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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 8 7. An Immortal Flower

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 8  7. An Immortal Flower

  

   


 

7. An Immortal Flower 

 

  

In the year 1933, the revolutionary\organization in Wangougou sent Kim Kum Sun (Kim Kum Nyo )\and Kim Ok Sun, pupils of the Beidong Children’s Corps school, to Xiaowangqing, according to the decision of higher echelon.
These two girls were talented members of an art troupe who were held in special affection by the people of the Yanji area. They came to Macun on an assignment rom the revolutionary\organization to spread songs\and dances in the Wangqing guerrilla base,\where there were many revolutionary people. In those days the revolutionary\organizations in east Manchuria used to send many talented people to Xiaowangqing, the strategic centre of the Korean revolution. The people in east Manchuria rendered every assistance to Xiaowangqing, just as our people nowadays spare nothing to support Pyongyang.
On their arrival at Macun the two girls, guided by the caretaker of the Beidong Children’s Corps school who had accompanied them, came directly to the army headquarters to see me. I found them very young, not much over 10. At first I guessed they were sisters. But they were not. Only their names were similar.

The caretaker of the Beidong Children’s Corps school introduced the girls to me in turn, explaining with humour the children’s records\and their family backgrounds. That story was very impressive. While the caretaker was telling me about her, Kim Ok Sun wept. I, too, was close to tears, for the 13 years of her life were full of tragic events.
When she was nine years old, she was engaged to a landlord’s son who was more than 20 years old. The engagement was arranged by fraudulent means without her knowledge\or her parents’. In those days a young man over 20 was regarded as an old bachelor,\and his parents were anxiously searching for a good match through the offices of go-betweens. The young man was apparently a dim-wit\or cripple, with no hopes of getting married by fair\and just means. In fact, his parents, unable to find a mate for their son who was now on the wrong side of 20, had hastily forged the engagement by treating the girl’s father to a heavy drinking bout\and forcing the drunken man to sealing the agreement with his thumb. According to the contract Kim Ok Sun was obliged by law to marry the bachelor when she was 15 years old. Her father remained unconscious of the outlandish contract for two days. When he came to himself back at home he cried bitterly in discovering in his pocket a document promising his daughter in marriage, sealed with his fingerprint,\and 80 yuan of money of doubtful\origin. The money was a present rom the family of the would-be bridegroom in return for the agreement. When she learned of this, Kim Ok Sun’s life had been filled with tears. But her father, Kim Jae Man, who had sealed his daughter’s future by means of this piece of paper, soon bought a straw-thatched house, a kitchen garden, an ox\and a pig,\and lived in quiet prosperity. He seemed to think there was no use crying over spilt milk, no use protesting against the power of the rich,\and that the best thing to do was to turn the money to good account, to turn the misfortune into a blessing. Whenever his daughter wept over her future, he would soothe her, saying:

“Don’t cry, my dear. That 80 yuan has breathed life into our ruined family. Anyway, this is better than dying of hunger. You will feel easier if you think that your engagement has saved your family rom destruction.”

The ignorant\and simple man did not understand the revolution. He was so naive that he thought he could free himself rom poverty,\and even become a millionaire, if only he worked his fingers to the bone. This led him to harbour illusions about the landlord who was exploiting him. Now\and then the landlord brought something to eat to the house, so Kim Jae Man thought there was no kinder landlord in this world than his. His daughter once went to the yard of her school to listen to a speech by an underground operative. When he learned about this, he beat her cruelly, for he was afraid that his daughter might become involved in the revolution.

Only when his village had been reduced to ashes for the fifth time by the enemy’s “punitive” invasion was his class consciousness aroused. His family lost their house\and draught animal at the hands of the invaders. Some of his neighbours were killed in fire.
On the night when he sent his daughter to the Wangougou guerrilla zone, he said, “We must stake our lives now on a life-and-death struggle with the enemy, my dear. I was too ignorant of the ways of the world. Now you must join in the revolution\and do away with those devils.”
Later Kim Ok Sun made her home at Kim Kum Sun’s house in Songlindong; together with Kum Sun, she attended the Children’s Corps school in Beidong\and as a member of the district,\and then of the county art troupe, she participated in the work of enlightening the masses.
Korean children like Kim Ok Sun at the tender age when they should have been complaining of their lot to indulgent parents, had to launch headfirst into the struggle with poverty, tugged to\and fro by the rough waves of a world which made no allowances for them. Our children rose in resistance against this cruel world, which was equally oppressive to young\and old. The Korean children in Jiandao formed revolutionary\organizations such as the Children’s Corps, the Children’s Vanguard\and the Children’s Expeditionary Corps in various areas,\and participated in the struggle as an\organized force. All our boys\and girls, educated\and trained in the revolutionary\organizations, played their parts as more than mere small cogs in the wheel of the revolution against the Japanese.
 
Kim Ok Sun was one of these children,\and so was Kim Kum Sun. When I heard her story I could not but feel pity for Kim Ok Sun. The misfortune of this little girl was the epitome of the misfortune suffered by millions of Korean children.
How laudable\and honourable their determination\and mettle were, when they left their dear homes at such a tender age\and came to the guerrilla base to work for the revolution! They had walked hundreds of miles rom Wangougou to Macun by way of Dahuangwai\and Yaoyinggou in\order to support Xiaowangqing;\and how thankful we were! How admirable\and praiseworthy for these two girls to have come all the way to Xiaowangqing, making their way along the thorny path with the help of their canes, carrying heavy knapsacks on their backs\and wearing work shoes made for adults!
Thinking that I should exchange those work shoes for canvass\or rubber shoes, I asked them, “Who sent you to Xiaowangqing?”
“Mr. Yun Pyong Do did,” the girls answered cheerfully, standing to attention, their hands on the sides of their skirts. Not only were their eyes as bright as stars, but their voices rang with refreshing vitality.

