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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 10 4. An Answer to the Atrocities at Sidaogou

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 10  4. An Answer to the Atrocities at Sidaogou

  

   


 

4. An Answer to the Atrocities at Sidaogou 

 

While we spent busy days guiding the evacuation of the guerrilla zones, the underground\organization in Luozigou had sent a messenger to me in Yaoyinggou with details of the atrocities at Sidaogou. He brought the shattering news that Wen’s battalion had incited a Jingan army unit in the Laoheishan area to burn down the village of Sidaogou\and to kill all its people.


The news was authentic, but it mixed me up. I could hardly believe that battalion commander Wen had broken his promise to us, that he had incited the Jingan army unit to a massacre. An alliance, similar to the offensive\and defensive alliance of today, had been formed between Wen’s battalion\and my unit. It was immediately after the battle at Luozigou that we had joined up with Wen.


We had received a letter rom an\organization in the enemy-ruled area one day, saying that a cart convoy of the puppet Manchukuo army had left Baicaogou for Luozigou. We attacked the convoy rom ambush near Jiguanlazi. The escorts did not offer any serious resistance\and were captured. Among the prisoners was a man whose surname was Tie, a company commander of Wen’s battalion. He did not seem to feel uneasy on being taken prisoner by the revolutionary army; he was just as carefree\and grinning as if this was nothing unusual.

 

“You’re an officer,” I said to that strange man, “but why did you surrender instead of resisting?”


“This is an area controlled by the ‘Koryo red army’. So what’s the use of resisting? The best thing to do is to surrender when there’s no chance of winning.” He called the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army the “Koryo red army”, just as the Ningan people had. He went on, “And then, the whole of Manchuria knows that the ‘Koryo red army’ does not kill prisoners.”


Company commander Tie, the son of a poor peasant, had joined the Manchukuo army in\order to earn some money for his wedding; he had heard that the army paid considerable salaries. Some of our comrades remarked that “he was too ignorant for the world”, but I thought that, although he was an officer of the puppet Manchukuo army, he could live conscientiously if we taught him befittingly. When we were about to free the POWs after talking to them, Tie said:


“Please, sir, take anything you want rom these carts, but be kind enough to return the money\and rifles to us. If we go back empty-handed, the soldiers won’t get their salaries.\and probably, the battalion commander Wen will shoot us.”


I permitted them to return to Luozigou with their full cart-loads. Our comrades saw them off, commenting jokingly, “Hey, we’ve only lost time for sleep\and wasted ammunition.”


Tie asked, handing a whole cartridge box to our company commander, Ri Hyo Sok, “Friend, fire a few shots at the sacks of dried slices of radish, please.” He seemed to be moved by our generous treatment. But since Ri put the ammunition box back onto the cart, the escorts themselves fired a few shots at the sacks, unloaded their rifles, wrapping the cartridges up in a handkerchief\and throwing it away into the grass,\and only then they left.


This event won Tie battalion commander Wen’s special confidence. Whenever he had a supply convoy to send, Wen\ordered Tie’s company to escort it, for Tie would return safely each time without being waylaid,\whereas the other companies would lose all their supplies.


We would attack other convoys, but no Tie’s. Whenever he was on a convoying mission, Tie would send his men to let us know the date, hour\and route of his convoy as well as ways of identifying it. Thus, the battalion commander came to realize that Tie was under the protection\and concern of the people’s revolutionary army.


One day Tie, on meeting the battalion commander, said casually, “My company in Luozigou is under the protection of the people’s revolutionary army. How about forming an offensive\and defensive alliance between our battalion\and Commander Kim’s unit\and living in safety?” Wen pretended to be startled at first as if something serious had taken place, but true to his\original intention, he readily agreed, saying that it was a wonderful way of self-protection. Tie conveyed this message to us. Our answer to Wen was that we agreed to his idea of the alliance on the condition that the puppet Manchukuo army unit would not harm the people’s lives\and property. It was an unusual “gentlemen’s agreement” reached without any negotiations\or signatures.


The terms of our alliance implied maintaining friendly relations, each side refraining rom attacking the other, rather than the\original meaning of the offensive\and defensive alliance—that the two sides cooperate in both offensive\and defensive actions. This alliance had worked well in respecting each other’s interests\and developing mutual cooperation. As we were faithful to the principle of nonaggression, Wen had sent large amounts of ammunition, food grains\and clothing to the revolutionary army on several occasions. He had even delivered important military information to us on the movements of the Japanese army.


Considering the above-mentioned peaceful relations of the alliance, I could not believe that Wen had incited the Jingan army to a “punitive” action at Sidaogou. I sent a messenger to company commander Tie to find out. The messenger confirmed that the atrocities at Sidaogou\and Wen’s betrayal were true. Tie sent me word that Wen, under pressure of his Japanese masters, was breaking the alliance.


We had to give an appropriate answer to Wen’s betrayal\and the atrocities at Sidaogou in which he had played the role of guide. The headquarters daily resounded with my men’s demands for revenge. The commanders also stirred the men on to make the enemy pay for the blood shed by the people of Sidaogou. A mad dog should be controlled by the stick—this was a motto of the revolutionary army.


