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[Reminiscences]Chapter 7  3. The Choice between the Soviet\and the People’s Revolutionary Government 

  

   



3. The Choice between the Soviet\and the People’s Revolutionary Government 

 

Leftist abuses were most rampant in the establishment of structures of political power,\and Leftist deviation in the building of political power found its most glaring expression in the line of building the Soviet\and in some of its policies, which were the products of the petty bourgeois rashness of people steeped in dogmatism, sycophancy\and adventurism.
Political power had been a major subject of discussion among us rom the days of the Down-with-Imperialism\union, a subject which nobody had ever ignored. Some people contended that the question of power was a question for the future, which could be taken up by the young people of Korea after the country became independent, the question of a concept of government the construction of which could wait until the sovereignty of the state was restored. We were not in agreement with this view, maintaining that views on the correct form of government directly affected the nature of the revolution which was to be carried out.

While we were in Jilin political power was the subject of extremely heated argument. There was hardly a political forum in Jilin that did not discuss the type of state to be established after the country became independent. While the leaders of the Independence Army who were affiliated with the three nationalist\organizations vehemently supported royalist government\or bourgeois republicanism, politicians who had belonged to the old Korean Communist Party such as Kim Chan, An Kwang Chon\and Sin Il Yong advocated the immediate introduction of socialism\and a proletarian dictatorship.
Pak So Sim adhered to the classic schema\and argued over the question of a worker-peasant dictatorship. He supported the idea of the workers\and peasants becoming the masters of state power, but he shook his head, saying that he did not like the word “dictatorship.”
Differences in the degree of their political awareness\and their interests led some of the young people in Jilin to express their support for royalist government, while some had a lingering interest in bourgeois republicanism\and others applauded the Soviet\union’s type of socialism.

Kim Hyok, Cha Kwang Su, Kye Yong Chun, Sin Yong Gun\and other communists of the younger generation did not like the old men of the Independence Army who spoke out for the restoration of royalist government. They also had doubts about the proponents of immediate socialism.
This state of affairs obliged us to engage in heated polemics about political power as a major question in the students\and young people’s forum, which dealt mainly with political affairs.
Later, at the meeting held in Kalun, we defined the nature of the Korean revolution as anti-imperialist, anti-feudal\and democratic. On this basis, we emphasized that the Korean communists must establish a political system for the people in liberated Korea, a democratic government which would champion the interests of the broad working masses including the workers, peasants, working intellectuals, national capitalists\and religious believers,\and would reject royalist government\or bourgeois parliamentarism.
We maintained essentially the same position when the question of power was discussed at the meeting held in Mingyuegou in December 1931.
With the establishment of guerrilla bases in the Jiandao area, the type of political power to be established became the subject of wide-scale discussion. In\order to maintain\and administer those guerrilla zones which were liberated areas, it was necessary to set up a government which would\organize the economic activities of the people, educate them\and develop culture in the area under its jurisdiction. Without establishing a government in the guerrilla zones, which were the embryo of a state, it would be impossible to provide the people with a livelihood\and mobilize them in the struggle.

From the autumn of 1932, therefore, the communists in east Manchuria undertook the historic task of establishing the government in the guerrilla zones. On the occasion of the anniversary of the October Revolution in the same year, a mass meeting was held in Gayahe, Wangqing County,\and the establishment of a Soviet government was proclaimed. Almost simultaneously, Soviet power was established in Wangougou\and Sandaowan in Yanji County. The establishment of the revolutionary government in the guerrilla zones must be regarded as a significant step towards realizing the people’s cherished desire.
In its initial stage, I, too, was pleased at the establishment of Soviet power in the guerrilla zones. I considered that the name of the government was not important as long as the government championed the people’s interests.
In those days “Soviet enthusiasm” was sweeping throughout east Manchuria. The establishment of Soviet power was recognized as a historical trend by revolutionaries\and progressive people in all countries which aspired to socialism\and communism. This hot wind swept through Europe\and Asia. The establishment of the Chinese Soviet in Ruijin\and of the Nghe Tinh Soviet in Vietnam are clear examples.
Even those who regarded the Korean revolution as a bourgeois democratic revolution spoke about a worker-peasant Soviet government.

The “Action Programme of the Communist Party of Korea” which had been drafted by Choe Song U, a Korean,\and other people working at the Comintern headquarters, in cooperation with the officials in charge of the\oriental Department of the Executive Committee of the Comintern (Kuusinen, Magyar\and Okano), proposed the immediate task of “establishing a Soviet state of workers\and peasants,” along with the complete independence of Korea.
Unconditional support\and acceptance of the Soviet line in revolutionary practice was a matter of common sense beyond dispute in the international communist movement\and was regarded as a criterion for distinguishing between the stances of communist revolution\and opportunism. The establishment of a Soviet government was regarded as the most important task by the communist parties\and communist\organizations in capitalist countries, to say nothing of the colonies\and semi-colonial countries. In fact, Soviet power became the ideal of the entire world proletariat.
The Soviet idea was so very influential because it was recognized as the only type of government capable of putting an end to all manner of exploitation\and oppression\and building a welfare society that would regard the interests of the working masses as absolute.
A free\and peaceful new world without exploitation\and oppression was the age-long dream\and ideal of humanity.

