페이지 정보작성자 편집국 작성일20-07-30 21:53 댓글0건
[Reminiscences]Chapter 14 3. Ri Je Sun
3. Ri Je Sun
Soon after arrival in the Mt. Paektu area, we intensified the construction of secret camps\and developed a wide-ranging campaign to set up\organizations of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland in Korean settlements.
The Changbai area around Mt. Paektu\and the Kapsan area in the homeland were\selected as the first places,\where the network of the ARF was to be formed. To facilitate the careful execution of the challenging task of establishing\organizations, we had to pick out reliable individuals, who would help us at the risk of their lives.
As soon as we reached west Jiandao I sent off a small unit. I emphasized over\and over again to the company commander Ri Tong Hak, “Your main task is to discover talent. Discover reliable assistants, even if it means combing the Changbai area. Attacking the enemy is of secondary importance. Exert your main efforts to discovering talent,\and attack the enemy, when the odds are in your favour\or else avoid it.”
Ri Tong Hak carried out this task admirably. He returned to the secret camp with Ri Je Sun. Ri Tong Hak looked very frivolous, but was in fact very meticulous. He was a peculiar man. He talked so fast that whoever listened to him for the first time ended up feeling dizzy. He always kept his men moving by his fast speech. Consequently his colleagues nicknamed him Pottaji, apparently after the word Poktakjil (pestering—Tr.).
During a round of Changbai area with his company, he met a young village head, who was guiding the morning exercise of young people\and children on the plateau of Ershidaogou. The village head was Ri Je Sun\and the village was Xinxingcun. Ri Je Sun was village head\and concurrently teacher of the night school. The Xinxingcun people, both old\and young,\or women, called their village head “our teacher” with special affection.
To test his personality, Ri Tong Hak asked him to provide two\or three days’ rations for the company. The village head gathered in an instant provisions in too great quantities for the whole company to carry,\and volunteered to bring them to the secret camp in person. His working skill was so admirable\and he was so broad-minded that Tong Hak was immediately won over by this strange village head. He wanted to introduce him directly to Headquarters, even though he might be criticized later for rashness. So when he volunteered to carry the provisions, he readily complied with the request.
As complications could have arisen, if the enemy learned that the village head voluntarily led his villagers as they carried provisions, Tong Hak’s men bound him with a rope\and pretended to be escorting a dangerous criminal.
Three days later the company carrying foodrom Xinxingcun arrived at the secret camp. When Tong Hak tried to send all the people back about 10 kilometresrom the camp, Je Sun begged him to take him to the camp.
Tong Hak tried to check him out by making a perplexed face intentionally\and saying, “It’s difficult. How can we be bold enough to take you into the secret base?”
Je Sun hit upon a bright idea, grabbed him by the arm\and suggested:
“What about giving me a test? For example, you can set me a task, which
even demands the sacrifice of my life.”
Tong Hak accepted his offer; he instructed him to make five pairs of knee-high Korean socks\and five pairs of leggings in three days\and come back. He promised that he would take him to the camp if he returned on time with those socks\and leggings\and that if he failed to appear on time\or came empty-handed, he would be rejected.
Je Sun returned to Xinxingcun, saying that it was an easy job\and he would pass the test without difficulty. He got his wife\and her mother to tear the only quilt his wife had brought with her, when she had married him,\and make five pairs of socks\and five pairs of leggings in one night before appearing at the meeting place.
Only then Tong Hak embraced Je Sun\and introduced himself by saying that his nickname was Pottaji, kindly talking about his birthplace, before adding, “After all, I made you tear your quilt to pieces.”
Je Sun passed the test, so to speak.
On my return after a round of the area around Mt. Paektu, Tong Hak told me that he had discovered an excellent young man in the village of Xinxingcun\and brought him to the camp, as he wanted to introduce him to me. He then extolled him to the skies. He said that Je Sun had read the guerrilla publications without a moment’s rest during some days of his stay in the camp. He was very persistent\and steady; he had learnedrom the guerrillas how to assemble\and disassemble weapons\and even how to determine one’s\orientation in the field. Tong Hak said:
“He is clever\and upright; moreover, he seems to be a man of passion, with a high zeal for the revolution. He is so sociable that he made friends with all our men within a few days. He is a man of public character.”
If his opinion was not exaggerated, the general judgement of the Xinxingcun village head was favourable.
Ri Je Sun was as pretty as a woman. His smiling eyes were impressive. He looked very gentle\and fragile, but was in fact an iron-willed, intelligent man with steel-strong principles, rock-solid faith\and cool head.
Born to a poor peasant family, he had undergone many hardships since his childhood. He had been granted no access to education; he had weeded others’ fields for hire with his mother\and had since the age of ten worked as a servant for a landlord in a neighbouring village. One evening when he was 11, his mother had come unexpectedly to see him as he was making straw sandals in his room. Although he longed to see her, he did not raise his head, when his mother came in\and sat on the mat. When she asked what the matter was, he merely continued making straw sandals without bothering to answer. The pitiable mother left the room without hearing a wordrom her beloved son. Only then Je Sun stopped his work\and followed his mother. He said in tears, “Mother, please don’t come any more. If you come here, the landlord’s family despise you, as if you were here to get somethingrom them.”
