[Reminiscences]Chapter 21 3. Confronted by Hundreds of Thousands of “Punitive” Troops > 새 소식

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 21 3. Confronted by Hundreds of Thousands of “Punitive” Troops

  

   

 


 

3. Confronted by Hundreds of Thousands of “Punitive” Troops 


 From the autumn of 1939 to the spring of 1941 the Japanese imperialists conducted unprecedentedly large-scale “punitive” operations in the three provinces in southeastern Manchuria against the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. They called this procedure a “special clean-up campaign for maintaining public peace”.


After reading the accounts of Nozoe, the mastermind of the campaign,\and those of his subordinate commanders of the “punitive” forces, about their defeat in this campaign, the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung told his officials, “Considering the fact that the Japanese officers, who loved to talk big, spoke dejectedly like this, they must have had a tough time of it. Not to mention the hardships I\and my men went through. The battles were decisive.”


He then recollected the confrontation with the enemy in detail.


The period rom the late 1930s to the early 1940s was the most difficult in our armed struggle. Both the Arduous March\and the large-scale “punitive” operations conducted by the Japanese imperialists in the three provinces in southeastern Manchuria in the name of a “special clean-up campaign for maintaining public peace” were a tremendous trial for us. Jilin, Tonghua\and Jiandao were the three southeastern provinces. The struggle at every stage was both stressful\and complicated,\and I cannot forget the tribulations we experienced at that time.


It was by pure chance that we found out the enemy was planning to launch long-term, large-scale “punitive” operations rom the autumn of 1939 on.

A company commander of the Chinese “Fengtian unit”, who had been captured by us at the Battle of Wukoujiang in June that year, revealed the secret to us. In that battle we captured many enemy officers\and men. They wondered why the revolutionary army released all the prisoners of war\and even gave them travelling money. Before releasing them, we\selected a number of intelligent men rom among the POWs who wanted to join the guerrillas\and gave them an assignment to help us while serving in the enemy forces. One of the officers who returned to the puppet Manchukuo army after being educated by us was a company commander. He informed us that a “Jiandao area punitive force” had been\organized, that his company had been attached to the force, that the “punitive” operations would be launched in early October on an unprecedentedly large scale,\and that if the revolutionary army did not take countermeasures promptly, it might suffer heavy losses.


Thanks to his information, we were able to take time to prepare against the enemy attack.


This scheme of a “special clean-up campaign” was quite extraordinary. In the first place, it involved all the Japanese\and puppet Manchukuo


army\and police in an unprecedented “punitive” offensive.


It was, in fact, a large-scale war that was to mobilize as many as 200,000 army\and police troops rom Japan\and Manchukuo, including even paramilitary\organizations of all types, under the direct supervision\and command of Umez, chief of the Kwantung Army,\and the Public Security Minister for the puppet state of Manchukuo.


After we declared war against Japan, the Japanese imperialists launched annual “punitive” operations against us, enlarging the scope of these operations year after year.


Their siege operations in the years after 1934\and the “punitive” campaign in northern Dongbiandao rom the autumn of 1936 on were large in scale.

The new “punitive” campaign being prepared in the name of the “special clean-up campaign”, however, surpassed all previous campaigns not only in the number of men used but also in the size of the area in which it would be carried out.


During the “operations for public peace in northern Dongbiandao” in 1936 the theatre of operations of the “Tonghua Punitive Command”, headed by Sasaki, was confined to one province, but the theatre of operations of the “Nozoe Punitive Command” in 1939 covered the three provinces of Jilin, Tonghua\and Jiandao, as well as Ningan County in Mudanjiang Province–our provinces in effect.


An article in Manchukuo Army describes part of the preparations for the “special clean-up campaign for maintaining public peace in the southeastern areas” as follows:


“The Kwantung Army budgeted three million yen for the campaign\and says no more can be earmarked on any account. On October 1, the first day of the punitive campaign, Iimura, chief of staff of the Headquarters of the Kwantung Army, Hoshino Naoki, Minister of General Affairs of Manchukuo, Susukida Yoshitomo, Deputy Public Security Minister,\and Kitabe, staff officer representing Major-General Nozoe, held a meeting. Kitabe explained the plan of the campaign, pointing out on a map the roads to be constructed\or repaired, the location of communications\and internment villages,\and requested 30 million yen for the punitive campaign.