The newborn Soviet government in Russia had proved its unprecedented effectiveness in suppressing the insurrection of the overthrown exploiting class, defending the country rom the invasion of allied imperialist forces, rehabilitating the economy,\and pressing forward with the building of socialism. The triumphant advance of Soviet socialism aroused an admiration among the people which was little short of belief in an illusion.
It was by no means unreasonable for mankind to regard the Soviet\union as a beacon-light\and accept the Soviet as the best\and most advanced of all forms of government. It was natural that the people of Jiandao, which was adjacent to the Soviet\union\and subject to its influence in many ways, should be swayed by illusions about Soviet power.
On my return to Wangqing rom the campaigns in south\and north Manchuria, I was dumbfounded at the complaints against the Soviet policy that could be heard in all parts of the guerrilla zone.
These complaints indicated serious problems that we could not overlook.
I saw instantly that the rumours spread by disgruntled people contained some truth.
As I travelled around the guerrilla zone, I learned about the people’s attitude towards Soviet power in greater detail. My constant contacts\and candid conversations with hundreds of people gave me a full picture of the consequences of Leftist Soviet policy.

The inhabitants of the guerrilla zone began to be disillusioned by Soviet power rom the time when the government, following the slogan of the immediate introduction of socialism, proclaimed the abolition of private property,\and brought all personal property\and real estate under communal ownership. Everything was communalized, rom land\and provisions to the farming tools\and implements such as sickles, hoes\and pitchforks that had belonged to individual peasants. After this sweeping introduction of communal ownership, the Soviet government subjected all the inhabitants of the guerrilla zone–men\and women, young\and old– to the new\order of communal life, communal labour\and communal distribution. This was the life of the artel proclaimed by the Soviet radicals.
This policy amounted to sending kindergarten children to university without giving them primary\and secondary education. The Soviet government also expropriated, without compensation, all the rich farmers\and landowners, regardless of whether they were large landowners, small landowners, pro-Japanese landowners\or anti-Japanese landowners,\and even confiscated their cattle, horses\and provisions.
Those landowners who remained in the guerrilla zone even after the land of east Manchuria had been divided into “Red territory”\and “White territory,” were in general patriotic\and strongly opposed to the Japanese. They gave enthusiastic support to the guerrilla army when the communists were raising an army in Wangqing.

One of those progressive landowners was a Chinese named Zhang Shi-ming. At the time of its large-scale “punitive” invasion, in the spring of 1932, the Japanese Jiandao task force even burnt down his grain store. Even though the “punitive” forces\ordered a forced evacuation at bayonet-point, Zhang Shi-ming remained in the guerrilla zone, instead of moving to Daduchuan. His previous grievances against the Japanese were augmented that spring. Landowner though he was, he had given unstinting material\and moral support to the people in the guerrilla zone.
“Officers\and men rom the guerrilla army,” he would say to the guerrillas who came to him for contributions. “I am remaining here in this valley because I hate to see the Japanese. Please at least drive them away rom Daduchuan!”
The people in the guerrilla zone were on good terms with him. But the Soviet government drove even this landowner away to
the enemy-ruled area. He pleaded with the Soviet government for permission to live in the guerrilla zone, but the Soviet rejected his request.
“The Soviet government has decided to expropriate the property of all landowners,” the Soviet informed him. “It is true that your anti-Japanese spirit is strong\and you have given generous support to the work of the guerrilla zone, but you are a member of the exploiting class,\and we are obliged to eliminate you. Leave this place quickly.”
All the property of this landowner who had given wholehearted support to the revolution was confiscated there\and then\and put into a storehouse which was at the disposal of the Soviet government. The beggared landowner left in tears to go to Daduchuan,\where the Japanese forces were stationed.

Those who obeyed the\order to carry out a purge at that time even took the children’s flower-patterned shoes rom the chests at landowners’ houses. The Chinese people had an interesting custom according to which, when a female baby was born to them, they prepared the shoes for the children the female baby would have when she grew\and married. Such shoes were called “flower-patterned shoes.” They used to make shoes of various sizes for babies younger than one year, for one-year olds, two-year olds\and so on upwards,\and then store them in chests. The chests contained some shoes as small as thimbles.
Having meekly allowed even these shoes to be taken away, what thoughts would these landlords carry with them as they left the guerrilla zone?
The valley of Xiaowangqing was crowded with cattle\and horses that had been confiscated rom propertied people. There were more than enough of them to stock a sizable farm,\and every young person in the guerrilla zone went about on horseback. It was what one might call a fashion under Soviet rule.
The Leftist elements even regarded Chinese women’s customs of wearing earrings\and wrapping their feet tight to check their growth as evils to be combatted.
During the first half of the 1930s, Leftist abuses were rampant in east Manchuria,\and this Leftist tyranny subjected the sacred revolutionary principles to a severe test. How did this Leftist wind come to sweep the whole of east Manchuria? Were all the revolutionaries in the guerrilla zones in Jiandao hooligans\or lunatics?

