[Reminiscences]Chapter 9 4. The Sound of the Mouthorgan Ringing across Ningan > 새 소식

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 9  4. The Sound of the Mouthorgan Ringing across Ningan

  

   


 

4. The Sound of the Mouthorgan Ringing across Ningan  

  

Nothing makes an army suffer more misery than being given the cold shoulder by the people for whom it is fighting. The reader may find it hard to believe that we were given the cold shoulder rom the time we began crossing the Laoyeling Mountains.\and he might ask, “Have the people, the creator, defender\and carrier of morals, ever turned away their faces rom the revolutionary army\or treated coldly the army which defends their interests?”
I am obliged to contradict common sense\and say that I have had such an experience.
Everyone knew that Ningan, with its fertile land, was a great granary. But, when we came down rom the Laoyeling Mountains\and entered north Manchuria, the people in Ningan hated even to prepare meals for us. If they had treated us inhospitably because they were in dire poverty, we would have felt pity for them. But they turned their backs on us because of misunderstanding\and distrust,\and this dumbfounded us, for we were accustomed to support\and hospitality rom the people. If our expeditionary soldiers in their snow shoes\and puttees appeared in the distance, they would call their women into the houses\and shut their doors, shouting, “The ‘Koryo red army’ is coming!”\and then they watched our every move cautiously. Such unpleasant experiences hurt our pride.
We had to prepare our meals\and sleep in the open for a good while. Life had never been like this in Jiandao. Whenever we returned home in triumph, the people in east Manchuria would run to welcome us in groups, beating drums\and gongs, clapping their hands\and presenting bouquets to us. Some people would offer us hot water\or boiled green maize. One day a pine arch was even erected in Macun to congratulate the soldiers.
But the Ningan people gave us a wide berth. We sent out scouts\and set the underground\organizations in action, but we failed to catch the voice of the people in this region. This was a much cooler welcome than we had expected in east Manchuria on the basis of information rom Zhou Bao-zhong\and Ko Pobae, who had often visited north Manchuria.
There was a village called Wolianghe in Ningan County. It was called Wolianghe because it had fertile land\and plenty of food grain, but the people there ignored us completely,\and did not even think of providing food.

We tried to gather them together to initiate political work, but they did not respond to our request. We could not even give them a lecture on current events. Ri Song Rim may have complained of the steep Laoye- ling Mountains, but this barrier was rougher\and steeper.

Some of my men said that Ninganites were cold-blooded people by nature, but I rejected this. The mind of the people may vary a little, but it was hardly possible that the people in this place were the only ones to lack the good manners\and customs of Chinese\or Koreans, who accord hospitality to their guests\and take good care of them.
What, then, was the reason for this unfriendly attitude of the Ningan people, which stunned the men of our expeditionary force?
According to the historical record, in olden times Ningan was the capital of Palhae. This time-honoured city once had a population of 100,000.
This indicated that this place had a long history of development. The historical record also indicated that the land of this place was fertile\and its people were industrious, frugal, simple-hearted,\and trustworthy\and respected justice\and law.
After the capital of Palhae was moved to another place\and its people were scattered in all directions, its population increased\or decreased over the millennia\and scores of generations, but the courtesy\and civilized customs of the Ninganites were neither debased nor dishonoured, but handed down without change.

