[Reminiscences]Chapter 18 6. My Experience of the “Hyesan Incident” > 새 소식

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 18 6. My Experience of the “Hyesan Incident”

  

   

 

 

6. My Experience of the “Hyesan Incident” 

 

 The year 1937 was a landmark year in the anti-Japanese revolution. With the entry of our main-force unit into the area of Mt. Paektu, both the struggle for national liberation\and the communist movement of Korea were experiencing an upsurge of unprecedented breadth\and depth.


But just as everything was progressing smoothly according to our plans, the Korean revolution was suddenly faced with one of its most serious challenges to date. In the days when we were operating in the region of Fusong\and Mengjiang Counties, after leaving the area of Mt. Paektu, the enemy fabricated the so-called “Hyesan incident”, following it with a whirlwind of large-scale repression of our revolutionary forces. They destroyed at random the secret\organizations we had built up in the year following our advance into the area of Mt. Paektu, arresting en masse\and executing revolutionaries faithful to our leadership\and line.


In several roundups, the enemy arrested thousands of patriotic people. Many were tortured to death in prison.

This incident dealt a serious blow to the Korean revolution. The building of party\and ARF\organizations, which had been progressing at full speed, thanks to the positive activities of the Homeland Party Working Committee, suffered enormous losses.


I heard the news of the “Hyesan incident” in detail for the first time in the secret camp in Dajialazi, Mengjiang County, through Kim Phyong\and Kim Jae Su. I don’t know how to describe the burning fury I felt at that moment, fury combined with a feeling of great loss similar to the emotion I experienced after the “Minsaengdan” fuss in which a great number of our people were killed.


In the wake of this incident I thought deeply about the faith\and will of a revolutionary. The incident can be called a great trial in which every man’s loyalty to the revolution, the intensity of his faith\and the strength of his will were tested. In other words, it was a severe test that separated real revolutionaries rom sham revolutionaries. Those with strong faith\and will stuck to their revolutionary principles\and emerged victorious in the showdown with the enemy; those with weak faith\and will abandoned their revolutionary dignity\and chose the road of betrayal\and submission.


The betrayers who yielded to torture\and divulged our secrets to the enemy in the first days of the incident included the underground operatives who had been working at the construction sites of the railway between Kilju\and Hyesan\and between Paegam\and Musan. We had intended to build revolutionary\organizations through them among the working class at the construction sites, but after they had been hauled off to the police station\and flogged they quickly surrendered to the enemy. They lacked the iron-willed determination\and unbending fighting spirit to keep the secrets of the\organization\and defend the interests of the revolution, even if it meant a threat to their own lives. Had those few people not yielded up the secrets, the revolutionary\organizations in the Changbai area might well have remained untouched. We had suffered a terrible setback in the enemy’s first roundup in that Kwon Yong Byok, Ri Je Sun, Pak In Jin, So Ung Jin, Pak Rok Kum\and other core leaders\and members of revolutionary\organizations were arrested.


Faith\and will are the basic qualities of a revolutionary. A man without these qualities cannot be called a revolutionary.

When we speak of the qualities of a “true man”, we are primarily talking about his thought\and faith, for the more tenaciously he sticks to his thought\and faith, the clearer will be the aim of his life\and the more sincere his efforts to attain it.


This is why we devote so much energy\and effort to imbuing the people with faith in communism when undertaking to train them into revolutionaries. This is because the building of socialism\and communism, conducted under the banner of national liberation, class emancipation\and man’s liberation, is the most arduous\and protracted of all revolutionary transformation movements undertaken by mankind. Without steel-like faith\and will, one cannot attain final victory for this movement to realize\and defend man’s independence in the face of all restraints\and challenges of both nature\and society.


Will is the strong companion\and defender of faith.


However, faith\and will are not immutable. They can become either firmer\or weaker\and degenerate, depending on the circumstances. When a revolutionary’s faith\and will degenerate, the revolution has to pay dearly for it. This is why we consider education in faith to be the most essential process in training men of the communist type.


Faith\and will are cultivated only through the life in the revolutionary\organization\and practical activities; they can be made firm\and secure only through unremitting education\and self-cultivation. Faith\and will that are not tempered by these processes are castles built on sand. An example of this can be seen in the people who did not defend their revolutionary faith in the interrogation room at the Hyesan police station. They had not trained their bodies\and minds sufficiently in the life in the revolutionary\organization\and in practice. They all had joined the guerrillas in the heyday of the anti-Japanese revolution\and fought only victorious battles. Hence their ideology had not been tempered in the tempest. When a revolution is on the rise, chance elements who are not steadfast ideologically slip into the revolutionary ranks, simply following the current.


Soon after receiving the report on the “Hyesan incident”, we held an emergency meeting of the Party Committee of the KPRA\and discussed the measures for preserving the revolutionary\organizations in the immediate crisis\and for building the party\and the ARF\organizations in a more resolute manner.


After their first roundup of the core leaders in the Changbai area, the enemy went on to extend the scope of their investigation, spreading their evil grasp over the whole region of West Jiandao\and the Kapsan area across the Amnok. Although they were wildly elated, boasting of their exploits\and claiming to have cut off the life-line of the Korean revolution, they had not managed to destroy all the underground\organizations we had built up with so much effort. Many people in the areas of Changbai\and Kapsan had escaped the enemy’s dragnet either by running to other areas\or taking refuge in the depth of the mountains. Owing to the arrest of Kwon Yong Byok, Ri Je Sun, So Ung Jin\and Pak In Jin, the leadership of the Changbai County Party Committee\and the ARF\organizations in Changbai County was on the verge of disintegration, but the leadership of the Korean National Liberation\union centring on Pak Tal, Kim Chol Ok\and Ri Ryong Sul remained active.


As our first measure, we dispatched Jang Jung Ryol\and Ma Tong Hui to the homeland to find the leaders of the KNLU who had taken refuge, find out rom them the extent of the damage done to the\organizations,\and take measures to reconstruct the destroyed\organizations. Our general goal was to prevent the loss incurred by the enemy’s suppression as much as possible\and turn the misfortune into an advantage.


