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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 18 3. Getting the Peasantry Prepared

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 18 3. Getting the Peasantry Prepared

  

   

 

 

3. Getting the Peasantry Prepared 

 

 The new situation prevailing after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War made it imperative to prepare for an all-people resistance. We evolved a plan of achieving national liberation by strengthening our forces in advance\and, when the time came, combining the military operations of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army with a nationwide resistance.


Resistance involving all the people would be inconceivable without the participation of the peasantry, which made up the overwhelming majority of the population in our country. Some people contended that the peasantry could not constitute the main force of the revolution because, unlike the industrial working class, they lacked the sense of\organization\and consciousness. But we had a different opinion. If provided with correct leadership\and knitted together through\organization, the peasant masses could be a great revolutionary force. I had already experienced it during the harvest struggle in 1931. Through our practical experience we were convinced that they could become a mighty resistance force if they were trained along a revolutionary line.


Our ancestors left us with a legacy of backward\and poor agriculture. When others were ploughing fields, sowing seeds\and harvesting by machine, the peasants in our country tilled the land\and grew crops by primitive manual labour. Shackled by feudal fetters, they were harshly exploited by the landlord class\and feudal rulers for generations\and subjected to maltreatment\and contempt.

 

Their living conditions grew even worse with the occupation of our country by the Japanese imperialists. Owing to the “Land Survey Act”, the “Plan for Increased Rice Production”, the “policy of exiling Korean peasants to Manchuria”,\and other thieving, predatory policies on the part of the Japanese imperialists, the rural communities\and agriculture of Korea were devastated\and the impoverishment of the peasants was further accelerated.


In the early days of their occupation of Korea the Japanese imperialists plundered our peasants of hundreds of thousands of hectares of land under the “Land Survey Act”\and distributed it among the Government-General,\oriental Development Company, Fuji Industrial Stock Co.\and other colonial development companies, as well as among Japanese people immigrating rom Japan itself.


Later Japan announced the “Plan for Increased Rice Production”, then followed it tenaciously. This was done to tide over the food crisis threatening Japan\and to make huge profits by exporting a large amount of capital to Korean rural communities.


The “Korean Civil Law”, made public by the Japanese imperialists, reads in part, “...even though he has suffered a loss in his farming due to force majeure, a sharecropper cannot claim exemption\or reduction in his farm rent.” This was none other than a proclamation to prevent by law the struggle of the Korean peasants to improve their conditions. It meant that even on the brink of starvation the tenants were to remain quiet\and uncomplaining. In this way, the Government-General in Korea rom the outset institutionalized the exploitation of peasants by the Japanese farm owners\and landlord class. Considering the actual situation of the Korean rural communities,\where tenants accounted for a majority of the farming population, it is not difficult to imagine the living conditions of our peasants, who were shackled by this “Civil Law”. The cruel practice of exploitation by the insatiable Japanese imperialists\and the landlords, who were bent on squeezing a maximum amount of rice rom their tenants, was so outrageous that it might have put even a beast to shame. The\oriental Development Company stationed its resident official\or caretaker in every province\and farm\and under him a farm superintendent, so as to strictly guard\and control its tenants. If a tenant failed to pay his rent in time,\or showed any sign of being “remiss” in farming,\or opposed the owner of the farm, they cancelled the contract for sharecropping right away\and took back the tenanted land.


The Japanese farm owners had their own private prisons\where they detained any tenant who complained to the farm authorities\or even demanded the simple right to existence. When in my Changdok School days I read a newspaper article that at the Nakahara Farm Japanese armed with rifles tailed after the Korean peasants as they worked in the fields, threatening to shoot\and kill anyone they considered sluggish, I felt so furious I could not sleep.

Every year the Japanese imperialists shipped to Japan 7-10 million sok of rice (one sok is equivalent to 20 pecks), rice produced by the sweat\and blood of the Korean peasants. Instead they brought in millet\and defatted-bean-cakes rom Manchuria as food for the Korean people. How indignant the Korean people were, having to eat rotten millet because they had been plundered of their rich rice by the Japanese!


Even the Korean landlords, under the aegis of the Government-General, harshly exploited the peasants as if in a competition. Their agents\and usurers also joined them.


The reactionary agricultural policy pursued by the Japanese imperialists accelerated class differentiation in the rural communities in Korea. A massive exodus rom rural communities\and the formation of a new social stratum, called slash-and-burn peasants, were the pitiable result of colonial class differentiation. The peasants who could no longer live in their native villages went deep into the mountains\or to no-man’s-land to eke out a living through farming on land felled of trees. But even this way of farming was not secure, as the Government-General launched

a “campaign to expel slash-and-burn peasants” on excuse of “forest conservancy”\and “prevention of forest fires”. While operating in West Jiandao, I met many peasants who had been expelled rom slash-and-burn farming. A massive emigration of Korean peasants was inevitable.

