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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 23 4. The Days of Small-Unit Actions

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 23 4. The Days of Small-Unit Actions



4. The Days of Small-Unit Actions 


 At times the publications on the payroll of Japanese imperialism gave wide publicity to the effect that the units of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army had been routed if their commanding personnel fell in action. Even though they knew full well that large forces of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army were putting up resistance as ever, the army\and police of Japan\and Manchukuo, including the headquarters of the Kwantung Army, too, said that the guerrillas had been wiped out in the early 1940s.

If their claim that the anti-Japanese armed units had been routed\and an end had been put to our resistance was true, then why did Nozoe move his headquarters rom Jilin to Yanji, the theatre of operations of the KPRA,\and mass his troops northeast of Mt. Paektu, the troops that had been enlisted to attacking Yang Jing-yu?\and why did he throw into “punitive” actions against the guerrillas not only the forces of the Kwantung Army\and the puppet Manchukuo army\and police, but also the rabble of the railway guards\and Concordia Association?

Even in the days of small-unit actions, we fought continually. While avoiding meaningless clashes, we struck the enemy hard when necessary. Of course, we avoided fighting large battles. We instead channelled great efforts into political work with the masses\and reconnoitring. We also sent a great number of small units, groups\and political workers to the homeland to make preparations for an all-people resistance.

The sizes of small units\and groups were different according to the situations, but usually small units consisted of 10 to dozens of men as well as groups of only several men. They were armed lightly to suit their missions\and duties. After their formation, we defined their tasks\and their areas of operation. According to the tasks assigned, some small units\and groups conducted mainly political work, some performed military actions\and some were engaged in reconnaissance. But the tasks were not immutable. They executed other tasks than their own as well, according to the circumstances. For instance, the reconnaissance groups would sometimes conduct political work\or the groups engaged mainly in military actions might do political work\and reconnoitring at the same time.

As they were being formed, we directed efforts to building temporary secret bases on which they could rely. The typical ones built after the conference at Xiaohaerbaling were those situated near Daomugou in Yanji County, near Mengshancun in Helong County, Huanggouling in Antu County,\and Jiapigou in Wangqing County. A large number of such bases were built in the homeland–from Undok, Sonbong, Musan\and Rajin to deep into the peninsula. There were secret camps in which small units could stay,\and places\where communications could be exchanged,\where secret meetings could be held\and\where supply goods could be stored.

After the conference at Xiaohaerbaling the great leader, in command of some men rom the Guards Company, fought a successful battle at a swamp near Huanghuadianzi, Antu County, setting an example for small-unit actions. He recollected the battle as follows:

The battle fought near Huanghuadianzi was the first one after our switchover to small-unit actions after the Xiaohaerbaling conference. After the conference I went to Hanconggou with about a squad of my guards. On our return, we came across the enemy near Huanghuadianzi\and fought a battle there. Every scene of the battle still remains vividly in my memory.

The name of Huanghuadianzi, like those of Matanggou\and Nanpaizi, has a story attached to it. When we asked the local inhabitants what the name of their locality meant, they gave different answers. Some said that it meant a swamp full of chrysanthemums, others replied that it meant a swamp full of day lilies,\and still others said it\originated rom the love of a boy\and a girl. We did not know which interpretation was right.

We had passed through the place several times,\and found that there were not many chrysanthemums\or day lilies there. But there was a swamp. The battle was fought in the swamp.

Hwang Sun Hui was one of our company. I had given her the task of conveying the policies discussed\and decided at the Xiaohaerbaling conference to Choe Hyon. Though small in build, she was agile\and had a lofty sense of responsibility. She knew well\where Choe Hyon’s unit was.

As dusk was falling, we took a break on the mountainside behind Huanghuadianzi.

I thought about how to pass through the swamp. There was a wide ditch across it\and a log bridge across the ditch. Foul water of uncertain depth was flowing along the ditch. If we crossed the log bridge\and then a couple of mountains, we could go straight to Daomugou in Yanji County, that we had decided upon as a temporary secret base beforehand.

Nevertheless, over the bridge the enemy could have been lying in ambush. As I was gazing at the far end of the bridge, I spotted, as I had expected, a flashing light on the other side. I wondered if it was a firefly at first, but it was without doubt an enemy flashlight, I decided. We could get to Daomugou only by crossing the log bridge, but we were in a fine fix as the enemy soldiers were entrenched in darkness. The situation could be likened to the Korean proverb that “You will meet your enemy on a narrow bridge.”

In the days of armed struggle I was surrounded by the enemy\and placed in the jaws of death on several occasions, but I think this was the first time that I felt so hemmed in that I could not find a way out.

If we could not cross the bridge, we would have to make a troublesome detour of several miles. We had to continue our march straight ahead at all costs. As I stood there silently sizing up the circumstances, my men were holding their breath in suspense.