No. The overwhelming majority of the communists who were administering the guerrilla zone were good people with noble revolutionary ideals\and warm hearts.

They loved people\and nourished the aspiration to justice more warmly than others. How was it, then, that these sympathetic\and discreet people committed the irretrievable error of advocating\and implementing this Leftist policy?
We identified the cause in the policy itself\and in the ideological immaturity of the people who had determined the line. These absurdities in revolutionary practice were produced by the unrealistic directives issued by people at the top of the hierarchy who, in ignorance of specific circumstances, aped the ill-digested principles of the classics\and lessons of earlier experience.
In those years, the blind rejection of people, indiscriminate elimination, overthrow\and ostracism were considered to be in keeping with a thoroughgoing class approach, the qualities of the most advanced revolutionaries.
The instance of a widow who lent at a small rate of interest the money she had earned by weaving cloth by hand was labelled as a usurer, so that her promissory note was thrown into fire\and even her capital confiscated by some peasants in Wangqing, shows what a sacred cow this Leftist practice had become. Unless they were misled by some of their leaders, the simple peasants could not have resorted to such absurdities.

Once I was surprised to hear how a company commander, Ri Ung Man, had joined the guerrilla army in Wangqing.
In the early days of recruiting, only people rom the working class, poor peasantry\and hired farm hands were admitted to the armed ranks. Ri Ung Man’s father had owned a little more than three hectares of sterile hillside land, so he had not been considered a poor peasant. He had applied to join the ranks more than once, but his earnest requests had been turned down because he came rom an undesirable family. He had been told that a man with more than three hectares was a middle peasant.
After many days of mental torture, he had sold his father’s land without his parents’ knowledge, bought a box of Browning pistols,\and taken it to the armed group, begging to be admitted. Only then had he been accepted. He was glad that he had become a guerrilla, but his family was at a loss, left without any means of livelihood.
My resolve to combat Leftist evils grew still firmer after I moved to Jiandao. I have been combatting them all my life ever since. My experience in those days has been of great help in my postliberation struggle to counter Leftist evils\and eliminate bureaucratic tendencies.
Under the cloak of slick revolutionary phrases\and ultra-party slogans, the Leftists continually mock the masses, abuse\and deceive them, in pursuit of their own glory\and advancement. rom these selfish motives, they depict themselves as tanks\or armoured vehicles advancing in the forefront of struggle. Thus counterrevolutionaries make use of the cloak of Leftism. So all communists must always be highly vigilant\and not allow the Leftists to get a foothold in their camp.

The Leftist Soviet policy plunged the guerrilla bases into a state of vacillation\and confusion which was difficult to rectify. A large number of families, disillusioned\and discontented with the Soviet policy, departed for enemy-ruled territory.
One night, on our way to Sancidao\where Choe Chun Guk, the political instructor of the 2nd company, was working, my men\and I met a middle-aged man\and his family who were fleeing rom the guerrilla zone. The man was leaving by night for fear of being labelled a counterrevolutionary if he was caught travelling in daylight. The five members of his family were carrying a few bundles\or almost empty-handed. The three children were helped by their parents as they hobbled along.
The man, who looked about 50, trembled at the sight of our armed group. He seemed struck with dismay at having been discovered by a guerrilla commander.
“Have you done anything wrong?” I asked in a gentle voice, drawing the three shivering children to me one by one.
“No, nothing.”

“Why, then, are you leaving the guerrilla zone?” “It is too hard to live here....”
“Where are you going, then? Things will be even worse in the enemy area, won’t they?”

“We have been living here because we couldn’t endure the Japanese atrocities, so why should we go back to them? We are going deeper into the mountains to live by slashing\and burning the land\where no one will disturb our peace.”
At his words my heart felt weary with oppression. I wondered if they could find the peace of mind they sought in a deeper recess of the mountain than Macun, a recess which offered no guarantee of a livelihood in the days to come.
“The thaw has not yet set in, have you food enough to last until it does?” I asked.
“No. We shall live as long as we can,\and we may die.... That’s all there is to it. My very life is a nuisance to me now.”