It was unreasonable to believe that the Ningan people were cold-hearted by nature.
Some soldiers alleged that Ningan was not a suitable place for the communist movement. They said that, firstly, the level of consciousness of these people was too low to assimilate the communist idea,\and secondly, that Ningan County had abundant land,\whereas the number of farmers who cultivated it was comparably small, so there would not be any antagonism in social\and class relations\and, accordingly, a class struggle would not take place.
Such nihilistic assertions were refuted mercilessly. Is any particular place suitable for communism while any other place is not suitable for communism? Communists who say so cannot win the world. With this kind of communism we cannot realize the slogan “Workers of the Whole World, Unite!” which is written in The Communist Manifesto. The argument that there would be no antagonism in people’s relations in a place\where the population was thin\and land was plentiful was a superficial view which resulted rom an ignorance of reality. According to such an argument, the class contradictions should have been acuter in densely populated Germany than in sparsely populated Russia\and accordingly, the revolution should have achieved victory in Germany earlier than in Russia. I rejected such arguments as unfounded.
I said the fact that the Ningan people did not understand communism\and were hostile to the communists should be explained by the crimes of the Japanese imperialists, who resorted to every conceivable means to destroy communism. When the communist movement became active in Ningan, the Japanese imperialists immediately launched a pernicious anti-communist propaganda campaign to drive a wedge between the communists and the people. In Ningan,\where the people were relatively backward in their political\and ideological enlightenment, the enemy’s propaganda penetrated easily into the people’s minds.
The early Korean communists who had spent their energies in factional strife were also to blame for the anti-communist tendency prevailing in the Ningan area. Already in the mid-1920s, immediately after a communist party was founded in Korea, the Tuesday group established its\organization under the magnificent name of the Manchurian general bureau of the Korean Communist Party,\and set about expanding the power of its own group, effectively selling out the noble name of communism. They provoked the simple\and good-natured people to engage in reckless demonstrations\and riots by clamouring for the independence of Korea\and the immediate building of socialism.
The ultra-Leftists broadcast an appeal to the Ningan people to rise up in the May 30 Uprising. The main targets of this uprising in Jiandao were the Japanese government\organs for colonial rule\and the Chinese landlords, but in Ningan the target was the nationalist\organizations, such as the Korean General Association. The demonstration, which started in the county town, suffered a heavy blow at the very outset.

The May Day demonstration in 1932, too, ended by drowning the Ningan county town in a bloodbath\and exposing the core elements to repression by the enemy. As a result of these adventuristic demonstrations, the revolutionary\organizations in Ningan were destroyed as groups. After the May Day demonstration the communist movement in Ningan went into a rapid decline. The party leadership stopped developing the armed forces\and guerrilla zones\and dispersed to Muling, Dongning, Wangqing\and other places. Some people gave up the revolution\and went back to the Ningan county town.
The indiscriminate white terrorism of the Japanese imperialists\and the Manchukuo army\and police besmirched the image of communism in the eyes of the people.
The fear of prison\and death which they faced at the end of their struggle made them tremble in despair. The nihilistic view was prevalent among many people that the result of revolution was death,\and it would be pointless to take part in the communist movement.
The Chinese communists came\and tried to rebuild the revolution in Ningan, after the Korean communists had left declaring the attempt was futile\and the revolution would not take root in the minds of the masses, but they also were dumbfounded at the cold attitude of the masses towards the revolution in general.
Some Korean nationalists were also to blame for spreading anti-communist poison in Ningan. The remnants of the Independence Army which fled to Russia in fright at the large-scale “punitive” operations in the year of Kyongsin (1920),\and then returned to Ningan following the Heihe incident15 were fanatical in their anti-Soviet, anti-communist propaganda. They slandered communism\and the Soviet\union, saying that the dreadful incident in Heihe had been provoked by the Korean communists in exile in conspiracy with the Soviet\union. The nationalists even went so far as to say that Kim Jwa Jin was killed because of the communists. Of course, this was a lie. But the innocent people believed it.
The people in Ningan were wary not just of communism but of any army. They hated all armies, regardless of their identity\and their mission, because they considered every army they had seen to be hangers-on who emptied their granaries\and took their money. To say nothing of the Japanese army\and the puppet Manchukuo
army, some Chinese nationalist army units who professed the anti-Japanese national salvation struggle, also took the people’s money, grains\and domestic animals. The Korean nationalists set up the Sinmin-bu, an administrative\organization, in Ningan,\and exacted war funds\and military provisions rom the people. What is worse, the local bandits who frequently took people hostage, could fall upon them at any time\and aggravate their mood. So the feelings of the people, who had to submit to all of these factions, were beyond deion. Taking this historical background into consideration, it would have been unreasonable to blame them for their cold-heartedness. It is not really of much significance that the expeditionary force did not receive supplies rom the people. The greatest problem was that one of the major aims of our expedition, the aim of sowing the seeds of revolution among the people of north Manchuria, was not being achieved. If the people would never open their hearts to us, we would never find a way to revolutionize north Manchuria.

