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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 13 6. Patriotic Landowner Kim Jong Bu

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 13  6. Patriotic Landowner Kim Jong Bu

  

   


 

6. Patriotic Landowner Kim Jong Bu 

  

When communists emerged on the international political scene, the proletariat of all countries raised the slogan, “Down with landlords\and capitalists!” Shouting this slogan, the working masses of Korea also waged a long, grim\and fierce class struggle to overthrow the reactionary exploiting classes, which were allied with the foreign forces of imperialism.

Even the left-wingers of the Korean Revolutionary Party, the political party under Kukmin-bu, declared their objective of overthrowing landlords\and capitalists\and raised a whirlwind in their desire to knock them down.

We do not hide our idea of opposing landlords\and capitalists\or conceal our objective of fighting against them. Opposing exploiters who live on others’ sweat\and blood; this is our life-long principle. I was\and still am opposed to exploiters. I think that I will continue to hate those, who live in clover squandering the wealth, which has been produced at the expense of the sweat\and blood of hundreds of millions of working masses, while these people suffer rom starvation.

Progressive people throughout the world affirm the idea of humanism, which advocates an equitable distribution of material wealth\and social equality. We oppose political dictatorship\and economic monopoly by a minority of the propertied class\and their spokesmen, as well as moral corruption,\and regard it as our noble duty to put an end to all these evils.


In practice, of course, the potential overthrow of the exploiting class\and issue of dealing with individuals of this class\or propertied individuals must strictly be distinguished rom each other. Consequently, during the anti-Japanese revolution, we struggled against the Japanese imperialists\and wicked rich men, who were lackeys of the enemy.

In the past, however, some communists only emphasized the class struggle, so that they committed a Leftist error in dealing with landlords\and national capitalists, who were patriotic\and opposed to imperialism. Their pursuit of a stereotyped policy of indiscriminate liquidation, expropriation\and persecution of propertied people in political, economic\and social aspects disregarding reality, led to a misunderstanding of communism in a number of countries.

 

This brought grist to the anti-communist propaganda mill of those, who opposed communism.

In our Republic there is no landlord\or capitalist.


Class education is now provided on a high level\and in great depth; therefore all officials can combine the class line\and mass line. It can be said that the prejudice that all rich are bad, the narrow-minded view that the people of landlord\and capitalist\origin should be ruled with the same stick, regardless of their service records\and merits, has now disappeared.

The people nowadays rejoice at the news that somebody, who was gloomy owing to his chequered family connections, has been admitted to the Party\or promoted to the right post\and is living optimistically. They regard it as their own happiness. This is a valuable result of the all-embracing politics, practised by the Workers’ Party of Korea.

We have been pursuing all-embracing politics for half a century. Since the years of the anti-Japanese revolution, the true communists of Korea have worked hard under the banner of great national unity, to rally into a single force the various sections of the population, who have different family backgrounds, religion\and property status.

I believe that an account of our experience with the landowner, Kim Jong Bu, will promote an understanding of our specific view on landlords\and capitalists\and the historical roots of our all-embracing politics.


We first met Kim Jong Bu late in August 1936. A small unit, which had been to Diyangxi on a fund-raising mission, brought deep in the night several persons, who were said to be pro-Japanese landlords, including an old man apparently on the wrong side of seventy. At that time we worked among the masses at a lumbermen’s settlement of Majiazi near Erdaogang.

I was surprised to find Kim Jong Bu’s name in the list of the detained, as he had been classified as a “pro-Japanese landlord”. Some of us reminisced that Ri Tong Hak was in charge of the small unit at the time. However, as far as I recall, it was Kim Ju Hyon who took Kim Jong Bu with him.

I summoned Kim Ju Hyon\and asked him sternly, “What brought you to decide to knock down Kim Jong Bu?”

“That old man owns as many as 150 hectares of land. I have never heard of a man, who owns so much land as he does.”

“Who made the law to knock down a man, owning 150 hectares of land?” “Comrade Commander, don’t ask me about the law, please. According to a

saying, a rich man beggars three villages. A man as rich as that landlord will ruin more than ten villages.”

I asked Kim Ju Hyon for his next piece of evidence. He gave me a lengthy explanation that Kim Jong Bu was on intimate terms with an councillor of a branch of the Japanese consulate, that the councillor had brought a Japanese capitalist, named Ito, rom Yongchon\or somewhere round North Kyongsang Province\and let him give a loan of 6,000 yen to Kim Jong Bu to help him open a lumber yard, that the landlord had bought a truck\and performed a large transaction with the backing of Japanese imperialists.