Knowing her son’s mind, she hugged him\and sank to the road, weeping sorrowfully. She promised that she would not come again, even though she wanted to see him.
He did not receive a regular education, but he acquired a knowledge of secondary education through his own efforts; he was such an earnest worker. After working as a servant until the age of 14, he attended a night school for some years\and learned Korean lettersrom his elder brother; on getting married, he took with him the dictionary of Chinese characters to learn them by himself. Regarding it as a lifelong grudge to have failed to receive a school education, he opened, on moving to Xinxingcun, a night school for the children of slash-and-burn peasants\and committed himself to enlightening others.
In his native village he had led an\organizational life for some years in the Children’s Association\and youth league. After his elder brother’s imprisonment, the Japanese police kept watch on him. Feeling personal danger, owing to the incessant persecution\and oppression, he moved in the early 1932 to Kapsan\where his wife’s family lived. Around that time such progressive people as Pak Tal had been involved actively in patriotic enlightenment in this area. Ri Je Sun\organized with them a secret reading circle in Ophungdong\and buckled down to studying a new trend of thought.
The circle members had been fully prepared to lay down their lives without hesitation in the righteous struggle for rescuing the country\and the nation, but had been fretful, as they did not know how to fight. They had tried to establish contacts with people in every corner in search of an impeccable path of struggle\and a renowned leader. They had met people, who had been affiliated with labour\unions\and peasant\unions\and some ideologists roaming about mountains, but they lacked a clear-cut line\and tactics of struggle.
Ri Je Sun began following the activities of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. Since around 1934, it had been rumoured in the homeland that this army unit was advancing to Changbai area. He had given up his\original idea of moving to Hunchun\and come to Qiangede in Ershidaogou in Changbai County. The immigrants, who developed Qiangede, later renamed it Xinxingcun.
Pochonbo was not far awayrom Xinxingcun in a straight line. In Xinxingcun one could see Mt. Paektu, along with Pegae Hill, Mt. Sobaek\and Konjang Hill. The fact that he lived in a place,\where he could see Mt. Paektu, gave Ri Je Sun mysterious comfort, a man, who had been overwhelmed by nostalgia in an unfamiliar, alien land.
However, administrative oppression\and poverty shadowed the immigrants. Overburdened by farm rent, compulsory labour\and miscellaneous taxes, the miserable slash-and-burn peasants did not enjoy a moment of respite to stretch out\and gaze up at the sky. The landlords forced the tenants to offer them bribes on holidays\and collect firewood for them. To make matters worse, the policemen in Karim-ri\and Chonsu-ri in Korea across the river\ordered the Korean immigrants in Changbai area to bring firewood for them. When inspecting villages, the policemen would search hen coops of peasant houses, take out the eggs\and eat them. The peasants were only allowed to eat boiled barley\or unhulled-millet porridge.
Not a single family in Xinxingcun, which had 60 households, had an ox. How hard they had to toil! They all pulled the ploughs to till the land. One day a young couple was ploughing in spring. They ploughed the field all day without an ox. At first the wife took the handle, while the man drew the plough instead of an ox. Then she drew the plough, but the plough stuck in the land\and did not move an inch. The man shouted “Gee up!”, as he had done when ploughing the land with an ox in his native village. Thinking that the man was treating her as a draught animal, the wife threw herself on the field\and cried sadly, out of indignation. The man let go of the handle\and plumped down beside her, saying lamentably, “Excuse me for the slip of tongue. When will this miserable life come to an end?”
These circumstances in Xinxingcun served as the basis, which facilitated the peasants’ ability to attain national\and class consciousness.
Most of the villagers were impoverished peasants, who had emigratedrom North\and South Hamgyong Provinces,\and exiles who had chosen to leave their hometowns\and motherland in search of a new theatre of activities, after involvement in the anti-Japanese movement in various mass\organizations, like peasant\unions\and youth leagues. Kim Pyong Chol, who later worked at the Xinxingcun chapter of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland\and special Party branch, had also sought refuge there after working in the homeland.
In his days in the homeland Kim Pyong Chol had always told his comrades that a route, which would enable them to receive the guidance of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, should be opened, so that the peasant\union could achieve success in its struggle\and that the struggle in the homeland could not be victorious without guidancerom the revolutionary army. It goes without saying that his opinion was supported by many of his comrades. But some of them slighted his opinion, saying that it was impossible to establish contact with the revolutionary army. Determined that he would find guerrillas on his own, he had moved without hesitation to Xinxingcun,\where his friends had been active. He was a standard-bearer\and fighter, who had realized before any of the other fighters in the homeland, the indivisibility of the armed struggle conducted overseas\and political struggle in the homeland\and the need for their integration,\and had materialized it in a positive way, free of empty talk\and had, after establishing a relationship with the revolutionary army, laid down his life, as he carried out our line.
