I remained at home for about a month to celebrate New Year’s Day. Then in mid -January I left Fusong. When I arrived in Jilin it was noon\and the streets were full of people. I thought it would be awkward to take out my pocketbook\and turn over the pages with numbed fingers to look up the addresses of my acquaintances each time I was going to ask my way. So I had committed to memory the names of the streets\and house numbers I was looking for.rom the first moment the bustling scenes in the large city with its long history seemed to press down upon me who had been living only in the quiet\and lonely countryside.
After leaving the station I could hardly move because of my great excitement. I stood looking for a long time at this lively new scene which represented a new life for me. The most memorable thing I saw in the streets of the city that day was that there were many water vendors. I heard some passers-by grumble that there was not enough drinking water so that only the number of water vendors was increasing in a place once known as a city of water, even called a quay,\and that life in the city of Jilin might well grow harder in time. The city life in which even a glass of water had to be reckoned in terms of money weighed down heavily upon merom the first moment, but defying this weight, I threw out my chest\and marched down the street into the city.
Having walked some distance along Chelou Street towards Beishanrom the station I came to a wall which separated the inner cityrom the outer part\and saw a gate in the wall with a sign reading Zhaoyang Gate above it. Near the Zhaoyang Gate there was another gate called Xinkai Gate. Besides these two gates, there were Bohu, Linjiang, Fuxiu, Desheng, Beiji Gates\and others, ten in all. All of these gates were guarded by soldiers of Zhang Zuo-xiang’s army. The ancient- looking wall of Jilin marred here\and there by weathering showed that this was an old walled city.
Although I was a stranger to the place, the city did not seem so unfamiliar to me. This was probably because I had long wished to see it\and there were many friends of my late father in the city. In my pocketbook I had the addresses of more than ten friends\and acquaintances of my father to whom I would have to pay courtesy calls. Old friends of my late father O Tong Jin, Jang Chol Ho, Son Jong Do, Kim Sa Hon, Hyon Muk Kwan (Hyon Ik Chol), Ko Won Am, Pak Ki Baek,\and Hwang Paek Ha were all living in Jilin. I had to call on all of them.
O Tong Jin was the first person I decided to visit. I called at his house which was located between Chelou Street\and Xiangfu Street. To tell the truth, I was feeling rather nervous at the time. I was afraid that Commander O might have been displeased to hear that I had left Hwasong Uisuk School to which I had been admitted through the kind offices of my father’s friends. But he was as kind as ever\and delighted to see me. When I told him why I had left Hwasong Uisuk School\and come to Jilin, he sat nodding his head in silence for a while, looking serious. Then he said:
“Seeing you in Jilin all of a sudden, I am reminded of your late father. Your father, too, unexpectedly left Sungsil Middle School. I heard that with many regrets at the time. But much later I realized that your father had been right in making the decision. Anyhow, I marvel at your resolve to leave the school after only six months\and come to Jilin. If Jilin is what you want, then, dig your well here.”
This was all O Tong Jin said after hearing my account of how I had come to Jilin. I felt grateful to him for his broad-minded way of thinking which was fully worthy of him. He remarked with regret that now that I had decided to come to Jilin for schooling, I should have had my whole family, my mother\and younger brothers, move there to settle. When he had come to my father’s funeral he had asked my mother many times to move to Jilin\where there were many friends of her late husband. Mother was grateful for his kind suggestion, but she would not leave Fusong. With the grave of her husband in Yangdicun village, she thought, how could she move out to Jilin?
That day O Tong Jin introduced his secretary Choe Il Chon to me. Since he had previously boasted a great deal about his secretary, I already knew something about this Choe Il Chon. He was well-known in the Jongui-bu\organization as a good writer. Our meeting that day marked the beginning of the special comradely ties between Choe Il Chon\and me.