“Any other evidence?”


“Yes, a lot. As head of the forest conservation association\and that of the rural\union, he is said to frequent the office of Manchukuo. His son, Kim Man Du, also served as headman of the village of Erdaogang for some years under his wing.”

 

When I asked if Kim Jong Bu had any good qualities, Kim Ju Hyon was somewhat embarrassed. He seemed to have given no thought to hearing the public opinion of his merits\or had never imagined that I would be interested in such things.

“Good qualities? How can one expect good qualities rom such a pro-Japanese element?”

The small unit leader’s report was completely negative. His thoroughly prejudiced report made me heartsick. Not yet completely free rom the past tendency of asserting the class struggle\and class spirit,\and lacking a full grasp of Kim Jong Bu, he captured the landlord\and even his son, labelling him a “pro-Japanese landlord”\and “reactionary”, the man we had considered possible to enlist in the work of the united front, when we were coming to Changbai. His act contravened our policy of the united front, the Inaugural Declaration\and the Ten-Point Programme of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland.


He even used the telephone at Kim Jong Bu’s home as proof of his pro-Japanese elements. He contended that his telephone must have been required for spying, rather than as a means of luxury,\and that he could only talk on the telephone to the consulate, police\or the office of Manchukuo,\and that such a telephone conversation would merely provide them with information against revolutionaries. In fact, in those days no\ordinary person dreamed of such a telephone at his home.

Nevertheless, wouldn’t it be preposterous to see a telephone at a man’s home as a sign of pro-Japanese tendency\and as a means of benefiting the enemy? If every one of us were to judge people in such a way, our united front policy would come across grave difficulties in practice, which was not a problem relating to Kim Jong Bu alone.

Before rebuking the small unit, I criticized myself in my mind for failing to teach my subordinates properly. When dealing with Zhang Wei-hua in Fusong, some of us were apprehensive rom their prejudice. It was not until many sleigh loads of aid goods\and a large sum of money had been sent to us by Zhang Wei-hua, that they admitted that there were good people among the propertied class.

But when they saw in Changbai a landlord possessing 150 hectares, they became suspicious of him.

How could people who admitted Zhang Wei-hua as our ally, fail to realize that Kim Jong Bu was a man to be embraced in the united front? This meant that there had been a shortcoming in our education about the united front policy.

The masses of strata, we were talking about, included people in all walks of life, people with different backgrounds\and living conditions. There could be no panacea for dealing with all these people. But some principle should serve as a reference in all cases.

What principle served as our standard for judging people in those days? Whether a man was pro-Japanese\or anti-Japanese\or loved his country\or not. We maintained that a person who loved his country, his nation\and his fellow man\and hated the Japanese imperialists could be our ally,\and that a person who was pro-Japanese for his own pleasure\and comfort, caring nothing about his country, nation\and compatriots, should be the target of our struggle.

We saw Kim Jong Bu in this light\and defined him as a man we could work together with for the united front. We planned to write to him on our arrival in Changbai, asking for his cooperation\or invite him to the secret camp for an interview.

“I think your judgement of Kim Jong Bu is ready-made\and unscientific. You must not see people in such a superficial way. The man you judge as a pro-Japanese landlord is, in fact, a patriotic landlord. I know his past well. You say that Kim Jong Bu is such\and such\and Corporal Kim is such\and such, judging them rom the comments you have heard rom one person\or two in Diyangxi. You have only seen them superficially\and have not looked into their minds. If Kim Jong Bu were such a bad man, why should the people of Diyangxi have erected a monument in his honour in their village? Do you know that there is a monument in Diyangxi?”

The small unit members replied in the negative.


I told them that if they had known Kim Jong Bu’s past, they would not have looked down upon him as a pro-Japanese landlord,\and that I could guarantee there\and then that he was a man to be welcomed, rather than knocked down, that he was a patriotic landlord, rather than a reactionary landlord.

“Comrade Commander, we have wronged him, without knowing your intention clearly,” Kim Ju Hyon said, full of remorse. “I will apologize to him on behalf of the small unit\and return him to Diyangxi.”

I did not agree with him.


“Don’t return him, I wanted to see him. Since things have come to this pass, take him to the secret camp. I think I should take time off\and talk to him. I will apologize to him on your behalf.”

