[Reminiscences]Chapter 16. Crossing\\and Recrossing the River Amnok 1. Expedition to Fusong > 새 소식

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 16. Crossing\and Recrossing the River Amnok  1. Expedition to Fusong

  

   


   

 


 

CONTENTS

 

CHAPTER 16. CROSSING\and RECROSSING THE RIVER AMNOK

1. Expedition to Fusong

2. Hundreds of Miles rom Xiaotanghe at One Go

3. Guardsmen

4. Across the Whole of Korea

5. Kwon Yong Byok

6. Events to Which I Could Not Remain Indifferent

7. The Mother of the Guerrilla Army


CHAPTER 17. KOREA IS ALIVE

1. Flames of Pochonbo (1)

2. Flames of Pochonbo (2)

3. Joint Celebration of Army\and People at Diyangxi

4. Photographs\and Memory

5. The Battle of Jiansanfeng

6. The Boys Who Took Up Arms

7. My Thought about Revolutionary Obligation

 

CHAPTER18. INTHE FLAMES OFTHE SINO-JAPANESE WAR

1. To Meet a New Situation

2. Kim Ju Hyon

3. Getting the Peasantry Prepared

4. Choe Chun Guk in His Days in the Independent Brigade

5. The September Appeal

6. My Experience of the “Hyesan Incident”



 

 

Chapter 16. Crossing\and Recrossing the River Amnok

1. Expedition to Fusong 

 

After delivering a crushing blow at the enemy, who had been rampaging on large-scale winter “punitive” expeditions in Taoquanli\and Limingshui, I made the decision to march north again across the Changbai mountains in command of the main force.

My entire unit was surprised when I announced my plan for an expedition to Fusong: Why this sudden march northward at a time when everyone was eagerly waiting for\orders to advance into the homeland to destroy the enemy? Why should they move north, leaving behind West Jiandao\and Mt. Paektu, which they had secured at such great effort? I read these questions in their faces. They could see no reason for an expedition to Fusong when everything was going so well.\and in fact it was not unreasonable for them to think so.


At that time the spirits of both our soldiers\and our people were soaring, for we were defeating the enemy in one battle after another. Despite the enemy’s frantic “punitive” attacks\and their political, economic\and military blockades, the ranks of our guerrilla army were swelling daily with fresh volunteers,\and the army’s combat power was increasing considerably as it armed itself with better weapons\and equipment.


The area around Mt. Paektu\and on the River Amnok was completely under our influence,\and the initiative of the war was securely in our hands. Our underground\organizations were stretching a ramified network throughout West Jiandao. The objective we had initially set for ourselves at the time of our departure rom Nanhutou had been  successfully attained. The final objective of our operations was to advance to the homeland. In\order to give a strong impetus to the anti-Japanese national united-front movement there\and to speed up the struggle to found a new type of party, it was imperative to extend the fighting to our native land. Our most cherished dream was to whip the enemy on our own soil,\and this was also the burning


desire of every one of our compatriots.


Just how eager the people back home were for our advance can be seen in the following episodes.

In Diyangxi there was a village called Nande\or Nahade. Ryu Ho, headman of the village\and a special member of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland, was an enthusiastic supporter of the guerrilla army. Once he\and his villagers brought aid supplies to our secret camp. His company included three peasants rom Kapsan.


These peasants arrived at our secret camp with full loads of foxtail millet, scorched-oat flour\and hempen shoes on their backs. They had crossed the Amnok, slipping through a tight police cordon. We were surprised at the large amount of supplies they had carried on their backs. We were even more amazed at the fact that they had not touched a single morsel of the food they had brought us, even though they had been roaming about with empty stomachs for some days, as they had lost their way in the primeval forest of Mt. Paektu.


We were also no less moved by the effort they had put into making the hempen shoes for us: there were at least 200 pairs. The footwear was made with the utmost care\and looked neat\and durable: the soles were woven rom a combination of hemp\and strips of elm bark, reinforced with a side webbing of twisted hemp fibre.

