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[Reminiscences]Chapter 16 3. Guardsmen

  

   

 

 

3. Guardsmen 

 

A large part of my life was spent on battlefields. Fifteen years of anti-Japanese war\and three years of great war against the United States make up nearly 20 years of struggle in a hail of bullets\and gunfire.


By some miracle,\or by good fortune, I have never had an accident. During the war of resistance against the Japanese, the guerrilla army greatly emphasized that commanders should set personal examples. Commanding officers always bore the brunt of all work,\and they took pride in doing so. They led attacking formations\and brought up the rear in retreat, protecting their comrades-in-arms. That was the militant spirit\and moral trait of commanders\and political workers of the People’s Revolutionary Army. I also did my best to live up to these standards. Sometimes I plunged into the barrage of enemy fire to rescue my men rom danger,\and sometimes I ventured to risk my life without hesitation, in spite of my comrades’ attempts to dissuade me. More than once I seized a machine-gun on the firing line\and got involved in a fierce engagement with the enemy. Strangely, however, nothing ever happened to me.


In the course of the struggle against ultra-democracy in the army, the guerrilla army Headquarters established the principle that company commanders\and higher-grade officers should refrain rom leading a charge. It is true that they refrained rom risking their lives since then in normal battle situations, but could they renounce their communist readiness to risk their own lives in the midst of crises?

 

During the Korean war, the Americans wasted great quantities of explosives in their attempts to kill me. For instance, when spies like Pak Hon Yong\and Ri Sung Yop, who were in the leadership of our Party, sent a radio message to their boss that I was going somewhere at some hour at a certain date, the Americans never failed to send their fighters\and bombers to carry out saturation bombing upon me. While at times bombs\dropped close to the Supreme Headquarters, they failed to touch me.


When I was engaged in underground work, travelling in civilian clothes around Jilin, Changchun, Harbin\and Kalun, I was protected by the DIU members, men of the Korean Revolutionary Army, members of the Young Communist League, the Anti-Imperialist Youth League\and the Children’s Expeditionary Corps, who were armed with pistols\or clubs. Everywhere I went I found protectors, people who helped me\and looked after me as they would their own sons\or brothers. Everywhere there were innumerable women, like “Aunt of Jiaohe”7 who saved me rom the enemy policemen shadowing.


Shang Yue, Zhang Wei-hua, Chen Han-zhang,\and other Chinese people\and communists also paid careful attention to my personal security. Whenever Chinese policemen appeared in my school, Mentor Shang Yue helped me to slip away over the wall,\and when I was being pursued by Chinese warlords Chen Han-zhang provided me with bed, board\and a hiding place. I have already spoken highly of Zhang Wei-hua as an exemplary internationalist for having sacrificed himself by drinking Adurol to save me. Whenever he met commanding officers of my unit, Zhou Bao-zhong exhorted them to take good care of me.


After the death of Wang De-tai, the 2nd Corps commander,\and of Cao Guo-an, the 2nd Division commander of the 1st Corps, the matter of personal security of commanding officers also began to be seriously discussed in the anti-Japanese armed units in eastern Manchuria. To our regret, Wang De-tai fell while leading a charge with his Mauser in hand.


Wang was a Chinese who had grown up in a Korean village in Yanji County\and once worked in Korea. He joined the guerrilla army in a Korean village. Probably for this reason, in the records of the Japanese authorities he was said to be a Korean. In the early days of his military career he belonged to the same squad as Choe Hyon. rom the rank\and file he fought his way up to a corps commander, an officer who came rom the working class\and remained a simple, straightforward man, popular among the masses.


The death of Wang De-tai, Cao Guo-an\and other military\and political cadres had a strong impact on the men\and officers of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army,\and triggered off a heated debate on the matter of security. In many units specialized guards were\organized.


In this context, my comrades held a great many discussions on forming a unit exclusively for the protection of Headquarters. At first they talked about the matter among themselves,\and having come to an agreement, they approached me with a proposal to form a guard unit.


I turned it down, for thus far our men\and officers had managed to protect Headquarters quite reliably without a specialized guard unit.


