It is elementary political knowledge that\where there are people, there is a state\and\where there is a state, there is an armed force. Except for a few such special countries as Monaco, nearly all countries, large\and small, have their own national armed forces for self-defence. The reason why many small\and weak nations surrendered their sovereignty under the threat of a few volleys of gunfirerom the colonialists\and were obliged to become their slaves for hundreds of years was that they had had no armed forces\or very weak ones.
The armed force of Ri dynasty, too, was annihilated, it was incapable of defending the country. This armed force, which had been so heinous in the suppression of rebels, reviled the foreign aggressors for some time, but did not fire a single gun before yielding. The ruin of our country can be ascribed to this inefficient armed force as well as to the corrupt government.
In\order to win back the sovereignty of the country, the patriots of Korea\organized the Independence Army. It is inevitable that the nation which has been deprived of its sovereignty will\organize its armed force for its restoration. The nationalists\organized the Independence Army\and conducted armed resistance for many years,\and the Korean communists\organized the guerrilla army\and dealt a heavy blow at the Japanese imperialist aggressors. Our small secret armed force, which started the long march of the anti-Japanese struggle, had now developed into an army with a regimental force in each county in Jiandao.
After repulsing the enemy’s winter “punitive” operations, we realized very keenly the need to reorganize the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army into a people’s revolutionary army\and we discussed this matter seriously with the commanding officers of the guerrilla units in other regions. In the light of the prevailing situation merging the guerrilla regiments in the different counties into a single command was a pressing need,\and the natural course of development of the AJPGA itself. Reorganizing the AJPGA into the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army was a revolutionary measure which would improve its combat efficiency\and counter the large-scale offensive of the Japanese imperialists more effectively by providing a unified command for the enlarged guerrilla forces. At the meeting at Mingyuegou the need for a large revolutionary force became the subject of our discussion. When discussing the future of the AJPGA there, we agreed that at the initial stage we should\organize guerrilla battalions, develop their quantity\and quality for some time,\and then in due course reorganize them into a larger revolutionary force. Of course this matter was not a major item on the agenda at that meeting. However, the delegates had heated discussions about the future of the revolutionary armed force both within\and outside the meeting. The most ardent proponents of the idea of large revolutionary forces were O Pin\and Pak Hun.
It is a common practice in colonies\or semi-colonial countries for the armed forces of resistance to be\organized on a small scale initially, expanded with gradual stealth\and, when conditions are ripe, unified into a command. At the initial stage, when it returnedrom exile in Mexico, Fidel Castro’s unit had 82 soldiers, of whom only 12 men survived. These people, equipped with seven rifles, went into the Sierra Maestra Mountains, developed their strength by expanding their ranks,\and then attacked Havana, toppling the pro-US dictatorial regime of Batista as swiftly as lightning.
In the latter half of 1933, the merger of the guerrilla forces in Jiandao into a unified command became a major topic of discussion as a result of the lessons of Operation Macun for repulsing the enemy’s winter “punitive” operations\and the heroic battle fought in defence of tens of thousands of square miles of territory.
At the meeting to review operations, it was not the commanders of the 2nd company\and 3rd company, who had fought with us throughout the 90-day defence of Xiaowangqing, but company commander Han Hung Gwon, who had been far awayrom the zone of operations, who spoke fervently about the need for cooperation between various companies\and the merger of units.
Han Hung Gwon said that the mission of his company in Operation Macun had been to contain a possible enemy advance to east Manchuria across the Laoyeling, but his company had not fought a single battle with the enemy, rendering no assistance to the main force in fighting. In other words, he implied that his company had not been able to attack the enemyrom behind as it should during the enemy’s “punitive” attack on the guerrilla zones.
I thought a lot as I listened to his speech. His speech was self-critical, but he was not to blame in any way. He was an efficient commander who had carried out his mission in a responsible way.
Why did he criticize himself as being a commander lacking in dedication, revolutionary principle\and insight? In short, what was he attempting to emphasize during the review? While he accused himself of shortsightedness, I, as his superior, drew a serious lessonrom Operation Macun. The lesson was that, in\order to\organize harmonious cooperation between companies in accordance with the ever-changing combat situation, we needed an adequate command\and staff structure\and this required a unified system of command. His opinion was, after all, that the people’s guerrilla forces against the Japanese should be merged into one well-regulated command system.
Throughout the fight to frustrate the enemy’s attack the guerrilla forces, operating separately in many places, fought separately, without any cooperation with their neighbours\or any assistancerom them.