As she listened to him, the sobs of the man’s wife shook her shoulders. The three children who were in my arms also burst into tears.
I fought back my own tears as I was standing blankly in the darkness. If all the people left one by one in this manner, on whom could we rely in making the revolution? Why had our revolution entered this dead end? The consequences of the reckless Soviet policy had been too destructive.
“Things will be put to rights soon. So don’t feel too discouraged. Let’s wait till things are smoothed over.”
I sent him\and his family back home with an escort of my men. I changed my plan of staying overnight in the barracks of the 2nd company\and called on old man Choe Ja Ik at Xidapo. The heart-rending incident of the miserable family prompted me to try to dig into the depths of the people’s minds. Choe Ja Ik was the father of Choe In Jun, who, after joining the Wangqing special detachment, had been promoted to company commander\and then to regimental commander of an independent brigade before he fell in battle. Whenever I visited Sancidao, I had paid a call on Choe Ja Ik.

Being a well-informed man, he had even served as secretary of the northern political\and military administration headed by So Il. Moreover, he was open-minded\and candid,\and told me many instructive things whenever I met him.
“Old man, how are you getting along these days?” I greeted him.
“I think I am living just because I am alive,” he said bluntly in reply to my greetings.
Believing that his intonation expressed the people’s mind, I asked again, “Is your life in the guerrilla zone so hard?”
At this question, the old man flew into a rage\and began to grumble, saying:
“I put up with the Soviet government when it took away my work animals\and farm implements. I guessed that we were following the example of collective farming in Russia, for which the Russians had collected such things. But when I saw the people rom the Soviet collecting spoons\and chopsticks a few days ago for what they called a communal eating house, I spat at them. I said, ‘Shall we old people leave our under-floor-heated rooms\and walk to\and rom the public eating house in the cold weather three times every day? I cannot live in this manner any longer. If you are going to create a hell\and call it a kommuna\or artel, do it yourselves, young men. We are already out of breath\and can’t keep up with you any longer.’\and then there was what they called the purge of feudalism, when old people were subjected to criticism by their daughters-in-law at mass meetings. Has anything so ridiculous ever happened in the five-thousand-year-long history of our country?\and still, my son, In Jun, told me not to slander the Soviet. So I was going to break his back.”
If the father of a commander of the guerrilla army could spat on Soviet policy, there was clearly no need to probe the attitude of other people any further.
Later, during the terrible days of the ultra-Leftist struggle against the “Minsaengdan,”\and during the sad days when the soldiers\and the people were bidding a tearful farewell to one another prior to the break-up of the guerrilla zones, I often recalled the old man lamenting over the things that were happening, pounding his breast with his fists, at the time when I met him.
Less than half a year after the establishment of the Soviet government, the relations between the Korean\and Chinese peoples had deteriorated again. Most of the landowners who had been expropriated were Chinese, so it was natural that a situation similar to one at the time of the May 30 Uprising should recur. The Chinese nationalist army, which was opposed to the Japanese, once again became hostile to the Korean communists. The national salvation army\and Chinese landowners were now our enemies, in addition to the Japanese\and Manchukuo armies.

The anti-Japanese guerrilla army found itself once again in the restricted circumstances of the days of its establishment, when its small units had to hide in the back-rooms of other people’s houses. The guerrillas once again had to be billeted cautiously on Korean settlements. It was quite impossible to rename ourselves as Chinese special detachments. Whenever they met us, the national salvation army units would attack us, calling us “gaolibangzi” (a Chinese derogatory term for the Koreans–Tr.). Guerrilla activity was effectively reduced to a semi-underground struggle.

Everything that had been built up by our year-long struggle was being brought to nought.
Our comrades began to develop divergent opinions of Soviet policy. Some of them said that, since things had come to this, we should go to Russia to learn the methods of revolution\and then make a fresh start; some of them insisted that, since the way the people in Jiandao were doing things would make a mess of the revolution, we should return to our own ground\and fight in our own way;\and another man let slip that it would be better to go home\and fulfil his filial duty to his parents than to fight for something which was not much like a revolution. The Chinese comrade who wished to go home was allowed to do so,\and another Chinese comrade who wished to study in the Soviet\union was sent there.
Even in this state of affairs, the people in charge of the guerrilla zone could not bring themselves to change their policy. The east Manchuria ad hoc committee which was in a position of leadership had no defined line of its own with which to amend the policy of the Comintern.

Somebody had to smooth over this chaotic situation\and save the guerrilla zone rom collapse, even at the risk of being stigmatized as a Rightist. This task required determination\and the formulation of new theses capable of countering the Leftist Soviet line. It was about this time that I wrote a thesis on eliminating factionalism\and strengthening the unity of the revolutionary ranks\and published it in a pamphlet.
I had made up my mind to take issue with Tong Chang-rong at Macun over the type of government to be established. However, county party secretary Ri Yong Guk\and a few others dissuaded me rom doing so. They said it would be useless to argue with him because the “Decision of the East Manchuria ad hoc Committee on the Great Programme of Building the Soviet” had already been issued to its subordinate units\and a Soviet government had been established at Sishuiping. They even warned me that if the argument went the wrong way, I might be punished. Ri Yong Guk told me briefly how Kim Paek Ryong had been charged as a Rightist because of his careless criticism of the Soviet.
Kim Paek Ryong was working as a member of a county party committee in north Manchuria. At the time when propaganda was at its height prior to the formation of the Soviet in Jiandao, he came, by way of the east Manchuria ad hoc committee, to Wangqing district No. 5, which had been\selected as the first demonstration unit for the establishment of the Soviet government.

