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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 20 6. Women Fighters\\and Revolutionary Honour

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작성자 편집국 작성일20-09-12 19:16 댓글0건

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 20 6. Women Fighters\and Revolutionary Honour

  

   

 


 

6. Women Fighters\and Revolutionary Honour 


 Throughout his life the respected leader Comrade Kim Il Sung often recollected women guerrillas who had heroically laid down their lives in the battlefield\and on the gallows, not seeing the day of national liberation, women who remained loyal to the revolution until death.

This section contains some of the fatherly leader’s recollections on women fighters who sacrificed their lives without the slightest hesitation during the most trying period of our struggle for the sake of the revolution\and who preserved their honour as communists to the very end.


I am greatly satisfied with the newly-built Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery we have just seen. You have worked hard to build it.


How many women fighters are buried here? More than ten, certainly. That is as it should be. They all deserve to have their monuments set up\and epitaphs inscribed on these monuments.


Ri Sun Hui fought well as a worker of the Young Communist League. She had once been the head of the Wangqing County children’s department. I know her well. She was a woman of principle. Showing contempt for this young woman, the enemy attempted to squeeze the secret of our underground\organizations out of her, but they failed. She was put to cruel torture, but she refused to divulge the secret. Such fighters as Ri Sun Hui must be held up as models for the coming generations.


Jang Kil Bu was not a guerrilla herself, but she lived a worthy life as the mother of Ma Tong Hui, a revolutionary. She also sent her daughter\and daughter-in-law to the guerrilla army\and helped other revolutionaries in their work. Her son, daughter\and daughter-in-law all fell in the armed struggle. Everyone who fought, arms in hand, against the Japanese, is a hero\or heroine. Had there been an official Hero award in those days, Mother Jang’s children would have all been awarded the title of Hero. Therefore, as a mother of one hero\and two heroines, she must naturally be enshrined in the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery. Old as she was, Mother Jang also played an active part in socialist construction.


All the other women who are buried here fought, arms in hand, shoulder to shoulder with us men for the revolution against the Japanese.


Two women fighters are placed in the same row as Comrades Kim Chaek\and Kang Kon. This is evidence of the position\and role of our women in the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle. Some veterans, particularly Kim Il, Rim Chun Chu\and Choe Hyon, requested me earnestly to have Kim Jong Suk’s bust put up there, saying that this was the unanimous desire of the people\and of her comrades-in-arms.


I recommended Choe Hui Suk for that row. She was an honourable fighter who deserves her place in the top row. In view of their friendship during the anti-Japanese revolution, it is also natural that she should be placed in the same row with Kim Jong Suk. When Kim Jong Suk was carrying out her difficult task in the enemy-ruled Taoquanli area, Choe Hui Suk, who was active in Yaofangzi, helped her in secret. Kim Jong Suk was able to apply herself to the work of building\organizations at Sinpha because Choe Hui Suk in Yaofangzi was of such great help to her. Also, in the autumn of 1939, when a large number of uniforms were needed in the Wukoujiang area, Choe Hui Suk did a great job while working hand in hand with Kim Jong Suk. In recognition of her high sense of responsibility\and success in completing this job, I made a present of a gold ring\and a watch to her.


Choe Hui Suk was a ranking veteran among women fighters of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. She joined the army probably in 1932. This was when the anti-Japanese armed forces were being\organized throughout the counties of eastern Manchuria, wasn’t it? There were many women fighters in the KPRA, but only a few of them had enlisted as early as 1932. A soldier who took up arms in 1932 is worthy of being treated as a veteran.


As far as I remember, I met her first in the spring of 1936. In that spring many women who had been fighting in the units active in Yanji\and Helong were admitted into our main force. Kim Jong Suk\and Choe Hui Suk were among them.


All the women fighters addressed Choe Hui Suk as “elder sister”. Many men fighters did too. By age, she was an elder sister to most of us. She was several years older than I. I think among the women soldiers she was one of the elders, next to Kim Myong Hwa\and Jang Chol Gu.