In Helong County, for instance, the enemy was said to have launched his “clean-up” of the guerrilla base in Yulangcun in early November 1933. His first attempt had been checked for some time by a fierce counterattack\and his second “punitive” operation had lasted only for three days,rom the end of November. That was all the fighting they had there. As the time of action shows, the enemy’s “punitive” operations in Yulangcun had started about 15 days earlier than his attack on Xiaowangqing. If at this time the guerrillas in other counties, who had not been engaged, had attacked the enemy’s rear on the principle of mutual assistance, it would have been much easier for the guerrillas in Yulangcun to repel the enemy.
The circumstances in Yanji\and Hunchun Counties were much the same.
What did this mean? It showed, though belatedly, that since the guerrilla zones were subject to enemy attack at different periods, all the guerrilla forces could have made their struggle easier by coordinating their actions through efficient cooperation, if only they had had a unified command\and staff system for the guerrilla units in all guerrilla zones\and counties.
However, in the circumstances of that time, when the guerrilla units were directed within the framework of each county\and each district, such voluntary, active cooperation was impossible. The command system of the guerrilla army at the time of the enemy’s winter “punitive” operations was therefore\limited in its response to the demands of the situation. Until that time the guerrilla units were under the command of the military departments of the party committees at various levels. Since the battles in the early days of the guerrilla movement, when only one\or two companies existed in each county, were fought on a small scale, this system of commanding the army on a district\and county basis was not so bad.
However, as the ranks of the guerrilla army expanded\and the enemy’s “punitive” forces multipliedrom hundreds to tens of thousands, it became impossible to choose to fight only small-scale battles. A battle is not always fought by the choice of one of the belligerent forces. When the enemy provoked us to battle by continuously reinforcing his forces, we could not but fight against him.
While the enemy was attacking us in large numbers by mobilizing this\or that division, this\or that brigade\and this\or that regimentrom several directions, we were scattered in this valley\or that one\and we fought, without either combining our forces\or helping our neighbours; should we be obliged to continue to fight in this way in the future, too? When attacking a large city\or a town, we concentrated our forces by\selecting menrom each county; why should we fight defensive battles with a county\or guerrilla zone as our unit of force? This was the idea that obsessed me before\and after Operation Macun.
In a nutshell, the guerrilla movement required a new form of armed force corresponding to the content\and scope of the movement. It was necessary for us to take radical measures to bring the armed units dispersed in the counties\and districts under a single system. The quickest way of meeting this requirement was to merge the anti-Japanese people’s guerrilla forces into a large revolutionary army.
A letterrom the commander of the 4th company in Yaoyinggou also seemed to suggest this. Circumstances prevented the commanderrom attending the summing-up meeting of Operation Macun, so he reviewed the work of his company in a letter\and sent it to Macun. O Jin U, the company commander’s\orderly, brought that letter to us. During the review of Operation Macun I gave deep thought to the matter of merging the anti-Japanese people’s guerrilla forces.
I discussed it with Ju Jin, Ryang Song Ryong\and others on several occasions.
Once I went to Ryang Song Ryong’s house\and played the guitar there. I did not do it because I was merry\or freerom anxiety. Frankly speaking, I felt gloomy at that time. Though Operation Macun had ended in victory for us, the guerrilla zone was suffering heartbreaking anguish. Many people who had shared their life\and fate with us had been killed. It was not easy to rebuild houses on the ruins\and make a new life.
When I visited Ryang Song Ryong to discuss military matters, he greeted me with a gloomy face. The battalion commander of yesterday was still furious with anger for he had been detained on a false charge of being a member of the “Minsaengdan.” Thanks to our guarantee, he had not been given a prison term, but he had also not been reinstated in his former position. He was operating between Xiaowangqing\and Luozigou to obtain food grain; after being bereaved of his wife\and mother by the enemy’s “mopping-up” operation, he had become a man of few words.
When I brought up the matter of\organizing a large-scale revolutionary army, he immediately lit up\and expressed exceptional enthusiasm. He said, “I think the point in question is just how to merge the units.”
He said nothing about whether he agreed\or disagreed with me, but he expressed his approval by bringing up the possible means\and forms of merger for discussion. What worried him most was whether some people of a chauvinistic mentality, who were crazy about the anti-“Minsaengdan” struggle, would accept the idea.
It was no wonder that he should feel uneasy about it. This was the painful position the Korean communists found themselves in,\and the special circumstances required that the difficulties be smoothed over prudently.