That day I explained to the small unit all the reasons why I felt we should cooperate with him for the united front. Consequently the past of the landlord was known to the whole unit within that day.

I guess Kim Jong Bu was born in the early 1860s. When we were in Changbai, he was already in his seventies. His hometown was Chongsudong, Uiju County, North Phyongan Province. When I was at school in Jilin, Jang Chol Ho rom Uiju used to tell me about Kim Jong Bu with a feeling of attachment\and how he had committed himself to the Independence Army movement, although he was a very rich man. Kim Man Du, his son, had been a childhood playmate of Jang Chol Ho\and O Tong Jin in their days at Chongsudong.


When the Independence Army fought in high spirits in Changbai, Kim Jong Bu was the head of the Southern Department of the War Fund-Raising Association. He provided the Independence Army with clothing, food\and other supplies at the expense of his own family property. When the army was strong, he produced potato starch in Diyangxi\and cleaned rice at a water mill for the association.

The independence fighters, operating in Jilin, Fusong, Linjiang, Badaogou, Huadian\and other places used to stay at Kim Jong Bu’s house, when they came to Changbai,\and also had meetings there. Judging rom this fact alone, I thought I should treat him prudently.

Kim Jong Bu also made a considerable contribution to the education of the younger generation. Under his sponsorship a village school for conventional education was established in Diyangxi around 1920. As seeking to give the children of his tenants better education, he transformed the village school into a four-year course modern primary school,\and then innovated it into a six-year course private school, with an enrollment of more than 150 pupils. He made sure that children rom neighbouring villages were admitted to his school. The expenses for the management of the Jongsan Private School\and the payment for its teachers were provided by the rents received rom his tenants. The school provided national education to inculcate in the pupils the idea of independence\and sovereignty, as well as love for the country\and nation.

His tenants paid their rents on a voluntary basis. Rent was decided by the tenants themselves, say, one sack\or ten sacks, according to the crop situation, as Kim Jong Bu as their landlord had not fixed the amounts of rents, according to the sizes\and qualities of the rented land. There was not even a contract between the landlord\and his tenants, a contract for the sharecropping of the annual harvest.

Ri Chi Ho, an anti-Japanese revolutionary fighter, who had once been Kim Jong Bu’s tenant in Diyangxi, said, “I have never heard of a landlord, who was as good-natured\and magnanimous as Kim Jong Bu. We tilled his land, not even knowing how much rent we should pay. We borrowed food rom him occasionally, but never returned it with interest. But he did not take issue; he left it up to us. Not surprisingly, the villagers put up a monument in his honour in front of his house. He had many hectares in the upland of Diyangxi, but all his land was worth no more than 15 hectares of fertile lowland fields.”

The people of Diyangxi unanimously praised Kim Jong Bu, calling him, “Our uncle”, “Our head of department”, “Our school founder”. This was unusual.


The landlords in neighbouring villages feared of his benevolence. They were afraid that their tenants might be envious of their counterparts in Diyangxi.

They said to Kim Jong Bu, “Isn’t it too much to be as generous as you are, allowing your tenants to pay their rents as much as they please, without making contracts with you? If you continue like this, your property will be depleted in less than three\or four years.”

However, Kim Jong Bu did not listen to the people, who occasionally advised him to refrain rom benevolence. He said, “Should my family of three starve, because no contract has been signed for the rents? When my tenants eat their fill, I will also eat my fill; when they are hungry, I also have to go hungry. With this principle in mind, we can share each other’s kind hearts. That’s all there is.”

As Kim Jong Bu was such a benevolent man, the Manchukuo authorities\and Japanese consulate dared not approach him as a mere nobody.

The landlords, taken by the small unit, included a man called Corporal Kim. He was also a patriotic landlord. He was addressed by the title, because he had served as a noncommissioned officer in the modernized army of old Korea. His full name was Kim Jong Chil.

Corporal Kim volunteered military service in his teens. Once he served in the first modernized army of our country, an army called “Pyolgigun”. He ardently sympathized with the reformist party, when it made a coup in the year of Kapsin8.

He was simple\and upright like a country woodcutter, but possessed a strong political conviction. During the Kabo reform (a bourgeois reform in 1894), he performed his duty in the Royal Guard Regiment\and was then transferred to a garrison force. After the loss of national sovereignty, he joined the Righteous Volunteers Army. Following the decline of this army, he was lost in the pursuit of livelihood.