“Minister Hoshino promised that he would do his best to secure the fund. Paymaster-General Iizawa expressed his hope for the success in the campaign in the three provinces, adding that he would squeeze out the fund. Thus the thoroughgoing campaign for public peace was finally set in motion.” (Manchukuo Army, p. 400, Lanxinghui)


The new campaign carried out by the “Nozoe Punitive Command” covered an area three to four times greater than the campaign carried out by the “Tonghua Punitive Command”, with a commitment of 12.5 times the troop strength\and 13 times the expenditures of the former. rom these figures one can guess how much the Japanese military authorities expected rom this “punitive” campaign.


The top hierarchy of the Japanese\and Manchukuo army\and police did not confine their campaign to military operations alone, but combined it with their “surrender-hunting operation”, “ideological operation”\and “operation to eradicate the basic roots”. As a result, the campaign surpassed by far all previous campaigns of this sort in scope\and depth\and in the elaborateness of the means\and methods used.


Launching the “punitive” campaign, the Japanese imperialists described it as a “sacred war”\and “sacred punishment”. We thought it quite ludicrous that they should “beautify” their campaign in that manner.


The Japanese had provoked a number of aggressive wars but they had never declared actual war, nor had they described their activities as a war. It had been their habit to rationalize\and validate their acts of war by describing them as “events”\or “incidents”.


Their designation of the new “special clean-up campaign” as a “sacred war”\and “sacred punishment” was therefore quite meaningful. It showed that the Japanese military authorities had abandoned their previous view of their confrontation with the People’s Revolutionary Army as a one-sided “punitive” campaign\or a “clean-up of bandits”\and began to see it as a genuine bilateral conflict.


The great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung also explained why the Japanese imperialists were forced to launch a total war at that time\and what objectives they planned to reach through the war.


Owing to the successive failures of the Japanese in the Sino-Japanese War\and in the Battle of Khalkhin-Gol, the Japanese military was suffering rom inner turmoil.


The Sino-Japanese War, which they had bragged would be finished in three months\or half a year at the most, was dragging on for two years without any hope of victory. The main force of the Japanese army had been drawn deep into the quagmire of war.


Certain sections of the Japanese military ascribed their failure in China’s mainland\and in Khalkhin-Gol to the factional strife among themselves,\or to the backwardness of their military\and technical equipment; at the same time, quite a few military bureaucrats\and experts pointed the finger at the harassment of the People’s Revolutionary Army in the rear, which brought about instability of their rear, disconnection of supply routes\and confused war psychology. It is true that the enemy suffered great losses because of repeated attacks by the People’s Revolutionary Army in the rear.


Apparently this made the Japanese come to their senses. They realized that they could carry out neither the war against China nor operations against the Soviet\union with the People’s Revolutionary Army constantly plaguing them rom behind. They had to change their view of the anti-Japanese guerrilla army.

 

As you see, the inevitable result of their assessment of the fight against the People’s Revolutionary Army was that they drew up the new plan of a “special clean-up campaign for maintaining public peace in the southeastern areas”\and went on to implement this plan through all-out war. This campaign was aimed at wiping out the People’s Revolutionary Army once\and for all.


Nozoe’s\orders took the form of the boast that he would annihilate our army. He declared that as the guerrilla army had not decreased, despite repeated “punitive” operations over several years in the three provinces of Jilin, Jiandao\and Tonghua, he was taking up a high mission–to ride his horse to Mt. Paektu\and root out the evil bandits with a single stroke of his sword. He\ordered his men to wipe out the People’s Revolutionary Army to the last man.

From his statement that he would finish off “the evil bandits” on Mt. Paektu with a quick stroke of his sword, one can see that the enemy’s main target was the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.


We closely examined the strategy\and tactics to be used by the enemy in the large-scale campaign of a total war\and discovered that the Japanese military authorities, on the basis of their long study\and review of our own guerrilla tactics, were going to adopt a new fighting method–that of countering guerrilla tactics with guerrilla tactics.


We were able to confirm this insidious plan after reading their reference book for operations against “bandits”, which we had managed to obtain. In those days the enemy distributed to each unit of the “punitive” force a printed collection of their experiences in the “punitive” operations against us. It was a sort of anti-guerrilla warfare manual.


The Japanese military authorities dressed the soldiers of their special units for anti-guerrilla warfare in uniforms like ours\and demanded that they drill\and behave like guerrillas. All this shows how hard they now studied\and worked on their tactics to wipe out the KPRA.