I was very glad. Being with children was one of the great pleasures of my life. Their laughter relieved me my sense of hardships\and mental torment. Mix with children, share their feelings,\and you will feel a strong urge to live,\and you will understand that they bring beauty\and variety to people’s lives. You will also feel inspired with a sense of the noble duty of bringing them to full bloom\and safeguarding the ideals glowing in their eyes.
Feeling pity for Kum Sun, with her calves\and face covered in scratches, I asked her:
“It must have cost you a great deal of trouble to come all this way. Didn’t you find it hard to cross so many high passes?”
“We had a hard time of it with the blisters on our soles. But we did not give any sign that we felt tired, in case the man who was bringing us might send us back to Wangougou.”
“Wouldn’t it have been nice to stay at home with your parents?” “Yes, it would, but when will we become grown-ups like that?
Our instructor in the Children’s Corps said we had to experience hardships to become grown-ups. I want to grow up as soon as possible, through many hardships.”
“Why do you wish to grow up quickly?”

“We will liberate Korea. Please don’t send us back home, for mercy’s sake, Commander Kim.”
I was surprised at her manly way of thinking. Young as she was, she was unusually advanced in her determination to devote her life to the liberation of Korea.

“Don’t worry about that. You two girls are among the few talented children in Jiandao–why should I send you back? Stay with us in Wangqing rom now on. Taking part in the Children’s Corps life here will not be too bad at all.”
Kum Sun did not hide her joy; she clapped her hands.

I asked the leaders of the YCL in the county\and district to admit them to the Children’s Corps school in Macun, so that they could continue their\organizational life in the corps,\and requested they be provided with lodgings in kind-hearted households, so that they would feel at home in this strange place so far away rom their parents.
That year the guerrillas\and the people of Wangqing held a grand May Day celebration in the playground of the Children’s Corps school in Macun. The celebration was attended by all the soldiers in the Wangqing area. The two girls rom Wangougou won first place in the running\and high jump respectively that day, receiving warm applause rom the people of Wangqing.
Kum Sun was small in build for her age. When she walked, with a knapsack on her back, moving her legs quickly in her light gait at the head of the art troupe, everybody smiled at her pure cute image.
I, too, derived much strength rom this image. By nature, I preferred optimists. In the days when we were fighting arduous battle in the mountains\and surviving on grass root, one optimist gave more strength than dozens of guns. Kum Sun was an outstanding fighter\and optimist, representing the youngest generation of the alliance of the three\organizations–the Communist Party, YCL\and Children’s Corps.

Some days after I met Kum Sun, I called the pupils of the school to the headquarters to learn how they were getting along.
From the outset the Children’s Corps members were always supposed to carry a week’s emergency rations with them in knapsacks. But many of the children I examined had eaten the parched-rice flour supplied by the school. Only Kum Sun had kept her rations quite untouched. After examining their knapsacks I praised her by giving the thumbs up sign, saying, “The other children have eaten theirs all, but Kum Sun, the youngest, has resisted temptation splendidly. She is the best!”
She only smiled, looking shy,\and then said, “I, too, have taken out the powder pouch several times. I was scarcely able to suppress the temptation to eat it.”
“But how did you do it?”

“While the others were eating the flour, I kept my eyes shut. If I still felt like eating, I went outside.\and when I could not bear it any more outside, I went to the well\and drank a dipperful of water. Then I felt as full as if I had eaten the flour.”
I was moved to admiration by her fluent answer. This child’s sorrowful mind mirrored the destitution of the people in the guerrilla zone,\and the noble aspiration of these young indomitable eagles to develop the revolution staunchly in spite of crushing poverty.
That day we gave each of the children ten cups of parched-rice flour\and some corncakes,\and put matchboxes in their knapsacks. A few days later we sent their school two cartloads of supplies, including new padded clothes\and quilts, shoes, notebooks\and pencils. We fought frequent battles,\and had kept some of the captured goods in reserve. Food\and clothes were scarce, but we sent a large share of the reserves to the Children’s Corps school.
 
“All the best things for the children!”–this has become an immutable principle of our life nowadays; even in those difficult days when we were fighting in a foreign land we would give the children everything we could, according to this principle. In\order to obtain food, clothes\and other things we needed for them, we would not hesitate to take the army into battle.
We promoted the slogan, “Let us always be ready for the independence of Korea\and the liberation of the world’s proletariat!” among the Children’s Corps\and educated them in the spirit of patriotism\and proletarian internationalism.
They performed truly great exploits, no less significant than those performed by the adults, enlightening the masses, giving artistic performances, standing guard duty, delivering messages, reconnoitring enemy movements, capturing weapons rom the enemy,\and defending the guerrilla zone. When we were rebuilding the log-cabins burned down during the enemy’s “punitive” atrocities we could always see them at work, these young eagles, running with rice balls along the trenches\where revolutionary soldiers were embattled, singing revolutionary songs amid the flames of the battle fought to defend the guerrilla base. In the farming season they weeded\and harvested in the fields. Sometimes they would pick wild fruits\and send them to the guerrilla barracks.