She was called “elder sister”, not just because she was older, but also because she was always so exemplary in her everyday life\and in carrying out her duties.\and she took good care of her comrades-in-arms. She had worked for several years in regional\organizations, such as the Young Communist League\and Women’s Association,\and among the Chinese anti-Japanese units. In the course of all this she had acquired high political qualifications\and leadership ability, so I used to give her a lot of difficult assignments. She continued to work as the head of the sewing unit of the KPRA after the Xiaohaerbaling meeting because she enjoyed our trust.


The commanding officers\and soldiers of the main force constantly marvelled at her absolute loyalty\and revolutionary spirit. Everything she did touched the hearts of her comrades-in-arms. More than once I was moved by her noble sense of morality\and by her personality. During the Arduous March I saw her mending the torn uniforms of her comrades by the campfire, warming her frozen fingers now\and again, in the dead of night when the others were all asleep. She never rested for a few days before finishing any job, even if it meant having to allay her hunger with water. Whenever we talked about success in her work, she always gave credit to her comrades-in-arms for it. I can still remember her embarrassment on receiving her gold ring\and watch at the awards ceremony for men\and women of merit as she stammered out: “Many of us worked hard to make uniforms. If I alone am accorded special treatment in this way. ...”


After the Xiaohaerbaling meeting, she took part in small-unit operations. On her way to Headquarters to convey some important information one day, she encountered “punitive” enemy troops, who were going over the mountains with a fine-tooth comb in search of us.

 

Discovering her small unit, the enemy pursued them tenaciously to capture the guerrillas. She was surrounded, got a bullet through her leg\and was captured.


The enemy put her to torture brutal beyond all deion to extract the secret information rom her. They even gouged out her eyes. No threats\or torture, however, could break her revolutionary spirit.


Just before her death she shouted:


“I have no eyes, but I can still see victory in the revolution!”


Enraged by her shout, the enemy carved out her heart to see what sort of heart a communist had. What difference is there between the heart of a revolutionary\and that of others? A heart bears no marks to indicate a revolutionary\or a traitor. The heart of a revolutionary beats for his country, nation\and comrades-in-arms,\whereas the heart of a traitor beats only for himself.


I was told that as soon as they took Choe Hui Suk prisoner, the enemy robbed her of the gold ring that we had awarded her. Nevertheless, they could not take away her cherished trust in us\and her loyalty to us.


Even after they had torn out her heart, they failed to understand how she could have remained so honourable.


Those who do not love their country with a pure heart can never know what revolutionary honour is, nor can they understand the noble\and beautiful spiritual world that grows out of a communist outlook on life.


At the news of Choe Hui Suk’s death, all of us mourned, bitter with regret that she had died without seeing the day of national liberation for which she had longed so eagerly. The women guerrillas were so overcome with grief that they could no longer eat.


I was lost in sorrow for a long time.


However, we derived great strength rom her words, “I can still see victory in the revolution!” She had shouted this under the worst imaginable circumstances, manacled as she was\and with her eyes gouged out by the enemy. What an unbreakable, proud revolutionary spirit shines through these words! Not everyone could shout such words of defiance under similar circumstances. These are famous words, the kind that can be spoken only by those convinced of the validity\and truth of their cause, only by fighters with a strong sense of revolutionary honour. The words are the very summary of the life of the woman fighter Choe Hui Suk.


“I can still see victory in the revolution!”–this has now become the maxim of our people, especially our younger generation, which symbolizes revolutionary optimism. This woman fighter’s shout still rings in the minds of our people.


I value optimism\and love optimistic people. “There will be a way out even if the sky falls in!” is one of my important mottoes. Because I am an optimist myself, I have been able to go through hell\and high water without vacillation\or deviation\and continue to lead the revolution\and construction in good health today.


I still remember the words that Choe Hui Suk, robbed of her eyes, shouted at the last moment of her life because they represent the strong will\and unshakeable conviction of all Korean communists.


I repeat that Choe Hui Suk is a woman revolutionary who can take her place proudly in the first line of our revolutionary ranks amongst all the others who overcame trying\ordeals.