After a while, I decided to dash across the bridge before the enemy could notice us,\and gave my men the\order to start marching. We all crossed the bridge safely, but as soon as I, bringing up the rear, entered the bushes on the other side of the bridge, enemy machine-gun fire rang out.

I\ordered my machine-gunner to return the fire,\and diverted the column to the high road. Jon Mun Sop\and Hwang Sun Hui guarded me at the risk of their lives. It was quite a critical moment. One false step\and we might fall into the unfathomable marsh,\and in the meantime enemy bullets were raining all around us. But we escaped the trap with no casualties. It was really a godsend.

Had we been thrown into confusion by the prevailing situation\or failed to make a decision in time, we would not have been able to escape rom the enemy’s trap,\and suffered great losses.

When we were marching towards the high road, I got the report rom the scout that the enemy had appeared in front of us. No doubt the main force of the enemy, which had been standing by, had been alerted by the shots at the bridge.

I\ordered my men to rush back to the bridge. Firing at the enemy soldiers at the bridge\and those on our tail, we slipped away to one side, to a mountain. I then gave an\order to take a break.

We took a short rest on the ridge of the mountain. Meanwhile, the enemy forces rom the bridge\and rom the high road fell into an exchange of heavy fire.

The people in Antu told us later that the enemy suffered many casualties in the exchange of fire between themselves. The two enemy contingents accused each other of firing first,\and wondered whether they had seen ghosts cross the bridge.

Later we killed many enemy soldiers at Facaitun, Yanji County,\and near Wudaoyangcha, Antu County. In the battle fought at Facaitun we employed, unlike at Huanghuadianzi, a combination of raids by three parties\and telescoping tactics. In this battle, too, the enemy suffered heavy casualties by shooting at each other.

We fought such battles almost every day. Some days a number of small units pooled their forces to attack a large target. As we fought large battles now\and then, with the main emphasis on small-unit actions, the enemy did not realize that the People’s Revolutionary Army had switched over rom large-unit operations to small-unit actions.

After being informed through Hwang Sun Hui about the policies adopted at the Xiaohaerbaling conference, Choe Hyon\and his men conducted efficient small-unit activities. His unit first attacked the enemy at Guangshengtun\and Xiaochengzi in Wangqing County in a large combined force\and then dispersed into small units to strike the enemy here\and there.

Small units led by O Paek Ryong fought in Yanji, Helong\and Antu; those led by Kim Il\and Sun Chang-xiang in Hunchun\and Dongning;\and those led by Han In Hwa, Pak Song Chol\and Yun Thae Hong in Dongning, Ningan, Muling\and Wuchang.

The whole region of Northeast China\and the northern border area of Korea seethed with the activities of the small units\and groups.

On the small-unit actions he personally commanded after the Khabarovsk conference, the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung recollected as follows:

In the days before the conference, the small units\and groups operated mainly in the northern border area of Korea\and Northeast China. After the conference, they made their way into the depths of Korea, expanding their activities as far as the points of military importance on the southern tip of Korea\and even in Japan proper.

The contents of their activities were varied. They built Party\organizations\and underground revolutionary\organizations\or rebuilt those that had been destroyed in the homeland\and Northeast China, put in\order\or reformed the remaining armed units,\and set up a systematic\and unified leadership over the\organizations for an all-people resistance. In addition they reinforced the secret bases in the different parts of the homeland, built new temporary secret bases as required by the situation,\and recruited in the homeland\and Northeast China patriotic young\and middle-aged people to expand the ranks of the KPRA\and train military stalwarts. At the same time they conducted on a wide scale a struggle to harass the enemy in the rear\and weaken their war capabilities by raids, ambushes\and subversive actions. They reconnoitred the enemy’s military establishments, bases\and strategic points,\and strove to cause chaos in the enemy ruling system\and military forces.

The units of the NAJAA also took part in the small-unit actions in those days. The theatres of these actions were allocated as follows: The units of the KPRA\and the 1st Route Army\and some units under the 2nd Route Army were to operate in Korea\and southeastern Manchuria; the remaining main units of the 2nd Route Army were to operate in the area rom north of Lake Xingkai to Donggang;\and the units under the 3rd Route Army, in such counties as Qingcheng, Tieli\and Hailun.

Going to Mt. Paektu\and back to the temporary base in the Soviet Far East region, I guided the small-unit actions in Korea\and southeastern Manchuria,\and at the same time promoted military\and political studies.

We ensured that those who had returned to the base rom small-unit actions participated compulsorily\and without exception in political studies\and modern-warfare training.