In the spring of 1937, however, I was unable to object to the idea any longer. Since the establishment of our secret camp in the Paektu mountains, the enemy had planted many spies\and subversive elements among\and around us. These spies were armed with axes\or daggers\or poison,\and even carried obscene pictures with them.


The enemy was in the habit of sending assassins to our secret camp\and to our unit whenever the latter was out on an expedition. Some of them wormed their way into underground\organizations, won confidence by feigned enthusiasm\and were even recommended to join the guerrilla army. They were constantly on the lookout for a chance to undermine Headquarters.


Japan’s secret service offered thousands of yen for the capture of Wei Zheng-min, Jon Kwang, Chen Han-zhang,\and different amounts of money for Choe Hyon, An Kil, Han In Hwa\and other renowned commanders. According to available information, an even greater sum was offered for me.


As the enemy was resorting to every conceivable means to destroy our Headquarters, we had to take countermeasures. Officers of my unit again insisted on taking positive step to safeguard Headquarters. Even Wei Zheng-min joined in to say:

“Commander Kim, you don’t look out for your own safety. That’s\where you are wrong. You must remember that the enemy is concentrating his attack on you. It’s with reason that he is offering more money for you than for any other comrade. We must hurry\and\organize a guard unit.”


I was obliged to accept his advice. Objecting to the idea that had been agreed upon by everyone would have amounted to narrow obstinacy.


In the spring of 1937 a Guard Unit was formally\organized, reporting directly to Headquarters. The event was masterminded by Kim Phyong, the head of the\organizational department of Headquarters. As I approved the formation of a company-size guard unit, he got down to the scheme with great enthusiasm. Overnight, he\selected the personnel\and made a list of the weapons needed for the unit.


I did not approve of the draft\organization: the list of the guards included the elite men\and women of every company— Kim Thaek Hwan who had distinguished himself in the battle of Xinancha, O Paek Ryong\and Kang Hung Sok, renowned machine-gunners, Giant Kang Wi Ryong,\and Kim Hwak Sil, famous as a woman general. Had they all been appointed to the Guard Company, the leadership in other companies would have crumbled.


Moreover, the weapons\and equipment allotted to the Guard Company were exorbitant. The head of the\organizational department had assigned several machine-guns to the Guard Company. In those days if those machine-guns were transferred to the Guard Company, the combat regiments would not have even one.


I expressed my disapproval:


“You haven’t\selected personnel properly, nor have you calculated the weapons\and equipment reasonably. What’s the use of a Guard Company if it is to weaken the combat power of other companies? If these basic combat units are neglected, the regiments will be weakened,\and if the regiments are weak, Headquarters itself will be like a flame flickering in the wind.”


“Comrade Commander, this is not my own personal opinion, but the consensus of the military\and political cadres, the masses. Please don’t turn it down.”


Kim Phyong tried to win my approval by stressing the word masses.

But I disapproved of his draft\organization\and dictated my own list to him, because that was the only way to prevent the officers rom continuing to pester me. My list of the personnel for the Guard Company included mainly recruits,\and even some boys rom the Children’s Corps at Maanshan8 who had had not much experience in shooting.


As soon as it was announced, my list met with strong objections rom the commanding officers. They delegated Ri Tong Baek to speak to me on their behalf, figuring that I would not ignore the old man’s advice. I was well aware that they used him as their representative whenever I refused to accept their proposals. “Tobacco Pipe” had always acquitted himself well. As usual he approached me\and came straight to the point.


“General, please don’t be too austere. Do you really mean to leave the security of Headquarters to the care of these greenhorns? You’ll be lucky if they don’t end up being a burden on you. Headquarters could get into a lot of trouble acting as parents to these children. You had better give up this idea right away.”


“You have nothing to fear rom a Guard Company made up of fresh soldiers,” I replied. “They will get used to fighting in no time. Remember how well they fought against the enemy’s ‘punitive’ attack last winter? How fast they got used to their new life in the guerrilla army? By the time the expedition is over, they all will be as strong as their veteran comrades. I am forming the Guard Company mainly with fresh men because I want to keep them close by my side\and train them into crack soldiers. It will be great to see them all grow up into first-class fighters\and become a reliable reserve force for Headquarters! No matter how inexperienced they might be in the life of the guerrilla army, they will become tough combat troops if we give them good training. Without able fighters, a victorious revolution would be inconceivable.”


