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[Reminiscences]Chapter 6 3. Joy\\and Sorrow

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작성자 편집국 작성일20-06-13 16:10 댓글0건

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 6  3. Joy\and Sorrow

  

   


 

3. Joy\and Sorrow 

 

When the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army was moving to south Manchuria, Commander Yu also dispatched a 200-strong detachment under the command of Liu Ben-cao to the Tonghua area. Commander Yu was sending his chief of staff Liu Ben-cao, his right-hand man, to south Manchuria for the purpose of cooperating with the self-defence army led by Tang Ju -wu\and obtaining weapons rom him, the shortage of weapons being a serious problem for Commander Yu. The self-defence army in south Manchuria, whose headquarters was in Liaoning Province, was better equipped than Commander Yu’s army.


On hearing about our expedition, Liu Ben-cao had visited Xiaoshahe. Saying that he had received an\order to march to south Manchuria, he asked me to go together since we were moving in the same direction. He added that he would help me to get in touch with Tang Ju- wu\and that we would probably be able to obtain weapons rom him.


I accepted Liu’s proposal with pleasure. Frankly, we were badly in need of weapons. The joint operation with his detachment on our march to south Manchuria could avoid any clash with Chinese nationalist anti-Japanese army units on our way\and guarantee our safety.


Tang Ju-wu had been the commander of the 1st regiment of the eastern frontier defence force. He had\organized the Liaoning people’s self-defence army in their professed cause of anti-Japanese national salvation after the September 18 incident. He had approximately 10,000 troops under his command. Being stationed in the Tonghua area\and operating mainly in south Manchuria, his army was fighting, against heavy odds, with the Japanese Kwantung Army stationed in Shenyang. In the course of this it\organized combined operations with the Korean Revolutionary Army which was under Kukmin-bu.


The Liaoning people’s self-defence army, in its early days, had enjoyed high morale\and achieved fairly good battle results. But when the tide turned in favour of Japan\and when he found himself in manifold difficulties, Tang Ju-wu began to vacillate.


In spite of the fact-finding investigation of the September 18 incident by the Lytton commission to Manchuria rom the League of Nations, the Japanese army continued its invasion into a wider area, experiencing little restraint rom the commission. The Japanese imperialists occupied Jinzhou early in January 1932,\and on January 28 the same year provoked the Shanghai incident in a conspiratorial\and brigandish way. Seizing upon the violence done to five Japanese monks in Hongkou, Shanghai, they destroyed Chinese factories\and shops\and killed some Chinese policemen; they further launched a large-scale armed attack on Shanghai by mobilizing marines. Japan provoked the Shanghai incident in\order to make the city a bridgehead for her aggression on the mainland of China. The Japanese military leadership miscalculated that, if they occupied Shanghai in a blitz attack, they would be able to follow up their success\and seize the whole territory of China at a stroke.


The soldiers\and people of Shanghai launched a heroic counterattack\and dealt a heavy blow to the Japanese invaders. Nevertheless, their resistance failed because of the treachery of the reactionary government of the Kuomintang led by Jiang Jie-shi\and Wang Jing-wei,\and the Shanghai incident ended in the concluding of the humiliating, counterrevolutionary Songhu Agreement.


The failure of the resistance in Shanghai dampened the spirit of the patriotic soldiers\and people, particularly the Chinese national salvation army\and self-defence army who were eager to fight against the Japanese.


As the Shanghai incident\and the signing of the Songhu Agreement showed, the reactionary, traitorous policy of the Kuomintang government was the greatest obstacle in the way of the Chinese anti-Japanese national salvation forces. The reactionary Kuomintang clique not only refused to assist the Shanghai people to resist, but hindered their resistance, regarding it as criminal. Jiang Jie- shi\and Wang Jing-wei intentionally suspended the sending of supplies to the 19th route army\and seized the financial aid sent to Shanghai rom various parts of China, while\ordering their naval forces secretly to supply the Japanese army with foodstuffs, including vegetables. This was a shameful act of treachery.


The Kuomintang reactionaries not only avoided fighting the Japanese invaders but also prevented the people rom resisting the enemy. Their guns were always levelled at the people who were fighting against the Japanese invaders. People who spoke in favour of resistance against Japan fell victims to terrorism\or died on the gallows.


Jiang Jie-shi went so far as to say that if China was conquered by imperialists, the people could survive, though as slaves, but that if she was ruined at the hands of communists, they would not survive even as slaves. This shows that Jiang Jie-shi\and his reactionary clique feared\and guarded against the people’s revolution more than the imperialist forces of aggression,\and that they themselves had been faithful vassals\and stooges of the imperialists.