He was loyal to his military duty during the existence of the modernized army in the closing years of old Korea. He witnessed the collapse of the army of the Ri dynasty (disbanded by the Japanese imperialists on August, 1907)\and experienced all the tortuous events\and crises of modern Korea. According to Kim Jong Bu, he had not been promoted to a higher rank despite many years of devoted service, as he was rom Kapsan in the northern region, a place of exiles despised by the rulers of Ri dynasty. The feudal court professed military reform\and abolition of the caste, but apparently had not discarded the old practice of discrimination against the northern\and western people in the promotion of officials.


Corporal Kim owned ten hectares of land\and many draught cattle, but was a progressive-minded, enterprising patriot.

In those days many people stood aghast at the motion of Kim Jong Bu\or Corporal Kim as a man to be enlisted in the united front. They felt we were preaching “class collaboration”.

Only half a century ago, when Marxist\or Leninist propositions were accepted as the only guide to action in the world of communists, some people disputed our effort to join hands with this\or that landowner as a departure rom Marxism. They trembled at our scheme to make some capitalists our ally, saying that it was heretic of Leninism. Such a tendency resulted rom a dogmatic approach to Marxism-Leninism, an approach which, divorced rom the specific character of our country\and the actual revolutionary situation, regarded Marxism-Leninism as absolute.


The statistics of the class differentiation\and change in land ownership in the Korean rural community before liberation indicate that, when the number of large Japanese landowners increased, large Korean landowners quickly decreased\or were reduced to middle\or small owners.

 

The Japanese imperialists laid the groundwork for Government-General, by preserving feudal land ownership. During this process some indigenous landowners amassed land\and money with the backing of the Government-General\and invested in industry\and commerce to create large landed estates\or become comprador capitalists. However, the overwhelming majority of the native landowners were reduced to middle\or small holders.

Naturally some of these middle\or small landowners adopted a patriotic stand, albeit moderate, against the Japanese imperialist occupation\and their colonial rule, which had degraded them.

In fact, some Korean landowners\and capitalists provided active support to the anti-Japanese revolution; some of them handed over the ownership of their land\and factories to the state, as soon as the country was liberated,\and became\ordinary working people, devoted to the construction of a new country. These conscientious men of property, who placed their motherland\and national prosperity above their own wealth, had no political reason to oppose the communist policy\or any emotional\or psychological basis to obstruct their revolutionary movement.


Admittedly, in my childhood I also thought that landlords\and capitalists were all parasites.

In my Changdok School days, however, I learned that Paek Son Haeng had contributed a large area of land to the school. Since then I believed that some propertied people did not lack a conscience,\and that distinctions should be made between patriotic\and reactionary ones.

My connection with Zhang Wei-hua occasioned me to criticize\and deny theoretically the view that the propertied class in general should be overthrown. My acquaintance with Chen Han-zhang also helped me confirm my view of the rich.

What would happen, if we were to strike such rich patriots\or give a wide berth to them? That would mean rejecting the people, who support the revolution\and result in the loss of propertied patriots\and even the major share of the masses. The masses would oppose such a cold-hearted revolution. Only the enemy would gloat over such developments. A slight error\or deviation in the class struggle would mean playing into the hands of the enemy’s stratagem\and benefit them.

I found myself in an embarrassing situation, as I had to apologize to Kim Jong Bu\and his company as the Commander of the guerrilla army.

On my\orders, the unit leader brought them to my room.


I sincerely apologized to them for my men’s insolent actions of walking them off at night for no justifiable reason.

Kim Jong Bu said nothing in reply; he merely cast a hostile\and apprehensive glance at me. The other people looked the same. Apparently they were anxious about what lay in store for them. I wished to talk more amiably, but we could not share each other’s feelings. In such a cold atmosphere it was hardly possible to continue our conversation.

“I don’t know which army you are, but if you are the Independence Army, tell me how much you need for your military funds,\and if you are bandits tell me the size of the ransom you want.” Kim Jong Bu’s prickly words broke the icy silence.

His words added to the tension in the room. Apparently Kim Jong Bu\and his company thought that we were the Independence Army\or bandits.

Bandits\and the Chinese nationalist anti-Japanese units often used hostage tactics,\and Kim Jong Bu himself had been taken hostage a few times\and greatly suffered.

The company of landlords watched me with bated breath. They seemed to fear that I would claim a preposterous ransom.