I considered their demands to be just. If we left the Jingan army unit in Laoheishan\and the puppet Manchukuo army unit in Luozigou as they were, we would be unable to guarantee the safety of the people living in these areas\or to support the work of the underground\organizations in every village through military means, nor could we then ensure the smooth advance of the people’s revolutionary army to north Manchuria. Worse still, we could expect confusion in the work of dissolving the guerrilla zones. We had also planned to evacuate the inhabitants of Wangqing\and Hunchun to Luozigou as the guerrilla zones were being dissolved.


We decided to attack the Jingan army unit\and Wen’s battalion simultaneously. We summoned the Yanji 1st Regiment\and the Independent Regiment in Chechangzi to Wangqing to reinforce our unit.

After about five days of forced march, eating only one bun at every meal, the Independent Regiment reached the sprawling village of Tangshuihezi\where we were billeted. Most of the regimental officers, including its commander Yun Chang Bom, had been executed on the false charge of being members of the “Minsaengdan”. Its chief of staff led the companies; the men who had lost their commanders were in the lowest of spirits.


That is when we\organized a battle at Zhuanjiaolou, involving detachments rom the Independent Regiment, Yanji 1st Regiment\and Wangqing 3rd Regiment. It was necessary to clear our way to Luozigou by destroying the puppet Manchukuo army unit\and self-defence corps entrenched behind the earthen walls, who were committing horrible atrocities.


After the battle at Zhuanjiaolou the revolutionary army forces drew up a plan of operation for attacking Luozigou\and made a daylight march towards Sidaogou, Sandaogou\and Taipinggou, intended as attacking positions. The soldiers marched 50 miles, eating only gruel, but their morale was very high.


Sidaogou had been\originally developed as an “ideal village” by veterans of the Independence Army, including Ri Thae Gyong,\and pioneers rom the Righteous Volunteers’ Army. This village, which was also known as Sidaohezi\or Shangfangzi, had been later transformed into a revolutionary village by Ri Kwang\and myself. We had helped old man Ri Thae Gyong to\organize the Anti-Japanese Association, the Peasants’ Association\and the Revolutionary Mutual Aid Society in this village. In those days we frequented the village,\and the people in Luozigou\and its vicinity used to call it the “headquarters of the Communist Party”. The hospitality\and affection the villagers had shown to the people’s

 

revolutionary army were admirable. I was often moved by the enthusiasm of the village people who, on hearing of the arrival of the revolutionary army, would come running to greet us, without even stopping to put on their shoes.


Sandaohezi, situated near Sidaogou, was also a well-known revolutionary village under our influence. There was a distillery run by Chinese people at the foot of the hill in the west of the village. I, accompanied by Zhou Bao-zhong, used to meet cadres of the underground revolutionary\organizations\and others in this distillery.


Our old friendly feelings for the people of Sidaogou remained as unchanged as the River Suifen flowing along this village, but it had been burnt down\and the people had been buried in the earth. The eight-kan house (a kan is equivalent to 36 square feet—Tr.) of Ri Thae Gyong beyond a hill had also been burnt\and only the foundation stones were left standing. We had held a meeting with Zhou Bao-zhong\and other commanders of the NSA units in that house the previous year to discuss operations for attacking Luozigou.


The old man built a school near the site of the house\and became absorbed in educating children. He had initiated education with a stout heart even when the shootings\and shrieks of the outrages were still ringing in his ears. He had hidden a son of his friend in his house in the days of the Independence Army. The young man fortunately survived the atrocities; he said that he had witnessed the Jingan army soldiers committing the atrocities that day rom a hill\where he had had a bird’s-eye view of Sidaogou on his way back rom a visit.


The brutalities were the result of the unjust interrogation of a Young Communist League member, So Il Nam, who was working as an operative in the town of Luozigou. He had been suspected of being a member of the “Minsaengdan” on a charge of stealing some article in a shop, had been arrested\and interrogated by the head of the revolutionary\organization in Sidaogou. As no evidence of guilt was found in spite of continuous investigations, he had been released\and put under strict surveillance.


On his return home, he had complained that they had arrested the wrong man\and yet had tortured him on the false charge of being a member of the “Minsaengdan”. His superiors, on learning this, attempted to arrest him again\and to execute him as a “Minsaengdan” member. So Il Nam, realizing this, ran away\and surrendered to the enemy. Worse still, wanting to revenge those who had maltreated\and tortured him, he exposed the secrets of the underground revolutionary\organization in Sidaogou.


These secrets excited the bloodthirsty soldiers of the Jingan army unit who were preparing for the New Year celebrations in Luozigou at the moment. A “punitive” force of 100 stealthily encircled the village of Sidaogou at dawn of 15 January of the lunar calendar, 1935,\and mowed down the villagers indiscriminately by a fusillade of heavy\and light machine-guns. They went wild, setting fire to every house\and bayoneting those running out of the flames, whether man\or woman, young\or old,\and throwing them back into the flames. They reduced the village to ashes in less than an hour.