In their places the Japanese imperialists shipped in a great number of immigrants rom Japan, which was experiencing difficulties rom a sudden population increase\and lack of grain. They schemed to bring 4 million Japanese peasants to Korea in the first 15-year period of the “Plan for Increased Rice Production”. Tanaka Kiichi had\originally had the Constitutional Institute of Japan publish in September 1925 the “plan for the emigration of 10 million Japanese to Korea”. After becoming Prime Minister, he established the Department of Overseas Affairs\and buckled down to the execution of the emigration plan. What would happen to Korea if the surplus 10 million people were shipped into Korea? Our nation would stifle under the avalanche of the Japanese.


The reactionary agricultural policy of the Japanese imperialists ruined the livelihood of the peasants in the rural areas of Korea\and sharpened national, social\and class contradictions.

As a result the peasant masses rose up for their right to existence.

Peasant\organizations such as the Tenants’ Cooperative, the Mutual Aid Society of Tenants, the Association of Fellow Peasants,\and the Tenants’\union emerged in our country after the March First Popular Uprising. A typical early\organization that represented the rights\and interests of the peasants was the Tenants’ Cooperative.


Tenant disputes were the main trend of the peasant movement in our country under Japanese imperialist rule. The disputes in the 1920s raised in general such economic slogans as “obtaining tenant rights\and reducing farm rents” under the leadership of the tenants’ cooperatives. The peasant\union was the leading form of\organization in the peasant movement in our country before liberation. This type of\organization put forward slogans reflecting political demands as well as economic slogans for survival, in keeping with the developing situation.


The first mass\organization that involved the whole country was the Workers’ Mutual-Aid Society of Korea. The society had a peasant department,\or a tenant department, embracing a large number of tenants,\and rendered a considerable contribution to the development of the peasant movement.


The early peasant movement experienced many twists\and turns.

As the tenant disputes grew intensive, the Japanese imperialists mobilized police to suppress them with the force of arms\and arrested at random the standard-bearers of the peasant movement. At the same time, they resorted to nefarious schemes to appease the peasants\and divide the peasant force by using kept\unions under the control of the “Peasant Association of Korea”.


The tortuous experience of the early peasant movement was also due largely to the harmful influence of the non-revolutionary national reformists\and the early communists. The majority of the leaders who\organized\and guided the peasant movement in those days were not true peasants. They included a considerable number of petit-bourgeois intellectuals\and national reformists,\and this was unavoidable in view of the then social\and historical conditions.

 

The national reformists, who had wormed their way into the leadership of the peasant movement, inculcated the “theory of non-violence” in the unsophisticated peasants. They preached that tenants should not argue to no avail with the landowners, but instead understand them\and live in harmony with them,\and that this would settle the disputes between the tenants\and landowners as naturally as snow melting in the spring breeze.


Quite a few early communists numbered in the leadership of the peasant movement. As the tide of the peasant movement began to rise, they heated up the factional strife in\order to bring the peasant\organizations under the influence of their own factions. But their factional strife for the expansion of their own cliques in disregard of the interests of the peasants did serious harm to the peasant movement. Bitter feuds\and hostilities broke out between the peasant\organizations\and within the\organizations themselves, crippling many of them. Nevertheless, the peasants continued their struggle despite such difficulties.


They answered the enemy’s counterrevolutionary violence with revolutionary violence. The revolt of the peasant masses in the Fuji Farm in Ryongchon\and the large-scale uprising of the peasants in the Tanchon\and Yonghung (Kumya) areas in the late 1920s are typical examples. The tenant dispute at the Fuji Farm was a violent mass struggle, waged together with the young communists of the new generation rom the Down-with-Imperialism\union, who were operating in the Ryongchon area.


The Red International of Labour\unions\and its subordinate\organization, the secretariat of the Pan-Pacific Labour\unions, proposed on several occasions between the end of the 1920s\and the early 1930s to the Pacific countries to\organize Red labour\and peasant\unions. In response to the proposal, concrete measures were taken in Korea to form such\organizations.


As a result, new Red peasant\unions began to spring up rom the early 1930s in our country,\and existing peasant\unions were also reorganized into Red peasant\unions. “Red”\and “Left” were the terms used to distinguish revolutionary\organizations rom non-revolutionary reformism. In those days the term “Red” was used widely in the circle of the communist movement.