I knew that the showdown with Nozoe would be a fierce fight,\and that if we wanted to emerge victorious in this fight, we ourselves would have to work out\and employ new tactics we had never used before.


In\order to frustrate the offensive of hundreds of thousands of enemy troops\and ensure the continuous upsurge of the revolution, we had to invent ingenious tactics that would render our operations more elaborate\and energetic than ever before. We adopted large-unit circling operations for this purpose. In brief, this meant long-term mobile operations by large forces moving around in a vast area over a number of secret routes. These operations would not be mere manoeuvres, but mobile actions combined with attacks on the enemy by various methods. Without such mobile operations it would be impossible to emerge victorious in the fight against a 200,000-strong enemy force.


The net of “district punitive forces”\and “subdistrict punitive forces”, cast out by the “Nozoe Punitive Command”, spread not only over the three provinces of Jilin, Jiandao\and Tonghua, but also over Ningan, Dongning\and Muling in Mudanjiang Province in northern Manchuria. One slip\and we might be caught in the mesh of this vast network.


While studying the network carefully, we found it tight in some places\and loose in others. In certain areas the net had already been cast\and in others it was in the process of being cast. The mesh size was diverse. The “punitive” forces had been deployed in all counties in Jiandao, the main theatre of our operations.


We planned to direct our movement first towards the area west of Dunhua\and Emu. These two counties had many of our underground\organizations,\and the people there had gone through revolutionary training. We could easily find our foothold in this area. If we attacked the enemy there, we could draw the enemy’s attention to this location. We would then move to Mengjiang, Fusong\and Changbai,\where we would make a sharp turn to create havoc there. When the enemy came running to Mengjiang, Fusong\and Changbai, following our traces, we would once again do an about-face\and return to our\original place through the southern tip of Jiandao Province. This was my plan. I estimated that this round movement would take us about one year.


It was my opinion that these circling operations should be conducted by a large force. The aim of the operations was not to avoid the enemy, but to attack him at points favourable to us. When attacking the enemy, we had to annihilate him so that he could have no chance to recover,\and for this we had to perform our circling operation with a large force.


I attached special importance to the secrecy of these circling routes. If the routes were revealed, we might be caught by the enemy’s “tick tactics”\or in his mesh\and fall into enormous difficulties. But there was one serious problem with these operations: the difficulty of obtaining provisions. In the case\where the guerrillas operated in a fixed area, they could obtain provisions in advance\and keep them in storage in the secret camps. But in the case of a large force constantly moving around throughout the entire winter, things would be far different.


Unless the food problem was resolved, our large-unit circling operations would be impossible. This was why I held back the plan of operations for some time, not making it public even after I had drawn it up.


As I set out the routes of our activities, I planned to\order the 7th\and 8th Regiments\and the Guard Company to store provisions in advance at certain key points we would be passing through–first in the northern area of Antu County, then in Huadian\and Dunhua Counties. As crops were yet to be harvested, it was very difficult to obtain food at that time. We would be able to buy provisions after crops had been harvested\and threshed, but in the present situation we could do nothing. Nor could we buy food rom grain dealers in town.


I told the commanding officers who were just leaving on their mission to obtain provisions that they should buy unharvested crops. To obtain food, we would have to harvest the crops in the fields after purchasing them\and do the threshing ourselves. It was an enormous, labour-consuming task beyond the capability of the whole unit, but there was no other choice.


In early October of that year, when the problem of provisions had been solved in the main, I convened a meeting of military\and political cadres at Liangjiangkou, Antu County,\where I formally declared my plan to conduct large-unit circling operations in the vast region northeast of Mt. Paektu.


One of the events I still remember rom the days at Liangjiangkou\and its vicinity is that a peasant brought to us his 14-\or 15-year-old son\and asked us to admit him into the KPRA.


Frankly speaking, recruiting a boy when we were about to start the trying, large-unit circling operations was a matter that required deep thought. I explained to the boy that we were an army that walked day\and night,\and that some days we had to walk 40 kilometres\or even 80 kilometres. I asked him if he could keep up with us. The boy, pointing to Ri O Song, replied that if that guerrilla brother walked, he would, too.


I asked the peasant if he would not be worried about his son in the guerrilla army. He asked me in turn how I thought he could send his son into the army without doing some deep thinking first, then added that he believed in me\and that it would set his mind at ease to think of his boy doing his bit. As the old saying has it, he concluded, mugwort grows straight in a hemp field.