When the head of the one hundred households of Sandaohezi arrived at the scene of the tragedy, he found eight Korean children who had survived by a miracle, crying in the heaps of corpses. The head discussed the question of raising the children with some of his fellow villagers. They decided that each would rear one child, with the headman also taking a child to his home.

 

Three young men who had escaped death at Sidaogou joined our unit. After hearing the details of the outrages, we gnashed our teeth in wrathful indignation. The motive had obviously been the imprudent Leftist conduct of those who had falsely charged So Il Nam as a member of the “Minsaengdan”\and molested him, but for all that, first\and foremost, we cursed the butchers of the Jingan army who had dipped Sidaogou in a bloodbath.


The massacre at Sidaogou was the pinnacle of savagery, heinousness\and brutality that could only be committed under the manipulation\and at the instigation of the Japanese imperialists. These offspring of savage marauders were capable of committing any crime, who had intruded into the royal palace of a foreign country, had unhesitatingly murdered the Queen of that country,\and burnt her dead body to remove all traces of their crime.


I heard about this Ulmi incident (1895) rom my father when I was young,\and could not repress my anger. The murdered Queen, whose corpse could not be retrieved, was none other than Queen Min (alias Empress Myongsong) who gave birth to Sunjong, the last King of our country. Queen Min who had seized Korea’s state power in her hands\and become the chief of the pro-Russian faction, stood firm against Japan. The Japanese rulers were thrown into consternation; they made Miura, their minister resident in Korea, form a group of murderers by enlisting the Japanese garrison\and police forces,\and even those of gangsters\and hooligans, to storm the Kyongbok Palace. Miura’s henchmen stabbed the Queen wildly with Japanese swords, burnt her dead body\and threw her remains into a pond in\order to remove all traces of their crime.

 

The Korean people had not had much respect for Queen Min. They had believed her to be a mastermind who had ruined the country through an open-door policy. Some people did not have a good opinion of her because she, as a daughter-in-law of the royal family, had removed Taewongun, her father-in-law, rom Regency in collaboration with foreign forces. Some innocent people even had the idea that our country would not have been reduced to a colony, if Taewongun’s policy of national isolation had been maintained for another 20\or 30 years. This being the case, it would not be difficult to understand the grievous feelings the people had entertained for Queen Min. However, no matter how discredited she had been by the people, politics was one thing\and her Queenhood another. She had been a member of our nation, the mistress of the royal family\and representative of state power who had ruled the country on behalf of King Kojong. The barbarous act of the Japanese rulers who had provoked the Ulmi incident was, therefore, a piratical encroachment on the sovereignty of our people\and on the traditional dignity of the royal family. The Korean people did not tolerate it, having a strong feeling for nationality; they respected their monarch\and cherished an exceptionally strong sense of national dignity.


Worse still, the\ordinance of keeping one’s hair bobbed was enforced. National anger burst out into volcanic eruption. Our people’s reply to the  Ulmi  incident \and the bobbed hair\ordinance emerged in the resistance of the righteous volunteers.


In the year of Kyongsin (1920—Tr.), which is known as the year of large-scale “mop-up” atrocities in Jiandao, the Japanese army massacred Korean people in Manchuria. It was an explosion of an unprecedented murder-mania of the Japanese who tried to retrieve the great defeat they had suffered at Fengwudong\and Qingshanli10 through massacring the unarmed Korean nationals living in Manchuria. A Japanese army force returning southward after giving up the plan for an expedition to Siberia,\and another advancing northward to Manchuria rom Ranam, turned all the villages en route\where Koreans were living to ashes,\and shot the young\and middle-aged people en masse. By applying the same method used when murdering Queen Min, they sprinkled petroleum on the corpses\and burnt them to remove all traces of their crimes.


The great Kanto earthquake in 1923 recorded, along with the natural disaster caused by the crustal movement, the man-made calamity imposed on the Korean nation by the Japanese ultra-nationalists. The gangsters saw the earthquake as a good opportunity for suppressing the Korean nationals\and killed them mercilessly throughout Japan with swords\and bamboo spears. In\order to distinguish the Korean nationals rom many other people, they made every man\and woman who looked like them in outer appearance pronounce “ju-go-en go-ji-sen ”, which means “fifteen yen fifty sen ” in Japanese.


The people who did not pronounce it fluently were regarded as Korean nationals without exception\and murdered. During the first 18 days of the earthquake our nation lost 6,000 of its compatriots. This is only a tip of the iceberg of the crimes the Japanese militarists committed against the Korean people\and a bit of Japan’s modern history discoloured with massacre\and plunder. The atrocities in the village of Sidaogou were only a repetition of that history.


“There was an underground\organization in the village—why was vigilance lacking to such an extent?”