The overwhelming majority of the Red peasant\unions were concentrated in northern Korea.

In the 1920s most of the peasant\organizations were in the southern part of the country,\and tenant disputes arose more frequently in the south than in the north, because a greater number of peasant households existed in the southern region, with its heavily populated Honam Plain.


By the early 1930s things had begun to change. The main front of the peasant movement shifted rom the south to the north. The number of revolutionary peasant\organizations had grown\and the fierce peasant struggle was greater in the north than in the south. The main reason for the south-north movement was that Mt. Paektu was the strategic centre of the Korean revolution\and the northern region was geographically close to Jiandao\and the Soviet\union.


The Red peasant\unions on the other hand were\organized not only in the northern region of Korea but also in the southern provinces.


The anti-Japanese armed struggle of the Korean communists in Northeast China\and in the northern border area of Korea provided favourable soil on which the Red peasant\unions were to thrive. To be candid, all the peasant\organizations that emerged in northern Korea after the start of the anti-Japanese armed struggle were\organized by the people in the homeland in the course of the anti-Japanese struggle, waged in cooperation with us. They were not a spontaneous growth. The decision in the case of a peasant\union in Myongchon recorded in the court proceeding\and kept by the Hamhung district court, contained the following paragraph: “As a result of that struggle, the offices of the Yanji County administration\and the branch office of the Japanese consulate were destroyed by fire\and there was an engagement with the Japanese troops, who later made a retreat. The\union embarked on the road of revolutionary struggle under the general command of Kim Il Sung.”


This is a typical example of the activities the peasant\unions in northern Korea conducted at the time as a result of the anti-Japanese armed struggle.

However, the peasant movement led by the Red peasant\unions revealed shortcomings that could not be overlooked, owing to the harmful manoeuvres of the Left opportunists\and national reformists.


After putting a Red cap on the peasant\unions, the Left opportunists fenced them in\and pursued a closed-door policy. They defined all the people working on the land, except tenants, poor peasants\and hired farmhands, as hostile class\or wavering stratum,\and kept them off the fence of peasant\unions.


Patriotic middle peasants\and landowners with a strong anti-Japanese spirit dared not join the Red peasant\unions. I heard that in a certain village there were wells exclusively for the Red peasant\union members\and those for people other than\union members; one can easily imagine the extent of the closed-door policy at the time.


The closed-door policy pursued by the Red\unions damped the patriotic enthusiasm of the nonmembers\and compelled them to approach all the undertakings of the\unions with hostility. It also alienated the children of\union members rom those of nonmembers.


Another defect in the activities of the Red peasant\unions was their “knockout” way of working. Their members regarded going to extremes as an expression of their revolutionary spirit. For instance, when the leadership of the\union called on its members to do away with superstition, the members went near churches\and threw stones at the windows\or pulled down the crosses rom their roofs. They destroyed mountain shrines\and trampled on the offerings there. Worse still, they snatched bibles rom religious believers in public\and tore them up. When told to get rid of the practice of early marriage, they waylaid bridegrooms who had gone to bring brides on horseback\and seized their horses\or simply detained the bridegrooms in\order to scuttle the marriage ceremony. In such cases, the young bridegrooms often ran home, scared out of their senses,\or wept in panic.


Although they performed many laudable undertakings for national\and class liberation in conformity with the situation, the peasant\union\organizations sometimes behaved in an uncouth manner. In consequence, some people disagreed with everything they did.


We considered the weakest point in the activities of the Red peasant\unions to be the fact that they had not adopted clear strategic\and tactical measures for protecting themselves. As a consequence, they had no guard against either enemy suppression\or the harmful schemes of the factionalists\and national reformists.


Many of the\unions exposed themselves unnecessarily. For example, they should have seen that different wells for their own members\and for nonmembers would expose every member of their\organization; however, their leaders ignored such common sense. The enemy’s spies could instantly see through the windows of their own houses who was fetching water rom the well for the\union members.


Some of the\union\organizations kept lists of members\and a register of the payment of their dues, just as the peripheral organizations of government parties do nowadays. This was another cause for the exposure of the\organizations. Whenever police raided their secret workplaces, they would seize these lists\and ferret out the members to the last man, arresting 200\or 300 of them at a time.

These few examples show that the peasant\unions ignored the need to keep strict secrecy\and security\and confronted the enemy in a naked state, exposing themselves recklessly. This habit gave the enemy the opportunity to destroy the peasant\union\organizations totally.


They had no system of ensuring solidarity\and concerted action among themselves.

