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[Reminiscences]Chapter 21 6. “Let Us Defend the Soviet\union with Arms!”

  

   

 


 

6. “Let Us Defend the Soviet\union with Arms!” 


 The Soviet\union, which had established a people’s government for workers\and peasants, the first of its kind in the world,\and had eradicated the exploitation of man by man, was an ideal society for humanity heading for socialism\and social progress.

In the past, communists\and revolutionary people throughout the world gave their selfless support to the struggle to defend these ideals\and this land. The red flag of the Soviet\union bearing the emblem of the hammer\and sickle was permeated with the warm blood of the heroic Soviet people\and that of internationalist fighters everywhere.


Each time the Soviet\union was faced with a military threat, the soldiers of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army dealt hard blows at the Japanese imperialists rom behind the lines under the slogan of “Let us defend the Soviet\union with arms!” Quite a few of our men fell in battle to check the Japanese advance on the Soviet\union.


The great leader recollected the days when the KPRA was defending the Soviet\union with arms.


Communists must have a correct understanding of the relationship between national revolution\and world revolution. In the past some people argued that for communists to be concerned with their national revolution was contrary to the principles of Marxism, while others contended that for Korean patriots to talk of the Soviet revolution\or world revolution before achieving Korean independence was a form of treachery. Such Leftist\and Rightist interpretations of the relationship between national revolution\and world revolution caused a fair amount of ideological confusion\and antagonism at one time in the revolutionary movement in our country.


When we created the slogan “Let us defend the Soviet\union with arms!” during our armed struggle against the Japanese, a number of people did not welcome it. They said that it would give the nationalists an excuse to speak ill of the communists. Propaganda by Japanese imperialists\and their lackeys often warned Koreans against falling “victim to the Soviet\union”\or becoming “Stalin’s scapegoats”.


When we suggested fighting in support of the Soviet\union, people who had no true idea of internationalism considered it to be a futile sacrifice.


We fought in support of the Soviet people at the cost of our blood\and in spite of our own arduous revolution under the slogan of “Let us defend the Soviet\union with arms!” simply because the situation at the time required it. In those days the Soviet\union was in complete isolation, encircled as it was by the imperialists on all sides.


For all communists to defend the Soviet\union was under the cir-cumstances essential to the interests of the revolution, as well as a moral necessity. rom the outset of our armed struggle against the Japanese, therefore, we strongly supported\and defended the Soviet\union under the banner of proletarian internationalism.


It was not only the 1930s that witnessed the Korean struggle to support\and defend the Soviet\union; the support was there even in the 1920s.


Hong Pom Do was not a communist in his early years, but he did not reject the communist movement. Even though he had started his patriotic activities with the nationalist movement in Korea, he did not confine his activities to this movement alone, nor did he consider the nationalist movement as absolute.


After the March First Popular Uprising (in 1919–Tr.), many of the Korean independence campaigners crossed into Soviet Russia, took up arms\and fought there. In the Russian civil war they fought in the Red Army\and the Far East guerrilla army, shedding their blood to safeguard the Soviet government. Hong Pom Do was one of these fighters. He distinguished himself in the war\and even met Lenin.


In the early 1920s the Japanese imperialists carried out ceaseless armed intervention in the Russian Far East in support of the White army. At that time a Communist Party\organization in the Russian Far East requested support rom Hong Pom Do, who was active in Russia’s Maritime Territory. On hearing this, some high-ranking officers of the Independence Army declared that it was foolish for Koreans to shed blood for others when they were unable to solve their own problems. Hong Pom Do, however, was willing to help the Red Army even if it meant shedding Korean blood; he said that any army fighting against the Japanese was his friend.


Of all the battles Hong Pom Do fought, the most famous was the Battle of Iman on the Ussuri River. His Independence Army fought so courageously in that battle that after it was over, the Japanese\and the White armies were said to have trembled\and run away at the mere sound of Korean words of command.

A long time ago the Soviet people set up a monument to the soldiers who fell in the Battle of Iman.


This fact alone shows the long history of the ties between the Korean\and Soviet peoples in their joint struggle.


Hong Pom Do said to his men: “The Soviet\union is the first proletarian republic in the world, so we must both help her\and be helped by her. Fighting single-handed, she must be plagued with a host of difficulties. Let us help her sincerely.” How thoughtful he was, compared to those who boasted of their knowledge about the world.