In\order to summon the Ningan people to rise in revolution we had to make a breakthrough somehow.
While taking stock of the party work in the Badaohezi district, we developed a deeper grasp of the reality of Ningan County with the help of Kim Paek Ryong, secretary of the district party committee. According to him, Badaohezi had been more effectively revolutionized than any other part of Ningan County.
Badaohezi was also known as Xiaolaidipan, the place\where the Ningan county party committee\and the Badaohezi district party committee were located. The word Xiaolaidipan was derived rom the name of Kim So Rae (Xiaolai is the Chinese pronunciation of So Rae), who was the leader of the Taejong religion in\and around Helong County.
I first heard about Kim So Rae rom So Jung Sok when I attended the Jilin Yuwen Middle School. So Jung Sok once taught at the Konwon School in Helong, which was established by Kim So Rae. Kim So Rae was the founder\and headmaster of this school\and had close relations with So Il as well as the important figures of the northern military\and political administration\and the Jiandao National Association. As a man of a strong anti-Japanese sentiment, he supported the national salvation movement by sending his school graduates to the Independence Army units led by such renowned generals as Hong Pom Do\and Kim Jwa Jin.

After the Independence Army withdrew rom north Jiandao, Kim So Rae bought land in the Badaohezi valley\and became a landlord there, supplying war funds to Kim Jwa Jin’s Independence Army unit. Ri Kwang also obtained many rifles rom him immediately after the guerrilla army was founded.
The revolutionaries in the Ningan area disliked him because he was the leader of the Taejong religion. Some of those who were ignorant of history mistook this movement for a Japanese religion. The Taejong religion was a pure Korean religion, which worshipped Hwanin, Hwanung\and Hwangom, the Gods who are described in the Korea-founding myth.
Kim Paek Ryong said that the Badaohezi valley was 20 to 25 miles long. There were many villages scattered in the valley\and Koreans made up a considerable proportion of the inhabitants. Badaohezi, which had once been a thriving supply base for the Independence Army, became a base for the activity of the Ningan guerrilla army at the beginning of the 1930s.
Without any great hope, I employed the good offices of Kim Paek Ryong to send a political work team to a village in Badaohezi to inquire into the mood of the population\and also to reconnoitre the enemy’s movements. The team was made up of masters of propaganda\and agitation.

However, Wang Tae Hung, the political instructor of the 5th company, who led the team to the village, came back to me looking exhausted.
“We failed again. Any amusing story fell flat with them. I would rather preach the Four Books\and Three Classics to the ear of an ox than talk to the Ningan people.”
 
He\dropped his head in despair after making his report. Listening to his words, Kim Paek Ryong heaved a sigh, as if it were his mistake that the Ninganites were treating the guests rom east Manchuria so coldly.
“Anyhow, the Ningan people are a real problem. We have made great efforts to persuade them, even sending an inspection group to east Manchuria to learn rom their experience, but they are so stubborn. After the inspection group returned they established a Children’ Corps school which enrolled about 50 pupils at first, but it all came to nothing.”
What should we make of people who turned their backs on revolutionaries who defended\and represented their interests? I pondered deeply on this question because I was facing such a sheer barrier for the first time in my life. Our efforts to revolutionize Fuerhe\and Wujiazi had not gone entirely smoothly, but the people there were not so cold-hearted as in Ningan.
In the thousands of years of Korean history the masses of the people had never been bad. In my life I had never had to distinguish between good\and bad masses of the people. Those who besmirched history\and sought to deceive it were a handful of people, the ruling circles. Of course, there were individual traitors to the nation, misers, swindlers, imposters, ambitious men\and immoral men. But they were only a few unhulled grains among the cleaned rice. The great mass of the people, which we can regard as representing the whole of this world, has always driven the wheel of history forward honestly\and sincerely. They produced turtle boats16\and built pyramids if necessary. When the times required their blood they dashed towards the enemy’s pillbox, braving death without hesitation.