While travelling through the mountain villages in Kapsan County in search of the members of the KNLU, Ma Tong Hui and Jang Jung Ryol were themselves arrested in Namhung-dong. This happened as the result of betrayal by Kim Thae Son, clerk of the highland agriculture guidance section there.


Kim Thae Son\and Ma Tong Hui came rom the same village\and had been friends for a long time. Even after moving to Kapsan, they spent their youth in an extraordinary friendship. When Kim Thae Son had to discontinue his studies in Changbai for lack of money, Ma Tong Hui supported him with an advance of 5 won rom the safe of the village school so that Kim could continue to study. Later he continued this support by earning money through weeding fields for others, selling firewood\and writing letters for the illiterate. When Kim Thae Son accepted the job of clerk to the highland agriculture guidance section after finishing his course, Kim Thae Son called on Jang Kil Bu, Ma Tong Hui’s mother,\and said, “It is thanks to Tong Hui’s sincere help that I have become literate\and am able to earn my daily bread. I won’t forget his friendship as long as I live.”


Having come to Kapsan on a mission to make contact with the leadership of the KNLU, Ma Tong Hui\and his comrade-in-arms took shelter in Kim Thae Son’s house in Namhung-dong because Ma trusted the friendship. But Kim Thae Son had in the meantime changed into a faithful servant of the enemy. He provided both of them with warm food\and beds; then he reported to the enemy that two of Kim Il Sung’s men were staying in his house. He was this kind of a snake.


From the time they were arrested, Ma Tong Hui\and Jang Jung Ryol followed different roads in life.

The story of how Ma Tong Hui endured torture\and how he kept his secrets has been recounted both by reminiscences of anti-Japanese war veterans\and in works of art\and literature. When asked what kind of man Ma was, even primary school pupils know that he was a man who bit out his tongue to keep the secrets of the\organization. Not everyone has the guts to bite out his own tongue. Determination such as this belongs only to the true man who chooses to die for his faith rather than continue living a traitor’s life. Once a man has determined to die, he can do anything.

Ma Tong Hui’s courage\and self-sacrificing spirit derived rom his unshakeable faith. The courage was an expression of his iron will which no torture\or intimidation could bend. He knew that if he kept his secrets, our\organizations would continue to live. He knew the revolution would emerge victorious, even if he himself died.


It was revolutionary practice that had trained him into a man of strong faith. While living in Paegam, he\organized an Anti-Japanese Association\and inculcated patriotism in the children of the slash-and-burn farmers as a teacher. After joining the People’s Revolutionary Army, he participated in the arduous expedition to Fusong with the veterans,\and as a lecturer to the Guard Company tried to enlighten the guerrillas by improving their political\and cultural erudition. He accepted it as a truth that a man of a ruined nation was no better than a dog in a house of mourning, that the means for survival for the nation was struggle, that the only way out was the revolution,\and that without the revolution the nation would live in slavery for generations, leading an existence that was worse than that of draught animals. He made the truth his unshakeable faith.


From his childhood on he had the traits with which to acquire this faith. He never compromised with what he saw as unjust, shameless\or unconscionable. Once he deemed a man to be tainted, he broke off with him without hesitation, even if the man happened to be his teacher. Ma’s tutor in his days at primary school was a philistine named Jo, a man without an iota of conscience as an educator. He kept the pupils’ school records in a thoroughly dishonest way, basing the records on his relationship with a pupil rather than according to the pupil’s real abilities. He gave good marks to all those whose families had offered him tidy sums by way of a bribe\and who hailed rom rich\and influential families, irrespective of their abilities. He did not hesitate to resort to lowering the marks of excellent pupils in\order to favour those to whom he was partial. Even when Ma was studying in the graduating class, Jo continued to practise the habit. In\order to give first place to the son of an influential man who had bribed him heavily, he intentionally scored Ma Tong Hui as second instead of first in his history examination. Furious with the teacher’s conduct, Ma, who was an excellent pupil in all subjects, did not hesitate to call on him\and demand to see his examination paper. Instead of showing him the paper, Jo slapped him across the face, saying that he was an ill-mannered ruffian. Jo’s behaviour enraged Ma. Declaring that he would leave school in mid-course, he tore his academic record book to pieces in front of Jo\and went back home.


His father, Ma Ho Ryong, was reluctant to see his only son leave school\and plunge into the struggle to earn a living at such a tender age. Showing his son the school cap he had bought him at the market that day, he said, “I was so sorry to see you going to school bareheaded that I bought this cap for you. Yet now you say you will leave school to work on the land. What’s this nonsense? It is an everyday occurrence that a teacher favours a child rom a well-to-do family\and builds up the minds of high-ranking, influential men. What is the point of your challenging your teacher on that? Go back immediately\and apologize to him.”


But Ma refused to compromise, even preventing his father rom going to see the teacher himself.

Later on the teacher\and he followed opposite roads in life. While Ma Tong Hui devoted himself to the patriotic front as a man of resistance, born of the times, Jo took the traitorous road of betrayal after abandoning teaching. As a policeman,\and later a detective, he was obsessed with ferreting out patriots. Ma Tong Hui was one man he watched with a sharp eye. He followed Ma’s every footstep, trying to lead him to the scaffold even if it meant fabricating some incident out of thin air.


Jo started to shadow Ma in real earnest when the latter came under the influence of the People’s Revolutionary Army while frequenting the Changbai area. One day Ma went to Changbai\and met Kim Ju Hyon, representative of the guerrilla army; on his way back, having got permission to join the guerrillas, he met the detective Jo, who had been waiting at the bridge across the Amnok. Jo was goggling at him with bulging eyes. Although Ma perceived in an instant the tense atmosphere at the bridge, he went calmly back home\and made preparations for leaving for Mt. Paektu.