“Tobacco Pipe” left me without saying anything further. He explained my ideas to the commanding officers,\and seeing that the old man supported me, the officers made no further objection.


The Guard Company, the first of its kind in the history of the revolutionary armed forces in our country, was born of this polemic at the Huapichangzi Secret Camp.


The company had three platoons\and a machine-gun section. Headquarters’\orderlies\and cooks were also a part of the\organizational life in the Guard Company. Ri Tong Hak was appointed the first commander. His reappointment as company commander after his demotion to rank\and file for his mistake raised his morale to the sky. He had been demoted for the inefficient education of his men, who violated the rules of work among the people. The mistake had been committed by his men, but he had been held responsible as their commander.


He addressed the newly\organized Guard Company with the rapidity of machine-gun fire:

“What is the basic mission of our company? To protect Headquarters. Our veteran revolutionary comrades have protected the General in good faith since the days in the guerrilla zone. Today they have turned over this duty to us. What are our circumstances? We are all fresh recruits, some of us barely more than boys. I am afraid that Headquarters might have to protect us, instead of being protected by us. I appeal to you: we must truly learn to protect Headquarters so as not to be protected by Headquarters ourselves!”


While his speech had made a strong impression on some of the guardsmen, others were not happy because they felt that they were being looked down upon.


Nevertheless, the company commander had not gone too far in his speech. His apprehension was not unfounded. It would be right to say that for some time in its early days we had to protect the Guard Company. The company had double duties, to protect Headquarters\and to fight as a combat unit. The guardsmen grew more mature with each passing day.


The boys in company behaved like men in doing everything in\order not to cause us any trouble. They hated it more than anything else to be treated as youngsters.


At one formal occasion the company commander happened to call the boys rom the Children’s Corps “chicks”. The boys were crushed by the word. Kim Jong Dok, who looked\and behaved more like a man than any of the boys rom Maanshan, was too gloomy to eat his evening meal.

 

Seeing that he was sitting mutely without eating supper, I asked, “Why are you sitting like that, not eating? Have you had any quarrel?”


“No, sir. Our comrade company commander called us ‘chicks’....” he mumbled, flushing.


I burst out laughing at his innocent reply.


“Was his ‘chicks’ really so bad? He meant that you were cute.” “That was not all he meant. Anyway, we are chicks, so how


can we protect Headquarters? I’m really puzzled about my duty.” The boy was glum, worrying over a possible failure to carry

out the heavy duty to protect Headquarters.


It seemed to me he had, in fact, grown up. He was seventeen years old after all,\and should not have been regarded as a child.

The mention of chicks reminds me of the sleeping hour, when the Guard Company youngsters used to nestle close to me like chicks, each trying to win a comfortable place under my wing. They were happiest when they could sleep by my side. In those days I had only one blanket. When they were all pressed close to my sides, I was very uncomfortable. But I saw it not as a burden, but as the greatest pleasure comparable to nothing.


When the sleeping hour came, I used to open my arms\and call out to the young guardsmen: “Boys, come here!” They used to cheer\and crowd around me, competing for the place next to me.


The closest places were usually occupied by the boys like Ri O Song, who was a little over 10 years old. Although I granted the privilege to the youngest boys, I changed the\order now\and then so that everyone might sleep by my side once in a while. When I confused the\order by mistake\and failed to treat them equally, they protested.


Once Kim Phyong happened to come to see me on some business at midnight\and found the guardsmen wrangling over sleeping places.

“Comrade Commander, look at them,” he said irritably. “How could you expect kids like these to perform guard duty? Judging rom their unruly behaviour in your presence, they will be good for nothing, let alone guardsmen. They need a good tongue-lashing to straighten them out.”

He looked sharply at the boys as he spoke. Having been dead against the appointment of the boys rom the Children’s Corps to the Guard Company in the first place, Kim Phyong was now overly critical of them.