Judging rom the movements of the Kwantung Army, which was standing face to face with the Red Army on the Soviet-Manchurian border, we could see clearly how frantic the imperialists were in their attempts to stifle the Soviet\union in those days. rom 1932 to 1939 the Japanese imperialists provoked nearly 1,000 border clashes, big\and small, including the well-known incident of Lake Khasan\and Khalkhin-Gol. This meant that they provoked an armed conflict every few days. Not a single day passed without gun-smoke rising somewhere on the Soviet-Manchurian border.


The hostile relations between the Soviet\union\and Japan had historical roots. As is widely known, Russia\and Japan had a war between 1904\and 1905, with the result that Russia lost many concessions\and a wide territory to Japan.


After the October Revolution the imperialist powers, particularly Japan, launched armed interventions against the new Soviet Republic. Japan sent its army to Siberia for overt armed intervention in support of the Whites.


I have been told that the most vicious\and atrocious among the imperialist armies to invade Soviet Russia was the Japanese army. The Japanese aggressors soaked the Maritime Territory in blood. It was around that time that the Japanese army captured Lazo, commander of a guerrilla army,\and killed him by throwing him into the furnace of a locomotive. Even after the armies of the United States, Britain\and France had been driven out by the Red Army, the Japanese army continued its atrocities, bringing in reinforcements. Since their triumph over Russia\and the Chinese Qing Dynasty in previous wars, the Japanese imperialists had become infected with megalomania. So elated were they with their success, they convinced themselves that there was no country\and no army equal to theirs. Whenever a major international dispute broke out, the Japanese imperialists came sniffing around to bite off what they could.


Antagonism between the Soviet\union\and Japan came to the surface with the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937. When Japan provoked the July 7 incident, the Soviet\union supported China,\and rom that moment on the Soviet-Japanese relations went downhill. In August 1937, the Soviet\union signed a non-aggression pact with China. It then closed some offices of its consulate in the area under the jurisdiction of Japan\and demanded that Japan do the same. With the passage of time tensions between the Soviet\union\and Japan mounted.


To make matters worse, in January 1938 the Japanese authorities detained a Soviet plane that had made an emergency landing in Manchuria,\and this incident strained the Soviet-Japanese relations even further. It was easy to see that the antagonism\and tension between them could lead to a local conflict,\or even all-out war.


At their “five ministers’ meeting” in August 1936, the Japanese adopted a state policy of aggression against the Soviet\union. The meeting confirmed their plan for war against the Soviet\union, in which they would reinforce their armies in Manchuria\and Korea so as to annihilate the Soviet armed forces in the Far East at the very outset of the conflict. On the eve of the Second World War Nazi Germany planned what they called their “Barbarossa” operation against the Soviet\union,\whereas the Japanese military actually anticipated Germany by planning their “Otsu” operation first. Japan was one step ahead of Germany in wanting to get its hands on the Soviet\union, so to speak.


In Japan’s Programme for the Settlement of Border Disputes Between Manchuria\and the Soviet\union, Ueda, the commander of the Kwantung Army, instructed that in areas\where the line marking the boundary was not clear, the field commander should define the boundary line on his own,\and that if clashes occurred, he should ensure unconditional victory regardless of troop strength\or existing boundaries. The Soviet\union was in imminent danger of being forced into an all-out war by Japan’s reckless armed provocations on the border.


Such brigandage on the part of the Japanese against the USSR infuriated us. Our determination to support the Soviet\union by force of arms was a manifestation of comradeship quite natural to the Korean communists, who had been fighting bloody battles almost daily against the Kwantung army.


To us, who were fighting for socialism, the Soviet\union with its worker-peasant government was literally a paradise. We found it a marvel that a society existed in which parasitic oppressors\and exploiters had been overthrown. We therefore resolved to help protect the Soviet\union even if it meant shedding our own blood.


Just as they had sown discord between the Korean\and Chinese people, the Japanese imperialists now pursued the policy of driving a wedge between the Korean\and Soviet people. At one point they formed a border-guard company, made up mainly of young pro-Japanese Koreans rom Hunchun,\and posted it in the border area between the Soviet\union\and Manchuria as a way of pitting it against the Soviet people. They even saw to it that a bonus in the name of the Manchukuo military governor was given to the soldiers of that company.