That day his mother cooked farewell meal for her son, which he was unable to take: Jo suddenly appeared in the yard of his house with a gaggle of policemen to arrest him. He escaped through the back door\and crossed the Amnok to safety.


The scurrilous act of a teacher willing to arrest his pupil was a tragedy created by the anti-human trend imposed by the Japanese imperialists. Whenever she met me after liberation, Mrs. Jang Kil Bu would tell me this story of her son as if it were a legend.


After the battle on Mt. Kouyushui, Ma met Jo near the battlefield. Jo had narrowly escaped in one of the enemy’s botched “punitive” operations against our unit\and was running away. As soon as he saw Ma, he started firing wildly at him. Ma Tong Hui shot him to death on the spot. It was a fitting end to a brazen, pro-Japanese reactionary who took no thought of his native land, his nation\or the pupils under his care.


This anecdote clearly illustrates the qualities of Ma Tong Hui as a man\and on what he based his faith.

 

He was with me for about one\and half years. He was a faithful guerrilla loved by all, but he did not leave many anecdotes\or affairs special enough to be engraved in the memory of the people during his life in the guerrilla army.


And yet, I cannot forget one episode related to him. This happened when we were obtaining grain for a military\and political study session in the secret camp in Donggang after the expedition to Fusong. At that time the 3rd Company, 7th Regiment Ma Tong Hui belonged to was assigned to obtain grain each day. One night his company commander, before leaving to search for grain, assigned to frost-bitten Ma Tong Hui\and other recruits the task of remaining in camp\and grinding maize with a millstone for breakfast the next day. As\ordered by the company commander, he began to grind the maize with millstone. He felt unbearable fatigue after a day-long arduous march in the snow, followed by the languor of eating a meal. But he shook off his sleepiness by rubbing his face with snow. The recruits in the meantime said that they would forgo the meal\and lay themselves down, as they were tired. While Ma was milling the maize alone, they remained flat on their backs without doing a thing. As he finished the work, they worried about how to repay him for his painstaking work. They were typical young recruits, too half-witted to know any better, but Ma was so fed up, he criticized them severely.


When I arrived at the camp, Ma complained about it before anything else. How we could wage the revolution, he lamented, with men such as these, who were devoid of comradeship\and knew nothing? I told him that although they lacked training in the\organization at the moment, they would become excellent soldiers once they had been given the proper education.\and in fact the recruits did later become truly courageous soldiers who worked with great devotion\and fought bravely.

 

Ma grew up to be an excellent combatant in a very short period of time after joining the guerrillas. He performed the mission of scouting around the streets of Pochonbo in a highly responsible way. As a commendation for the devotion\and initiative he had displayed in this task, I gave him the honour of accepting, on behalf of the soldiers of the KPRA, a congratulatory banner rom the people’s delegation at the joint celebration of army\and people after the victory in the Battle of Pochonbo.


As his life in later days proved, he was an outstanding revolutionary fighter fully qualified to represent the soldiers of the KPRA, a man to be recommended as a model communist.


He knew the exact\whereabouts of Headquarters, but he did not yield up the secret. Because of this, we were safe.


The day after he died, his father, Ma Ho Ryong, went to Hyesan with a coffin. While passing the police station carrying his son’s corpse on a cart, he came across the inspector, Choe.


On seeing him, Choe asked, “Hey, how do you feel, carrying your dead son?”

Ma Ho Ryong, who had since long regarded Choe, butcher of the nation, with hatred, resolutely wiped away his tears\and answered: “My son Tong Hui died while fighting for the liberation of Korea. So did my daughter\and daughter-in-law. They never died for stealing goods rom the Japanese. I feel proud to be their father.”


For these words he was arrested later. To his last moments in Hamhung Prison he fought with dignity against the hangmen without losing his principles as a patriot\and father of a revolutionary fighter.


In contrast to Ma Tong Hui, Jang Jung Ryol exposed the secret camps\and secret\organizations familiar to him soon after he was lashed a few times. While Ma Tong Hui stuck to the revolution, even to the point of biting out his tongue, Jang Jung Ryol forsook the pledge he had made for the revolution as easily as casting off his worn-out shoes\and chose the damnable road of betrayal. Why?


Jang was in no way inferior to Ma in his academic career, the level of his theoretical attainments\and his working ability. Considering his duration of service in the guerrilla army, he could be called Ma’s senior. Clever\and sociable, Jang was rumoured among the rank\and file soon after joining the army as a “man fit for a cadre”. Our Headquarters also saw him in the same light. He jumped at one bound to the post of head of the youth department of a division without going through the gradual course mandatory for most of the recruits. This meant that he was trusted as much as Kim Phyong\and Kwon Yong Byok were.


When the Changbai County Party Committee was\organized, we elected him to be a member, a fact that eloquently proves how we trusted him. In short, we gave him all we could.


He went hungry, had his hands\and feet frost-bitten\and burned the midnight candle with us. He did not feel particularly pessimistic, nor did he lose confidence when faced with the same difficulties we all faced; he endured all hardships with us without complaint.\and yet as soon as he was put behind bars, how easily he yielded. Although he had endured all possible hardships, he could not withstand the torture-chamber\and quickly renounced the honour\and principle of a revolutionary, as if they were bits of waste paper.


Hearing the report about the course of Jang’s betrayal, I got a keen understanding of how a man’s outlook on life could change when he was behind bars.\whereas Jang’s outlook on the world outside prison had been communistic, his outlook on the world in the prison was that of Judas. He simply became a businessman who had traded off the interests of the revolution for his own life. He  told  the  enemy  many  secrets:  he  disclosed  all  the organizations he had had a hand in, listed all the leading members of the revolutionary\organizations who were in contact with him in Shanggangqu\and Zhonggangqu, Changbai County,\and the\whereabouts of Headquarters\and secret camps to the extent that he knew them. Then he led the police to a secret rendezvous in Shijiudaogou, helping them arrest Ji Thae Hwan\and Jo Kae Gu.


