[Reminiscences]Chapter 6 6. Together with the National Salvation Army > 회고록 《세기와 더불어》

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 6 6. Together with the National Salvation Army

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 6  6. Together with the National Salvation Army

  

   


 

6. Together with the National Salvation Army 

 

When we were staying in Liuhe, I dispatched a liaison officer to the Panshi area to establish contact with Ri Hong Gwang\and Ri Tong Gwang. At the time when we were returning rom our south Manchurian expedition, they were waging a guerrilla war. The Armed Red Guard (another name for it was the dog-hunting troop) which they had formed after the September 18 incident in\order to fight against the stooges of the “defending-people society”\and other pro-Japanese\organizations was reformed into the Panshi Worker- Peasant Volunteers in September 1932. This volunteer unit was made up of young Koreans who had been tested\and trained through mass struggles of different forms such as seizing food rom the enemy, punishing stooges\and capturing weapons, as well as through anti-Japanese uprisings. Since the summer of 1932 Ri Hong Gwang\and Ri Tong Gwang had struggled to establish anti-Japanese guerrilla zones.


They displayed great ability particularly in the struggle to punish stooges,\and were much talked about.

I wanted to meet them, not to pay a courtesy call on them, the masters of south Manchuria,\and exchange greetings, but to discuss our views. Above all, I hoped we would swap fighting experience.

  

My next concern was what view\and attitude they had concerning the prospects for the Korean revolution. I wanted to inform them of my views\and attitude on the immediate tasks facing the Korean communists\and to hear their opinions.


What was most important was to discuss with them practical matters on how the Korean communists who had launched an armed struggle scattered across Manchuria should keep in contact, how they should effect coordination\and how they should realize cooperation, concerted action\and joint operations. I also wanted to discuss such matters with Kim Chaek, Choe Yong Gon, Ri Hak Man, Ri Ki Dong\and Ho Hyong Sik in north Manchuria. The guerrilla units in south\and north Manchuria flanked us. How to cooperate with them was an important factor that would greatly affect the development of the armed struggle as a whole.


The liaison officer who had been to Panshi returned to the unit when we were staying in Mengjiang after leaving Hailong. He reported to me that he had failed to meet Ri Hong Gwang\and Ri Tong Gwang because they were away rom their unit, conducting political work in the villages,\and that he had left my letter with the underground\organization there.


So I put off my meeting with them\and concentrated on military\and political activities in Mengjiang. The major objective of our operations in this area was to obtain weapons\and expand our ranks. To this end, we had to launch military\and diplomatic activities along with active political work.


Mengjiang was favourable in several aspects for us in achieving our aim. Many of the officials in Mengjiang were my schoolmates rom Yuwen Middle School. They had been scholarly men who had buried themselves exclusively in studying without conducting any political activities, either Leftist\or Rightist, but they now held the reins in Mengjiang. After leaving middle school they had worked in the county office of the Kuomintang\and, when Japan invaded Manchuria, joined the self-defence army holding high-ranking posts. There was staying in Mengjiang even the representative of the headquarters of the self-defence army led by Tang Ju-wu which operated in the Tonghua area. So there was the possibility of obtaining weapons by negotiating with the representative through the good offices of my schoolmates. After taking stock of the situation I decided to keep in close touch with the self-defence army in Mengjiang. At that time our commanding officers were not much interested in winning over the self-defence army. Most of them considered it an adventure to have contact with them. They said: The talks with Ryang Se Bong broke down because we have different ideas, though he is a Korean as are we. So it will be totally impossible for us to obtain weapons rom the self-defence army. What is worse, the self-defence army is now breaking up. We were told that some units had Japanese instructors in their command structures\and were plotting with them to sweep away the communists. So we cannot agree that you, our commander, should walk into such a trap.


I replied to them, “We should not be afraid of Japanese instructors who are entrenched in the self-defence army units. They put out feelers to discover communists,\whereas we have courage with which to go into their units, deceiving the Japanese instructors,\and talk to the commanding officers of the self-defence army. The disrupted nature of the army may favour us in attaining our object. They will consider it better to hand over their weapons to us who are fighting against the Japanese than to the Japanese\or bandits\or throw them away. We succeeded in our negotiations with even so obstinate a commander as Yu. So, why shouldn’t we be able to win over the self-defence army?”

