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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 15 2. Homeland Party Working Committee

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 15 2. Homeland Party Working Committee




2. Homeland Party Working Committee 


The creation of our own communist party was the unanimous desire of the Korean revolutionaries\and one of the most important strategic tasks, which the young communists had set themselves, when they had started the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle.

Throughout the armed struggle against Japanese imperialism, we carried out an independent line of founding a party by expanding\and consolidating its basic\organizations with the fine vanguards, who had been trained in the practical revolutionary struggle.

The Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, the main force of the anti-Japanese revolution, became the leading force in founding the party, charged with its\organizational\and ideological preparations. The work of founding the party had been\organized\and carried out on a full scale, with the KPRA Party Committee gaining momentum in its leadership function\and role; it became a powerful motive force, which offered strong political backing to the armed struggle\and, at the same time, strengthened party leadership over it\and its mass foundation\and effected a great upswing in the overall Korean revolution, centred on the armed struggle.

In the second half of the 1930s, the building of party\organizations, promoted by the communist vanguards, who were directly engaged in the anti-Japanese armed struggle, formed the main stream of the communist movement in our country\and represented its fully\orthodox nature.

Our founding of the party progressed with difficulty, owing to complicated processes rom its outset, due to the peculiar situation of our revolution\and the various attendant problems.


The Korean communists had to undergo great pains\and undertake long roundabout course, a direct way for others, paying extremely dearly on their way to founding their own party. Owing to our peculiar situation of living in an alien country, we were forced to undergo trials\and agony, which were not experienced by the communists of other countries, in addition to the hardships common to the resistance fighters of colonies in the course of founding parties.

As mentioned before, the Comintern had withdrawn its recognition of the Korean Communist Party in 1928, authorized that it should be reorganized\and called on the Korean communists active in Manchuria\and Japan to join the party of the country of their residence on the principle of one party for one country.

Some of them had regarded it as an inevitable fate that the Korean communists could only accept\and adopted the passive attitude of joining a foreign party, obedient to the trend of the times, looking forward to a favourable phase. Others, displeased with the subjective conduct of the Comintern, had continued their activities as before for some time against this decision, without transferring their party membership to the party of the country of their residence; as they had been engaged in sporadic activities out of their habit, they could not, however, keep up their existence for long\and had all given up.

It is probable that communists join a foreign party for a short time, if need be. As the communist movement is a national movement, as well as an international movement presupposing class solidarity, it is not strange for communists, the performers of the movement, to join a foreign party\organization for a time\and transcend their nationality.

When the headquarters of the Comintern were situated in Moscow, quite a few leading figures of communist parties\and political exiles rom other countries, who had been staying there, registered themselves temporarily at\organizations of the Communist Party of the Soviet\union\and led their party life there, while maintaining membership of their own parties.


The point at issue was that the Comintern had deprived the Korean communists of their parent\organization\and thereby forced them into the disgraceful state of having to live in a rented room.

For this reason we had regarded the conduct of the Comintern as unreasonable rom the start. However, we had not made any desperate attempts, straining our every nerve, such as acting against it\or abandoning the movement itself. We had accepted the measure of the Comintern as a temporary step\and steadily worked to found a new type of party by our own positive efforts.

Above all, we had sought ceaselessly for ways suited to the specific reality of our revolution within the framework permitted by the principles put forward by the Comintern, while stepping up preparations to found an independent party. The founding of the Society for Rallying Comrades, which consisted of vanguard fighters of the DIU, can be regarded as a starting-point in this undertaking.

Until the first half of the 1930s, when the main force of the KPRA was active in eastern\and northern Manchuria, our efforts to found a party had hardly reached the depth of the homeland.

Admittedly, during those years we had already formed several basic party\organizations in various places of the homeland, such as Onsong\and Jongsong along the River Tuman. But the main theatre of activities of new-generation communists to form party\organizations, had still been eastern Manchuria. We had expanded our party\organizations in close relations with the party\organizations of all counties in Jiandao, concentrating our efforts on consolidating the Party Committee of the KPRA,\and trained hardcore elements, who would be needed to form party\organizations in the homeland on an extensive scale in future.

It was at the Donggang meeting held in May 1936 that we deliberated the policy on the party’s founding in all particulars\and debated measures for its realization, guided by the spirit of the Nanhutou meeting. The meeting raised for debate the task of laying down, on a full scale, the\organizational\and ideological groundwork for founding a party in the homeland\and consulted, as a measure to this end, the matter of\organizing the Homeland Party Working Committee\and expanding vanguard party\organizations, comprising the hard core of the revolutionary struggle. The meeting emphasized on the whole that the building of party\organizations should not be confined to the guerrilla army\or be conducted only in the areas of northeast China,\and that the\organizational\and ideological foundation for founding a party should be laid down even in the depths of the homeland. Noting that up until then basic party\organizations had only been formed in some border areas along River Tuman, the meeting also stressed that rom now on party\organizations should be built in wide areas of the homeland\and that in\order to provide unified guidance to preparations in the homeland for founding a party, the Homeland Party Working Committee should be established.

In\order to intensify party guidance over the anti-Japanese national united front movement, which was expected to develop throughout the country, a Homeland Party Working Committee urgently needed to be established.

To make sure that this committee, entrusted with such an important mission, met with reality, we had to ensure an open-minded exchange of opinions with communists active in the homeland, who were familiar with the situation of Korea.

Pak Tal’s visit to our secret camp offered us a good chance to exchange our opinions on this issue. The building of party\organizations constituted one of the main topics of our conversation.

After deliberations on the matter of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland, I held a serious discussion with Pak Tal for several hours on the formation of party\organizations in the homeland.