In Camp South it was decided that I should first go to the area northeast of Mt. Paektu\and to the homeland in command of a small unit consisting of a relatively large force of men. It would be followed, depending on the circumstances, by the small units led by Choe Hyon\and An Kil. We defined the theatres of our actions\and tasks.

In April 1941 I left the base with a small unit. Our task was to establish contact with the small units\and groups operating in southeastern Manchuria\and provide them with unified guidance. Another important task was to rebuild the revolutionary\organizations that had been destroyed, build new ones, expand the armed ranks with young people recommended by secret\organizations,\and train these young people to be cadres needed for the final campaign for the liberation of the country\and for the construction of a new country.

We also decided to find out the\whereabouts of Wei Zheng-min.

The situation in the homeland\and Manchuria in those days was threatening. rom the early spring of 1941, the Japanese imperialists set out on new “punitive” operations. The “Nozoe Punitive Command” was disbanded\and its authority was transferred to the headquarters of the Kwantung Army. Then the main units of the Kwantung Army\and all the “punitive” units under the headquarters of the military districts of the puppet Manchukuo army\and the headquarters of the Kwantung military police went on a rampage of “punitive” actions against the People’s Revolutionary Army.

That was why some commanding personnel counselled me to take all precautions, as they were worried about my going to the enemy area in command of a small unit. Kim Chaek, too, was apprehensive about my safety at first.

Before leaving, I appointed Ryu Kyong Su company commander\and Kim Il political instructor. Jon Mun Sop was appointed my\orderly. When Jon’s appointment was announced, Kim Chaek gave him strict instructions never to be as much as an inch away rom me.

An Yong was chosen as wireless operator of the small unit.

An Yong had operated in eastern\and northern Manchuria. As a teacher for several years, he had educated children in the spirit of patriotism. While working in eastern Manchuria, he had\organized an itinerant troupe\and conducted mass enlightenment work. He was a man of wide knowledge\and rich life experience. At the time he worked with the masses in northern Manchuria, he worked both as a kitchen helper\and as a day labourer in an opium field.

We chose him as our radio operator because when he had been fighting in the unit in northern Manchuria he had taken a six-month radio-operating course in the Soviet\union.

He sported a bushy moustache, about which he was often teased.

The number of men in the small unit would have been about 30. We wore Japanese-style uniforms, so that we looked like Japanese.

In the dead of night in early April we crossed the border. Then we marched to the northeast of Mt. Paektu through the sites of our former bases.

We had lots of things to do northeast of Mt. Paektu.

After we had abandoned our guerrilla bases in eastern Manchuria\and moved to West Jiandao, the enemy had committed full-scale destruction in eastern Manchuria\and northeast of Mt. Paektu. In\order to repair the damage, we had again gone to the area northeast of Mt. Paektu after the operation in the Musan area,\and exerted a positive revolutionary influence in the area. Availing themselves of our temporary stay in the Soviet\union the enemy

had again massed regular troops northeast of Mt. Paektu\and raised a whirlwind of wholesale destruction. They then cried, “Peace has been secured in eastern Manchuria.”

For the revolution northeast of Mt. Paektu to be brought to an upswing once more, the KPRA had to make its presence felt through the audacious activities of its small units\and groups. By demonstrating that the KPRA was still active, we were fully able to arouse the masses again.

We planned to raise a revolutionary upsurge in Antu, Wangqing, Yanji, Hunchun\and Dunhua,\and then proceed to Mt. Paektu to build more revolutionary\organizations in West Jiandao\and in the homeland while strengthening the forces for all-people resistance\and\selecting hundreds of patriotic young people for training in the Paektusan secret camp\and the base in the Soviet Far East region as military\and political cadres.

After a forced march lasting several days after crossing the border, we arrived at a valley not far rom Daheixiazigou.

Once some Koreans living in Yanbian brought me a video tape they had recorded, saying that while exploring an area bordering three counties–Wangqing, Dongning\and Hunchun–they had discovered a camping site of the guerrillas. I watched the video tape\and recognized the area as the one our small unit had used as a temporary secret base.

When we arrived at the valley we had run out of food.

I sent Kim Il\and some other men to raid the gold mine near Jinchang, Wangqing County, obtain food\and conduct work with the masses there.

In the vicinity of the base, Jon Mun Sop caught a big bear. Several men had to carry it to the base on a pole. We extracted a pailful of grease rom the bear.

Some days later, Kim Il returned with food. Crestfallen, he reported to me that Jang Hung Ryong had been killed on the mission. It had been because of Ji Kap Ryong that Jang had been killed. Ji had stubbornly insisted on having a meal on the way back rom the raid on the gold mine,\and the party was delayed for about an hour, during which the pursuing enemy surprised them. Regretting that he had not refused Ji’s request to take a meal, Kim Il said he was ashamed to face me.