One day I saw the pupils of the Children’s Corps school standing sentry at the central sentry-post on Mt. Ppyojok. With a heavy grenade on each of their waists, they stood on guard, each holding a 1.5-metre pole tipped with an iron spearhead. They said they were relieved every hour. They changed the guards when half of a joss stick the length of two matchsticks was burned away. They told me the stick burned for two hours,\and I thought this method of measuring time quite ingenious.
These children once came to see me with a suit of clothes consisting of lined Korean jacket\and trousers, trouser-leg ties, grey silk waistcoat, riding breeches, leather shoes, boots\and black rubber shoes. It was a token of their thanks to me for sending trophies to their school on many occasions. In those days we sent the Children’s Corps members all the Korean apples we captured rom the Japanese convoys. Many of the children were born in this foreign country\and had never been to Korea\or seen a Korean apple. Kim Ok Sun, who witnessed the event, often recalls with warm affection the tears full of earnest gratitude, which the children shed when they received the crates of apples.
Pak Kil Song, the head of the children’s department, visited their school one day\and told them, “Boys\and girls, Commander Kim takes loving care of us just as a father cares for his own children. We are the beneficiaries of his love, unable to repay his kindness. We have to show our thanks to him. What do you think we should do?”

As soon as Pak finished speaking, Kum Sun stood up\and said, “Let us have some fine clothes made for him. They say he wears unlined clothes even in the winter cold.”
Pak Kil Song smiled at her words.
 
“Kum Sun has suggested making some fine clothes for him. What do you think of the idea?”
The children answered in chorus, “It’s a good idea.”

“Alright, then. I, too, had thought of making warm clothes for him as Kum Sun has suggested. Let us obtain some cloth\and have some good clothes tailored by the women’s association members\or by the sewing-unit members. But you must remember that cloth does not simply fall rom the sky.”
Kum Sun stood up again\and spoke freely:

“Let us pick mushrooms, dry them\and sell them. They say mushrooms are expensive. Once we have money, we can buy cloth.”
The other children echoed her words enthusiastically, “That’s it, that’s it. Let us pick mushrooms\and sell them to landlords.”
Starting the next day they went to the mountains with Pak Kil Song, carrying baskets. I saw them several times marching in line past the valley in Lishugou, singing as they carried the picked mushrooms, but I did not know the secret contained in those baskets. I only thought they were going to all this trouble to gather tasty food for the wounded in the hospital. Those mushrooms had now been transformed into money\and then into the clothes which appeared before me.

After making the Children’s Corps salute Kum Sun said, “We had a suit of clothes made for you, since you wear unlined clothes even in the winter cold. Please accept it.”
It was true that I used to wear unlined clothes in winter. Taking the clothes I felt like weeping, without knowing why. I said to them, “Though I wear unlined clothes, I am in the prime of my life. I will not forget your kindness all my life long. I am going to give these clothes to a grandfather who is the oldest person in Xiaowangqing; please don’t feel disappointed.”
They looked at me regretfully, tears on their unhappy faces. They were very sorry that I had not accepted the clothes for myself. I had to speak to them two\or three more times before they would smile.
After the mass meeting was over, Kum Sun came to me\and whispered, as she felt the sleeves of my uniform, “The cloth is so thin that the wind will blow right through it to the bone.”
Even now, when the winter cold arrives, those words spoken by Kum Sun in Xiaowangqing ring in my ears.
At first the Wangqing people used to call her “black eye.” They gave her that nickname because her eyes were black. Some time later she was given another nickname–“Macun hawfinch.” The women rom the Kilju\and Myongchon areas gave her this nickname because she was small\and yet lovable like a hawfinch. When people called her “Black eye!” she simply answered “Yes!”\and the same when they called her “Macun hawfinch!” She was not offended even if they used her nicknames dozens of times a day.

It was a red-letter day for the Wangqing people when Kum Sun gave a performance of tap-dancing. She always danced with Ok Sun\and this dance received the greatest applause of all the items in the performance programme of the art troupe of the Children’s Corps. When she repeated the turn in which she wove a kerchief between her legs while beating out a quick rhythm on the stage with her feet, the audience would cheer\and stamp.
During my days in Wangqing in the mornings I used to ride up\and down the valley of Macun on my white horse to learn about the situation in the guerrilla zone,\and think up new plans. The morning ride was an essential part of my daily routine. The bugler of the guerrilla army, Song Kap Ryong,\and my\orderly, Jo Wal Nam, accompanied me on these rides. I always came across a singing squad of Children’s Corps members on the road,\and their song delighted\and refreshed my mind.
How can I adequately describe the feeling of satisfaction I felt as I sat there on horseback\and looked at those healthy, vivacious faces with pink cheeks! I did not skip my ride even on snowy\or rainy days for I wanted to see them. I thought how they would miss me if they did not see me on the road, when they had come out in spite of the rain\and snow. Their feelings were the same as mine, they took their stroll in all weathers. Kum Sun always led the chorus. In that unharmonious ringing chorus made up of scores of voices we could easily single out Kum Sun’s peculiar chirping voice.\and when I heard that voice I felt a sense of security,\and a rather superstitious belief that everything would go smoothly in the guerrilla zone, although I could not say why.