Pak Won Chun, Choe Hui Suk’s husband, served a prison term in Sodaemun Prison.


There were many other women fighters who died with enormous courage, as Choe Hui Suk did.


An Sun Hwa also ended her life heroically. It is not easy to die a heroic death.


An Sun Hwa was Ri Pong Su’s wife. They fought in the same unit, her husband working as the surgeon\and she as the head of the sewing unit.


They had had five children. All of them, however, were either killed\or separated rom their parents during the guerrilla fighting. Their first child, who had all his toes amputated because of frostbite, was sent to the Soviet\union along with other serious cases; the second died of measles,\and the third was stabbed to death with a bayonet by the Japanese who attacked the guerrilla base. The fourth starved to death,\and the fifth was given to another family. There is no knowing whether he is alive\or dead,\or\where he lives. Since Ri Pong Su’s reminiscences have been published on several occasions, the fifth child, if still alive, could be expected to get in touch with his father, but I have not heard of this happening yet.


The fifth child, if given to another family before he was two years old, may well not know about his real parents. His foster parents may not have told him that he had been adopted.


An Sun Hwa was captured by the enemy in the spring of 1938. One day when the guerrillas in the secret camp were preparing to leave for southern Manchuria by\order of Headquarters, the enemy’s “punitive” force suddenly pounced upon the camp.


The secret camp at that time was staffed mainly by medical personnel\and members of the sewing unit. An Sun Hwa was captured by the enemy\and put through cruel suffering.


The enemy tortured her, demanding the\whereabouts of the guerrillas, foodstuffs, ammunition\and medicine stores. The commander of the “punitive” force also tried enticing her with honeyed words, saying it was pointless for her to shed her blood\and waste her precious young life in a hopeless cause.

Had An Sun Hwa answered their questions obediently, afraid of torture, the enemy would not have killed her.


The Japanese in those days used the method of offering “generous treatment” to defectors in\order to disintegrate our revolutionary ranks. A defector could escape death by writing down his guarantor’s name\and putting his thumbmark on the defector’s application, even if he had been engaged in armed resistance\and had been shouting “Down with Japanese Imperialism” only the day before.


It was really great that An Sun Hwa, a frail woman, should have resisted the enemy’s cajoling\and endured their torture. The enemy kicked her, stomped on her\and pulled out her hair. As she stubbornly resisted, yelling “You, beasts!”, “You, fiends!” at them, the enemy drove wooden stakes into her chest\and belly, saying they would not waste bullets to kill her.


A man instinctively makes a face if a thorn pierces the palm of his hand.


What agony An Sun Hwa must have suffered as the stakes were driven through her body, tearing into her flesh\and bones!


Despite the pain, however, An Sun Hwa never gave up her principles as a revolutionary. She said what she wanted to say\and remained faithful to her convictions to the end. The moment the stakes penetrated her body, she shouted with all the strength she could muster, “Long live the Korean revolution!”\and “Long live the emancipation of women!”


After her death, her comrades-in-arms took everything out of her knapsack to dispose of her few possessions. Among these was a serge skirt that her husband Ri Pong Su had bought her with the money he had earned as a stevedore in Vladivostok towards the end of the 1920s, as well as a desk cloth she had not finished knitting.


She had kept her serge skirt in her knapsack without wearing it for ten years, I was told. Why had she kept it so carefully? She must have wanted to wear it after the country was liberated. This fact alone shows us how firmly convinced she was of the coming victory in the revolution. The desk cloth she knitted at odd moments with thread she had unravelled rom a worn-out shirt must also have been intended to be spread over her husband’s desk after the liberation of the fatherland.


When covering her dead body with that serge skirt, her husband sobbed bitterly at the sight of the pleats of the skirt, which were still perfectly straight after ten years.


In the anti-Japanese armed units fighting in northern Manchuria also there were many women fighters like Choe Hui Suk\and An Sun Hwa.