Jang’s death tore our hearts apart. We felt even sadder as we looked back on how he had made painstaking efforts to make up for his mistake when he had been given a penalty concerning an incident involving an ox.

Coinciding with Jang’s death, a guerrilla of Chinese nationality was captured by the enemy. The result was that the\whereabouts of our unit was revealed. The enemy pursued us tenaciously, saying that Kim Il Sung had reappeared.

I thought that the news of our reappearance would rather serve our purpose. If the enemy made a commotion about this, then it would be known to the people,\and in the long run it would be tantamount to making public the struggle of the KPRA. In fact, the enemy was giving publicity to our struggle!

To cover our traces, we crossed a pass\and marched towards Taipinggou.

In early May we arrived at Jiapigou, Wangqing County.

There I parted with Kim Il. He was to operate with a group which had a temporary secret base at Jiapigou. In the areas of Luozigou\and Tumen-Jiamusi, the theatre of the group’s operations, there were many\organization members we had trained with great efforts in the days of the guerrilla bases. Telling Kim Il that Choe Chun Guk’s family would be living somewhere around there, I asked him to establish contact with them.

An Yong, the radio operator, was to remain at the Jiapigou base with two of his assistants. The base played the role of an intermediary liaison centre.

I left Jiapigou with about 20 men for the wide areas on the Tuman northeast of Mt. Paektu. We planned to operate circling around Dunhua, Antu, Fusong, Helong, Yanji\and several other counties in eastern Manchuria.

Passing through Dunhua County, we built a base at Hanconggou, Antu County,\and set up a liaison centre. I had met Wei Zheng-min last at Hanconggou.


By the time we arrived at Hanconggou the season had changed. The forests were thick\and it was hot at midday.

From there I dispatched groups for political work to Changbai, Dunhua\and Chechangzi, as well as to the homeland\and Mt. Paektu.

Han Chang Bong\and Han Thae Ryong were dispatched to the Changbai area. Their task was to guide the activities of the secret\organizations there\and to locate the families\and relatives of guerrillas, link them to\organizations\and send them to the homeland. Changbai was home to many of the soldiers of my unit. If their families\and relatives were all affiliated with\organizations\and planted in the homeland, they could play an important role in forming\organizations for the all-people resistance movement. I gave the two men the task of\selecting excellent young people\and sending them to our base in the Soviet Far East region. I told them in detail whom they should contact in Taoquanli\and Changbai,\and in other places. I\ordered them to make inroads into the homeland after building up underground\organizations there\and entrench themselves among the working class.

Jon Mun Sop\and Kim Hong Su went to the head of a valley in Chechangzi\and dug up the weapons\and maps we had buried there previously\and returned with them.

Those who had been to Dunhua brought an old man with the surname of Pak rom a forest near Dahuanggou. He had been eking out a living by hunting wild animals. He had in the past been affiliated with the Anti-Japanese Association, an underground\organization, in Huadian County.

I had a long talk with the old man. He said that the mountains were crawling with the Japanese “punitive” troops\and their stooges. He added that we should take care as the huts of charcoal burners\and opium growers, as well as the huts\where biers had been kept\and caves were all occupied by enemy spies. Complaining that underground work was quite difficult as the enemy had locked up all the local people in internment villages, controlling their travel\and making them keep watch on one another, he said he would, for all that, do his best for the benefit of the guerrillas.

Frequenting the Dunhua County town\and the internment villages, the old man brought us a list of those connected with our\organizations,\and the food\and goods we needed. On the basis of the materials he obtained, we rebuilt the\organizations in this area rapidly.

Later, the old man was arrested by the enemy\and executed.

In this way, we enjoyed the active support\and cooperation of the people in the days of small-unit actions. This support proved to be a great encouragement for us in our difficult struggle in the enemy area. This was clear testimony to the fact that the people had already been aroused to engage in all-people resistance.

While expanding the network of underground\organizations, we endeavoured to find the\whereabouts of the remaining units under the 1st Route Army\and Wei Zheng-min. First we reorganized ourselves into three teams\and operated in the counties of Dunhua\and Huadian, the Antu area, the area north of Helong County\and the area of Fusong County.

In those days Ryu Kyong Su did his work faithfully, despite many hardships.

In\order to get to Jiapigou in Huadian County, he had to cross the swollen Fuer River. But the river was impassable. Finally, he ran out of food\and he had to return. Going hungry for several days\and worried about his failure to perform his task, he fell ill.

But someone had to go to Jiapigou, come what may.

I decided to go there personally, leading a small unit.

On hearing this, Ryu Kyong Su, who had been bed-ridden in a corner of the tent, struggled to his feet\and approached me, saying, “You mustn’t go. I’ll try again.”

My efforts to dissuade him proved futile,\and eventually I could not but accede to his request.