As Kim San Ho thanked the three peasants for their efforts, they were embarrassed. The eldest, a man with a long beard like a Taoist in an old tale, took Kim San Ho by the hand\and said:


“Please forgive us poor people who cannot afford to offer anything but these hempen shoes to you, our great soldiers of Mt. Paektu. Your thanks for our insignificant efforts make us feel rather awkward. If you wear these humble shoes as you destroy the marauders rom the island country\and sweep them off our land of Kapsan, we shall be able to die in peace. We are waiting for the arrival of the revolutionary army with each passing day.”


The peasants rom Kapsan were not the only people who were impatiently anticipating the advance of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army into the homeland. Old Ri Pyong Won, rom Kyongsang Province, who once brought aid supplies to our secret camp, asked me, “General, when will these Japanese be driven out of Korea? Do you think I’ll see the day in my lifetime?”


Day by day, minute by minute, we could feel their craving for our arrival\and their admiration for us. Having received a pair of hempen shoes, every one of our comrades had a strong impulse to march into the homeland then\and there. I myself felt the same way.


Nevertheless, I\ordered my men to march north, in the opposite direction rom the homeland. To comrades who were in doubt about my\order, I explained, “Don’t think we are retreating northward. By marching north, we are, in effect, heading south, towards home. We have to go in this direction. This brief march to Fusong is a preparation for eventual advance to the homeland—you must understand that.”


Our major objective when planning the expedition to Fusong was to throw the enemy into confusion by using elusive hit-and-run tactics—attacking suddenly, then disappearing into nowhere. We intended to scatter the “punitive” forces as far as possible rom Changbai,\where they were being massed, divert the enemy’s attention elsewhere,\and thus create a safe environment for building the network of underground\organizations, which were thriving in that area,\and also create favourable conditions for large-force operations to advance into the homeland.


In spite of the failure of their large-scale “punitive” operations in the winter of 1936, the enemy did not abandon their attempt to isolate\and stifle the revolutionary army. They continued to concentrate large forces in our theatre of operations, such as their occupation army in Korea, their frontier guards\and their puppet Manchukuo army\and police forces. In\order to hold firmly on to our initiative\and advance the revolution vigorously according to plan, we had to move to another area for a while. This was essential to putting the enemy on the defensive\and creating favourable conditions for the development of the revolutionary movement in West Jiandao\and the border area.


Scattering the enemy’s “punitive” forces massed in Changbai\and protecting the revolutionary\organizations in the Amnok area would also benefit our advance on the homeland. If the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army was to operate on a large scale in the homeland, it was necessary to prevent the enemy rom concentrating their forces in West Jiandao, our home front\and the base of our advance.


As had been indicated at the “Tumen conference”1, the enemy was massing its forces in West Jiandao mainly to prevent our advance on to our home soil at any cost, although it also intended to stifle the People’s Revolutionary Army by driving it into a dead end in the Changbai valley.

The enemy knew that it was only a matter of time before large forces of the KPRA would be advancing on Korean soil. More than anything else, the Japanese imperialists were afraid of this advance. The military\and political operations of these large forces in Korea would have as great an impact as an attack on Japan itself.


The enemy was well aware of the misfortune a few rifle shots on our own territory would bring upon them. In the winter of the year in which the KPRA main force had established its base in the Paektu mountains, the enemy dragged out the people to break the ice on the Amnok noisily every night to prevent individuals\or groups of soldiers rom the People’s Revolutionary Army rom infiltrating their homeland. How the enemy must have dreaded our attack to have devised such a childish defensive measure!


I mentioned in my previous volume that the Japanese emperor dispatched his aide-de-camp on a three-week inspection tour along the border between Korea\and Manchuria. Indeed, the political\and military hierarchies of Japan could not, even for a moment, turn their eyes away rom the northern border of our country. At that time the aide-de-camp’s\order to the border guards rom the emperor was that they should turn the border into a veritable iron wall. He also dispatched some royal gifts to them. My men gloated over the presentation ceremony: the Japanese emperor was obviously greatly worried about an advance of the People’s Revolutionary Army into Korea, they chuckled.