The problem was that we had failed to find a way to touch the hearts of the Ningan people.
The political work team led by Wang Tae Hung had clearly conducted a stirring anti-Japanese propaganda campaign. Did the Ningan people need more of such speeches? They must have heard enough of them until to burn their ears. The Independence Army, the national salvation army,\and even the bandits used to make such speeches. Could Wang’s political work succeed on the basis of speeches?
Their mistake was that they tried blindly to teach the people. Since when did we regard ourselves as the people’s teachers\and the people as our pupils? No doubt it was the communists’ mission to lead the people rom darkness to light, but wasn’t it impudent of us to pose as their teachers?
There might be many ways for us to penetrate the depths of people’s hearts, but their hearts would accept only sincerity. Only sincerity could fuse our blood\and their blood as in one artery. Unless we mixed with the people as their own sons, grandsons\and brothers, we would be forsaken for ever by the people of Ningan.
I was told that when the Wangqing children’s art troupe played in Ningan, the performance hall was crowded out every time. Both the children’s art troupe\and the guerrillas appealed to them in the name of the revolution, but the people had welcomed the former and turned their backs on the latter.

“Did you see the performance of our children’s art troupe when they came here?” I asked Kim Paek Ryong.
“Yes, I did, their performance was excellent.” He said the art troupe had set Ningan buzzing with excitement.
“Wherever the children’s art troupe went there were crowds of people, I was told. A wonderful change to take place among the Ningan people, who did not like communist propaganda, wasn’t it? What do you think attracted so many people?”
“The children behaved quite charmingly. They fascinated the Ningan people by their performances\and influenced them by always laughing as brightly as the full moon in the clear sky. They behaved with people like their own fathers\and mothers, so the Ninganites, no matter how callous, could not but be moved.”
“Their talent made them very popular in Wangqing, too.”

“Of course, their performance was a success, but it was the children themselves who won the people’s hearts. I myself was charmed by their good behaviour. They cleaned up all of Badaohezi village. They used to get up early to make the village spick\and span. In daytime they helped the peasants in the field.”

Kim Paek Ryong praised the children’s art troupe members repeatedly, making me feel proud of them.
“They have become sensible at an early age.”

“The children endeared themselves to the villagers. When they saw the villagers, even in the distance, they raised their hands in salute. They followed the grown-ups, addressing them as ‘grandfather,’ ‘father,’ ‘aunt,’ ‘sister.’ They were loved by the whole village.”
The children’s art troupe won the people’s hearts because they gave their own hearts to the people. When we\dropped an axe into an ice hole in the Tuman River, we spent half a day in sincere efforts to find it. Why? Because we were devoted to the people\and loved them. When we showed them our sincerity, they never rejected it.
Wang’s political work team made a mistake, because they failed to give their hearts sincerely to the people. They clung to their method only with the intention of revolutionizing the people of north Manchuria, but they never thought of loving them\and becoming intimate with them. It was not strange that the people in north Manchuria had not opened their hearts to us.
First of all, it was a mistake to have started their contact with the people with a speech. How valuable the lesson we learned rom the activities of the Wangqing children’s art troupe, which first gave the people their own hearts\and then tugged at their heartstrings with songs!
I made up my mind to change the form of our political work\and discussed the matter with our commanding officers. I then instructed the company political instructors to bring all our good mouthorgan players to the headquarters. When they had gathered I checked them one by one.