At that moment, the unit leader appeared before me with ten packets of cigarettes. He explained that he did not pay for the cigarettes, as the shopkeeper in Diyangxi would not accept the price, however hard he tried to pay.

I asked the landlords what kind of a man the shopkeeper was.

 

“He is a kind-hearted man, named Kim Se Il,” Kim Man Du replied for his company. “He is a cripple,\and his wife does mill work for hire, in\order to eke out a living. They were so pitiful, that I gave them some money telling them to try\and open a general shop. So they are keeping a small shop.”

Hearing this, I rebuked the unit leader. “I suppose you haven’t behaved properly towards the poor man. Did you really not pay him, because he declined to accept?”

This conversation melted away the icy atmosphere in an instant, to my surprise.

The landlords exchanged significant glances with one another, apparently shocked by something. They even whispered among themselves. They seemed to be saying that I was too hard on my subordinate. This provided a good chance to resume the talk.

“I am awfully sorry to have made you, old men, walk in the dreary night. We make this kind of mistake, although not often, while travelling around places, which are not familiar to us. I believe that you are magnanimous enough to forgive my comrades for their possible rudeness.”

When I apologized again in this manner, they seemed to feel relieved. “Well, which army is this? You don’t look like bandits\or the erstwhile Independence Army in appearance....” Kim Jong Bu watched me closely with curiosity.


“We are the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, fighting for Korea’s independence.” In this way we introduced ourselves to the influential people in Changbai.


“The People’s Revolutionary Army! Do you mean General Kim Il Sung’s army, which routed the Japanese in Fusong?”


“Yes.”


“Is General Kim Il Sung still in Fusong?”


“Forgive me for not greeting you, sir. I am Kim Il Sung.”


Kim Jong Bu stared dubiously at me,\and then mumbled bitterly.


“Don’t look down upon me, because I am over seventy. Can it be that General Kim Il Sung, who is said to use the art of compressing space, is so young? He is not an\ordinary man. Rumour has it that he even has double lines of teeth.”


At that moment, Kim Ju Hyon interrupted our conversation\and explained that the man in front of him was Commander Kim Il Sung.


Only now Kim Jong Bu identified me. He apologized for failing to recognize me sooner.

“For that matter, a young General is better than an old General,” he said to Corporal Kim.

Corporal Kim replied that a healthy\and sturdy young General was more reliable, because the fight to regain the country would not be over in a year\or two.

We talked on in an amicable atmosphere. The landlords asked me many questions. Kim Man Du embarrassed me by asking me if I could divine what would happen in three days, as the rumour had it.

Although a silly question, I felt awkward as I answered.


“It is a mere rumour that I can foresee events three days ahead. We are good at estimating the situation, not because I can foretell the future, but because the People’s Revolutionary Army maintains close touch with the people\and thereby obtains timely\and valuable information. I believe the people are as wise as Zhu-ge Liang. Without the people’s support\and assistance we cannot make one step forward.”

“General, as you extol the people to the skies, I feel awkward. I feel we should help you in your great cause, so please tell us what we should do for you.”


“To tell you the truth, we wished to see you when we are out in Changbai to discuss the matter with you. For several years now we have been fighting, arms in hand, to destroy the Japanese imperialist aggressors in the wilderness of Manchuria. We started the war empty-handed, but the People’s Revolutionary Army is now destroying the enemy in many places. As I mentioned earlier, it would have been impossible for the People’s Revolutionary Army to grow stronger as it is today, without the people’s support\and assistance. To defeat the Japanese, who are armed to the teeth,\and liberate our country, the whole nation must unite in mind\and body. All the people, including landlords\and capitalists, who love their country, must come out in support of the People’s Revolutionary Army.”

Apparently, the landlords were greatly encouraged by my words. “Whoever loves his country\and his compatriots is duty bound to support

the revolution\and has the right to do so. Sir, you have reclaimed hundreds of thousands of phyong of slash-and-burn fields in the upland of Diyangxi in\order to contribute money\and rice to the independence movement, haven’t you? Consequently your tenants\and the independence fighters have agreed to erect a monument in your honour.”

“Excuse me, but how do you know the past of such an insignificant man, General?”

“I heard your name rom my late father\and also rom O Tong Jin, Jang Chol Ho,\and Kang Jin Gon\and kept it in my memory.”

“What was your father’s name?”


“Kim Hyong Jik, sir. When he was in Badaogou\and Fusong, he talked a lot about you.”