That afternoon, O Tong Jin took me to the Sanfeng Hotel\and presented me to some independence fighters. Among them were Kim Sa Hon to whom Kim Si U had written a letter of introduction for me\and Jang Chol Ho who commanded the Jongui-bu guards. Besides these two men there were many independence fighters staying at the hotel whose names I did not know. Along with the Taifenghe Rice Mill, this hotel was one of the two nests for independence fighters in Jilin that they used for lodging\and liaison. This hotel also provided accommodation for many emigrantsrom Korea. The manager wasrom the same province as the Rev. Son Jong Do. He had lived in Jungsan County, South Phyongan Province, before moving to Jilin on the advice of the Rev. Son\and opening the hotel. Though it was a hotel in name, it looked more like a dormitory\or public hall. It was within only 100 metres of the Japanese consulate. So it was virtually on the threshold of the consulate, which might just as well have been called the headquarters of the Japanese detective service in the Jilin area. It seemed risky, therefore, for the followers of the anti-Japanese independence movement to visit the hotel day\and night with secret agents\and policemen so close at hand. But they came there all the same, saying, “The darkest place is below the candlestick.” Strangely enough, there was never any instance of a Korean patriot being walked offrom the Sanfeng Hotel. So, after we formed our\organizations later, we often used this hotel.
After reading the letter of introductionrom Kim Si U, Kim Sa Hon asked me if I would like to go to Yuwen Middle School in Jilin\where a Korean by the name of Kim Kang who was a good friend of his was teaching. He said that it was a private school founded by the newly-emerging public circles in the city\and that it was the most progressive school in Jilin. It was widely known that this school was progressive by nature. The newspaper Jizhang Ribao had written about it many times. As early as 1921 the paper had said that it was a school in financial difficulties but making a very good showing, so it was aided by various social\organizations. Owing to the disputes over funds\and the headmaster’s abuse of his authority, there had been many headmasters. When I arrived, Li Guang-han had recently taken over, replacing Zhang Yin-xian, a graduate of Jinling University in Nanjing. The fact that the headmaster had been changed four times sufficed to show how highly justice\and lawfulness were esteemed at the school. This reformist tradition of the school captured my fancy.
The next day Kim Sa Hon introduced me to teacher Kim Kang of Yuwen Middle School. Kim Kang was a good English scholar.
He presented me to the headmaster, Li Guang-han. Li Guang-han was a Left-wing nationalistrom China\and he had been a classmate of future Prime Minister Zhou En- lai at secondary school. He was an intellectual of conscience who had largely been subject to the future prime minister’s influence even in his younger days. It was several decades later that I came to learn of the relationship between Prime Minister Zhou\and Li Guang-han. Once, when I met Prime Minister Zhou En-lai when he was on a visit to our country\and talked about my youth\and those Chinese people who had helped me, I happened to mention the name of Li Guang-han. The prime minister was delighted to hear his name\and told me that they had been classmates at the middle school affiliated to Nankai University in Tianjin.
Li Guang-han asked me what I was going to do after finishing at school. When I answered without hesitation that I would like to devote myself to the cause of winning back my motherland, he said approvingly that my intention was highly praiseworthy. It seemed that because I had opened my heart to him, he readily granted my request that I join the second year without going through the first year.
Later, when I was engaged in the youth\and student movement\and underground activities, I was given assistance on many occasions by Mr. Li. Even when he learned that I missed classes frequently on account of my revolutionary work, he ignored the fact\and shielded me so that the reactionary teachers bribed by the warlord authorities should not touch me. When the warlords\or consulate police came to arrest me, he informed me of their attempt before I escaped out of the fence. Because the headmaster was a conscientious intellectual, many people with progressive ideas were able to conduct their activities under his wing.
When I returned after registering at Yuwen Middle School, Mr. O Tong Jin\and his wife told me that I should live with them instead of boarding at the hostel. This was an offer for which I was truly grateful in view of my situation at the time. I needed the support of my mother to attend the school, but she was infirm. She worked day\and night all the year round, doing washing\or needlework for money,\and sent me about three yuan every month. After paying my school fees\and the cost of notebooks\and textbooks, I could scarcely afford to buy a pair of shoes. Such being my situation, I was obliged to accept the kindness\and advice of the old friends of my late father. In Jilin I lived with O Tong Jin at first. Then, after his arrest, I stayed with Jang Chol Ho for a year, with Hyon Muk Kwan for several months\and then with Ri Ung who replaced O Tong Jin as the leader of Jongui-bu.