Hong Pom rom the Yanji company played the mouthorgan well enough to perk up an audience. He sometimes produced the sound of an accordion concert on his harmonica. A soldier of the Wangqing 5th company was famous for mouthorgan playing, but he was a novice compared with Hong.
Hong Pom had practised the mouthorgan rom his primary school days. A visitor to his house once left a mouthorgan in his room\and did not come again, so it naturally became Hong’s favourite. Practising on this instrument for several years he developed his talent admirably, but the mouthorgan became worn out\and its gilt came off. Fortunately its sound remained unchanged.
I saw his mouthorgan as we were preparing for the expedition in Duitoulazi\and thought I should obtain a new one for him. But I had no chance to do this before we had to leave for north Manchuria.
Many of the guerrillas\and other people in Jiandao knew of Hong Pom’s career. He was an\ordinary soldier, but he became a topic of interested discussion among the people because of his extraordinary talent in playing the mouthorgan. Mouthorgan players were always loved by their comrades-in-arms.
Hong’s native town was Jongsong, North Hamgyong Province. He followed his parents to Jiandao\and took part in the revolutionary movement rom his young days. Once as a Red Guards man he joined in the mass struggle to frustrate the Dunhua-Tumen railway project. After the dissolution of the Hailangou guerrilla zone, he moved to Wangougou, carrying his knapsack with a mouthorgan in it,\and joined the guerrilla army.
 
I instructed Wang Tae Hung to take the mouthorgan concert group to the village\where he had failed once\and to try to move their hearts.\and I requested Kim Paek Ryong to buy as many mouthorgans as possible, with the help of the underground\organizations.
That day I visited the secretariat of the Ningan county party committee to prepare the propaganda materials for the people. While I was talking to the comrades at the secretariat, Wang, who had been to the village with the mouthorgan concert group, appeared before me with a broad smile on his face.
“Comrade Commander, it was a success. Those uncouth persons opened their hearts to us at last.”
Wang was a commanding officer of a particular character, who first reported the result,\and then explained what he had done. The activity of the mouthorgan concert group was extremely instructive. It won the hearts of the callous people who had turned their backs on the revolutionary army.
The group started by clearing the snow rom the front yard of a house in the centre of the village. After posting a sentry on this fairly large area of ground, Hong Pom\and another man played a mouthorgan duet as the first item on the programme. The rest of the group danced to the tune of mouthorgans. Two\or three boys who were spinning tops in a nearby lane ran towards the fence of the yard to watch the performance. Other children also came running towards the show rom other lanes, hitching up the waistbands of their trousers as they came.
 
The mouthorgan duet began with The Song of General Mobilization, then changed into The Children’s Song\and How Far Have We Come? The children, charmed by the beautiful melody of Hong’s mouthorgan, followed the song\and clapped their hands. Some children ran about the village shouting that the “Koryo red army” soldiers rom Jiandao were dancing. When the grown-ups heard the news, they watched the revolutionary army’s entertainments rom a distance with folded arms. Then some of them approached the performance\and gazed at the “musicians” of the “Koryo red army.”

When 40 to 50 people had gathered to see the performance, the mouthorgan concert group played Arirang. This attracted the whole village,\and the audience rapidly increased to one hundred, two hundred\and at last three hundred.

At this moment Ko Pobae appeared\and sang the Melancholy Song of Phyongan Province. The hundreds of villagers were captivated by his sorrowful melody\and encircled the yard in a tight ring, straining their ears to catch the sounds issuing rom the mouth of this soldier of the “Koryo red army.”

Ko stopped singing halfway\and began delivering a speech in a new dramatic tone.

“Dear villagers,\where’s your home town? North Kyongsang Province! Kangwon Province! South Hamgyong Province! South Phyongan Province! Don’t ask me\where I come rom. Don’t think I’m putting on airs. I don’t know\where I was born. I know only that I was born in a coastal village in Korea. I arrived in Jiandao, crossing the river on my parent’s back. I don’t know whether it was the Tuman River\or the Amnok River. I am such a dunce.”
The audience was amused by his\oratorical talent, laughing\and whispering in response.
In an amusing manner, like an old story-teller, he told how he wandered about Jiandao like a dried leaf\and how he finished off Japs in many battles after he became a guerrilla soldier. Then, as if he had simply turned over a gramophone record, he changed his subject quite naturally into a speech intended to awaken the people to the need for the revolution.
“Dear villagers, what is our unanimous desire? We wish we could return home. But the Japs stand on the road to our homeland. Should we leave those barbarians alone? No, I can’t. So I joined the guerrilla army with a rifle in my hand. We came to Ningan to destroy the Japanese. I was told that the Japanese soldiers in north Manchuria are more arrogant.”
When his speech reached this point, a Japanese army cap appeared rom nowhere on his head. He had hidden it in the waistband of his trousers\and transferred it in a flash to his head. Then a moustache\and spectacles appeared on his face. The audience immediately grasped that he was made up as a Japanese army officer.