The boy was clever\and his father was also an excellent man. I decided to admit the boy into the army.


Some people told me they thought I was taking a burden on myself, but the majority of officers\and men were delighted, saying that when they saw the Commander recruiting such a young boy, they felt pretty sure that the forthcoming operations would succeed. They judged that otherwise the Commander would not volunteer to take on this “burden”.


I took him along with me with my\orderlies. Quick-eyed\and agile, he matured fast. When I went to Liangjiangkou for the meeting, I took him with me. Soon after the meeting we started on our way back. We knew the way would not be smooth, for Nozoe’s first stage of “punitive” operations had started,\and the circumstances were very strained. We had to move in great stealth, with a scout party ahead.


In the vicinity of Jiguanlazi we were surprised by the enemy. The name of the place\originated rom a peak there, which resembled the comb of a cock. The peak soared to the left of the way we were taking. The terrain of Jiguanlazi was such that it was highly favourable for the enemy to waylay us\and very unfavourable for us to defend ourselves. I was fairly sure that the enemy, if he were in this vicinity at all, would not miss this terrain feature. He would be lying in ambush, since he was attempting to wipe out the anti-Japanese guerrillas through guerrilla tactics. However, we could not change the march route\and take a long, roundabout way. I gave the\order to pass through the danger zone quickly, with a machine-gun in the van of the column.


When we reached the area, loud shots rang out all of a sudden rom the direction of the peak. The enemy had opened up fire as our column was marching through the narrow, unforked lane.


This attack inflicted fatal wounds on a veteran nicknamed “Shorty”\and on Kim Jong Dok.


I was worried over the boy who had joined the guerrillas in Liangjiangkou, so I called to him. He was firing back at the enemy on the height. It was surprising to think that he had gathered such courage in this critical situation. The boy even tried to take care of me, shouting, “Don’t move, Comrade Commander.”


“No, I must move. Keep changing your position as you fire,” I shouted back.


Then I drew him to a hollow behind a mound of earth nearby. Meanwhile, the enemy bullets were flying around us ceaselessly. It was


quite a predicament. I saw a ditch about 100 metres away in the field\and rushed to it,\ordering my men to follow me. They rushed to the ditch after me, helping the wounded. But the ditch proved not to be safe either.


We ran down to a river\and rushed along its bank for a few minutes, then advanced towards the cliff occupied by the enemy. I had no time to explain to my men why we were heading that way. As I ran towards the enemy position without explanation, the men might have been sceptical. They would have wondered what I had in mind, since it was impossible to charge against so many enemy soldiers with our tiny force of fewer than ten men. Nevertheless, they rushed after me without hesitation. Just as I trusted them fully, they trusted me absolutely.


We reached the bottom of the cliff, while the enemy bullets continued to fly over our heads. I think it was at this point the men saw what I was trying to do.


Thinking that we had escaped across the field, the enemy fired towards it aimlessly. Then the enemy soldiers ran down rom the height\and encircled the field, raising a great roar. In the meantime, we climbed the adjacent height. Having surrounded the field on three sides, they continued firing at each other for a good while.


The Battle at Jiguanlazi can be called our first encounter with the Nozoe “punitive” force. This battle was clear proof that the enemy had studied our guerrilla tactics in depth before the new campaign. At the same time, I was convinced that my plan of large-unit circling operations was a right tactical choice. The battle had been a microcosm of the military circumstances we would find ourselves in during that winter.


By the time I returned rom the meeting at Liangjiangkou, my men had finished preparing the provisions. The sewing-unit had also made almost all the uniforms I had\ordered.


We called the first stage of our operations the expedition to Dunhua. You can understand the course to be rom Hualazi straight to Dunhua\and then Mengjiang\and Fusong. We intended to march rom Hualazi towards Mt. Paektu, then turn to the north to fight various big battles in the backwoods of Dunhua before moving into dense forests of Dongpaizi in Mengjiang County,\or in Baishitan in Fusong County, then finally take a rest\and conduct military\and political training during the coldest season in one of our secret camps.


While making preparations for the first stage of the operations, I sent the Independent Battalion\and a platoon of the Guard Company to Dongpaizi under the command of Rim Su San, as well as a small unit to Baishitan. Their mission was to prepare secret camps, provisions\and uniforms for the main force.

