페이지 정보작성자 편집국 작성일20-08-05 20:49 댓글0건
[Reminiscences]Chapter 15 4. Tojong Pak In Jin
4. Tojong Pak In Jin
The inaugural issue of Samil Wolgan, mouthpiece of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland, carried a short article headlined, “Mr. X, a Local Leader of the Chondoist Religion, Personally Visits Representative of Our ARF”. It noted that an anonymous person on the Chondoist committee, which had a strong mass following at home\and abroad, inspired by intense patriotism, had called on me, representative of the ARF,\and expressed his support for the programme\and all the policies of our ARF\and readiness to call one million members of the Young Chondoist Party to the battle front for Korea’s independence, promising to strengthen ties with the association.
The person mentioned in the article was Tojong (a title of a local leader of Chondoist religion) Pak In Jin. The few lines of this article, which had to keep his name anonymous for secrecy’s sake, hides untold stories, which are too numerous to be published in a single volume. To convey the circumstances inducing him to visit us in the Paektusan Secret Camp, we have to refer to another article in the same issue, dealing with the courageous patriotic young people, who joined en masse the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. It read as follows:
“Courageous young patriotsrom northwestern Korea are crossing the Rivers Amnok\and Tuman in groups of seven\or eight every day ... to join Commander Kim’s unit.... As they are familiar with the terrain, roads as well
as the local situation in Korea, they have volunteered to be in the vanguard of the armed detachments moving to\androm the country.”
This happened when we stopped off at Xinchangdong village, for the second\or third time I guess, after moving to the border area. Several young peoplerom the village requested that we accept them as soldiers. I proposed that as they were volunteersrom the border area they should all be recruited, unless they had any physical handicaps. Ri Tong Hak said that it seemed to him that the other young men were all eligible, except for the “Chondoist enthusiast”rom Phungsan, who ought to be reconsidered. There were\limits to the united front; how on earth could an adherent of Chondoist faith be allowed into the revolutionary army without discrimination, he asked, shaking his head.
I told Ri Tong Hak to fetch the young man, called a “Chondoist enthusiast”,rom the villagers, to Headquarters. Although poorly dressed, a good-looking young man appeared before me with a steady gait, following Ri Tong Hak. I was impressed by his double-eyelid eyes\and gold tooth, revealed during his smile.
He was Ri Chang Son who lived in the same village in Sul-ri, Chonnam Sub-county, Phungsan County with Pak In Jin, in charge of the Chondoists in the Ryongbuk area, who had educated him,\and joined the Young Chondoist Party under his influence. As he was the top disciple\and favourite of Pak In Jin, he was constantly watched\and shadowed by the police. Tojong Pak, his master, was blacklisted; he had been in jail for years, charged with playing a leading role in the March First Movement in Phungsan. The Japanese police hung a small box under the eaves of his house for surveillance purposes\and patrolled his home once a week at regular intervals to follow his movements; the police chief himself patrolled there once a month. This unpleasant regular patrol\and incessant watch extended even to Ri Chang Son. Not a single policeman who had been to Tojong’s house, went past without peering into his home. Therefore, he said, he had moved with the consent of his master to the Changbai area,\where he might be a bit freerrom the molestation of the Japanese police.
When I unreservedly approved the enlistment of Ri Chang Son, Ri Tong Hak grumbled as though he had been wrongly overruled.
“Comrade Commander, what kind of splendid guerrilla will a religionist make? Working youths are as plentiful as blackberries. Why recruit a Chondoist enthusiast of all people, leaving a dark blot on the\organizational composition of our ranks?”
I reproached him, half in jest, half in earnest.
“I’m disappointed at your short-sightedness. You recognized at a glance that Ri Je Sun was a man of ability, but failed to realize that he’s a gem. You’re not squint-eyed, but sometimes your view is surprisingly incorrect.”
“Marx, too, defined religion as opium, didn’t he? What kind of a treasure do you think a Chondoist believer of that sort would become? I hope he’ll never become a trouble-maker.”
Clearly he was too prejudiced against religion.