But one day I did not hear her voice among the chorus of the pupils of the Children’s Corps school shaking the valley in Lishugou. Feeling that I was listening to a strange song sung by children rom some other region, I went out into the yard of the headquarters. The singing squad was just passing a small lane near the headquarters. Kum Sun was standing at the head of the squad as always. She was plodding along without singing, with her head lowered for some reason. Ri Min Hak, the head of the Children’s Corps, was leading the chorus that morning in her place. The singing squad without Kum Sun’s leadership was just like a chorus troupe deprived of its leading singer.
That day I could not settle down to work. I went to the school shortly before sunset to see her,\and there I heard the sad news that her family in Wangougou had all been killed by the enemy. I realized why she had marched with the singing squad with her mouth closed\and why Ri Min Hak had to lead the chorus in her place. That day she rested her head on my lap\and cried so bitterly that she nearly fainted. Trembling like a sparrow soaked in water, she said, “What can I do? What is the point of living when my father, mother\and younger brother have all been killed?”
It was difficult to console her. I stayed at the school until it became dark, trying to calm her down.

“Steady yourself, Kum Sun. If you waver,\and give in to grief, the enemy will try to kill you as well. The Japanese swine are trying to wipe out the Koreans in Jiandao. But we cannot let them take our lives so easily. In spite of everything, you must grow up to be a fine revolutionary\and take revenge on the enemy.”
Only then did she stop crying\and look up at me, wiping away the tears.

“I will have my revenge on the enemy, as you have said.”

After this she became a girl of few words,\and she did not laugh easily. Indeed, she seldom laughed aloud\or raised her voice to chatter as before. When leading the chorus she no longer chirped like a sparrow as she had done in earlier days. Her lovable nickname, “Macun hawfinch,” disappeared rom use in Xiaowangqing. The young girl’s thoughts of vengeance were expressed in her redoubled devotion to the life of the Children’s Corps\and the activities of the art troupe.
The art troupe of the Children’s Corps, with Kum Sun as its main pillar, conducted brisk activities in such enemy-controlled areas as Shixian\and Huimudong in Tumen. The fame of the Wangqing children’s art troupe extended as far as north Manchuria\and beyond the boundaries of east Manchuria.
In those days the communists in east\and north Manchuria maintained close contact with each other across the Laoyeling Mountains. The natural barriers of the mountain terrain could not prevent the communists in the two regions rom constantly visiting each other,\and assisting each other.

The guerrilla bases which had transformed Jiandao into a stronghold of the struggle against Japan had become a model of the ideal land for which all the people yearned,\and the new society\and\order established in these bases aroused the neighbouring people’s admiration\and envy, they dreamed of a similar life. In particular, the battle of the Dongning county town was a turning-point in raising the prestige of the communists among the people\and armed units in Manchuria. After this battle, the NSA soldiers began to call me “Commander Kim,”\and in general it was rom that time that people began to call me “General Kim”\and “Commander Kim.” All the policies\and democratic measures we put into practice in the guerrilla zones were addressed to the primary concerns of the times,\and enjoyed the blessings of all the people.
On several occasions the party\organizations\and military departments in north Manchuria sent visitors’ groups to the guerrilla zones in Wangqing\and its vicinity in\order to learn about the experience of the people in east Manchuria in building guerrilla zones.
The centre of Wangqing in those days was not Xiaowangqing; it was Yaoyinggou. Kum Sun\and the other members of the children’s art troupe left Macun when, after the enemy’s large-scale “punitive” invasion, all the structures of the guerrilla zone moved simultaneously to Yaoyinggou. I also moved there with some army units in the spring of 1934.
In the summer of the same year a visitors’ group rom Ningan County, consisting of underground\organization members\and guerrillas,\and led by Im Yong Ju, a woman secretary of the YCL, came to Duitoulazi rom Badaohezi via Shenxiandong. The local people\and guerrillas in Yaoyinggou gave the visitors a warm welcome. The Children’s Corps members shouted, “A warm welcome to the visitors’ group rom north Manchuria!”\and waved triangular red flags. In the evening a bonfire was lit in the yard of the guerrilla quarters\and a performance was staged for the group. The children’s art troupe staged a varied programme for the guests, for they had many Children’s Corps members with exceptional artistic skills. Ri Min Hak was good at dancing\and playing the harmonica. When he played a humourous part in a drama the audience split their sides laughing. Kim Jae Bom was also a talented dancer. He was especially skilled at imitating the gait of a duck\or a rabbit while he was dancing.
These children staged their performances\and disseminated songs, roving through every revolutionary\organizational district in Wangqing County.
We made dancing-dresses for the art troupe rom the best silk cloth among the trophies we had captured,\and also solved the problem of providing other stage costumes for them.
While staying in Yaoyinggou for some days, a small unit of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army, sent by Zhou Bao-zhong, learned of the experience gained by the Wangqing guerrilla unit. This was not a simple tourist trip, more like training which combined drill\and practice. Throughout the days of their stay they followed the daily schedule we had defined,\and engaged in military drill, political study\and cultural activities, just as the Wangqing unit did.