In this comic make-up Ko Pobae stretched himself in a yawn\and walked round the yard two\or three times with his hands folded behind his back, stretching his jaw\and twitching his face in a funny fashion. The people were reminded of a Japanese army officer taking a walk in the ground of his barracks immediately after rising rom his bed.
The audience tittered at first\and then split their sides in laughter.
As soon as laughter calmed down, Ko went round the audience one by one, laughing in different kinds according to their sex\and age—an old woman’s voice before a grandmother, an old man’s voice before a grandfather\and a bride’s voice before a young lady. They laughed themselves into convulsions, until the tears came running down.
After winning over the villagers in this way, the mouthorgan concert group launched into anti-Japanese propaganda\and appealed to the people to support the revolutionary army. The mouthorgan concert group was able to have such remarkable success in the very place\where the political work team failed the previous day, because their propaganda catered honestly to the feelings of the villagers.
Drawing on this experience, we began to mix more closely with the people\and revolutionized tens of villages in Ningan one after another by various methods. The iron barrier which had separated the Ningan people rom the “Koryo red army” rom east Manchuria was removed at last.\where the “Koryo red army” had once passed by, the ranks of the Communist Party increased in numbers,\and the Young Communist League, the Women’s Association, the Children’s Corps\and other revolutionary\organizations expanded rapidly.
 
The people who opened their hearts wide to the communists experienced the greatest pride of their life in supporting\and assisting the revolutionary army.
Among such people I still recall many unforgettable men\and women such as old man Kim in the Tianqiaoling timber mill, old man Jo Thaek Ju in Dawaizi, the old Chinese woman Meng Cheng-fu in Wolianghe\and old man Ri in Nanhutou.
Old woman Meng frequently gave the expeditionary force valuable information about the enemy’s movements, though she once suffered all sorts of hardships when she was arrested by the Japanese police together with the wife of her husband’s cousin.
Old man Ri in Nanhutou was under constant surveillance by the enemy. The enemy set fire to his eight-kan house (a kan is equivalent to 36 square feet—Tr.) because he supported the guerrilla army. Once he was arrested by the military police\and severely flogged. Despite these bitter experiences, he frequently visited our revolutionary army’s camp, bringing with him food\and footwear for the soldiers.
“Are you not afraid of the enemy, grandfather?” I once asked him.

“Yes, I am afraid,” the old man replied. “If the enemy knew that I sent supplies to the revolutionary army, my whole family, including my three sons, would be killed. But we have no other choice. We cannot remain indifferent\and consider only our own safety, while you revolutionary army soldiers are enduring every possible hardship in\order to liberate the country, with no place to sleep comfortably\and no decent meals.”

The people in north Manchuria cherished ardent love for their country\and for justice.
Their love for the country was no less warm than that of the east Manchurian people. The only difference was that their love had been hemmed in by a much thicker\and higher fence.
The people open their hearts without hesitation to those who sympathize with them\and understand them,\and embrace them with burning enthusiasm. But they slam the door against those ingrates who have never thought about the fact that the soil in which they grew up was the people, those impertinent fellows who consider that the people are duty-bound to serve them,\and they have the right to be served, those bureaucrats who think they can rule over the people as they like, those exploiters who regard the people as a cow which produces milk any time they want, those windbags who shut their eyes\and remain indifferent when the people are suffering agony, though they always say that they love the people, all of these hypocrites, loafers\and swindlers.
None of my comrades-in-arms now alive can recall the first north Manchurian expedition. Only a few out of those 170 men returned to the liberated homeland. I think O Jun Ok\and Yon Hui Su were among the Wangqing company soldiers who returned.

