and attempted to resist. Jang Jong Suk swiftly knocked him out with her rifle butt. The battle ended within ten minutes. Several enemy soldiers were killed, with the rest taken prisoner. Dozens of small arms were captured in battle. To my regret, there was no carbine among the booty. A prisoner said that the carbines had been carried by the soldiers out on mounted patrol. The prisoners were surprised to know that they had been raided\and captured by women guerrillas.
The women’s company distinguished itself in many subsequent battles. The battles at Daying\and Donggang proved its excellent combat efficiency.
These women soldiers gave an unforgettable performance of their exploits in every battle they fought. At the battle of Daying, Jang Jong Suk, sparing her ammunition, knocked out an enemy sentry with her fist to open the way to a charge. In the battle of Donggang, Kim Hwak Sil\and two other women delivered one shot each in the dim moonlight\and cut off the telephone line of the enemy. The event became legendary. Historians say that the police department of South Hamgyong Province under the Korean Government-General left many records of the actions of the women’s company. The records contained information that Pak Rok Kum\and forty other women soldiers of Kim Il Sung’s unit attacked the puppet Manchukuo garrison force at Xinancha, Fusong County, early in the fifth month by the lunar calendar in the eleventh year of Showa (1936). Around the same time they raided Daying\and captured about a dozen rifles\and uniforms. There was also a record about the action of the women’s company in the battle of Donggang, Fusong County.
Whenever I recall the anti-Japanese revolutionary martyrs, who dedicated their bloom of youth to the country, I see in my mind’s eye the women’s company\and its peerless heroines.
Pak Rok Kum, the first commander of the women’s company, was good at commanding her company. Many of her comrades-in-arms characterized her by a single word “heroine”.
People will be surprised to know that she wore a pair of rubber-soled canvas shoes which were as large as a size 41 today. There were many pairs of canvas shoes among the booty, but such large sizes were rare. So Pak Rok Kum had to wear straw sandals most of time.
While in Wangqing, Pak Rok Kum had worked as the head of the Women’s Association of the district. As such she was a woman social worker. She was so poor that she did not have her own beddings, when she married\and wore rags at her wedding. Her husband’s family was no less wretched. Consequently they had not prepared beddings for the newly wed. The wife\and husband joined the army at the same time\and were assigned to the 1st Company in Wangqing.
One day the political instructor of the 1st Company came to me\and said that Pak Rok Kum had just given birth to a baby. Upset, he said that there was not a piece of cloth to make a quilt for the baby at her father’s home,\where she had had the baby. I hurried to her place\and found no quilt worth mentioning. Her father, bereft of his wife, was too hard pressed to take proper care of his married daughter. He said that the war had played havoc with his home ceaselessly\and he had forgotten what a quilt looked like. The baby was wrapped in rags.
I immediately sent out a small unit to obtain materials for their beddings. The sewing unit made comfortable beddings\and baby’s clothing with the materials all through the night\and sent them to her.
She\and her husband dressed the baby properly now\and covered it with a quilt, but they wrapped their own quilt carefully\and kept it on a box, without even thinking of using it. Even in the piercing cold they did not touch the quilt.
When her husband Kang Jung Ryong was appointed leader of a platoon of the 7th Company\and left for the Independent Regiment in Antu, she remained with the Wangqing unit\and stayed there all the time. On hearing that her husband’s unit had come under my command, she resolved to come to us. When she left her father’s home, she offered the quilt to her father.
But her father declined, saying that the quilt had been prepared for her\and her husband by Commander Kim.
The bundle of quilt, which she carried on her head, became her nickname. Her comrades-in-arms addressed her by the nickname, Ibulbottari (quilt bundle).
She looked blunt, but was a considerate\and kind-hearted woman. She was sociable\and suited to underground work.
So we sent her to carry out political work to Xinxingcun, Changbai County, early in 1937, on a mission to help Kwon Yong Byok\and Ri Je Sun rally the women in Shanggangqu, Changbai County, to join the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland. She worked hard to carry out her mission in a responsible manner, but was unfortunately arrested\and imprisoned.