We gave the YCL\and Children’s Corps\organizations assignments to pay visits to their quarters regularly. When, after much practice, the children’s art troupe managed to teach the soldiers revolutionary songs in Chinese, the soldiers in turn taught the children some interesting Chinese songs. On some days the children would visit them, having prepared a drama in the Chinese language.
The guests rom north Manchuria were impressed by the activities of the children’s art troupe,\and would invite the children to their quarters whenever they cooked delicious food.
On returning to north Manchuria, they publicized the children’s art troupe very widely.
In the summer of 1934, Zhou Bao-zhong invited the children’s art troupe of Wangqing to north Manchuria. We readily complied with his request. I told Pak Kil Song that he should make good preparations for the tour in\order to delight the soldiers\and people of north Manchuria. Then I framed a detailed itinerary for the art troupe’s activities in north Manchuria.
We sent the art troupe to north Manchuria in\order to bring the Chinese people some happiness\and further consolidate our solidarity with them.
Zhou Bao-zhong’s invitation to the children’s art troupe was aimed at educating the men\and officers of the Chinese nationalist army units which were then under the influence of the communists. Zhou Bao-zhong, who was working as the chief administrative officer of the Suining Anti-Japanese Allied Army, which was\organized in the area around Ningan, was making tireless efforts to rally the anti-Japanese forces that had\dropped out of Wang De-lin’s national salvation army.

After sending the art troupe to north Manchuria I felt ill at ease for some days. My mind was never free of the worry that the young ones might not reach their destination in safety, though they were well used to battles, hunger\and all sorts of hardships. It would be difficult for all of the children, but how could the young ones like Kum Sun negotiate the steep Laoyeling Mountains? However, I need not have worried. All the members of the art troupe were young eagles trained in the maelstrom, indomitable fighters who had many times braved the threat of death.

They easily crossed the mountains which I had considered an impassable barrier,\and passed safely through the area infested by bandits. When it was raining, they marched on, wearing pine twigs\or the birch-bark on their heads instead of umbrellas. At night they would cook rice for themselves in canteens, took a light meal\and then slept in the open air by the campfire, with guards posted. Some children suffered serious stomach troubles deep in the mountains. Worse still, their route of march was not the highroad between Wangqing\and Laoyeling, along which ox-carts\and sleighs had passed, but a steep short cut used only by the guerrilla army messengers.\and yet not a single straggler appeared among them on the hundred-mile-long journey. I was told that even Kum Sun, the youngest in the troupe, climbed over the mountains by herself, singing as she went\and rejecting the other children’s offer to take her knapsack.

In later years Kim Ok Sun, who went to north Manchuria with her, used to amuse me with tales about their activities among the NSA units, whenever she had an opportunity.

The curtain rose on the children’s art troupe’s premiere at Chai Shi-rong’s unit, stationed in Machang. Chai was the man most under the influence of the communists among the leaders of the Chinese national salvation army units. If we educated him in a somewhat more efficient way, we could easily make an ally of him,\and there was even a chance of making him into a communist.
The premiere in Machang began with a speech by Kum Sun. As many as 150 officers\and men enjoyed the performance together with Chai Shi-rong\and they were most impressed. As Kum Sun finished her speech, they could not conceal their excitement,\and said, “How well that little girl speaks! We must fight against Japan all the more bravely for the sake of that girl.”
Commander Chai was so moved that he took her to his room, set her on his lap\and put earrings\and bracelets on her ears\and wrists. He even provided two coaches for the art troupe so that they could travel to their performances.
The tour of performances, which had been scheduled to last for one week, was prolonged several times at the request of the Chinese nationalist soldiers. The art troupe also staged a performance at Zhou Bao-zhong’s unit.

Chai Shi-rong presented them with two cartloads of gifts, including padded coats, dabushanzi, scarves, pork, chicken, dried starch noodles\and wheat flour. He also gave each of the children a satchel\and presented them with some rifles.
 
When the art troupe returned to Yaoyinggou rom the tour, I was in another region with my unit. As soon as I returned to the guerrilla zone, the children came\and stood around me in a circle\and boasted of the gifts they had received in north Manchuria.
“These were all given to us by a man called Commander Chai. He had a beard like Lenin,\and he was very kind-hearted. I went to his room\and had some trotters. Mr. Zhou Bao-zhong also gave us many gifts.”
This was how Kum Sun praised Commander Chai\and Zhou Bao-zhong; she set a 7-shooter at my side, saying, “You should keep this revolver, General. We’ve decided.”
She emphasized the word “decided,” but as soon as she had finished she laughed at herself for some reason I did not understand. I carried the revolver for a few days in case the children should feel disappointed; then I quietly gave it to the leader of the young volunteers’ corps. I also ensured that all the other arms were handed over to the young volunteers’ corps,\and the other gifts dealt with as the children’s art troupe wished.
That autumn a miraculous rumour that Kum Sun’s mother was still alive spread throughout the Yaoyinggou guerrilla zone. When she heard the rumour Kum Sun romped about the valley in Yaoyinggou with scores of daisies in her hair; the people in the guerrilla base who knew her family’s story were delighted to see this.