The planned advance into the homeland required a number of breakthroughs in the enemy’s border defence, claimed to be an impenetrable “copper\and iron wall”. Preliminary to making these breakthroughs, it was imperative to scatter as much as possible the enemy’s “punitive” forces, which were swarming about in the fields\and mountains of Changbai. To accomplish this, we ourselves had first to pretend to leave the Changbai area. If we moved away rom there, the enemy would follow us, which meant that their border defence would be weakened.


On our expedition to Fusong we intended to meet Choe Hyon’s unit\and the comrades of the 2nd Division of the 1st Corps operating in the area adjoining Fusong, Linjiang\and Mengjiang Counties. We needed to plan cooperation for a successful advance into the homeland.

Another objective of the expedition was to give the recruits adequate political, military\and moral training to meet the requirements of the prevailing situation\and in keeping with the mission of the KPRA.


Since the establishment of a new type of base in Mt. Paektu, we had recruited hundreds of volunteers. Encouraged by the active military\and political campaigns of the KPRA\and its successes, young people in West Jiandao vied with one another in joining the army. Also young patriots rom the homeland came to us almost every day to participate in the armed struggle.


The numerical growth of my unit made it necessary to improve its quality as a combat unit.

Bettering the qualifications of the men\and commanding officers was essential to increasing the unit’s combat efficiency. Improving their ideological level\and military know-how was crucial if the unit was to be made unconquerable. Our hundreds of recruits had neither combat experience nor any knowledge of guerrilla tactics, although they were all highly class-conscious\and full of enthusiasm for the revolution. Their political\and cultural levels were also low. They were simple mountain people who had led a hand-to-mouth existence, doing slash-and-burn farming\or toiling as day labourers until they joined the service. They knew little about military affairs, although they were very good at hoeing, digging\and cutting hay. Some did not even know the Korean alphabet, let alone the rudiments of social progress.


Hardened though they were through labour\and hardship, they were still barely able to endure the tough life of the guerrilla army. Some of them vacillated,\or complained about the lack of sleep\and gruelling marches. Some even delegated the burden of mending their shoes\and clothing to their veteran comrades instead of doing these things themselves. It would be impossible to undertake the advance on the homeland with these recruits before they had been given necessary training. These were green men with no knowledge of drill movements, night marches\or direction-finding, helpless onlookers who would ask the veterans to fix their broken-down weapons\and remain useless.

The veterans had been told to devote all their spare time to training their new comrades by passing on scraps of common knowledge to them, but this alone was not enough to prepare such a large number of recruits to meet the requirements of guerrilla warfare. The best way was to give them intensive military\and political training over a period of time in a dense forest which the enemy was least likely to penetrate. Without full-scale training it would be impossible to turn them into crack troops. Unfortunately, there was no suitable training ground in Changbai. Both the flat lands\and deep mountains of this region were being “combed” by the enemy. That was why we chose the Fusong area, with its numerous secret outposts, as our recruit training ground.


The expedition to Fusong was, in short, an offensive, a way for us to maintain the initiative even when large enemy forces were tenaciously attacking us. It was an adroit tactical measure to strengthen the revolutionary army\and create favourable conditions for its advance to the homeland. The expedition was to follow up our successes in the six months since our appearance in the Paektu mountains.


We launched the expedition one day in March 1937. The expedition consisted of not only the main combat force, but also the supporting forces, such as the sewing unit, the kitchen staff\and members of the weapons repair shop.


Wei Zheng-min, Jon Kwang\and Cao Ya-fan also came with our unit.

On the first day of the trek, we were to cross the Duoguling Pass. We marched all day, but we were unable to climb over the pass, for the snow was very deep\and the weather severely cold.


We had to bivouac overnight halfway up the pass.


That winter there had been an unusually heavy snowfall on the Changbai mountains,\and in some valleys the snowbanks were as deep as the height of several men. In such places we had to forge ahead by ploughing our way through the snow, inch by inch.