Jo Kae Gu also became a turncoat, the same as Jang Jung Ryol. He guided the police to the secret camp in Ganbahezi,\where our sewing-unit was stationed. They killed all the members of the unit, the women guerrillas, among whom was Kim Yong Gum, Ma Tong Hui’s wife.


How could Jang Jung Ryol degenerate into such a foul, detestable person? Had the faith he had cherished in communism been merely a facade?


Needless to say, he had talked much about faith, but his faith, being cheap, had not been based on a solid foundation. In front of the dreadful sight of the torture-chamber\and the malicious faces of the policemen, he was overwhelmed by the commanding presence of the Japanese Empire\and succumbed to the sceptical outlook that defeating the Empire through the anti-Japanese revolution was an impossible, futile daydream.


What, then, is a faith that is based on solid foundations? It is absolute confidence in the ideal a man cherishes, the ideal for which he is determined to die rom cold\or hunger\or rom a beating. In other words, it is a conviction in the justness of his cause\and in the might of his class\and fellow people; it is also a determination to carry out the revolution by overcoming all difficulties through his own efforts. A man must be prepared to die rom a beating to defend the interests of the revolution. But Jang Jung Ryol was not prepared to die such a death; he thought that no matter what happened to the revolution, everything was alright as long as he remained alive.

 

Although he preserved his physical existence at the cost of the revolution, he lost his political integrity, a far greater thing than life. This is why Ma Tong Hui remains in people’s memory, while Jang Jung Ryol is forgotten.


Whenever I recall Ma Tong Hui\and Jang Jung Ryol, I also think of Kim Hyok\and Jang So Bong. They started the revolution at the same time, at the same place\and on the same track, but the terminus at which they each arrived was totally different. Again, the difference in their final destinations can be traced to the difference in their faith\and will.


While Kim Hyok was sincere in the life in his\organization\and in revolutionary practice, Jang So Bong was proficient in theory\and clear-headed, but self-opinionated\and weak in practice. Having tasted both the sweet\and the bitter in life, Kim Hyok did not flinch rom hardship. Jang So Bong, on the other hand, did not plunge himself into the backbreaking labour of the revolution. One was a man of passion ready to go through thick\and thin, while the other was a cool-headed, calculating man who, being caught in a shower, would roll up the trouser legs\and pick his way along a muddy path in a manner designed not to get mud on his shoes.


When we were frequenting Kalun\and Guyushu, my friends admitted that Kim Hyok was a man of talent; but they did not think that he would play a great role in the revolution. They had the prejudiced view that the scholar who composed poems\and songs could not be efficient in a revolution.


It was no wonder that those who did not really know him saw him in that light. At that time a man walking the streets with a guitar on his shoulder was considered to be a street musician.


In contrast, they all pinned a far greater hope on Jang So Bong. Although he was to betray us later, he was a famous man. He wrote many articles\and published them under a pseudonym. He was the most enthusiastic contributor to the magazine Bolshevik, a proficient theoretician\and an agitator no less experienced than Cha Kwang Su. The level of his theoretical attainment was so high that even Kim Chan, chief of the Tuesday group, always found himself cornered in an argument with him. During the Kalun meeting I stayed in his house.


My colleagues\and I never dreamed that he would write a letter of conversion in prison a few years later,\and as a faithful dog of Japanese imperialism attempt to persuade us to surrender to the enemy.


The maturity of one’s political integrity—the other life a man has in addition to the physical one—is decided by whether he has a faith,\and by how strong that faith is. The stronger his faith\and will, the longer he maintains his political integrity. The political integrity of those who forsake their faith early ends before its time.


Rim Su San, who had been chief of staff of our main-force unit before defecting to the enemy, resorted to acts of betrayal more despicable than those of Ri Jong Rak\or Jang So Bong. He became commander of the enemy’s “punitive” force\and went on a rampage to do as much harm as he could to his former comrades-in-arms, who had fought shoulder to shoulder with him in the same trench in bygone days. Having become useless to the enemy as their agent, he was abandoned by them. rom that time on, he pushed a cart around, peddling wine. rom chief of staff of a division to a wine-peddler—this was the sad consequence of his forsaking of his faith.


Immediately after liberation he was on his way rom Antu to Hyesan via Samjiyon, carrying wine drums on a cart. On his way he met a small unit led by Ryu Kyong Su. That day Ryu Kyong Su\and his men were headed out on my\orders to wipe out the remnants of the defeated Japanese army, who were making an appearance in the neighbourhood of Mt. Paektu.


Feeling awkward about meeting men who had been under his command in past days, he said, “I see you’ve come down rom the mountains. Is General Kim Il Sung still up there? Why did you come down alone without him?”


At that time Ryu Kyong Su, Ri Tu Ik\and other anti-Japanese war veterans, enlisted to wipe out Japanese army remnants, were all in Japanese military uniform. Rim Su San thought rom their appearance that they all had followed his wake\and submitted to the Japanese. He was so ignorant of developments that he did not even know that Japan had been defeated. A man who does not preserve his faith\and stick to his principles comes to such a pass.


Needless to say, the overwhelming majority of the people who traversed the arduous road of the anti-Japanese revolution with me, arms in hand, were indomitable fighters with strong faith\and will. They did not abandon their revolutionary principles, nor did they disgrace their faith in the liberation of their country, even in the face of the worst adversity. Dying in the barren fields of an alien land, my comrades-in-arms\and fighters had requested: “Love the future!”\and shouted, “Communism is youth!” Only men with unshakeable faith can embellish the last moment of their life in this way. But for this faith, our anti-Japanese guerrillas could not have withstood the biting cold\and hunger of Manchuria.


When talking about the faith\and will of a revolutionary, I always mention Ryu Kyong Su as a prime example for people to follow. He took the ideas of his leader as his own faith\and lived his life in defence of this faith.