In every man’s life there is a moment when his character is tested. Each second\and each minute of our do-or-die guerrilla struggle was such a moment. We experienced scores of times a day the moment when we had to make a decision whether we would dedicate our lives to the struggle\or abandon it.


Whenever he was faced with a critical situation, Ryu Kyong Su threw himself into it as if he were a human bomb. So I always sent him to the tightest corner.

Assigning simple tasks to his comrades-in-arms\and shouldering difficult tasks himself, giving others the credit for successes\and trying to discover the cause of any mistake within himself when anybody had to be called to account,\and willingly receiving reprimands\or penalties–this was Ryu Gyong Su’s personal appeal\and an important reason why he was loved by all.

When he was leaving for Jiapigou, I\ordered that he be given all the food we had. Behind my back, he asked Jon Mun Sop whether there was any food left for me. As Jon Mun Sop, at a loss what to say, was hesitant, Ryu reprimanded him for his failure to do his duty as my\orderly,\and poured out grain back rom his knapsack.

Having performed his task, Ryu Kyong Su returned after several days. He had apparently undergone such great hardships that he fell unconscious as soon as he saw me. I pulled off his shoes. Gangrene had already set in in his feet,\and bloody puss was oozing out. As I spooned thin gruel into his mouth, he managed to open his eyes\and gave me the report of his work.

In the vicinity of Jiapigou they had met a peasant who had had contacts with the guerrillas. But the peasant had given them a wide berth. Failing to meet Kwak Ji San\and others, they had roamed about\and only heard the rumour that Wei Zheng-min had died.

Though he had done his best, Ryu Kyong Su was very sorry that he had not performed his tasks to the full.

Ji Kap Ryong, who had been to Wangbabozi with another group, surrendered to the enemy.

The trials of 1941 were a touchstone that distinguished once again who was a true revolutionary\and who was a sham revolutionary.

These trials\and examinations continued without interruption until the day of the country’s liberation. The anti-Japanese revolutionary veterans who returned to the liberated motherland are precious men\and women tested in trials one hundred times, nay, one thousand times.


Soon after Ji Kap Ryong’s betrayal, the enemy, aware of our\whereabouts, swarmed into our base like wolves. In command of the unit, I broke through the enemy’s encirclement\and headed for Antu via Dashahe\and Xiaoshahe.

Working in the large area of Antu\and Fusong, we concentrated on the work of expanding the\organizations we had formed previously.

Through the members of the\organizations we came to know that Wei Zheng-min had died of illness\and a rumour was circulating that a notice carrying his photo was put up even in the town of Mingyuegou. We also obtained the information that 30\or so guerrillas were operating in the areas of Nanhamatang\and Beihamatang,\and in the vicinities of Mingyuegou\and Yanji.

So we decided to do more work in this region. I dispatched a team to the areas of Shahezhang, Nanhutou, Dahuangwai\and Beihamatang. I myself headed for Mt. Paektu with the remaining men.

In the Kanbaeksan secret camp I called together the heads of small units, groups for political work\and revolutionary\organizations,\and gave them the task of holding fast to the Juche-oriented stand as required by the prevailing situation\and of briskly conducting ideological education to consummate the Korean revolution by our own efforts. I also told them to make preparations for\selecting excellent young people in the homeland\and West Jiandao\and giving them training in our base in the Soviet Far East region,\and\organize the work of the all-people resistance by training many men in the Paektusan secret camp\and in the area of Mt. Kanbaek.

Following the meeting, we went to Onsong\and guided the work of\organizations in the homeland in this direction.

Our way back after operating in the area of Mt. Paektu was not smooth, either. Startled by the gunshots raised by our small units, the enemy were making desperate efforts to trace us. In those days the enemy “punitive” troops were everywhere to be seen–on high roads, on mountain tops, in valleys,\and so on.

Laotougou in Yanji County was an enemy stronghold. As the military police\and special units of the Kwantung Army, the puppet Manchukuo army\and police were entrenched there, it was difficult to pass through it.

Nevertheless, without passing through it, we could neither reach the mountain that led to the forest in Sifangtai nor go to the assembly place of our small unit.

We decided to try to pass through it by night in our Japanese military uniforms. But to our regret, the day broke before we could cross the railway line at Laotougou. We had to stop marching in the daytime\and hide ourselves in a safe place. We looked down rom a mountainside at some houses along a main road,\and a railway station not far away. We made up our minds to enter the houses\and wait for dusk to fall.

I quartered my men in the houses,\and I myself stayed in a house on the road. One man, disguised as a Chinese peasant, kept watch while weeding in a nearby field with a hoe, while the others all rested.

At noon, men in yellow clothing flung open the door of the house I was staying in. They were surprised to find several men in military uniform in the house. When the man leading them attempted to turn back, one of my men poked a rifle into his back.