That was what I asked old man Ri Thae Gyong out of my wrathful indignation\and bitter resentment.\and yet, it was a foolish question. Even if they had been watchful, what could they have done? They could not have kept a sentry at the village as there was no standing army. Even if they had kept guard, they could not have done anything against the great number of armed soldiers pouncing stealthily on them at dawn under cover of darkness.


“General, we were too easygoing. We, the old ones, are to blame. Living in comfort under the protection of the revolutionary army, we seemed to have forgotten that we are a ruined nation\and a people at war for independence. There was an old man who worshipped Gandhi among the inhabitants of Sidaogou,” the old man said with an awkward smile as if he had said something wrong.


I was surprised to hear that there had been a worshipper of Gandhi in this mountain village. “How come that old man worshipped Gandhi?” I asked.


“I think a gentleman rom Korea had told him about Gandhi. He had even shown him Gandhi’s letter published in a newspaper of our country. Since then, that old man had preached the theory of bloodless independence, mentioning something about violence\and nonviolence, whenever he came to visit with his neighbours.”


In my days in Jilin I had criticized the doctrine of nonviolence with Pak So Sim after reading the letter rom Gandhi carried in Joson Ilbo. The letter read:


Sabarmati


26 November, 1926


Dear friend:


I have your letter. The message I can send is to hope that Korea will come to her own through ways absolutely truthful\and nonviolent.

 

Yours sincerely,


M. K. Gandhi


As can be seen rom the letter, Gandhi preached that the Korean people achieve independence through nonviolent resistance. Apparently an advocate of nonviolence who had been charmed by Gandhi’s way of thinking had sent a letter to Gandhi.


No young Koreans in Jilin accepted Gandhi’s theory. No one was foolish enough to imagine that the outrageous\and rapacious Japanese imperialists would hand independence to people on a silver plate, to those who advocated nonviolent disobedience. But Gandhi’s way of thinking won some degree of sympathy\and support rom a few of the nationalist fighters who had abandoned armed resistance\or had withdrawn rom the independence movement.


Gandhi’s idea that, although he cursed British rule he had no intention of harming any of the British\and that\organized nonviolence alone was capable of prevailing over\organized violence of the British government, won the sympathy of broad sections of India’s people, the humanitarian spirit running through his idea influencing them. I cannot imagine how far that idea conformed with the realities of India.


Even if it was a reasonable idea, the methods of achieving independence could not be alike for Korea\and India, the two colonies whose suzerains were different, one an Asian power\and the other a European power. India was India\and Korea was Korea.


I could not understand why the theory of bloodless independence had had such a lingering effect on a man in Luozigou\where the military\and political activities of the people’s revolutionary army were most intensive.

 

“That man must have realized at the moment of his death that the theory of bloodless independence was illusory. How pathetic it would be if he had died without realizing it! The Japanese are running wild to allay their thirst for blood,\and yet he absurdly preached bloodlessness...” Ri Thae Gyong, unable to say anything more, shook his fist.


“You’re right, old man. Blood will flow in the fight with brigands. A mad dog must be controlled with the stick!”


“General, the lives of Koreans are much too cheap. How long must the Korean nation live like this? Please let the enemy pay for the blood shed in Sidaogou. If you revenge the enemy, then I can die in peace.”


When seeing me off, he repeatedly requested that I revenge the enemy. “I will bear your words in mind,” I replied. “If we return without avenging the people of Sidaogou, then don’t permit us to enter the yard of your house.”


We left for Luozigou with the firm determination to take avenge on the cutthroats.


I have fought all my life for the dignity of the nation. I am able to say that I have been fighting all my life to defend the dignity\and independence of the nation. I have never shown mercy towards those who harmed our nation\and infringed upon the sovereignty of our country, nor have I compromised with those who looked down upon our people\or mocked at them. I have maintained friendly relations with those who have been friendly towards us,\and broken with those who have been unfriendly\or discriminated us. If they struck us, we gave them tit for tat; if they smiled at us, we smiled at them. A cake for a cake,\and a stone for a stone—this is the principle of reciprocity I have adhered to all through my life.

 

In the past the powerless feudal government of Korea applied extraterritoriality to the Japanese residing in Korea. Just as the south Korean rulers today are conniving at the illegal acts of the US army soldiers, without having the law on them, the feudal government did not punish offenders with the law of Korea even though the Japanese outrageously harmed the lives\and property of our people. The Japanese people were to be punished only by Japanese law. However, such an extraterritoriality had no place in the areas of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army activities. We had our own law which did not tolerate any form of offence against the Korean nation\and the territory of Korea. The murderers who had committed the outrages in Sidaogou could not pass with impunity under that law.


We planned to occupy the fortress on the west hill\and storm into Luozigou on the day of the Tano festival. The Hunchun Regiment had arrived to reinforce us.


As the columns of the revolutionary army were advancing towards Luozigou, men of the Wangqing Regiment who had been to the town on a reconnoitring mission, approached me with company commander Tie. He had suddenly come to tell me about Wen.