I had to prevail on him in real earnest:
“Marx’s definition of religion as opium must not be construed radically\and unilaterally. He was warning against the temptation of a religious mirage\and was not opposing believers in general. We must welcome\and join hands with any patriotic religionist, no matter what he\or she is. You must realize that our guerrilla army is a patriotic armed force, whose primary mission is national salvation against Japan\and the people’s army which fights for the sake of the workers\and peasants\and also the Korean nation as a whole. Admittedly, the central role in this army is played by us communists. But that does not imply the exclusion of other circles\or forces. Even a religionist must be enrolled in our ranks without hesitation, if he so desires. However, you are unable to see the unexpected windfall we have in our hands. With his help we can sow the seeds of the ARF among the Chondoists in the Kapsan, Phungsan\and Samsu areas\and bring the vast area of Ryongbuk under our influence. Time will only prove the worth of that young man, so you had better treat him well\and take good care of him.”
I cannot say how much Ri Tong Hak accepted my words.
The nickname “Chondoist enthusiast”, given by Xinchangdong’s villagers, stayed with Ri Chang Son, even after he had become a guerrilla. It bore little of comradely love,\and reeked more of unfriendly derision\and scorn. Every time he heard the nickname he grimaced\and openly showed his disgust.
Once an entertainment party was held at the secret camp in honour of the recruits. Veterans\and recruits performed alternately; every act was very interesting. That day the veterans exhibited their repertoires in full for the recruits,\and the latter, in high hilarity, vied with each other. Regrettably, however, the meaningful party fell flat, due to a slip of the tongue by the compère. It was the turn of Ri Chang Son, when the serious blunder was made by the compère, who said, “Now we will hear a song by a Comrade ‘Chondoist enthusiast’, a raw recruitrom Xinchangdong.” Upset by the announcement, Ri Chang Son walked off without singing.
This occasioned heated controversy in our unit. The compère of the party became the focus of criticism. “What an improper remark to call a newcomer, not a veteran, as a ‘Chondoist enthusiast’! Although one may slight\and mock others, one should know\where to draw the line.”
Some people blamed Ri Chang Son’s narrow-mindedness. Their criticism went as follows: “What does it matter if he was nicknamed? As he disappeared without singing, what has become of the party? If he can’t suppress this sort of anger, does he deserve to be called a man, who left home for the revolutionary army? He can hardly make a good fighter. He is effeminate.”
The different views about the compère of the party\and Ri Chang Son eventually boiled down to the issue of the view\and attitude we should take towards religious people in general\and adherents of Chondoist faith, in particular. I was obliged to make a clear explanation of our concept\and approach towards Chondoism to all the commanding officers\and men of our unit:
“Chondoism is our country’s unique national religion. Choe Je U named Chondoism as Tonghak (Eastern Learning) to distinguish it clearlyrom Sohak (Western Learning—Roman Catholicism). This alone suffices to prove its national character.
“Chondoism is a patriotic\and progressive religion in its basic tenets\and ideals. Its mottos, ‘Poguk anmin’ (defending the country\and providing welfare for the people)\and ‘Kwangje changsaeng’ (Deliverance of the people), provide a graphic demonstration.
“The adherents of Chondoist faith exerted themselves under these slogans for decades to achieve the country’s independence\and build an ideal society,\where all people enjoy happy lives. Should we unconditionally oppose such national religion\and abuse its adherent as a ‘Chondoist enthusiast’ for no other reason than that it is a religion?”
Once my explanations on the ideal of Chondoism, that is, love of one’s country\and people,\and the patriotic struggle of the Chondoists\and on the principled stand one should abide by in relation to the Chondoists\and the united front policy, had been clearly expounded to all, Ri Chang Son’s nickname “Chondoist enthusiast” was obliterated. He was instead accorded a new nickname, “Kimppai”. This means a man with a gold tooth. When “Kimppai” was treated as his real name in the guerrilla army, he exploited this fact\and changed his surname to “Kim”\and “Kap Pu” as the given name, calling himself “Kim Kap Pu”. When he later toured on political work he went by this name.
Despite his rural\origins, he was very intelligent\and clever with relatively high levels of cultural knowledge. He particularly had a forte for song\and dance,\and comic chat; consequently, he almost ran the show at an entertainment party. As he was so affable he quickly made friends with strangers. He was exceedingly open-hearted. But he had a self-conceited disposition.