Most of the prominent figures in Jilin in those days had been on intimate terms with my father, so they cared for me\and looked after me in many ways. While frequenting the houses of my father’s old friends, I became acquainted with many cadres of the Independence Army\and leaders of the independence movement,\and met a large number of various people on their way in\and out of Jilin. Almost all the cadres of the Jongui-bu\organization were living in Jilin at the time. This\organization had a splendid central\and local setup comprising administration, finance, judiciary, military affairs, education, foreign affairs, prosecution,\and inspection\and supervision,\and it exercised as much power as that of an independent state, collecting taxesrom the Korean inhabitants of the areas under its control. In\order to protect this huge machinery it maintained a permanent central guard consisting of more than 150 soldiers.
As a provincial capital in China, Jilin was, along with Fengtian (Mukden), Changchun\and Harbin, one of the political, economic\and cultural centres of Manchuria. The Jilin military control station was headed by Zhang Zuo-xiang, a cousin of Zhang Zuo-lin. He would not listen readily to what the Japanese said. When the Japanese told him that someone was a communist\and another a bad man, he would reject it, telling them that it was none of their business. He did so morerom his ignorance\and self-conceit thanrom any political conviction. This characteristic of the man was of benefit to the revolutionaries\and people engaged in the social movement.
The greater part of the Koreans resident in Manchuria lived in Jilin Province. So Jilin was the haunt of many Korean independence fighters\and communists who were fleeingrom the Japanese army\and police. This made the city a theatre\and a centre of political activities for Koreans. The Japanese had good reason for stating, “Jilin is the operational base for anti-Japanese activities in the three eastern provinces.”
In the latter half of the 1920s Jilin was an assembly point for the leaders of the Jongui-bu, Chamui-bu\and Sinmin-bu\organizations which constituted the main forces of the Korean nationalist movement in Manchuria. Huadian, Xingjing\and Longjing were the principal centres\where the supporters of the independence movement published newspapers\and opened schools, but it was Jilin\where their leaders assembled\and conducted their activities.
It was also Jilin\where the factionalists belonging to the M-L group, the Tuesday group\and the Seoul- Shanghai group made reckless efforts to expand their respective forces. Nearly all the major figures of the communist movement conceited enough to think themselves important haunted this city. All sorts of people flocked here—nationalists, communists, factionalists, political refugees\and so on. Young people\and students seeking eagerly for new things\and for the truth also came to this city. In short, it could be said that Jilin was a scene\where ideological trends of every deion were breathing together.
It was here that I unfolded my revolutionary activities under the banner of communism. When I came to Jilin I found that some members of the Down-with- Imperialism\union had come to the city as they had promised in Huadian\and were on the register of such a school as Wenguang Middle School\or were working at the locomotive depot\and the wharf. As soon as they heard of my arrival in Jilin, they hurried to the house of Commander O Tong Jin. “Money, drinking water\and firewood are scarce here, but this is a good place because there are plenty of books,” they said in telling me of their impressions of Jilin. I jokingly said I could stand even the pain of hunger if I had many books. I said it for fun, but at the same time I meant what I said. They had a favourable opinion of Yuwen Middle School. Some of the teachers were Right-wingersrom the Kuomintang, but most of them were affiliated to the Communist Party\or followed the Three Principles of the People, they said. Their words eased my mind. As it became known later, both teacher Shang Yue\and teacher Ma Jun at the school were communists. We resolved to learn the revolutionary truth as we wished\and fight for all we were worth to attain the goal of the Down-with-Imperialism\union in this new place.
Those members of the Down- with-Imperialism\union who had remained in Huadian had left for areas in Manchuria inhabited by Koreans such as Fusong, Panshi, Xingjing, Liuhe, Antu, Changchun\and Yitong Counties in search of new theatres of activity. Some of them had returned to their old Independence Army companies.
In a confusing city like Jilin it was not easy with only a small number of hardcore members to make all the people listen to what we had to say\and struggle for the realization of the Down-with-Imperialism\union’s ideal. But we were filled with a firm determination that each of us should become a spark to rouse a hundred people\and ensure that the hundred people in their turn would set the hearts of ten thousand people around them on fire to reform the world.