I first met him in September 1933 just after the battle of Dongning county town. When my men were resting on our return to Xiaowangqing after the battle, Choe Hyon\and his men rom the Yanji guerrilla unit came to visit me. Among them was a young guerrilla that followed Choe Hyon like a shadow: this was Ryu Kyong Su.


Ryu felt immense regret that the Yanji guerrilla unit had missed the battle of Dongning county town through a mistake of the messenger. He took out his frustration at missing the battle\and being a “latecomer” on Choe Hyon.

“How can we go back without doing a thing except live off others, Comrade Company Commander? We have come as far as Xiaowangqing, let’s fight a battle side by side with Commander Kim before we go back.”


In an instant I could see that this fellow was a man of guts. He was 18 years old at the time. He had joined the anti-Japanese armed forces at the age of 16.


“Sam Son is a gallant fighter in spite of his youth, Commander Kim. He is also very adamant,” said Choe Hyon.

Sam Son was the\original name of Ryu Kyong Su. This was Choe Hyon’s general estimation of Ryu Kyong Su, one that told me he was very fond of Ryu Kyong Su.


Mirrored in the short life of the 18-year-old young guerrilla was the sad history of our ruined nation. Ryu had been a servant in another’s house since his younger age\and had participated in the spring uprising in his teens. He was arrested by the warlord authorities\and thrown into Longjing Prison,\where he was tortured. There were a great many revolutionaries in Jiandao, but few had suffered the water\or chili-powder tortures in Longjing Prison at the younger age. Unlike Jang Jung Ryol\and Ri Jong Rak, he endured these trials manfully. I inadvertently took his hands\and found them so callused that his palms felt like iron.


I felt even greater sympathy for him when I heard that he had educated himself through “gleaning”. Learning through “gleaning” is the method of acquiring knowledge in an unofficial way by learning by means of one’s own eyes\and ears beside someone else who is studying. On his way back rom the market after selling firewood, he would squat on his haunches under the window of a private school\and copy what the teacher had written on the blackboard. He did this by writing on the bare earth with a stick. In this way he thoroughly assimilated the Korean alphabet\and the multiplication table.


Soon the whole school had heard about his learning through “gleaning”\and sympathized with him. Moved by his zeal for learning, Kwak Chan Yong (alias Kwak Ji San) enrolled him in the school\and bore the boy’s fees himself. The firewood collector who studied through “gleaning” was an unusual boy,\and the teacher who enrolled this strange boy in the school\and paid his school fees was also an extraordinary educator.


Nevertheless, Ryu Kyong Su was not able to finish the school owing to family problems. He left the school in mid-course\and went to work for a landlord as a farmhand. When Ryu left school, Kwak Chan Yong was greatly disappointed. He left his job as a teacher\and went to work on the revolutionary enlightenment of workers\and peasants instead. Later he joined the anti-Japanese guerrilla army,\where he became an officer.


While serving the landlord as his farmhand, Ryu Kyong Su continued to get guidance rom Kwak. Kwak’s love\and concern for his old pupils was really exceptional. He was caught in the anti-“Minsaengdan” fuss\and put on a trial on a false charge. The left-wing chauvinists demoted him rom the post of company commander for no reason. Every move he made had been watched by guards.


The day Kwak was led to the people’s court, Ryu Kyong Su spoke for him at the risk of his own life. His speaking for his old tutor at the trial was a courageous deed that deserves praise rom all. In those days he himself was on the list of suspected members of “Minsaengdan”. For a suspected member of “Minsaengdan” to speak in defence of “the accused”,\or express sympathy with him, was as suicidal as rushing directly at the muzzle of an enemy rifle. Nevertheless, Ryu Kyong Su proved the innocence of his old tutor at the risk of his life. For this “crime”, he himself was dragged into the prison for “Minsaengdan” members.

His daring deed was the most noble kind of loyalty a disciple could show for his mentor. He strove to perform his duty as a disciple to repay the affection his tutor had shown for him.


It was because his faith was strong that he could be so loyal to his mentor. By nature, a man with strong faith is ethical\and faithful. It was his creed that a revolutionary should defend justice, hate injustice\and speak only the truth,\and that he should be determined to sacrifice his life to remain faithful to his comrades\and fellow countrymen.


He said firmly that most of the people labelled as “Minsaengdan” members by the left-wing chauvinists\and factionalists were innocent,\and that it was a crime to stigmatize people who were loyal to the revolution as being “Minsaengdan”\and to execute them. He was convinced that although the anti-“Minsaengdan” struggle was being conducted in a ultraleftist manner now, creating a chaos in the revolutionary ranks, things would be put to rights some day. With this conviction, he staunchly defended the steadfast revolutionaries\and patriotic people who were falsely charged with being involved in the “Minsaengdan”.


The story of Ryu’s determined rescue of his former teacher at the trial stirred the revolutionaries\and people in eastern Manchuria. When I heard the story in Dahuangwai, my thoughts went back with deep emotion to my meeting with him in Xiaowangqing.


Seeing off the comrades-in-arms rom the Yanji guerrilla unit in Macun, I had said to Choe Hyon, jokingly,

 

“Sam Son is such a good, all-round fighter, I feel like taking him with me. Won’t you hand him over to me in memory of our meeting?”


Choe Hyon answered, half joking, half serious:


“Not this time. He fights very bravely, but mentally he is not yet completely ripe. I’ll train him for three more years, then bring him to you. How’s that?”


It was after the meeting at Xiaohaebaling that Ryu Kyong Su fought as company commander in the same unit as me. For nearly 10 years after our first meeting at Xiaowangqing, he fought in Choe Hyon’s unit as a machine-gunner, which meant that I did not get many chances to meet him\or give him the care I would have wished. The only thing I did for him was to give him the title of “young revolutionary”.


Ryu Kyong Su, on his part, accepted the title as a commendation. He regarded me as the support of his life\and made up his mind to devote his whole life to the revolution.


I still remember the time when we were launching an offensive into the Qianbaoshan area after our successful thrust into the Musan area.