Tie said, “The battalion commander is trembling with fear on hearing that the people’s revolutionary army is surrounding Luozigou to attack it. He said that he had only let his man tell the Jingan army unit\where Sidaogou was as they had asked,\and had had no inkling that such atrocities would take place. He’s sorry that he had made the mistake of guiding the Jingan army unit to Sidaogou under Japanese pressure\and letting his soldiers rob the people of their properties. He said further that he had not intentionally broken the promise he had made with Commander Kim\and begs for your mercy.”

 

I thought deeply over Tie’s words. It was obvious that Wen had broken his promise by failing to prevent his men rom robbing the people of their property\and by letting his man show the Jingan army unit the way to Sidaogou. But this treachery could be dealt with leniently because an officer of the puppet army had to be at the beck\and call of his Japanese superiors.


If we destroyed Wen’s battalion, what would be the consequence? The offensive\and defensive alliance between us would be ruptured\and another unit much more wicked than Wen’s battalion would be sent to Luozigou. The enemy was sure to do that whether we wanted it\or not. This would invite further outrages like those perpetrated at Sidaogou. Our planned effort to evacuate the people rom the guerrilla zones in Wangqing\and Hunchun to the Luozigou area would have difficulties\and our intention to maintain this area as a strategic stronghold for the KPRA would meet with a great challenge.


Then, what was I to do?


I made up my mind to draw the battalion commander closer to our side instead of punishing him,\and to strike at the Jingan army unit based in Laoheishan to demonstrate how those who had harmed the people would be sent to their doom. According to reports of those who had been to the area of Dongning County on reconnoitring missions, a reinforced company of the Jingan army was stationed in Wangbaowan, Laoheishan,\and it consisted of the cutthroats who had made havoc of Sidaogou. The scouts even learned that it was a task force detached rom the notorious Yoshizaki unit.


I conveyed my decision to Tie:


“The people’s revolutionary army will suspend its plan of attacking Luozigou. It is true that Wen broke faith with us, but we still place our hopes on him. How can Wen guarantee his re-expressed faithfulness to the offensive\and defensive alliance? If his promise holds true, he must guarantee the safety of both army\and people during the people’s revolutionary army’s joint athletic meet in the town of Luozigou during the Tano festival. Convey our opinion to the battalion commander. We will wait here for his reply.”


Tie notified us on returning that the battalion commander, Wen, had accepted all our demands.


Our regiments quickly changed their combat formation into a festival one. The officers, who had planned the attack on Luozigou, were now busy drawing up lists of sports events that would be enjoyed by both soldiers\and people,\and forming teams that would demonstrate the might of the unity between the army\and the people. Thus, we\organized a grandiose joint athletic meet of the army\and the people in the heart of the walled-in town of Luozigou occupied by the enemy, under the protection of his forces, whose mission it was to “clean up” the revolutionary army, an athletic meet unprecedented in the history of war.


Even our underground operatives came out on that day to enjoy the meet. The soldiers of Wen’s battalion were delighted by the unique festival. The people who had been so depressed by the atrocities in Sidaogou were again in high spirits, thanks to the Tano festival. The joint athletic meet clearly demonstrated our consistent stand\and will, at home\and abroad, that we were always ready to establish friendly relations with an army that did not harm the people, irrespective of the army’s name\and affiliation.


In Taipinggou we held a meeting of military\and political cadres who were higher than the company political instructor\and mapped out a detailed plan of the battle at Laoheishan. Then we held a ceremonial memorial service for those killed in Sidaogou. The service became an excellent forum for inciting the officers\and men of the revolutionary army to revenge the enemy.


I think it was mid-June 1935 when we finished off the Hongxiutour at Laoheishan. Hongxiutour is a nickname that the people in Manchuria had given to the Jingan army soldiers, apparently because of their rakishly wearing red arm-bands on their sleeves.


Our soldiers had lured the enemy out of Wangbaowan then in a very clever way. The Jingan army unit, stationed in Wangbaowan, Laoheishan, was the same unit that had dogged our steps, during our first expedition to north Manchuria\and the group of savages who had committed the atrocities at Sidaogou.


At first we provoked a fight with them by dispatching a small unit, but they were keen enough to notice that our unit had come. They could not be provoked readily. The villagers told me that the Jingan army soldiers would be going out to “mop up” the guerrilla army only in winter\and would avoid engagements with the revolutionary army in summer if possible, striking out only at mountain rebels\and bandits.


We had to draw them out of their den in\order to attack them. Therefore, we decided to use the alluring tactic. We withdrew our forces to Luozigou in broad daylight so that the enemy could see the movement\and believe that we had withdrawn somewhere else. That night we moved the unit back secretly\and lay in ambush in the forest near Wangbaowan\where the Jingan army unit was stationed. Then we disguised 10 soldiers who spoke Chinese as mountain rebels\and sent them to Wangbaowan. They made a great fuss, grabbing donkeys rom the villagers, trampling on their furniture\and ripping off the fences of their vegetable gardens, before returning to the unit.