 


416

 

The commanding officers said earnestly: It was by a chance in a thousand that you, Comrade Commander, succeeded in your negotiations with Commander Yu. If Mr. Liu Ben-cao had not been there we would not have been successful. You would do well to think more carefully about going to the self-defence army units.


So I retorted, “Saying that something is right\or wrong, sitting in an isolated room without making an attempt, is not a characteristic of communists. True, we owed Mr. Liu a lot in making our guerrilla army legitimate. However, it is unscientific for us to consider our success at that time as mere chance. If we had not made positive efforts to remove the tension in our relations with the national salvation army, Mr. Liu could not have helped us. What is important is to work actively\and with courage.” With this I left for the headquarters of the self-defence army accompanied by an\orderly.


The barracks of the self-defence army were full of soldiers\and ox-\or horse- drawn carts were frequently going in\and out of the gate, carrying military supplies.


At the gate a sentry\ordered us to halt\and asked in the Shandong dialect, “What brings you here? Who are you?” He was scarcely interested in our faces, but gazed carefully at our guerrilla uniforms\and five -pointed stars on our caps which were totally different rom those of the self-defence army.


I replied in Chinese, imitating his Shandong dialect, saying, “We are a detachment of the national salvation army rom Antu. I am Detachment Commander Kim Il Sung. I have come here to meet your commander. Take me to him.”


“Kim Il Sung? The Kim Il Sung detachment is a communist unit, isn’t it?” Another sentry with pockmarks on his face looked at me suspiciously, muttering my name to himself. Apparently he had heard that Kim Il Sung’s unit was a communist army.

 

“We are a detachment serving under Commander Yu. Don’t you know Commander Yu?” I asked him.


“Oh, Commander Yu! I know him. His soldiers captured a machine gun rom the Japs in Nanhutou. He is a great man,” said the sentry with pockmarks on his face proudly, giving us the thumbs up.


Anyhow, our mentioning Commander Yu produced a good result. His name was effective whenever we approached Chinese anti-Japanese troops. So when we were marching we always masqueraded under the cloak of “The Korean detachment of the national salvation army,” to avoid encounters with other anti-Japanese troops.


Then the sentry who spoke a Shandong dialect went to the barracks\and returned with a man of noble bearing. In those days the national salvation army soldiers were dressed in old-style uniforms of Zhang Xue-liang’s army. But the officer who had just appeared with the sentry was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, breeches\and canvas shoes. His hair was well-oiled\and shining brightly.


“Hey! Aren’t you the librarian Kim Song Ju?”


It was my schoolmate Zhang rom Yuwen Middle School who had been known as “tall Zhang.” He called me the librarian because I had been in charge of the library at the school. At school Zhang had been kind to me, calling me “librarian Kim”\or “librarian Song Ju.”


Holding each other’s hands in joy we reminisced about our school days for a good while. It was three years since we had last met. I regretted having left Jilin without saying goodbye to my schoolmates after my release rom prison. But it had been unavoidable because I was terribly busy at that time running east\and west with a determination to sacrifice all my private affairs for the revolution, but sometimes I felt a weight on my mind because I had been so disrespectful as to have failed to say farewell to the teachers\and students at Jilin.


Meeting Zhang reminded me of various events in my days at Jilin Yuwen Middle School which I had almost forgotten,\and of the romantism of the students in those days. I felt as if I were standing in the garden of Yuwen Middle School which was filled with the fragrant smell of lilac, not in the grounds of a barracks\where the sound of military boots was heard. It seemed that, if I left the barracks together with Zhang, I would be at Mt. Beishan, enjoying the cool of the River Songhua. This nostalgia made my heart tingle.


Zhang took my arm as he had done at school\and guided me to his room laughing aloud frequently.

“I am sorry that your face does not appear in our graduation photograph rom school.”

As he talked he offered me a seat.


“When we had our photograph taken after the leaving ceremony, we talked about librarian Kim. If you had not left school early, you would have won the first prize. Was it that the revolution attracted you to such an extent that you left school early?”


I answered his question with a merry joke.