Suspecting the course of our march, the enemy concentrated their “punitive” forces in Qianbaoshan\and in its surroundings, unfolding a large-scale clean-up operation against the People’s Revolutionary Army. In\order to weaken the enemy forces who were rushing upon us, Choe Hyon’s unit attacked the town of Qianbaoshan. The battle was so fierce that the enemy even mobilized women, forcing them to throw grenades. Most of the enemy in the town were annihilated.


However, Choe Hyon was not satisfied with this. Determined to lure the enemy into a trap in\order to destroy even more of the “punitive” forces, he\organized a combat corps of 50 men rom his unit, concealing the other men in ambush in a forest eight kilometres away rom the town of Qianbaoshan. The combat corps included Ryu Kyong Su.


The corps raided one camping site of the “punitive” forces after another to draw them out. One night they made two raids on one camp; another night they captured the map of their “punitive” operations before returning; this infuriated the enemy into chasing the People’s Revolutionary Army. For three days in a row Ryu Kyong Su fought in all the most dangerous\and important battles, not even stopping to take a drink of water. After liberation Choe Hyon frequently recalled Ryu Kyong Su’s exploits in that campaign.


Choe Hyon’s unit mowed down the enemy in battles that raged across seven mountains. In one marsh the enemy suffered hundreds of casualties.


Thanks to Choe’s unit, we were able to move into the Qianbaoshan area safely with very little resistance rom the enemy. We met Choe Chun Guk’s unit there, instead of Choe Hyon’s unit, with which we had\originally planned to meet. While we were greeting the men\and officers of Choe Chun Guk’s unit, Choe Hyon\and his men were making preparations for another battle of allurement at a place miles away rom Qianbaoshan.


Choe Hyon told me later that all the guerrillas of the 4th Division had been very disappointed in failing to see me at that time.


Ryu Kyong Su’s obligation to me was truly gratifying. Just how ennobling\and sincere that obligation was I felt more keenly in the days when we engaged in small-unit combat.


His traits as a revolutionary showed up most clearly in that he carried out his Commander’s\orders\and instructions absolutely to the letter. He did not make any flowery pledges\and promises, but once he did make a pledge\or a promise, he carried it out without fail. This was a highly laudable trait in him.


“We have no one to trust other than Comrade Commander. It is only when we uphold\and support him with all our hearts that we can liberate our native land\and carve out our destiny as a nation. We will win only by doing as our Comrade Commander intends.”


This was the faith Ryu Kyong Su cherished,\and it was with this faith that he carried out my\orders in every adversity.


In the early spring of 1941 I left the training base in the far eastern region of the Soviet\union\and went to the area of Mt. Paektu with Ryu Kyong Su’s company to provide guidance to the small units operating in various parts of Manchuria\and the homeland. In these days Ryu Kyong Su\and his men were a great help to me.


After locating Headquarters in Hanconggou, I often dispatched small groups to various places. Ryu Kyong Su transmitted messages for me on many occasions. Whenever he left Headquarters, he would give the grain allotted to his group to the guardsmen as an addition to my rations.\and for the sake of my security he frequently attacked the enemy, enticing them into following him, thus drawing their attention elsewhere.


When Headquarters was located in Hanconggou, I gave him the\order to go to a liaison place in Laojinchang, Huadian County, to meet Wei Zheng-min. It was a difficult task that could be performed only by breaking through scores of enemy outposts\and districts under their siege, so Headquarters assigned 10 men to him. But he left for Laojinchang with only two men, fearing for the safety of Headquarters. Without my knowledge he gave the sack of rice I had allotted for three of them to Jon Mun Sop\and took only about five kilogrammes with him.


They returned rom the mission to discover that Hanconggou had been transformed into a sea of campfires belonging to enemy “punitive” troops. Several campfires were burning on the very spot\where our Headquarters tent had been pitched. They had little time left to the hour I had\ordered them to return. The two young men shed tears of worry over my safety. Indeed, no one would have thought our Headquarters to be safe, seeing all the campfires in Hanconggou that night.


But Ryu Kyong Su did not hesitate in the least, saying calmly, “Only 30 minutes are left. If we fail to go to our appointed rendezvous spot surrounded by campfires in these 30 minutes, we will have disobeyed Comrade Commander’s\order. One way\or another, he will be waiting for the three of us in that dangerous place.”


Leaving them on a mountain peak, he crawled down to the place\where the Headquarters tent had been pitched—to be met by a man I had left behind. My confidence that Ryu on his return rom the mission would go without fail to the place\where Headquarters had been perfectly agreed with his decision that whatever the circumstances, his Commander would wait for the men returning rom their mission at the exact spot rom whence they had been dispatched.


His exactitude in keeping to the day, time\and place I had fixed was rooted in his unshakeable faith that his Commander would not abandon his men under any circumstance\and in his sincere obligation that he should be prepared for any sacrifice\and suffering to live up to the Commander’s trust\and affection.


With this same faith\and obligation he made great contributions to\organizing a railway guard corps\and a tank unit after liberation,\and to executing the plans of operation of Supreme Headquarters at each stage of the Korean War.


This is why, whenever I meet the leaders of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, I tell them to train their soldiers to become strong-willed fighters, loyal men who stick to their faith no matter what the situation\or how great the adversity.


History shows us that when a revolution gains victory after victory\and the situation is favourable no one vacillates\or becomes a turncoat. However, when the situation at home\and abroad becomes complicated\and tremendous obstacles are placed in the way of the revolution, ideological confusion arises. Suddenly, vacillation will appear in the ranks, as will stragglers\and those willing to surrender, doing great harm to the revolution.


One such great international event was the Japanese imperialists’ occupation of Manchuria\and their aggression in China proper. This was a shock that awakened political awareness\and gave rise to a great ideological confusion, both among those engaged in the national liberation struggle\and within the communist movement of our country.