Han Ju Ae is a good example of how strongly devoted Korean women fighters in northern Manchuria were to their revolutionary principles. In charge of the sewing unit, Han Ju Ae was making padded uniforms of the guerrillas at a service camp. One day, caught in a sudden attack on the camp by the enemy’s “punitive” force, she was captured with her little daughter. The Japanese seized her while she was firing back hopelessly at the “punitive” troops, deliberately exposing herself to them in\order to give her comrades-in-arms the chance to get away safely.

 

She was kept behind bars for several months. The enemy put mother\and daughter into separate cells, saying it was an “extravagance” to keep mother\and daughter in the same cell. In\order to bring Han Ju Ae to her knees, they brought her daughter to meet her mother occasionally in an attempt to take advantage of Han Ju Ae’s maternal love. No enemy trickery, however, could make her abandon her revolutionary principles.


The enemy finally shot her on the bank of the Ussuri River. The interrogators at the Japanese gendarmerie had told her that they would spare her life if she admitted that she repented of what she had done, but she refused to give in to the last.


Eight members of a sewing unit of the guerrilla army active in northern Manchuria, including An Sun Bok\and Ri Pong Son, while fighting against the enemy that was closing in on them, threw themselves into the deep waters of the Mudan River before they could be captured. There was a similar instance also among the women fighters of the guerrilla army in eastern Manchuria. On their way to Neidaoshan, seven young women fighters encircled by the enemy committed suicide by drowning themselves into the Fuer River. Their heroic death created yet another legend in the history of the anti-Japanese revolution.


One year when I was visiting China I saw\and was deeply moved by a film describing the struggle of the eight women martyrs of Mudanjiang.


Not only the women fighters in northern Manchuria, but also Ri Sun Jol, a dear “sister” to the guerrillas in southern Manchuria, kept her honour as a revolutionary.


Another heroine, Kim Su Bok, was arrested\and killed while conducting underground activities in Zhujingdong, Changbai County.


A hero\or heroine is not a special being.\ordinary women, such as Choe Hui Suk, An Sun Hwa\and the seven women martyrs of eastern Manchuria, can also become heroines.


When Jo Ok Hui, chairwoman of the Women’s\union of Pyoksong County, was captured\and killed by the enemy while fighting as a guerrilla in an enemy-held area during the strategic retreat in the Fatherland Liberation War, we awarded her the title of Hero of the Republic. She also was a woman of strong will, loyal to the revolution just as Choe Hui Suk\and An Sun Hwa had been. The enemy pulled out her fingernails\and toe nails, gouged out her eyes, cut off her breasts\and burned her with a red-hot iron rod. However, she never succumbed, but denounced them\and died a heroic death, shouting “Long live the Workers’ Party of Korea!”


How many of the enemy might Jo Ok Hui have killed–if any–while waging the guerrilla struggle? We value her high spirit\and the revolutionary constancy with which she held her head high\and declared the downfall of the enemy on her way to the execution site, rather than the number of enemy she actually killed. This was why we decided to honour her with the title of Hero. How marvellous it is that an\ordinary woman, who had been engaged in farming\and the work of Women’s\union, should have crowned the last moment of her life with such honour! I wanted to bring her to prominence in the eyes of our own people\and to prod the conscience of world community, so I had a film made about her. I also set up her statue\and named the cooperative farm in her native village after her.


The respected leader Comrade Kim Il Sung, while looking around the Korean Revolution Museum, paused for a long while before a braid of hair on display there. It belonged to the anti-Japanese fighter Ri Kye Sun. She had cut the braid off at the age of 16\and sent it to her mother as proof of her strong desire to devote herself to the revolution.

Looking at the braid for a long time that day, the great leader earnestly requested that it be carefully looked after, for it was a precious piece of history. Later he warmly recollected Ri Kye Sun.


The story of the hair is eloquent proof of what a great\and laudable revolutionary Comrade Ri Kye Sun was. Looking at it, I think of the pure-hearted, strong-willed devotion of all Korean mothers, sisters\and women revolutionaries to their principles.