All these shortcomings were due to the weakness\and immaturity of those who headed the peasant movement in our country, which lacked a correct communist leadership. Those who guided the movement had neither scientific methods nor correct strategy\or tactics for developing the movement.


In spite of these weaknesses\and\limitations, however, the Red peasant\unions rendered a significant contribution to the development of our peasant movement. The steadfast leaders of the peasant\unions\and the\organized peasant masses waged an unremitting struggle against Japanese imperialism\and landlords to realize their political\and economic demands, not yielding to repeated roundups by the Japanese imperialists.


We attached great importance to the courage, mass character\and indefatigability of the peasants, all of which had been demonstrated in the peasant\union movement. It was absolutely correct that we regarded the peasantry, along with the working class, as a component in the main force of an all-people resistance.


The outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War gave us a possibility to speed up the preparations for national resistance. A very important matter in these preparations was how to awaken the peasant masses, who accounted for more than 80 per cent of the country’s population, to a revolutionary consciousness\and how to\organize them. Training the peasantry in the homeland, along with the working class, to take a revolutionary course was a lifeline we had to adhere to in the anti-Japanese revolution.

I believed that one of the most effective methods of preparing the peasants into a force in the all-people resistance was to restructure the peasant\organizations in the homeland to be subordinate to the ARF.

Nevertheless, many of our military\and political cadres regarded the\organizations in the homeland in a negative way, branding them as either Leftist\or Rightist. They held the view that we had to form new peasant\organizations, totally ignoring the\organizations of the past.


To consider the former peasant\organizations\and movements as negligible\or unworthy of revitalizing\and restructuring was nihilism. Such a nihilistic view was contrary to the requirements of the communist movement itself\and to the purport of the Inaugural Declaration of the ARF; worse still, as it was tantamount to abandoning the foundation\and success achieved by the peasant movement in the previous years, it was utterly destructive in rallying the peasants.


My plan was to rally under the banner of the anti-Japanese national united front all the existing\organizations in disregard of their names\and the greatness of the success they had achieved as long as they were determined to fight against the Japanese aggressors, imperialism\and feudalism. The point in question was how to restructure the tottering peasant\unions in accordance with the meaning of the Ten-Point Programme\and the Inaugural Declaration of the ARF.


At a meeting of commanding officers to discuss the preparation of an all-people resistance we adopted the policy of restructuring all the labour\and peasant\unions in the homeland as ARF subordinate\organizations,\or at least putting them under its influence. This policy meant extending our direct leadership over the revolutionary movement in the homeland. In line with this policy we\selected political operatives to be dispatched to the homeland.


In our revolutionary ranks in those days were many comrades who had been engaged in the peasant\union movement back home, among them Kim Yong Guk\and An Tok Hun. In West Jiandao, the nearest area of our operations, there were many people who had been involved in the Korean independence movement\and the peasant\union movement.


We guided the peasant movement in the homeland through various channels.


The pivotal role in this effort was played by the political operatives\selected rom among the comrades of our main force\and by the members of the ARF\organizations trained in West Jiandao. In\order to understand the exploits they performed in transforming the peasant movement in Korea, it will be sufficient to examine the activities of the political operatives in the southern part of North Hamgyong Province.


After the foundation of the ARF we sent to this area Jo Jong Chol, Ryu Kyong Su, Choe Kyong Hwa, Jo Myong Sik,\and other tested political operatives. In the homeland they were acquainted with the hardcore members of peasant\unions; they\selected clever people rom among them\and sent them to us\and to the peasant\union\organizations in other areas.


Ho Song Jin, a leader of the peasant\union in Songjin, got in touch with us through the good offices of Ri Pyong Son, a political operative\and former member of a peasant\union. Ho came as far as West Jiandao at my call. Owing to the aftereffects of the raid on the Jungphyong Mine, he could not see me, but he succeeded in getting our line on the revolutionary movement in the homeland through Pak Tal in Kapsan. On returning to his native village, he conveyed the policy to a meeting of exiles rom three southern counties of North Hamgyong Province, held in September 1937. After the meeting our revolutionary line, including the strategy of a united front, was propagated widely in North Hamgyong Province.


Political operatives went among the revolutionaries\and activists of peasant\unions deep in the homeland\and made untiring efforts to convert them to our ideas of an all-people resistance\and an anti-Japanese national united front. They also tried to build up\organizations by restructuring the peasant\union\organizations as ARF subordinate\organizations,\or by putting them under its influence.


Thanks to this joint effort of the political operatives rom the KPRA\and the steadfast peasant\union leaders, significant changes took place in the peasant movement in the homeland.