When I expressed my intention to set up\organizations of the ARF\and also communist party\organizations in the homeland, Pak Tal asked me with great surprise what kind of communist party\organizations I had in mind. I took his question as a matter of course. It appeared to have sounded rather strange to Pak Tal, when I had told him of my intention to build communist party\organizations in the country,\where no communist party existed,\where all attempts to rebuild a party had come to naught\and the pathetic efforts\and passion of the fighters consumed to that end had remained only as sad memories behind bars,\and\where the freedom of association had been banned by law long ago.

When I replied that I meant\organizations of our communist party, the communist party of Korea, he asked once more.

“What is the opinion of the Comintern about your intention to form communist party\organizations in Korea? I mean, has the Comintern approved this move?”

“It is our own business. Why do we need the Comintern’s approval in this matter? We do not need to obtain the approval of the Comintern, with regards to the formation of our party\organizations in the homeland, do we?”

Pak Tal tilted his head dubiously.

“The communist party of each country, as a branch of the Comintern, is duty bound to be guided\and regulated by it; consequently, how can we dare form our party\organizations without the Comintern’s approval? Do you think that the Comintern will permit our own way of handling this matter?”

Pak Tal was certainly impeded by a dogmatic way of thinking. “Revolution is naturally an undertaking, to be done of one’s own free will,

not at anyone’s dictate\or someone else’s approval. Tell me, Comrade Pak Tal, did you start the revolution at the request of somebody else?\and did you form the\organization in the name of Kapsan Working Committee, with someone’s approval?”


“Did Marx ask for anyone’s approval when he\organized the League of Communists? What about Lenin when he\organized the Bolshevik Party?”


Dumbfounded, Pak Tal made no reply.

“Marx\and Lenin founded parties without anyone’s approval; it does not stand to reason that we cannot do so. The Comintern already set a task for the Korean communists to rebuild their party in its theses, adopted in December 1928. We are going to form our party\organizations in the homeland as stated in the theses; who will dare dispute this fact? The Comintern cannot criticize it, either. In this matter, approval\or ratification is out of the question. The matter is related to the sovereignty of the Korean communists. We can deal with our own affairs among ourselves; there is no need to ask outsiders how we should handle our own affairs, is there? Surely we are the masters of the Korean revolution?”

Only then did Pak Tal agree that his thought had been quite superficial,\and expressed his full support for our stand\and suggestion.

“I’ve been the victim of really foolish notions. I hadn’t thought that we ourselves are the masters of the Korean revolution\and considered that the Comintern decides on the revolution in each country. By the way, General, if party\organizations are formed in the homeland, who will they belong to?\where should they expect guidance rom?”

“The party\organizations in the homeland will be affiliated to\and guided by the Party Committee of the KPRA. Under the present peculiar situation,\where there is no communist party in Korea, the Party Committee plays the role of General Staff, assuming leadership over the whole Korean revolution. Its activities are firmly protected by armed force. The barbarous rule of the Japanese imperialists, via their gendarmerie\and police, has removed all possibilities to rebuild the party in Korea. Most fighters, who had been on the run for rebuilding the party, have been incarcerated now. Only the Party Committee of the KPRA, secured by force of arms, is staying clear of the enemy’s claw. This is the reason, why it acts as leader over the Korean revolution as a whole.

“The role of the Party Committee of the KPRA as General Staff of the Korean revolution is the natural outcome of the development of the communist movement in our country. History required us to take up this mission. The Homeland Party Working Committee to be\organized in future will be protected by arms by the KPRA.”

“I have nothing more to ask now.”

Pak Tal beamed with a smile.

We immediately turned to discuss practical matters, related to the formation of the Homeland Party Working Committee.

This discussion also began with questions rom Pak Tal. He seemed to put questions first, before thrusting himself into an argument.

“The homeland is now abuzz with controversy about the matter as to which of the two should be\organized first, a party\or mass\organizations. The Hamhung group insists that the construction of a party should be given priority, while the Tanchon group\and Hongwon group stick to the opinion that mass\organizations should be formed first\and that a party can be founded next only through practical struggle.”

“What do you think, Comrade Pak Tal?”

“Unfortunately I don’t have my own opinion. By common knowledge, a party seems to be the first to be founded. But I am not sure.”

Pak Tal was thinking that the source of this controversy was the December Theses of the Comintern. The\original title of the theses was Theses on the Tasks of the Korean Peasants\and Workers. In this document, the Comintern urged the Korean communists to engage in positive work among worker\and peasant\organizations, make every effort to acquire fighters within the new\and old national liberation\organizations, including Singan Association, concentrate every concern on making much account of the ideological unity of the party\and try every possible way to rebuild the Korean Communist Party at the earliest date, strengthen\and develop it. Some communists, however, were confused, as they thought of the theses as suggesting simultaneously the construction of a party\and mass\organizations.


“In my opinion,” I said, “this question cannot stir up a controversy. Priority should be decided by specific conditions\and situation. The December Theses matter little to this question. It will be all right to form either a party\organization\or a mass\organization first, depending on regional conditions. Even if only three people are qualified for party membership, they can\organize a communist party circle. But if no one is eligible for party membership, a mass\organization may be formed first,\where communists can be trained to form a party\organization later. As a matter of course, since both party\and mass\organizations are related to each other, you must not artificially separate one rom the other. You must not forget, however, that no matter which one is given priority, the communists must direct all their energies to training the reserve force of the party among the popular masses. As long as there are vanguard fighters, who are qualified for party membership, a party\organization can be formed at any time.”

Pak Tal asked me what would be the function of the Homeland Party Working Committee I planned to\organize.