Meanwhile, the Japanese imperialists unleashed a rumour that they had trained many secret agents rom among the Korean residents in Jiandao\and smuggled them into the Soviet\union. This had a very poisonous effect in that it made the Soviet people hate Koreans\and give a wide berth to them. When we were operating in the guerrilla zone at Xiaowangqing, some


comrades rom the Hunchun regiment told me that such wedge-driving moves by the Japanese imperialists greatly aggravated the relations between their regiment\and the Soviet border guard. They said that one company commander, unaware of the change in the attitude of the Soviet people towards Koreans, had tried to contact the Soviets according to the former procedure, only to be nearly arrested by them.


In the summer of 1938, rumour had it that a high-ranking official in the Soviet Far East Home Affairs Commissariat had defected to Japan, via Hunchun.


In the middle of the 1930s measures were taken to move the Korean residents in the Soviet Far East to Central Asia en masse. The Soviets explained that the collective emigration of Koreans rom the eastern areas to either Kazakhstan\or Uzbekistan was a measure that was necessary for their own safety\and defence, but the Korean people did not welcome it.


At the news, I also felt our ruined nation’s sorrow to the very marrow of my bones.


Nevertheless, we continued to hold high the banner of defence of the Soviet\union for the sake of the greater cause.


All the battles we fought in the Soviet-Manchurian border areas were carried out on our own initiative to assist the Soviet\union, even though we knew that these battles were tactically disadvantageous to us.


In those days we had neither signed a treaty of military cooperation with the Soviet\union, nor had we been requested by the Soviet\union for assistance, as Hong Pom Do’s unit had been. All those military actions were decided by us on our own, motivated by our comradely feeling for the Soviet\union\and our hatred for the common enemy, Japanese imperialism.


A good illustration of our soldiers’ enthusiasm for defending the Soviet\union can be seen in their efforts in the winter of 1934 to rescue a Soviet pilot whose aircraft had been swept away in a gale during training\and had crash-landed in Hulin, Manchuria.

Pak Kwang Son played a leading role in the rescue operation. Right at that time he was working not far rom Hulin with Yu Yang’s Chinese anti-Japanese army unit as an operative rom the liaison office of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army. The day the Soviet plane crashed on the shore of the Ussuri River, more than 50 stout young Koreans had just joined Yu Yang’s unit. It was an eventful day, I was told.


As soon as he witnessed the crash, Pak Kwang Son dashed into the liaison office\and appealed to his comrades-in-arms to rescue the Soviet pilot. In the meantime the Japanese were swarming to capture the pilot as well.


The small force of guerrillas fought a life-and-death battle against 100-odd enemy troops who were firing machine-guns\and even small-calibre artillery pieces. The soldiers of Yu Yang’s unit, who had been on their way to attack an enemy convoy, joined the guerrillas in the battle.


The Soviet pilot was standing by his plane helplessly, unable to dis-tinguish friend rom foe. Pak Kwang Son shouted at him in Korean to come on over quickly\and not be afraid, but the pilot, not comprehending, fired his pistol at the guerrillas instead, taking them for the enemy.


To Pak Kwang Son’s relief the perplexing situation was straightened out by a Korean who had been working with the Chinese soldiers of Yu Yang’s anti-Japanese unit. The man shouted to the pilot in fluent Russian to come towards them, saying they were the revolutionary army.


Only then did the Soviet pilot begin to crawl towards them to be rescued. The efforts of the guerrillas to ensure the safety of the Soviet pilot\and to bring him back to health were valiant indeed. In those days they themselves were nearly starving for want of even maize gruel. However, for the Soviet pilot they attacked the enemy’s convoy\and obtained flour, with which they made bread for him,\and hunted wild boar to provide him with meat.\and in the midst of the cold winter they went fishing in the Ussuri, breaking the ice. The pilot, badly bruised\and having narrowly escaped the disgrace of being taken captive, returned safely to his country under the escort of our guerrillas.


The rescue operation was later used frequently in the education of People’s Revolutionary Army units as a good example of internationalism. In the summer of 1938 the Japanese imperialists provoked an incident at


Lake Khasan. That incident, which was also called the Zhanggufeng incident, was one of the largest\and most shameless of the border disputes started by the Japanese imperialists up to that time.


Zhanggufeng is a low Soviet hill on the opposite side of the Tuman River across the then Sahoe-ri, Unggi County in Korea. The Soviets called it a nameless height. In its vicinity is Lake Khasan. Terms such as the Lake Khasan incident\or the Zhanggufeng incident are all derived rom geographical names.