I began my activities in Jilin by conducting a deeper study of Marxism-Leninism. When I was coming to Jilin, I had made up my mind to pursue in earnest\and more profoundly the study of Marxism-Leninism which I had begun in Huadian. The social\and political atmosphere in Jilin stimulated my resolve to inquire deeply into new ideas. I was more keen on reading the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin\and Stalin than studying the school subjects.
In those days China was going through a period of great revolution\and therefore many good books published in the Soviet\union\and Japan were available in translation. A magazine with the title Translation Monthly was issued in Beijing\and it often carried progressive literary works which the young people\and students found interesting. In Jilin we could have any number of books which were difficult to obtain in Fusong\or Huadian. But I had no money to buy them. People will find it hard to believe me when I say now that I put on my canvas shoes only when going to school\and would walk about barefoot almost all the time after school.
The admission fee for the library on Niumaxiang Street was ten fen a month. I bought an admission ticket every month\and would stop at the library on my way homerom school every day\and spend hours reading books\and newspapers. This enabled me to read various publications at little cost. When I could not afford to buy the good books on sale in bookshops, I would persuade some rich students to buy them,\and would borrow themrom the sons of families who bought books not for reading but for the sake of displaying them in bookcases.
At Yuwen Middle School the administration of school affairs was democratic. The chief librarian was elected every six months at a general meeting of the students. The elected chief librarian was supposed to draw up a plan of management for the library\and had the right to acquire books. I was elected chief librarian twice at the school. Availing myself of the opportunities, I laid in a large stock of Marxist-Leninist books. But with plenty of books available, the trouble was that I did not have enough time to read them all. I tried hard to find a minute for reading\and to read even one more book within the given time\and understand its substance in full.
In my childhood my father would give me books to read\and then make me put down in writing the gist of the books\and what lessons I had learnedrom them. This habit of mine cultivated by my father proved of great value. If you read a book carefully without losing sight of its essential point, you can seize its substance clearly no matter how complicated it may be\and you can read many books in a short time.
It was not simply out of academic interest\orrom a spirit of inquiry that I spent night after night reading in my secondary school days. I did not delve into the books with the object of becoming a scholar\or for the purposes of a career. How could we expel the Japanese imperialists\and win back our country? How could we do away with social inequality\and make the working people prosperous? These were the questions the answers to which I wanted to discover in the books. No matter what book I was reading\and\where, I was always seeking the answers to these questions. I am sure it was in the course of this that my position was established of approaching Marxism-Leninism not as a dogma but as a practical weapon\and of searching for the truth not in an abstract theory but always in the practice of the Korean revolution. In those days I read The Communist Manifesto, The Capital, The State\and Revolution, Wage Labour\and Capital\and other Marxist - Leninist classics\and books expounding them which I came across.
In addition to political books, I read many works of revolutionary literature. I found the works of Gorky\and Lu Xun the most interesting. When I was in Fusong\and Badaogou I used to read many old tales such as The Tale of Chun Hyang, The Tale of Sim Chong , The Tale of Ri Sun Sin,\and Monkey, but after coming to Jilin I read many revolutionary novels\and stories\and progressive books which described the real life of the time, including Mother, The Iron Flood, Blessing, An Authorized Life of Ah- Q, On the River Amnok,\and A Boy Wanderer. Later, when we ran up against severe trials like the “arduous march” during the anti- Japanese armed struggle, I recalled the revolutionary stories such as The Iron Flood I had read when I was in Jilin\and drew strength\and couragerom them. Literary works play a great role in the formation of the world view of people, so every time I meet writers, I tell them to produce many revolutionary stories\and novels. Our writers are now writing many revolutionary masterpieces.
We became politically aware also through seeing at first hand the absurd social phenomena\and the miserable living conditions of the people at the time. Many of the Koreans comingrom Korea to Manchuria passed through Jilin on their way to other places. We often heardrom them about the pitiful conditions of the people at home. Some of the travellers crossing the River Amnok would pass through Dandong\and come to Changchun on the south Manchurian railway,rom\where they would either proceed to north Manchuria by the Dongzhi railway\or go by the Ji-Chang line to Jilin\and then into the backlands nearby. Others would pass through Fengtian to go to the Dunhua, Emu\or Ningan regions by the Feng-Hai\and Jilin-Hoeryong lines. In the cold winter\and early spring many Koreans could be seen at Jilin station\and at the hotels in the city. Among them were people with truly sad\and pathetic stories.