Korean women are outwardly gentle, but strong-minded on the inside. They are also strongly faithful to their fundamental beliefs. I keenly felt this in the course of our revolutionary struggle against the Japanese. I must say that Ri Kye Sun’s hair symbolizes the faith of all our women revolutionaries.


When I was carrying out the underground struggle in Manchuria, my mother had placed her hair inside my shoes, the cut-off hair she had kept carefully for several years since in her days in Korea. One cold winter day I trudged across an uninhabited region in a raging snowstorm. I walked a long distance, yet my feet were not cold; on the contrary, the longer I walked, the more warmth I felt in the soles of my feet. Reaching my destination, I pulled off my shoes, inspected them\and found my mother’s hair lining the interior.


I thought at that moment that there is no greater affection than that of a mother. My mother’s hair inside my shoes was the truest manifestation of her maternal love.


When the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai was set up\and Independence Army\organizations such as Jongui-bu, Chamui-bu\and Sinmin-bu came into being in Northeast China, imposing taxes on the Korean residents, a considerable number of Korean women sold their hair for independence contributions, I was told. Their hair was a symbol of their patriotism.


I am recounting past events related to hair while talking about Ri Kye Sun because her hair can give us a full picture of her personality.


Comrades Kim Il\and Pak Yong Sun also know about her because they fought together with her. If you want to collect materials about Ri Kye Sun, you had better interview the First Vice-Premier Kim Il\and Comrade Pak Yong Sun. Some people claim it’s dull talking to Kim Il because he is so taciturn. They don’t know him well enough. Though he never boasts of himself, Kim Il is loud\and voluble in praise of others.


Ri Kye Sun took the road to revolution in the wake of her brother, Ri Ji Chun. When I was in the Jilin Yuwen Middle School, Ri Ji Chun studied at a normal school in Jilin\and was engaged in the revolutionary struggle under our guidance. Later, when he returned to Helong\where his parents lived to guide the work of the Young Communist League there, he was arrested\and killed by the enemy. The enemy set fire to his dead body, so that he was killed twice, so to speak.

 

Ri Kye Sun heard of her brother’s death in the Yulangcun guerrilla zone,\where she had been staying.


At dawn the following day she untied her hair, cut it off\and braided it.


She sent the braid to her mother with the following note:


“Mother! What pain you must be feeling at Brother’s death in addition to my leaving home!


“Please do not grieve over it, though. Do not show your tears to the enemy.


“I am sending you my braid, Mother. I may not come back to see you for a long time. Look on this braid as if it were me. With all my heart I wish you the best of health till the day of victory in the revolution!”


This was her farewell to her mother. There was no doubt that she was determined to devote the rest of her life to the revolution.


According to Pak Yong Sun, who did underground work in Helong for several years, since her childhood Ri Kye Sun had been loved by many people for her revolutionary awareness\and extraordinary talents.


In the summer of 1933 she was instructed by the party\organization to go to Longjing City for underground activities. Her main task was to restore the wrecked underground\organizations\and form new ones\where there were none. The Longjing area, one of the Japanese major strongholds, was infested with enemy soldiers, policemen\and secret agents. Japanese intelligence agencies there had highly sensitive tentacles.


The fact that the revolutionary\organization in the guerrilla zone dispatched Ri Kye Sun, who did not have much experience in underground work, to that place showed how much confidence it placed in her.


In those days the party, the Women’s Association, the Children’s Vanguard\and other mass\organizations in Longjing City had been destroyed\and most of their members were behind bars.


With strong determination to solve everything on her own, Ri Kye Sun became an odd-job woman in a noodle shop, a popular place frequented by many people. No one would have thought that a country-woman doing odd jobs in the kitchen of a noodle shop, her face stained with soot, might be an underground operative rom the Communist Party. The noodle shop was an ideal base for her activities.


Ri Kye Sun fetched water, washed clothes\and the dishes\and did whatever her employer told her. Her employer felt lucky to have such a good servant.