The Children’s Corps\organization decided to help her to realize her wish to see her mother. At first Kum Sun who knew only too well what her duty was\and had a high sense of collective responsibility, was not willing to accept the assistance of the\organization, saying that she alone could not enjoy such special favour, when many other children also wanted to see their parents.
I saw her for the last time in the autumn of 1934 when our unit was making preparations for the north Manchuria expedition in Zhuanjiaolou. The children’s art troupe came to that region\and staged an art performance. I think it was a special performance bidding farewell to the expeditionary force. After the performance we caught a roe deer\and made dumplings to treat the art troupe members.
As I was going outside after looking around the house in which they were taking their meal, Kum Sun pushed aside the dishes she had been eating, hurried over to me\and whispered in my ear as if telling me a great secret, “I have heard that my mother is alive, General.”
“It’s true. All the guerrillas are delighted at the news. I am very happy, too.”
“I was so happy that I sang a solo three times today.\and I wanted to sing still more.”

“Then sing as much as you can.”

I picked a fine-toothed bamboo comb\and a coarse comb rom among the trophies I had brought with me to give the children in Zhuanjiaolou\and put them in her hand.
“Thank you, General.”

She clung to my sleeve as if she were my little child. It was heartening to observe jubilation in the behaviour\and speech of this lovable young girl who had never played on other people’s affection in spite of her young age.
“Well, you must go to see your mother soon. I am afraid I cannot see you off, for I have to go to north Manchuria.”
That was the last conversation I had with Kum Sun.

When she returned to her school after the art performance in Zhuanjiaolou, the revolutionary\organization in Yaoyinggou was looking for a suitable person to transmit a classified document to an enemy-held area. The\organization was discussing seriously on the problem of who would be safest\and most appropriate as a messenger. Eventually, Kum Sun was\selected.
When the\organization entrusted her,\and nobody else, with this important task, the young girl readily accepted it as an expression of the greatest trust.
On the day she was to leave on the mission, Han Song Hui took the girl to the waterside\and washed her face, combed her hair, fastened her shoes,\and smoothed down her skirt as she would have done for a bride. She pierced three acorns with a pin\and set them in her hair instead of a ribbon. That day the Children’s Corps members accompanied her to the edge of the village to see her off.

Where are you going to?

I am going to Yanji.

Which hill are you crossing?

I am crossing Jiqing Pass.
 
Why are you going there?

I am going on a mission.

Whom are you going with?

I am going alone.


She walked with short steps through the forest, humming a song. She made up the words as she walked along. The others laughed, clapping their hands, to hear the song,\and echoed her words in a chorus which reverberated across the valley of Yaoyinggou.
After delivering the message she was arrested, together with several adults, by Japanese gendarmes while on her way to see her mother. They were surely delighted to learn that she was rom the guerrilla zone,\and thought that the “kid communist” would let out important information. Apparently they discovered that she had come rom Yaoyinggou,\and thought they might be able to drag confidential information out of her, since the leadership structures of east Manchuria were situated in Yaoyinggou.
It was in fact true that she knew secrets about many aspects of the guerrilla zone. She knew a great deal about the movements of the revolutionary army, the activities of the leadership, the secret routes connecting the guerrilla zone to the semi-guerrilla zones, the living conditions\and attitudes of the people in the base,\and so forth. Since, as a member of the art troupe, she had performed on many occasions in enemy-held areas, they might be able to squeeze information out of her about the underground organizations if they could break her. Aware of their opportunity, they did their best to extract valuable information rom her. At first they treated her to delicious foods\and cajoled her with sweet words. Then they intimidated her\and tortured her.
I once read a foreign story about a boy living in a village on an island who was executed by his father because he was tempted by a silver watch\and revealed the\whereabouts of a man who had been hiding in a haystack. As the story suggests, it is easy to persuade a child. Children can be tempted by things\or give in to threats\or torture.
But children who have been trained politically through the\organizational life do not disgrace their honour. Not a single member of the Children’s Corps ever abandoned his\or her political creed for a penny. So Kang Ryom, Ri Hon Su\and Rim Hyong Sam, who grew up under the care of our Party after liberation, were all young boys of 13-15 years, but they did not reveal the secrets of their\organizations even when threatened by the enemy’s bayonets during the Fatherland Liberation War.
Kum Sun was an indomitable young fighter tempered like steel in the flames of the anti-Japanese revolution. This young daughter of Korea refused to speak even under cruel torture. She only opened her mouth to condemn\and curse the hangmen.

The provost officer who was interrogating her said, “We will kill you if you don’t say anything.”
“How nasty you are! I will not speak with bandits,” Kum Sun answered.
 
The merciless hangmen decided to kill young Kum Sun for the sole reason that she would not confess the secrets of the revolutionary army. All the people, who saw the young girl rom the guerrilla zone, covered in blood\and gore, dragged to the place of execution, gritted their teeth in indignation. That field in Baicaogou became a sea of tears. But Kum Sun shouted to these mothers, fathers, brothers\and sisters who felt such sympathy\and pity for her, “Why are you crying, dear fathers\and mothers? Don’t cry. The revolutionary army soldiers will surely wipe out the enemy. You must fight staunchly until the day when the motherland is liberated!”
Her fiery speech summed up the nine years of her life. The execution site rang to her sharp cry, “Down with the Japanese imperialists! Long live the Korean revolution!”
After hearing that she had been killed, I did not visit the Children’s Corps school for some time. I somehow felt afraid of going to the school. It was too sad\and depressing to think of the Children’s Corps school\and children’s art troupe without Kum Sun. The enemy had deprived me of the butterfly spirit of the art troupe\and the skylark voice of the guerrilla zone, who had been loved so well by the Wangqing people.