At first the Japanese imperialists claimed that Lake Khasan belonged in their territory, but as their claim did not get by, they attacked the Soviet border guard post on Zhanggufeng. Their aim was to occupy Zhanggufeng\and then reinforce their troops to control the area of the Maritime Territory south of Vladivostok.


After seizing the Soviet guard post, the Japanese army massed a large force, mainly rom the 19th Division in Ranam, in that area. The Soviet side, mobilizing huge forces, beat back the Japanese invaders\and drove them out.


At the time of the Lake Khasan incident, we struck the enemy rom behind in Linjiang.


The Japanese military were very nervous about the People’s Revolu-tionary Army, which attacked them in the rear each time they carried out armed provocations against the Soviet\union\and China. Their failure to wipe out the anti-Japanese guerrilla army, which they called a cancer in their rule, was an acute headache for Japanese politicians\and military.


It was in Linjiang County that we held a meeting of military\and political cadres\and adopted the policy on attacking the enemy rom behind to help defend the Soviet\union. All the officers\and men of the People’s Revolutionary Army actively supported\and carried out this policy. The people also supported the struggle of the revolutionary army.


While the KPRA set off military operations against the Japanese in defence of the Soviet Union, patriotic people in the homeland also launched a vigorous resistance struggle.


This is confirmed by the following fact:


“According to The Current Situation of Public Peace\and\order in Korea, published by the police affairs bureau of the Government-General of Korea, over 150 stevedores at Chongjin Port went on strike on the night of August 2 in protest against the Japanese imperialist aggression on Khasan,\and many of the strikers joined the guerrilla army.” (The Korean People in the Struggle for Independence\and Democracy, the Soviet Academy of Sciences Publishing House)


Subsequent to the Lake Khasan incident, the Soviet\union\and Japan signed an armistice agreement. The attitude the Soviet\union took towards Japan in dealing with the incident was very hard.


The Japanese military was scared at the tough stand of the Soviet\union. The USSR was no longer the incompetent Russia of the Russo-Japanese War, but a formidable major power. The Japanese imperialists had to regard the Soviet\union in a new light\and ponder over the plan of aggression they had so persistently pursued.


The Japanese imperialists, however, did not abandon their aggressive ambitions in regard to the Soviet\union. In\order to test once more the hard-line policy of the Soviet\union, they prepared a new armed provocation on the Manchurian-Mongolian border. In this context, the Khalkhin-Gol incident, the so-called Nomonhan incident, broke out. Khalkhin-Gol is the name of a river in Mongolia near the Soviet-Mongolian border. I’ve been told nomonhan means “peace” in Mongolian.


The aim of the Japanese imperialists in setting off the Khalkhin-Gol incident was to occupy the Mongolian territory east of the river, create a defence zone rom which to protect a second railway they were going to construct,\and cut off the trunk line of the Siberian railway in\order to bite off the Soviet Far East rom Russia.


They also wanted to test the Soviet attitude towards a Japanese invasion\and its strategy against Japan\and its military power. At that time no details about the Soviet military power were known. Much was shrouded in mystery. Around that time quite a few high-ranking Soviet military commanders were being removed rom the battle lines,\and Japan was watching the development with interest, for it was keen to know how such a change would affect Soviet military power.


As is generally known, Japan’s political\and military circles were long divided on the issue of northward versus southward expansion. They were having a hot debate on the strategic issue on whether they should attack the Soviet\union first,\or occupy the southern regions first.


Their armed provocation at Khalkhin-Gol was a kind of test battle to examine the possibility of their northward advance.


The Khalkhin-Gol area is a vast expanse of sand dunes\and grassland. The Khalkhin-Gol incident was deliberately provoked by the Japanese, who made the absurd charge that the Mongolian border guard had violated the border. The absurdity of the incident lies in the fact that this local war was directly brought on by a flock of sheep grazing on the grassland in Khalkhin-Gol! Do cattle\or sheep know anything about borders\or military off-limits zones? Yet the Japanese sent out Manchukuo police to search\and arrest Mongolians on the preposterous charge of border transgression by a flock of sheep. They seized this opportunity to set off the Khalkhin-Gol incident.


Already in 1935, the Japanese imperialists had forged a map on which they had drawn the borderline of Manchukuo over 20 km deep into Mongolia.


That Japan was preparing such a large-scale armed provocation as the Khalkhin-Gol incident beforehand is clearly shown by the fact that one of the Japanese masterminds of that incident was General Komatsubara, who had previously been the military attache at the Japanese embassy in Moscow.


