[Reminiscences]Chapter 6. THE YEAR OF TRIALS 1. To South Manchuria > 회고록 《세기와 더불어》

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 6. THE YEAR OF TRIALS 1. To South Manchuria

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 6. THE YEAR OF TRIALS 1. To South Manchuria

  

   


 

Chapter 6. THE YEAR OF TRIALS

 1. To South Manchuria

 

Following the legitimization of the guerrilla units\and the formal founding of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army, our comrades discussed how it should start its activities.


After parading in the walled town we returned to Xiaoshahe,\and billeted the troops on the villagers in groups of three\or four. We let them rest for a few days\and held discussions to decide upon the direction of the guerrilla army’s activities. The process of these discussions was attended by a hot dispute, as had been the case in Kalun\and Mingyuegou.


Everyone had his own opinion.


Not only was everyone’s view with regard to guerrilla warfare different but also their assertions\and expositions of tactics for it varied. Our collective consisted of over 100 young people with varying standards of learning\and different backgrounds who had previously belonged to different\organizations. Therefore, it was natural that their intentions\and beliefs should be varied.


Their beliefs can largely be divided into three categories.


The first category was the theory of small groups. The advocates of this theory insisted that many small\and mobile armed groups should be formed\and the enemy defeated through a war of attrition instead of following the stereotyped method of forming such units as the company, battalion, regiment\and division. They were of the opinion that if the strength of the guerrilla army was divided into small groups of three\or five\and tens\and hundreds of groups conducted operations in many places in accordance with the unified strategy of the general staff, it would be quite possible to bring the Japanese imperialists to their knees.


The advocates of this theory claimed that guerrilla warfare with small armed groups as the basic unit might mark the creation of a new form of the national liberation struggle in colonial countries.


Many advocates of the small group theory were to be found among the young people rom Dunhua\and Yanji in particular. The young people in these two places were most influenced by Li Li-san’s Left adventurist line. The evil aftereffects of this were still evident in their way of thinking.


Cha Kwang Su harshly criticized this theory of small armed groups as modern Blanquism. I was of the same opinion as Cha Kwang Su.


The essence of the theory of small armed groups was that groups of several people would roam around avoiding a full-scale armed confrontation by large units because the military strength of the Japanese imperialists was enormous,\and throw bombs at enemy leaders, set fire to their ruling installations\and deal heavy blows to pro-Japanese elements\and traitors to the nation, as Ra Sok Ju\and Kang U Gyu had done.


The theory of small armed groups was a type of terrorism disguised as guerrilla warfare.

If we did as they maintained, we would virtually be abandoning guerrilla warfare in large units. This would represent a retreat. We could not tolerate a retreat.


Before\and after the founding of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army, two noteworthy incidents took place in Japan\and China perpetrated by our country’s patriots. One of them was the heroic deed of martyr Ri Pong Chang who threw a bomb at the Japanese Emperor’s carriage outside the Sakurada Gate of the royal palace in Tokyo; another was the incident involving patriot Yun Pong Gil’s throwing of a bomb in Hongkou Park in Shanghai on April 29 that year. Ri Pong Chang failed to achieve his aim of assassinating the Emperor because the bomb did not hit the mark. However, Yun Pong Gil succeeded in killing General Shirakawa, commander of Japanese forces in Shanghai, Murai, consul general in Shanghai,\and Kawahashi, the leader of the Japanese residents. He also inflicted severe injuries upon many key military\and political figures who had gathered in the park to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday, such as the resident minister to China, the commander of the 9th division\and an admiral. By doing so he caused a great sensation at home\and abroad.


On January 9, 1932, the day after Ri Pong Chang was arrested for throwing a bomb at the Emperor’s procession, Guominribao,\organ of the Kuomintang in China, carried in special type an article entitled “Korean Ri Pong Chang Attempts to Assassinate Japanese Emperor, but Sadly Fails.” Many other newspapers gave wide publicity to the heroic deed of Ri Pong Chang. The report made such an impact that Japanese soldiers\and policemen in the field even raided the office of the newspaper Guominribao\and destroyed it. All the newspapers that had expressed their regret for the failure were closed.