Jiang Jie-shi’s treachery had a bad ideological influence on the upper levels of the Chinese national salvation army\and self-defence army which had been related to the Kuomintang in one way\or the other\and which were representing the interests of the former warlords, bureaucrats\and politicians.


The ever-expanding sphere of Japanese military operations also badly affected the morale of the national salvation army. In its report the Lytton commission proposed that Manchuria be placed under an international condominium, not Japan’s monopoly control, but Japan ignored this\and continued her military action. The Japanese armed forces pressed upon Shanhaiguan\and north Manchuria. They gradually occupied the vast area of north Manchuria\and concentrated their forces in the Rehe area.


Prior to their campaign in north Manchuria, the Japanese imperialists had set the intelligence services of the Kwantung Army in motion in\order to break up the Northeast Army politically\and disrupt its brigades by bribing them\or plotting against them so as to make them suspect one another\and fight for power. When attacking Ma Zhan-shan, they drew Su Bing-wen to their side;\and, after defeating Ma Zhan-shan, they crushed Su Bing-wen; in this way they destroyed piecemeal the Chinese nationalist anti-Japanese army units in north Manchuria.


The disintegration of these units in north Manchuria affected Wang De-lin in east Manchuria\and Tang Ju-wu in south Manchuria.


Even though he had raised the banner of anti-Japanese national salvation under the influence of the people’s revolutionary advance, Tang Ju-wu was acting cautiously, tending to swim with the tide.


Several of the commanders of the Chinese nationalist anti-Japanese army units such as Ding Chao, Li Du\and Xing Zhan-qing were under the illusion that they could solve all their problems by relying on the League of Nations,\and refrained rom active resistance to Japan. They even said, “Zhang Xue-liang does not resist the Japanese army because he wants to wipe out the communist rebels. We can drive out the Japanese army only when we have wiped out the communist bandits. The communists invited the Japanese.”


In the spring of the year when we were moving to south Manchuria Zhou Bao-zhong was taken captive by the Chinese self-defence army. At that time he asked the commanding officers of the army why they called their unit the self-defence army.


They answered, “Self-defence means defending oneself. How can we fight against the Japanese when it is difficult to preserve our own strength? If the Japanese do not attack us, we do not attack them. That is self-defence.”


That was the way of thinking\and political view of the self-defence army. Tang, who had been wavering without confidence in himself, neglected the control of his unit. It was a timely measure for Commander Yu to send Liu Ben-cao to the headquarters of the national salvation army.


Our guerrilla army left Xiaoshahe on the afternoon of the 3rd of June intending to march a short distance on the first day. Guided by the head of the Peasants\union in Shahe (Xiaxiaoshahe), we crossed the River Erdao\and proceeded to the village of Liujiafenfang. We had planned to stay there overnight to conduct political activities.

 

The village had been known by this name rom the time when a man with the surname Liu had set up a flour mill there.


After supper we lighted a campfire in the wide yard in front of the mill. At the news of the arrival of the guerrilla army, even the people rom neighbouring villages came to Liujiafenfang. The\organization heads of the village collected straw mats rom several houses\and brought dead trees\and rafters for the people rom the neighbouring villages to sit on. The people gathered in the yard numbered several hundreds. We huddled around the campfire\and talked to them until midnight. They asked us many questions. I have conducted\organizational\and political work among the people all my life, but I cannot remember being showered with such a heavy barrage of questions as I was at that time. I talked to the people until I was hoarse.


The first question they asked me was what type of army our guerrilla army was\and what the difference between it\and the Independence Army was. They knew that an Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army had been founded in Xiaoshahe a month before. It seemed a simple, straightforward question, but it indicated their expectations of the new-born army\and their uncertainty about its strength. If both the AJPGA\and the Independence Army were fighting for the liberation of Korea, what was the need to complicate things by forming a separate guerrilla army? Does the newly-formed guerrilla army stand a fair chance of defeating the Japanese army when the Independence Army has failed? If so, what is the guarantee? I think these were essentially what the people of Liujiafenfang wanted to know, the people who were exhausted with looking after the Independence Army\and were filled with crushing despair when they witnessed its failure.