I explained to him in detail:

The Homeland Party Working Committee is a regional leadership\organ, which will offer unified guidance over the revolutionary struggle in the homeland\and deal with the formation of party\organizations there. As there is no General Staff, performing the function of giving unified leadership to the movement in the homeland, it has not yet overcome two major vulnerable points—dispersed  character \and  spontaneity.  To  rally  the  patriots \and communists, active in dispersion in the homeland, into a single force,\and help them establish direct relations among themselves, there should be a leadership\organ capable of this work. Such an\organ is provided by the Homeland Party Working Committee. When this committee is formed, we plan to include you, Comrade Pak Tal. You will represent this committee in the homeland. I want to meet face to face all of the fighters, scattered over all parts of the homeland, but time does not allow. I want you, Comrade Pak Tal, to meet on your return home the campaigners active in North\and South Hamgyong Provinces\and other regions first\and step up preparations for rallying them into homeland party\organizations.

On hearing such words, Pak Tal betrayed a serious expression on his face.

“I hardly deserve such trust. I am afraid I am not equal to it. I am still poor in many respects.”

Pak Tal’s frank confession consolidated my trust in him.

At that time we convened a meeting of the KPRA Party Committee,\where we\organized the Homeland Party Working Committee; I was chairman,\and Kim Phyong\and Pak Tal were members. Pak Tal was appointed field executor of this committee, entrusted with the task of forming party\organizations in various areas of the homeland including Kapsan.

He supported our methodology for forming basic party\organizations first in the homeland before\organizing a party central\organ later on their basis\and declaring the founding of the party.

After the meeting Pak Tal requested that I tell him of all the points, which I wanted to mention with regard to the work method of campaigners in the homeland, which he could refer to in his work.

I expressed my opinion that first\and foremost the exile’s method of work should be eliminated.

“Comrades, working in the homeland, are now acting in an exile’s way. This method is utterly destructive. They are hiding in mountains during the daytime\and stealthily moving to meet people in the dark. Consequently, the members of\organizations are loath to meet them, owing to their fear of the enemy’s surveillance. You cannot expand\organizations in an exile’s way.

“In future people engaged in underground activities in the enemy’s area, should gain the maximum possibility of legal action, while working on production sites. They must get rid of the working method of exiles immediately.”

Pak Tal heard me out\and blushed.


“To tell you the truth, I also worked in that way. We only thought of frontal confrontation, unaware that a roundabout method should also be applied.”

We chatted for some time, foregoing our formal talk. I asked him to tell me why someone like himself, who was disgusted at the old customs, was having his hair tonsured at a time, when it was trendy for everyone to look stylish\and civilized, wearing kid shoes, dressing one’s hair in foreign style\and holding a cane in hand.

He replied that he had once been engaged in a labour\union movement. Whenever he had been brought to a police station, the policemen there used to seize him by the hair\and hit his head against the wall. He had been so annoyed that he had had his hair “cut to its root”. I felt this “haircut” an expression of his wit. He said that he would change his tonsured head into modern style\or get a crew cut, if I asked him.

“There is no need. You did it for your own needs. Consequently, I don’t think you should have to return to the\original state just now.”

“If you, General, do not object, I will keep it as it is. How can I be sure that I will not be called by the police station again?”

In fact, he subsequently experienced many\ordeals at police stations\and prisons.

I asked him if he was ready to sit a police exam, if it was beneficial to the revolution. He looked at me in perplexity, his eyes wide open.

“You don’t plan to make me a policeman, do you?”

“If the revolution so requires, you should become a policeman. But I don’t intend to make you, Comrade Pak Tal, a policeman. I don’t mind if you wear a police cap\or not. It is important that you improve your reputation among those in the police sub-station by doing such a job.”

Pak Tal beamed with satisfaction.

“I have been on somewhat friendly terms with policemen, but I never thought of sitting a police exam. On my return home, I will try.”

True to his words, Pak Tal took the exam next spring. Before taking the exam, he first called on the chief of the police sub-station\and made a ridiculous remark.

“Sir, I want to become a career policeman. What do you think? Am I cut out for it?”

Unable to control his excitement at hearing this, the chief stood up abruptly. “Are you serious?”

“Oh, yes! I am so eager to become a policeman that I’ve called on you, haven’t I?”

“Yes, indeed. If you work well, you can even become chief of this sub-station.”

“How dare I take your post? That would be impudent?”

“No. If Pak Tal wants to be reformed into a faithful Japanese subject, I am ready to offer my chiefship to you for the sake of the Empire of Japan, although I may not be able to hold it any longer. I highly appreciate your ambition. Please take the police exam.”

Pak Tal openly took the exam, letting people know that he would become a policeman, but wrote poor answers to the exam. Consequently, he took the exam, but failed. He played skilfully as we had asked him to. Even the Japanese, in an account of his personal record, added to a secret document another clause, “Voluntary application for police exam at Kapsan police sub-station, South Hamgyong Province, in March of Showa 12 (1937),\and failed.”

Thanks to the police exam, Pak Tal gained the confidence of the Japanese. A policeman Kim working at that sub-station went so far as to vouch for Pak Tal on several occasions, saying that he had even sat for a police exam. In this way, thanks to the backing of the policemen, Pak Tal did all he wanted, pretending to be loyal to them.

The formation of the Homeland Party Working Committee was extraordinarily significant, in maintaining our independent policy for party founding\and pushing ahead with the building of party\organizations in the homeland.