Younger people who wish to get a real picture of the heavy snow on the Changbai mountains, should listen to the experiences of the veterans of the expedition. On our way back to Mt. Paektu rom the expedition after the thaw had set in, I saw a hempen shoe hanging at the very top of a larch tree: the shoe belonged to a recruit who had joined the army in Changbai\and who had lost it in the snow as he marched to Fusong.


By early March the snow disappears rom the plains of Korea, but in the Paektu mountains the winter cold still prevails.

It was impossible to pitch a tent in a howling snowstorm. Even if one did manage to put it up, the tent would collapse in the gale. Whenever we were in this kind of a situation, we dug holes in the snow large enough for a squad to sit on deer skins\or on tree bark\and sleep while leaning against their packs. We covered the openings to the holes with sheets to keep the wind out. During this expedition we came to understand how Eskimos manage to survive the Arctic cold in igloos.


At that time we wore wadded Korean socks reaching our knees\and the hempen shoes sent to us rom the Kapsan people. Without such clothing it would have been impossible to travel in the Paektu mountains in winter. When bivouacking, we used to lie around the campfire, still wearing these shoes.


On the second day of our expedition we climbed over the Duoguling Pass. This was by no means an\ordinary march. When thinking of arduous treks, our people are usually reminded of the 100-day march rom Nanpaizi to Beidadingzi in the winter of 1938, but the expedition to Fusong was no less difficult than that particular journey. The distance of the expedition was scarcely a hundred kilometres, yet the march took us approximately 25 days\and was certainly arduous enough.


We suffered rom cold, hunger, lack of sleep\and many other hardships. Fighting numerous battles, we spilt a great deal of blood\and lost many comrades. It was an unusually harsh trial which even the seasoned soldiers were able to endure only with clenched teeth, so I hardly need to describe what it must have been like for those who had joined the army only a few months before.


I saw to it that every veteran helped one fresh recruit. I also took care of three\or four weaklings. All the veterans became kind brothers to their new comrades. While on the march, they carried rifles\or packs for their charges. During breaks they built fires for the younger ones,\and when camping they prepared sleeping places for them\and mended their clothes, shoes\and caps.


Once a soldier, fresh rom Zhujiadong, slumped down by the campfire\and began to snore as soon as the\order was given to take a break. He did not think of mending his shoes, which had been worn down to such an extent that his big red toes poked out through the holes. While veterans were still wearing the hempen shoes they had put on at Changbai before departure, he had already worn out the rubber-soled canvas shoes he had kept in reserve.


I replaced his worn-out shoes with my own reserve shoes\and mended them with a thick needle. I kept them in my pack\and later gave the pair to another recruit. I used to mend such shoes in secret, lest the owners feel embarrassed. Once I was caught red-handed by their owner. In tears, he snatched the thread, needle\and shoes rom me.


That day I said to the new recruits:


“At home you don’t need to do needlework because you wear straw shoes made by your fathers\and clothes made\or mended by your mothers. Now that you are guerrillas, however, you should learn how to mend your own clothes\and shoes, learn how to manage your own affairs. Today, I’m going to teach you how to mend shoes.”

I could see that they were sorry to have caused such unnecessary trouble for their commander.

Because shoes\and clothing wore down most quickly when one marched on ice-crusted snow, I taught them how to walk on this kind of terrain.


The expedition was plagued by hunger. Many a difficulty stood in our way, but the worst was the food shortage. Since the march had turned out to be much slower than we had expected, the scanty rations we had brought with us rom Changbai ran out soon after we crossed the Duoguling Pass.


How could we obtain food in the snow, which denied us even frozen grass roots? The best way would have been to capture enemy supplies, but we had no idea\where the enemy was at that time.


The starving experience on the march was so distressing that years later I was to describe the event to one of my comrades as “a virtual hunger expedition”. Sometimes we had to plod for miles\and miles all day without eating even as much as a grain of maize, merely licking snow\and gulping water to suppress the clamour of our empty stomachs. How could I ever forget the bitter suffering?


Once, while passing through a forest near Donggang when the expedition was almost over, we found a Chinese house. For two days we had not taken in anything but water, so the sight of the house awakened in our minds a ray of hope, for people growing opium in remote mountains used to keep some food in reserve.