One\or two months after his enrollment in the army the following thing happened. One day Kim Phyong, head of the\organizational section at the political department of the unit, came to me\and said that “Kimppai” had asked him if it was not high time for his promotion to at least the position of company political instructor. At the time the political instructor of the company “Kimppai” belonged to was not very competent in his political, theoretical\and working ability. Learned “Kimppai”, who had once worked as a cadre in the Young Chondoist Party, found it intolerable to receive guidancerom a superior, who he considered inferior to him.
I summoned Ri Chang Son\and told him about the company political instructor’s merits\and exploits which he had not heard of before,\and gave him some essential advice:
“In future you may work in more important posts than political instructor of a company. But just as a hundred-mile journey begins with one step\and as a student passes through a primary school course, one needs to pass an elementary probation\and training stage to become an able military\and political worker. You have just passed probation for a soldier of the KPRA. In the next stage you must train yourself to be an able political operative. When I received you into our unit, I intended to let you do political work among Chondoists in the future. You will become a political operative, who will lead hundreds, thousands\or tens of thousands of Chondoists into the ranks of the ARF, far greater than the numerical strength of a company,\and grow up to be a greater political worker. I will assign the\organizational section head Kim Phyong\and the propaganda section head Kwon Yong Byok of Headquarters to you as your tutors. Try to acquire political theories\and master methods of work among the masses\and learnrom the experiences of work underground. You must, above all, acquire popular traits. Bear in mind that modesty is the most laudable virtue\and remain a student throughout your life, regarding revolutionary veterans, your contemporaries\and juniors as your teachers. Then everyone will respect\and follow you.”
Sometime later, we transferred himrom the combat company to the political department of Headquarters. Thereafter “Kimppai” was a secretary in charge of propaganda of the 7th Regiment within the unit\and externally a political operative for Chondoist religion. Later on he handed over the secretary’s assignment to another man\and became a professional political worker.
Ri Chang Son rendered distinguished services in winning Pak In Jin\and a large number of other Chondoists in the northern Korean region into the\organizational network under the influence of the ARF.
Through his assistance we obtained knowledge of Pak In Jin, as well as the internal situation of the Chondoist faith beforehand\and opened up contacts with the Chondoists.
Pak In Jin was a man of considerable eminence in the Chondoist hierarchy. Pak In Jin, with the religious name of Munam, joined the Chondoist faith in 1909\and became the Tojong of Jiwon-pho in 1932 following consecutive
services on different levels of the Chondoist hierarchy.
At the time Chondoism had 29 pho all over the country; the Jiwon-pho, which included Phungsan, Samsu, Kapsan\and Changbai areas, was said to be one of the biggest pho\organizations. Pak In Jin was also called the Ryongbuk Tojong.
His father belonged to the Tonghak Party, which fought gallantly in the southern force of rebellion commanded by Jon Pong Jun in the Kabo Peasant War. Defeat in the peasant war was followed by the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people, involved in the war so that he left his native parts\and fledrom the far end of Jolla Province to the land of Ryongbuk.
Pak In Jin’s life journey was steered by the spirit of resistance, he had acquiredrom the lives of Chondoist leaders\and his father, who used to tell him about these leaders.
The March First Popular Uprising was the greatest trial, which tried his willpower\and faith. He led the people of Phungsan on demonstrations, shouting hurrah\and attacked the government office at the head of more than one thousand demonstrators, when he was seriously wounded under enemy fire.
He suffered hardships in Hamhung\and Sodaemun prisons for three years. The harsh torture in prison, however, could not break the religious belief\and spirit of resistance deeply engraved in his mind. On his releaserom prison, in contact with the Independence Army units, he actively engaged in aiding\and assisting them for three\or four years, travelling to many parts of the country. However, the Independence Army was driven out to alien land without proper resistance\and he bade them a mournful\and tearful farewell. At the end of his quest for a place farrom Japanese clutches, he moved his family to the deep mountain village of Chonnam Sub-county, Phungsan County. There he opened a preaching room, as well as a night school. He propagated the doctrine of Chondoism to Ri Chang Son\and other villagers\and infused a patriotic spirit into them. However, the mountain village did not offer a complete refuge. The punctual visits of unbidden guests to his home at the end of every week\and month compelled him to leave the Phungsan area. Pak In Jin moved to a new town in Changbai.
Ri Chang Son told me an interesting anecdote, which helped me understand what Pak In Jin was like.