Pak Rok Kum, like Ri Je Sun, helped release many revolutionaries by stating that she was responsible for the charges laid against them. When her inmates, who were bleedingrom torture, lay limp in the prison cell, she sang revolutionary songs to encourage them.
She was movedrom Hyesan police station,\where she had been in custody, to Hamhung prison,\where she was dumped into a cell, as the inmate of a TB patient, to die of consumption. The patient, a woman surnamed Kim, had been involved in the Jongphyong peasant\union incident before her arrest. Pak Rok Kum did not care at all about her own health, but nursed the seriously ill woman, as if she were her own sister.
Some time later on, the patient, on the brink of death, was released on bail, but Pak Rok Kum was infected\and lay down. The family of the released prisoner came with a silk jacket\and cakes to repay her indebtedness, but the prison authorities did not permit them to see Pak Rok Kum. The kind-hearted heroine of the guerrilla army, who had displayed warm love for other people throughout her life, died in prison after much suffering without even receiving the tearful thanks, sent to her by the woman on the verge of death.
Our women soldiers included Ma Kuk Hwa, Ma Tong Hui’s sister. When we were operating in west Jiandao, she joined the guerrilla army at Pinggangde, Shiqidaogou, under the influence of Kim Se Ok, a political operativerom my unit. Kim Se Ok was her teacher\and lover. They planned to marry after the country’s liberation\and worked devotedly for the revolution, postponing everything for the future.
One day she was on kitchen duty. As she was dividing up maize porridge among the comrades, the food ran short when two of them had no shares. She thought she could bring herself to skip a meal, but who else could go without a meal? After some hesitation, she decided to tell Kim Se Ok about her embarrassing situation. She called himrom the barracks\and explained the circumstances.
“Comrade Se Ok,” she said, “Please understand that you’ll have to go without supper this evening, as the food will not go round to all of us. I am very sorry.”
“Never mind. Then I ought to go hungry, but I would like to say I will eat double shares for every meal when the country is liberated,” he said jokingly,\and turned away with a bright smile on his face.
Ma Kuk Hwa could not sleep that night, thinking of her lover, who drank a cup of water for the supper. She never regretted her own hunger.
They both fell in battle without seeing the liberated country. After her death, her women comrades found in her knapsack a sheet of quilt cloth embroidered with a brace of cranes. It had been prepared by Ma Kuk Hwa in the arduous circumstances, looking forward to her marriage.
Is there in the world a dowry more valuable\and sadder than that? The woman fighter fell in the wilderness. Her dream remained unrealized in a foreign land. What would be done? Her comrades wrapped her dead body in the quilt cloth.
The women’s company existed only half a year, but performed imperishable exploits which will be remembered by the motherland forever,\and emulated by the people through the generations.
The women soldiers, who fought on the bloody battle front of the revolution against their formidable enemy, the Japanese imperialists, are paragons of modern Korean women, as well as heroines who can be held in high esteem as typical of the struggle for the emancipation of humanity. They were the first women to achieve female social\and human equality\and paved with blood the path to women’s emancipation in our country.
The age of our Workers’ Party has produced innumerable heroines, socially active women\and women labour innovators, who have inherited the revolutionary spirit of Paektu\and the traditions of struggle, displayed by the women’s company during the anti-Japanese revolution. The spirit of Paektu dominated the thinking\and action of An Yong Ae, Jo Ok Hui, Ri Su Dok, Ri Sin Ja, Jong Chun Sil\and many other heroines of our times. Millions of our women are still building up an impregnable bulwark of socialism in that spirit on this land.
Today, our People’s Army has many women’s units, which have inherited the anti-Japanese revolutionary traditions. The women’s units of the People’s Army as well as an innumerable number of women members of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards\and the Young Red Guards are armed to defend the country. In our country\where all the people are armed, the ten million women, who account for half the population, are all prepared to fight, arms in hand, to defend every inch of the country in case of emergency.
The women’s company, under the direct command of the Headquarters of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, is the prototype of the ten million armed ranks of women.
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