I thought he was right, but I said in defence of the boys, “What’s the use of scolding them? They are just vying for the best place to sleep, craving for the warmth\and affection of their parents\and brothers.”


A mass of people sleeping under one blanket was called a ttabari (a round-shaped head pad for a woman carrying a heavy load on her head). A dozen of us used to sleep in a circle, with our feet in the centre under the blanket. Sleeping in ttabari-shape, invented by the boys themselves, was very practical for guerrillas, who were always short of blankets\or had to sleep in the open.


At one point immediately after liberation, Ri O Song, who was working in the Hyesan area, came to me to report on his work. In those days we were living at the foot of Haebang Hill,\where the Party Foundation Museum is now located. At these quarters my comrades\and I shared bed\and board for some time, as we had done in the mountain. The comrades working out in the provinces used to come to the quarters when they were back in Pyongyang,\and Ri O Song was one of them.


At the sleeping hour, the veterans began to spread quilts. Seeing this, Ri O Song pushed aside the quilts, saying, “When we sleep with the General, we must sleep like a ttabari.” The comrades rom northern Manchuria did not know what Ri O Song meant.

Ri O Song pulled me by the arm\and asked, “General, won’t you sleep like a ttabari tonight, as we used to do on Mt. Paektu?”


I did not readily agree. If we were to sleep as he proposed, I would have to draw all the veterans into a ttabari,\and I did not think they would like such fun.


Seeing that I was hesitating, Ri O Song pulled me to the quilt all of a sudden\and said, “Please lie down here, bending your legs a little. Comrade Kim Chaek, please lie down on the General’s right side,\and Comrade Choe Hyon next to him. The General’s left side is my place.”


Even Kim Chaek was compelled into the ttabari by these preposterous\orders.

Although I loved the Guard Company boys very much, I was not indulgent with them. When they made a mistake, I criticized them severely,\and gave them many difficult tasks to harden them. Even in the dead of winter, when the temperature was -40°C, I would post them on guard duty in the howling snowstorm. Sometimes they were sent with their veteran comrades into heavy fighting. When they violated discipline, they were made to criticize themselves before different companies,\or reflect on their own behaviour for hours, standing in a round space no more than a square metre in size. While meting out such punishments, I felt my own heart aching more than once.


It was fortunate that none of them thought ill of me\or blamed me, no matter how severely I criticized them\or how hard I trained them. Once Ri O Song lost his way on an errand, which delayed the errand. He did not follow the route I had assigned to him, but changed it as he pleased. I knew that he was wrong, but I did not criticize him. My unusual forgiveness made him very sad.


“Am I not worthy of the Comrade Commander’s criticism? Does he still consider me to be a snivelling child?” He was tormented by this thought,\and finally came to me\and asked why I did not punish him as I had punished other comrades when they made mistakes. He begged me to punish him.


Where there is true affection\and trust, punishment can be regarded as a sign of confidence. The guardsmen accepted criticism\and punishment without grumble. That was reward for the genuine love\and confidence we bestowed upon them.


We made a special effort to help them with their studies so as to ensure their development. Both in everyday life\and during intensive political\and military training sessions at secret camps, I was their teacher. At Headquarters in those days there were Dong-A Ilbo, Manson Ilbo, Joson Ilbo\and other Korean\and foreign newspapers, Problems of Leninism, Outline of Socialism, State\and Revolution\and other publications helpful to the men in widening their mental horizons. The guardsmen were granted the privilege of reading all these materials. In return they were obliged to submit written\or\oral impressions of their readings. In the meantime, the Guard Company became a model in studying that the rest of the People’s Revolutionary Army was to follow. Love is reciprocated,\and our loving care of the guardsmen was rewarded.


The guardsmen developed quickly both in ideology\and in military practice. They did an excellent job of performing their duty to protect Headquarters. To be honest, they helped me out of many dangers.


Once we were surrounded by the enemy’s “special force”, led by Rim Su San, in a secret camp in Antu County. Rim Su San had been chief of staff of our main force. He had turned traitor\and had become the commander of a “special force” specializing in “punitive” operations against the guerrilla army. He prowled around West Jiandao, destroying the secret camps of our supporting units.