I told the man to come inside. Apparently they had taken us for Japanese soldiers. I asked him who he was. He said he was head of the Concordia Association\and had come to the village on receiving a report that Kim Il Sung’s unit had appeared there.

I told him point-blank that we were the KPRA. Hearing this, the man trembled.

I learned valuable information rom him.

From a newspaper he had brought with him I learned for the first time that the Soviet-German War had broken out.

He told me that the Japanese had become agitated all of a sudden\and were massing their troops in the Soviet-Manchurian border area,\and a rumour had it that a Soviet-Japanese War would break out before long.

I told him to go to the police after we left the village\and report that Kim Il Sung’s unit had passed through Laotougou in broad daylight.


Receiving the report, the enemy were said to have made a great fuss, crying how could it happen that Kim Il Sung’s unit had taken a meal\and had a siesta under their very noses.

Without suffering any loss, we arrived at Jiapigou, Wangqing County, the assembly point. Kim Il\and his men, who had returned after completing their mission, joined us there.

Following a meeting in June, I called another meeting of the heads of small units at the end of July in Jiapigou. The aim of the meeting was to conduct ideological education among all the officers\and men\and members of small units of the KPRA in relation to the situation that had changed rapidly in the international arena with the conclusion of a neutrality pact between the Soviet\union\and Japan\and the outbreak of the Soviet-German War.

A heated discussion arose among the members of small units about the outbreak of the Soviet-German conflict. Some said the conflict would open a bright vista for our revolution; some judged that if the Soviet\union had to sustain a pincer attack in the east\and in the west by two powers, it would exert a negative influence on our revolution;\and still others were of the opinion that the impact of the world situation on us should be judged only when the Japanese invasion of the Soviet\union became a reality.

It was in\order to unify these opinions as soon as possible, instil in my men confidence in the victory of the revolution\and rouse them to make better preparations for meeting the great event of national liberation on our own initiative that I convened the meeting.

At the meeting we reviewed the activities of the small units\and groups that had been dispatched to different places,\and discussed the course of our future activities.

Throughout the meeting, I stood by my principle:

“We must not vacillate whatever the change in the general trend. Germany’s invasion of the Soviet\union is just digging its own grave. If Japan invades the Soviet\union, it will also be tantamount to digging its own grave. But Japan has no strength to do so. Look at the balance of forces between the powers. Even if the earth changes to whatever form, fascism will go to ruin,\and democracy will emerge victorious. A bright vista will be opened for our revolution. So we must not vacillate\or be hesitant in the face of temporary difficulties. We must hold fast to the banner of the revolution. We must cherish our convictions\and the confidence that we will liberate the country\and consummate the Korean revolution by our own efforts.”

At the meeting I indicated the course of our future small-unit actions. I said that we had to harass the enemy continually in their rear while avoiding reckless frontal confrontation\and engagement with the enemy, whose forces were stronger than ours, so as to preserve our forces. I stressed that we should raid\and destroy the enemy’s convoys\and supply bases,\and that we should also intensify reconnoitring\and political work with the masses for the campaign for liberating the country.

In early August we raided a road construction site between Wangqing\and Luozigou.

In those days the Japanese imperialists were massing large numbers of troops in this area, which was close to the Soviet-Manchurian border area. We thought that if we raised gunshots in this area\where the enemy soldiers thronged, the echo would be a great one. If we were to raise gunshots, we would raise them in the heart of the enemy area–this was our intention.

I sent two parties in two directions to cut off the enemy’s retreat. Then we, disguised as Japanese soldiers, made an appearance at the construction site in fine array, disarming the road guards in an instant\and bringing the enemy soldiers in the barracks under our control. We finished the battle so quickly that the road builders, perplexed, gazed at us vacantly. Only after Ryu Kyong Su shouted, “We are Kim Il Sung’s guerrillas,” did they rush to us rom all sides\and hug us.

After doing political work with them, we passed through the area north of Wangqing County\and reached a mountain top overlooking the village of Taipinggou.

I was told that many rumours about us circulated in Wangqing after the battle.


From the top of the mountain I looked down on the village through binoculars. I could see the houses of Ri Kwang, O Jung Hup\and Pak Kil Song. I could even see O Jung Hup’s father walking up\and down in his yard.

I gave Kim Il the task of establishing relations with them,\and building secret\organizations in this area.

Later Kim Il formed an underground\organization keeping contact with O Chang Hui, O Jung Hup’s father,\and Pak Tok Sim, Pak Kil Song’s father. He also planted secret\organizations among the peasants in Nanbeidadong,\and among the workers at the Xiaowangqing railway station. O Jung Hup’s father told Kim Il that, with the rumour that Kim Il Sung’s unit had now advanced to Mt. Paektu circulating, the local people were highly elated\and full of confidence in the victory of the revolution.