Most noteworthy of the peasant\unions in the homeland was their ardent yearning for the anti-Japanese guerrilla army.

The report on the internal\and international situations delivered at the fellowship conference of women in Myongchon in autumn 1936 reads in part, “A worker-peasant soviet was established in Shijiudaogou. Kim Il Sung has\organized propaganda squads\and crossed over to Korea to engage in propaganda\and agitation....


Comrades, it is certain that Kim Il Sung will march on to Korea hereafter.” Around that time a resolution drawn up by a peasant\union in that area reads this way: “Changbai County! In\order to set up a soviet, a battle was fought in Shijiudaogou. As a result, 3,000 tons of timber, a forestry office\and Japanese consulate were burnt down,\and eight enemy stooges were abducted. The Japanese troops withdrew after the engagement. This revolutionary fight was fought under the general command of Kim Il Sung.” In its special edition on the October Revolution the newspaper of the peasant\union in Kilju, Pulgun Chumo, carried a slogan, “Let us strongly support Kim Il Sung’s unit.” All these show clearly the vehement political character\and rapid development of the peasant movement in the days of the Red peasant\unions, as compared to the peasant movement in the previous years, when it had stuck mainly to economic issues.


The revolutionary\organizations in the homeland, including the Red peasant\unions, followed the activities of the People’s Revolutionary Army with wonder. This constituted a favourable condition for effecting our leadership over the revolutionary movement.


Under our leadership an epoch-making change took place in the line of the peasant movement in Korea.


First of all, the Red peasant\unions in Korea\dropped their bias for class struggle\and directed the spearhead of their struggle towards Japanese imperialism. In one peasant\union document there is the following paragraph: “The task facing the peasant\union is to direct the masses’ complaints\and discontent with Japan towards revolutionary action.” This is a reflection of the trend.


The steadfast leaders of the peasant movement in the homeland rallied greater numbers of people than ever to the peasant\unions. A record of a meeting of forerunners in a certain area shows that the peasant movement leaders at the time adopted the idea of admitting to the grassroots\organizations of the peasant\unions not only poor peasants, but activists rom all strata, including middle peasants\and rich farmers. The generally accepted qualifications for membership of a peasant\union, irrespective of social class, namely the habit of observing discipline, the ability to keep secrets\and a strong fighting spirit, accorded with the purport of the Inaugural Declaration\and the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF. One Red peasant\union established subcommittees of petit bourgeoisie\and pupils\and recruited shop keepers, shop assistants, restaurant managers, middlemen, commercial capitalists, day labourers\and even pupils rom primary schools.

Some of those\organizations took positive measures to enlist conscientious landowners in the anti-Japanese struggle, admitting landowners to propaganda squads when guiding the struggle against the laying of roads. They planted their members in the Self-Defence Corps\and other lower ruling\organs of Japanese imperialism\and\organizations on its pay-roll\and gradually “made them Red”, thereby efficiently combining both a lawful struggle\and illegal one. A pamphlet they had published pointed out that the theory of “denying legal possibilities” was Leftist opportunism. It further advised that all legal possibilities be utilized skilfully.


Several of them kept closely in touch with each other while keeping up independent activities, taking joint action with one another, rom exchange of information on their actual situations to the choice of the method of struggle\and the setting of their fighting goal.


These changes taking place in the Red peasant\union movement under our influence provided a favourable condition for transforming the existing peasant\organizations in a revolutionary fashion.


Hand in hand with the comrades in the homeland, our political operatives got down to a revolutionary restructuring of the peasant\organizations. Thus, in many parts of North\and South Hamgyong Provinces there sprang up a great number of ARF\organizations based on the former peasant\unions. Many ARF\organizations, including the Sinuiju chapter, expanded their influence over the peasants living around the middle reaches of the Amnok. In addition, our men\and women set up revolutionary\organizations under various names\and based on ARF\organizations among the peasants in central\and southern Korea, notably in Pyongyang, Nampho, Cholwon, Seoul, Inchon, Taegu, Pusan, Jonju\and Kwangju.

While\organizing the peasant masses back home, our operatives\and the comrades in the homeland concentrated on awakening them to revolutionary consciousness in\order to instil the idea of independence in them—that the country should be liberated by the effort of the Korean people themselves. For this purpose, the publications of the peasant\organizations in those days frequently carried the explanation of the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF.


Such education heightened their sense of historical mission. The peasant\organizations imbued the peasants with the idea of fighting against the colonial rule of the Japanese imperialists\and gave wide publicity to the internal\and international situations, the lawful development of society, the future of the Korean revolution\and news of the titanic struggle of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, in\order to convince the peasants to cherish the idea of victory.