This event happened when he went to a neighbouring village to meet his prospective bride at the age of 29. As soon as the man\and girl in question were presented, the old woman, the matchmaker, asked what his intentions were. Pak In Jin replied that he had no objection to the marriage. But the old man, future father-in-law, said nothing, only puffing at his pipe.
“Is it true that you are twenty-four years old?”
This blunt question was spat out by the old man after a long silence; he obviously had a chip on his shoulder.
Guileless Pak In Jin, who was never known to have told a lie in his life, responded truthfully that he was twenty-nine, unaware that the matchmaker had told the girl’s father in advance that he was twenty-four,\or five years younger than he really was. A moan escaped the lips of the matchmaker.
In those days people married when young, so single young men over 20 were considered as impotent\or good-for-nothing. The old man, his future father-in-law, had good reason to frown. Pak In Jin’s family was so poor that he had enjoyed no chance of marriage.
The girl’s father made the stunning declaration to Pak In Jin that he would not agree to give his daughter to an aged man, who was almost 30.
Pak In Jin was shocked; however, he gathered up his courage\and asked the old man in rage, whether he was lacking a nose\or eyes\and pressed him to explain the faults he found in him.
Quite embarrassed, the old man explained that there was nothing special to speak of\and everything was satisfactory, apartrom the fact that he was too old. He was 11 years older than his daughter. If he agreed to the engagement\and disregarded this fact, a scandal would spread that he had mated his beloved daughter to an aged widower. He said that he feared such developments.
This answer did not daunt Pak In Jin. If there were no other reason, he said, he would marry the daughter of this house under any circumstances. Although aged, he had never touched a woman’s hand. Why should he be treated as a widower? He would not leave before he had received the promise of marriage. If the old man was stubbornly opposed, he would take his daughter away in a sack, he warned,\and persistently demanded a quick, affirmative answer.
The girl’s brother chimed in, smiling that he had to pay 1,000 won if he wanted to marry his sister. This was a huge sum, enough to buy more than 20 cows. This was a fantastic sum, which was inconceivable to Pak In Jin, who did not have even a calf. But he said that he would readily pay the money, if the old man promised to give him his daughter. The host, who was gazing at his face like a physiognomist, finally consented to the engagement.
In this way he became the son-in-law of the house, putting an end to his life as an old bachelor. It goes without saying that the thousand won was no longer important. The question of money had merely been raised to test the prospective bridegroom’s guts. Apparently Tojong Pak In Jin was a bold\and headstrong man with a strong sense of self-respect\and an uncommon fighting spirit. We shaped his image in the course of our talk with “Kimppai”: it contained something, which pulled at people’s heartstrings.
Preparations were finished to dispatch Ri Chang Son as political operative to work in the line of Chondoism. Prior to his departure to see Pak In Jin, I said to him with particular emphasis that we\and Chondoist believers were both Koreans, who loved their country\and nation,\and friends of the poor\and humble populace, whose first\and foremost goal was to “defeat the Japanese”\and “defend the country\and provide welfare for the people”, we should therefore join hands\and pool our strength in the struggle against Japanese imperialism\and that we desired that the representatives of both sides meet at one place for serious negotiations in the near future. “Kimppai” returned to the secret camp three days later.
Pak In Jin supported our proposal on waging the anti-Japanese war with our united forces\and requested the dispatch of our representative to him for the parley.
I prepared myself for the parley with Tojong Pak. However, some unavoidable circumstances prevented merom leaving the secret camp. This occurred immediately after the holding of the “Tumen conference” between Minami\and Ueda. The People’s Revolutionary Army had been faced serious challenges at the start of the enemy’s “large winter punitive operation”. In parallel with the “punitive” offensive, many spies ran amuck to do us harm.
My comrades-in-arms resolutely objected to my departure, saying that the Commander should not attend the negotiations in person for the safety of newly-established secret camps\and my own security. Everybody’s nerves were high strung, because it occurred right after the incident when a spy had stolen up close to our Headquarters.
Consequently I had no alternative\and sent in my place Kim Phyong\and Ri Chang Son to negotiate with Pak In Jin.
Kim Phyong had tried his hand at all trades since childhood; he was a man of great working ability, who could implement any task without difficulty. He was well-versed in Chinese characters. He owed this to his five-to six-year-long study of Chinese characters as a child at a village school, I presume. As a grown-up, he received regular education at school,\and in the revolutionary army was given military\and political training at the school, which trained the commanding officers of the guerrilla army. He once taught at school. The nomination of Kim Phyong as representative to the parley with the Chondoist followers, together with Ri Chang Son, was attributed on the whole to the deep consideration of his knowledge of the religion of Chondoism\and rich experience of political activity.