When he heard that a Soviet government was going to be set up in the district, he said that it was premature to have it in east Manchuria. Because of this single statement, he had been stigmatized as a Right opportunist\and became the target of active measures. The incident ended with his escape to north Manchuria.
In the winter of 1934, two years after I heard the story of his case rom Ri Yong Guk, I met Kim Paek Ryong at Badaohezi, Ningan County. At the time he was the secretary of the district party committee.
He recollected with sadness the incident in the autumn of 1932 in which he had been branded as a Rightist capitulator because of his statement that a Soviet government was premature. By the time I met him, the Leftist Soviet policy had been rectified,\and the people’s revolutionary government had long been administering the guerrilla zone, so he did not hesitate to criticize the proponents of the reckless, Leftist Soviet line. In my talk with him I found him an extremely intelligent\and upright man.
I asked him why he had said that it was premature to establish the Soviet.
“The reason is simple,” Kim Paek Ryong replied. “When I was in Gayahe, I talked with a lot of peasants\and found that they did not even know the meaning of the word Soviet. So I said it was premature to create a Soviet which was beyond the people’s comprehension.”
In fact, the people in those days did not understand the meaning of the word,\and this fact indicated their lack of preparedness.

The old people in Gayahe who participated in the election to the district Soviet took the word “Soviet” to mean soksaepho (automatic gun–Tr.).
“I watched the platform after the election,” one of them remarked, “for I had been expecting automatic guns rom the Soviet, the guns that would kill many Japanese. But it produced only a red flag.”

Some of the people rom Macun, who attended the ceremony for the establishment of the Soviet at Wangqing district No. 2, mistook the word “Soviet” for soebochi (tin pail–Tr.). Another villager was said to have asked voters to take a close look at the Soviet\and see whether it was large\or small. Some other villagers were said to have gone out with baskets to gather wild vegetables, because they had nothing special to offer the Soviet, an important guest.
These subjective interpretations of the meaning of the word\or comical mistakes were due, of course, to the people’s ignorance,\and in particular to ineffective propaganda on the part of their leaders. The titles of public lectures, for instance, were full of loanwords such as Soviet, kolkhoz\and kommuna which were beyond the people’s comprehension. As for the Soviet itself, the propagandists themselves had no clear idea of what it was.
After the establishment of Soviet power everywhere, the radical elements who had been poisoned with Leftist ideas swaggered about, shouting loudly about the dictatorship of the working class, poor peasants\and hired farm hands, as if the revolution had already been carried through.

In spite of the advice of the comrades at Wangqing, I did challenge Tong Chang-rong to a debate about the appropriate form of government.
“The birth of the revolutionary government in Jiandao\and its proclamation is an event to rejoice at. But, Comrade Tong Chang-rong, I cannot remain a silent onlooker when our policy of the united front is being encroached upon by the Soviet line.”
Tong Chang-rong looked at me in surprise.

“It is being encroached upon? What do you mean by that?” he asked.
“As I told you at Mingyuegou, we have adopted the line of rallying all the patriotic, anti-Japanese forces, who are interested in our revolution, into a strong political force,\and we have striven to implement this line at the cost of our blood in the homeland\and Manchuria over the past years. In the course of this struggle, we have united many people, including patriotic believers, shopkeepers\and manufacturers, junior officials\and even landowners. But the Soviet policy has rejected them all indiscriminately. Until yesterday, they supported\or sympathized with the revolution, but now they turn away rom it\or are opposed to it. The relations between the Korean\and Chinese peoples have been aggravated once again.”
Tong Chang-rong smiled, patting me on the wrist.

“That is quite possible, but it is not a matter of great importance. What is important is that the Soviet government has met all the requirements of the people. The revolution is triumphing. The workers\and peasants, the vast majority of the masses, are following the Soviet government. What is there to be afraid of? I believe that, with the support of the workers\and peasants, we can carry out whatever revolution we need. We have to be prepared to lose a minority, don’t we?”
 
“I admit that there may be losses. But why should we reject people who can be won over? Our general strategy is to isolate the enemy as far as possible\and win over as many people as possible. That is why we have risked our lives working among the anti-Japanese nationalist forces over the past year. We communists have managed to recover the prestige that was damaged by the May 30 Uprising,\and we have resolved the discord between the Korean\and Chinese peoples by dint of painstaking effort. But now there is the danger again that the results of these great efforts may be brought to nothing overnight.”
“Comrade Kim Il Sung, surely you are too pessimistic?”