After these preparations we set out on the expedition to Dunhua. You can have a better understanding of the expedition if you remind yourselves of the Battles of Liukesong\and Jiaxinzi. These two battles were fought on the expedition to Dunhua.


In\order to disguise the expedition route we first marched to the upper reaches of the Erdao River as if we were moving towards Samjang.


Day was breaking when we were about a dozen kilometres rom Hualazi. We got away rom the river, erased our footprints\and went into a nearby forest to take a rest. Refreshing ourselves with breakfast, we marched towards Mt.


Paektu, leaving a single line of footprints. In the vicinity of Mt. Neidao we changed our course by 180 degrees to make our way to the north along the frozen Sandaobai River. This was all aimed at confusing the enemy once more.


Reversing the course of a march in that way made as strong an impact on the enemy as did several battles. The confused enemy would roam about here\and there, either freezing to death in the unmapped areas,\or losing combat efficiency rom exhaustion. In this way we set afloat misleading rumours\and left false trails in\order to drag enemy troops on our tail as long as possible, wearing them out\and leaving them incapable of moving any further rom cold\and fatigue.


When crossing over the Mudan Pass, we ourselves were also greatly troubled by the snow, which fell in large flakes, turning all the rocks on the pass slippery with a coat of ice. We had to move very slowly.


Our main force crossed over the Mudan Pass safely\and disappeared into the forest of Dunhua.


The large-unit circling operations were beset with hardships\and dif-ficulties like this rom the outset. But it was a thrilling start. On the first leg of our expedition to Dunhua we did not fight large battles. We struck the enemy only when it was necessary to keep our routes secret. Nevertheless, the enemy suffered heavy casualties.


Whenever he recollected the expedition to Dunhua, the great leader mentioned the meeting of the Anti-Japanese Youth League that took place in the midst of the march.


On the Dunhua expedition we held a meeting of the Anti-Japanese Youth League. The AJYL was a youth\organization that developed rom the Young Communist League, which had been dissolved according to the decision adopted at the Nanhutou meeting. The league meeting had to be held for an unavoidable reason.


There is a place named Sidaohuanggou in Dunhua\where some years ago I had recuperated for a while after being released rom the Jilin Prison\and\where I had reorganized destroyed\organizations. It was in the vicinity of this place that we arrived first after crossing over the Mudan Pass. One of my men, who had been to the village to find out how things were there, brought news of the reaction of the secret\organization there to the Pak Tuk Pom incident.


Briefly, the incident involved Pak Tuk Pom, a commanding officer of the People’s Revolutionary Army, who had blackened the honour of the revolutionary army merely to get his hands on some supplies.


His unit was very short of provisions\and clothing at one point. When supplies were running short, the People’s Revolutionary Army used to strike the enemy to capture their supplies,\or obtained them with the help of revolutionary\organizations. Those were the proper ways to obtain supplies. However, Pak neither thought of fighting a battle, nor did he try to appeal to underground\organizations. He was afraid of fighting, so he tried to cover the shortage of provisions\and clothing through quite a cowardly method. One feels ashamed to even talk about his method in public.


Pak told an enemy agent, “I’m going to surrender to your side with my division. But right now that’s difficult, because our clothes are all torn\and we lack provisions. Prepare such-and-such amounts of provisions\and cloth, then bring them to a place we’ll fix up. I will ensure that my men change their uniforms\and recover a little before bringing them to you. But I don’t feel safe only with your assurance since you’re only an agent. When you bring the provisions\and clothing, send along your representatives, who can guarantee our safety after we surrender.”


The enemy agent agreed\and reported all this to his special operation squad. The enemy was greatly interested in this bargain. The enemy bosses in Jilin Province\and Dunhua County gathered together soon after they received the report\and discussed the measures to be taken. Then they sent their representatives to the rendezvous.


Pak greeted them\and held his negotiations with them. When his subordinate officer entered the conference room during the negotiations\and reported that the promised materials had all arrived, Pak suddenly pulled out his gun\and shot to death all the enemy representatives on the spot. He was severely criticized by us for this\and was transferred to the Guard Brigade. In 1940, when he was taken prisoner, he did, in fact, betray the\organization\and surrender to the enemy. His false surrender had become real surrender.


After this betrayal, Pak formed a “Pak special corps”\and ran around, trying to induce his former comrades-in-arms to surrender as well.