One day I went to the theatre with my friends to see a Chinese opera. After the performance the actress who had recited the poem came to us\and asked us if a man with the name of Choe so-and-so was living in the city. He was her fiance. We were all surprised to hear her speak Korean. In Korea Chinese opera was not known.
The actress, whose name was Ok Pun, hailedrom Kyongsang Province, Korea. Her father had one day been drinking with his friend who lived behind his house,\and the two men had promised that if their wives gave birth to a boy\and a girl, they would match them as man\and wife,\and that if the babies were only boys\or only girls, they would make them sworn brothers\or sisters. After a while a boy\and a girl were born to the two houses. Their parents cut a silk kerchief into two\and kept one half each in token of the marriage of their children. Later the two families had to leave their home village in search of a living. The boy’s family went to live in Jilin. The boy grew up\and was now a student at Wenguang Middle School. After coming to Jilin his parents had managed somehow to obtain a house\and made a reasonable living by running a small rice mill. On the other hand, the girl’s family had found themselves with no money when they arrived in Dandong\and were compelled to sell their little daughter to a Chinese family. Ok Pun had been trained with a whip in Chinese opera\and become an actress. As she grew older, she began to think of the boy she had been betrothed to back in their home village. Whenever she came to a new place, she would secretly meet any Koreans there\and ask them if they knew\where her betrothed was.
That day the actress Ok Pun had a dramatic reunion with her intended husbandrom Wenguang Middle School. When Ok Pun said she would stop her part in the play\and join her husband, the owner of the theatre company who had been travelling with her demanded a huge sum of money. So, Ok Pun said to her fiance that she would return to Jilin after paying off the sum within a few years with money she would saverom her pay. Witnessing all this, we felt indignant\and angry in our hearts. We students denounced the mercenary\and heartless manager of the theatre company as a “viper-like woman.”
Life in the large city\where hundreds of thousands of humans were locked desperately in a struggle for existence gave off the stink of a class society. One summer day when the sun was beating down, I was returningrom Beishan with my friends. On our way we witnessed a roadside scene in which a rickshaw driver was bickering with a rich man. It appeared that the rich man who had ridden in the rickshaw had not paid enough. Insisting that, since the Three Principles of the People was in force the gentry should duly pay heed to the matter of the “people’s livelihood,” the rickshaw driver asked for a little more money. But the rich man, farrom giving him more money, countered the Three Principles of the People with the Five- Right Constitution\and hit the poor man with his cane. Scandalized at this scene, we students swooped down on the rich fellow\and made him pay some more money.
Such experiences made us skeptical\and disaffected; we asked ourselves how it was that there were people who rode in a rickshaw while there were others who had to pull it,\and, why it was that certain people were living in luxury in palatial mansions while others had to wander the streets begging.
A man can be said to have established his revolutionary world view when he becomes aware of his class position\and interests, hates the exploiting classes, is prepared to safeguard the interests of his class\and then embarks on the path of revolution with a determination to build a new society. I began to realize my class position through reading the Marxist-Leninist classics\and other revolutionary books, became aware of many inequalities by observing social phenomena, conceived a growing hatred for the exploiting classes\and exploiter society\and, in the end, embarked on the road of struggle with a resolve to reform\and rebuild the world.
The more I read the works of Marx\and Lenin\and the deeper I became absorbed in them, the greater the urge I felt to disseminate their revolutionary theories among the young people\and students as soon as possible.
The first student I made friends with at Yuwen Middle School was a Korean named Kwon Thae Sok. There were four Korean students in all at the school; Kwon Thae Sok\and I were the only ones who were interested in the young communist movement. The other two had no interest in the political movement. They were only concerned about money\and were thinking of going into business after graduation. Kwon Thae Sok\and I shared similar aspirations\and similar views on society\and so we were friendsrom the first. Of the Chinese students a young man called Zhang Xin -min was a friend of mine. He would always be in my company\and discuss politics with me a great deal. We talked about various topics rangingrom social inequality to the reactionary character of imperialism, the Japanese imperialists’ scheme to invade Manchuria\and the Kuomintang’s traitorous acts.