Such Korean patriots as Ri Ju Gwan\and Ri Ju Ik formed in Changbai area the Red Peasant\union of Koreans in Manchuria in the early 1930s\and used it to conduct mass struggle. The peasant\union, which started its activities with enlightenment, including the drive against superstition, gambling, early marriage, marriage for pay\and illiteracy, gradually developed through economic struggle such as tenancy dispute\and resistance against forced drought labour to anti-Japanese political struggle, refusing to lay military roads\and opposing\or sabotaging the construction of military establishments.
I was told that prior to our establishment of the\organizations of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland in the Changbai area, the Red peasant\union had provided leadership for the mass struggle conducted in Xinxingcun\and its vicinity.
In a word, Ri Je Sun could be said to be as white as snow. His career was relatively simple. This provided striking evidence that he had not been tainted by the erroneous views\and fighting methods of the self-styled campaigners\and factionalists. We treasured the simplicity of his career. An idea\or a theory implanted in an unstained brain will not become muddled.
According to Ri Je Sun, quite a few interesting points in the philosophy of life had been learned during the anti-Japanese patriotic struggle. He said that the hardest job for a man was the role of pioneer\or leader. In other words, it was the toughest job, as you had to perform two\or three tasks, while others were doing one\and take two\or three steps, while others were taking one.
In fact, his words contained a profound truth, reflecting the painful position of a revolutionary, who treads a thorny path of leading social transformation.
“It must be overtaxing you to farm\and perform the duties of a village head, while working for the revolution,” I said.
Ri replied, smiling, “Yes, indeed. But it gives me pleasure. What would be the pleasure of living in these grim days, if we didn’t take the trouble of working for the revolution?”
He said that he found it extremely interesting to work among the masses\and that he took the greatest pleasure in gaining comrades. When I asked, which section of the masses was the hardest to win over, he answered that it was the old people. He went on to say that if he had a large playground\or public hall, it would not be a great problem to enlighten a village\and even transform a sub-county in revolutionary fashion. I expressed my full agreement with his view on the masses\and work with the masses.
One interesting experience in his enlightening of the masses involved the running of a “family night school”. Such a night school is run with a family as a unit. He opened such a school in his family\and involved all his family members. All the family attended the school every night\and Ri Je Sun took to educating his wife\and younger brothers. Thanks to that school, every one of his family became literate.
While talking about his work among the masses, I asked him about the other ten-household heads, who had come to the camp with provisions.
He told me that all of them were good people\and that the stepson of landlord Chon was problematic. The young man had mistaken the revolutionary army as “bandits”\and therefore been uneasy since his first day in the camp, afraid that the guerrillas might kill him, he told me.
I asked him in a casual manner, “Let’s say that the company commander Ri Tong Hak brought him to raise funds. How do you think we should deal with him?”
Ri Je Sun, as if he had been expecting such a question, expressed his innermost thought without hesitation, “I believe that the guerrillas will not harm him. He is a landlord’s stepson in name only,\and is actually a pitiable young man, who is no more than a servant. He is not guilty of any particular crime.”
I could not suppress my admiration for his generosity\and way of thinking, as he viewed the matter in a magnanimous way,rom the standpoint of a united front.
In fact his view on the stepson coincided with our view. Ri Tong Hak educated the young man in various ways\and corrected his understanding of us. In the long run, the young man volunteered to join the guerrillas. We admitted him to the revolutionary army, as he had wanted. During the battle of Ershidaogou he acted as a guide. The man Ri Je Sun had shown great confidence in was killed in action in a battle, to our deep regret.
All things considered, Ri Je Sun was a man of distinctive character, who was charming to all about him. He was the very man to transform Changbai area in a revolutionary way. Once taught the necessary knowledge\and methods, he could become a skilful underground worker in the future. I decided to entrust him with the task of setting up\organizations of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland in Changbai area.
But he was eager to join the guerrillas.
Saying that he had made some preparations to join the army while I had been away for fighting, he begged me to put him through the admission test.
I could not help laughing at the word “admission test”.
“There’s no need. As Pottaji took you here after a test, you are as good as qualified for joining the army. We will admit you any time, if you so wish. But I believe that you will render a greater contribution to our revolution by doing another job.”
“You say another job? What can that be?” He was puzzled.
“Rather than taking part in battle as a rifleman, you can form a big\organization\and help the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army defeat the Japanese army. What do you think?”
“You mean that I should form an\organization?” His curiosity was evident. “Sure.\organizations of the Association for the Restoration of the
Fatherland in every place on the Amnok, including Xinxingcun.”
I stressed the importance\and urgency of\organizing the massesrom all strata into the anti-Japanese national united front.
An intelligent man, Ri Je Sun said that he was keen to work in the underground\organization, but felt he was incompetent\and doubted that he was equal to such a difficult job.
“There’s no need to worry. You can learn. There’s no born revolutionary.
Anyone can become a revolutionary, if he is determined to engage himself in the revolution, learn gradually in the practical struggle\and accumulate experience. We will teach you how.”