The meeting between Pak In Jin\and our representatives took place in the living room of Ri Jon Hwa, head of Changbai County chapter of Chondoism in Wanggedong, Shiqidaogou, Changbai County.
At first Kim Phyong submitted the credentials bearing my signature, conveyed the Ten-Point Programme\and the Inaugural Declaration of the ARF to Pak In Jin\and then entered into serious discussion on the alliance with the religious force of Chondoism.
Pak In Jin displayed a keen interest in the type of government we planned to establish, after the Japanese imperialists had been driven out. He opposed either return to the monarchy, the government of old Korea,\or the establishment of the soviet power of Russian style,\or the conversion of the provisional government of the Republic of Korea, known as the “government in exile”, into the legitimate government.
Referring to the first provision of the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF, Kim Phyong explained that the people’s power would be based on a parliamentary system of people’s representatives, elected democratically in accordance with the general will of the entire Korean people. Pak In Jin remarked that he would unconditionally approve, if the popular government was formed as stipulated in the ten-point programme, but frankly expressed his apprehension\and doubt that a Soviet-style communist power might appear against our commitments when the time came to establish people’s power, following the restoration of the country.
In those days the purge of the anti-party\and hostile elements in the Soviet\union was under way; this factor was adversely affecting the peoples of neighbouring countries.
Kim Phyong emphatically assured him that, even if the communists who had waged the armed struggle, came to power, they would not build a Soviet-style communist power\and that, as clearly defined in the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF, the government we would build in our independent country would constitute a power, which fully embodies democracy, the power of the popular masses to administer state affairs as the master, people’s power which would defend\and represent the interests of the workers\and peasants,\and also the broad patriotic forces of all strata. To corroborate the truth of his assertion, he talked about our reorganization of the “soviet” (government council) into the people’s revolutionary government in the guerrilla zones in Jiandao.
Pak In Jin said that he had no other comments to make about the Ten-Point Programme\and the Inaugural Declaration of the ARF. If the programme\and the declaration were not mere propaganda, but rather the reflection of our sincere intentions\and unswerving determination to implement it, Chondoist believers would be willing to join the anti-Japanese national united front. But their participation was an important matter, which could not be determined\and dealt with by himself alone. He promised to answer, after debating the matter with the brethren\and Choe Rin, head of the centre of Chondoist faith. He then humbly inquired if he could realize his wish\and call directly at the secret camp\and talk to me before paying a visit to Choe Rin. Kim Phyong promised to do his utmost to realize his wish.
Pak In Jin was too cautious to say whether he would cooperate\or not. He gave only noncommittal answers, making some pretexts. It was clear that he wanted to decide only after meeting me. Nevertheless, the talks were very constructive.
The following day Pak In Jin rallied more than 50 men\and women believers under the Changbai County chapter\and gave a grand banquet in honour of the representatives of the KPRA. A hog was butchered\and rice-cake pounded to treat our representatives warmly. An entertainment party was held amidst the Young Chondoist Party members on sentry duty. The song\and dance performances inspired as one the love for the country\and the fighting spirit, so that Kim Phyong said he was moved afresh by the patriotic passion of Chondoist followers. Ri Jon Hwa, the master of the house, sang the song “Met, Met, I’ve Met the Enemies”, sung by U Tok Sun, who accompanied An Jung Gun when the latter left for Harbin in\order to assassinate Ito Hirobumi; his song was so touching that everyone shed tears.
Early in winter 1936 Pak In Jin paid us a visit at the secret camp. Ri Jon Hwa still lives on in my memory among his entourage.
They were all in dark turumagi (Korean overcoat—Tr.). Their turumagi had two button hooks, instead of one, as a substitute for coat strings. The adherents of the Chondoist faith had their own style of dress\and wore turumagi, conspicuous with button hooks, to distinguish themselvesrom other people.
On meeting me, Pak In Jin expressed his heartfelt gratitude for inviting him to the secret camp.
“I had not expected that my wish to meet you, General, would come true so easily. I am deeply ashamed that I have not contributed a rifle\or a penny to the anti-Japanese war for independence.”