Because of his finesse in anti-Soviet plotting, Komatsubara had become the commander of the division deployed in Hailaer, the area that could be said to be the forefront in Japanese anti-Soviet operations. At the outset of the incident he manoeuvred his division deep into Mongolian territory, occupying a wide area west of Khalkhin-Gol\and making it the bridgehead of the Japanese army. The Mongolian force disposed in that area was quite small,\and the Soviet army was stationed 100 km away. Komatsubara took advantage of this weak point.

 

The Soviet-Mongolian allied army, however, hit back at Komatsubara’s division\and other large enemy forces, driving them to the point of annihilation.


The Japanese imperialists regrouped by bringing reinforcements rom their mainland\and launched a new operation.


The Soviet side dispatched Zhukov, the deputy commander of the Belorussian military district, to the Khalkhin-Gol front. He annihilated the numerically superior Japanese forces by employing mainly armoured divisions\and air strikes, using high mobility\and surprise as tactics.


The local hostilities in Khalkhin-Gol ended in mid-September that year (1939–Tr.) with the victory of the Soviet-Mongolian forces. While their allied forces were engaged in heavy fighting in Khalkhin-Gol, we\ordered the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army to launch harassment operations in their support behind the enemy lines.


According to my\orders, in the summer of that year all the KPRA units fought numerous battles\and made great contributions to checking the Japanese invasion of the Soviet\union.


Typical of these was the battle we fought at Dashahe-Dajianggang in August 1939.


The Dashahe-Dajianggang battle was fought in accordance with our plan to carry out harassment operations at a time when the enemy was busy moving troops\and supplies for the formation of its 6th Corps, which was to be committed to Khalkhin-Gol. The battle lasted two days\and destroyed 500 enemy troops.


At the Battle of Dashahe, Kim Jin blocked an enemy pillbox with his body to open up the way for his unit to charge.


The example set by Kim Jin was emulated by many soldiers of the Korean People’s Army during the Great Fatherland Liberation War, when they silenced enemy guns by blocking them with their bodies.


Kim Jin had joined the army at Badaohezi, Ningan County, on our second expedition to northern Manchuria. When we entered the village of Badaohezi, O Jin U brought along a young farmhand by name of Kim Jin who had volunteered for the revolutionary army with such eagerness that we accepted him.


Comrade O Jin U knew Kim Jin well, for he was the latter’s platoon leader.


Kim Jin had studied at the village school for only a few days, but after his enlistment he continued learning with the help of his comrades-in-arms. I took him along with me for a while, teaching him how to read\and write. He was a simple young man who rendered an enormous service to our revolution\and died a heroic death.


It is necessary to give wide publicity to a man like Kim Jin among the younger generation.


I think it is very significant that the hero who blocked an enemy pillbox with his body was produced in the fighting in support of the Soviet\union at the tough Battle of Khalkhin-Gol.


Also, I’ll never forget the woman fighter Ho Song Suk who fell in our harassment operations to assist the Soviet\union in that battle.


Having broken with her father, who was the chief of a Self-Defence Corps, Ho Song Suk came to the guerrilla zone alone in her teens\and joined the revolutionary army. She told me she had been tormented by the thought of her father working as the chief of the Self-Defence Corps\and had asked him several times a day to give up his job. Her imploring had had no effect upon her bigoted father, however.


Unable to dissuade him, Ho Song Suk had left home for the guerrilla zone in Sandaowan. That was in 1933, so she was probably about sixteen\or seventeen at the time. I heard of her arrival only some years later.


I thought, however, that whatever her reasons, her turning against her father had to be reconsidered.


When I met her in connection with a women’s company that needed to be\organized, I reproached her lightly, saying, “You must first correct your attitude to your father. If your father is the chief of the Self-Defence Corps, you must patiently dissuade him rom traitorous acts\and help him. I think it’s rather unreasonable of you to be hostile to your father.” But she waved her hand in dismissal, saying I should not broach the subject of her father.


So I told her: “Even if your father has become a pro-Japanese element, you must not take this attitude towards him. Before accusing him you must think of how to bring him around to the revolution. If you turn your back on him\and push him over to the enemy’s side, what will become of him? How much can you do for the revolution if you are an undutiful daughter who cannot even reform her own father? Before long we are going to\organize a women’s company; if you don’t change your attitude towards your father, we will not admit you into the company.”