We gave him a short course. The subject of the short course was the line, character, strategy\and tactics of the Korean revolution; here I gave the lectures. The lectures on the Ten-point Programme, Inaugural Declaration,\and Rules of the ARF\and the history of the International were given by Ri Tong Baek. As far as I remember, this was the first\and last time during the entire anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle that several competent lecturers had taught the one\and only student by turns in such a substantial manner.
On leaving the secret camp after the short course, Ri Je Sun said earnestly, “I came here with one mal of grain\and now return with several mal of revolutionary pabulum. I will not forget your favour for my life. Now please give me an assignment. If you entrust me with a district, I will form the\organization of the ARF in every village of the Koreans in that district.”
We decided to entrust him with Shanggangqu area, Changbai County. Before leaving, he asked me to write a letter of credence for him. He said
that he would be able to rally a great number of masses around the ARF\and further perform his work with considerable ease, if he had a letter of credence sealed by my stamp.
I wrote credentials\and sealed my stamp under my signature.
Taking the credentials, Ri Je Sun promised that he would put the area entrusted to him under our influence within half a year. The fact that he was not making empty promises was testified by his results in later days.
That day he said, “I have a request to make, General, but I am afraid to do so. I will be happy in my whole life, if I try on a guerrilla uniform before leaving the camp.”
“That will not be difficult. Please try it on.”
I readily complied with his request. I thought about the sheer earnestness of his wish to join the army, given such a request. He cherished a wish to join the army, while displaying determination to devote his all to independence on the underground front. The desire to wear a military uniform\and participate in the great anti-Japanese war could be judged in effect as the highest expression of patriotism when Japan, having occupied Manchuria, was heading madly for a new world war with ambitions of swallowing up the whole of China, as well as all Asia.
I\ordered Ri Tong Hak to bring a uniformrom the warehouse, so that Je Sun could try it on. Ri Je Sun looked perfect in the uniform. The uniform was brought, after guessing his size; it fitted him well.
“You seem to be born to wear a military uniform, Comrade Je Sun. You look smart in the uniform. As you have tried on the uniform, let’s say you have been admitted to the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.rom now on you are a political operative of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. Congratulations on your enlistment!”
I approached him\and squeezed his hands. Ri Tong Hak congratulated him most warmly. He lifted on his back the village head, who was beside himself in the uniform,\and circled round me.
In this way Ri Je Sun, who had come to our camp carrying provisions, joined our army.
When sending him back to his home, we fought a small battle for his safe return. This task was carried out by a small unit led by Ri Tong Hak.
The operation for his return, which made a fool of the enemy, was interesting. As we had instructed, he went straight to the police sub-station in Ershidaogou on his way backrom the mountain. There he grumbled to the police without any preliminaries, “I can’t work as a village head any longer. You merely know how to make village heads work, but you don’t know how to protect them. You might have known that I was captured,\and yet you didn’t take any measures to rescue me. I am so scared that I will have to cross back to Korea to live there. Let the other people serve you to get killed.”
The policemen were at a loss. They implored him to stop saying such things\and said that they were never at ease because of him\and that they could not do anything, because they had not been aware of his\whereabouts. They asked him to calm down\and tell them\where he had been detained\and how he had escaped.
Ri Je Sun said that the guerrillas always took him with his eyes bandaged,\and that he only knew of the place he had escapedrom at dawn, but not the place he had been detained at. He explained that he had taken flight, while his guard was dozing off during a break.
The police asked how many guerrillas there were\and\where he had escaped\and requested that he guide them to the place.
Our plan worked. The police’s “punitive” force came to the valley Ri Je Sun indicated, only to end up as a mouse in a trap. The enemy inevitably trusted him. Making effective use of that trust, he, along with Kim Pyong Chol, Ri Ju Gwan\and Ri Sam Dok, formed that autumn Xinxingcun chapter of the ARF. This was the first\organization formed at the southwestern foot of Mt. Paektu.
He handed over the post of village head to Ri Sam Dok\and,rom then on set about expanding the\organizational network, in cooperation with Kwon Yong Byok, concentrating on Shanggangqu area in Changbai County. For the convenience of our activity, we divided Changbai County largely into three areas—namely Shanggangqu area, Zhonggangqu area\and Xiagangqu area—\and subdivided Shanggangqu area into Shangfangmian Zhongfangmian,\and Xiafangmian. Following the forming of a chapter in Xinxingcun, Ri Je Sun set up ARF chapters in Zhujingdong, Yaoshuidong, Dashidong\and Pinggangde. He also formed many branches under the chapters\and such peripheral\organizations as the Anti-Japanese Youth League, Women’s Association\and Children’s Corps, thereby rallying broad masses of people.
Within less than half a year, he had covered the whole of Shanggangqu with a close network of underground\organizations. The\organizations of the ARF were set up in nearly all the villages surrounding Paektusan Secret Camp.
These\organizations gained the support of progressive youth, students, intellectuals\and religious men\and struck roots further in the government\organs of Manchukuo, police\organs\and in Jingan army units.