All the Korean\and Chinese peoples highly praised the brave deed of Yun Pong Gil. After the incident in Hongkou Park prominent figures rom Chinese public circles asked for an interview with Kim Ku who had\organized\and instigated the incident. Even the bosses of the Chinese Kuomintang-led reactionary government who were capitulating to Japan’s aggression, promised to cooperate economically with the Koreans in China, moved by the great spirit of resistance\and heroism of the Korean nation.


Both Ri Pong Chang\and Yun Pong Gil were subordinates of Kim Ku\and members of the Group of Korean Patriots which was superintended by him. This group’s basic method in the anti-Japanese struggle was terror.


Following the heroic deeds of Ri Pong Chang\and Yun Pong Gil, an incident occurred in Dalian in which some members of the Patriotic Group sent by Kim Ku were arrested on the charge of attempting to assassinate the commander of the Kwantung Army. They had intended to assassinate the commander of the Kwantung Army, the president of the Manchurian Railway Company\and the newly appointed chief of foreign affairs, taking advantage of the moment when key figures in Japanese military\and political circles were coming to the station for the arrival in Dalian rom Fengtian of the Lytton-led fact-finding commission of the League of Nations. Kim Ku even wanted to send his subordinates to finish off the governor-general in Korea.


Terrorism dazzled many Korean young people who were burning with hatred for the enemy at a time when An Jung Gun who had shot Ito Hirobumi to death was praised as a national hero\and when all our compatriots dispersed on the American continent, in the Maritime Province of Siberia\and in Manchuria, not to mention the people at home, were inspired by the heroic deeds of Ri Pong Chang\and Yun Pong Gil. So it was not at all strange that at this time the theory of small armed groups should come to the fore\and be brought up for discussion when we were discussing the direction of the activities of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army. The advocates of the theory of small armed groups were emphatic in asserting that the stronghold of Japanese imperialist rule would be shaken if such heroic deeds as that of Yun Pong Gil took place in succession in all parts of Korea, Japan\and China.


The second category was made up of those who recommended that we should go over to a full- scale armed offensive immediately. While such people as Kim Il Ryong were interested in the theory of small armed groups, Pak Hun, Kim Chol (Kim Chol Hui)\and the like supported the theory of a prompt armed confrontation. I could to some extent understand it when Pak Hun, who had seen tens of thousands of the soldiers of the regular army\and rioters thronging a big city, insisted on starting an immediate full-scale armed attack, not satisfied with the theory of small armed groups. However, when Kim Chol, who was married,\and living in his wife’s parents’ home, spoke with fervour, which was unusual for that mild man, claiming that we should operate immediately on a large scale, I found it strange.


All those who insisted upon going over to full-scale armed attacks had some grounds for their argument. Through the September 18 incident Japan had easily achieved her aim of occupying Manchuria\and seized Shanghai\and many other strategic points in China proper. A new puppet state called Manchukuo was established in the three eastern provinces25. What was her next target? It was China proper\and the Soviet\union. It was as clear as daylight that, although the Japanese army was slowing down its speed of attack as it watched the trend in the situation, it would invade China\and the Soviet\union on some pretext\or other. Therefore, starting full-scale military operations with the existing armed units would mean attacking rom behind the Japanese imperialists who were deep in the mire of war. For us guerrillas to adopt a positive attacking posture was the law of history, so went their argument.

 

Kim Il Ryong rejected this extreme assertion\and quoted the brief proverb “Cut one’s coat according to one’s cloth.” This theory was thoughtless\and subjective\and did not take into consideration the preparedness of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army.


Needless to say, the line of the armed struggle we had advanced in Kalun was one which envisaged a full-scale armed confrontation with the Japanese imperialists. Without doubt the main aspect of the anti-Japanese armed struggle would be an\organized\and full-scale armed confrontation. However, it would be tantamount to committing suicide for a guerrilla army which had only just made a start to follow such a road rom the beginning without making any preparations.


There was another category besides these two. It was the theory of prudence which put forward the principle that one would be ever-victorious if one knew the enemy\and oneself\and that one would always be defeated if one did not know either the enemy\or oneself.