His words revealed his modesty, politeness\and conscientiousness. I told him sincerely:
“We hold a man’s heart dearer than money\or goods. We think it more important how ardently he loves his country than his contribution of a small sum of money\or batch of rifles. I’m happy to have heard that you are still constant in your love for the country. For us your noble mind is an encouragement several hundred times strong. It is a great inspiration\and pleasure that we have people like you, who are true to your patriotic principles in this present murky world.”
Pak In Jin responded: “Your praise is too much for me. I’m not worthy of your compliments.” He apologizedrom the bottom of his heart for the fact that he had for a brief moment been fooled by the propaganda of the Japanese under the false impression that the People’s Revolutionary Army, devoted to the sacred cause of independence, was a “gang of bandits”.
I replied: “A lack of mutual understanding can bring about perversion\or animosity. We do not blame you. The important thing is the future. Let bygones be bygones. We should now think with one mind about the days, which lie ahead. As you have learnedrom our representatives, we inaugurated the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland last spring in\order to rally the people of all strata, who love the country\and nation\and hate the Japanese enemy, into a nation-wide war against the Japanese. I hope that the conscientious Chondoists will join in this great anti-Japanese war, as long as they do not object to its programme. We can emerge only victorious, when we’re united in the struggle, but we cannot achieve the independence of the country\and will be vulnerable in all actions, if we are disunited\and torn apart by factions. This is a bitter lesson history has taught us. Suppose that in the heyday of the Kabo Peasant War Choe Si Hyong, high commander of the northern force of rebellion of the Hoso area (North\and South Chungchong Provinces—Tr.) readily accepted the proposal for cooperation, made by Jon Pong Jun19, who commanded the southern force of rebels of the Honam area (North\and South Jolla Provinces—Tr.)\and did not bar their advance to Seoul; history might have been written somewhat differently. The unsuccessful insurrection of Tonghak Party20 is attributable to the fact that the entire anti-Japanese patriotic forcesrom all regions\and social strata were at sixes\and sevens\and fought separately, instead of uniting as one in their struggle. To win victory in the sacred war against the Japanese\and achieve independence, the whole nation must be of one mind\and fight in a united force. National unity is a very wise policy for channelling the entire strength of the nation against Japan; this is the road to the great victory of our nation. The Chondoists cannot ‘defeat the Japanese’ on their own\and ‘defend the country\and provide welfare for the people’. Nor can the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army win Korea’s independence single-handed. Fortune will only smile on us, when all other anti-Japanese patriotic forces pull together. So we must unite behind the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland, just like the ribbons, intertwining round the May Pole for great national unity.”
Pak In Jin said that, as he considered the Inaugural Declaration\and the Programme of the ARF as perfect, leaving no room for improvement,\and believed my views to be absolutely right, he would certainly persuade Choe Rin, leader of the Chondoist faith to ensure the participation in the ARF of the three million adherents across the country. It seemed that in the Chondoist\order, based on a strict principle of democratic centralism, its centre was vested with the absolute right to judgement. However, there was a very slim chance of success, as the upper crust of the Chondoist centre was becoming corrupt\and degenerated.
I expressed my thoughts to him frankly:
“It would be fine if things go as you say. However, in my opinion you should not expect too muchrom Choe Rin. His latest activities\and writings tell me that he is following quite different courserom the one taken by successive Chondoist leaders. He has betrayed the ideal of Tonghak\and the nation\and become a lapdog of the enemy’s power.”
Pak In Jin asked me: “How do you know so much about Choe Rin?” He confessed; “Frankly speaking, quite a few people of our Chondoist circle are displeased with his suspicious changes. I also suspect him.”
Choe Rin was involved in the drafting of the March First Independence Declaration. He did much toward launching the March First Movement. Consequently he suffered a bitter prison life. On release, he was promoted to the position of religious head on the recommendation of Son Pyong Hui, 3rd leader of Chondoism. Thereafter, signs of “reorientation” began to appear in his life.
He asserted that in\order to build an “earthly paradise” by “a posteriori creation”, the ultimate goal of Chondoism, one should make a tour of all countries to become familiar with the political situation of the east\and west\and hammer out practical, rational ideas for reform. He spent one full year on a round-the-world trip. After his return home, he preached that in the given circumstances Korea had no hope of independencerom the Japanese colonial yoke, that Japan was daily extending its power in the world arena; therefore, it was advisable for the Chondoists to renounce harmful clashes with Japan\and confine themselves to the “autonomy movement”.