The operatives we had dispatched to the Pyoksong\and Mt. Kuwol areas reorganized, through Min Tok Won, who was working in the homeland, the peasant\union in the Pyoksong area into a revolutionary one. Then Min went to the Inchon area by boat with the hardcore people in Pyoksong\and worked hard to awaken the members of labour\and peasant\unions there to revolutionary consciousness.


Kim Jong Suk went via Phungsan to Tanchon\and Riwon in mid-July 1937. She met Ri In Mo in Phabal-ri, Phungsan County,\and discussed in depth with him the idea of expanding the ARF\organizations, with members of the Red reading circle as the hard core. Ri In Mo is an eyewitness to the incident in which a Korean Revolutionary Army’s operational group in the homeland raided the Naejung police substation in Phabal-ri\and killed an evil police sergeant nicknamed Opasi (stinging bee). Under the influence of this, the forerunners in Phungsan\organized a Red reading circle\and started the anti-Japanese struggle. Ri In Mo belonged to that circle. He had been imprisoned on two occasions, in 1932\and 1933,\and served about one year of penal servitude.


When I met him recently\and asked him about his activities in those days, Ri said that he had been on two occasions to Erdaogang, an important area of operations for the KPRA, to establish contact with us. He was so eager to join the army that he even went to Tonghungjin when a detail rom the unit in southern Manchuria attacked the town. In spite of these efforts, he failed to see me\and went back when he realized he could not make contact with our\organization. This was truly regrettable. Had he succeeded in meeting us at that time, his career might have been completely different.


Although he had been imprisoned twice he did not stop fighting. A member of the revolutionary committee of the Phungsan area, he worked energetically in such\organizations as the Phabal branch, the labourers’ shock brigade in the Hwangsuwon dam project\and the paramilitary corps at Huchi Pass in Ansan.


Around late September in 1938 Kim Jong Suk again met Ri in Phungsan,\and his colleagues of the revolutionary committee of the Phungsan area,\and discussed the measures for expanding\and consolidating the\organizations\and working in the enemy-held area.


After seeing her, Ri In Mo strove to expand the\organizations subordinate to the ARF. One of the objects of his work included the Communist Group in Seoul, an\organization we had considered indispensable in giving leadership to the communist movement in the homeland. This was the most remarkable aspect of Ri’s activities. With Ju Pyong Pho, he conveyed our line on the restoration of the fatherland to the Communist Group in Seoul\and thus extended our influence on the circle in this city.


Ju Pyong Pho, Ri In Mo’s senior in their days in the Red reading circle in Phungsan, who conveyed our line in person to Kim Sam Ryong, had taken part in the anti-Japanese struggle of students since his days in Tonghung School in Longjing. Enrolled in a school in Seoul in 1937, he often went to Phungsan\and kept close ties with the communists who were under our influence. In the course of this, he made contact with Kim Jong Suk, who was working in the Phungsan area,\and learned in a precise way our line, strategy\and tactics on the revolution in the homeland. Kim Jong Suk discussed with him the matter of rallying the communists in central Korea, with Seoul as the centre around our anti-Japanese national united front movement.


Ri In Mo recalled that Kim Sam Ryong had been delighted to be informed of our line on the united front.

In Seoul Ju Pyong Pho\and Ri In Mo mixed with workers in the metallurgical, textile, fibre, printing, dyeing, garment\and other industries, built up labour\union\organizations by recruiting progressive elements rom among the working class,\and laid the groundwork for making preparations for an all-people resistance. Meanwhile they made tireless efforts to ensure our leadership of the revolutionary\organizations in the homeland.


Ri In Mo not only worked for the revolutionary movement in the homeland, but also performed considerable exploits in expanding the ARF\organizations in Japan. On Ju Pyong Pho’s instructions Ri went to Tokyo in the summer of 1940, carrying with him the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF,\and transformed the friendship society of the self-supporting students rom Phungsan in Tokyo in a revolutionary fashion.

 

As mentioned above, Ri In Mo is not a man who fell out of the blue. He was trained to be an incarnation of faith\and will by the ARF\and the fighters rom Mt. Paektu, who went through all sorts of hardships\and difficulties to sow the seeds of the\organization in every part of the country.

After completing her programme of work in Phungsan, Kim Jong Suk proceeded to the Tanchon area on the east coast. The man whom we had singled out rom among the progressive people in Tanchon was Ri Ju Yon, a leader of the peasant\union in Tanchon. He had been involved in the Singan Association\and also had had a hand in the Tanchon peasant revolt in 1930.