The small units of the KPRA conducted on a considerable scale military\and political activities to foil the enemy’s operations in the border area between the Soviet\union\and Manchuria,\where the unit-train transportation\and mobility of the enemy troops were brisk. It was in those days that our small units made the enemy military trains collide with one another in the yard of the railway station in Tumen\and raided the enemy troops on the move in Toudaogou, Helong County,\and in Wangqing County.

Concluding with success the small-unit actions in the homeland\and Northeast China, we returned in August to the base in the Soviet Far East region.

In\order to consolidate these successes, I came to Manchuria once again\and even to the homeland in command of a small unit in mid-September 1941. The important mission at this time was to establish relations with the small units led by An Kil, Kim Il\and Choe Hyon, analyze what they had reconnoitred, give on-the-spot guidance to the small units\and groups active in the areas on the Tuman\and different parts of the homeland,\and instil in them the conviction of sure victory. This was of great importance in expanding the theatres of activities of small units\and groups deep into the homeland, preparing for the great event of national liberation\and getting forewarning of Japan’s plan to invade the Soviet\union.


Before departure, I saw to it that An Yong met his wife. Ri Yong Suk, An Yong’s wife, was in Camp North. She had married him, the night school teacher of her village, on the advice of her parents\and fought together with him in Choe Yong Gon’s unit. After her husband had gone to the Soviet\union to learn radio operation, she had not heard rom him. How eagerly he must have wanted to see her, as he had heard she was in Camp North! So I told him to meet his wife. In the heart of a man who goes on a difficult mission there must be no clouds. After seeing her he seemed to have been further encouraged; he was all smiles.

Near the camp site we had set up in Wangqing there was a river. Ri Tu Ik\and Jon Mun Sop caught fish there. They were both good at angling. The river was swollen after heavy rain. While angling, they caught a bear that was licking up red ants on a rotten stump.

We dismembered the bear\and put some of its meat in the river. Mountain water is so cold that it preserves any meat put in it. Wheat flour kept in a deep pool does not degenerate, either. If it is put under the water in bag, it looks as if it would be soaked with water, but this is not true. Only the outer surface gets wet, by about one centimetre,\and its inside remains intact. Life in the mountains is, as a matter of course, inconvenient, but there are knacks\and methods peculiar to this sort of life, making it more comfortable.

One day I called the commanding personnel of the small units together\and analyzed what they had reconnoitred so as to discuss the situation. They produced much interesting material. They were unanimous in their opinion that we should wait\and see whether Japan would invade the Soviet\union\or not,\and it seemed that it would not happen in the foreseeable future.

As evidence, An Kil reported about railway wagons. According to him, the Japanese police had gathered local people together\and told them that a war against the Soviet\union would break out sooner\or later,\and so they must build dugouts\and roads. But investigation of railway goods wagons revealed that the open wagons transported guns, tanks\and the like, but most of the covered wagons were empty.

The information Choe Kwang’s small unit had gathered in the area of Mudanjiang was also interesting. rom a mountain near a railway station they monitored through binoculars how many enemy troops were being massed in the border area every day.

Whenever a train pulled into the station, Choe Kwang counted how many soldiers disembarked rom each coach. One day he spotted an officer stepping down onto the platform with a cigarette between his lips. He engraved the officer’s face in his memory, apparently because he was especially arrogant in his behaviour\or he gave himself airs with a cigarette.

The next day, Choe Kwang saw the officer again on the platform. He had been doubtful at first, as he wondered how could a man who had got off the train the previous day get off again today. But he was the same officer. That day too the officer was smoking a cigarette. Only then did Choe Kwang realize that the enemy was carrying the same troops in covered wagons back\and forth every day to fool the guerrillas. It was a valuable information.

On his return to the base my men said, jokingly, that he could gather such information only because he was a heavy smoker. They said he could pay attention to the officer because he could not keep his eyes off the cigarette between the officer’s lips,\and so he easily realized he was the man he had seen the previous day.

Thanks to cigarettes, he gathered good information. He was once punished also because of cigarettes.

He became the leader of a platoon of the Young Volunteers’ Corps at the age of 16. Because of his lack of years his men treated him as a neophyte. In\order to show that he was a grown-up, not a novice, he began to smoke. After a few years he became addicted to cigarettes,\and if he had no cigarettes in hand, he would get sick.

Once he returned to his unit after a battle carrying a case of cigarettes on top of a sack of wheat flour. The unit called a meeting of Party members\and punished him. The meeting decided he deserved punishment as he had brought cigarettes, which could not be eaten, when he could have brought one more sack of wheat flour at a time when food was running short.