 

I tried to speak in as simple\and concise language as possible. I said, “The Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army is not an extraordinary army. True to its name, it is an army of the people fighting against the Japanese imperialists. It is formed of the sons of workers\and peasants like you as well as other young people, students\and intellectuals. Its mission is to get rid of Japanese colonial rule\and realize the independence\and social emancipation of the Korean nation. It is an army of a new type which differs rom the Righteous Volunteers\and the Independence Army. Its guiding ideology is communism,\whereas the guiding ideology of the Independence Army is bourgeois nationalism. To put it in simple terms, communism is the idea of building a society\where everyone, irrespective of rank\and wealth, leads a free\and equitable life. The idea of the Independence Army is to build a society in which rich people are the masters; the ideal of the AJPGA is to build a society in which the toiling people are the masters. The Independence Army has regarded common people such as you as its supporters\and sympathizers; we regard you as the masters in carrying out the anti-Japanese revolution. The Independence Army has expected a great deal rom outside forces\and tried to liberate the country by drawing on their strength; we are going to liberate the country with greater confidence in ourselves\and by our own efforts. While it is true that the Independence Army, following the Righteous Volunteers’ struggle, has borne the brunt of the bloody fight against the Japanese aggressors in Manchuria\and the northern area of the homeland for the last ten\or so years, its strength has waned to the point\where its very existence is now threatened. That is why we have formed a new army. We have formed the AJPGA with the determination to accomplish the noble cause of national liberation, which the Independence Army has failed to do.”


When I finished the speech, a young man rom the village asked me how many thousands of soldiers there were in our army.

I told him that the number did not amount to thousands but to a few hundreds, for it was still young,\and that sooner\or later it would amount to tens of thousands.


He asked me what procedures he should follow to join the AJPGA.

I answered that there was no special procedure\or formality,\and that any young person who was determined to fight\and was physically strong enough could join it. I emphasized that one could join it either by being recommended by one’s revolutionary\organization\or by reporting to the army to volunteer in person.


Several young men surrounded me\and asked me whether I would accept them there\and then if they volunteered.

What luck!


“Yes, I will,” I said. “But you’ll have to do without guns for the time being. You must obtain guns for yourselves on the battlefield. If you still wish to join, we will accept you right now.” They agreed,\and we recruited them. This batch of young men was a surprise gift rom the village of Liujiafenfang to our young guerrilla army. We were beside ourselves with joy. Just imagine how we rejoiced over the recruiting of nearly 10 young men, at a time when we sometimes had to sacrifice two\or three comrades to gain one revolutionary comrade.


We revolutionaries who tread a thorny path, allaying our hunger by licking a snowball\and sleeping in the open, can feel pleasure that the bourgeoisie\and philistines can never feel. It is the spiritual fullness we experience when we gain new comrades-in-arms. When new comrades joined us, ready to lay down their lives,\and when we helped them put on their uniforms\and shoulder their guns, we felt an ennobling\and thrilling joy that could never be experienced in the mundane world. We believed the joy to be unique to us.


That night we put on an entertainment in honour of our new comrades. Cha Kwang Su\and I sang a song.

That piece of good luck came to us because the AJPGA had been the focus of public attention after the September 18 incident. Since Japan swallowed up Manchuria\and the Korean people could not live in peace there, either, young Korean people in general were determined to fight a do-or-die battle with the enemy.


We sat up talking until the small hours,\and spread straw mats around the campfire towards daybreak to sleep in the open for the first time since the founding of the AJPGA.


The villagers chided us, saying that it would be a disgrace for them if they let the guerrillas sleep outdoors in a Korean settlement, but we slept in the open, declining with thanks to be billeted on them as the\organization heads had arranged. We declined their kind offer out of our moral sense of duty, that we must not encroach on the people’s interests, but I think we preferred a bivouac to a warm room out of a romantic feeling as revolutionaries.


On our way back rom south Manchuria we slept overnight again at this village. There was an old potato cellar by the house of an old Chinese man named Lu Xiu-wen. We covered the walls of the cellar with corn straw, built a fire\and slept there.


Seeing that we had eaten in the open\and were going to sleep outdoors, the old man had told me that at least the commander, if not the whole unit, should sleep in his house.

 

“It would be a different matter if you, Mr. Kim,\and I were strangers to each other, but we have known each other since the days in Jiuantu, haven’t we?” the old man said in persuasion.


I declined,\and he said how sorry he was that I was so obstinate.

True, he\and I were old acquaintances. When my family had been living in a room at Ma Chun Uk’s inn in Jiuantu, I had seen him now\and then. The lively\and passionate temper he had shown in those days had left a strong impression on me.


Asking us how he could sleep under a quilt with a light heart when the soldiers on their way back rom an anti- Japanese campaign were sleeping in the open, he kept us company until late at night.


