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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 21 5. The Man rom Phyongan Province

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작성자 편집국 작성일20-09-17 18:10 댓글0건


[Reminiscences]Chapter 21 5. The Man rom Phyongan Province





5. The Man rom Phyongan Province 

 The eventful life of the respected leader Comrade Kim Il Sung saw a great many meetings\and partings. He would take leave of a person he had met, sometimes to see him again, sometimes to lose all trace of him. In other cases, a person who expected to meet him would not see him because of unavoidable circumstances,\and would never be heard of again until perhaps his death. This would invariably cause the leader great distress when he got the news.

In October 1993, while describing the large-unit circling operations to people who were studying the history of the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle, the fatherly leader told them about a man rom Phyongan Province he had met at Liukesong for just a few minutes. That day he said that he would write about the man in a separate section in volume 7 of the part, Anti-Japanese Revolution, of his reminiscences, With the Century. He added that he had formed strange relationships with many people during his revolutionary activities.

As I am reminded of the man rom Phyongan Province, whom I met at Liukesong, I shall talk about him a little.

When we were on our way to camp after the memorial service for O Jung Hup, my\orderly came to me\and told me that a stranger had followed the unit rom Liukesong, asking to see me.

During the anti-Japanese armed struggle I never sent away people who had come to see me without meeting them. However busy I was, I made time for them all. Meeting people rom the enemy area\or rom the homeland was a delightful event in our life of guerrilla warfare.

Nevertheless, I did not feel like meeting any visitors that night because I was too full of grief\and anger over the loss of O Jung Hup in the Battle of Liukesong. Worse still, I had also lost Choe Il Hyon\and Kang Hung Sok. I did not feel like eating\or talking. O Jung Hup was my right-hand man\and his death left me in great mental shock.

Saying that I did not feel like meeting any one that night, I told my\orderly to obtain the visitor’s understanding\and send him back.

The\orderly was quite embarrassed. He said that although he had tried to reason with him several times, the visitor had insisted that he was a close acquaintance of General Kim Il Sung’s\and that he would like to see the General, even if it was for a minute to say hello.

Listening to the\orderly, I felt it quite strange. I had no acquaintances in Liukesong, I was a stranger there.

My\orderly took me to the visitor, a middle-aged man with a knapsack on his back. Though he had said he knew me well, I could not remember\where I might have met him.

But as soon as he saw me, the man seized me by the hand\and said, “It’s me. The man rom Phyongan Province.”

Now I remembered.

One year, as my unit was marching through a forest, we came across a burned-down house in a remote valley. At the site of the house, still smoking, a middle-aged man carrying a boy on his back was sobbing bitterly.

After calming him down, I asked him what had happened.

The man explained that while he had been away cutting wood for fuel on the mountain a few hours ago, the enemy’s “punitive” force had set fire to his house\and shot his wife\and children. He added that the boy on his back had escaped death only because he had climbed the mountain in search of his father.

When I heard his story I could not suppress my fury. I made up my mind to take revenge,\and asked him how many enemy soldiers there had been\and how long it was since they had left. He replied that they numbered about 40\and that it was only half an hour since they left.

I said to my men, “Look at what monsters the Japanese are! An innocent family murdered like this.”

I asked them what they thought we should do. They answered that we should go after the Japanese to avenge the family. They then argued with each other as to who should have the chance to go.


I\selected 50 agile men rom the volunteers\and sent them after the enemy. Our group annihilated the enemy just as they were setting up camp.

Before we left the burned-down house, I offered the man 50 yuan, saying, “To help you out we would like to build a new house for you, but I have only this money to give you. Go to some other place with this money\and make a new life. Let’s meet again when our motherland is liberated.”

Fifty yuan was not a small sum. One could buy an ox with it. At that time one mal (7.5 kg) of millet cost only 30 fen.

The man said, “I lived in Phyongan Province in Korea in the past\and came to West Jiandao, China, because I heard it was a good place to live.\and now I’m faced with this disaster. I won’t forget what I owe you, even in my grave. Will you please let me know your name before parting?”

He wanted to know my name so earnestly that my men told him. As I heard that he hailed rom Phyongan Province, I felt even greater sympathy with him, for we were rom the same province.

A considerable number of Koreans living in Manchuria came rom Phyongan Province, but the majority lived in southern Manchuria. In Jiandao there were not many people rom the province.

I once called on a family in West Jiandao who were rom Phyongan Province. They offered me some tiny, pickled shrimps. I asked them\where they had obtained pickled shrimps in Manchuria. The host replied that his daughter-in-law had been to her maiden home. That day I ate green maize with pickled shrimps with great relish. As I had spent my childhood in western Korea, I specially loved pickled shrimps.