In those days “international lines,” formulated on the basis of their own principles\and according to their own yardsticks for assessing all the problems of the communist movement\and the national liberation struggle, were imposed upon us as authoritative, while national traditions\and aspirations were sharply attacked as a nationalist tendency, in the name of so-called class interest\and international solidarity. In this situation, it was not easy for the Korean communists who were building up their revolution in a foreign country to put into practice a plan for establishing their own independent armed force.
Ju Jin also approved of the idea of merging\and reorganizing the anti-Japanese people’s guerrilla forces into a large revolutionary army. As soon as I broached this matter, Ju Jin, who was open-hearted\and generous, gesticulated forcefully\and said that we should merge our units\and fight big battles. I was very much pleased by his words about “big battles.” It was very pleasant to hear such wordsrom Ju Jin, a gallant man whom the Korean people in Jiandao loved\and valued as one of their own. He went on to say that when the Koreans\organized an independent revolutionary army by merging their armed units, they would be accused of “extending the revolution to Korea,” but they should push ahead with this work as quickly as possible without paying any heed to such accusations.
Tong Chang-rong also supported our plan. He said: The AJPGA\organized in east Manchuria is an armed force formed on the initiative of the Korean communists\and Koreans form the overwhelming majority of its ranks; though it was\organized on the territory of China, it should ultimately develop into a Korean revolutionary armed force for carrying out the Korean revolution.
Tong Chang-rong’s evaluation was very fair\and progressive at a time when the very mention of the Korean revolution was stigmatized as nationalism.
As he rightly pointed out, the Korean communists, such as Ri Hong Gwang\and Ri Tong Gwang in south Manchuria\and Ho Hyong Sik, Kim Chaek, Ri Hak Man\and Choi Yong Kun in north Manchuria, to say nothing of those in east Manchuria, had played the roles of pioneers, advocates\and leaders in the building up of armed force in the region of Manchuria, just as they had taken the lead in building up the party\organizations there.\and the overwhelming majority of the commanding officers\and men of the armed force were Korean communists.
Tong Chang-rong advised me that, when forming an army, we should employ appropriate forms\and means so as to support\and supplement each other\and consolidate our cooperation with the Chinese communists\and that, by doing this, we would bring benefits both to Korea\and China.
Pan, the inspectorrom the Comintern, gave full support to our idea, saying that it was a correct policy in keeping with the line of the Comintern.
Everyone capable of logical reasoning,rom Ryang Song Ryong, who led the Wangqing battalion with me, to Ju Jin, who later became the commander of the 1st Independent Division of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, Tong Chang-rong,rom the east Manchuria ad hoc committee,\and Pan, inspector of the Comintern, reached a full consensus on the policy of merging\and reorganizing the anti-Japanese people’s guerrilla forces into a large revolutionary army.\and we were in general of the same opinion concerning the name\and nature of the armed force which would be reorganized.
In March 1934, we formally proposed the policy of reorganizing the AJPGA into the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, in full accord with our objectives\and the character of the political force which would struggle for them.
The names used by the AJPGA in some areas of east Manchuria in its early days—the Worker-Peasant Guerrilla Army—had placed extreme emphasis of its class character,\and it did not conform with the character of our revolution, the primary task of which we had defined as national liberation\and independence before social emancipation, nor did it conform with the character of the revolution in northeastern China directed by the Chinese communists.
As a preparation for reorganizing the anti-Japanese guerrilla forces into the people’s revolutionary army, the Korean communists in east Manchuria, shoulder to shoulder with the Chinese communists, developed the guerrilla battalions in each county into regiments. In this way, all the guerrilla forces in Jiandao were regrouped into five regiments. In every regiment we set up a political department, whose mission it was to give party guidance to the army, a staff in charge of operations, reconnaissance\and communications,\and a supply department dealing with clothing, food\and medicines.
The Wangqing regiment was the first to be reorganized\and this was followed by others in east Manchuria. That was the first stage of reorganization.
The objective we set at the second stage was to form divisions. During the days of Operation Macun we had felt very keenly
the need to form divisions. Offering resistance to a large armed force of 5,000 men with only two companies was a feat unprecedented in the history of war. As we broke through the difficulties created in the guerrilla zone by harassing the enemy with a small unit behind his lines, I used to think how happy we would be if we had forces on the divisional level, if not on the corps level,\and how high our spirits would be if we conducted activities with large units\and fired thousands of guns as one force!
Since regiments had already been\organized in each county\and their ranks were expanding quickly, the next thing to do was to form divisions without delay. That was the most important task of the moment.