This is what the advocates of the theory of prudence said: “Our enemy is strong. How are we? We are no more than a young bud in both numbers\and quality. Without doubt in the future we shall be enormously powerful. However, now we must steadily foster our strength quantitatively\and qualitatively at the same time as conducting secret activities. Because our struggle will assume a protracted nature, we must accumulate our strength\and beat the enemy at a stroke, taking advantage of a time when they are weak.”


This view was censured as very lukewarm\and vague, as no one could guess when such a time would come.

This time in Xiaoshahe was not the first time we had had such an argument. We had had a similar argument when we were forming the Revolutionary Army in Guyushu; we had also had such an argument when we confirmed the line of the armed struggle in Kalun\and also when we adopted in Mingyuegou the resolution on waging an\organized guerrilla war. Therefore, those who had not been leading an\organizational life with us for long could not understand our intention fully. The fact that various opinions were expressed in the revolutionary ranks with regard to an important line was a good example of the incipient nature of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army. Our unit comprised people who had various occupations\and different standards of learning,\and who came rom various places\and\organizations. Some of the young people were regularly reading such publications as Tong -A Ilbo\and Joson Ilbo as well as the lecture texts for secondary schools. Others had been dreaming about transforming society after reading such novels as A Boy Wanderer by Jiang Guang-ci\or Abscondence by Choe So Hae before joining the guerrilla army. Still others had no schooling at all. However, they had been training themselves politically for several years in such revolutionary\organizations as the Red Guards\and the Children’s Vanguard. Then they got rifles\and joined the armed ranks. Therefore, it was inevitable that there were differences in the levels of their understanding of things\and phenomena.


This situation encouraged us to pay special attention to\organizational\and political work to ensure in our unit singleness of idea, identity of action\and unity of practice. We decided that, as the first process in this, we should adopt, before anything else, the measures needed to ensure identity in the understanding of the tactical principles of the guerrilla army\and of our major strategic lines\and that, unless we went through this process, the newly-born Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army might at the outset be in danger of meeting with disaster.


Walking around the village with Cha Kwang Su, I said the following to those who did not fully understand our tactical intention.


“The theory of small armed groups will repeat the same method as that of An Jung Gun. It is an illusion that the Japanese imperialists can be brought to submission through terror. Although Ito Hirobumi was killed, Japan’s rule remains as ever; it has even established Manchukuo\and is now stretching out its tentacles to China proper. There may be cases in which the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army needs to undertake small group activities, but the small group should not be the basic combat unit.


“The claim that we should immediately go over to full-scale armed attacks is also unrealistic. It is absurd to try to fight, with a unit of a little over 100 men, against the large Japanese army that is hundreds of thousands strong, meeting it head on. Thinking it possible to defeat a large army of hundreds of thousands by a charge of some 100 soldiers is very unrealistic. Comrades, don’t underestimate the enemy, please.


“So, what should we do then? Let us wage a guerrilla war with the company as the basic unit for the time being. If we operate with a small group as a unit, we can do nothing big. If our unit increases in size in the future, we shall be able to operate by a larger unit, but for now it is best to conduct our operations with the company as a unit. You also know that we are not in a position to form large units immediately. The anti-Japanese war will not be a short war which will be over after a few battles. Therefore we must, after starting with a small force, continually accumulate\and expand our military forces in the course of the war,\and when the time comes, we should win the final victory through a decisive battle combined with a nationwide armed uprising. We should constantly ensure our strategic\and tactical predominance over the enemy\and defeat the Japanese imperialists through an unceasing war of attrition. To this end we must, equipped with small arms\and moving secretly, disperse the concentrated enemy soldiers\and destroy the dispersed enemy troops one by one, avoid large enemy forces\and swallow up small enemy forces. This is guerrilla warfare\and here lies the advantage of guerrilla warfare. You advocates of the theory of prudence who maintain that we should not fight but only build up our forces furtively\and defeat the enemy at a stroke after waiting for a favourable opportunity to do so, do you think that such a time will come of its own accord without a struggle\and sacrifice, without bloodshed? You must remember that no one will present us with the opportunity to win our independence. We must win the opportunity by ourselves through a struggle.”


Thus I convinced the men of the wisdom of our decision.


Needless to say, not all the men understood me immediately. Some young people did not withdraw their opinions but stubbornly stood by them.