The ARF was surrounded by mass\organizations, involving peoplerom all strata. The peripheral\organizations of the ARF embraced tens of thousands of people. Every chapter of the ARF maintained a paramilitary corps, a powerful force capable of fighting in cooperation with the People’s Revolutionary Army, when necessary.
The ARF\organizations in Changbai area expanded so rapidly, that by early 1937 when we set up the Changbai County Committee of the ARF\and appointed Ri Je Sun its chairman, the whole area of Changbai County became our ground.
Almost all the villages in Changbai became “our villages”\and nearly all the people there, “our people”. Nearly all the district\and village heads in Changbai were “our people”. They ran for the enemy in name only; they worked for us in actual deed.
Sub-county head, Ri Ju Ik, was one of them. When we sent an advance party to Changbai prior to our launching into Paektu area, Ri Ju Ik came under the influence of Kim Ju Hyon\and became a special member of the ARF.
He opened a chemist’s shop at Ouledong\and practised medicine, while working as sub-county head. Making tactful use of his posts, he provided substantial support for our work.
Ri Je Sun had already kept watchful eyes on the man, since he was arrested for involvement in the struggle against an irrigation association in the homeland. Ri Ju Ik loyally followed the guidance of Ri Je Sun\and carried out his instructions\and requests wholeheartedly.
In those days, if our political operatives went to the homeland\or settled in the villages on the Chinese shore of the Amnok to work in safety, they needed a certificate to cross the river\or a resident’s card. Without a resident’s card, they could not settle down in dispatched places\or freely cross the Amnok, which was guarded by customs police, without the certificate.
The card\and certificate were issued by the police under the endorsement of sub-county heads. The police stations only issued them to people registered on the census records submitted by the sub-county heads.
To ensure the safe\and free activities of our political operatives, Je Sun\and Ju Ik decided to make many “bogus residents” in Ershisidaogou, the last valley on the way to Mt. Paektu. The valley was so remote\and steep that even the policemen were reluctant to visit it.
Ri Ju Ik registered on the census list the assumed names of our political operatives, active in Changbai area\and the homeland; then, he visited the police station carrying with him the census list\and fussed, “The rustic poor are all ignorant; they don’t know anything other than their own. As they don’t go outside of that valley round the year, they are not aware of the world situation\and even don’t know that they can only continue their existence, when they have a resident’s card. What can we do other than bring them the cards? I might be dog tired but it’s no use complaining. It’s not easy to be a sub-county head.”
The police echoed his words, saying that it was a serious problem, that the people were ignoramuses. They issued many resident’s cards to the sub-county\and village heads, in accordance with the census of “bogus residents”. Ri Je Sun always had plenty of spare cards obtained by Ju Ik. Our political operatives got them at any time\and based themselves easily in strange places\or crossed the border without difficulty.
Following the rapid expansion of the ARF network\and the widening of the sphere of their work, we dispatched 30 political operatives at one time to expand the revolutionary movement deep into the homeland, by consolidating the newly-formed\organizations, using them as a stepping-stone.
Pak Rok Kum (Pak Yong Hui), the first commander of the women’s company of the guerrilla army,\and two boy operatives were dispatched to Xinxingcun. Instructed by Ri Je Sun to perform the necessary formalities for their residence, Ri Ju Ik registered them on the census list under assumed names.
Ri Hun, who was a district head in Diyangxi, Shijiudaogou, joined the ARF under the influence of Ri Je Sun. On returningrom the secret camp after seeing me, Je Sun soon went to see Ri Hun; he explained the Ten-point Programme of the ARF\and instructed him to influence reliable young people\and make preparations for admitting them to\organizations, as this was the wish of General Kim.
The first man Ri Hun introduced to Ri Je Sun on receiving the assignment was An Tok Hun, who had moved to Desancun, Shijiudaogou, after participating in the peasant\union movement in Yonghung (Kumya), South Hamgyong Province. In spring 1937 Ri Je Sun formed a chapter of the ARF in Shijiudaogou, headed by An Tok Hun. Its branches were set up in all its hamlets by the summer of that year. In most cases, the village heads concurrently held the post of head of the sections. The activities of the\organizations were so brisk that the boys\and girls in these areas sang revolutionary songs in public.
When operating on Mt. Paektu, I met Ri Hun on a few occasions. He said a great deal about Ri Je Sun. He told me that I was blessed with good men.
“You picked the right man, General. They say that Changbai is wide, but I have yet to see a man as clever\and loyal as Je Sun. To see him busy with revolutionary work awayrom home, oblivious of happy newly-wedded life, I take off my hat to him despite myself. Thanks to him I have become your man.” When our Headquarters were situated on the mountain overlooking Diyangxi, Shijiudaogou, Changbai County, Ri Hun, with his wife, rendered us effective assistance. The mountain was advantageous, as we could go to Heixiazigou through its forests. At that time his wife would go to Changbai county town\and, pretending to sell cigarettes\and bean-curds, watch the movements of the enemy; when there was any strange movement by the enemy, she would make a fire with fallen leaves in the yard of her house\and the sentries of the People’s Revolutionary Army would inform Headquarters of the enemy movement, with the help of that signal. If a large enemy force moved, Ri Hun himself would come to us\and provide detailed information.