When we were operating in Ningan, Kang Kon was a Children’s Corps member. Judging rom his age alone, he could well have lived till now\and taken part in the revolution. But he fell in action on the front line in early autumn of the year when the great Fatherland Liberation War broke out. At that time he was the Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army.
Ko Pobae later served as a regiment political commissar in the 5th Army Corps under Zhou Bao-zhong’s command.
Some people say he fell in action\and others say that he went to the Soviet\union\and died there, but I do not know which is the truth. When I received the news of the death of such a talented optimist, who always set the whole of Jiandao laughing with his ceaseless jokes\and wisecracks, I could not believe it. It seemed inconceivable to me that such an optimist could have died.
The majority of the mouthorgan concert group who opened the path to north Manchuria with Ko Pobae remained in north Manchuria at Zhou Bao-zhong’s request\or died in fierce battles on the way back to east Manchuria. I heard nothing about the rest of them afterwards.
I cannot find any way to clarify what happened to them. Even their names have grown dim in my memory.
One day half a century after the first north Manchurian expedition, I received the happy news that one of the participants in the expedition was living in Pyongyang. When I looked at the picture which the officials involved sent to me, I saw that it was Hong Pom, the leader of the mouthorgan concert group.

The severe snowstorm by which we were threatened in north Manchuria,\and the unprecedentedly arduous march we had made through the snowstorm had left their clear imprints around his eyes. His face was changed beyond recognition by the ceaseless toil of the years of a long life, but to my joy, his unusually long neck, like a stork’s, still reminded me of how he looked in his younger days.
Was this really the famous mouthorgan player Hong Pom who basked in the love of all the people of Jiandao? Why had this treasure, a participant\and witness of the first expedition to north Manchuria, only now announced his presence after living near me all this time?
I told the officials to ask him why.

He had not called on me because he was too simple,\and too modest.
“I took part in the anti-Japanese revolution, but I rendered no distinguished service. If I have ever done anything I can feel proud of, it is that I took part in the first expedition to north Manchuria under the command of our leader. After returning rom north Manchuria I caught a fever in the backwoods of Sandaowan,\and suffering rom it for a long time, I was unaware even of the dissolution of guerrilla zones. Having lost all contact with the unit, I returned home. If I had said that I was an anti-Japanese war veteran, the Party would have cared for me like a precious treasure. But I did not wish to be a burden to the Party.” These were the words of Hong Pom, an anti-Japanese war veteran.

At the age of 70 he was working as a guard at the Jonsung security substation. He was living in a single-room house. While the musicians of the new generation who were born in the 1950s\or 1960s were moving into new three-room\or four-room houses, this mouthorgan player of the guerrilla army, who went through all the hardships of the long-drawn-out war against the Japanese, contented himself with a single-room house. He did not desire any special treatment\or any privileges.
All our anti-Japanese war veterans are such people.

Hong Pom is said to have kept all his life the mouthorgan which I bought for him in Ningan. When our historians called on him to collect historical materials, Hong Pom used this mouthorgan to play the revolutionary songs which we had sung during the north Manchurian expedition. They said that Hong was an excellent player.
He died after moving to a new flat in Kwangbok Street provided by the Party.
Our veterans, who had endured severe trials such as the north Manchurian expedition\and the arduous march, continued to overcome all manner of hardships together with us even after returning to the liberated homeland.
What a profound\and appealing truth is contained in the old saying that the hardships one experiences in one’s younger days are worth more than one’s weight in gold! Hardships\and trials are the mother of all blessings.


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[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

[Reminiscences]Chapter 8. Under the Banner of the Antl–Japanese Struggle 7. An Immortal Flower

[Reminiscences]Chapter 9. The First Expedition to North Manchuria 1. The Korean People’s Revolutionary Army

[Reminiscences]Chapter 9. The First Expedition to North Manchuria 2. The Haves\and the Have-nots

[Reminiscences]Chapter 9. The First Expedition to North Manchuria 3. Crossing the Laoyeling Mountains 



 

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