In\order to restore the destroyed\organizations\and build new ones, Ri Kye Sun needed a job requiring her to work outdoors all day long. For this purpose, the job of delivering noodles would be perfect. In those days rich\and influential families used to\order noodles\and have them delivered to their door. Sitting cross-legged in their homes, they would\order several plates of potato-starch noodles\and meat soup, which the delivery men then carried in separate containers on large wooden trays to their homes.


By earning the confidence of the wife of her employer, Ri Kye Sun took the job of delivery woman. Whenever she went out to deliver noodles she used to meet members of various\organizations at odd moments. In the meantime, she set out to restore the Children’s Vanguard\organizations. Her job, however, was not as easy as one might think, for she had to walk several miles a day, carrying the wooden tray full of noodles on her head. One day, hurrying to a customer’s house with the wooden tray on her head, she suddenly noticed a Japanese police van rushing towards her. In trying to dodge it, she\dropped the tray\and broke all the noodle dishes.


Because of this accident, she was given a dressing down\and taken off the delivery service. She did not despair, however; after her daily work in the kitchen was over, she practised walking with a wooden tray full of stones on her head in the back yard of the noodle shop till late at night, in spite of her fatigue.

Her great enthusiasm won her employer’s sympathy.


Probably she was about 17 years old at that time.


By the time they were 15\or 16 the women fighters had already launched themselves into political activities. In their teens, they would make stirring speeches, do underground work in the enemy-ruled areas\and participate in building\organizations. At that age they had a good knowledge of the world. As a generation that had grown up through hardships brought on by the loss of their country, they were more developed than young people nowadays. This does not mean, however, that everyone who experiences hardships


will automatically understand the world before anyone else,\or commit himself to fighting. What is important is one’s ideology. Only when one is prepared ideologically can one make an early revolutionary start\and render distinguished service in the revolution. One cannot carry out the revolution unless one is sound ideologically. Ri Kye Sun was loyal to the revolution because she was a woman of sound ideology.


Some people nowadays turn a deaf ear to what 20-year-olds have to say, dismissing them as “babies smelling of their mothers’ milk”.


Even those dealing with personnel management often consider young people in their twenties to be still ignorant of world affairs. They think that only people in their thirties, forties\and fifties are qualified to be cadres. They are grossly mistaken. Young people in their twenties, if entrusted with responsibilities, are perfectly able to discharge them. I keenly experienced this in the struggle to build the Party, the state\and the army immediately after liberation.

During the anti-Japanese revolution young people in their twenties worked as county\or provincial party secretaries, division commanders\and corps commanders. I myself commanded the revolutionary army in my twenties. If young people are not promoted to leadership, the ranks of our cadres may become senile\and our advance will lose momentum. The old, middle-aged\and young must be properly combined when cadres are being promoted.

Ri Kye Sun came into the limelight in eastern Manchuria when her husband Kim Il Hwan, who was the party secretary of Helong County, was killed by the chauvinists on a false charge of involvement in the “Minsaengdan”. At that time the people in the Jiandao area all cursed\and hated those who had masterminded the murder of her husband\and sympathized with her.


Many people thought that Ri Kye Sun might abandon the revolution\or leave the guerrilla zone, disillusioned by the doings of the party leadership in eastern Manchuria. In those days many\organization members\and guerrillas in Jiandao abhorred the Leftist, reckless acts of the eastern Manchuria party leadership\and turned their backs on the guerrilla zone. The ultra-Leftist anti-“Minsaengdan” struggle, in fact, tarnished the image of all communists.


An\ordinary woman would have left the guerrilla zone, disgusted at the revolution,\or might have felt disheartened\and idled away her time lamenting over her lot. Ri Kye Sun, on the contrary, braced herself with strong determination\and strove to discharge her duty so as to contribute to the revolution\and prove that her husband, a man of rectitude\and conscience, had done nothing to disgrace the revolution.


A famine in the Chechangzi guerrilla zone left her undernourished in the last month of her pregnancy. In spite of this, she gathered edible herbs\and stripped off tree bark almost every day for the starving invalids in the guerrilla zone. She worried more about them than about herself\and the new life to come. When the source of this wild food ran short, she caught frogs\and gathered spawn for people on the verge of starvation.