“No. I am in the habit of always looking on the bright side. The revolution will, of course, continue its victorious advance. But, Comrade Tong Chang-rong, I cannot help being deeply worried about the negative consequences of the Leftist policy in east Manchuria. I believe that the party in east Manchuria must give prudent consideration to this matter.”
“So you mean that the policy should be reconsidered?”

“Yes, the policy should be reconsidered as well as the form of government that shapes the policy.”

Tong Chang-rong frowned disapprovingly\and then said, “Comrade Kim Il Sung, there may indeed be errors in the policy of the Soviet government, but the form of the government is inviolable. The policy concerning the establishment of Soviet power comes rom the centre.”
The argument continued.
 
He persisted in his opinion, describing the Soviet as an absolute. He was a man of moderate character\and kind heart, but a die-hard.
He was well-informed, but dogmatic in his thinking\and practice. We resumed the argument on another day, when the point at
issue was whether to maintain the Soviet\or abandon it,\and if it was to be discarded, what form of a new government should be adopted.
I said that, since life had proved that the Soviet was not suited to the guerrilla zone in east Manchuria\where the task of anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution should be addressed, the Korean\and Chinese communists must resolutely change the form of government,\and adopt a policy capable of meeting the requirements of the people in\order to calm down the chaotic situation.
In reply to my cogent argument, Tong Chang-rong said, “I, too, admit that the Soviet does not suit the specific situation of east Manchuria\and that some of its political measures have resulted in losses to the revolution. I now understand why the other day you expressed your apprehension concerning the united-front line being encroached upon by the Soviet line. Comrade Kim Il Sung, the grave developments in east Manchuria in recent months have compelled me to give serious consideration to your warning. To our regret, however, we have not yet decided on a form of government that can replace the Soviet.”

I was pleased by this change in the opinion of the secretary of the ad hoc committee. He was no longer the same die-hard who had insisted that the Soviet was the only type of government for the communists at the high tide of revolution when the masses were in buoyant spirits.
“The Commune\and the Soviet are the only forms of working-class government that mankind has ever discovered, aren’t they?” Tong Chang-rong asked,\and gazed at me. His eyes seemed to suggest that, if I had a form that might convince him, he would not choose to object to it.
“If that is so, then let us make up a suitable one for ourselves,” I said.
“For ourselves? I’m afraid that I’m not such a great genius. How can we make up things that are not mentioned in Marx’s classic works?”
I could not agree with this view\or attitude which regarded things as immutable\and absolute, rom which one could not deviate.
“Comrade Tong Chang-rong, did the French working class refer to any classics when they created the Commune? Was the Russian Soviet proposed by the founders of Marxism in their classic works? How can you regard the Soviet as the brainchild of a genius? If the people had not required it, if the Russian situation had not required it, I think the Soviet would not have emerged in the arena of history.”

Without giving any sign of what he thought, Tong Chang-rong produced a large tobacco pouch rom his pocket, filled his pipe and set it between his lips, then offered the pouch to me. He used to carry the tobacco pouch\and the pipe in his hand while inspecting the guerrilla zone. When he met a peasant on the way he would fill the pipe\and then offer it to the peasant. He was a man of peculiar character,\and this simplicity of his won him love\and respect rom the people in the guerrilla zone. In winter he went about in a fur cap like those worn by local peasants.
His silence vexed me, but the fact that he refrained rom further argument was a good omen.
Following my conversation with him, I met Ri Yong Guk, Kim Myong Gyun, Jo Chang Dok\and some other military\and political cadres,\and discussed with them the question of replacing the Soviet with a new revolutionary government. We debated the matter seriously for several days.
For purposes of a smooth discussion, we emphasized the importance of a criterion for defining the form of the government.
I asserted that we must not make the criterion too complicated,\and that, since we were all fighting for the people\and were their faithful servants, determined to dedicate all our lives to their cause, we must draw the criterion rom the character of our revolution at that stage, laying emphasis on whether the government we were going to establish would be able to champion the interests of all sections of the population\and whether it would enjoy their enthusiastic support.

On hearing this, my comrades cheered, saying that everything was now clear to them, that a government which was to champion the interests of all sections of the population must be a united-front government, since the term “all sections of the population” would mean not only the workers\and poor\or hired peasants, but other broad sections of the people, that a united-front government would suit the character of the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution,\and that they would welcome such a government with open arms.
I again emphasized that the united-front government must be a people’s revolutionary government based on a worker-peasant alliance. Nowadays, this is known in the history books as the line on the establishment of the people’s revolutionary government.
There is no need to mention the result of our vote, for they believed that the form of people’s revolutionary government we chose suited to east Manchuria,\where Koreans were the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants, was ideally suited to the character of the Korean revolution which was directed at democracy\and against imperialism\and feudalism,\and that it met the requirements of the people. We discovered the criterion for the form of government in the people’s requirements\and in a means of championing\and representing the people’s interests.