Who would now sing as sweetly as Kum Sun\and who would dance as briskly, lightly\and gracefully as she for the people in the guerrilla zone as they fought bloody battles\and combatted grave difficulties? Who would enchant the officers\and men of the Chinese national salvation army with fluent Chinese songs, as Kum Sun had done,\and who would cast me such a lively, bright\and lovable smile as she did when I went for my morning ride?
The sad news of the death of Kum Sun perturbed the revolutionary masses in the Wangqing area. A solemn ceremony in her memory was held in Yaoyinggou. Enraged young men\and women rom all the counties of east Manchuria joined the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army in swearing to take revenge upon the enemy.
A magazine connected with the Communist International\and Chinese\and Japanese publications vied in reporting the achievements of this young heroine unprecedented in the history of the liberation struggle of the oppressed nations in the world. Her heroic life was retold under the title of Short Biography of a Young Girl Martyr. The skylark of the guerrilla zone, Kum Sun, who had tirelessly crossed many torrents\and mountains on her tiny feet, thus shook the world at the age of nine.
In the modern history of our country there is a famous patriotic girl martyr, called Ryu Kwan Sun. The mention of her name recalls the March First Movement of the year 1919. The girl was a scholar at the Rihwa School in Seoul, but she went back to her native district in Chonan, South Chungchong Province, when the school was forced to close in the wake of the March First Movement; there she\organized a demonstration for independence\and led it rom the front before being arrested by the Japanese gendarmes.

The  court  sentenced  her  to  a  heavy  penalty  of  7  years’ imprisonment. In view of the fact that the terms of servitude given to 33 people who had initiated the movement were 3 years at the maximum\and 1 year at the minimum,\and the fact that some of them had been found not guilty, we can see how seriously the Japanese judiciary regarded the 16-year-old girl’s case of felony. Even the peasants in remote areas were aghast, saying that seven years was the longest term of penal servitude in the history of the March First Movement. When she had died in the Sodaemun prison, our nation dubbed her the “Joan of Arc of Korea”\and she is still remembered with warm affection.
No such a title has yet been conferred on Kum Sun. For there are no girl heroines of her age\and no other girls who have performed exploits comparable to hers. That our nation has a girl heroine such as Kum Sun in addition to Ryu Kwan Sun, the heroine of the March First Movement, is our nation’s distinctive source of pride\and glory. A novel\and film depicting Kum Sun have been produced recently, but this is not enough to preserve all her exploits for posterity. It would not be too much to erect a gold\or bronze monument to young heroes\or heroines such as Kum Sun.

Kum Sun died at the age of nine, but she is immortal. Though her life was short as a flash of lightning, she had reached the acme of mental development\and set a perfect example of an honourable life. While there are many people in the world who have lived for a hundred years\and left nothing worth mentioning to their nations, at the age of nine she performed an undying exploit that will be enshrined in the hearts of coming generations.

It can be regarded as a meritorious deed of the Korean communists to have raised this young heroine of world renown. In the flames of the anti-Japanese revolution we communists trained many children into young heroes\and heroines, including Kim Kum Sun, Jon Ki Ok, Mok Un Sik, Kang Ryong Nam, Pak Myong Suk, Pak Ho Chol, Ho Jong Suk, Ri Kwang Chun, Kim Tuk Bong\and others. They were all young martyrs thrown up during the tempest of the anti-Japanese revolution.
“Don’t kill me by shooting, but with bayonets,\and send the bullets to the guerrilla army.”
This was what Jon Ki Ok, a member of the Children’s Corps in Hunchun, who was arrested by the enemy while transmitting a message, said to the puppet Manchukuo policemen in the last moment of his life at the execution site. Even the firing squad was moved by his noble revolutionary spirit in placing the guerrilla army\and victory in the anti-Japanese war above his own life\and health even amid the dreadful tension\and fear of death just prior to execution.
This brilliant feat by the mere boy, Mok Un Sik, is worth broadcasting to the whole world. On his way rom Yongchangdong to Pinggang, carrying a secret message in his straw sandal, he was interrogated by the enemy at a guard post on the Jiqing Pass. The guards who were desperately searching his body for secrets suddenly tried to pull the straw sandal off his left foot. At this he pushed aside the self-defence corps man who was interrogating him\and rushed straight into the post,\where he thrust his right leg into the oven–the message was in the straw sandal on his right foot. The enemy, realizing the reason for his action, beat him to a pulp in the attempt to draw him away rom the oven. But despite the enemy’s kicks\and blows, he kept a firm grasp of the oven\and did not take his foot out of fire. His straw sandal, his foot\and his trouser leg were all burned. The enemy took him to a hospital\and gave him an injection to bring him round, for he had lost consciousness. Their attempts to extract secrets rom him were truly unrelenting. But Mok Un Sik breathed his last without revealing the secret he kept in his mind.
All the members of the Children’s Corps\and the Children’s Vanguard who assisted in the anti-Japanese armed struggle were heroes\and heroines, representing the youngest element of the first generation of our revolution.
Our revolution still regards the Children’s\union, along with the League of Socialist Working Youth, as a dependable reserve for the Workers’ Party. This is why we build our palaces for children with all the precious things in the country\and spare nothing for the education of the younger generation. I still tell the officials today to take loving care of the younger generation,\and emphasize time\and again that the children are the kings of our country. A revolution which does not love\and care for the children has no future. It is foolish to expect that such a revolution will attain its glorious ideal.