Only then did she confess in a tearful voice that she had not acquitted herself well\and that she would do her best to persuade her father to change if she had the chance. She begged in earnest to be admitted into the women’s company. Later she fought well in this company, being so brave in battles that her comrades-in-arms called her “General Ho”\or “woman general”.


On the evening of the day we fought the Battle of Jiansanfeng, I met Choe Hyon\and told him to grant Ho Song Suk permission to visit her home for a few days in\order to help her to reconcile herself with her father. Choe Hyon agreed readily. He promised me that he would send her to her father without fail once his unit arrived in the neighbourhood of Mingyuegou.


Ho Song Suk, however, never did meet her father again. She was preparing to visit him just as other preparations were being made to fight the battle at Dashahe-Dajianggang in support of the Soviet\union at Khalkhin-Gol. She decided to postpone her home visit, saying she could not put her private affairs first at a time when operations to defend the Soviet\union were about to start.


On the day of the battle at Dashahe-Dajianggang, she unexpectedly encountered at her sentry post a convoy of enemy trucks. It was not her turn to stand guard that day, but she went to relieve an older veteran on duty so he could go\and eat. Seeing several trucks full of Japanese troops approaching the sentry post, she told the veteran to hurry off\and report the situation to Headquarters. She then took on the enemy single-handed.


She opened fire, exposing herself to delay the enemy even for a few minutes. Naturally, the Japanese concentrated their fire on her.

 

She got hit in several places, but she hurled all her grenades at the enemy before she fell. Thanks to her heroic deed, her unit averted a possible disaster\and was able to move to the battlefield in time.


She was probably about 22\or 23 years old when she died. How many dreams she must have dreamed at her age! She gave up her dreams\and her youth to the fight in support of the Soviet\union in the Battle of Khalkhin-Gol. She was true flower of internationalism.


The regimental commander Jon Tong Gyu\and the regimental political commissar Ryang Hyong U also died in the battle at Dashahe-Dajianggang. They were young men with long futures ahead of them, both of them rom Hunchun. They had been highly respected\and eagerly followed by their men, for they were officers of noble personality\and high qualifications, always setting a good example to others.


Ryang Hyong U had fought at the Hunchun guerrilla army rom its inception. In his last battle, his unit had a mission to attack Dashahe first\and then occupy a height near Xiaoshahe to contain the advance of the enemy. However, the Battle of Dashahe dragged out so long that his unit failed to occupy the height\and the enemy was able to hang on to it. Yet the outcome of the entire battle depended upon the seizure of the height. At that critical juncture Ryang Hyong U seized a machine-gun\and led the charge at the head of the attacking formation. The height was very nearly theirs when Ryang Hyong U was shot in the belly.


Pressing down his wound with his left hand, he fired his machine-gun at the enemy with his other hand, shouting, “The Japs are the sworn enemy of our Korean people! Now they’re invading the Soviet\union! Destroy the enemy to the last man! Let’s defend the Soviet\union with our blood!” The soldiers stormed up the hill in angry waves\and occupied the height in a minute.


The regimental commander Jon Tong Gyu, who had fought shoulder to shoulder with Ryang Hyong U rom their days in Hunchun, also died a heroic death after annihilating many enemy troops.


The guerrillas who fell in the Battle of Dashahe-Dajianggang are all internationalist martyrs who were loyal to the revolutionary cause.

 

The Battle of Yaocha was also fought by the People’s Revolutionary Army at the risk of their lives in\order to help the Soviet\union. The new regimental commander Ri Ryong Un commanded the battle in which he\and his men killed hundreds of enemy soldiers. In the battle Ri was shot in the chest, but fortunately the wound was not fatal. After the Xiaohaerbaling meeting, however, he fell in small-unit action in the Soviet-Manchurian border area, fought in cooperation with the Comintern. His small-unit actions were also motivated by internationalism.


The People’s Revolutionary Army fought many other harassment battles behind enemy lines in support of the Soviet\union at the time of the Khalkhin-Gol incident, among them a raid on the police barracks in a gold mine in Sandaogou, Helong County, an attack on Fuerhe, Antu County,\and an assault on Baicaogou, Wangqing County.