Our objective was to\organize first two divisions\and one independent regiment under the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army\and then build on this success more divisions in the future. With this objective in mind, we\organized a division out of the regiments in Yanji\and Helong,\and another division made up mainly of regiments in Hunchun\and Wangqing.
In the course of this reorganization, the party committee of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army was established as a new party guidance body. The party committee was entrusted with the onerous task of giving guidance to local party\organizations as well as those in the army, because the local party\organizations could not protect\or maintain themselves if they were not supported by force of arms. In earlier times local party\organizations had guided the party\organizations in the army.
The work of reorganizing the AJPGA into the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army was carried out in a very short space of time—from March to May 1934.
When they heard about this, the people in the guerrilla zones vied with each other in helping the army\and prepared grand celebrations in every zone. The women in Wangqing made congratulatory banners\and sent them to us; the YCL\organization there staged a congratulatory performance by the children’s art troupe\and\organized an athletic meet. In Sandaowan guerrilla zone in Yanji, a mass meeting\and a demonstration attended by more than 1,000 people were held\and delegatesrom the enemy-controlled areas participated in those events. The people were even further convinced of the bright future of national liberation by the formation of the KPRA,\and they firmly resolved to rise up as one body with the army in the anti-Japanese revolutionary war.
The reorganization of the AJPGA into the KPRA opened up a broad highway towards the development of large-force operations in a wider area. Had we not reorganized the AJPGA into the KPRA,\or had we not created in good time the large units of regiments\and divisions, we could not have lit the torch in Pochonbo, which illuminated the darkness of the motherland, nor won victory after victory in the battles fought in Fusong, Jiansanfeng, Hongtoushan, Limingshui, Taehongdan, Hongqihe\and in other places in the homeland\and in Manchuria, when we annihilated the enemy’s crack troops. Nor could we have smashed the notorious siege imposed by the enemy upon the guerrilla zones after his “punitive” operations.
Through this reorganization we clearly demonstrated at home and abroad the will of the Korean nation to liberate their motherland by an armed resistance, no matter what the cost.
If circumstances required, the KPRA operated in the name of the Northeast People’s Revolutionary Army. We were of the opinion that the word “northeast” did not suggest the name of a country, but, to all intents\and purposes, was suggestive of a region. That the KPRA operated in the name of the Northeast People’s Revolutionary Army, not in the name of the Manchurian People’s Revolutionary Army\or the Chinese People’s Revolutionary Army, was also compatible with the objectives of the Chinese comrades who were struggling against both Manchukuo\and Japan. After all, the Northeast People’s Revolutionary Army performed its mission as the KPRA\and, at the same time, as a revolutionary armed force rendering support to the anti-Manchukuo, anti-Japanese cause of the Chinese communists.
The KPRA developed into the most powerful armed force in Jiandao, the eastern frontier region of Manchuria,\and the region of the Korean peninsula centring on Mt. Paektu.
The principled stand\and prudent political magnanimity the Korean communists had shown in the course of reorganizing the AJPGA into the KPRA contributed greatly in subsequent years to the development of the joint anti-Japanese struggle of the Korean\and Chinese peoples,\and particularly to the development of the armed struggle against the Japanese in northeast China. If we had insisted on an inflexible form\and name corresponding only to the Korean revolution, in disregard of the prevailing subjective\and objective situation of that time, the Korean communists would not have launched the anti-Japanese armed struggle in such an effective way, with the extensive support of the Chinese people.
When in later years we\organized the Northeast Anti-Japanese Allied Army, we called it by this name when operating in the northeastern region of China—as its character required—and changed its name to the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army—in conformity with the specific situation—when operating in areas inhabited mostly by Koreans\or in the homeland, so that we lived\and fought under the care\and protection of the Korean\and Chinese peoples everywhere we went.
Evenrom today’s perspective, we consider it a matter of honour\and pride that we placed greater emphasis on the essential content of the movement than on any of its formal aspects. Thanks to this principled view\and magnanimous stance, we were always able to hold fast to the national character\and independence of our struggle, while fulfilling our duty as internationalists\and, for this reason, we enjoyed the respect\and support of the Chinese comrades\and the Communist International.
Publications of those days called the people’s revolutionary army\organized in Jiandao the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, not as the Northeast People’s Revolutionary Army. The Dongfang Zazhi (Oriental Magazine—Tr.) published by the Shangwu (Commercial) Publishing House in Shanghai in 1935 wrote, in connection with the guerrilla struggle in northeastern China, that there was a 3,000-strong Korean People’s Revolutionary Army in Jiandao,\and this was faithfully reprinted in the Lives of the Anti-Japanese Martyrs in Northeast China, published by the National Salvation Publishing House in Paris, France.