He was responsive to the trend of the times, as were most of the villagers in Liujiafenfang. He knew that the Japanese army after the September 18 incident had invented a puppet state called Manchukuo, made Changchun its capital, renaming it Xinjing,\and put Pu Yi on the throne.


I still remember what he told me about An Jung Gun. He said the great man he respected most of all the martyrs of Korea was An Jung Gun.


“An Jung Gun is a great man of the East,” he said. “Even Generalissimo Yuan Shi-kai composed a poem in praise of his heroic deed.”


His words impressed me very much. An Jung Gun’s shooting of Ito Hirobumi made him a legendary hero among the Chinese people of Manchuria. Some public-spirited Chinese people hung his portrait on the walls of their houses\and worshipped him as a god.

 

As the old man was speaking with so much affection for An Jung Gun, I asked him casually: “You are not a Korean, so how do you know so much about An Jung Gun?”


“There is no one in Manchuria who doesn’t know of him. One man even proposed to build a bronze statue of martyr An at Harbin Railway Station. I still say to my children that they should become such a revolutionary as Sun Yat- sen\and such a great man as An Jung Gun. Commander Kim, now that you have formed an army, why not slay such bigwigs as the commander of the Kwantung Army?”


I could not help smiling at his naive suggestion.


“What is the use of killing a man like him? As a new Ito Hirobumi appeared after Ito Hirobumi was slain, so a new Honjo will emerge if we kill Honjo. Terrorism cannot serve a great cause.”


“How, then, are you going to fight?”


“They say that the Kwantung Army numbers 100,000,\and I will fight them all.”

The old man was moved deeply by my answer; he gripped my hands\and would not let go of them.

“Wonderful, Commander Kim! You are another An Jung Gun.”

With a smile on my face, I said:


“Thank you, but I am not worthy of your compliment. I am not as great as An Jung Gun; but I will not live as an enslaved Korean.”


When our unit was leaving the village the next day Lu Xiu-wen, sorry to be parting with us, followed us a long way to see us off. Whenever I think of Liujiafenfang, I recollect with emotion my talk with the old man.

 

After leaving Liujiafenfang, we bivouacked overnight near Erdaobaihe. Then on our march along a highway we encountered a scouting party rom a Japanese army unit moving rom Fusong in the direction of Antu. As usual we had posted a scouting party of three\or four ahead of the main body on our march. The two hostile parties began to exchange fire.


Frankly speaking, I was confused, for it was our first encounter with the Japanese enemy since the founding of the AJPGA\and, furthermore, an encounter with the Japanese army which boasted of its victories in battle. During the Xiaoyingziling battle we had had a detailed plan for attacking our enemy in an ambush, so we had been able to destroy them by surprise, but things were different here. Here the enemy was not the slovenly puppet Manchukuo army, but the shrewd, well-trained Japanese army with vast fighting experience. By contrast, we were beginners who had fought only one battle. We did not know how to handle the encounter. In view of the purpose of our campaign\and the basic principles of guerrilla warfare, it was advisable to avoid, as far as possible, an unprofitable engagement which might have an unfavourable influence on our long- distance expedition. An ancient book on the art of war said that one should avoid a strong enemy\and attack a weak enemy.


What was to be done? The whole unit turned to me with a tense look. They were waiting for my decision. It flashed across my mind that occupying the vantage ground before the main force of the enemy could close in on us was the best way of seizing the initiative in battle; I quickly moved my unit up to the northern ridge of the hill\where the skirmish was going on\and some of the unit to the south of the road. We mowed them down in a fusillade rom both sides.

 

Soon a column of fully- equipped enemy soldiers appeared on the road. We estimated the enemy as being well over company strength. On learning that his scouts had been destroyed, the enemy was trying to encircle us.


Having\ordered the men not to fire until I gave a signal shot, I watched the battlefield, waiting for the enemy to come within the range of our fire. We had not much ammunition. When I let off a signal shot, the whole unit opened fire. As I listened to the gunshots coming rom all sides, I tried to imagine the men’s mental state. Each gun report revealed their excitement\and high morale as well as their extreme nervousness.


The enemy quickly dispersed in battle\order\and, relying on his numerical superiority, made a fierce attack on our position rom both sides, in spite of having suffered heavy casualties.


I moved part of our main force posted north\and south of the road to our two flanks. As soon as they had taken up their position they destroyed the flanking enemy with prompt\and accurate fire.


However, the main force of the enemy continued to close in upon us. We held our position stubbornly, even rolling rocks down the ridge, but the enemy continued his charge.