It did not mark a mere continuation\or repetition of the movement to rebuild the party, which had been conducted in several ways after the dissolution of the Korean Communist Party. The formation of party\organizations, promoted in the homeland under the guidance of the Homeland Party Working Committee, was an out-and-out independent movement\and struggle to rebuild the party\and form party\organizations, which essentially differed rom the party-rebuilding movement directly sponsored by the Comintern\and the movement to rebuild the party, which the Red International of Labour\unions (Profintern) attempted to achieve through the Red labour\union movement.

In the 1930s, the Comintern had begun to show its attention to some extent to the national liberation struggle in Korea, particularly the party-rebuilding movement. This was because Japanese militarism was gaining ground in the Far East with the passage of time, a force no less dangerous than fascism in Europe.

Within the Comintern Kuusinen\and some other people advanced their self-opinionated ideas on the problem of reconstructing the communist party in Korea. Typically, they proposed the\organization of a national revolutionary party of Korea, which was discussed following the Comintern’s Seventh Congress. As far as I remember, the Comintern’s intention with regard to the\organization in Korea of the national revolutionary party, aimed at anti-Japanese struggle, was pointed out in detail in Yang Song’s article on the anti-imperialist united front in Manchuria, which he had contributed to Communist International.

He wrote in his article that the standing phase of Jiandao required the Chinese Communist Party to admit more Chinese\and Korean revolutionary workers\and peasants as members to expand its\organizations\and also establishment of the national revolutionary party of Korea, that this party’s most important task should involve the struggle against Japan\and for Korea’s national independence\and that this new party must be founded by none other than the communists. He went on to say that this party must be an anti-Japanese united front party in nature. It can be said that this claim represented the opinions of the Comintern\and Chinese party officials who had been working in the Comintern.

However, we settled the problems of forming party\organizations\and a united front in Korea on our independent judgement\and decision.

We dealt with both of them simultaneously, but did not mix them with each other, as a party could never represent a united front,\and a united front\organization was not precisely a party.

In those days, some independence campaigners tried to form a political\organization similar to the Kuomintang in China, encompassing all political forces on both sides, right\and left, under the name of the one\and only party of the nation.

We\organized the Homeland Party Working Committee\and pushed ahead with the formation of party\organizations. At the same time, we formed the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland as an anti-Japanese national united front\organization,\and achieved in this way great unity for the whole nation.

Naturally, the Comintern attempted in various ways, even before then, to rebuild the party in Korea.

Theses on the Tasks of the Movement of the Revolutionary Labour\unions in Korea (the so-called “September Theses”) published in September 1930 by the executive bureau of the Red International of Labour\unions under the leadership of the Comintern, set the formation of revolutionary labour\unions as a major prerequisite for the rebuilding of the communist party. Relying on the September Theses, the Korean communists had attempted to\organize revolutionary labour\unions (Red labour\unions)\and, used them as a mass base to promote the rebuilding of the communist party.

In October of the following year, the secretariat of the Pan-Pacific Labour\union,  situated  in  Shanghai  as  a  subordinate \organization  of  the  Red International of Labour\unions also advocated in its Urgent Appeal to the Korean Supporters of the Secretariat of the Pan-Pacific Labour\union, known as the “October Letter rom the Pan-Pacific Labour\union”, the\organization of revolutionary labour\unions\and the rebuilding of the communist party with them serving as its mass base.

These documents of\organizations, affiliated to the Red International of Labour\unions, along with the Statement of Opinion on the Korean Communist Movement of the executive committee of the Comintern, known as Kuusinen’s statement of opinion, published in May 1931, directly dealt, in content, with the rebuilding of the communist party in Korea.

In June 1934, the Action Programme of the Korean Communist Party was made public in Moscow in the name of the initiators’ group of the Korean Communist Party, which should also be viewed as a part of efforts to rebuild the communist party in Korea.

Despite Japanese imperialism’s continued atrocious colonial rule over the Korean people\and its suppression of the revolutionary movement, which became extreme as time passed by, the communists active in the homeland carried on the party rebuilding movement unremittingly in various forms. The communist party incident in North\and South Hamgyong Provinces, the formation of the Korean communists’\union, the meeting to hear the report to the Comintern on the rebuilding of the Korean Communist Party, the preparatory committee for the rebuilding of the Korean Communist Party,\and the like, which had taken place in various regions of the homeland during this period, represented some examples of the party rebuilding movement.

There was also a party rebuilding movement, which had taken place with China as its base.

The M-L group\and Seoul-Shanghai group\organized the preparatory committee for the rebuilding of the party, the central cadres’ committee for party rebuildingn, the party rebuilding\union\and the adjustment committee for party rebuilding,\and conducted the party rebuilding movement with the Jilin area of China as the centre of their activities.


In Japan, too, such a movement took place with Tokyo serving as its base. It could be claimed that the movements of the Red labour\unions\and Red

peasant\unions, which swept the whole country rom the end of the 1920s to mid-1930s, constituted parts of the movement to rebuild the party. The main goal of the struggle by these\unions, which had been lawful in their early stage\and subsequently assumed the illegal form of an underground movement, concerned the rebuilding of the communist party.

The movement to rebuild the party, launched in the homeland\and abroad, was mainly confined to the upper class, which had not been free of the old form of former movements, flunkeyistic tendencies\and factional conceptions. Despite these\limitations, we strove, drawing on the successes, which had been scored by former movements to rebuild the party, to build party\organizations of a new type in the homeland. In other words, we made painstaking efforts to get in touch with the networks of the Red labour\unions\and Red peasant\unions of the bygone days\and\organize our party cells there.

Late in May 1937, we held at the Paektusan Base the second session of the Homeland Party Working Committee,\where we adopted measures to enhance the HPWC’s function\and role\and intensify its leadership to the work of building party\organizations\and the revolutionary movement in the homeland. The meeting reviewed the result of the building of party\organizations, following the formation of the HPWC\and debated in a serious atmosphere tasks\and ways to build party\organizations in the homeland.