 

On that morning we had eaten breakfast very early in\order to leave the secret camp. Everyone had to eat breakfast quickly\and hurry up for our departure, so there was no one to relieve the sentry. Ri Ul Sol was standing guard. I myself relieved him. While he was eating, I was on the alert. It was a foggy morning\and I felt a bad omen.


In fact, I had the suspicion of a human presence near the guard post, having caught the snap of a dead twig. Judging it to be the enemy instantly, I threw myself down behind a fallen tree, shooting my Mauser at the sound. Almost simultaneously an enemy machine-gun opened fire rom a distance of little more than 10 metres.


It was an instant that I dove behind the fallen tree\and shot after detecting the enemy presence that morning. Almost at the same time Kang Wi Ryong\and Ri Ul Sol, who had been eating, rushed out to the sentry post, fearing for my safety. Kang Wi Ryong pulled me rom behind the fallen tree with all his strength. Meanwhile, Ri Ul Sol opened light machine-gun fire at the enemy. Frankly speaking, I wondered if that wasn’t our last moment. As Kang, whose nickname was Bear, was struggling to pull me back rom the fallen tree I was grimly resolved to share death with my men.


But my loyal men saved me rom death by exposing themselves to the barrage of enemy fire. As the enemy closed in to surround us, Ri Ul Sol stood up with his grenade in his hand\and shouted at them, “Come on then, let’s die together!”


He looked so overwhelming, so threatening, that the enemy hesitated. Kang Wi Ryong lost no time in rescuing me completely rom the barrage of enemy fire.


After our withdrawal rom the secret camp, Rim Su San plundered the camp, taking everything. We lost precious documents, photographs, pamphlets\and drugs.

 

When the “special force” was gone, I went back to the secret camp\and looked round the sentry post. The top half of an entire thicket of bush clover had been slashed off, as if sliced with a razor. The enemy’s machine-gun fire had been very heavy. Seeing that, I said to the boys who had saved me, “Had it not been for you comrades, I would have gone to the next world.”


The news of the guardsmen’s performance in protecting me reached the Chinese commanding officers of the neighbouring units. They had always been envious of our clever\orderlies\and guardsmen. When they met me they used to ask me by way of a joke to make them a present of a good\orderly\or to give them any of my guardsmen who spoke a little Chinese. Yang Jing-yu, Wei Zheng-min, Zhou Bao-zhong\and Cao Ya-fan were all covetous of the guardsmen\or\orderlies of our main force.


After the expedition to Fusong, Cao Ya-fan asked me to\select a Korean\orderly for him. I sent to him Kim Thaek Man, the best of my\orderlies, telling him to take good care of Cao. During the struggle against the “Minsaengdan”9, Cao had wronged the Koreans extremely\and interfered with my activity, but I did not reject him\or refuse to comply with his request, which was made after much consideration. When the new division was\organized, he was supposed to come to our main force as political commissar, but I did not agree with his appointment, because I could not guarantee security to his person. Many people in my unit had been wronged by Cao Ya-fan during the anti-“Minsaengdan” struggle,\and they all hated him. Because of this, I myself became the political commissar of my unit.


True to my instructions, Kim Thaek Man took excellent care of Cao Ya-fan. Cao thanked me on many occasions for sending such a fine\orderly to him, praising him as a clever, loyal young man.


Yang Jing-yu also repeatedly requested that I give him a good man. When he came to Nanpaizi to attend the meeting of military and political cadres rom the 1st Corps\and 2nd Corps, I turned over several of my\orderlies to him. I also detached hundreds of men\and commanding officers rom my unit\and formed an independent brigade for him.


Wei Zheng-min, too, wished to have men we had trained. He was so keen on having Korean guardsmen that I sent Hwang Jong Hae\and Paek Hak Rim to him. Kim Chol Ho, Jon Mun Uk, Im Un Ha, Kim Tuk Su\and some others were also with him for some time. They all helped him\and protected him loyally. At one time Zhou Bao-zhong appointed Pak Rak Kwon, a Korean, as the commander of his guards. Chen Han-zhang, commander of the 3rd Directional Army, had Son Myong Jik rom the Children’s Corps at Maanshan as his chief\orderly.