It is therefore no wonder that the KPRA was called the 2nd Army Corps after the Northeast Anti-Japanese Allied Army was formed in the later years. The KPRA was, by its nature, an international body of the anti-Japanese allied front of the Korean\and Chinese peoples,\and the Koreans in the 2nd Army Corps supported the liberation struggle of the Chinese nation under the banner of internationalism, while carrying out their own task of struggling for the independence of Korea.
It was the Japanese imperialist forces of aggression which most feared the formation of the KPRA\and its victories in battles in Jiandao,\and clamoured most loudly about the danger its existence would cause. In most cases they called our anti-Japanese armed force in east\and south Manchuria “Kim Il Sung’s army” instead of using its official name.
After the AJPGA had been reorganized into the KPRA, the Anti-Japanese Volunteers’ Army in Jiandao, led by Kong Xian-yong, Chai Shi-rong, Shi Zhong-heng, Li San-xia\and others, was united with the KPRA, which was renamed the 2nd Army Corps, in\order to achieve success in the anti-Japanese joint struggle; this new formation was also called the “Northeast Korean-Chinese People’s Revolutionary Army.”
In the course of these events, a solid alliance of the anti-Japanese armed forces of Koreans\and Chinese was virtually realized in east Manchuria in the first half of the 1930s.
In one of his articles, Zhou Bao-zhong wrote, “The 2nd Army Corps of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army was, at the same time, the ‘Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.’... In the course of the anti-Japanese guerrilla war the Chinese\and Korean peoples maintained ties sealed with blood for the sake of their common cause.” Thus he recognized the entity of the KPRA\and extolled the alliance of Korean\and Chinese armed forces against the Japanese that existed in the course of the historical common struggle.
In this sense the Japanese called the guerrilla army\organized in Manchuria,\and in Jiandao in particular, the “pure Korean partisans.”
According to the data uncovered by one of our comrades, V. Rappoport, a famous expert on Chinese\and Korean affairs in the Soviet\union, contributed an article under the title of “The Partisan Movement in the Northern Area of Korea” to the Soviet international political magazine The Pacific in 1937, in which he stated: “The partisan army in Korea has mostly been merged into a unified command, has its own centre\and calls itself the people’s revolutionary army.... The expansion of the existing relationship
and contact between the Korean\and Manchurian partisan armies is setting the Japanese militarists atremble with great unease\and, for this reason, Japan is paying serious attention to the border area of Korea.”
The reorganization of the AJPGA into the KPRA did not mean a mere change of name\or a technical restructuring. It meant a new stage of army-building, of improving the command system of the guerrilla army\and strengthening its ranks both in quantity\and quality by following up on its successes\and drawing on its experiences after reviewing the path of militant advance traversed by the AJPGA.
After reorganizing the AJPGA into the KPRA, we launched unceasing military actions to frustrate the enemy’s siege.
The headquarters of the Kwantung Army\and the military authorities in Tokyo, who had suffered defeat in the winter “punitive” operations which they had flaunted as the final “mopping-up,” made a great fuss over determining the cause of their failure\and deciding who would be answerable for it; then in the spring of 1934, they re-examined their previous scorched-earth tactics\and proposed a plan which they called a siege, an even more notorious, new plan for “clean-up.” It was an atrocious operation intended to wipe out the guerrilla zones for good by combining military siege\and attack, political suppression\and economic blockade. We regarded this new invention of the Japanese as a replica of the blockade policy Jiang Jie-shi had pursued when attacking the Soviet zones in China.
While Jiang Jie-shi’s blockade policy had been aimed at denying the communist army clothing\and food “by producing a subhuman world filled with political terror\and economic crisis,” the Japanese siege was aimed at killing all the people\and soldiers in the guerrilla zones by shooting\and burning\and imposing on them deathrom hunger\and cold. To this end, they tried to separate the army\and people by building concentration villages\and to detect\and eliminate all the forces of resistance through the introduction of such medieval collective security systems as the ten-household joint responsibility system\and the five-household joint surveillance system.
The blockade policy\and siege were similar to each other in their tactical aspects. Jiang Jie-shi’s tactics were to refrainrom hasty pursuit\orrom deep penetration after encircling the enemy but to occupy a position\and consolidate it slowly, studying the means of holding it, then proceed to an attack of another position. The tactics of “step-by-step occupation” invented by the Japanese can be compared with Jiang’s tactics.