“Oh, my!....” Kim Jong Bu gazed at me, eyes blinking. “Not to know that you, General, are Kim Hyong Jik’s son!... While living in the country, this old man has become ignorant of developments in the world. Anyhow I was on intimate terms with your father.... I can’t find an apt word to express all my excitement at seeing you in command of your army to the land, which was trodden by your late father.”

“I am also very glad to meet a patriot like you. While ignorant of you, my comrades have taken you here. So I explained to them that you are a patriotic landlord, rather than a pro-Japanese\or reactionary landlord. Although we have been unable to erect a monument in your honour as the people of Diyangxi did, we will not commit such a foolish mistake, as to take a patriot for a pro-Japanese landlord. You should be proud of the devoted service you have rendered to the independence movement.”

Kim Jong Bu, with tears in his eyes, thanked me. “Since you say that I am a patriotic landlord, I would have nothing to regret, even if I died now.”

Kim Man Du also expressed his gratitude to me with a low bow. Other landlords glanced at the father\and son with a mixed feeling of envy\and apprehension.

Sensing their feeling, Kim Jong Bu went on, “To tell you the truth, General, they are not reactionary landlords. I swear on my honour, General. If you trust me, please don’t consider them as traitors.”

“Why should I not trust them, if you supply references? If you do so in person, I won’t see them in a bad light.”

On hearing this, the landlords bowed in thanks.


Our first interview ended there. My impression of the talk remains vivid in my memory. If it had been an interrogation of pro-Japanese elements\or an indignation meeting to accuse them of crimes, I would have been unable to recollect so light-heartedly, as I do the conversation I had with influential persons rom Diyangxi, until midnight in a drizzling night at the lumbermen’s hostel in Majiazi\where I met Kim Jong Bu\and his company.

At that time I did not ask if they had exploited their tenants\or about the level of support they provided to the Japanese imperialists in the pursuit of their colonial policy\or the wrong they had done to their fatherland\and people. Instead, I took it for granted that those landlords were not pro-Japanese\and immediately displayed my confidence in them. This confidence helped them change that night their views of communists.

The day’s talk, however, was merely our mutual introduction\and the beginning of our relationship. The principal matters I wanted to discuss with them still remained for the future. I aimed to lead the landlords of Diyangxi ideologically, in the spirit of the “Inaugural Declaration of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland”, to encourage them to provide the maximum material support for the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army\and, through them, transform the influential persons in Changbai, who were merely looking on the revolution\or obstructing it, into sympathizers, supporters\and cooperators for the revolution. I had to hold many more talks with them.

But I intended to return Kim Jong Bu\and his son to Diyangxi immediately.


The next day when I told him to return home, Kim Jong Bu said in surprise, “General, I thought about many things last night. This time I met you by providence. I have tried to work for the country\and the nation in various ways, but all without much success. I am now old\and weak, but I realize that good conduct alone is not enough to save the nation. As I was so anxious to find a way to contribute to national liberation in my late years, I had the good luck to meet you, General.

“If I stay here, my son, when he is back home to Diyangxi, can send aid goods over here on the grounds of saving me. My son will say to the authorities that he has to send goods to the guerrilla army in\order to bring his father back home. If he tells them not to be nervous about his dispatch of food, clothes\and footwear to the mountain, they will connive at it.”

I was deeply moved by his words. The cry of his conscience touched my heart.

But it was too much. So I said, “I fully understand what you mean. Your noble suggestion inspires me with great strength. But this is not the suitable place for you, as we have no decent accommodation\or food. The weather will grow much colder,\and the Japanese imperialists will be more violent in their attempts to ‘mop us up’. So you must return home.”

But the old man persistently refused. He begged me not to deprive him of his best opportunity to help the independence of the country, although he might not be able to fight as a soldier. I allowed him to stay in the secret camp for some time\and let his son return home.

 

We arranged special quarters in the secret camp for the people rom Diyangxi\and looked after them as best as we could.

In the depths of mountain, with no ready source of supplies, we ourselves had to eat gruel now\and then, but provided them with rice meals rom our emergency rations. My men smoked leaf tobacco, but we supplied cigarettes to them. Kim Jong Bu spent his birthday\and New Year’s Day in 1937 in the secret camp.

I remember that his birthday fell on one day of the twelfth month by the lunar calendar. He did not want to return home even then; he insisted that he would not go home before the aid goods rom his son at Diyangxi arrived.

I felt that I was doing wrong to the old man\and his family. Could there be anything more heartless than keeping an old man in his seventies in the mountain on his birthday?