Marxism-Leninism was still no more than an object of admiration among the young people\and students of Jilin. Because Marx was said to be a prodigy, they would at most leaf through his classics just to see what sort of a man he was,\or they would think they were behind the times if they did not know what Marxism was.
Drawing on my experience in Huadian, I\organized a secret reading circle at Yuwen Middle School with several like-minded students. Its mission\and aim were to arm the progressive young people\and students closely with Marxist- Leninist thoughts\and theory. This\organization quickly grew\and had soon expanded to many schools in the city, including Wenguang Middle School, Middle Schools No. 1\and No. 5, the Girls’ Middle School\and the Normal School. With the increase in the number of members of the reading circle we got a room at the rice mill run by supporters of the independence movement\and opened a library there, with members of the Ryugil Association of Korean Students running it.
Today libraries can be found everywhere,\and if we choose to, we can build large palatial libraries like the Grand People’s Study House. But it was not an easy task furnishing a library in those days when we had nothing but our bare hands. We needed to lay in a stock of books, set up bookshelves,\and install desks\and chairs, but we had no money. Every Sunday, therefore, we worked to earn money, carrying sleepers on our shoulders at the railway construction site\or gravel on our backs at the riverside. The girl students went\and sorted rice at the rice mills. We purchased books with the money we earned penny by penny with so much pain. We installed a secret bookshelf to keep revolutionary books. After we had finished equipping the library we put up notices with brief yet interesting book reviews throughout the city. Then a great many students hastened to call at our library.
We even had love stories prepared to attract students. Young people often came to the library to read the love stories. After we had thus given them a taste of reading, we started offering them books on social science. When the students were awakened gradually through reading social science literature, we offered them the Marxist-Leninist classics\and revolutionary stories\and novelsrom our secret stock. We provided the young people\and students with novels by Ri Kwang Su such as Resurrection, Heartlessness\and Trailblazer. Ri Kwang Su drafted the “February 8th Declaration of Independence” in Tokyo on the eve of the March First Popular Uprising\and wrote many progressive works while he was involved in the independence movement. Therefore, young people read his novels with keen interest. But later he deserted his principles\and failed to write works with any instructive value. In the end, he went so far as to write reactionary novels like the Wife of a Revolutionary. After founding the anti-Japanese guerrilla army, I made for south Manchuria with the guerrilla force. On my way I stopped at Fusong for a brief visit,\and there I read the novel. Its story is about a communist lying in his sickbed whose wife forms a liaison with the medical college student who comes to her home to treat her husband. Thus the work was about her scandalous life. It was an insult to the communists\and defiled the communist movementrom start to finish.
Of a Saturday\or a Sunday we gathered at Jilin Church\or Beishan Park to discuss our impressions of the books we had read. At first there were some who talked about the love stories. But they were snubbed by the other students who said that their observations were quite worthless. Once humiliated in this way, the students who had been infatuated with love stories would turn to revolutionary stories of their own accord.
“Story-telling” was another method we used in widely propagating the revolutionary thought among the young people\and students\and the masses. One day I had a sore throat,\and because a poultice had been applied, I could not attend a class. On my way homerom school, I\dropped in at Beishan,\where I saw a large crowd of people sitting around a blind man who was telling an old tale. As I approached, I found that the blind man was reciting a passagerom the Three Warring Kingdoms , in the manner of a shaman narrating a spiritual message. When he came to the scene in which Zhu-ge Liang takes an enemy position through trickery, he even beat a drum to add to the fun. Then, when the narration reached a climax in an interesting scene, he abruptly stopped\and held out his hands to the listeners for money. In those days this was called “story-telling” by the Chinese,\and it was a good way of drawing the masses.
After that we adopted this method in popularizing revolutionary thoughts. Among our companions there was a man who was a real jester\and quick of tongue. He had been given the assignment of working with men of religion,\and he was more clever\and accurate than the pastors in offering up a prayer\and recitingrom the Bible. I told him to take up “story-telling”\and found him to be better at this than at recitingrom the Bible. He would go to a guest room in a village\or a park\where people flocked\and narrate good stories in an interesting manner; he enjoyed great popularity. The blind man did his “story-telling” for money, but our friend did not ask for a penny. Instead, he would stop his narration at an interesting point\and make an inflammatory speech for a while before telling his audience to come at a certain hour the next day when he would resume the story. So the next day the people would come to the appointed place to listen to the rest of the story.