Such patriotic sub-county, district\and village heads could be found everywhere in Changbai.
The fact that Changbai became our world\and its inhabitants our people constituted a tremendous success, achieved by the Korean communists in carrying out the strategic tasks of building bases in Mt. Paektu.
Thanks to faithful, daring\and enthusiastic revolutionaries like Ri Je Sun, we managed to turn Changbai\and the areas surrounding it completely into our own world in less than half a year, since basing ourselves on Mt. Paektu.
Ri Je Sun was a true son\and faithful servant of the people, born in the flames of the anti-Japanese revolution\and admirable patriot\and communist of Korea, who pioneered with his life the road of revolution for the liberation of the masses.
He was an experienced\and seasoned revolutionary, fully equipped with the traits\and qualifications befitting an underground worker.
Just like O Jung Hwa, Ri Je Sun was exemplary in transforming his family into a revolutionary one. One should equip before anybody else one’s own kinsmen\and kinswomen with anti-Japanese patriotic ideas; only then can one transform one’s village\and furthermore the whole country in a revolutionary fashion—this was his faith\and the mode of revolutionary activities. Consequently he involved his younger brothers\and sisters in revolutionrom the days in his native village. His younger sisters helped his revolutionary work well.
After moving to Xinxingcun he also involved his wife\and her mother in revolutionary work.
Under his meticulous assistance\and love, his wife Choe Chae Ryon grew to become chairwoman of Xinxingcun Women’s Association affiliated with the ARF. His influence rapidly awakened her ideological consciousness. She was full of emotional feelings\and also had a keen political sense. These merits enabled her to acquire the method of revolution instantly\and adhere to revolutionary principles.
Ri Je Sun was very affectionate towards his wife, but was strict with her. Tenderhearted as he was, cracking jokes\and humourous remarks in usual days, he would make a clear distinction between public\and private matters in underground work\and did not let out any of secrets.
Once the wife of a policeman surnamed Ri rushed to Choe Chae Ryon\and said, “Oh, my dear! What do you do after taking three meals a day? Do you know what’s happening in the village inn?”
Choe Chae Ryon looked at her doubtfully\and said.
“I don’t know. How can I know about anything happening in the inn?” “Oh, how blind you are! Your man is having a good time with other
women there every night\and you....”
She stopped here\and slipped away.
That night Choe went to the inn. She opened the door\and stole a look, only to find that the inn was full of strange women\and men as Ri’s wife had said. In the middle she could see her husband\and the policeman Ri. But it seemed there was none of the “good times” Ri’s wife had mentioned. She realized that a certain secret meeting was taking place, chaired by her husband, in this spacious inn, which attracted less attention of the police. Apparently the policeman Ri was a member of the secret\organization.
“Then why on earth did she say they are having a good time? She probably misunderstood the secret meetings as a ‘good time’ only out of jealousy,” she thought\and closed the door of the inn in haste, with a feeling of relief.
But she could not dodge her husband’s sharp eye. He gave her a hard time the whole night. Under the barrage of rebukes she realized keenly that she had made a great blunder on the instigation of another woman, that unfounded mistrust\and jealousy would impair the harmony of the family\and worse still destroy the family itself,\and that trust was the basic foundation for the consolidation of conjugal relationship.
Although he resorted to all sorts of hard words against his wife that night, Ri Je Sun did not say a word about what he\and others had been doing in the inn to prove his innocence. He had such a thoroughgoing concept of secrets. We had not established a written code of conduct for the revolutionaries in general\and, in particular, for the underground operatives\and activists of underground\organizations; however, Ri Je Sun had in mind a law he had stipulated\and observed on his own.
When fighting in Changbai area, I visited his house on one\or two occasions. At one time I ate noodle made of frozen potato\and slept there. Whenever I went to his house, he would hang a blind between the room\and kitchen, which had not been partitioned, lest his wife should see me. So she did not realize that I was Kim Il Sung, even though she brought a table laden with dishes to me at mealtime.
On learning later through Pak Rok Kum who I was, she protested to her husband in tears.
“You always say that one should trust others\and you didn’t tell me he is General Kim Il Sung. What sort of propriety is that?”
“I could not tell the secret to any one. I did this for the sake of his personal security. Though regretful, please be broad in understanding.”
This was just Ri Je Sun’s type of law.
The tough character\and thoroughgoing principle he demonstrated exerted a good influence on the development of her personality\and the formation of her outlook on the world. On returning after meeting me at the Paektusan Secret Camp, he made this request to her.
“Many guests may visit my houserom now on. Please prepare a great deal of potatoes, starch, barley, bean paste\and firewood. You will have to take a lot of trouble in the future.”