The lesson taught by the Pak Tuk Pom incident was very serious. When I heard that he had surrendered, I thought that his false surrender farce had not been entirely accidental. Such a thing can be conceived only by one who is liable to surrender in fact as well as in fancy. His example shows that a man who fabricates a false surrender can commit true surrender any time.


What I found more serious, however, was that quite a few people looked upon Pak’s shabby, deceitful method of obtaining supply materials as a great act. Worse still, the guerrilla who had been to Sidaohuanggou to reconnoitre was of the opinion that Pak, who had carried out a “laudable” deed, had been punished too severely\and should have been shown the appreciation due to him. When he was making his report on the outlook of the people there, he was ill-disposed towards them, as they had said that Pak was an officer who had played havoc with the prestige of the guerrilla army. The guerrilla reporting to me was a member of the AJYL.


The fact that a member of the AJYL was favourably disposed towards Pak’s deed was an extremely dangerous thing. I talked to the officer in charge of youth work. He told me that quite a large number of the AJYL members in the directional army were speaking of the incident in the same way as the scout had done. I realized that there were obviously problems with the ideological outlook of the AJYL members,\and so I told the commanding officer to convene a meeting of the league members immediately. He replied that they had all fallen asleep the moment they arrived at the camp.


This kind of thing had never happened before. On arrival at a camping site, everyone usually got busy cleaning their weapons, patching their torn clothing, shaving\and cutting firewood. They had always lived in such a well-disciplined manner–but not that night. Of course, it was true that they were extremely tired after the march; nevertheless, it was quite disgraceful that they had fallen fast asleep without even setting up camp. With this kind of mental state, we would never be able to carry out the mobile operations full steam. That night I made O Jung Hup vacate the tent of a company\and called a meeting of the AJYL. I was also at the meeting.


The tendency towards hazy ideology revealed among the league members, their lack of the spirit to surmount difficulties, even their neglect of simple hygiene\and the half-hearted participation in cultural recreation work among the young guerrillas were criticized. Measures to rectify these shortcomings were discussed.


At the meeting I also pointed out to them the dangerous nature of the Pak Tuk Pom incident. I emphasized especially that each\and every guerrilla should maintain sharp vigilance at all times against deviations that could damage the authority\and honour of the People’s Revolutionary Army, that they all had to wage a strong struggle against such deviations\and keep good relations with the people at all times.


This meeting awakened the commanding personnel to their duty. Some officers had tacitly consented to their men falling asleep without making preparations for camping; they had done nothing about it, as they had felt sympathy for them. After the meeting they realized that they had been wrong.

The meeting was a form of ideological mobilization for attacking Liukesong\and Jiaxinzi. This ideological mobilization proved effective, for when we attacked Liukesong after the meeting, all the men fought bravely. They also fought with great success in the Battle of Jiaxinzi. After these two battles the guerrillas understood why their Commander had convoked the AJYL meeting all of a sudden.


The more difficult our work\and the graver our situation, the more efficiently must we conduct ideological work. I insist on the importance of ideology. I maintain that ideology must come first\and I value ideology far more than any wealth. When we had to fight do-or-die battles with a 200,000-strong enemy force, we drew up a great plan for large-unit circling operations\and carried it out forcefully. What did we have to rely on at that time? We relied on the perfect unity of all the guerrillas\and their steadfast conviction of the revolutionary idea. Did we have planes\or tanks? We had people, soldiers, light weapons,\and that was all. So we fought our battles after ideological mobilization,\and this proved highly effective.


The respected leader Comrade Kim Il Sung also recollected that the\original plan of operations had to be changed during the expedition. This was due to Rim Su San’s neglect of his duty.


Just before the AJYL meeting Kim Jong Suk\and Ri Tu Ik came to Headquarters\and reported a disturbing state of affairs at the secret camp in Dongpaizi. When embarking on the expedition to Dunhua, I intended to spend the coldest one\or two months in Dongpaizi, make a circle through Fusong\and Changbai Counties, proceed to the homeland,\and then by way of Helong return to Antu, the place we had started the expedition. This all had to be changed because Rim Su San, who had been dispatched to Dongpaizi, had not made any preparations for receiving the main force. On the excuse that the situation was too difficult\and strained, he neglected to make the strenuous efforts needed to carry out the tasks I had given him. Worried over this neglect, Kim Jong Suk\and Ri Tu Ik tried to perform the task in place of Rim, but the provisions they had obtained were barely enough as winter sup-plies for the men already at the secret camp in Dongpaizi.