I explained to the master of the house that my unit had had nothing to eat for days,\and asked him to sell us some grain if he had any. But he flatly declined, saying that all his grain had been carried away by mountain rebels. A heap of maize bran below the millstones suggested that he had a large stock of husked maize\or maize flour, but he was deaf to my entreaties. Though humiliated, I decided to soothe our empty stomachs with the bran.

Unlike foxtail millet bran\or barnyard millet bran, maize bran is difficult to swallow, even when scorched. Even ground with millstones\and gulped with water, it left us hungry soon.


After much thought, I called my\orderly, Paek Hak Rim,\and gave him instructions:

“Go over several passes rom here\and you will find Wu Yi-cheng’s unit. The commander is not there now, but some of his men are still fighting there. Tell them I am here\and ask for some grain. If they have any, they will give us some for the sake of our old friendship.”


The\orderly went off, but returned with empty hands. Their commanding officer himself came with a sackful of maize bran\and apologized to me:


“Commander Kim, how could I refuse to comply with your unusual request? I wish I could help you, but I came with this because our food ran out\and we are also going hungry. So please don’t think ill of me.”


Looking around the Chinese house that day, my men had found a coffin filled with husked maize in the front yard. Manchurian people had a custom of getting their coffins ready during their lifetime\and keeping them in front of their houses. These coffins were considered inviolable. The custom gave rise to many anecdotes during the years of the revolution in Manchuria against the Japanese.


I understood why the maize was hidden in the coffin. But the trick had enraged my comrades. The recruits were the angriest of all. A volunteer rom Zhujiadong came running to me\and said:

 

“General, the people living in that house are evil. Offering food even to stray animals is human nature\and hospitality, but these people are too cruel. Let’s teach them a lesson\and confiscate the grain.”


“No, we can’t do that. We must not touch their food. Better we should go hungry,” I answered.

The man withdrew, clicking his tongue in frustration.


We gave no sign that we had seen the maize in the coffin, but did our best to allay our hunger with the bran, hoping patiently to educate the inhabitants of the house.


They did not admit that they had any maize even when we were saying good-bye to them.

The man who had suggested confiscation came to me\and said, “You see? Education has no effect on such people.”


“It does, you know,” I told him. “They’ve begun to understand that we are good soldiers, even though they did not give us any food.”


This incident taught new comrades that there were different types of people among the masses,\and that stereotyped education, therefore, did not work. Moving people’s hearts was the key to success,\and the army, even in the most difficult situations, should not touch people’s property,\and it should never try to obtain sympathy\or assistance by force.


Had we been unable to repress our anger\and treated them severely,\or had we taken away the maize as punishment for lying, the recruits might have violated the motto, “The revolutionary army cannot live divorced rom the people.” They might have degenerated into bandits,\or people like the bureaucrats who shout at people for no reason\and expect special favours rom them.


Following the River Manjiang, we noticed two labourers following our marching column, while keeping their distance. They were lumbermen rom the Duantoushan lumbermill. Their appearance\and behaviour were so suspicious that we stopped\and asked them why they were shadowing us. They confessed that they had been told by the enemy to find out\where we were going. They had been promised a reward according to the value of the information they collected about our\whereabouts,\and if they returned with no information, they would be labelled traitors “in secret contact with bandits”\and severely punished.


From these men I learned that there was a large number of labourers\and forest policemen at the Duantoushan lumbermill. I decided to attack the mill to obtain food, even if we had to fight a hard battle.


I committed the 7th\and 8th Regiments to the battle. They assaulted the lumbermill\and searched the storehouse, but in vain; there was not even one sack of grain there. The owner of the lumbermill kept no food supplies in the storehouse for fear of raids by the guerrilla army,\and brought in daily rations rom elsewhere. Seven hundred to 800 enemy troops unexpectedly came rom the lumbermen’s village in counterattack. They were “punitive” troops who, informed of the movement of our main force towards Fusong, had come as reinforcements.


The 7th\and 8th Regiments captured about 20 head of cattle at the mill\and withdrew to the main body.