I thought that only a practical example would bring our heated argument to a close\and decide on which side truth was. Thinking thus, I devoted my time to studying to decide the direction of the guerrilla army’s activities.


Our unit, which had started on the ambitious course of the anti-Japanese war, was confronted with the following tasks at that time. Firstly, we had to strengthen the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army in the course of a practical struggle. Secondly, we had to expand\and strengthen our unit quickly in terms of its quality\and quantity. Thirdly, we had to lay a solid mass foundation for the revolutionary army to rely on,\and rally all sections of the masses around it.


We discovered a way to resolve these matters in an expedition to south Manchuria\and set this to be our main strategy for the year 1932.


The armed unit which we formed in Antu had specific features that made it different rom those formed in other counties\and districts.\whereas the guerrilla units in other counties were formed of people rom the given counties, the guerrilla unit in Antu comprised vanguard elements\selected rom various counties in east\and south Manchuria as well as farsighted people rom the homeland. If the guerrilla units in other areas regarded it as a principle to carry out their operations by settling in their respective areas, our unit considered it to be its principle to operate in the area of Mt. Paektu\and in all the areas along the Rivers Amnok\and Tuman instead of confining the theatre of its activities to one\or two places.


From the geographical point of view, Antu was very favourable for guerrilla warfare, but we could not remain only there. Our newly-created guerrilla unit had to advance into a vast area\and, exposed to the elements, grow\and take root among the people. While it was true that we had to guard against the practice of hastily leaning towards a struggle alone, we could not allow either the practice of idling away our time in one place, thinking only of preserving our forces.


An important reason why we chose the expedition as the initial step of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army lay precisely in this.


The main, immediate aim of the expedition to south Manchuria was to establish contact with the units of the Independence Army active along the River Amnok. The unit of the Independence Army under Commander Ryang Se Bong was stationed in the area of Tonghua in south Manchuria,\and we intended to form a united front with them.


The Independence Army force under the command of Ryang Se Bong amounted to hundreds. The unit was known as the Korean Revolutionary Army.


At the time when the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army was founded in Antu, Ryang Se Bong, in cooperation with Tang Ju-wu’s self-defence army, was successfully defeating the Japanese army\and the Manchukuo army. This news reached even the valley of Xiaoshahe, to our delight.


Pak Hun wondered if Ryang Se Bong would agree to collaborate with communists because he was a nationalist rom Kukmin-bu with a deep-seated anti-communist idea. But, I said that we should make every possible effort to achieve a united front with the unit of the Independence Army. I told him that, now that we had formed an allied front with the national salvation army of China, there was no reason for us people of one\and the same blood not to combine our efforts when we had a common ambition to fight against the Japanese.


I considered that collaboration with Ryang Se Bong would prove successful also because I attached importance to our past friendly feelings\and our personal relations; as someone who had been on extremely friendly terms with my father, Ryang Se Bong loved me very much. In my childhood I heard that Kim Si U\and Ryang Se Bong became sworn brothers with my father in Huadian\and even had their photograph taken with him. Commander Ryang\and my father were very close. Had it not been for this relationship he would not have written a letter of introduction for me, a letter addressed to Hwasong Uisuk School,\and would not have visited Yuwen Middle School\and slipped money into my hand whenever he came to Jilin. In those days I was saving every penny, unable even to eat a Chinese pancake stuffed with sugar when everyone else was buying them, because of my difficulties in paying my school fees. So, I used the money which he gave me only when absolutely necessary.


After the Wangqingmen incident Ryang Se Bong\and I became estranged because of my disillusionment over Kukmin-bu as a whole. However, I was no less grateful to him.


It was not by chance that, at the time when I was undecided what to do after founding the guerrilla army, the first thought that came to my mind was that I must visit Ryang Se Bong. It is true that in doing so I wanted to form a united front with him. However, no less was my desire to take the necessary advice\and encouragement rom him who had acquired combat experience over many years.


Commander Ryang Se Bong was a veteran of many battles when compared with us who were excited at making an expedition without having gone through even a single battle. In the presence of those who were engaged in the national movement we had time\and again expressed our resolve not to fight in the way the Independence Army did. This meant that we would not repeat the blunders of those who had not relied on the strength of the people, but it did not mean that we would ignore their military experience\and technique.