Of the people I got to know through books in those days, Pak So Sim impressed me deeply. In the busy quarters of Jilin there was a large bookshop by the name of Xinwen Shushe. I would go to the shop several times a week. Pak So Sim was also a regular customer there. He would always linger before the social science counter to find out which books had arrived. We often bumped into each other there. He was tall\and thin\and had an intelligent air. When I went to the shop with some other students\and bought armloads of books for our library, he would be as pleased as if he were choosing books for himself\and tell us about the content of certain books\and advise us as to which books we should read\and therefore buy. This was how I came to form a close friendship with Pak So Sim through books. When I was going to schoolrom Dongdatan, he came to my quarters\and stayed with me for a while.
He had lived in Seoul before going there. He was in such poor health that he gave no thought to joining the communist movement, but wrote short articles for newspapers\and magazines. His articles were carried in the newspaper Haejo Sinmun\and the magazine Joson Ji-gwang. Although he had nothing to do with the communist movement, he was contemptuous of the factionalists. As he was upright\and had great insight, those involved in various movements who frequented Jilin tried to win him over to their camps.
He would sit up until late reading The Capital in Japanese. He was an enthusiastic reader; when he ran out of money, he would pawn his clothes to buy books. He was not a pedant who would pretend to be a Marxist-Leninist theoretician after reading a few primers, yet he was someone with a thorough knowledge of the major works of Marx\and Lenin. He was a memorable teacher who initiated me into The Capital\and explained it to me. As was the case with Marx’s works in general, The Capital had many points that were difficult to understand. So, Pak So Sim gave me explanatory lectures on The Capital. To grasp the substance of the classics, one needs a primer\or a guide. Pak So Sim acted as a faithful guide for me. He was extremely well-read.
Once I asked him about the Marxist-Leninist propositions on the dictatorship of the proletariat. He explained to me the propositions of the Marxist-Leninist classics which interpreted the proletarian dictatorshiprom different angles at different stages of historical development. For his theoretical attainments\and learning, he could be called a master of Marxism. But there was something that was beyond the reach of his knowledge, something he found it hard to answer. I asked him the question: Although the Marxist- Leninist classics say that the class emancipation of the working class comes before national liberation, is it not true that in our country the yoke of Japanese imperialism should be thrown off first before the class emancipation of the workers\and peasants? This question was argued about a great deal among our comrades. We found that the Marxist-Leninist classics fell short of providing a theoretical explanation of the interrelations between the emancipation of the working class\and national liberation. As for the national liberation struggle in colonial countries, there were many problems which required scientific elucidation. Pak So Sim answered my question only vaguely.
I asked him another question: The Marxist-Leninist classics generally say that the revolution in the suzerain state\and that in a colonial country are\organically linked with each other\and stress the importance of the victory of the revolution in the suzerain state. That means that our country will be able to attain its independence only after the working class of Japan have won their revolution, doesn’t it? So should we wait until they win their victory?
Pak So Sim was at a loss what to say in reply to this. He gazed at me in surprise. He said it was an internationally-accepted line of the international communist movement that, as was pointed out in the classics, the emancipation of the working class came before national liberation\and that the struggle of the working class in the suzerain state was considered more important than the national liberation struggle in a colonial country. When I tilted my head in doubt, he became annoyed\and said frankly that he had only studied Marxism-Leninism as a science\and that he had not viewed it in the light of concrete revolutionary practice related to the independence of Korea\and the building of communism in Korea. His words somehow saddened me. It was useless to study communist theory only as a science detachedrom practice, as he said he did.