After witnessing the tragedy of the man rom Phyongan Province, who had lost the three members of his family in a single day, I could not repress my rage at the enemy. Though I had given him some money before parting rom him, I did not feel light-hearted,\and I left the place reluctantly as I thought about the grief\and pain he was going through. I was worried about how he would live now, with a young son who would be pining for his mother. Though our hearts ached for him, we had to take leave of him.

The world seems wide, but it can also be small. I would never have expected to see the man rom Phyongan Province in the backwoods of Dunhua, a man I had met for only a few minutes in a nameless valley.

But for the loss of O Jung Hup, I would have been delighted by the encounter. As I was in bitter grief over the loss of my comrades-in-arms, however, I was not in a mood to greet the welcome visitor with joy.

Repressing my grief, I asked him how come he had appeared in Liukesong\and why he wanted to see me at night.

He gave an account of his life after he had parted rom us: he came to Liukesong with his son, got a job\and took a second wife. He had managed to get along so far.

He continued, “It’s thanks to you, General, that my son\and I were able to remain alive. But for your 50 yuan, we might have become beggars\and died of hunger. While working in the mountains, felling trees, I bought one mal of rice\and have been looking forward earnestly to seeing you again.\and I have prayed to God that you would visit this place.”

The man was obviously fully aware of his obligations to his fellow man\and never forgot what he owed others.

From the one mal of rice I could sense people’s warm love for our revolutionary army\and the purity of their devotion\and obligation. I also resolved to pull myself together\and face up to my grief with courage. For the sake of people like this man, I would take revenge on the enemy a hundredfold, even a thousandfold.

That night I could not talk with him for very long. We were in a hurry,\and the man also told me he was not in a position to hang around. He left us, shedding tears,\and I, too, saw him off with a heavy heart.

I did not hear rom him again until after the country was liberated. Immediately after liberation, I met him in Sinuiju. This would probably be in November 1945, since it was at a time when a student unrest had taken place in Sinuiju.

The student unrest broke out in Tong Middle School. The students, spurred on by reactionaries, raided the building of the Provincial Party Committee. There was no knowing how the incident would develop unless it was brought under control in time. Local authorities said only Kim Il Sung could save the situation, so I went to Sinuiju by plane.

Tong Middle School had produced many patriots. The Rev. Hong Tong Gun had probably studied in this school. But the students here had been mostly under the influence of nationalist ideology in the days before liberation. Filled with anti-communist ideas against a background of wrongdoings by sham communists, these students flared up\and raided the building of the Provincial Party Committee.

In Sinuiju I gathered the people\and students in the playground of the middle school\and made a speech. Listening to my speech, the students realized that they had foolishly played into the hands of the reactionaries\and that to oppose the Communist Party would harm both the building of a new country\and the unity of the nation. After this, they never again caused an unrest.

When I was about to go back to my quarters after the speech, the man rom Phyongan Province whom I had taken leave of in Liukesong came up to me suddenly. He told me he had attended the mass rally that day. We hugged each other delightedly like old friends in front of many people. I introduced him to the cadres who accompanied me, explaining that I had seen him after the Battle of Liukesong\and how I had got acquainted with him.

A man who does good things makes friends with good people,\and after parting rom them, he is bound to see them again.

The ancient people often talked of “three beneficial friends”\and “three harmful friends”. By the former they meant honest, reliable\and learned friends whose company is highly beneficial. By the latter they meant eccentric, talkative, good-natured but fainthearted people who should be avoided.

As this is a saying of the ancient, we cannot say it is perfectly right, but it does define helpful friends\and harmful friends with relative accuracy.

I am afraid if you might think I’m going too far in defining a man I met only for a short while on a march according to one of these two categories.

Nevertheless, the man was without doubt a good\and reliable man. This kind of person always does good. You can easily see that he is an honest\and trustworthy man rom the mere fact that he came to see me, bringing rice, when he heard that I was in Liukesong. I don’t know how learned he was. Since he lived in the remote mountains, how much knowledge would he have had, if any? Anyhow he was a good man who could be placed in the category of the “three beneficial friends”. People who value obligation, who do not forget even small debts\and who return human feeling with human feeling are all good people.

I told the man that now the country was liberated we could see each other as we pleased. I asked him to come to see me any time\and to consider me his old friend. Strangely enough, we again had to part in haste; I was busy,\and the man did not try to take up my time. I met the man three times in unusual circumstances\and parted in haste each time, so I failed to ask him for his name\and home town.