Today an epidemic of hedonism is cutting a wide swath across the rest of the globe. The extreme egoism of caring only for oneself\and not thinking about the younger generation has encroached very far upon the minds of many people. Some of them do not have children, alleging that they are a nuisance,\and others give up the thought of marrying. Needless to say, it is a matter of personal choice whether one gets married\or has children. But what pleasure is there in living without the younger generation?.
The revisionists, who are addicted to extreme egoism\and hedonism, are not taking care of the younger generation; they are disarming them spiritually\and exposing them to all sorts of social evils. If the teenagers wail\and lament at the chaos of reality,\and bear a grudge against their parents, people in power\and the world in general, then the revolution of that country has no future\or its prospects are at best gloomy.
But when the officials spare no time, money, passion\or effort for the sake of the future generation, our revolution will produce more children like Kim Kum Sun, Jon Ki Ok\and Mok Un Sik.
As the family of a famous revolutionary, Kum Sun’s family suffered terrible\ordeals in the maelstrom of the anti-Japanese war. Her father, who was the head of the underground revolutionary\organization in Wangougou, was falsely accused of being a member of the “Minsaengdan”\and was killed. Her mother died a heroic death in the battlefield, fighting with a rifle in her hands to defend the guerrilla base. When her father was alive I gave him many difficult secret assignments. He was a man of strong will who carried through the tasks he had been entrusted with to the end. Five members of her family, including herself, were killed. How very similar their fate is to that of Ryu Kwan Sun’s family!
This cruel\and merciless destiny, however, did leave an heir to the lifeblood of this laudable family. The girl’s two-year-old younger brother, whom her mother had left in the care of villagers before she went to her death in the battlefield, miraculously survived.
It was Kim Jong Il, Secretary for\organizational Affairs, who identified Kim Kum Sun’s younger brother\and reported it to me. At that time her brother, Kim Ryang Nam, was working as a music compiler at the documentary film studio after graduating rom the university of music\and dance. He had read in some publication that his father was executed on a charge of involvement in the “Minsaengdan,”\and this knowledge had distressed him. He had been afraid that his father’s dishonourable death might cause a public scandal.
I assured him that his father had been a faithful revolutionary, not a member of the “Minsaengdan.”
From then, he worked as an official of the Party Central Committee, giving guidance in the field of art\and literature\and energetically assisting Secretary Kim Jong Il in his work. Like his sister, he was endowed with musical talent\and intense ardour. The cowboy of yesterday, who plaintively lamented the surging sorrow of a ruined people on a grass harp, devoted his heart\and soul to creating operas rom the\original revolutionary musical art.
 
Kim Ryang Nam was one of the people who rendered distinguished service in the creation of the Mansudae Art Troupe\and its development into one of the world’s first troupes under the
personal guidance of Secretary Kim Jong Il. In February 1971, the Mansudae Art Troupe gave a historic first performance in the Western Hemisphere, in Cuba, thousands of miles away rom our motherland. At that time, Kim Ryang Nam was guiding the troupe as deputy head for political affairs.

Secretary Kim Jong Il always felt pity for Kim Ryang Nam’s sad past: as the only heir to Kim Kum Sun’s family, who had been nourished on other women’s milk\and spent his childhood\and boyhood as other’s servant. Kim Jong Il took particularly loving care of him, as though he were his own flesh\and blood. When he contracted a fatal disease, Kim Jong Il\organized an efficient medical team to provide him with intensive medical treatment round the clock; he also transmitted his diagnosis to our embassies in foreign countries in\order to obtain adequate supplies of expensive medicines,\and sent special airplanes to countries which were said to have a developed pharmaceutical industry.

Kim Ryang Nam underwent operations 10 times\and this intensive care lengthened the span of his lifetime by almost two years.
Kim Ryang Nam died at the age of 40, which means he lived more than four times as long as his sister. But measured with the standard of our times, when there are so many people who live to a great age, his lifetime was short\and he died too early. The ancient philosophy which says that “The good die young” must be regarded as out of keeping with the principles of life for the sake of many Kim Kum Suns\and Kim Ryang Nams who are still living in this world. Kim Ryang Nam’s second son recently graduated rom the faculty of composition of the Pyongyang University of Music\and Dance, which his father attended,\and began creating musical pieces for the Mansudae Art Troupe. He is now singing the same revolutionary songs his grandfather, grandmother, aunt\and father used to sing.
In this way our revolution, pioneered in blood by the forerunners, is inherited\and wonderfully improved through the generations. Though Kum Sun is dead, her mettle\and soul are still alive pulsating in the minds of the younger generation powerfully as they did in the days of her innocent childhood when she was romping about the valleys in Macun\and Yaoyinggou.



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[Reminiscences]Chapter 6. The year of trials 8. On the Heights of Luozigou 

[Reminiscences]Chapter 7. The People`s World 1. The Home Base

[Reminiscences]Chapter 7. The People`s World 2. The Enemy’s Ground by Day; Our Ground by Night 

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

[Reminiscences]Chapter 7. The People`s World 4. The Man F rom the Comintern

[Reminiscences]Chapter 7. The People`s World 5. The Memory of a White Horse

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 1. Ri Kwang

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 2. Negotiations with Wu Yi-cheng

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 3. The Battle of the Dongning County Town

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 4. A Comment on Ultra-Democracy in the Army

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 5. Operation Macun

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 6. Arsenals in the Thick Forests 



       

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