When we witnessed the white terrorism committed by Kukmin-bu at Wangqingmen, we resolved with bitter tears not to deal with the old people of the Independence Army any more. But we decided not to consider their past faults when we shared the common noble work of liberating the country. If we took the past into account we would never be able to collaborate with them.

 

Besides Ryang Se Bong’s unit, in south Manchuria there were anti-Japanese armed units led by such Korean communists as Ri Hong Gwang\and Ri Tong Gwang. The guerrilla unit which Ri Hong Gwang formed in May 1932 was called the Panshi Worker-Peasant Volunteers. Later this unit was reformed into the South Manchurian Guerrilla Unit of the 32nd Army of the Chinese Worker-Peasant Red Army,\and into the First Army of the Northeast People’s Revolutionary Army.


Ri Hong Gwang became famous partly because he commanded his unit skilfully by displaying remarkable resourcefulness\and art of command,\and also because such enemy publications as the newspaper of the Kwantung Army\and the newspaper of Manchukuo reported him wrongly to be a “woman general.”


That Ri Hong Gwang came to be called a “woman general” was associated with a comic story which caused everyone to smile. When he returned to his base after an assault on Dongxing, Ri Hong Gwang had a woman guerrilla under his command interrogate the prisoners of war. Before interrogating the captives the woman guerrilla introduced herself by saying, “I’m Ri Hong Gwang.” Then she demanded that they state the disposition of the policemen\and their plan for “punitive operations.”


When the prisoners of war returned to their unit they spread the rumour, “Ri Hong Gwang is a beautiful lady of about 20.” This is how the rumour started among the Japanese soldiers that Ri Hong Gwang was a woman general.


While Ri Hong Gwang was someone who fully displayed his wit\and courage as a warrior through the armed struggle, Ri Tong Gwang was an able political worker who displayed extraordinary ability in the building of the party\and in the political awakening and\organization of the masses. His name was known widely in east Manchuria rom the latter half of the 1920s.


It was Kim Jun, So Chol\and Song Mu Son who told me about Ri Tong Gwang. When he was attending Dongxing Middle School in Longjing Ri Tong Gwang began to distinguish himself as a leader of the student movement. The news of the escape rom prison of Ri Tong Gwang, who had been arrested in Longjing in connection with the first incident involving the Jiandao Communist Party, reached even Jilin.


In the summer of 1930 I happened to meet So Chol in Harbin. In the course of our conversation he unexpectedly told me that Ri Tong Gwang knew of me. He had told So Chol that he had seen me when Mr. An Chang Ho was delivering a lecture in Jilin\and then, later, when a meeting of the representatives of the peasants in the Panshi area was held in Wulihezi. So I asked So Chol to tell Ri Tong Gwang, when he met him, about our strategy for the struggle\and that some time we should meet each other, exchange greetings\and fight hand in hand in the same trench.


Afterwards Ri Tong Gwang worked as secretary of the south Manchuria special district committee\and as head of the\organizational affairs department of the south -east Manchuria provincial committee. However, at the time when we were making preparations for our expedition to south Manchuria, he was working as secretary of a district committee in Panshi County.


As in east Manchuria, so in south Manchuria, too, the Korean communists formed the backbone of the anti-Japanese armed force.


We intended to establish contact with them, too, when we went to south Manchuria. I regarded it very good for the development of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army if the young units met one another, swapped experiences\and jointly sought measures for the struggle. In the whole course of the anti-Japanese armed struggle we conducted our operations in close contact with the guerrilla units in south Manchuria. In the course of this I formed unbreakable relations with Ri Hong Gwang, Ri Tong Gwang\and Yang Jing-yu.


Many of our\organizations were in the area of south Manchuria, such as Liuhe, Xingjing\and Panshi. When we were operating in central Manchuria we had sent to these areas many fine workers of the YCLK\and AIYL to form\organizations. We had also sent there Choe Chang Gol\and Kim Won U. However, those\organizations that were born thanks to their efforts had been destroyed after the September 18 incident.