While the more steadfast communists looked upon the days after the September 18 incident as the right historical period for launching a full-scale anti-Japanese armed struggle\and leading the Korean revolution to a fresh upswing, a number of nationalist\and communist fighters who lacked strong revolutionary convictions came to the conclusion that one could no longer fight the Japanese imperialists, who were so strong that they had even occupied Manchuria. They therefore gave up the fight.


The same thing happened when the Japanese imperialists invaded China proper.

At that time we judged that the large-scale invasion of China by the Japanese imperialists would inevitably bring about the dispersion\and consumption of their forces\and create in Northeast China a situation favourable to the development of the anti-Japanese armed struggle. At the same time we were fully aware of the fact that the Sino-Japanese War would create fresh political\and military obstacles. We paid careful attention to the favourable aspects in the rapidly-changing difficult situation created by the war\and made active efforts to turn the unfavourable phase into one that was favourable to us. This kind of indomitable fighting spirit\and faith is crucial to a revolutionary in a time of crisis.


Nevertheless, there arose in this period of history, too, a hopeless confusion in the ideology of the chance elements\and fellow travellers who had found their way into the ranks of the anti-Japanese movement. Judging the general trend of history at this point to be a downward one because of the invasion of China proper\and the occupation of Wuhan-Sanzhen, by the Japanese imperialists, they thought that no force on earth could check the trend. This process of ideological degeneration gave rise to defeatism, sinking a large number of stragglers of the revolution, philistines\and renegades into a morass of pessimism.


To make matters worse, the Japanese imperialists launched successive large-scale “punitive” offensives to root out the anti-Japanese movement in Manchuria. At the same time they made preparations for the Pacific War20 after occupying the greater part of Chinese territory. As a consequence, most of the Chinese nationalist anti-Japanese units, which had been so active in many parts of northern\and southern Manchuria, were wiped out. Yang Jing-yu’s unit in southern Manchuria suffered heavy losses in the whirlwind of the expedition to Jehol.


At that time, when many units of the Northeast Anti-Japanese Allied Army were faced with hardship owing to the failure in the expedition to Jehol, some Chinese surrendered\or deserted their units.

In the summer of 1938 the 1st Army Corps under the command of Yang Jing-yu fell under siege by a large force of enemy troops the moment they started another expedition to Jehol. As a result they faced indescribable adversity. At this time the enemy combined their military offensive with a campaign to persuade the anti-Japanese guerrillas to defect. The so-called “magnanimous measure” of the Emperor of Manchukuo—the promise that those who surrendered would not be punished but would be treated merely as defectors—was made public, tempting the cowardly, the feeble-minded\and those who had degenerated in the revolution. While conducting the evil “punitive” operations against the anti-Japanese armed units, the enemy intensified their scheme of “severing the people rom the bandits”, thus the revolutionary army could not expect any assistance rom the people. Having started on their hopeless expedition in the direction of Jehol, leaving their familiar guerrilla bases, the Anti-Japanese Allied Army units went through all kinds of tribulations because of the enemy’s repeated “punitive” attacks without getting any support rom the people in the unfamiliar land.


At this time Cheng Bin, commander of the 1st Division, 1st Army Corps, who had been called Yang Jing-yu’s right-hand man\and who was famous as a gallant anti-Japanese general in southern Manchuria, shot to death a political officer who was against surrendering in Benxi, Liaoning Province. He then went on to commit an act of betrayal: leading his unit, he defected to the enemy. This put serious obstacles in the way of the 1st Army Corps; in fact, it was almost a fatal blow to the corps, as Cheng Bin knew the careers of all the commanding personnel in the corps, the number of the units in the corps\and the\whereabouts of secret camps. Cheng Bin’s defection threw the corps’ planned expedition to the west into utter confusion.


As an agent of Kishitani, chief of the police in Tonghua Province, Cheng Bin later took the lead in the operation to track down\and kill Yang Jing-yu. To our sorrow, the valiant anti-Japanese general in southern Manchuria, Yang Jing-yu, was killed in a fierce battle with the “punitive” troops led by Cheng.

 

When Kishitani was transferred to the post of vice-governor of Jehol Province, Cheng followed him\and\organized a police “punitive” force called “Jehol Ilsim Corps” with himself as commander.


As can be seen rom the examples of Cheng Bin\and Jon Kwang, the higher the defectors’ ranks, the more wicked the aspects of their betrayal\and the graver the consequences.


When we heard about Cheng Bin’s defection, we did not find it easy to believe, for he had had no special reason to defect to the enemy camp. He had not been discontented with his post. What was the reason for his defection then? In my judgement, his betrayal was caused by his losing of faith in the victory of the revolution. He had been intimidated by the high spirit of the Japanese army, which was improving its battle results almost on a daily basis after the July 7 incident,\and as a result he saw the prospects of the revolution as being very gloomy. It would be better, he decided, to live in luxury than to suffer for the sake of a hopeless revolution, even if it meant that he was labelled a traitor. This appears to have been his ideological motive for defecting.


Cheng Bin was an efficient fighter, but he had not sufficiently cultivated his ideology. By ideological cultivation, I mean education in faith\and optimism. When a man does not cultivate his ideology properly, he easily yields in the face of difficulties. This is why I still insist on the theory of cultivating one’s ideology first.


After the Japanese defeat in the war, Cheng Bin’s master, Kishitani, committed suicide along with his family members. But, Cheng Bin himself killed many Japanese POWs to save his own wretched life, disguised his real identity\and joined the 8th Route Army; he then won a commander’s position.


Nevertheless, such luck could not last for long. Although he had disguised himself as a patriot, he could not hide his true identity for ever. One year after liberation, as he was walking up a street in Shenyang under an umbrella on a rainy day, a man stepped under his umbrella. The man was another traitor, also living under an assumed identity. He knew well what Cheng Bin had been. For one reason\or another, both men reported to the authorities respectively that the other was a traitor. In due course it was found that Cheng Bin had been a defector. The people’s court passed judgement upon the despicable man who had abandoned his faith, defected to the enemy’s camp\and inflicted tremendous damage on the revolution.