Because of this, I concluded that we could not use the route we had planned at the outset. It was impossible for the main force to depend on a secret camp\where proper provisions had not been stored.


Rim Su San was, in fact, already at that time seriously degenerate. Later he was to run away to the enemy camp, which shows that treachery does not take place in just one day\or two. It results rom slow corruption,\or rom ideological fermentation. Ideological corruption will go through a certain process. Although Rim Su San shouted revolution whenever he spoke, he had already degenerated by the time of the “Hyesan incident”. We had only failed to discover it because we trusted him.


Baishitan, Fusong County, which we had planned as an alternate destination, was far away rom villages, though its terrain features were favourable. A few villages could be found about half a dozen miles away rom the secret camp in Baishitan, but there were not many of our underground\organizations in the area.


Provisions would also pose a problem. There was a certain amount of grain, which a small unit\and O Paek Ryong had obtained\and stored up by the Songhua River. But the store was far away rom the camp,\and the food had been intended to be consumed in later days. We had sent an advance party to Baishitan, but most of it consisted of women\and infirm people.


In this situation it was inconceivable for a large force to go straight to Baishitan by the alternate route. We found ourselves in a quandary. A cold snap was approaching, but the planned route had not been prepared for use, there was no spare time to prepare a new route\and the enemy was at our heels; under these conditions we could not hang about at the foot of Mudan Pass for much longer. We were faced with a real dilemma.


If only food were available, we could endure whatever difficulties faced us. At that time, some sympathetic people appeared to help us,\and with their aid we were able to buy a whole field of unharvested beans. In this way we were able to ride over the crisis.


Then we attacked the lumber mills in Liukesong\and Jiaxinzi\and captured various materials, including grain. We immediately changed the course of our march by 180 degrees to the south\and went to the secret camp at Baishitan. We can say that this was the terminal of the first stage of the large-unit circling operations.


The battles at Liukesong\and Jiaxinzi were the high points of the first stage of the operations. It was a surprising success that we were able to slip away rom the Helong\and Antu areas,\where the enemy’s “punitive” forces had cast tight nets. The enemy was left aghast when we attacked all their strategic points in Dunhua in succession at lightning speed. Receiving the urgent message that Liukesong\and Jiaxinzi had been raided\and their troops annihilated, the enemy threw their forces into the Dunhua area in great haste, but by that time we had already slipped to the south\and reached the area along the Songhua. 

 

I consider one of our greatest successes in the first stage of the operations to be the fact that we expanded our armed ranks with 200 recruits rom the lumber mills in Liukesong\and Jiaxinzi.


After the battles we staged a performance in the forest on the Songhua,\and after the performance many young people volunteered to join the guerrillas rom among the workers who had followed us, carrying our supplies. Admitting into our ranks so many young people of working-class\origin was an auspicious event, the first of its kind in the history of the anti-Japanese guerrilla army. As we could not supply them with weapons\and uniforms, we gave each recruit an armband with a red star sewn on it as soon as we admitted him. I still remember that the women guerrillas worked through the whole night to make those armbands.


The military\and political training conducted at the secret camp in Baishitan was the start of the second stage of the large-unit circling operations, as well as a review of the first stage of the operations.


After making full preparations at Baishitan, we started off on the second stage. The plan of the second stage was to march rom Baishitan through Erdaobaihe, Sandaobaihe\and Sidaobaihe (the no man’s land northeast of Mt. Paektu), advance to the homeland\and then go back to Antu County via Helong County.


While we were giving military\and political training at Baishitan, the secret camp was suddenly exposed to the enemy. The soybeans that one food-securing party had brought in sacks were the cause of the trouble, a simple thing that developed into quite a perplexing situation. Our men did not spot a hole in a sack, so the beans escaped through the hole, bean by bean,\and this was spotted by an enemy agent.


On receiving information that the enemy, having discovered the\whereabouts of the secret camp, was making preparations for a full-scale surrounding\and attacking operation, we planned a move that would cope with the situation. First, I\ordered a commanding officer to take with him a company\and raid Liangjiangkou in the enemy area, then slip away to Xiaweizi. Next, I\ordered a platoon rom the Guard Company to strike the enemy at posts situated on the height at the back of Baishitan, then withdraw to the Lushui River.