At the meeting I stressed opposing the worship of great powers\and dogmatism in the building of party\organizations\and in party life,\and pointed out some ways to admit communists scattered in the homeland into party\and other various revolutionary\organizations\and establish a proper party\organizational leadership system to suit realities,\where party\organizations were increasing in number.

The deliberations\and decisions of the meeting marked a clear milestone in stepping up the advance of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army into the interior of Korea\and developing the creation of party\organizations\and the revolutionary struggle in the homeland.

We subsequently dispatched a political workers’ group, entrusted with the mission of helping the work of party\organizations in the homeland. In summer\and autumn 1937, the political workers’ group, consisting of Kim Phyong, a member of the HPWC, Kwon Yong Byok, Jong Il Gwon, Kim Ju Hyon, Ma Tong Hui, Kim Jong Suk, Paek Yong Chol, Ri Tong Hak, Choe Kyong Hwa, Kim Un Sin, Ri Chang Son, Ri Kyong Un\and Ri Pyong Son, was dispatched to various areas of northern Korea; it conducted the work of building party\organizations\and work with the population there. This group was called the Pukson political workers’ group. It directly helped build party\organizations in the homeland, by making the areas of northern Korea revolutionary.

We assigned the members of this group districts for their political work. In those days we called such areas political districts. We divided them into political districts No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4\and No. 5. Kim Phyong had discussed the size of political districts with me\and set it. Political districts ranged rom the east to the west coast\and their numbers were given accordingly.

The members of this group could conduct\organizational\and political work either directly in the area under their charge\or indirectly, by dispatching excellent workers they had trained.

One detachment of this group, headed by Ri Tong Hak\and guided by Ri Je Sun, went to Unhung Sub-county, Kapsan County, in early 1937, to create favourable conditions for laying the groundwork for building party\organizations in the homeland; they scattered hundreds of declarations\and appeals, inculcating anti-Japanese patriotic ideas\and advocating Korea’s independence in rural villages there\and conducted propaganda among the population, before quickly returning to their unit.

The detachment headed by Ma Tong Hui,\and another led by Ji Thae Hwan, both in charge of Samsu County area, also advanced into the homeland one after the other\and conducted political work in a superb\and prudent manner, stirring up public sentiment in the area north of Machon Range (Ryongbuk).

We dispatched a young\orderly to Pak Tal for his convenience in work. His name was Son Jang Bok.

I instructed Son Jang Bok that he should, on entering the homeland, enrol in the family register at the Japanese government office\and behave like a man born\and bred in Korea.

Pak Tal took Son Jang Bok to the police sub-station\and slyly told the police chief:

“Mr. Chief. Congratulate me, please.”

The police chief looked at both of them in turn, agape. The chief had been fairly kind to Pak Tal since the latter had sat the police exam.

“What makes you so happy?”

“Well, I’ve earned a younger brother for nothing.”

Pak Tal proudly pulled forward Son Jang Bok who stood back hesitantly,\and talked uproariously in the sub-station.

“Until now I regretted that I had no younger brother.\and my father gratified my desire.”

“Do you mean, then, that this boy is your sworn brother, your father has approved for you?”

“What do you mean by sworn brother? He is my half-brother my father begot out of wedlock, when he was living in Kilju. After his mother died, this boy wandered about as an\orphan. Hearing of his half-brother living in Kapsan, he called on me here. So, I have decided to take care of this boy.”

“Oh! You mean your father earned such a son for nothing? Your father seems to have a knack of making profits.”

At the chief’s remark, the policemen burst into laughter. Feeling pleased, the police chief had all the procedures done smoothly without cavilling at anything.

Pak Tal had Son Jang Bok entered in the family register in the name of Pak Yong Dok. Ever since then Son Jang Bok started his underground activities. Some days later, however, an unexpected incident happened, damaging the

activities of the underground\organizations in Kapsan. There was a burglary at a farmhouse in Taejung-ri, Unhung Sub-county, Kapsan County. The burglar got away with 20 won, pretending to be a man rom the mountain, in an attempt to conceal his crime. In those days the guerrillas were called the “mountain people”\and political workers rom the guerrilla army were called “men rom the mountain”. The burglary coincided with the moment, when Pak Tal had been to Taejung-ri to guide the work of a subordinate\organization of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland. Owing to this coincidence, Pak Tal was taken into custody by the police on the suspicion of being the “man rom the mountain”. At that time, the police, aware as they were that Ri Pyong Son rom Kilju had been frequenting Pak Tal’s, attempted to arrest him as well, but failed because the suspect went missing.

Ri Pyong Son had been involved in the case of the Red peasant\union in Kilju\and had come to Kapsan the previous year, together with Kim Yong Guk. After Kim Yong Guk had joined the guerrilla army, Ri Pyong Son worked at a lumber station in Pochon Sub-county, while guiding the\organizations of the national liberation\union in that area. On that day the Japanese police raided Pak Tal’s house, mistaking Son Jang Bok for Ri Pyong Son. Once they had confirmed that Son was not Ri Pyong Son at this age, the police returned.

In those days we dispatched many political workers into Changbai\and the homeland, but could not meet the demands for political workers with only the soldiers of the KPRA. To meet the demand for all political workers needed, we required one regiment of political workers. But the guerrilla army could not conduct only political activities, away rom military actions. We\selected members of the underground\organizations in the area of Changbai, boasting rich experience in political work,\and others who were prepared\and experienced in work with the masses in the past, when they had been affiliated to revolutionary\organizations in eastern Manchuria,\and sent them to the homeland. At the same time, a number of political workers rom the\organizations of the ARF in Changbai County, too, were dispatched by Ri Je Sun to the homeland.