If we went to south Manchuria, a favourable phase could be created in restoring the\organizations there\and instilling vigour into the hearts of the daunted revolutionaries.


Some historians suggest that all our activities were conducted smoothly\and quickly without any obstacles\and vicissitudes following the foundation of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army. However, a revolution is not so simple.


We had had to experience enormous psychological distress\and many twists\and turns until we chose our expedition to south Manchuria to be the first action of the new-born guerrilla army\and put it into effect.


At Kim Jong Ryong’s house\where the headquarters of the district party committee had been set up, we held in May 1932 a meeting of the party\and YCLK leading core elements operative in the various counties of east Manchuria\and discussed the problems of conducting an expedition into south Manchuria\and establishing a base. Our plan for an expedition into south Manchuria enjoyed the unanimous support\and approval of those attending the meeting. Even some young people who, divided into two\or three groups within the same unit, had been engaged in an extremely heated argument, willingly accepted our policy of conducting an expedition.


One day when we were enthusiastically making preparations for our expedition, Cha Kwang Su who had been appointed the unit’s chief of staff, appeared before me looking serious\and said:


“Comrade Commander, as we intend to start on an expedition, what about leaving Xiaoshahe as soon as possible, in a few days? There is a main road in the neighbourhood,\and the enemy’s convoys frequently pass along it,\and this is not good for us. Our food situation is also very difficult. There are only some 40 farmhouses here, but more than 100 of us are eating their food. So how can the villagers of Xiaoshahe bear it, although they are very kind?”


The people of that area had joined a spring uprising because they had been suffering rom hunger. Therefore, his appeal concerning the food situation fully convinced me.


But I could not agree to leaving Xiaoshahe soon simply because the main road was frequented by the enemy’s convoys.

So to Cha Kwang Su, in response to his proposal that we should disappear secretly rom Antu, I said:

“Comrade Chief of Staff, since we have risen in arms, what about trying a battle?”

“Do you mean it?”


“Yes, now that we have formed a unit, we should start our battle. When the enemy troops are passing very near us, there is no reason for us to sit with folded arms. When we shall have to leave, we will leave, but let us fire a shot in Antu. We cannot talk about training the men without a battle. If we succeed, I think we will be able to procure the materials we need for our expedition.”

 

Cha Kwang Su readily consented to my proposal. That very day he went to the road with Pak Hun to scout the terrain. The aim of his scouting was to\select a suitable spot for an ambush. They proposed that we should keep watch at an important position on the road in Xiaoyingziling\and attack a passing convoy. Their proposal accorded with my plan. I regarded an ambush to be the most suitable\and universal form of combat for a guerrilla army.


Xiaoyingziling was situated midway between Antu\and Mingyuegou. It was between Dadianzi\and Dashahe. It was a little over ten miles rom Xiaoshahe as the crow flies. Although the mountains were not steep, it was a very good spot for an ambush because there was a winding cart track through a ravine. By using this road, the enemy was supplying munitions for its armed forces in the Antu area.


A provincial\organization informed us that a puppet Manchukuo army convoy of carts carrying weapons\and supplies had left Mingyuegou for Antu. I took those men who were scheduled to go to south Manchuria\and, after reaching Xiaoyingziling by a rapid night march, placed them on both sides of the road in ambush.


An ambush at night is not a good idea. At night when it is impossible to distinguish friend rom foe an assault is more effective than an ambush. Throughout the whole period of the anti-Japanese war we laid only a few night ambushes.


We, who had just started on a new road, were unaware of this principle at that time. Fortunately, the moon was full\and bright so our forces would not get confused\and fight among themselves.


The enemy’s convoy appeared in Xiaoyingziling towards mid- night. Our men in the first position who were 100 metres ahead of us signalled the appearance of the enemy. The convoy was composed of 12 horse sleighs in all.

 

I was so tense\and excited that I could feel my heart beating. I realized then that anything one encounters for the first time causes one great shock, apprehension\and misgivings. I looked at Pak Hun who was lying next to me,\and saw that he, too, looked extremely tense. With him who had graduated rom Huangpu Military Academy\and had had a taste of gunfire being like that, it was not difficult to guess how the other men were feeling.