Commenting on this, our comrades said, “How wretched the Japanese are! They have to learnrom Jiang Jie-shi.” This comment was more than just a joke.
In his preparations for the siegerom the spring of 1934, the enemy moved a greater number of crack troops of the Kwantung Army\and his occupation army in Korea to the areas around the guerrilla bases\and reinforced them with puppet Manchukuo army troops.
To cope with a threatening situation in which the enemy was deploying his forces for the purpose of siege, we ensured that the KPRA forces forestalled his attempt by assaulting his military\and political strongholds one after anotherrom behind in large-scale operations, while fighting in defence of the guerrilla zones\and, at the same time, expanding the guerrilla zones to more favourable areas. This enabled us to manage the difficult situation on the basis of our initiative, consolidate the victories won at the cost of our blood,\and maintain the people’s high revolutionary spirit.
The KPRA launched a spring offensive. We raided the areas in Wangqing\where the enemy forces were concentrated\and the constructing sites of the concentration villages at Xiaobaicaogou, Daduchuan, Shitouhezi\and Zhuanjiaolou. Our comrades in Hunchun, Yanji\and Helong also attacked the construction sites of the concentration villages, smashing the enemy’s attempt to establish a siege in its very first stage.
In\order to consolidate the success achieved by the spring offensive\and, maintaining the initiative, turn the enemy’s attempted siege into a fiasco, we immediately launched a summer offensive. The main purpose of this effort was to expand the guerrilla zones to the northwestern area of Antu County\and northeastern area of Wangqing County. Defending a few fixed guerrilla zones while the enemy surrounded us would mean falling into the trap laid by the enemy\and assisting his efforts.
The task of expanding the guerrilla zone to the northwestern area of Antu County was entrusted to the 1st Division\and the Independent Regiment of the KPRA\and the task of expanding it to the northeastern area of Wangqing County to the 2nd Division of the KPRA. While the area of guerrilla activity which connected Dadianzi\and Fuerhe was the lifeline of Antu County, the area including Luozigou, Laomuzhuhe, Taipinggou\and Sandaohezi was the lifeline of Hunchun\and Wangqing Counties. Being adjacent to the Mudanling\and Laoyeling Mountains, these areas were considered ideal for guerrilla activities,\and had been developed by veteran soldiers such as Hong Pom Do, Choe Myong Rok, Ri Tong Hui\and Hwang Pyong Gil since the days of the Independence Army movement.
We made a plan under which Ju Jin, commander of the 1st Division,\and Yun Chang Bom, commander of the Independent Regiment, were to attack the Dadianzi-Fuerhe area first, so as to draw the enemy’s attention,\and then we were to advance in the direction of Luozigou.
While the attention of the Japanese Kwantung Army was focused on the area around Dadianzi, Antu County, as we had planned it should be, a part of the 4th\and 5th Regiments of the 2nd Division of the KPRA\and the Chinese nationalist army units advanced to Luozigou\and occupied Sandaohezi\and Sidaohezi. In Sandaohezi a joint meeting of the KPRA soldiers\and 1,500 officers\and men of the Chinese units was held. The meeting was in the spirit of an ideological campaign for victory in the battle at Luozigou. Participating in the battlerom the side of the Chinese nationalists were units led by Kong Xian-yong, Shi Zhong-heng, Chai Shi-rong\and Li San-xia.
Luozigou was a strategic area for the enemy, for it connected
Baicaogou in Wangqing County\and the Dongning county town.
Hundreds of puppet Manchukuo army soldiers led by Wen Chang-ren, a battalion commander, were stationed there. It had\originally been a moderate-sized town of about 500 households, but it had rapidly developed into a military stronghold of the enemy after the September 18 incident,\and had become an important base for the Jiandao task force since the spring of 1932. When the task force was withdrawn, the Japanese imperialists shipped a heavily reinforced battalion for use in their siege operation.
Occupying the Luozigou area by means of a preemptive attack was the fundamental link in the overall chain of our efforts to create the conditions for lifting a corner of the siege\and expanding new guerrilla zones.
At the house of old man Ri Thae Gyong in Sandaohezi we held a meeting with the leaders of the Chinese units to discuss the plan of operations.