The work of dispatching political workers was mainly dealt with by Kim Phyong, a member of the HPWC.

Kim Phyong was then political commissar of the 7th Regiment. A talented political worker\and military officer in charge at the Headquarters of the KPRA of the activities behind enemy lines, he had rich experience in underground activities. In both the first\and second half of the 1930s, he helped me a lot in my work. Kim Phyong was a political-military officer I loved\and trusted most during the anti-Japanese revolution.

As a matter of fact, he was later arrested by the enemy due to a turncoat’s betrayal, went through trials\and left some blots in his political life; but he remained faithful to me. As he was fully involved in the affairs of the Headquarters\and the Party Committee of the KPRA\and was in direct charge of these affairs, when we were strengthening our ties with the revolutionaries in the homeland, extending the armed struggle into the homeland\and accelerating preparations for popular resistance, he knew more than anybody else what had happened then. In addition to military affairs, the facts related to secret political activities included quite a few details, which had been open only to him. His recollections of all the details, events\and chronology were mostly exact. I think his records rendered a great contribution to enriching the revolutionary history of our Party. It would have been better for Kim Phyong, if he had fought to the last in the guerrilla unit\and greeted the day of national liberation. I still remember Kim Phyong, who helped my work as faithfully as he could at the time of our struggle on Mt. Paektu.

The political workers, dispatched to the homeland, engaged in labour\unions, peasant\unions\and other existing\organizations, as well as individual communist circles, making tireless efforts to promote the building of party organizations\and expand the network of ARF\organizations.

Thanks to their remarkable activities, the “wind of Mt. Paektu” seized the people in the homeland inexorably: their influence ensured they had a correct understanding of the KPRA. Many people came to Mt. Paektu to join the KPRA.

As another measure for building party\organizations in the homeland, we\organized a homeland party team, comprising hardcore elements trained in the KNLU. Historians call this team, headed by Pak Tal, a “troika”. It aimed to act as the basic party\organization\and, at the same time, as parent body for building party\organizations in the homeland.

What I found peculiar about Pak Tal’s methods of work to expand party\organizations\and increase the ranks of party members was his formation of nameless party\organizations. These\organizations lacked any official title, but in actual fact they were\organizations of party members, who were working in a secret way. Such\organizations were also formed inside the ARF.

Building nameless underground revolutionary\organizations is a peculiar way of building\organizations, when the enemy’s suppression reaches its extremes.

According to this method, no title was given to an\organization\and no meetings of members were held; instead members were seen individually to be educated, learn the ways of struggle\and be assigned duties, so that even if one of them was arrested, the others could be free of harm.

After leaving us\and returning to Kapsan, Pak Tal devoted his whole heart\and soul to the work of building party\organizations in the homeland. Guided by our policy, he turned the areas of Kapsan\and Samsu into a seedbed for building party\organizations in the homeland,\and used it as a stepping–stone to gradually extend his activities to other counties\and provinces.

We chose this region as the most suitable seedbed for building party\organizations in the homeland, because we had taken into account the special socio-economic conditions of the region.

Samsu\and Kapsan had been known before anything else as regions for exiles. The Korean proverb “Although I may be sent to Samsu\and Kapsan” was derived rom the fact that this region had been notorious for exiles. The descendants of noblemen, who had been ruined\and exiled to this region, owing to the persecution of the feudal governments during the Ri dynasty, turned to be either slash-and-burn farmers\or mine workers, living on the last rungs of the social ladder. The vagrants, who had thronged into the Kaema Plateau, in search of a living after the “annexation of Korea by Japan”, also settled in this region, all doing difficult slash-and-burn farming, chopping off stumps with pickaxes\and setting fields on fire. The composition of the population in this region can be analyzed to have been based on good backgrounds, in the light of class\origin.

The mysterious nature of the highlands convenient for guerrilla activities had been transformed, rom the 1910s, into the battlefields for Righteous Volunteers\and Independence Army soldiers, fighting with matchlocks in hand with the ideal of defending the country with their lives, into the safest of shelters in Korea, embracing the social movement campaigners. The social movement campaigners, who had been deprived of their right to legal activities, had gathered here rom nearly all parts of northern Korea to take refuge. Men of great ambition had flocked to this region rom the interior of the homeland\and also rom faraway regions, such as north\and west Jiandao\and Siberia.

According to Pak Tal, in the mid-1920s, four anti-Japanese movement campaigners, who had been guiding the student strike at the Pyongyang Sungsil Middle School, moved to Samsu\and Kapsan\and\organized a circle studying socialism, comprising slash-and-burn farmers, thereby launching the socialist movement in the area.

Later, all those who had been engaged in the movements of labour\unions\and peasant\unions in various regions along the east coast before taking refuge there, joined their hands with the four campaigners in\organizing a youth\union, peasant\union\and vanguard\union.

For these reasons alone, Samsu\and Kapsan were fully equipped with the requisite conditions to serve as the seedbed for building party\organizations in the homeland.

The Kapsan Working Committee was initially formed as an\organization without any particular name. Starting its work rom May 1934, the\organization admitted Ri Kyong Bong first,\and then Kim Chol Ok, Sim Chang Sik\and others\and fought against the coercive cultivation of flax, superstition\and early marriage. About two years later, when the members discovered each other’s identity, they named their\organization Kapsan Working Committee.

On the basis of such experiences we gained in building party\organizations in the homeland, I later formalized this method in my article on how to manage the work of party branch\organizations,\and in the first half of the 1940s instructed comrades, who were to be dispatched to the homeland, to conduct their work by applying this method.