“Of course it did. You were also attracted by the revolution\and became an officer in the self-defence army with a Mauser in your belt, I think.”


Listening to me, Zhang blinked\and patted the back of my hand.

“You are right. Before the September 18 incident we were stupid people who had lived with no knowledge of the world.

 

Only when we saw the Japanese invading Manchuria did we awake rom our sleep.”


“That was natural. Do you remember what I said at that time? A man cannot live without politics.”

“I didn’t listen to you carefully.\and I don’t see why the situation is changing so radically. This Manchuria is a dreadful sight, a land swept away by a sudden puff of wind.”


I thought that Zhang had analysed the situation correctly. The tide of history flowing across Manchuria brought great changes which shook the world. The changes were so cruel as to cause many vicissitudes in the life of the people. A short time before, Zhang himself had had an ambition to study history at Beijing University. But after witnessing the invasion of Manchuria by Japanese troops he abandoned his ambition rom his school days\and volunteered for the self-defence army.\and who could have imagined that Mr. Liu Ben-cao, who had been talked of as a scholar among scholars\and who would gently explain the pastoral poems of Du Fu27, would become a chief of staff of the national salvation army\and fight against the Japanese in the smoke of gunpowder?


“Look, librarian Kim. I have become a gallant man in uniform owing to the September 18 incident,” said Zhang with a sad smile.

“It is not only you who are in military uniform. I, too, have become a soldier\and reached Mengjiang. It is not only as schoolmates but also as soldiers that we are discussing the general situation. Isn’t it a splendid work of fate?”


He said that it was a “benefit” granted us by the Japanese\and that people had become somewhat clever owing to this “benefit.” I learned that there were many of my schoolmates rom Yuwen Middle School in the self-defence army in Mengjiang. I talked with them until late at night. In our school days they had broken with politics\and dreamt only of their careers\and fame, but they were now hotly denouncing Japan\and branding Jiang Jie-shi as the most terrible monster born of the Chinese nation. Such a change satisfied me.


We discussed joint action between the Anti- Japanese People’s guerrilla Army\and the self-defence army until late at night. My schoolmates in the leadership of the self-defence army welcomed cooperation with our army. Thus I was able to get deep into the self-defence army\and also had an opportunity to meet the representative of its headquarters in Mengjiang.


One day, at the request of Zhang, I made a speech before the commanding officers of the self-defence army. The representative, too, attended the gathering.


I began by appealing to them, “Brothers, let’s go together.”


And I continued my speech as follows:


“The self-defence army\and the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army must make efforts to conduct joint action. Being hostile to the AJPGA, branding it as a communist army, is the way to obstruct the anti-Japanese struggle\and help Japan.... The


AJPGA\and the self- defence army must help the units of the Korean Independence Army\and form a united front with them. We must sharpen our vigilance against the plot of the Japanese who are trying to rule over us by driving a wedge between the Korean\and Chinese peoples\and using their conflict to weaken both of them....


“The self-defence army must persuade the Broad Sword Society, the Red Spear Society\and other militia\organizations, as well as the bandits, to refrain rom murdering\and robbing innocent Korean\and Chinese people\and must enlist them actively in the anti-Japanese struggle. All militia\organizations, small\and large, must unite into a national salvation force. Some of the Chinese anti-Japanese nationalist army units reveal such deviations as retreating to China proper\or surrendering to the enemy, being cowed by the strength of the Japanese troops. We must all remember that surrendering\and giving up is the way to self-destruction.”


The commanding officers of the self-defence army responded heartily to my speech. Following my speech the representative of the general headquarters handed dozens of weapons over to us.


We stayed for about two months in Mengjiang,\and during that time we were able to carry out propaganda work among the masses, conduct military exercises\and expand our ranks with presentable young men, under the protection of the self-defence army. When we left Antu, our unit had numbered only 40, but now it was 150. Many young men in Mengjiang\and the surrounding area who had been told that


Kim Song Ju had formed a strong army\and was now fighting, called on us every day\and petitioned us to be allowed to join the guerrilla army. In Mengjiang we worked freely, as if we were in power there.