Ri Thae Gyong was a man of high patriotic spirit who had served in both the Righteous Volunteers’ Army\and the Independence Army. Working with Choe Ja Ik, he had once been a general affairs director of the northern political\and military administration. It was said that So Il had nominated him, a simple rank-and-file soldier, as director, because he had been charmed by Ri Thae Gyong’s exceptional marksmanship\and calligraphy. When So Il had preached the Taejong faith, worshipping Tangun, the old man had become a faithful follower of the faith; when Kim Jwa Jin had insisted on the struggle against communism, the old man had supported him\and received a revolverrom him as a reward for his support. When Kim Jwa Jin had evacuated his forces to north Manchuria just before the large-scale Japanese “clean-up” in Jiandao, Ri Thae Gyong had followed his seniors as far as Mishan. But after Kim disappeared into the deep forest in Daomugou, Yanji County, he had come to Sidaohezi with his colleagues, buried his weapon,\and taken up farming.
The impression of the old man that I can still recall isrom when I unfolded a sketch map of the streets of Luozigou to explain the operational plan to the leaders of the Chinese units,\and he put a stone on a corner of the map, the corner by the window of his house, lest the map should flap in the wind. The family of Ri called it a blessed stone. It was a peculiar stone, shaped as smooth as an egg. The old man said that when he was a director of the administration in Shiliping a friend of his had given that stone to him before he died, left a will saying he would be blessed if he kept it for a long time.
That stone is now kept in the Korean Revolution Museum. Before he died, the old man handed the stone over to his son to keep as a family treasure, saying that General Kim Il Sung had put it on his operational map\and touched it\and that he should keep it well. When a group of visitors to the old battlefields of the anti-Japanese armed struggle went to the northeastern region of China in 1959, his son handed the stone over to them. Though he said he disliked communism, the old man spared nothing to help us.
I met this old man for the first time in the summer of 1933 through the introduction of Choe Jong Hwa, the head of the Anti-Japanese Association in Luozigou. I had gone to Sandaohezi on horseback\and was conducting political work among the people there. At that time I had\organized an Anti-Japanese Association in Sandaohezi\and accepted the old man, who was the elder of the village, as a member of the association. After joining the association he had educated the villagers well\and all the villagers had done what he, the elder\and the most influential man in the village, had told them to do.
It was more easy to transform a village on revolutionary lines if at least one\or two members of the Righteous Volunteers’ Army\or the Independence Army were living there. For the most part, former soldiers of the Independence Army who, like Ri Thae Gyong, had given up the fight halfway\and buried their weapons, retained their patriotism. When they, the hardcore elements, went around one household after another, calling on people to help the revolutionary army soldiers who were suffering in the mountains, everybody responded positively. When the people were asked what they should do when the soldiers came to their village, they replied, “We should cook rice cakes,”\or “We should kill a calf.” Some of the former Independence Army soldiers had betrayed their cause, but such people were few. The vast majority of them led an honest life to their last moment. For this reason, I was careful not to neglect work with the influential veterans of the Independence Army\wherever I went. Before anybody else I visited such Independence Army veterans as O Thae Hui in Shixian, Choe Ja Ik in Xidapo, Ri Chi Baek in Macun, Kim Tong Sun in Dongricun\and Ri Thae Gyong in Sandaohezi, greeting them\and lying down, heads on wooden pillows, beside them to talk over current affairs.
After liberation some people gave the cold shoulder to the veterans of the Independence Army, alleging that their ideology was differentrom ours. In those days people with ideologies other than communism were rejected out of hand. At times, narrow-minded people in the area of personnel administration would give them a wide berth,\and such rash responses acted like a wet blanket on the united front policy we had consistently adhered to.
Whenever I encountered such people, I would say to them, “It is wicked to ostracize the Independence Army veterans on the grounds that they have different ideology. It is their\limitation, but not grounds for guilt, that the soldiers of that army did not become communists. Are you trying to make communists of Chun Hyang\and the young nobleman Ri9? Even if we are in power, we communists must not fail to appreciate our patriotic seniors. The trend of thought differsrom age to age; then why do you ostracize them, guard against them\and avoid them? Are they guilty for fighting for Korea’s independence at the risk of their lives when others were living with their families in warm houses, eating hot rice? I think that the veterans of the Righteous Volunteers’ Army\and the Independence Army who fought under arms are more laudable patriots than those who had led a comfortable life in their own houses while earning their own bread. You should realize that you will be forsaken by the people if you ostracize the Independence Army veterans.”