After liberation, one member of such an\organization recollected as follows:

“I joined a certain\organization, but I didn’t know its name\and the contents

of its work, because they were kept secret rom me.”

A revolutionary, hailing rom Kapsan, said that Pak Tal had given him a secret book, telling him to read it with precaution; therefore he had read it\and had only run errands for Pak Tal. However, for this very reason, the Japanese judicial\organ sentenced him to a heavy penalty\and imprisoned him until the day of national liberation. These people were probably members of\organizations lacking any particular name.

After turning Samsu\and Kapsan into the seedbed for the formation of party\organizations in the homeland, Pak Tal\selected hardcore elements trained in these\organizations\and began to dispatch them to adjoining counties\and provinces. Pak Tal had authorized them to lay down the foundations for forming party\organizations in the areas of their activities.

True to our policy, Pak Tal\organized the work thoroughly, so that the delegates took appropriate jobs. When the delegates received certain jobs in designated working places, their identity in the society could be legalized\and they could carry out their assignments with credit. In this way they could get rid of the work method of exiles\and establish a strong foothold among the popular masses.

Pak Tal sent five\or six operatives to Musan County alone.

Chae Ung Ho, chairman of the Anti-Japanese Association of Sondok-dong, Pochon Sub-county, a subordinate\organization of the KNLU, was dispatched to Musan County; keeping in close touch with the political workers, he conducted the fund-raising activities to acquire supplies for the guerrilla army\and the work of rallying the masses around\organizations,\and also stepped up the preparations for\organizing a paramilitary corps. Even after the “Hyesan incident”, he took refuge in the areas of Yanji\and Helong\and went in\and out of Musan area, perseveringly rallying the forestry workers into revolutionary\organizations.

Pak Tal sent Ri Ryong Sul, the chief of the youth department of the KNLU,\and Ri Pyong Son to the southern counties of North Hamgyong Province. Through them our policy on the revolutionary movement\and the building of party\organizations in the homeland was transmitted to Ho Song Jin, one of the leaders of the Red peasant\union movement in Songjin. I was told that Ho Song Jin, who had vowed to fight to the last to uphold our lines, had been as far as Kapsan to meet us but returned in vain. At that time we were in the areas of Linjiang\and Menjiang in a bid to remove the aftermath of the “expedition to Rehe”.

While promoting the building of party\organizations\and extending the\organizational network of the ARF, Pak Tal also went to great efforts to strengthen the military force of our revolution.

We instructed Pak Tal, through Ri Pyong Son, who had called on our secret camp, to\organize a paramilitary corps with the members of homeland party\organizations\and hardcore young members of the ARF.

Pak Tal used the Self-Defence Corps as the first step in preparations for organizing the paramilitary corps. In those days the Japanese imperialists were expanding the Self-Defence Corps on a large scale under the pretext of “defending the home village”. They even supplied them with weapons\and trained the corps men. Pak Tal believed that the paramilitary corps men, if all of them were admitted to the Self-Defence Corps, could master weapons\and win the favour of the enemy\and turn their guns on the Japs, by rising up all together at the time of contingency. Consequently, Pak Tal, exploiting his position as deputy chief of the Kolchigi Self-Defence Corps, admitted to the corps almost all the paramilitary corps men, whose age coincided with the admission age set by the enemy\and helped them occupy key positions there.

He also made painstaking efforts to implement our policy on the formation of the Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Army of Northern Korea (AJGANK).

Proceeding rom the need to rapidly extend\and develop the armed struggle in the area of northern Korea, we proposed the\organization of the AJGANK with members of the homeland party\organizations as its core. The wide plateau, north of Machon Range, spreading rom Musan\and Kapsan to Pujon Range, was an ideal region suitable for guerrilla warfare.

In those days I instructed the comrades active in the homeland as follows: You must\organize the AJGANK; I will\select, with special care, excellent guerrilla army soldiers, who can be the leading force of your unit\and send them to you; using them as your core, you should expand your unit\and train the soldiers.

I appointed Choe Il Hyon of the 7th Regiment as commander of the AJGANK\and Pak Tal, as its political commissar.

If the unexpected event had not occurred,\where Pak Tal\and most of the other leading cadres of the KNLU were arrested\and imprisoned, the formation of the AJGANK would have been completed smoothly as planned.

The members of the homeland party\organizations gave every assistance to the detached corps, headed by Kim Ju Hyon in its activities, when it was dispatched to the homeland.


Despite the threatening atmosphere,\where the Japanese hangmen were making wholesale arrests of members of homeland party\organizations\and of the KNLU, Pak Tal did not abandon the struggle. He made every possible effort to maintain underground the basic party\organizations\and\organizational network of the ARF, which had already been formed.

Kim Phyong informed me in detail of the trials suffered by members of the homeland party\organizations\and of the KNLU owing to the “Hyesan incident”.

No sooner had I got the information than I sent Ma Tong Hui\and Jang Jung Ryol to the homeland. This rescue measure, however, came a cropper, as both Ma Tong Hui\and Jang Jung Ryol, who had been wandering here\and there to look for Pak Tal, were caught by the enemy.

Next time I dispatched Kim Jong Suk, imbued with rich experience in the activities inside the homeland, to Taejinphyong. Pak Tal who had been working in Tanchon, Pukchong, Hongwon, Sinpho\and other regions on the east coast to expand\organizations, returned to Taejinphyong\and was reviving the\organizations there, which had been in a fix. Kim Jong Suk had encountered many difficulties\and hardships before meeting Pak Tal,\and reported to me the results of the meeting.