 

But the Jingan army soldiers did not fall into the trap on the first day for some unknown reason. Though uncomfortable, we had a simple dinner of some dry rations at our position\and spent a tedious night, irritated by the mosquitoes. I had heard Ri Kwan Rin saying that when she had tilled the land at the foot of Mt. Paektu with Jang Chol Ho, she had weeded the potato fields with a bunch of moxa on her head because of the irritating mosquitoes, but the gnats in Laoheishan were just as bad. The soldiers slapped at their cheeks\and napes, complaining that the gnats in Laoheishan took after the Hongxiutour\and were stinging them poisonously.


On the next day the decoying group went down to the village in Wangbaowan\and behaved like mountain rebels. They caught a few chickens in a somewhat well-to-do house\and pretended to take flight. Only then did the Jingan army soldiers begin to chase them en masse. Apparently the villagers had raised a big fuss that day that the mountain rebels had again been in the village.


The Jingan army soldiers were quite well-versed in the tactics of the guerrilla army; they even knew how guerrillas waylaid convoys\and attacked walled towns. To deceive them was as difficult as belling the cat. Surely, our decoy had acted out the hooliganism of the mountain rebels to a tee.


What I still cannot forget among the episodes related with this battle is that Kim Thaek Kun’s wife shook me awake as I was dozing rom fatigue while in ambush on the second day. She\and her husband had taken great care to nurse me in the Shiliping valley during some painful days of fever. She had played the role of my aide-de-camp, so to speak. At that time she had picked a broad-leaved grass\and asked me what it was called, saying that it looked tasty. It was aster. I had told her to call it “bear aster” since it grew in a place\where there were many bears.


After liberation, on my visit to Taehongdan, I ate that same bear aster.


The enemy, who had come within the area\where the revolutionary army was lying in ambush, gazed anxiously rom side to side, saying, “It’d be terrible to be surrounded in this place.” When the enemy were all in the mountain valley, I fired a shot signalling the start of battle. I aimed at a Japanese instructor,\and he fell at the first shot. They did not put up any resistance worth mentioning before being subdued. The agitators of the guerrilla army shouted to the enemy in Chinese to surrender before they offered any resistance, relying on the natural conditions. “Down with Japanese Imperialism!”\and “Lay down Your Guns,\and You’ll Be Saved!” The enemy soldiers gave up\and laid down their arms. The battle at Laoheishan was the first typical allurement\and ambush battle we had fought. Since that time the Japanese\and puppet Manchukuo armies had begun to call this tactic of ours “netting-the-fish”.


We killed about 100 soldiers of the Jingan army in this battle, an arrogant army who had boasted of its “invincibility”. We captured a large amount of the booty that included heavy\and light machine-guns, rifles, hand grenades\and even mortars\and war-horses. The enemy merrily carried the mortars on horses, but lost them before firing a single shell. The white horse I gave to old man Jo Thaek Ju was one of the ten thoroughbreds we had captured in this battle.


We also captured several war dogs. The officers advised me to keep some of the dogs for protection. But I saw to it that all the shepherd dogs were sent to the people in Taipinggou\and Shitouhezi. I thought the captured dogs would be of no use to us.

 

At the time of the Dahuangwai meeting my comrades had brought me a dog captured rom the Japanese army to keep as my guard. They probably thought it would be of help to me as it was a shrewd, clever dog. I was grateful for their concern but I did not take it, saying that the dog was tamed by the Japanese\and would not feel attached to the commander of the guerrilla army. It ran away, as I had said, to the enemy’s position at the smell of the Japanese when we were fighting the enemy “punitive” forces in later days. I had benefited a great deal rom the white war-horse but not rom any captured war dog.


The whole course of the battle at Laoheishan, to which we had attached importance as a model of allurement\and ambush in the history of the anti-Japanese war, proved that this type of battle was one of the most efficient forms\and conformed with the characteristics of guerrilla warfare.


We defeated the Jingan army in succession in subsequent battles by destroying Kuto’s unit in Mengjiang, annihilating the crack unit led by Yoshizaki himself in the Changbai\and Linjiang areas,\and in the days of the final offensive, by disintegrating\and crushing the 1st Division, the successor of the Jingan army.


For the Laoheishan battle the KPRA, which had been directing its main efforts to the defence of the guerrilla zones in fixed areas, advanced to wider areas rom the narrow liberated ones\and for the first time demonstrated the might of large-unit operations. The gunshots that rumbled in the valley of Laoheishan lauded the correctness of the policy set out at the Yaoyinggou meeting, the policy of relinquishing the guerrilla zones\and launching into wider large-scale operation areas,\and it was a harbinger of victory in our second expedition to north Manchuria. Thanks to the victory we had won at Laoheishan the KPRA was able to make more satisfactory preparations for a successful second expedition to north Manchuria.