Whenever I heard that the comrades I had sent to the Chinese commanders were fighting in a self-sacrificing way in different units of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army for fulfilling internationalist duty, I felt highly satisfied.


The men of the Guard Company were all my “guardian angels”. Beside the men I mentioned above, there were innumerable other comrades-in-arms who protected me—for instance, Kim Un Sin, Choe Won Il, Kim Hak Song, Han Ik Su, Jon Mun Sop, Kim Hong Su, Choe In Dok, Choe Kum San, Jo Myong Son, Ji Pong Son, Kim Pong Sok, Ri Hak Song, Ri Tu Ik, O Jae Won.... As their names flash through my mind, thousands


and tens of thousands of complex events rom the past loom up in my memory.


Ri Tong Hak, the first Guard Company commander, was promoted to a regimental commander. He died heroically in a battle towards the end of 1938.


Ri Tal Gyong, who had become the Guard Company commander when Ri Tong Hak was promoted, had been a machine-gunner for the 4th Division. He was a crack shot, an excellent marksman whose name was known to everyone. He had been the political instructor of the Guard Company for some time,\and succeeded to Ri Tong Hak when the latter moved up to the position of regimental commander. Sadly, he fell in battle less than a month after his appointment as the Guard Company commander.


Pak Su Man, who took over the post of Guard Company commander after Ri Tal Gyong, was a really courageous man. In\order to divert enemy fire, which had been concentrated on me at the battle of Shuangshanzi, he\and his machine-gunner fought by moving rom place to place, but Pak Su Man was fatally wounded.


The successive Guard Company commanders, ranging rom the first commander Ri Tong Hak to the fourth commander O Paek Ryong, did not hesitate to undertake whatever arduous task I asked them to perform. They would have gone through fire\and water to carry out my\orders.


Among the comrades who laid down their own lives to protect me was a teenager named Ri Kwon Haeng. He followed me\and respected me as he would have followed\and respected his own brother.


One winter we were on a forced march, pursued by the enemy. It was unusually cold, but I did not feel my feet to be cold, although we were walking in the snow. I thought it strange, so I took off my shoes to find that soft pads of Carex meyeriana Kunth had been laid into them like insoles. An\orderly whispered to me that it was the work of Ri Kwon Haeng.


Chinese regard insam, young deer antlers\and marten as the three treasures of Kwantung (Northeast China),\and also considered Carex meyeriana Kunth to be one of the three treasures, for it kept our feet rom being frost-bitten in the coldest weather. I knew the plant grew only in wet land, so how did it come to be spread in my shoes? Probably the boy had picked it little by little whenever he found it\and saved it up in his pack for me.


Had he not shielded me with his body in the battle of Shiwudaogou, Changbai County, I would not have survived. On that day the enemy was concentrating fire upon the C. P. Ri Kwon Haeng insisted on moving the C. P. to a safe place, but I declined, for it was a vantage-point which commanded a good view of both our own\and enemy forces.


The enemy’s fire was suddenly directed at me. At this critical moment, the boy stretched his arms open\and covered me with his body. An enemy bullet crushed his leg-bone. How could I describe my grief as I held the bleeding boy in my arms\and saw the wound?


“You won’t die! You won’t die!” I encouraged him as I followed his stretcher.

“Comrade Commander, I won’t die. Don’t worry about me....


Please take care of yourself until we see again.” He was consoling me instead. Perhaps I looked very sad to him. Those were the last words he spoke to me. I heard that he had written to me rom the hospital in the rear, but the letter did not reach me. All that I heard of him was that he had been captured by the enemy while he was receiving treatment in the hospital,\and that he had refused to reveal the secret of the location of Headquarters. He would not stain his revolutionary honour even though he was brutally tortured to death at the Changbai County police station.


In the Guard Company was a comrade called “Rucksack”, so nicknamed because he always carried a rucksack on his back. Nobody knew why he toted around such a bulky object on his back.