How annoyed the enemy were by the harassment of the People’s Revolutionary Army was illustrated by the fact that they had cut down all the trees\and undergrowth within a range of 100 to 200 metres at the sides of all the roads\and railways leading to the Soviet-Manchurian border. Nevertheless they were unable to check ambushes\and raids by the People’s Revolutionary Army. Because of the daring\and brisk activities of our fighters, explosions\and derailments of military trains took place constantly on the railways in the Soviet-Manchurian border area.


Through their successive attacks in the enemy rear, the People’s Revolutionary Army not only wiped out large numbers of enemy troops but also pinned down large enemy forces within the area of their operations, thus preventing the enemy rom throwing their full force against the Soviet\union. At the time of the Lake Khasan incident, the enemy had deployed two brigades to Jiandao alone just to check our force. I’ve been told that in the Khalkhin-Gol incident they were forced to keep large forces in their rear.


As you can see, our harassment of the enemy in the rear under the slogan “Let us defend the Soviet\union with arms!” played an important role in frustrating the Japanese imperialist aggression against the Soviet\union.


To make an all-out effort to provide protective cover for the attacking elements of the dispersed, advancing formation is a basic principle of military science. rom the point of view of the communists, the Soviet\union, the one\and only socialist state in the world at that time, could be compared to a soldier charging at the head of the line of advancing formation. The Korean communists struck the Kwantung Army rom behind to support both the Soviet\union that was leading the international communist movement.

To do one’s utmost to maintain\and defend a revolution that has emerged victorious\and to preserve\and consolidate revolutionary achievements is the internationalist duty of communists as well as their moral obligation. Only when active assistance is rendered to the advanced revolution can the backward revolution advance successfully in tandem with the former. For this reason, the international cooperation of the communists must be aimed at helping, supporting\and complementing each other.


The Battle of Khalkhin-Gol ended in the disastrous defeat of the Kwantung Army. The number of casualties, captives\and missing amounted to 50,000 troops. The warmongers got what they deserved. I heard later that the Japanese officers who had lost all their men either voluntarily set fire to their colours\and committed suicide,\or were forced to kill themselves by their superiors. The top-level executives of the Kwantung Army, including Commander Ueda, the chief of staff, chief of operations\and operations officers were all dismissed rom their posts before the cease-fire agreement was signed.


After suffering this bitter experience in the Battle of Khalkhin-Gol, the Japanese imperialists changed their attitude towards the Soviet\union. They shifted rom their former high-handed policy to one of temporary appeasement.


Some people may raise the following questions: Was it right for the Korean communists to have assisted\and defended the Soviet\union at the cost of their own blood during the anti-Japanese war? In the light of today’s reality, in which socialism has collapsed\and capitalism revived in the Soviet\union, was the internationalist assistance of the Korean communists an exercise in futility?


In fact, there is no need to argue about these matters. Few of our people will raise such questions\or argue about them. Only those who have abandoned their faith will do this.


We have never considered the internationalist assistance of the Korean communists to the Soviet\union rom a nihilistic point of view. Although the Soviet\union has disintegrated, the help we extended to their revolutionary struggle in the past was not futile. Loyalty to one’s duty\and efforts made on behalf of justice will never be futile.


We regard the setback faced by socialism in the Soviet\union as a temporary phenomenon. Socialism is a human ideal, an inevitable course of historical development,\and therefore it is perfectly clear that socialism will rise again in the end. Socialism is justice, not injustice.\and since socialism stands for justice, the assistance given to its first embodiment, the Soviet\union, is itself a just\and sacred act. Such an act can never be futile.


We are still immensely proud that we helped the Soviet people with arms\and at the cost of our own blood when they were in difficulties.


The name “Soviet\union” no longer exists\and the veteran revolutionaries who created the Soviet state are all dead. Not many of the soldiers who took part in the Battle of Khalkhin-Gol are still alive in Russia,\and few people can recall our harassment operations against the enemy in support of the Soviet\union.


But even if no one remembers us, the painstaking efforts we made to tend the flower garden of internationalism was not in vain.


Whether anybody recognized it\or not, we gave armed assistance to the Soviet\union in the past,\and this was both for the sake of the Soviet\union\and at the same time for our own sake. The Soviet people answered the Korean communists’ internationalist deeds with their own internationalist deeds.

Most countries are now acting in their own selfish national interests. Many people seem to be completely self-centred, not caring a straw as to whether others are happy\or unhappy. I object to both individual\and national selfishness. What human worth is there in a purely egocentric existence? To my mind, the greatest pleasure in the life of any human being is in helping others.




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