Choe Rin insisted on participation in the government with the aim of protecting Chondoismrom Japanese imperialist oppression.
“Although attending the Governor-General like his waiting man, Choe Rin asserted that everything was intended for the good of Chondoism\and the brethren of Chondoist faith. Therefore, the vast majority of believers failed to see that his contention was hypocritical. I also trusted\and revered him. Chapter head Ri Jon Hwa had been to Seoul to see him last summer\and told me on his return that he had changed much, judgingrom the way he had refurbished his house so luxuriously\and the manner in which he spoke\and behaved. However, I cannot label him a renegade, before I see things for myself. I will have an opportunity to visit Seoul\and would like to meet him. The central meeting of Chondoist faith is due to open in Seoul before long\and I will be there at that time. If it is true that he has become depraved, we must break with him. We will act at our own discretion.”
Pak In Jin clarified his stand as if cutting radish with one bold stroke.
At the meeting we exchanged views on various issues such as domestic\and foreign affairs, the current state of the nationalist movement, the progress of the anti-Japanese armed struggle\and the nation building to be undertaken in the wake of national independence.
The talks continued, day\and night. At intervals, the guests were shown round to acquaint themselves with life in our unit.
Pak In Jin expressed admiration\and wonder that the weapons of our People’s Revolutionary Army were more modern than he had imagined, the guerrilla soldiers looked very steady\and vivacious, the barracks were kept spick-and-span\and surroundings were clean\and tidy, the daily routine was\organized without a hitch\and every soldier was well disciplined\and accurate in action, giving the impression of serving in regular army. He marvelled at the mysterious layout of the mountain,\where our secret camp was located. To borrow his expression, the mountains\and rivers around the secret camp of the guerrilla army gave him the illusion of his being in the valley of Mt. Chonsong in Ryangsan of Kyongsang Province, which Choe Je U, the founder of Chondoism, visited twice to cultivate his religious faith. The Naewon Temple in Mt. Chonsong is associated with an old tale, which Saint Won Hyo, father of Sol Chong, who is famous as author of the Hwawanggye, taught the Hwaomgyong. It eulogized the ten thousand virtues of Buddha to more than 1,000 monksrom Tang\and turned them all into saints. Allegedly the founder of Tonghak evolved his faith\and\originated Tonghak in this place of old associations.
Pak In Jin remarked that he had felt a surge of fresh strength, when he saw that, in the green forests of Mt. Paektu, we were developing our minds\and gathering strength for the sake of national liberation\and training a large number of young people as soldiers, in line with the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF, the great blueprint for national restoration, which was more vital than Hwaomgyong\or Tonggyongtaejon.
He was most impressed during his stay in our secret camp by the moment when I had given him the opportunity to do divine service for the offering of clean water.
Chondoism has five commandments—Jumun (a 21-word formula), Chongsu (offering of clean water), Siil (church worship on Sundays), Songmi (rice donation)\and Kido (prayers)—which are binding on its adherents. Chongsu means the provision of brass bowl of clean water, which is a commandment never to be violated even for a day in the world of Chondoism. Clean water symbolizes the foundation of heaven\and earth\and represents the pledge of believers to never forget the benevolence of the universe. During his religious cultivation, Choe Je U used to resign himself to deep meditation, while offering clean water three times a day. The offer of clean water was also made during the last moment before his beheading. Consequently, the Chondoist followers set as a traditional rule\and convention the provision of clean water, symbol of the sacred blood of its founder. During my Hwasong Uisuk School days, I often realized that Choe Tong O, Kang Je Ha\and other Chondoists offered clean water at nine o’clock in the evening at the family prayers.
During an evening conversation with Tojong Pak I noticed it was close to nine o’clock. It suddenly occurred to me that it was the time for him to offer clean water. I told the\orderly to fetch a bowl of fresh water. The bowl of water was reverentially placed in the middle of the log table\and I told him that it was time for the offering of clean water.
“Forgive me for bringing holy water in an enamel bowl instead of a brass bowl. Tojong, please offer clean water, as long as you don’t mind that it isn’t in a brass bowl.”