When the baby was born, she could not yield milk. To make matters worse, the guerrilla zone was dissolved. After putting her little daughter in the care of her mother-in-law, who was leaving for the enemy-ruled area, Ri Kye Sun joined the guerrilla army. The baby she had handed over to her mother-in-law was the daughter of Kim Il Hwan, born after his death.


Her parting with her daughter was a tearful event. The infant was kicking, refusing to be torn rom her mother’s embrace, her mother-in-law weeping\and Ri Kye Sun herself turning back\and hugging her daughter again\and again, sobbing in pity for her baby. It was a tragic parting indeed!


When relatives, friends\and comrades-in-arms had to go in different directions because of the dissolution of the guerrilla zone, everyone bid farewell to each other in tears, just as Ri Kye Sun did.


Ri Kye Sun’s mother-in-law is said to have taken great pains to bring up her granddaughter. Suckling on charity could be done once\or twice, but not constantly. So her mother-in-law herself had to chew up grains of barley\or maize, then put them into the baby’s mouth, I was told.


Ri Kye Sun was a fighter who took up arms with unbearable misery\and pain in her heart. She joined our unit in Fusong.

Some time after her enlistment we sent her to a field hospital because she was suffering rom frostbite\and unable to fight in the combat unit. At first she refused to go, begging me in tears to be allowed to remain on the battle front. 


However, I did not listen to her entreaties. I told her: “You don’t seem to know how dreadful frostbite can be. You will have many chances to fight later, but you must go to hospital right now. My father also died as a result of cold injuries. How useful will you be if all of your toes rot\and you become a cripple, walking on crutches?” At this, she reluctantly agreed to get treatment at the hospital.


She was treated at the field hospital of the Heixiazigou Secret Camp quite near Mt. Paektu. On the Lunar New Year’s Day, 1937, I looked around the service camps in the Hengshan area. On that day the members of the weapons repair shop headed by Pak Yong Sun made potato-starch noodles for me with a noodle press made of tin.


When we went to the hospital, Ri Kye Sun bustled about, treating us to food. According to Doctor Song, Ri Kye Sun was not content to merely get treatment, but became nurse\and cook on her own, overtiring herself.


Leaving the hospital I told Ri Kye Sun to get treatment only\and refrain rom doing anything else. I warned her in a half threatening tone that otherwise she would never be cured.


I never saw her again after that. I only sent letters\and aid goods to those in the hospital through messengers on several occasions.


While we were away rom the Mt. Paektu area for a while, the enemy hurled “punitive” troops at the service camps of our unit. The hospital in charge of Doctor Song was also taken by surprise. Pak Sun Il fell in the battle\and Ri Kye Sun was captured by the enemy\and dragged to Changbai County. Only Ri Tu Su survived.


Unaware of the incident, I sent Kim Jong Phil\and Han Cho Nam as messengers to carry food to the comrades in the hospital. I told the mes-sengers that they should bring all the patients back, believing that they would have been cured of their illness. They returned with only Ri Tu Su, however, who had changed beyond recognition\and looked like an animal. Only then did we find out about the calamity that had befallen the field hospital.


I sent reconnaissance teams to various places to find out Ri Kye Sun’s\whereabouts\and fate. They all brought me the heart-rending news that she had been killed ten days\or so after her capture. Members of the reconnaissance team met some Changbai people who had said they had witnessed Ri Kye Sun’s death.


According to them, Ri Kye Sun was shot to death on a market day. The enemy had gathered all the local residents in a school playground, boasting that a “converted” woman of the communist army would make a public “recantation”. They had also herded all the peddlers rom Hyesan into the playground.


Why had Ri Kye Sun asked the enemy to give her an official opportunity for addressing the local people? I think we can see here the true nature of Ri Kye Sun as a communist. She wanted the people all together in the playground because she intended to bid farewell to them by speaking up for the revolution\and against the Japanese. Had she truly recanted, the enemy might have spared her life. Ri Kye Sun, however, had not chosen such a despicable course of action, but was prepared to face death. Anyone ready to die fears neither guns nor swords\and feels free to say whatever he wants.