Choe Chae Ryon took great trouble indeed to attend to the guerrillas\and underground operatives. She hulled grain everyday. She hulled so much grain that the mortar of the mill Ri Je Sun had made personally might have been worn down.
While transforming his family in a revolutionary manner, he also made his village into a revolutionary one. With Kwon Yong Byok, he formed a special Party branch in Xinxingcun. Following its formation, a large number of ARF members in Changbai area joined the Party’s ranks. Xinxingcun could be called a leading village in rallying the people to\organizations\and supporting the guerrillas.
When they were informed of the approach of the guerrillas, the villagers of Xinxingcun baked above all perilla used to press cooking oil. They stringently economized on provisions to prepare provisions for the guerrillas. Potato, the staple product in this village, was unhandy to carry\and was of little value in use. So they processed it into starch before sending it to our secret camps.
The women in Xinxingcun did not send us bean paste raw; first of all they processed it. They mixed wheat flour with bean paste, kneaded them into cakes\and roasted them; these cakes were very convenient for carrying\and use.
The people in Xinxingcun brought us tens of thousands of items of aid goods. They carried these supplies on their backs as far as our secret camps\or bivouacs.
The Xinxingcun people were blessed with an excellent leader. Not only Ri Je Sun was a competent man; Kwon Yong Byok, Pak Rok Kum\and Hwang Kum Ok gave him effective assistance.
On a visit to the village prior to the battle of Pochonbo, I was deeply moved by the villagers’ warm welcome to the revolutionary army\and their powerful unity. As soon as we arrived, they set up four noodle-presses\and prepared noodles for hundreds of men in a short time. The speed was really amazing. That day my comrades said that the village was attractive. All of the villagers were really attractive. I later learned that whenever we went to the village, Ri Je Sun would hold an extraordinary meeting beforehand\and discuss how to welcome us.
His high\organizational ability\and flexibility can be illustrated by the following anecdote.
In spring 1937 the Changbai County Committee of the ARF\organized a demonstration to celebrate May Day in Xinxingcun. To hold a lawful demonstration at broad daylight, attracting public attention, they needed a justifiable scheme, lest the enemy find fault with him. On the plea of hunting foxes, Ri Je Sun gathered the youth\and children in every village in the designated place. The demonstrators, holding a red flag, formed a line\and marched, shouting “Long live the independence of Korea!” to the village of Nanyu, Ershidaogou, along the ridge overlooking the Amnok River. They shouted other slogans in between to put the enemy in confusion.
That day the pedestrians on both shores of the Amnok halted\and watched with delight the rare demonstration. Thinking that the revolutionary army was making an assault, the policemen\and troops in the police station of Karimchon\and the border garrison on the Korean side of the river did not dare enquire into the disturbance taking place on the ridge. Only after the demonstration was over\and the demonstrators had been identified to be civilians did the enemy cross the river to Changbai\and ask why crowds of people had flocked.
The demonstrators answered that they had been hunting foxes.
The police queried, “Why did you fly a red flag when hunting foxes?” “The foxes are most afraid of red. So we flew a red flag.”
They deceived the police tactfully. Admittedly a red flag was needed for fox-hunting\and the demonstration.
It was amazing that a crowd of hundreds of people shouted for independence flying a red flag in daylight in 1937, when the suppression of the Japanese imperialists was at its zenith. It was all the more surprising that the army\and police of both Japan\and Manchukuo were not aware that the demonstration was directed against them. This was a bold adventure, which could only be conceived by men of outstanding resourcefulness\and daring spirit.
After the attack on Pochonbo, Ri Je Sun dispatched members of the Women’s Association in Xinxingcun to that place to confirm the results of the battle\and survey public opinion; he then informed us of the findings. We had not requested that he conduct such a survey of public opinion. He decided\and\organized this undertaking on his own, displaying his creative spirit.
From these two facts, we can see that he was a talented worker\and indefatigable thinker with a methodology of his own for the revolution. He was second to none in racking his brains for the revolution\and the duty entrusted to him by the times. If he had not continued such brain-racking without interruption, he would not have managed to achieve such a miracle\and turn Changbai thoroughly into our world in such a short period of time.
Everybody knows that people who do not meditate, have no creative spirit\and that there will be no creation\and innovation without creativity. When considered in a strict way, one can claim that meditation made man the dominator of the world\and a powerful being, who can do anything as long as he is determined. Man, a social being with consciousness, has transformed nature, society\and himself\and reigned over the world with dignity through uninterrupted meditation\and accumulation of that meditation.
It is because we attach absolute importance to the role of meditation in transforming nature, society\and man that our Party appeals to the cadres, Party members\and working people to become zealous thinkers.
Ri Je Sun was a creative man, who fully linked meditation\and practice. He did not stop meditating even in court\and behind bars. His meditation in court was concentrated on how he could end his life as a communist.
The only thing I can do in court is to rescue comrades by pleading guilty for them—this was the determination he made when detained in the Hyesan police station. In fact, he managed to rescue many people by sacrificing himself. When Ri Ju Ik, the sub-county head, was arrested, he told him, “Only General Kim, you\and I know our undertakings. The General is on the mountain\and I will not utter anything, so there will be no trouble for you, if you stick it out.”