The news of the KPRA’s victory spread quickly like lightning in Manchuria, inspiring confidence in the masses of workers\and peasants of Korea\and China, who had been groaning under the tyranny of the Jingan army,\and arousing them to struggle. As we were returning to Taipinggou with the trophies on the saddles of the captured horses, the people there formed long lines on both sides of the road\and greeted us enthusiastically. Ri Thae Gyong, too, arrived all the way rom Sandaogou to Xintunzi\where we were resting. People came rom Jinchang\and Huoshaopu to visit the people’s revolutionary army bringing small contributions to us.


On the eve of the second expedition to north Manchuria I planned an operation to win over a company of the puppet Manchukuo army stationed in Dahuanggou, by drawing on some information I had received rom the Hunchun guerrilla unit. The man who had brought me the information was Hwang Jong Hae, serving as an\orderly of the Hunchun guerrilla unit. His father, Hwang Pyong Gil, was a renowned patriotic martyr who had taken an active part in planning the shooting of Ito Hirobumi by An Jung Gun.


Hwang told me that there was a sergeant in the company who sympathized with communism, who had a good influence on his fellow soldiers, but that he did not dare to persuade the whole company, only thinking about coming over to the guerrilla army with some of his fellows. He further asked for my advice as he thought it probable that the whole company could be won over if things went well.


My attention had already been drawn to this company in Dahuanggou. It hindered the activities of the guerrilla army in one way or another as it was located along our route. We knew that the company commander was a Chinese man\and that the Korean serving in the company as an interpreter was a very wicked fellow.


The sergeant played the main part in the operation for the mutiny. He was masterminded by Hwang Jong Hae\and our other operatives. The sergeant was neither an operative we had planted nor a member of the Communist Party. He was just an\ordinary young man who had been recruited while working in Dalian. His “punitive” force had\originally been in Jehol. As his unit moved to Jiandao, he automatically came to Hunchun. The sergeant had heard in Jehol that there were many communists in Jiandao,\and paid serious attention to the activities of the communists around him in Hunchun. He even had had the bold idea of joining up with them in\order to reshape his destiny.


One day while talking to his fellow soldiers in a restaurant, he complained, “Damn it! What’s the use of fighting the communists? I’d do better to shoot someone on our side\and desert.” Hwang had witnessed this\and reported it to his superiors. The sergeant soon became a man we had to win over to our side.


At about this time an incident took place, in which one of our comrades, who had gone to Hunchun for a small-unit operation, was arrested by the police. He was a Korean, but he spoke fluent Chinese. When the police had tied him up, then kicked, hit\and abused him, the sergeant, who was passing by, saw what was happening\and interfered, saying, “Hey! He’s in the same state of being oppressed as you are, though he’s a communist. How on earth can you beat him so cruelly?” He hit the policeman\and sent him away. He then took our operative to his barracks. On the way the sergeant said to him, “I can set you free here now. But you’ve got to go with me to our barracks. If you’re courageous, then please tell about the communist army to my company commander\and to others, spending the night in our unit. We’re eager to know. There are a Japanese instructor\and a Korean interpreter in our company, both wicked men. I’ll make an excuse to send them to the town, so you may rest easy.”


Our operative did not know why the sergeant was making such a suggestion, but he followed him to the barracks, thinking to die an honourable death if need be.


At the barracks, he took our man to the company commander who was his friend. As the three were talking at a tea table behind closed doors, the Japanese instructor entered the company headquarters\and looked curiously at our man. In\order not to incur the instructor’s suspicion, the sergeant said to the company commander, “This is a friend of mine. He came to collect the money for the wine I drank, but I haven’t any. Would you kindly lend me some, sir?” The company commander was also a wily man. He replied, “I’ll pay for the wine, so don’t worry about it. Your friend is my friend so we must treat him well. You may talk here at ease over tea, before parting.”


After the Japanese instructor had left for the town, the three men continued their talk. At the sergeant’s request, our man conducted some communist propaganda, saying, “The guerrilla army is an allied army of Koreans\and Chinese. I’m a Korean. The Korean people, too, are against the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. There are patriots in the Manchukuo army\and we’re ready to join hands with them.” He further explained our policy on the puppet Manchukuo army\and sang some songs in Chinese for them about that army.


Moved by his talk, the company commander told our man to inform his superiors on his return the next day that he had no intention of fighting the guerrilla army\and, even though his company had to go on a “punitive” mission, they would fire a few shots in the direction of the forest as a signal so that the guerrillas could escape.


Seeing our man off, the sergeant said that he wanted to keep in touch with our man in the future,\and that it would be good for our man to be in contact with him. He requested that he report to his political commissar what they had discussed that day.


In this way we could keep in touch with the company; we increased our activities still further to encourage them to revolt. I gave Hwang Jong Hae a detailed assignment\and sent him back to Dahuanggou. Hwang got in touch with the sergeant again\and worked to help the whole company to revolt. The sergeant made the following earnest request to Hwang, “We do what we are doing against our will. There’s nothing more shameful for a man than playing the role of a puppet of others. We envy you. The whole company’s ready to revolt, so please raid my company.”