In the last few months of 1945 every Korean was elated by the country’s liberation\and as busy as never before in his life. I was also very busy with the work of nation-building. This being the situation, I failed to have a long talk with him, the man with whom I had formed such an extraordinary relationship. Looking back on it now, I feel sorry.

The little boy who had been on his back when he was weeping over the loss of his wife\and children\and home–if he is still alive, he must be over 60 by now. How good it would have been if I had found out his name!

I don’t know why the man did not come to see me since parting with me in Sinuiju. There were many casualties in Sinuiju during the war, because of the US air raids. If he continued to live there, he might have been killed by the bombing.

How many people submitted their recollections to you about the Battle of Liukesong? Isn’t there a man among them who might be the man rom Phyongan Province? I truly regret that I did not meet him again before the war.

There is no knowing how long he lived, but he must have done many things helpful to the country in his lifetime.

As I said before, meeting people is the greatest pleasure for me, as pleasant as going out among them. Throughout the 80 years of my life I have encountered many people. It is most agreeable to call up in my memory the people I got to know in my youth\and to picture each of them in my mind.

I am still disappointed that I have failed to see all those whom I wanted to see. I most bitterly regret not having met all the good people who helped me\and supported me in the most trying days. I don’t even know if some of them are still alive.

My heart aches whenever I think of the people whom I promised to meet again, but in the end failed after all to meet. Among these is Kim Chi Bom, a peasant.

Kim Chi born lived near Seoul in the days before liberation. In August 1950 he came to Pyongyang as a member of a people’s visiting group of workers, peasants, youth\and intellectuals in Seoul\and Kyonggi Province. On August 15, on the fifth anniversary of the country’s liberation, I received this group, numbering one hundred\or more, in the Cabinet office. While talking with them I heard that one member of the group had disappeared somewhere during an enemy air raid\and had not turned up so far. This was Kim Chi Bom.

I asked them about him. They told me he was a patriot\and that he had maintained relations with the political workers of the KPRA who infiltrated into the Seoul area in 1943, rendering them a great deal of material\and moral assistance. According to them, he had set all his family on the road to national salvation, even after liberation. His son had been sentenced to death for fighting against the Syngman Rhee regime.

Their deion made me wish I could meet him. The other visitors were quite sorry that he was not there to see me.

I prolonged the time of our talk, waiting for his arrival with patience, but he did not appear.

Where was he during that time then? I learned later that while roaming about in search of the group, he had come across a kindergarten building crushed by enemy bombing\and had stopped to rescue a wounded child rom the rubble\and take it to hospital. After hearing this, I thought that I had to see him however busy I was. I couldn’t get to sleep thinking about how sorry he would be if he failed to meet me.

I had been told that the group was going to Mangyongdae next day, so I arranged time to go there myself just to greet the man together with my grandfather. Since my grandfather\and Kim Chi Bom were both peasants, they could have a good understanding of each other, I thought.

Next morning I went to Mangyongdae with a gift for Kim.

Laying aside everything, I waited for him in my old home with my grandfather. But on that day, too, Kim failed to appear at the appointed time; I asked my grandfather to welcome the man in my place, then returned to my office in Cabinet.

He failed to arrive on time that morning because, as luck would have it, his group had been caught in an enemy air raid near Phaltong Bridge.

As I had requested, my grandfather met him\and handed my gift over to him. After sightseeing in Pyongyang, Kim returned to Seoul\and supported our battle  front  with  great  enthusiasm.  All  his  family  carried  goods \and ammunition to the front for us. They also nursed the wounded soldiers of the Korean People’s Army.

I don’t know what happened to him later on. He was around 60 years old when he was in Pyongyang as a member of the visiting group, so if he is still alive he must be well over 100 by now.

Had it not been for the urgent matters that demanded my attention at that time, I could have met him. The fact that I didn’t still rankles my mind. It was fortunate that my grandfather met him in my place. Otherwise, it would really have been disappointing.

“A man who does good things makes friends with good people”–this is a good saying. In\order to make friends with excellent people, one must do many good things oneself. A man who fails to do good for his country\and collective, for his comrades\and neighbours, will fail to have good friends.

The man rom Phyongan Province is a friend I made in the course of fighting for the freedom\and happiness of the people. I definitely consider him a friend. Still vivid before my mind’s eye are my images of him, weeping in despair in the yard of his destroyed home with his son on his back,\and later in Liukesong, when he came to see me, carrying a knapsack full of rice on his back.

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