The liaison officer who had been to Antu said that the situation in east Manchuria was good. rom a letter he brought me rom Kim Jong Ryong I understood that the rest of our unit, that was staying there, was growing all the time\and that a guerrilla unit of more than one hundred men had been formed in each of Wangqing, Yanji\and Hunchun.


I decided to move the stage of our activity to the centre (Wangqing) of east Manchuria\where the guerrilla war had begun to develop into a full-scale struggle,\and to extend the armed struggle there by combining efforts with units in other counties. One important lesson we had drawn rom the south Manchurian expedition was that, at the present stage when our strength was weak, it was favourable\and efficient to occupy a certain base of activity\and wage a struggle by relying on it. We went straight to Antu rom Mengjiang without passing through Fusong. On the way our unit met some bandits\and the remnants of the defeated Chinese anti-Japanese nationalist units several times. They tried to capture our new rifles because they were envious of them. So we were in danger many times.


At one such time a kind old man who had been connected with Chamui-bu suddenly appeared before us like a magician in a legend\and guided us to Liangjiangkou, passing through the mountains. This march was training for us\and made us ready for the long-protracted guerrilla war in the future.


When we were about to leave Liangjiangkou, the main force of a regiment under the command of Yu arrived. This regiment was known as Commander Meng’s unit. Meng’s secretary Chen Han-zhang had also come to Liangjiangkou, with his unit.


When he recognized me, Chen Han-zhang ran towards me shouting with joy, his arms open wide.

“Song Ju! It’s been so long!”


He threw his arms around my shoulders\and turned me round\and round as if he were meeting me after dozens of years of separation. I was seeing him for the first time since I separated rom him when I had held talks with Commander Yu in Antu. It was a meeting after only three months’ separation. But he gazed at me with affection as if the three months had been three decades. This meeting seemed to me to be a miracle taking place after a long separation, so I could not control my swelling emotions. In a man’s lifetime three months is a short span of time, but I felt as if a long part of my life had passed in those three months. It is said that if one suffers many twists\and turns one feels the time to be longer. I think this is true.

 

Chen introduced me to Commander Meng,\and said:


“I didn’t know\where your unit was, so I asked many people about your\whereabouts. I was told that you had gone to south Manchuria\and back, but I couldn’t find you. Fortunately a rumour reached our unit that a Korean communist unit started the merger with an Independence Army unit in Liangjiangkou.”


“Thank you, Comrade Chen. I was also anxious to see you. By the way, what brought you here?”

“Wang De-lin\ordered us to work in this area until next spring. What about you? Why don’t you work together with us for a while in Liangjiangkou?”


Commander Meng, who was listening to Chen, supported his suggestion. I accepted their suggestion gladly in the hope that if we stayed there with them we could consolidate our common front with the national salvation army. Meng’s unit was armed with modern weapons because it had deserted rom Zhang Xue-liang’s regular army. This unit had artillery as well as machine guns. It had an incomparably stronger combat ability than other national salvation army units which had only a few rifles, swords\and spears as weapons. During our stay in Liangjiangkou, Meng’s unit guarded the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army well.


In those days most of the Chinese anti- Japanese nationalist units collapsed\or surrendered in the face of a strong attack by the Japanese troops,\and were controlled by them. Only Wang De-lin’s unit had not surrendered\and remained as a great force among the national salvation army units. But even his unit was retreating to Dongning, on the eastern border of Manchuria,\or into the Soviet\union\where the Japanese gunfire did not reach. The collapse of the Chinese anti-Japanese nationalist army units because of their own impotence caused distrust among our political\and military cadres. Some of them said that it was useless to establish a joint front with them because we were in no position to remove the uncertainty\and confusion prevailing among them,\and others said that the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army should break its useless ties with them\and fight on single-handed. Neither of these opinions could be tolerated.


Abandoning the anti-Japanese allied front meant surrendering a huge armed force to the enemy\and falling in with the tactics of the Japanese imperialists to swallow the anti-Japanese nationalist armed units one by one.


The uncertainty\and confusion of these units were attributed partly to the class\limitation of their upper levels, but mainly to their fear of the enemy. In\order to remove their uncertainty\and prevent their destruction, it was necessary to work with them more actively\and inspire them with confidence in victory by defeating the enemy.