True to his word, Ri Ju Ik was released after a few days of suffering. As Ri Je Sun pleaded guilty of all “crimes”, Kim Pyong Chol, head of the Party\organization in Xinxingcun,\and Ri Ju Gwan managed to escape a death sentence. His self-sacrifice reflects the ennobling virtue of Ri Je Sun, a communist.
On learningrom Kwon Yong Byok in prison that Jang Jung Ryol had betrayed the cause, he grew anxious that his betrayal might bring about the further sacrifice of stalwart comrades. He wanted to inform his comrades of Jang’s betrayal at the earliest possible date, but he did not even have a pencil-butt. At his wit’s end, he bit his lower lip with his teeth\and, wetting a fingertip with every\drop of blood flowingrom his lip, wrote on a piece of cloth, “Jang Jung Ryol betrayed us.” When he was led to the torture chamber, he\dropped it in another cell. Consequently, many of his comrades could realize Jang’s true nature\and fought more effectively in prison.
I regret that I cannot recount here all the moving anecdotes of his struggle for seven years behind bars.
When Choe Chae Ryon visited him, she found that his face was no longer the handsome, elastic one she had known in the past, when he had been running about to form ARF\organizations. His$original image was gone\and he was all skin\and bone. Nevertheless, he was smiling calmly as he saw her through the bars. When parting, he requested her in a happy-go-lucky way to bring a world map instead of food. Choe Chae Ryon spoke later of how she had been perplexed by this uncommon\order.
In my opinion, his request for a world map reflected his wish to try to imagine on the map in his own way a new world structure after the Second World War\and a new, liberated motherland, which would be born out of the war\and shed bright light all over the world. This is patent proof that he did not abandon himself to despair\and despondency, even after being sentenced to death, that he was picturing endlessly in his mind the radiant future of his country\and the bright future of the world. He lived in the future, though his body was in the present,\and imagined, even at the point of death, a new, happy life to be born in the liberated motherland. Consequently he declared with dignity that “communism is an eternal youth” to the judges, who had advised him to turn coat.
In the early 1945 Choe Chae Ryon took her youngest daughter to Sodaemun prison in Seoul. The youngest daughter, who had been sufferingrom a lack of breast milk, as she had been incarcerated with her mother two months after her birth, was now an 8-year-old girl. She shot a dubious look at the bearded man on the other side of the bars.
“That’s your daddy,” her mother said to her, pointing to the man.
The father\and his daughter looked at each other with bars between them, but she failed to say, “Daddy!”
How can one expect her to call him “Daddy!” with no hesitation, when she had lived for eight years without seeing her father! She had seen many fathers of her neighbours caressing their children. But she found her father extraordinary, as he was only smiling on the other side of the bars, instead of embracing her.
Only when his hands in cuffs fondled her head, making a clinking noise, did she utter, “Daddy!” Feeling a lump in his throat, Ri Je Sun made the impossible promise that he “would come home soon.” It is not difficult to imagine how painful it must have been for him to make such an infeasible promise to his daughter, who was seeing her daddy for the first time in her life. Needless to say, he could not keep that promise.
On March 10, 1945 the enemy called him into the interrogation room\and tried to persuade him to convert his faith, saying that they would repeal his sentence in that case, as it was the day of the Imperial Army of Japan. Nevertheless, Ri Je Sun did not give way to any appeasement\and torture.
Ri Je Sun, who had taught at night school\and worked as the head of a remote mountain village in Changbai, was an ardent patriot\and indefatigable revolutionary fighter, as he laid down the prime of his life to the anti-Japanese revolution.
A man is not born a revolutionary; he grows into a revolutionary\and a fighter in life\and struggle. It is the truth of the revolution\and lesson of history that, although the process of growing into a revolutionary may differrom man to man, every one with a sound ideology\and burning patriotism can become a revolutionary if he is under correct leadership. This is the reason why we attach primary importance to the ideological in the three revolutions— ideological, technical\and cultural. This ideological revolution is a cradle, which trains people into ardent patriots\and iron-willed revolutionary fighters by awakening their consciousness\and\organizing them, as well as the motive power, which propels the cause of independence of the popular masses\and revolutionary struggle.
When he came to our secret camp—it was his third\or fourth visit—I highly praised him for his efforts to build ARF\organizations. He only waved his hand with an awkward face.
“Don’t mention it. It owes nothing to my skill\or trouble. The credentials you gave me transformed such a man as sub-county head Ri Ju Ik, into a member of the ARF. Seeing the credentials, Ri said that he would become a member of the association, chaired by you, General Kim.\and the Changbai people are highly patriotic. I’ve done nothing special.”
Ri Je Sun was such a modest man.
His small bust can be found at the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery on Mt. Taesong, still looking at the rising generation in a modest way. Standing alongside him you will see the busts of Kwon Yong Byok, Ri Tong Gol\and Ji Thae Hwan, who ended their days on the gallows with him.
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