Through summing up all the information we had gathered in those days we came to the conclusion that Japan was not ready to invade the Soviet\union,\and its endeavour to pretend to be massing its troops on the Soviet-Manchurian border region was a trick to hide its plan of southward military expansion. We could guess that Japan was making preparations for a southern attack, not a northern one. This proved a great help to the Soviet\union in its formulation of a military strategy against Japan.

On the way back to the base in mid-November, we\dropped in at Yonbong, Saeppyol County.

After my venture, several small units pushed into the homeland\and Manchuria.

At the end of 1941 a small unit led by Kang Kon staged a large-scale ambush on an enemy train near Xinjiandian on the Mudanjiang-Jiamusi line, destroying the passenger cars carrying Japanese officers\and freight cars carrying armoured vehicles\and gasoline.

In the early spring of 1942 Pak Song Chol’s small unit operated in the areas of Dongning, Ningan\and Jiaohe Counties. Contacting guerrillas fighting in Laosongling, Ningan County, in Qinggouzi, Jiaohe,\and in Wuchang County, they expanded their ranks\and conducted small-unit actions until September, fighting battles continually, before returning to the base.

The small unit led by Chai Shi-rong of the NAJAA achieved great results in Ningan\and Muling Counties\and along the Mudan River.

Reviewing the success achieved in the first stage of small-unit actions, I thought that our making sorties into the homeland\and Manchuria rom the temporary base in the Far East region of the Soviet\union was a correct strategy.

Above all, we experienced in person that the switchover rom large-unit actions to small-unit actions in the new situation was a timely measure\and that we could deal heavy political\and military blows to the enemy,\and inspire the people to anti-Japanese resistance through small-unit activities no less effectively than we could through large-unit actions.

These successes inspired all our commanding personnel\and rank-and-file soldiers with a firm conviction in the final victory.


Our small-unit actions demonstrated to our fellows in the homeland\and abroad that the revolutionary army was as hale\and hearty as ever, defeating the enemy\and winning one victory after another,\and that, if all people were united around the revolutionary army\and conducted nationwide resistance, they were fully able to defeat Japanese imperialism\and greet the day of national liberation.

The army\and police of Japan\and Manchukuo that had been assuming an air of triumph as if they had annihilated the guerrillas to the last man through the “special clean-up campaign for maintaining public peace in the southeastern area”\and large-scale “punitive” actions were hemmed into a tight corner by our adroit small-unit operations.

Around the time when the IAF were formed, the small-unit actions of the soldiers of the KPRA became more brisk.

With an eye to the pending final campaign against Japan, we directed our main efforts to military reconnoitring\and preparations for an all-people resistance campaign,\and at the same time expanded the small-unit actions in breadth\and depth.

The small-unit actions were conducted by putting the main emphasis on the actions of the small units comprised of soldiers of the main unit of the KPRA\and combining them with military reconnoitring by the KPRA soldiers attached to the detachment of the IAF. This method of operation–acting independently\and when necessary supporting\and cooperating with each other–proceeded rom the conditions on the ground\and the requirements of the political\and military situation that prevailed in those days. It enabled us to consolidate\and further expand the political\and military successes of the activities of the small units.

The small-unit actions conducted after the formation of the IAF were characterized by sticking to the principle of giving priority to group activities while combining them with the activities of larger small units. In accordance with this principle, in military operations we directed our main effort to the activities of groups\and combined them, as appropriate, with raids\and ambushes by small units.

Following are documents on the intensification of the activities of small units\and groups of the KPRA:

“Kim Il Sung, Choe Hyon, Chai Shi-rong\and others who found their way into Manchuria again have realized the disadvantages of armed resistance\and strongly show the tendency of mainly conducting strategic activities involving the destruction of important military, industrial\and economic installations, turning the masses into Reds\or inspiring them to revolt,\and subverting our soldiers.” (Report rom Mudanjing acting consul Furuya, June 23, Showa 16 (1941).)

“In early 1942 the Korean guerrillas performed some combat operations in northern Korea, destroying 22 Japanese planes\and two hangars,\and sinking two oil-tankers\and 92 fishing boats.” (V. Yarovoy, Korea , p. 44, September 1945, the Soviet Naval Forces Press.)

The small units dispatched to the homeland\and Manchuria also worked to demoralize the enemy forces. Through their energetic activities, war-weariness grew rampant among the Japanese soldiers,\and many young Korean people drafted into the army deserted with their weapons\and joined our groups one after another. Some pilots of the enemy air corps rose in revolt\and defected to the People’s Revolutionary Army.

The greatest success we achieved through small-unit actions was foiling the enemy’s attempt to annihilate us\and making ample preparations for greeting the great event of national liberation while preserving\and accumulating our forces.

These political\and military successes proved a great asset for expediting the dawn of the liberation of the country.



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