During a lull in the enemy’s attack, I gave the\order for a counterattack. While the bugle call resounded, all the guerrillas fell upon the enemy, pursuing\and destroying those who retreated. Only a few of the enemy’s company escaped. Kim Il Ryong never stopped shouting the war-cry, “Another has fallen!” at the enemy soldiers.


We lost several men. After burying our dead comrades on the nameless hill, we held a funeral ceremony before their graves. As I looked at the sobbing soldiers, with their caps in their hands, I made a farewell address in a trembling voice. I can’t remember what I said. I only remember that when I raised my head after my speech I saw the men’s shoulders heaving up\and down violently\and that a shudder passed over me when I saw that our column was shorter than when we were leaving Liujiafenfang.


After a while I\ordered the men to resume the march. All the comrades lined up along the road, but Cha Kwang Su was lying prostrate on a grave. He could not leave the graves no one would keep, the rough graves in which his dead comrades had been buried without coffins.


I rushed up to the ridge\and shouted to him, shaking him by the shoulder: “Kwang Su, what’s this? Won’t you stand up?”

I shouted so loudly\and so violently that he rose abruptly to his feet. I whispered to him: “The men are watching us.\where has your indomitable spirit gone?”


He wiped away his tears\and walked silently to the front of the column.

Later I long regretted my behaviour that day. When I received the sad news four months after the battle on the border between Antu\and Fusong Counties that Cha Kwang Su had been killed in battle, I was immediately reminded of what had happened that day. Why had I spoken to him in that way? Could I not have told him to rise in a kinder tone of voice?


After losing those comrades-in-arms I myself didn’t feel like eating\or sleeping for several days. They were core elements\and the backbone of our army who had shared joy\and sorrow with me since the days of the DIU.


There would be no battle without sacrifice. The revolution always requires sacrifice. A loss of one kind\or another is inevitable even in the peaceful effort to transform nature, so how can one avoid sacrifice in the armed struggle in which victory is won by employing all the weapons\and other means available? However, we regarded the sacrifice in that battle as too cruel\and too unfair. Granting that merciless sacrifice was inevitable in a revolution, how could we tolerate such an indiscriminate loss to our army which had just taken its first step—these were my feelings at that time.


One might say that the loss of less than 10 men was not a heavy loss numerically. Such a loss might seem next to nothing in a modern war which takes a toll of tens of thousands of lives in a single battle. But we did not count the loss of our comrades numerically. For us numbers were not a criterion for estimating the value of a man.


Each of the fighters who had trodden the path of the struggle with us was a priceless being to which nothing in the world could be compared. We believed that we would not barter one of our guerrillas for 100 enemy soldiers. The enemy could recruit tens of thousands of soldiers in a single day by enforcing state laws\and military mobilization\orders\and hurl them onto the battlefield, but we had no such physical\or legal power. Even if we had it at our disposal, each one of our revolutionary comrades was worth his weight in gold. It needs painstaking efforts to gain comrades who have the same idea\and purpose with us\or to recruit comrades- in-arms who will share life\and death with us\and to rally them in an\organized force.


Therefore, throughout the whole period of the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle I did not take pride in a victory in a battle in which we killed 100 enemy soldiers if one of us was killed.


Historians speak highly of the battle on the Antu- Fusong border as a successful battle in which we destroyed an enemy company by an adroit counterattack. Of course, it was undoubtedly victory. The battle was significant not only because the young AJPGA destroyed a company of a regular army but also because we smashed the myth of the Japanese army’s invincibility for the first time in our guerrilla war. This battle gave us the conviction that the Japanese army, though formidable, was neither matchless nor indestructible nor unretreating,\and that we would be perfectly able to defeat the powerful Japanese army with a small force if we skilfully applied tactics suited to the characteristics of guerrilla warfare.


Nevertheless we paid very dearly in this battle, losing nearly 10 of the first sons of the DIU.

When leaving the battlefield over which gunsmoke lingered, I thought, as I looked back at the hill\where my dead comrades lay buried, “We have lost nearly 10 of our comrades-in-arms in annihilating a company of the enemy; so, how much sacrifice do we have to make to defeat more than 100,000 Japanese invaders in Korea\and Manchuria?”


After the first battle, we all realized that we would suffer much\and pay dearly in the future course of the guerrilla war. The war against Japan we fought for more than ten years after the battle on the Fusong-Antu border was accompanied with suffering, difficulties\and sacrifice which can never be measured by man’s conventional concept of war.



    

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