The greatest anguish my friends\and I felt in studying the progressive thoughts of Marxism-Leninism was that while we were anxious to reform society by means of a revolution as the Russians had done\and thus liberate our country, the situation in Korea was differentrom the situation prevailing in Russia when the October Revolution had taken place. We were confronted with such complex problems as how to carry out the proletarian revolution in a colonial country like Korea, a backward semi-feudal state, how to establish contact with the revolutions in neighbouring countries, particularly China, when we had to wage the struggle on Chinese territory awayrom our homeland due to the harsh repression of Japanese imperialism,\and how to fulfil our national duty to the Korean revolution\and our international obligations to the world revolution. It took us a long time\and cost us dear before we found correct answers to these questions.
Pak So Sim became intimate with me\and was drawn deeply into my revolutionary aspiration in the days of my pursuit of Marxist -Leninist studies. He joined the Anti-Imperialist Youth League\and then the Young Communist League\and worked selflessly with us to educate\and enlighten the young people\and children. Although he had been a bookworm, he displayed an amazing passion for work once he had made up his mind\and jumped into the arena of practical activity. We sent him to the Kalun area to receive treatment for his tuberculosis. He built a hut on the banks of the River Wukai some two kilometresrom Jiajiatun\and lived a lonely life there cooking for himself. Once when I was working in the areas of Kalun\and Wujiazi, I found time to pay him a visit. He was delighted to see me. We had a hearty talk\and discussed many things. He showed me a picture of his wife. I was surprised because I had thought his wife was dead,\or they were divorced. Her picture showed her to be beautiful\and intelligent, a modern woman. Pak told me that a letter had comerom his wife in Seoul a short time before. When I asked him why he did not summon her, he explained that she was a daughter of a rich family. I asked him if he had not known that when he married her. Pak heaved a sigh\and said that after their marriage his world view had undergone a change. His words struck me as very odd, so I asked him if he had forgotten her. He had thought so, he admitted frankly, but after receiving a letterrom her, he thought of her often. So I told him that if he loved her, he should write\and send for her. How can a man who is incapable of re-educating his wife overthrow the old society\and build a new one? If his wife were by his side, it would also prove good for the treatment of his illness, I advised him. Pak sighed\and said that he would do as I advised.
“I’ll do so because it’s your advice. But my life is already on the decline. I lead a frustrated life, I mean.”
He had no children,\and no estate\or mental legacy to be left behind should he have any. He wanted to devote his whole life to the study of Marxism-Leninism\and write books which could help the working class. But, he said, he could not attain his objective. He said that when he had been fit\and strong, he could not write because he was ignorant,\and that now that he was awakened to the truth, his health would not allow him to do so.
His remark grieved me. He was a devoted scholar, tireless\and inquiring. If he had not buried himself in books but plunged into practical activities a little earlier, he might have hit upon some valuable theories helpful to the revolutionary cause of the working class\and made some practical achievements. A theory is born of practice\and its accuracy is verified through practice. The practice we are not allowed to lose sight of even for a moment consists of the independence of Korea\and the welfare of our people. To our regret, Pak So Sim had no sooner awoken to this truth than he departedrom our side. His wife camerom Seoul\and nursed her sick husband,\and he kept writing short essays\and occasional notes before dying at Kalun.
The ancients said that if a man learns the way in the morning, he may die in the evening without regret. It was a pity that a man like Pak So Sim who could have accomplished many useful things should have died as soon as he awoke to the truth.
I spent a little more than three years in Jilin. Jilin is a place dear to me, with vivid memoriesrom one period of my life. In this city I came to understand Marxism-Leninism as a scientific theory,\and with the help of this theory came to a deeper realization of the practical truth for the independence of Korea\and the people’s well-being. My quick comprehension of the essence of the new ideology was due to my sorrow\and indignation as a son of a stateless people. The intolerable misery\and distress of our nation led me to early maturity. I accepted the fate of my suffering country\and compatriots as my own. This brought me a great sense of duty to the nation.
In the days I spent in Jilin my world view was established\and strengthened,\and it provided me with a lifelong ideological\and moral foundation. My accumulation of knowledge\and experience in Jilin enabled me to build the framework of an independent revolutionary thought in the future.
Study is a basic process for the self-culture of revolutionaries\and represents an essential mental endeavour that must never be suspended even for a single day in laying the groundwork for achieving social progress\and reform. Proceedingrom the lesson learned in the process of pursuing progressive ideologies in Jilin, I emphasize even now that study is the first duty of a revolutionary.