From this pressing need, in Liangjiangkou we convened two meetings of the anti-Japanese soldiers’ committee which consisted of Chen Han-zhang, Ri Kwang, Hu Jin-min\and other political workers who had been active in the national salvation army units\and military\and political cadres rom different counties of east Manchuria,\and at the meetings we discussed the measures to deal with the problems arising in the work with the Chinese anti-Japanese units. At the meetings a report on the work in the national salvation army units was given first, experiences accumulated in this process were swapped\and the trend in the anti-Japanese nationalist units was analysed.


The people attending the meetings decided to attack Dunhua county town\and Emu county town in a joint operation with Wu Yi-cheng’s unit\and Commander Meng’s unit in\order to deal a heavy blow to the Japanese who were expanding their occupation without any resistance, with most of the anti-Japanese units having given up their resistance by retreating to safety\or surrendering to the enemy\and becoming a reactionary army,\and thus to raise the morale of the patriotic soldiers\and people.


Commander Meng welcomed our plan of action.


The two-thousand-strong national salvation army unit was divided into three groups each of which advanced in the directions of the Jilin-Dunhua railway\and towards Yanji\and Dunhua county town. Our unit, with Commander Meng’s unit, arrived in the forest around Dahuanggou south of Dunhua having followed the road east of Fuerhe\and the mountain pass east of Dapaoxihe. By dispatching a reconnaissance party to Dunhua county town we confirmed what Ko Jae Rim had told us about the enemy.


At that time there were stationed in Dunhua huge armed forces such as the Japanese garrison, the headquarters of the 3rd Jilin guard brigade of the Manchukuo army\and its 4th regiment, 9th regiment\and airport guards, the Japanese consulate police\and Manchukuo police. The enemy’s guard was very strict at every town gate\and at the gate of the consulate branch building.


At three a.m., on the second of September, our allied forces launched an attack on Dunhua county town. Our unit attacked the south gate\and the national salvation army unit led by Hu Jin-min dashed into the county town through the west\and north gates. After breaking into the town our allied units raided the enemy’s command post first, destroyed the brigade headquarters, the consulate branch\and the police sub -station\and dealt with the enemy’s units under the brigade. Our forces held the initiative in the battle\and the enemy fell into disorder.


To save themselves the enemy called up two planes to strafe\and bomb our forces. This caused great confusion among the national salvation army soldiers. If day were to break while we were in this situation the battle would go badly for us\and our forces would suffer a great loss. I explained the situation to Chen Han-zhang\and Hu Jin- min\and made the new tactical proposal that we withdraw rom our present position\and annihilate the enemy by luring them to somewhere favourable for us.


According to my proposal, our unit took up position on the height southwest of the county town\and the national salvation army units on a hill south of Guantunji. There we totally destroyed the enemy in an ambush. Seeing the sudden change in the situation, which they had considered unfavourable, the national salvation army soldiers’ morale improved\and they chased the fleeing enemy.


The publications in those days did not comment on this battle in particular, apparently because the control of the press by the Japanese authorities was strict. The people did not know that a battle was fought in Dunhua in the early autumn of the 22nd year since national ruin.


The assault on Dunhua county town was similar to the assault on Dongning county town in September 1933. As the former was fought in cooperation with the national salvation army, so the latter, too, was planned\and resulted in success as a joint action with the main force of the national salvation army. These two assaults were similar in their scale, too. However, the assault on Dunhua county town was significant because it was the first battle of its kind in the history of the joint struggle of the Korean\and Chinese peoples, in which the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army defeated the Japanese troops in a joint operation with the Chinese anti-Japanese nationalist army.


“The Chinese people totally lost heart in the face of the military power of Japan which had defeated two major powers, Qing\and Russia. But today they are free rom such old-fashioned thinking. They have achieved a mental release prior to the liberation of their territory,” Chen shouted, embracing me. His tearful face at that time is still fresh in my memory.


“Song Ju, let’s follow this road together for ever!” he said, grasping my hand. When he said this road he meant the joint struggle. Chen Han-zhang remained faithful to his word until he died in battle.


About a week after this battle we raided Emu county town together with the national salvation army units. Our force was victorious in this battle, too. Though this battle was not well known in the world, the sound of the gunfire rumbled for a long time.



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