We dispatched a force of two\or three companies to the vicinity of their barracks. The companies surrounded the barracks\and, at the time the soldiers of the puppet Manchukuo army were doing their morning exercise, they fired warning shots\and shouted at them. The puppet Manchukuo army company sent a representative for negotiations; he was none other than the sergeant rom Dalian whom we had influenced. The sergeant demanded ceasefire\and told our man about their intention to revolt. True to their determination, about 150 officers\and men of the puppet Manchukuo army killed the Japanese instructor\and Korean interpreter, loaded all the enemy’s belongings in the town onto horse carts\and arrived in our guerrilla zone, blowing their trumpets.

 

The commanding officers of the Hunchun Regiment had a long discussion on how this company should be admitted into the people’s revolutionary army. Some suggested dissolving the company\and appointing them to the new companies of the people’s revolutionary army while others proposed enrolling the company whole, instead of dissolving it. The former was predominant among the two proposals.


Regimental headquarters repeated the talks on this issue with the officers of the company that had revolted. However, the officers would not agree to the dissolution of their company. Choe Pong Ho, political commissar of the Hunchun Regiment, brought the matter to me for my decision.


In\order to acquire a clear understanding of the wishes of the soldiers of the company, I went over to converse with them. They were strongly against dissolving their company\and were disturbed by the rumour about it. Frankly speaking, it was against all morals to dissolve it\and to scatter its men over different companies against their will, men who had come over of their own accord, not having been taken prisoner. The most reasonable solution was to respect their wishes as far as possible.


I made a compromise proposal that the company would not be dissolved but enrolled as three new companies to suit the\organizational structure of the people’s revolutionary army,\and that the commanding officers of the companies would be elected by a democratic method at the meeting of the soldiers who had come over. I advanced the idea for discussion. The company accepted the compromise proposal with satisfaction. Regimental commander Hou Guo-zhong\and political commissar Choe Pong Ho also supported the idea.

 

The sergeant who had played the major role in the mutiny was elected company commander. It was decided to send the former company commander to the Soviet\union for studies.


Some of the men who wanted to go to China proper were sent there via the Soviet\union,\and others who wanted to remain\and fight on our side joined the Hunchun guerrilla unit. Later, when we were in north Manchuria, they were transferred to the unit of Li Yan-lu.


The enemy mobilized enormous forces of the Kwantung Army, the puppet Manchukuo army, police, home guards\and railway guards in\order to encircle\and annihilate the large forces of the people’s revolutionary army who were fighting\and doing political work in\and around Luozigou\and Taipinggou. The main force of the “punitive” troops pressed on Taipinggou rom the direction of Luozigou\and some were deployed between Yaoyinggou\and Baicaogou with the plan of encircling\and annihilating the people’s revolutionary army in this narrow area if it retreated to the southwest.


On June 20, 1935, the enemy began its attack at last on Taipinggou. We deployed our units on the mountain behind Taipinggou\and set up the command post near the mortar battery. There was a natural cave below the C.P.


The enemy began crossing the River Dahuoshaopu on boats. Our mortar battery opened fire. One of the mortars blew up an enemy boat in the middle of the river. The enemy gave up the crossing\and fled in terror to their positions. The marksmanship of the mortar gunners was really amazing. The mortar battery, which had been formed with part of the defectors rom the puppet Manchukuo army, proved its worth. Those who had been sceptical\and unhappy with the defectors’ participation in the battle only now realized how they had erred.

 

I embraced the commander of the battery\and congratulated him on the victory. Some of the commanding officers of the revolutionary army, who had been sceptical of those who had come over to our side, were so pleased that they came running to the mortar emplacement. The rumbling of the mortars on the River Dahuoshaopu was a historical cry, heralding the birth of our artillery. The enemy trembled with fear at the boom\and the people danced with joy. We now celebrate that day as the day of the artillery.


Battalion commander Wen, who had fled to Luozigou in terror at our mortar fire after attempting to cross the River Dahuoshaopu said, “The people’s revolutionary army is really something mysterious. It captured mortars only yesterday\and today has the skill of hitting a target with only the second shell. Who can rival such an army? It’s a fool’s job to do that. I will never fight Kim Il Sung’s army even if it means a Japanese sword on my neck.” Needless to say, this information was delivered to us by company commander Tie.


As the people’s revolutionary army displayed its might by defeating the enemy in succession at Laoheishan\and Taipinggou, our revolutionary\organizations worked energetically in many places. The head of the Anti-Japanese Association in Luozigou said proudly that after the people’s revolutionary army had crushed the Jingan army unit at Laoheishan, the people living in the town had come to him, not to the village government, to register marriages\and to report childbirths.


We do not forgive anybody who harms the people! We demonstrated this will of the Korean communists once again powerfully in practice at Laoheishan\and Taipinggou. But those who harmed the people were extremely wicked. “We will exist only when we stamp out communism!”—this was the belief of the people’s enemy. We still had to fight many a battle against those with this belief.


The blood shed by the enemy in the battle at Taipinggou stained the River Dahuoshaopu for over a week. It was said that an unprecedented number of daces swam up this river in shoals that year, probably because of the blood.



   

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