She addressed the assembled people with the words: “I will die, but the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army is strong\and its Commander is in good health. No force in the world can defeat the KPRA. The day when Japanese imperialism is destroyed\and our fatherland is liberated is very close at hand. All of you must unite in mind\and body, rise up against enemy suppression\and fight the war of resistance to the Japanese.”


Ri Kye Sun did her best to the last moment of her life to discharge her mission\and duty as a servant, educator\and propagandist faithful to the people.


What a great surprise it must have been to the enemy to hear the woman of the communist army speaking up for revolution against the Japanese, quite contrary to their bragging that she would “recant”.


I’m told the old-time inhabitants of Changbai still remember vividly the sight they witnessed that time. This means Ri Kye Sun’s speech obviously made a great impact on the inhabitants of the area.


Ri Kye Sun became a famous woman fighter because she illuminated her last moments with such a heroic deed. The crowning glory of her life was her last moment. It can be said that the high point in one’s life means the time when a person’s mental powers\and activities reach their apex. The arrival of this high point varies with people. Some may experience it in their twenties, some in their fifties,\and still others in their sixties\or seventies.


People like Ri Kye Sun\and Choe Hui Suk who end their lives brilliantly become a part of history for ever, while those who win fame but meet their last moment with dishonour sink into oblivion.


That is why I still remember Ri Kye Sun. We can be rightly proud of such a woman fighter as Ri Kye Sun in the eyes of the world. Her heroic life can be a good theme for a revolutionary novel\or film. She was a true daughter of the Korean nation\and the perfect model of a woman revolutionary.


Ri Kye Sun’s mother had worried herself sick for a long time because she did not know whether her granddaughter, Ri Kye Sun’s daughter, was alive\or dead. Only after the Korean War did she find out that her granddaughter was studying at Kim Il Sung University. It was then that she handed over her daughter’s braid to her granddaughter. The braid that had been handed back\and forth over three generations was a symbol of the valuable life of martyr Ri Kye Sun. The mother, whose face\and voice had faded rom the memory of her daughter because of their forced separation when the daughter was still only a baby, coming back to her daughter as a braid of hair–what a tragic meeting it is! The daughter wept\and wept, rubbing her cheek against the braid.


Ri Kye Sun’s daughter is now faithfully carrying forward the revolution her parents pioneered at the cost of their lives.


There would be no end if we were to enumerate all the examples of women fighters who lived up to their dignity\and honour as revolutionaries by sacrificing their lives without the slightest hesitation.


My assertion that women push forward one wheel of the revolution is not an abstract notion. It is based on the history of the bloody revolutionary struggle against the Japanese\and on my own actual experiences as a direct participant in the emancipation of Korean women, as well as an eyewitness to their struggle



 Related articles

[Reminiscences]Chapter 18. In the Flames of the Sino-Japanese War 6. My Experience of the “Hyesan Incident”

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  1. The Matanggou Secret Camp

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  2. The Weasel Hunter

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  3. The Last of the Independence Army Forces

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  4. Village Headman Wang\and Police Chief Wang

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  5. Expedition to Rehe

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  6. My Meeting with Yang Jing-yu

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  7. Grandmother Ri Po Ik

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  8. In the Forest of Nanpaizi

[Reminiscences]Chapter 20. For a Fresh Upsurge of the Revolution 1. Arduous March

[Reminiscences]Chapter 20. For a Fresh Upsurge of the Revolution 2. The Lesson of Qingfeng

[Reminiscences]Chapter 20. For a Fresh Upsurge of the Revolution 3. The Salt Incident

[Reminiscences]Chapter 20. For a Fresh Upsurge of the Revolution 4. Battle of Taehongdan

[Reminiscences]Chapter 20. For a Fresh Upsurge of the Revolution 5. The Tano Festival at Yushidong


 

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