Thanks to the good offices of a member of the ARF in that area, Kim Jong Suk met Ri Ju Yon, who was under treatment in a temple in the mountain at the time after serving seven years’ penal servitude in connection with the peasant revolt.

After expressing her heartfelt sympathy with him for his ill health, a consequence of his hardships in prison, she conveyed to him our line on the anti-Japanese national united front\and our policy of an all-people resistance. She also told him to awaken the peasant masses to revolutionary consciousness\and\organize them so as to expedite the preparations of the forces for the all-people resistance. He told her that in the past he had run about day\and night trying to\organize a movement, but had felt futile, as if sailing with no destination on heavy seas in an old boat with a broken compass. Now feeling as if he were on a new boat, he made an oath to be loyal to the revolution.


Finishing her work with Ri Ju Yon, Kim Jong Suk met Ri Yong on the seashore in Chaho, Riwon. Ri Yong was the son of Ri Jun, a patriotic martyr\and hero of the incident of the emissaries to The Hague. Ri Yong had been imprisoned for his connections with the Pukchong peasant\union,\and after being released, he\organized\and led an anti-Japanese association. After his father had disembowelled himself in The Hague, Ri Yong devoted himself to the Independence Army movement for some time at the behest of his father, who had told him, “You must devote your whole being to the country.” However, he had lost interest in the movement, for he had realized that in spite of its ostentatious signboard, it could not attain its goal without correct leadership.


He had been involved in the communist movement for some time. But he shook his head on seeing the factions separating themselves rom the masses, like oil on water,\and idling away their time with feuds conducted for their own self-interests. The peasant\union movement in which he had been deeply involved was caught up in serious wrangling. The stylish campaigners of the top hierarchy, wearing their hair in a bouffant style modelled after Karl Marx, were\ordering the peasants about in a grand manner.


Unable to bear it any more, Ri one day denounced one of the long-haired men at the top. The man retorted, “Why are you so insolent? Because you are the son of Ri Jun? Did anyone make us a present of independence because your father appealed by disembowelling himself far away rom his country?”


Ri Yong shouted\and beat his chest in anger. He could bear an affront to himself, but he felt bitter\and resentful to think of the patriotic soul of his late father being insulted in this way. The pain was not alleviated for many years.


The conclusion Ri Yong reached after being in the Independence Army\and taking part in the communist\and peasant\union movements, was that the masses, no matter how powerful they might be, cannot demonstrate their might unless guided by a competent leader.


He\organized like-minded people\and tried hard to find a channel to Mt. Paektu.

 

Kim Jong Suk transmitted to Ri Yong our plan of preparing forces for an all-people resistance by rallying the peasant masses in the region south of the Huchi Pass.


Ri Yong made a firm commitment to devote himself to the sacred cause of national liberation by upholding our policy. Taking leave of Kim Jong Suk, he said that Korea was alive because of me; he called me “the one\and only leader” of Korea.


I once read Kumranjigyejon, an educational tract used by the revolutionary\organizations in the northern region of Korea\and edited by Pukchong people. There is a pine grove in Chonghung-ri, Pukchong County. As it was a scenic, quiet place, the influential people had rom olden days regarded it as a pleasure ground\and gathered there rom time to time for competitions in composing poetry.


The advanced elements of the Pukchong people, being highly anti-Japanese, formed a Kumran Association, with the influential people at the fore to hoodwink the police. The name of the association, “Kumran”, means that a united mind is as sharp as an iron edge\and as fragrant as an\orchid. In other words, it indicates deep feelings between friends. It is construed as an association of close friends.


Most of the hardcore elements in Pukchong were the association members. They frequently met in the pine grove with the influential people in the area\and cultivated themselves morally while pretending to be composing poems. In the course of this, the oldest member of the association, respected by many as a scholar for his wide knowledge, composed the Kumranjigyejon, which contained the expression “the one\and only leader”.


In September of that year, Ri Yong formed the party circle of the Pukchong district\and became its head. The early members of the circle were the hard core of the Chaho Anti-Japanese Association. He motivated the party circle to rally the Chaho Anti-Japanese Association\and the labour\and peasant\unions around the ARF, building up the forces for an all-people resistance, with the east-coast region south of Huchi Pass as the centre.

After he had made contact with Mt. Paektu, a great change took place in Ri Ju Yon’s life.