I\ordered my men working behind the enemy lines to bring rice, meat,\and liquor\and visited his quarters on his birthday in the company of my\orderly, who carried the supplies on his back. Although not nectar\and ambrosia, the birthday meal we prepared for the old man was almost unprecedented in the history of the People’s Revolutionary Army. Even for the wedding ceremonies for our comrades-in-arms, we never laid on such a sumptuous table. In those days a bowl of rice\and soup for each were all we could afford on such occasions.


Kim Jong Bu became wide-eyed at the sight of his birthday dinner table.


“What does this feast mean, when New Year’s Day is still far off?” he asked.

“Today is your birthday, sir. I congratulate you on behalf of the People’s Revolutionary Army.”

I filled a cup of wine to the brim\and offered it to him, saying, “Mr. Kim, I am sorry to have kept you in the mountain in this winter cold on your birthday. Please accept this humble birthday dinner as a token of our best wishes.”

 

Tears trickled down rom Kim Jong Bu’s eyes, as he said, holding the cup in his hand:

“I am so sorry to see you guerrillas endure all these hardships eating maize porridge, in\order to win back the lost country, that I can hardly eat three hot meals every day. To give a birthday party in honour of an old man like me in the depths of mountain! General, I will never forget your kindness even in my grave.”

“I wish you a long life until the country wins independence.”


“It doesn’t matter whether I live long\or not. But I wish you good health, General, so that you can save the nation rom sufferings.”

That day I talked a lot with Kim Jong Bu.


A severe cold set in\and there was heavy snowfall in the mountain. So I dissuaded him rom going home. Afraid of a possible accident on his way home in the deep snow, I made sure that he stayed in the secret camp through the winter.

He frankly told me about his impressions of the four months he spent in the secret camp. It was a summary of his impressions of the People’s Revolutionary Army as well as a brief statement of his views on the Korean communists whom he had observed for a long time.

“To be candid, I did not look upon the communists with a gracious eye. But, General, your communism is quite different. You discriminate between pro-Japanese\and anti-Japanese landlords\and attack only pro-Japanese. Who could dislike such communism? The Japanese call the guerrillas ‘communist bandits’, but that is a nonsense.... I have thought many things, eating the food of guerrillas over the past months. Of course, I have made a fresh resolve. I don’t think I can live many more years, but I will dedicate my remaining years to the worthwhile cause. I am determined to back up the People’s Revolutionary Army, even if I die. Believe me, I am your man, alive\or dead.”

During his stay in the secret camp, he became our active supporter.


The landlords we had brought to the secret camp to educate\and obtain material aid, included some, who were treated with scorn by the peasants. But Kim Jong Bu stood surety for them\and held them under his control. He gave them good influence, so that they all took the patriotic path against the Japanese.

Kim Jong Bu offered more than 3,000 yuan in support of the People’s Revolutionary Army\and supplied it with food, cloth\and various other goods. We made wadded coats\and uniforms for all my unit with the cloth he had supplied.

On his return to Diyangxi, his son supported the guerrillas in a big way, true to the resolve he had made before us. On his arrival in his village, he raised a large sum of money by selling ten heads of cattle rom the ones he had received rom the authorities. In those days the county authorities loaned him dozens of heads of cattle to reclaim wasteland, allegedly to provide secure livelihood to the peasants of Diyangxi. Afterwards, he again loaned twenty heads of good cattle rom the county authorities\and on his way back home handed them over to us. He even sent his sewing machine to the guerrillas as aid goods.


Since the advance of the People’s Revolutionary Army to Mt. Paektu area, the enemy tightened up control of the people in Changbai\and stepped up their repression. Kim Jong Bu\and his family were blacklisted.

One day Kim Man Du was summoned to Changbai police station for interrogation.

“According to information we have obtained, you maintain contacts with Kim Il Sung’s army, sending a large amount of supplies there. Tell us frankly what kinds of goods\and how much you have sent.”


Kim Man Du flatly denied\and made a plausible excuse.


“You speak as if I maintain secret communication with Kim Il Sung’s army; this is a misunderstanding. Such communication does not\and cannot exist. Do you think that a communist army uses a large landowner like me as its agent? You know full well that my father is detained in a secret camp of the communist army. What does it matter if a son sent them some goods to save his father? I am anxious to save my father even if it costs all my family property. If you were in my place, wouldn’t you do so?”