In command of the main force, I left the secret camp 30 minutes before the start of the enemy attack\and moved to the Lushui. In\order to lure the enemy into the trap, we had to feign to be staying in the secret camp.


As soon as we evacuated the camp, the enemy surrounded it. Seeing a quiet camp that offered no resistance, they thought that the place was as good as occupied. They charged the camp at a rush. For all that, the sharpshooters in our Guard Company did not fire a shot; they only watched the enemy in action.

As day broke, enemy planes appeared over the secret camp\and\dropped bombs on the heads of their own soldiers, who were waving joyfully up at them. The others who were in the barracks rushed out at the sound of explosions. At that moment our machine-guns opened fire.


The simultaneous air-ground attack the enemy had planned turned out to be a joint operation by the People’s Revolutionary Army\and the Japanese air force, together annihilating the Japanese\and Manchukuo infantry.


While the enemy forces were in the midst of their uproar in Baishitan, we calmly marched down towards Mt. Paektu, struck the enemy at our heels in Lushuihe, crossed the Erdaobai River\and disappeared into a forest east of Mt. Neidao. Then I reassembled the company that had advanced to Liangjiangkou after raiding a lumber mill near Hualazi,\and the Guard Company that had been left in Baishitan. It is probably at that time that I dispatched a reconnaissance team to Samsuphyong in Musan, Korea.


Because of the tight watch by the border guard, the reconnaissance team was chased by the enemy rom the moment they crossed the Tuman River. They returned without being able to carry out a proper reconnaissance, narrowly escaping death. In this situation it would be a risky adventure for a large force to march into the homeland.


I decided to postpone the plan of advancing into the homeland for the time being. Instead, we raided a large lumber mill, just to obtain provisions\and also to feel out the reaction of the enemy in Korea across the Tuman. We attacked a mill near the river in Damalugou,\and the enemy’s reaction on the other side of the river was quite explosive. Having received the report that the enemy was strengthening its border watch, I moved the unit to a forest south of Hualazi after fighting for a few days with the enemy troops at our heels. After this we fought a big battle with Maeda’s unit at Hongqihe,\and thus concluded the large-unit circling operations.


Our series of confrontations with the Nozoe “punitive” force should not be viewed as a mere regional skirmish with an enemy commander\and his troops. This was actual war against the military authorities of Japan\and the Japanese Empire. The enemy did not succeed in any of its three-way operations–military, ideological\and “rooting up basic evils”–to which they had given so much publicity through the so-called “outline plan for cleaning up bandits”. Their plans all ended in failure,\and in the long run it was we who emerged as the victors in this war.


Nozoe lived out the rest of his life in retirement in a rural village of Kyushu following the defeat of Japan. He wrote an article about the events of those days, which reads in part:


“Kim Il Sung’s army operated in several detachments, each claiming itself to be Kim Il Sung’s army. Its tactics were to give the impression that this army was everywhere. There must have been one man named Kim Il Sung, but several people went under the name of Kim Il Sung, so it was difficult to pinpoint just who the real Kim Il Sung was.”


According to the recollections of Nagashima, who took part in the special operations of the Nozoe “punitive” force after winning the trust of his superior for suppressing the Jiandao revolt, we can see that he also had to swallow a bitter pill because of the elusive tactics of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. He remembered it this way:


“When I was placed in charge of special operations in the Nozoe unit, I was told about the existence of Kim Il Sung’s army. I discovered that the tactics employed by this army were very curious. When it was reported that this army had appeared in a certain place, we would rush there, but almost immediately there would be a report that it had appeared in yet another place. This army seemed to appear\and disappear with preternatural swiftness, but in fact the same unit did not appear here\and there simultaneously; he divided his army into several detachments\and then had them appear in different places at once\and claim to be Kim Il Sung’s army.”

 

Recollecting the hard battles fought with the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, Nagashima continued, “All the high-ranking cadres of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army were either killed, captured\or surrendered, but only Kim Il Sung managed to... survive\and return to north Korea at the end of the war. He is now Premier.”



 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

[Reminiscences]Chapter 20. For a Fresh Upsurge of the Revolution 6. Women Fighters\and Revolutionary Honour

[Reminiscences]Chapter 21 Roar of Gunfire in the Large-Unit Circling Operations 1. A Woman Came to Visit the Secret Camp

[Reminiscences]Chapter 21 Roar of Gunfire in the Large-Unit Circling Operations 2. Chinese Landlord Liu Tong-shi


  

 

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