The secret of the rucksack was revealed at a battle in Linjiang. The battle was a fierce one. On that particular day comrade “Rucksack” stuck close to me all day. Whenever bullets thudded into the parapet, I pulled him low\and would not allow him to raise his head lest he be wounded. He would slip away rom my grip\and cling to my right side whenever the enemy was attacking rom the right side,\and close in on my left side whenever the enemy was attacking rom the left side.

When the battle was over, a thick smell of burning wool hovered over the trench. I looked around\and, to my surprise, saw a coil of smoke rising rom two bullet holes in the pack of comrade “Rucksack”. Unaware of it, the boy was shouting at his comrades that somebody’s clothes were on fire. Some other men snatched his pack rom him\and opened it. rom thick folds of silk wool, two hot bullets rolled out. It was only now that I realized why he had hung around me with the rucksack on his back.\and after all, his silk wool had saved me rom danger.


I asked the boy how he had hit upon the bright idea. He replied that Comrade Kim Jong Suk, while making my winter clothes lined with silk wool, had said that silk wool was bullet-proof. Hearing that, he had made up his mind to make a bullet-proof pack for me.


It would be difficult to describe in this short account all the distinguished services rendered by the guardsmen in the war against the Japanese imperialists. I must emphasize that the exploits they performed to protect the lifeline of the Korean revolution are worthy of the praise\and respect of generations to come. Their noble, comradely\and steadfast devotion to the revolutionary Headquarters is the source of the single-hearted loyalty\and integrity that is now flowering in our society.


Drawing on my experiences in the years of the revolution against the Japanese, I formed a bodyguard company of teenage children, of revolutionary martyrs, the company to guard the security of Supreme Headquarters, during the Fatherland Liberation War.

Men of the Bodyguard Company went through many difficulties\and dangers to protect me. One winter’s day, on my way back rom a visit to a Chinese People’s Volunteers unit in Songchon for joint operations with them, I was caught in an air-raid. At that time the guardsmen compelled me to throw myself down into a furrow in a field. They then shielded me by covering me in a human shield of double, triple\and quadruple layers. Similar actions took place on many occasions after that.


It was the peerlessly courageous Bodyguard Company that remained with me in Pyongyang until the last hour to protect Supreme Headquarters throughout the arduous days of the temporary strategic retreat in the autumn of 1950.

A sudden change in the tide of war, which had gone rom a sweeping advance to the south into the sudden retreat, dispirited the people in the capital city. They all turned to Supreme Headquarters for the Supreme Commander’s speech about the prospects of the war.


In my radio address I said that the retreat was temporary\and appealed to the people to launch guerrilla actions in all parts of the country. I assured them that we would emerge victorious. I also told the Bodyguard Company to march, singing songs, through the streets of the city. The Bodyguards were dumbfounded at the unexpected\orders. Their looks seemed to say, “Why a peaceful singing parade when the enemy’s guns are rumbling across the River Taedong?” The next moment, however, my\orders to march had convinced them of victory,\and they marched through the streets, singing The Song of National Defence.


As the voices of the bodyguard company rang suddenly\and loudly across the streets of the capital, which had been depressed by the prospects of retreat, thousands of civilians ran out to the streets to exclaim, “That’s the Bodyguard Company!

Bodyguard Company!” “The Bodyguard Company is by our side. So the Supreme Commander will be near us.”


Only when all the institutions in Pyongyang had started their retreat did the Bodyguard Company leave the capital with me.

The guardsmen in the days of the anti-Japanese war are now well over 60 years old.

The third\and fourth generations of the revolutionaries have now taken their place as guardsmen of the Party Central Committee\and the Supreme Headquarters. Generations have been replaced by generations, but new guard companies\and new bodyguards have been growing up continuously. Does one need to count their number?


All the army\and all the people are guardsmen\and bodyguards who protect the Party\and the revolution.




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[Reminiscences]Chapter 16. Crossing\and Recrossing the River Amnok  2. Hundreds of Miles rom Xiaotanghe at One Go



 

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