After deciding on the form of government, we agreed to set an example in one district\and, if the result was accepted as good, to extend the example to other revolutionary districts. District No. 5 was chosen as the unit in which to set an example.
Ri Yong Guk, Kim Myong Gyun\and I visited Wangqing district No. 5\and attended the meeting to elect the district committee of the people’s revolutionary government. The meeting was held at the village of Xiamudan, two\and half a miles away rom Sishuiping. The day was the anniversary of the MOPR, a Russian acronym for the International\organization for Assisting Revolutionaries. The Executive Committee of the Comintern decided in 1923 to establish this\organization for the purpose of assisting the families of revolutionary martyrs,\and set March 18 as the international anniversary of the MOPR.
Jo Chang Dok, chairman of the fifth district Soviet government, showed us into the office of the Soviet,\where I talked to about 20 peasants rom Gayahe.
“We have decided to set up a new government to replace the Soviet government. It must represent your will. What kind of government would you like to set up?” I asked.
An old man rose\and answered, “If the government to be set up will make our life easier, we’ll ask for nothing more.”
I declared excitedly that a people’s revolutionary government would be established in place of the Soviet government,\and that the new government would be the first genuine people’s government in the world history of political power.

“This government will represent\and champion the interests of all the people who love their country\and their fellow people. It will fulfil their most cherished desires. What are your cherished desires? The people’s revolutionary government will fulfil all of your desires to own land, to have the right to work, to educate your children,\and to have equality for all.”
The people rom Gayahe fully supported the line of the people’s revolutionary government which I explained to them.
Prior to the ceremony to proclaim the establishment of the people’s revolutionary government, we saw to it that all expropriated private property was returned to the former owners. In\order to compensate for what had been damaged\or consumed after expropriation, Ryang Song Ryong even\organized an armed raid on a lumber station. The cattle\and horses captured rom the enemy in that battle were used by the peasants to cultivate the land distributed to them in the spring of that year.
At the meeting I made a speech to the effect that the people’s revolutionary government was truly a people’s government,\and then the government’s ten-point programme was announced.
This programme was later incorporated almost without amendment into the Ten-point Programme of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland.
Still vivid in my memory is the image of the county party secretary, Ri Yong Guk, during the meeting at the village in Sishuiping. While everyone was enjoying themselves dancing together, he sat in a corner, shedding tears.

I slipped away rom the dancing party\and walked over to him. “Comrade Secretary, why are you sad when everyone is
dancing?”

Without even attempting to dry the tears trickling down his cheeks, Ri Yong Guk heaved a deep sigh.
“I can’t see why these people do not spit at me. The Wangqing people have suffered rom Leftist evils entirely because of me. But they thanked me. Commander Kim, you are the man who should receive thanks rom them.”
“Our people are generous\and good-natured. The fact that instead of settling accounts with you the people thanked you, Secretary, means that they have accepted the line of the people’s revolutionary government wholeheartedly. rom now onwards, let us give our minds only to the future.”
“I have not been living in my right mind, but in some other man’s. You have opened my eyes to a truth of genuine value. Let us live for the people! What profound meaning there is in this simple motto! I will remember it all my life,” Ri Yong Guk firmly resolved, squeezing my hand.
He was not able to live up to his pledge, for the east Manchuria ad hoc committee dismissed him rom his post of secretary of the county party committee. The ad hoc committee said that Ri Yong Guk was dismissed because he had belonged to the M-L group\and the Wangqing county party committee was guilty of an ultra-Leftist error in implementing the Soviet line. It also said that he was suspected of having been involved in the case of the “Minsaengdan.”

The charge that Ri Yong Guk had belonged to the M-L group was not true. When involved in youth work at Xilinhe he had been recommended for the post of secretary of the Young Communist League under the east Manchuria ad hoc committee by a man who had been involved in the M-L group. That was all. It was unreasonable\and immoral that the secretary of the county party committee was alone held responsible for all the evils resulting rom the ultra-Leftist Soviet line. If Ri Yong Guk had deserved the punishment of dismissal, then what punishment should have been meted out to the people who had imposed the Soviet line upon their subordinates\and the men who had forced him to implement the line?
The charge that Ri Yong Guk had been a “Minsaengdan” member was totally unfounded.
I stated on several occasions that he had been neither a factionalist nor a “Minsaengdan” member.
However, while I was in Luozigou for negotiation with Wu Yi-cheng, Ri Yong Guk was executed on a false charge of being a “counterrevolutionary.” His records contained no evidence to prove him to be a “Minsaengdan” member. He had once taken refuge in the Maritime Province of Siberia rom the wholesale arrest\and he could have lived there in peace as an exile for the rest of his life. Nevertheless, he had returned to Jiandao\and plunged into the tempest in\order to serve the cause of the revolution.
I still do not understand why it was necessary to label such a faithful\and honest man a “Minsaengdan” member.