The containment party under the command of O Jung Hup contained the enemy. O Jung Hup formed a do-or-die party by\selecting men rom each platoon\and fought more than 10 close combats to keep back the pursuing enemy. At daybreak they found the enemy only 50 metres away.


While the containment party held on, I\ordered the main body to occupy the two hills in the east\and sent my\orderly to tell O Jung Hup to lure the enemy into a trap by withdrawing his containment party into a field between two hills. Most of the enemy who entered the field in pursuit of our men were wiped out\and only a few survivors managed to run away.

 

Before the main body started fighting, several men had butchered the cattle behind an elevation. As soon as the animals were killed, the meat was roasted,\and the smell of roasting beef was so tantalizing, we could barely endure it. We put the remaining cuts of beef in our packs. We resumed our march, eating some of the meat raw, but in a few days the remaining beef had run out.


As the enemy’s pursuit grew fiercer, Jon Kwang left for the secret camp at Dongmanjiang,\where he gave my men only a few mal of wheat to send to us.


My men denounced him angrily, saying, “Is this all the heart he has, a man in charge of political affairs? He is not worth his own weight.”


Some of the other men criticized him as well, declaring that he had neither courage nor human sympathy. They were still suspicious of Jon Kwang, wondering why he had confused the operation as a whole by abandoning the raid on Wanlianghe, a mission which was to be carried out as a secondary effort in the battle of Fusong. Since he had always shirked his duty in difficult\and dangerous situations, while at the same time putting on airs of importance, the men\and officers of my unit did not think much of him. Their feelings proved to be correct: Jon Kwang later became a turncoat\and did serious harm to the revolution.


We continued our march towards Fusong down along the River Manjiang. The wheat Jon Kwang had sent us soon ran out. Again we had to suffer hunger.


Later we succeeded in throwing the pursuing enemy off our trail\and camped for some time at a place called Toudaoling. It was impossible to continue our march unless we obtained food. At this very moment Kang Thae Ok\and some other recruits rom Manjiang volunteered to go in search of food. They had joined the army, prompted by the exciting dramas, The Sea of Blood and The Fate of a Self-Defence Corps Man staged at Manjiang the previous year.


When they heard that we were near Manjiang, they came to see me with Kim Thaek Hwan\and said:

“General, we’ll go\and get some food. Should the guerrilla army starve at a mere hailing distance of Manjiang? We don’t have too much cereal, but there are plenty of potatoes, which were collected to help the guerrilla army before. We know\where they are.”


Hearing this, I felt greatly relieved.


Thus about 10 men were sent to Manjiang to procure food. But the results fell short of our expectations. They said that the potatoes, which had been stored for the army, had been ravaged by wild boars. They returned with what remained of the potatoes. Nonetheless, it was still a great help to us, who had nothing to eat at all.

As bad luck would have it, we ran into deep trouble because of an accidental blunder. On their way back the foraging party, unable to endure their hunger, built a fire\and baked some potatoes not far away rom the camp of the main body. This proved to be a grave mistake.


By building the fire at dawn near the camp, they exposed not only their own position but also the location of the whole unit to the enemy. When discovered by the enemy, they ran straight to the main body, not even giving a signal to the guard post. So the unit, which had been sleeping, was caught unprepared.


Lack of discipline sometimes resulted in such blunders.


I had always emphasized to the recruits: “Indiscipline is taboo for a guerrilla army. Keeping discipline may be hard\and difficult, but you must never see it as a burden, because discipline is the lifeblood of the army. Don’t sleep with your shoes off when camping. Don’t leave behind traces of yourself\wherever you go. Don’t build a fire at a place which has not been designated as safe by your superiors. When you are being pursued, lure the enemy away rom the secret camp\or rom your own camping site. Do not eat any kind of grass if you are not sure it is harmless....”


Because of the mistake made by the foraging party, however, we lost priceless comrades-in-arms in the engagement that followed.


I did not criticize them for their mistake, for criticism would not bring our dead comrades back to life. Their death itself was more than enough to replace my criticism. Loss of their comrades was a much more bitter thing to the recruits than mere criticism\or punishment.