On the basis of this view, we enrolled the sons\and daughters of the martyrs of the Independence Army in the school for bereaved families of revolutionaries which was built at Mangyongdae. We appointed veterans of the Independence Army who actively supported our line of building a new Korea to official posts according to their abilities. Mr. Kang Jin Gon10, the first Chairman of the Central Committee of the Peasants’\union of North Korea,\and Mr. Ri Yong11, the Minister of City Management of the first Cabinet of the DPRK, were veterans of the Independence Army.
While we were preparing for the battle after the meeting, our reconnaissance party informed headquarters that the enemy had rushed out of the walled town in\order to forestall our attack. We lured the enemy out to a point favourable to us\and then destroyed his main force,\and by pursuing the fleeing enemy we launched our attack on the walled town. Our combined forces had to fight a hard battle in the pouring rain.
The greatest obstacle in the battle at Luozigou was a fort on a west hill just as in the battle in the Dongning county town. The battle went on for three days because of the enemy’s desperate resistancerom the fort. As we were holding a meeting at the headquarters of the Chinese units on the third day, a mortar shellrom the fort caused wounds, some of them serious, to some of the commanders of the Chinese units, including Zhou Bao-zhong. Zhou was participating in the battle as the chief of staff of Kong Xian-yong’s unit. Dispirited by the wounds suffered by their commanders, some of the Chinese units began taking to flight in a disorderly manner, running directly awayrom Luozigou. If this retreat were not checked, the battle would end in failure. The capture of the fort on the hill would be decisive to the outcome of the battle. Not only mortars but several heavy\and light machineguns were mounted on the fort. Shotsrom this fort fatally wounded the company commander, Han Hung Gwon, in the abdomen, so that his intestines came gushing out,\and Jo Wal Nam was also put out of action. Han’s wound was so appalling that he himself requested us to shoot him.
To the KPRA soldiers who were pinned down so that they could not approach the fort but only grind their teeth in vexation, I shouted, “Comrades, we must seize the fort at any cost. Let us fight for the revolution to the last\drop of our blood!”
Then, mowing the enemy down with Mauser fire, I charged forward. The rain of machinegun bulletsrom the fort grazed my ears. A bullet pierced through my cap. But I dashed forward without pause for breath. The men sprang to their feet\and followed me. The fort which was boasted to be impregnable fell into our hands in 30 minutes\and a red flag was hoisted on top of it.
The soldiers of the Chinese units who saw that flag turned round\and launched an all-out charge in high spirits. The self-sacrificing spirit of the Chinese communists, including Zhou Bao-zhong, was highly influential in arousing themrom apathy\and frustration to charge. Though wounded heavily, Zhou blocked the soldiers’ flight with open arms\and shouted at them to look at the red flag flying on the fort on the west hill. The soldiers who saw him stopped their retreat\and assaulted the enemy position, raising a loud battle cry.
The battle ended in victory for us.
Wen, the battalion commander of the puppet Manchukuo army,\and the Japanese instructor, who were defending Luozigou, said in the last despairing message they sent to the commander of the Kwantung Army that they had been surrounded\and under attack by 2,000 troops of the combined forces of Kim Il Sung’s army\and other units for six days\and five nights\and that they were on the brink of being annihilated. They wailed, “Our ammunition has run out\and our fate will be decided in a moment. But we are proud of having done our best for the sake of Japan\and the building of Manchukuo. Mr. Commander, please understand this\and forgive us.”
Our victory at Luozigou\and Dadianzi was the greatest of all the victories the KPRA won in the early days of the anti-Japanese war. The KPRA’s attack on Luozigou dealt a heavy blow at the enemy in his attempt to besiege us\and struck mortal terror into his heart. After this battle the enemy’s large\and small “punitive” forces deployed in the vicinity of the guerrilla bases were paralyzed with fear.
Indeed, the battle at Luozigou reduced the enemy’s power in the northeastern region of the Wangqing guerrilla zone, creating a situation favourable for expanding the guerrilla zones\and making a great contribution to the further consolidation of the allied front with the Chinese nationalist armed forces. After the battle we continued brisk political\and military activities to thwart the enemy’s attempts at siege. When the guerrilla zones were evacuated many of the revolutionary people in east Manchuria were able to settle down in the areas around Antu\and Luozigou because we had turned this region into an invisible revolutionary base through intense military\and political activitiesrom the early days.
The KPRA sacrificed much blood during the summer offensive in 1934. The victory in the battle at Dadianzi was stained with the blood of Cha Ryong Dok, a popular commander of working class\origin, who was one of the\organizers of the Helong guerrilla unit\and the political commissar of a regiment. He was the first political commissar to fall in action after the formation of the KPRA.