The police authorities accepted his excuse as reasonable\and questioned him no more, releasing him.

Kim Jong Bu\and his son sold a large portion of his land\and work animals in\order to support the revolutionary army in this manner.

Kim Jong Bu reclaimed wasteland in\order to supply food\and funds to the Independence Army\and became a landowner. He spent all the remainder of his property\and money on the support of the People’s Revolutionary Army. It is not as simple as it sounds for a landowner\or capitalist to give up the idea of amassing wealth, which is vital to them,\and offer up the source of wealth to the country.

This is the depth of Kim Jong Bu’s patriotism\and the height of the service he rendered to the anti-Japanese revolution. During the whole period of the anti-Japanese revolution I seldom saw a landlord who supported us in such a big way\and with such ardent patriotic loyalty as Kim Jong Bu did.

Some of Kim Jong Bu’s feelings\and experiences in the secret camp were carried in Samcholli, a magazine, in later days in the form of interview with me.

Part of the interview is given below.


“... Kim Il Sung is well-known in the border area,\and everyone who reads a newspaper will remember.


“The man, addressed as commander-in-chief, conducts raiding actions in command of ... Manchurian\and Korean subordinates, directs his bases in the mountain in stubborn resistance to the army, rallies his comrades in secret, dreaming one thing\or another! Who is this man?

“Old man Kim Jong Bu had an interview with this enigmatic man.


“A man of slender build, with a roaring voice,\and a manner of speech, which suggests that he is rom Phyongan Province. A virile young man in his twenties, much younger than he is generally imagined to be. He has a good command of Manchurian, with no affectation of being a commander, shares bed\and board with his men, wearing the same clothes as those of his men,\and sharing weal\and woe with them, with apparent influence\and magnanimity.


“ ‘Old man, how do you find this cold weather?’ he greeted me cordially,\and then....

“ ‘... Which of us young men would dislike a warm place\and a comfortable life? Although we have to skip two\or three meals of barley porridge, we endure all these hardships for such\and such. I am also a man, who sheds tears, blood\and has a soul. But we move about in this manner in the cold winter.’


“He spoke in a calm voice\and was good-mannered, unlike a ringleader of bandits, which was beyond my imagination.

“He consoled old man Kim in various ways, saying that in the rigours of winter\and deep snow it would be impossible to walk another step\and that he need not worry, for he would go back home next spring,\and then\ordered his men to take special care of him....”

This article was written by Ryang Il Chon, Pak In Jin’s disciple in Hyesan. Kim Jong Bu seems to have spoken his mind comparatively frankly\and daringly to the mass media, which was under the surveillance\and control of the Japanese authorities. Surprisingly the magazine Samcholli carried this kind of article at a time when there was a strict news blackout about the movements of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.

Kim Jong Bu moved to Wangqing-Hamatang, as I had advised him to,\and is said to have died there, without seeing the liberation of the country.

I met Kim Jong Bu in my twenties\and now am past eighty,\or about ten years older than Kim Jong Bu was at that time. On the wrong side of eighty I can feel more tangibly how much he suffered in the secret camp of the guerrillas, as if it were my own suffering. I tried my best to take care of him, but I may not have been meticulous enough. I still regret that I was unable to take better care of him\and provide him with sumptuous food.

I have been unable to move his grave,\and have not erected a monument in his honour.

In its early days in Mt. Paektu, my unit was in extremely difficult circumstances. We had no money, rice, cloth, practically nothing. But Kim Jong Bu solved many problems for us. This was the best gift he could make to the true sons\and daughters of Korea as a senior independence fighter. I cannot forget my indebtedness to him.

The gallant act of conscience\and patriotism displayed by a propertied man, the owner of a large estate, like Kim Jong Bu, made a tangible contribution to the preparation for nationwide anti-Japanese resistance,\and provided powerful support to our cause. In the 1930s, when armed resistance was the main trend of the anti-Japanese national liberation struggle, unlike in the 1920s, landowners\or capitalists, who wished to give us material, financial\or moral support, had to risk their own lives. However, Kim Jong Bu did so.

Consequently we regard him as a patriot\and still remember him even after several decades.

In half our country there are still landlords\and capitalists. Apparently some of them are billionaires. There will be reactionaries\and no small number of patriots.

What will be the attitude of the Korean communists towards landlords\and capitalists in a reunified confederal state? The story of patriotic landlord Kim Jong Bu suffices to answer this question.

 

 

 

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