My\orderly, Choe Kum San, was one of the fallen in that battle. The enemy who had discovered the fire\and followed the foraging party by stealth surrounded our camp\and opened fire. Choe Kum San lost his life by becoming my shield as he fought the enemy, who was closing in on Headquarters. Seeing that I was bringing up the rear of the withdrawing force, he\and Ri Pong Rok came running to me, sending fierce fire in the direction of the enemy while shielding me with their bodies. Had they not protected me in this manner, I might well have been killed.


Although fatally wounded, Choe Kum San did not cease firing until the last round of his ammunition was gone. His uniform was drenched with blood.


Ri Pong Rok raised him in his arms rom the snow\and carried him on his back. Bringing up the rear, I protected Ri Pong Rok with my Mauser. Whenever Ri became exhausted I carried Choe on my back.

Choe had stopped breathing when I lifted him down rom Ri’s back after breaking through the encirclement.


Choe was not particularly handsome, nor was he a boy of impressive character, but he was loved by all of Headquarters as a younger brother.

 

He was full of dreams\and fancies. To travel far\and wide by train was one of his wishes. He used to say that he would become a locomotive engineer when the country was independent.


“To have died so young! He wasn’t even twenty!” somebody exclaimed behind me, looking at the boy lying by the campfire. The whole unit was in tears.


Before burying the boy, I opened his pack\and found a pair of the hempen shoes he had received rom the Kapsan people\and an envelope of scorched rice flour.


The cherished desire of this boy, born into the family of vagrants in a foreign land\and growing up drinking foreign water, was to walk on the soil of his native land someday. On the march rom Nanhutou in northern Manchuria to Mt. Paektu, the boy, my\orderly, had asked me almost every day how far it was to the homeland. He wanted to know if he could eat Korean apples when he got to West Jiandao, if I had been to the East Sea, which was said to be really splendid, how long it would take to attack the enemy in Pyongyang, Seoul\and Pusan,\and all kinds of other things. He had kept the hempen shoes intact, thinking he would wear them on the day he marched into his homeland.


Choe Kum San had served as an\orderly at Headquarters for a long time, sleeping with me under the same blanket. He was one of my favourites, my young comrade-in-arms. Probably that was why I mourned more bitterly over his death than over the loss of other comrades.


The earth’s crust at Toudaoling was frozen so hard that it even defied an axe\and a bayonet. We had to bury Choe Kum San in the snow. We marked off the spot in\order to bury him properly later.


On our way back to Mt. Paektu in the thawing season after our expedition to Fusong, I, in command of my unit, visited the place\where the\orderly lay buried.


I changed him into a new uniform, which I had brought with me rom the secret camp at Donggang,\and then gave him his final burial in a sunny spot. I had several shrubs of azalea planted in front of his grave. I wanted him, even in his grave, to be able to smell the fragrance of his native land in their blossoms. Though the shrubs had grown in foreign soil, their scent would be no different. He had liked azaleas best.


“Good-bye, Kum San! We are going to Mt. Paektu again. In the coming summer, we will advance into the homeland, come what may, as you wished. There we will avenge your death upon the enemy, a hundred, even a thousand times.” I said all this to him in my mind\and then left him. Whenever I recollect the event, I still feel my heart ache. If he were alive today, he would be the same age as Paek Hak Rim.


During the expedition to Fusong in the spring of 1937, we lost many stalwart comrades.

As the song expresses it, “Bright traces of blood on the crags of Changbai still gleam.” We spilt a great deal of blood\wherever we went in those days. Every inch of our advance was made at the cost of our own blood.


I am sorry I am unable to make a more vivid deion of the brilliant exploits\and devoted efforts made by my comrades-in-arms. However, I am putting all my heart into this writing to make up for my dull brush. I write this memoir as an epitaph to my beloved comrades-in-arms, who fell in battle on the rugged hills\and in the deep valleys of Fusong. Their wish was that we should fight to the last moment to win back Korea. They breathed their last with a smile, wishing me good health\and success in the war.



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