After my words, Pak In Jin glanced at me, greatly surprised.
“General, how can I offer clean water at your military camp, knowing that you do not believe in Chondoism?”
“At the time of the Tonghak rebellion, its adherents were said to have chanted their prayers before a bowl of clean water every day even on the battlefield. Respected Tojong, are you going to violate this rule which you have observed for decades, on account of your visit to our camp? Please feel free\and relaxed in your prayers.”
As a guest, Pak In Jin humbly declined my request. Pointing out that respect of human equality\and freedom of religion was clearly laid down in the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF, I said that if Tojong, who was uncommonly pious, neglected the daily divine routine even once out of deference to an unbeliever, we would regret this act. In this way I repeatedly beseeched him to offer clean water.
Consequently he recited the 21-word formula before the bowl of clean water. He repeated it three times\and had a drink of water. Then, touched with reverence, he said:
“The clean water in the valley of the Paektu Mountains tastes wonderful, indeed. I made the offering with the water drunk by the ancestors of our country. I will never forget this evening. General, I hardly imagined that a man of arms like you would respect the tenets of our religion. I am deeply moved.” Clearly Pak In Jin, like other believers, misguided by anti-communist demagogy, had believed that communists negate, oppose\and hate religion\and all manner of religious regulations.
One year the Rev. Kim Song Rak, a Korean resident in the United States, paid a visit to the homeland. During a luncheon with him, I advised him to pray before taking meals. At the time the Rev. Kim Song Rak was extremely surprised at my advice. He was puzzled that the President of a communist state was as kind as to show concern about the prayers of a Christian.
I had not intended to make a good impression\or planned to seek a propaganda effect\and make out that we do not take a negative attitude towards religion\and its believers, when I advised the Rev. Kim Song Rak to say prayers before the meal that day. I was motivated by the hospitality of a typical host, eager to entertain his guest with honour\and by the pure humanitarian desire to help him, a faithful Christian, in his life, freely adhere to Christian rules during his stay in the homeland.
The provision on religious freedom stipulated in the Constitution of our country is not an empty phrase\or promise.
We have never trampled upon freedom of faith\or oppressed its believers. If there were men of religion, who were punished\or suffered political trials under the Government of the Republic, they were criminals\or traitors to the nation, who had sold out the interests of our country\and people.
Of course there were cases, which caused social commotion owing to factionalist deviation of discriminating religious people\and antagonizing religion itself in some local areas after liberation. But this was not a universal phenomenon, which happened everywhere, much less an abuse caused by the\organizational intention\or directions of the centre.
There were a large number of churches\and temples in our country before the outbreak of the Fatherland Liberation War21 against the US imperialists. When I visited Chilgol after the country’s liberation, there was a church I had known of in my Changdok School days. There were two grand churches on Namsan Hill of Pyongyang,\where the Grand People’s Study House now stands. These buildings were destroyed by the planes of Americans, who profess themselves to be the apostles of “God”. The temples\and hermitages with Buddhist images were also bombed. The crucifixes, icons\and bibles were all reduced to ashes\or buried under the ruins. The believers were killed\and passed on to the world beyond.
In this way the Americans destroyed our churches\and killed religious people. “God” could not rescue themrom disaster. This led to a decline in churchgoers among our people during the war. Our religionists felt no more need to pray to “God” for their access to “Heaven”. Believers, who became conscious of the fact that religion was powerless in shaping the destiny of human beings, renounced their faith of their own accord\and became advocates of the Juche idea—that man is the master of everything\and decides everything, is the creator\and dominator of the world. After the war, they did not hurry to rebuild the churches by gathering donations. Instead, first dwelling houses, factories\and schools were built.
As for our younger generation, no young man\or child believes that they will be blessed\and have access to Paradise, only when they worship “God”, “Heaven”\or Buddha. Consequently they do not embrace religion\or join religious bodies.
At present, as in the past, we do not consider religion as bad\or persecute its followers. On the contrary, the state builds churches free of charge for them\and provides them with living quarters. A few years ago a religious department was newly instituted in the faculty of history of Kim Il Sung University to produce religious specialists. In our country the activities of all religious\organizations\and men of religion enjoy solid legal protection as in other countries.
It is said that there are a large number of religious people in south Korea. They include quite a few patriots\and fighters, active on the three fronts of democracy, reunification\and peace.
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