The first small unit of the ambush let the column of carts pass. When the head of the column reached about half the length of the distance along which the second small unit was lying in ambush, I stood up on a rock\and fired my pistol. With that piercing sound a battle cry was raised.


We could distinguish easily between friend\and foe because we had bound white cloths round our arms. However, the men of the enemy’s transportation unit who had been taken by surprise, fired at random, unable to tell friend rom foe. Some ten\or so of the escorts desperately replied to our fire rom behind the carts. The longer the battle lasted, the more dangerous it was for us.


After about ten minutes’ firing we charged\and wound up the battle. The enemy surrendered after suffering more than ten casualties. The number of captives was also about ten. All of them were soldiers of the puppet Manchukuo army; one of them was a Japanese noncommissioned officer.


I made a brief anti -Japanese speech to the enemy soldiers who had surrendered to us.

That night we returned to Mutiaotun carrying our trophies in ten carts. Our trophies consisted of 17 rifles, one pistol, a large amount of flour which was enough to feed 100 people, for about a month, cloth\and combat boots\and so on. It was very impressive as first trophies.

 

Until after midnight we sat in a circle around a bonfire in the yard\and ate a clear soup with thin pieces of pastry. It was a plain dinner party arranged in celebration of victory in our first battle.


Even as I ate the soup I could not calm my beating heart. The food tasted good, but my mood was still better. Even now when 60 years have passed since then, I can still vividly remember my joy over victory in my first battle\and the great excitement which I felt that night.


Cha Kwang Su who had been looking into the bonfire weeping behind his glasses, grasped my hand tightly all of a sudden\and said in a choking voice:


“I say, Song Ju, now that I have experienced battle, it is nothing special.”

Such was the chief of staff’s impression of his first battle.


My impression was the same. A battle is nothing extraordinary. Anyone can fight if only he has a gun\and courage. The enemy is not so strong as we have so far regarded them to be. Look! They have surrendered to us. So, let us prepare with confidence for a bigger battle. We can win.


“How good it would be if Kim Hyok were here at a time like this. If he were alive, he would already have recited an impromptu poem. What a pity he has gone so early. Kim Hyok, Sin Han, Ri Gap, Je U, Kong Yong...where have they all gone!”


Cha Kwang Su was muttering to himself thus as if complaining about something as he wiped away the tears streaming down his cheeks. He was thinking about those who had left our ranks early without seeing the birth of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army.


I was also thinking of those who had fallen in battle while working to lay the foundation of the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army. I could not ease the pain in my heart as the faces of my comrades-in- arms who had died without seeing this day came to my mind. If they were all still alive, how strong our ranks would be.


With his glasses in one hand\and gesturing, Cha Kwang Su made a speech in front of the bonfire.

“Comrades, we have taken the first step. We have achieved the first victory. Who has done this? It is we who are sitting here.”


He stretched out his arms\and made a gesture, as if he was lifting the men up in his arms.

He said: “Once we have taken up a gun, that gun must be fired.\and once the gun has been fired, we must win. Am I not right? This evening we have annihilated a convoy of carts. It is no more than a small incident, but it is the start of our cause. The water of a small stream has left a steep mountain valley\and started to flow towards the ocean.”


It was the first time that I saw Cha Kwang Su so excited. That night he made a really good speech. It was much more

vivid\and appealing than I can convey in writing by referring to my memory. I regret that I cannot repeat the speech as it was.

He said: “Comrades, how good fighting is. It gives us guns, provisions, clothes\and shoes.... This evening I have learned a

great\and profound lesson. Now, let us distribute the rifles we have captured. Let us shoot more enemy troops with these rifles. Then we will obtain more rifles\and provisions. We will also obtain machine-guns\and artillery. Let us fill our rice sacks with the captured food. Let us march vigorously, eating that food. Let us make the Japanese imperialists supply us with weapons\and provisions as we have done today, until the day when they are completely annihilated. This is the way for us to exist\and struggle, isn’t it?”

 

I was the first to applaud his speech. The whole audience responded to his speech with warm applause.


Then someone stood up\and sang a song. I am not sure whether it was Jo Tok Hwa\or Pak Hun. Anyhow, the song overflowed with inspiration.


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