On receiving the report, I sent a liaison team, headed by Paek Yong Chol, to the Kapsan area. Paek Yong Chol had been engaged many times in activities in the homeland, while fighting in the guerrilla army. He had built a secret camp in Ouledong area\and had been working in various regions to obtain provisions. However, later on he had been recalled to the unit, after the arrest of Ma Tong Hui\and Jang Jung Ryol.

Ever since the first day when Paek Yong Chol’s team entered the homeland,  it  was  chased  by  the  police.  Indescribable  hardships accompanied the team, before it contacted the party of Pak Tal, Kim Chol Ok\and Ri Ryong Sul. I gave Pak Tal\and his men, who had followed the liaison  team  to  Mt.  Paektu,  the  task  of  reviving  the  revolutionary\organizations, which had been destroyed\and ensuring a fresh upswing in the revolution in the homeland,\and sent them back to Kapsan. On return to the homeland with Pak Tal\and his men, Paek Yong Chol worked in Soksin region; during his work he was confronted by the Japanese police. Shot in his belly, he held his slipping bowels to keep on fighting the enemy until he was caught. The Japanese police made him sit on his knees inside a hollow\and forced passersby to throw stones at him to bury him alive, telling them that he was a “communist bandit”. The struggle to rescue Pak Tal\and the homeland party\organizations entailed a lot of effort\and sacrifice.

To arrest Pak Tal, the enemy set off informants\and turncoats everywhere\and combed every hill\and mountain, causing a stir.

Pak Tal, as a member of the HPWC, contributed greatly to the building of party\organizations\and expansion of the anti-Japanese national united front movement in the homeland, thereby helping us a lot. He was virtually the kingpin in building party\organizations in the homeland.

Kim Phyong, Kwon Yong Byok, Kim Jong Suk\and other political workers also played a large role in stepping up the building of party\organizations in the homeland. They formed party\organizations\and firmly rallied the communists in various areas of northern Korea, such as Sinpha, Phungsan, Rangnim, Pujon, Hungnam, Sinhung, Riwon, Tanchon\and Hochon,\and Changbai, surmounting manifold difficulties\and trials.

Thanks to energetic activities of the vanguard fighters of our party, party\organizations grew rapidly in wide areas of the homeland. Revolutionary\organizations were formed one after another in many coal\and\ore mines, factories, rural areas, fishermen’s settlements\and towns in South\and North Hamgyong Provinces such as Kapsan, Sinpha\and Phungsan, in western Korea such as Pyongyang\and Pyoksong,\and in Yangdok area. In quiet areas, which had been astir with the movements of Red labour\unions\and peasant\unions, they launched again the movements of revolutionary labour\unions\and peasant\unions. The reorganization\and reform of former labour\unions\and peasant unions coincided immediately with the formation of party\organizations. The network of party\organizations\and the ARF stretched over even to the area of central Korea, including Seoul\and to the boundaries of Kyongsang\and Jolla Provinces, far beyond the area of northern Korea,\and expanded as far as Jeju Island\and Japan, across the Korea Straits.

The creation of party\organizations in the homeland was promoted via close links with similar projects in the areas of Changbai\and Linjiang. Party\organizations even gained root in the Korean settlements in Changbai, Fusong\and Linjiang. They were also expanded in the areas of eastern\and southern Manchuria. During the building of party\organizations, which gained momentum throughout the whole country\and on a nationwide scale, the communists, who had been active in dispersion, were rallied\organizationally\and the party leadership further intensified over the Korean revolution as a whole.

A strict party\organizational system was established throughout the country,\whereby all party\organizations worked under the unified guidance of the Party Committee of the KPRA. Following the establishment of a well-organized party\organizational leadership system, ranging rom the Party Committee of the KPRA, the highest leadership\organ, to the cell, the basic\organization, an epochal change was effected in laying down the\organizational\and ideological foundations of a party.

This marked another great achievement in the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle,\and a political victory of no less significance than the victory we had won in military operations launched on the Amnok\and Tuman, after basing ourselves on Mt. Paektu. Our bloody struggle to build party\organizations became a powerful impetus, hastening the day of national liberation\and also provided solid foundations, for accomplishing the founding of an independent party.

The Korean communist movement, slighted\and scorned, owing to factional strife\and lack of theory\and practical ability, began to blaze its trail dynamically amidst the flames of the anti-Japanese armed struggle.

 Related articles

[Reminiscences]Chapter 12.To Hasten theLiberation of the Country 5. The Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland 

[Reminiscences]Chapter 13. Towards Mt. Paektu  1. We Struck Commander Wang\and Won Over Wan Shun

[Reminiscences]Chapter 13. Towards Mt. Paektu  2. In the Dear Walled Town

[Reminiscences]Chapter 13. Towards Mt. Paektu  3. Premiere of The Sea of Blood

[Reminiscences]Chapter 13. Towards Mt. Paektu  4. The Women’s Company

[Reminiscences]Chapter 13. Towards Mt. Paektu  5. The Secret Camp on Mt. Paektu

[Reminiscences]Chapter 13. Towards Mt. Paektu  6. Patriotic Landowner Kim Jong Bu

[Reminiscences]Chapter 14. The People In Changbai  1. West Jiandao

[Reminiscences]Chapter 14. The People In Changbai  2. The Sound of the Watermill

[Reminiscences]Chapter 14. The People In Changbai  3. Ri Je Sun

[Reminiscences]Chapter 14. The People In Changbai  4. With the Comrades-in-Arms in Southern Manchuria

[Reminiscences]Chapter 14. The People In Changbai  5. Samil Wolgan

[Reminiscences]Chapter 15. Expansion of the Under-ground Front 1. The Indomitable Fighter, Pak Tal


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