Not long after the establishment of the people’s revolutionary government in the district No. 5, Tong Chang-rong came to me\and said, with a pleasant smile on his face, “Comrade Kim Il Sung, we are going to discuss the matter of a change in the political line before long, with the participation of a man sent rom the Comintern. I hope that you, Comrade Kim Il Sung, will make the keynote speech, since you have the experience of having established the people’s revolutionary government in the district No. 5.”
In the summer of that year, an important meeting was held to discuss the change in the political line. The meeting was attended by a man who had been sent to east Manchuria rom the Comintern, who brought with him a document concerning the change in the line.
At the meeting I proposed the line of a people’s revolutionary government as a united-front government based on a worker-peasant alliance,\and explained once again the draft of the government’s policy, which included land reform\and other democratic measures to be implemented by the government in the fields of the economy, education, culture, public health\and military affairs. Our policy was in agreement with the new line formulated by the Comintern. The man rom the Comintern expressed his full support for\and approval of the line on the establishment of the people’s revolutionary government.
The meeting, which lasted many days in an atmosphere of serious debate\and ideological struggle, adopted a decision to reorganize the Soviet in accordance with our line of the people’s revolutionary government\and to combat the evil consequences of the Leftist Soviet line in all the guerrilla zones.

After the meeting, all the Soviets in east Manchuria were reshaped into people’s revolutionary governments. In places\where the conditions were not ripe, measures were adopted to form peasant committees\and gradually reorganize them into a people’s revolutionary government. Property that had been expropriated in the name of the abolition of private property\and consumed by the people in the guerrilla zones was compensated for by the new government in cash\and in kind.
The people’s revolutionary government, which was run by the people, its masters, implemented democracy for the popular masses, the overwhelming majority of the population,\and exercised dictatorship over the enemy.
The establishment of the people’s revolutionary government in Gayahe\and the meeting that had adopted the changed line led to the emergence of a people’s revolutionary government in every district of the revolutionary\organization in east Manchuria,\and also in every village. Each district people’s revolutionary government had its own chairman\and vice-chairman,\and nine to eleven executive committee members. It also had departments of the land, military affairs, economics, food, communications,\and medical services.
This was the embryo\and prototype of the people’s government to be established in the liberated homeland.

The people’s revolutionary government distributed land to the peasants without compensation\and enforced an eight-hour working day in all the guerrilla zones. In those days there were approximately a thousand workers in the Xiaowangqing guerrilla base. Most of them were lumbermen, raftsmen\and charcoal burners. Five hundred of them worked at Sancidao, the administrative centre of the district No. 2,\and the other five hundred at the foot of the Fangcao Mountains near Macun. They all benefited rom the eight-hour working day.
The people’s revolutionary government took stringent measures to ensure that private entrepreneurs doubled the workers’ pay.
The government also placed the forests in\and around the guerrilla zones under its control\and prohibited the felling of trees without its permission.
In these circumstances, the Japanese manager of the Qinhe lumber station at Daduchuan\and Chinese lumber dealers came to the guerrilla-zone authorities to negotiate permission for timber-felling. The matter was settled so that the purchasers paid one yuan for a piece of lumber, but payment was made in kind, in items such as clothing, food\and other consumer items.
The people’s revolutionary government established the Children’s Corps schools\and gave the children free education,\and it ensured that all the population received free medical care at the hospitals at Lishugou\and Shiliping in the guerrilla zone. A law on women’s equality was enforced\and women participated in public life\and work, on a basis of equal rights with men.

Printing works, tailors’ shops\and weapons repair works were operated in the guerrilla zone.
Cultural activities in the guerrilla zones produced many famous songs of lasting significance for our people,\and theatrical art flourished, producing many\original works, which later developed into such masterpieces as The Sea of Blood, The Fate of a Self-Defence Corps Man,\and so on.

The term “Soviet,” symbolic of inhumanity\and expropriation, remained only a memento of the past. The people who had fled to the enemy-held area rom the evils of the Soviet policy began to return to the guerrilla zones one by one\or in groups. Old people freely visited their neighbours, carrying their pipes at their waists. The guerrilla zone rang once again with the laughter of a large\and harmonious community of people who trusted, loved\and relied on one another.
The valleys\and mountains of Wangqing, which had withstood the severe winter, began to be adorned with various kinds of rustling flowers: the throbbing of a new life was in evidence.
This life roused such envy that the son of a landowner, who had been held hostage at Xiaowangqing by Commander Chai’s unit, begged to be allowed to live in the guerrilla zone


 

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