Cheng Bin’s fate is a graphic example of the end that awaits those who forsake their faith\and betray their comrades.

After Yang Jing-yu’s unit was vanquished, the spearhead of the enemy’s “punitive” attack was directed to us. Claiming that the annihilation of Kim Il Sung’s unit would mean the end of the anti-Japanese movement in Manchuria\and Korea, the enemy encircled us rom all directions\and launched a desperate series of attacks. The road ahead of us was beset with steep ups\and downs. This being the situation, cowards\and surrenderers began to appear even among the men who had been waging the revolution since the days of the Down-with-Imperialism\union. In these days Fang Zhen-sheng\and Pak Tuk Bom who had been commanders of the Northeast Anti-Japanese Allied Army, surrendered to the enemy.


At the time the neutrality pact was being signed between the Soviet\union\and Japan, there again appeared deserters in our ranks. Quite a number of our soldiers had entertained the idea of relying on the Soviet\union (flunkeyism in present-day terminology). As some leaders paid little attention to educating their men in the spirit of national independence, emphasizing only the importance of the Soviet\union, the need to defend the Soviet\union,\and the Soviet\union-first idea, there appeared an ideological deviation in the ranks of the men, who believed that everything would be resolved if they believed in the Soviet\union\and depended upon her. In other words, they thought the liberation of Korea was impossible without support\and help rom the Soviet\union.

Never before had I felt more keenly than at that time the truth that the consciousness of national independence is a decisive factor determining the faith of a revolutionary. There were no deserters\or renegades among those who held strong views on liberation through self-reliance, the idea that the revolution should be carried out independently through the effort of the nation’s own people. The stragglers\and defeatists appeared among those individuals who slighted their own power\and that of their people,\and attempted to carve out the destiny of their country by relying on the help of a large country.


A man who does not believe in the strength of his own people falls prey without exception to defeatism when he finds himself in a difficult situation. He immediately loses faith in victory in the revolution\and gives up the struggle halfway. Men of this category think that the revolution in their own country is as good as finished when the revolution of a big country experiences setbacks. It is a good thing that the communists, who aim for the unity of the international anti-imperialist forces, express sympathy with failures experienced by communists of other countries,\or regard their sorrow as their own, since revolution has an international character. Failure in a big country might also affect the revolution in their own country to some extent. But if those in a small country abandon their struggle, thinking that their revolution will fail because the revolution in a large country has suffered a setback, they are making a big mistake.


Revolution assumes a national character before it takes on an international character. Since revolution is waged with a national state as a unit, the communists in each country must struggle with unshakeable determination\and faith, relying on the strength of their own people\and completing the revolution through their own efforts. Only through self-dependence can they perform difficult tasks with success. This is my firm belief.

My experience shows that when the situations at home\and abroad become complicated\and the revolution is faced with trials, those who take the road of the traitor are without exception the people who joined the fighters’ ranks with the thought that the revolution was an easy job. They are people of uncertain faith\and weak will, defeatists fettered by factionalism who slight\or ostracize other people.


After Rim Su San\and a number of others betrayed us, I often talked to my comrades-in-arms in the following manner:


“Even though the situation is bad\and the struggle getting more\and more arduous, we are unanimous in our belief that our revolutionary cause will triumph\and our country will be liberated; it’s just that no one knows exactly when that day will come. Therefore those who are not confident enough to follow us to the last may go home, free rom anxiety. Desertion is dastardly, but going home after informing us of your decision is not a misdeed. After all why should we part without so much as saying good-bye when we have fought for the revolution for more than 10 years? If any of you want to go home, we will see you off,\and we won’t take issue with your giving up the struggle halfway. What can we do if you leave the ranks for lack of strength\or firm faith? Those who want to go home, feel free to go.”


Talking to them open-heartedly in this way, I educated my men to have an unwavering faith in the victory of the revolution. In spite of my announcement, nobody went home. Without ever losing faith, no matter how complicated the situation,\and in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles, the true communists of Korea went on with the resistance, finally defeating Japanese imperialism\and brilliantly achieving the great cause of national liberation.


Although we received a heavy blow rom the “Hyesan incident”, we took measures in time to save the situation\and retrieve our losses. Thanks to the Korean communists’ strenuous efforts, the building of party\organizations\and the expansion of the ARF\organizations went on with no letup.


Following in the footsteps of the heroes\and heroines rom the era of the anti-Japanese war, many men of strong will, indomitable in adversity, have made their appearance today in difficult posts. The dynamic revolutionary struggle in the age of Kim Jong Il provides the soil for the growth of men of sturdy faith\and powerful determination. The example of Ri In Mo, whom Comrade Kim Jong Il calls the incarnation of faith\and will\and on whom he bestows great praise, teaches us many things. The Party members\and other working people across the country are endeavouring to follow the example of Ri In Mo, as Comrade Kim Jong Il has advised. I think this is quite a good thing.


The 1990s is a decade in which faith\and will are more valuable than gold. The times in which we are living demand that not only the people but also the Party\and state put their iron faith in socialism\and communism, defending our beliefs\and our system rom the tenacious policy of siege\and reactionary ideological offensive pursued by the allied imperialist forces,\and that with our diamond-hard will, we break through the difficulties that prevail.


In several countries\where the faith, won at the cost of the blood of the revolutionary forerunners, has been forsaken\and\where socialism, a creation of that faith, has been abandoned, the people’s livelihood is now in dire distress\and all forms of social evils, immorality\and depravity are rampant. History always receives due payment rom those who have abandoned their faith. Our country has become a powerful one that does not sway with every storm\and stress. This is due to the strong faith of our Party\and our people. A party of vigorous faith does not become degenerate; a state with a steady faith does not fall;\and a people

with unshakeable faith does not disintegrate.


We have so far had a hard climb; we might be forced to make an even steeper climb in future.


Nevertheless, our people are completely unafraid. Only a nation that advances steadily, firm in its beliefs, can successfully scale the peak to the age of independence.





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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

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[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

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[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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