On getting his new fighting task rom us, he left, not for his home, but for the road of struggle, on the very day he had promised his wife he would return home. As he left, bidding farewell to his loyal wife, who had supported him for seven years while he was behind bars, he felt seized with a great pity for her. However, when she came to the temple, he suppressed his personal feelings\and took leave of her with determination.


For eight years, rom the day he left the temple till the day of liberation, he was constantly on the move, forgoing a comfortable home life\and with his comrades devoting his wisdom\and passion to inculcate the spirit of the anti-Japanese struggle in the minds of the workers\and peasants.


After liberation Ri Ju Yon\and Ri Yong upheld their principles\and worked hard, just as they had fought when looking up to Mt. Paektu.


Among the leaders of the peasant\unions in the homeland, who made strenuous efforts on behalf of the united front movement\and the preparations for an all-people resistance under the banner of the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF, was a man named Ri Won Sop. He was head of an anti-Japanese secret\organization in the Kilju area, having reformed a peasant\union into an\organization subordinate to the ARF. In 1932 he had participated with his comrades in Wangqing in a raid on the public security office in Dakanzi to obtain weapons for the newborn anti-Japanese guerrilla army. Later, he was sent by the\organization to conduct underground activities in the homeland. The\organization members he guided would have gone through fire\and water for the revolutionary army. He obtained white paper rom the Kilju Pulp Mill\and regularly sent it to Mt. Paektu. In those days the peasant\organizations on the east coast used to send a variety of essential goods in lorries to Sinpha\and Hyesan in broad daylight, to be forwarded to the revolutionary army.


The peasant\union activists conducted brisk propaganda\and agitation campaigns, appealing to the peasant masses to turn out for an all-people resistance in response to the armed struggle we were waging.


Members of the peasant\union in Jongphyong were imprisoned; even in prison they gave wide\and frequent publicity to our struggle. Activists of the peasant\union in Myongchon also gave wide publicity to us\and appealed for the anti-Japanese struggle.


The patriotic martyrs who risked their lives by fighting in the homeland in response to our line in the days when we were making preparations for the all-people resistance cannot be counted only in the tens of thousands. These known\and unknown revolutionaries rallied, shoulder to shoulder with the operatives we had dispatched, millions of the peasants in every part of the country around the ARF.


After the peasant\union\organizations were restructured on a revolutionary line, the peasant movement in our country was linked closely to the anti-Japanese armed struggle. This provided favourable conditions for promoting the development of the peasant movement. In struggling to carry out the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF, the peasant\organizations all over the country rendered a great contribution to the consolidation of the anti-Japanese national united front\and to the preparations for an all-people resistance. In this struggle the revolution in the homeland lost a great number of peasant\union activists\and patriotic members of peasant\unions.


The peasant movement occupies, along with the labour movement, an indisputable place in the history of the anti-Japanese national-liberation struggle of Korea, centred on the anti-Japanese armed struggle. We must not forget the revolutionaries, many of whom sacrificed their lives, who fought to win back national sovereignty\and achieve the class emancipation of peasants rom the sabre-rattling fascist tyranny of Japanese imperialists.

 



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

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

[Reminiscences]Chapter 16. Crossing\and Recrossing the River Amnok  3. Guardsmen

[Reminiscences]Chapter 16. Crossing\and Recrossing the River Amnok  4. Across the Whole of Korea

[Reminiscences]Chapter 16. Crossing\and Recrossing the River Amnok  5. Kwon Yong Byok

[Reminiscences]Chapter 16. Crossing\and Recrossing the River Amnok  6. Events to Which I Could Not Remain Indifferent

[Reminiscences]Chapter 16. Crossing\and Recrossing the River Amnok  7. The Mother of the Guerrilla Army

[Reminiscences]Chapter 17. Korea Is Alive 1. Flames of Pochonbo (1)

[Reminiscences]Chapter 17. Korea Is Alive 2. Flames of Pochonbo (2)

[Reminiscences]Chapter 17. Korea Is Alive 3. Joint Celebration of Army\and People at Diyangxi

[Reminiscences]Chapter 17. Korea Is Alive 4. Photographs\and Memory

[Reminiscences]Chapter 17. Korea Is Alive 5. The Battle of Jiansanfeng

[Reminiscences]Chapter 17. Korea Is Alive 6. The Boys Who Took Up Arms

[Reminiscences]Chapter 17. Korea Is Alive 7. My Thought about Revolutionary Obligation

[Reminiscences]Chapter 18. In the Flames of the Sino-Japanese War 1. To Meet a New Situation

[Reminiscences]Chapter 18. In the Flames of the Sino-Japanese War 2. Kim Ju Hyon



  

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