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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 15 7. A Written Warranty for a Good Citizen

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 15 7. A Written Warranty for a Good Citizen

  

   


 

7. A Written Warranty for a Good Citizen 

  




 

In March 1937, on the eve of the Xigang meeting, I dispatched Kim Jong Suk to Taoquanli.

That year the\organizations in various places were requesting that I send able workers; Ri Je Sun, Pak Tal, Kwon Yong Byok\and Kim Jae Su all asked me to send them political workers. To honour such requests, I dispatched Kim Jong Suk to Taoquanli.

Whereas the underground network connecting Xinxincun,\where Ri Je Sun lived, to the Khunungdengi village,\where Pak Tal lived, was a route, which enabled us to expand the network of our underground\organizations to the whole region of North Hamgyong Province\and the eastern region of South Hamgyong Province, the underground network linking Taoquanli to Sinpha could be called the route we used to ramify such a network to the western\and southern areas of South Hamgyong Province\and the inland area of the homeland. Situated at the centre of the Xiagangqu area in Changbai County, Taoquanli could serve as a central base for expanding the network of the ARF to the vast areas of southern Manchuria, including Linjiang County, to say nothing of the Xiagangqu area,\and for establishing contacts in the network.

 

Sinpha, located opposite to Taoquanli, was a suitable place for establishing a relationship with the industrial region of Hungnam,\where a large army of our country’s working class was concentrated; it could serve as a good stepping-stone for ramifying the network of our underground\organizations to the southern region on the east coast\and deep into the inland.

We also attached special importance to Sinpha, because we believed that it provided a chance to open with considerable ease a route to the underground\organizations in the homeland.

Jang Hae U (alias Jang Hyo Ik) lived in Sinpha. Some visitors to our secret camp had told me that he seemed to have degraded into a petty bourgeois after his release rom prison; however, this represented a subjective estimation of the people of other localities, who had a poor understanding of the underground world of Sinpha. Kwon Yong Byok informed me that Jang Hae U had not been reduced to a petty bourgeois\and was in fact engaged in the revolution\and had already made contacts with Kim Jae Su.

Jang Hae U had enjoyed the favour of independence campaigners. Maintaining close ties with my father, he had frequented Maritime Provinces in Russia,\where many independence fighters\and exiles were concentrated. On these occasions he would stay in my house for a night\or two. Whenever he visited my house, my father would take meals at the same table, serving him wine; I cannot forget it.

I had heard of his arrest in the mid-1920s for his links with the independence movement\and prison term, but had not learned about the length of his imprisonment\and the circumstances of his switch rom nationalist to communist movement. I only discovered after liberation that he had been sentenced to seven years in prison, but had been released after two years by the “amnesty” to mark the accession of Hirohito to the Japanese throne.

The presence of Jang Hae U, a very experienced worker in the revolutionary movement\and my intimate friend through my father, in Sinpha constituted a good omen for our future work. Later I heard of him rom the underground\organization in Taoquanli, which confirmed that his thoughts seemed to have remained unchanged\and that there had been little change in his temperament. If we came in contact with Jang, we could open a reliable route to the homeland.

Who should we dispatch for work with Jang Hae U? Who could carve out with comparative ease a promising route to the homeland? Kim Phyong\and I racked our brains to\select the right person for the job. Kim Phyong, political commissar of the 7th Regiment, was at the same time in charge of the secret work of dispatching political operatives.

One evening, when it was snowing, I called Kim Phyong to the campfire at a bivouac. At that time we were marching northward, to the secret camp in Yangmudingzi, Fusong County, over the Duoguling. His lean face seemed to have become quite haggard rom successive battles\and marches in the snow.

“Have you decided which person is fit for opening the Sinpha route?” I was asking him the same question as a few days earlier. So far he had failed to provide a good response. However, this time he seemed to be brimming over with confidence.

“Yes, I have. ‘Black Jong Suk’ seems the best choice.”

 

His answer surprised me, as she was the same nominee as the one I had in mind.

“Black Jong Suk” means Kim Jong Suk. In my unit there were three girl soldiers with the name of Jong Suk—Jang Jong Suk, Pak Jong Suk\and Kim Jong Suk. When someone called, “Comrade Jong Suk!” the three of them would commonly answer in chorus, “Here!” This frequently provoked merry laughter, but also created inconveniences\and confusion. Consequently their comrades-in-arms distinguished them by calling them respectively “Gallant Jong Suk”, “Blue Jong Suk”\and “Black Jong Suk”. “Gallant Jong Suk” was the nickname of Jang Jong Suk, named after her habit of breathing heavily when working\and marching. Some veterans recall that she was nicknamed in that way, as she was always courageous\and gallant. (The Korean words for “To be gallant”\and “To breathe heavily” are pronounced the same—Tr.) I think both opinions are correct. Pak Jong Suk’s nickname of “Blue Jong Suk”\originated rom the blue skirt, which she had worn when she joined the guerrillas. The\origin of Kim Jong Suk’s nickname, “Black Jong Suk”, is identical. She had worn a black skirt, the only one she had had during her life in the guerrilla zone, until the day of her admission to the revolutionary army.

 

“Can she handle the serious task of breaking fresh ground in Sinpha?” I asked Kim Phyong, as I wanted to know what had made him pick Kim Jong Suk.

 

“When I carried out party work in Badaogou in Yanji County, she worked in the Young Communist League under my guidance. She is prudent in every undertaking. Moreover, she is experienced in political work in the Women’s Company. I am afraid I don’t know her own feelings on this matter. ...”

I voiced the same opinion. For all that, I still did not thoroughly understand the person in Kim Jong Suk. Only one year had passed since she had been assigned to my unit. She\and I had lived in this ruined nation in different places\and immersed ourselves in the revolution through different channels. I had first heard her name in Macun in Xiaowangqing. The children’s art troupe members rom Beidong, Wangyugou, to Wangqing had mentioned her name now\and then along with that of Yun Pyong Do. The butterfly-like children had harboured great illusions about the instructor of their Children’s Corps. In later years Ri Sun Hui, recalled rom the post of the chief of the children’s affairs bureau in Yanji County\and appointed to the same post in Wangqing County, frequently remembered her. Yun Pyong Do had also talked about her now\and then. The common name “Jong Suk” which a man would come across once\or twice at every village, consequently found its way into my memory. According to all the assessments of other people about her, she was quite daring\and persevering\and at the same time kind-hearted\and unusually sympathetic. My understanding of Kim Jong Suk in the days in Wangqing had been\limited to these generalizations.

 

When the art troupe of the Children’s Corps in Yanji County visited Wangqing, I sent them 40 red ties as a present. I was told that Kim Jong Suk, YCL committee member of the district No. 8\and head of the art troupe of the Children’s Corps in the county, had been quite moved by the present.

Kim Jong Suk was the only soldier of the 4th Company in the Maanshan Secret Camp, whom the Leftists could not rashly stigmatize as a member of the “Minsaengdan”. Nevertheless, the Leftists assigned her to the company of  “Minsaengdan” suspects for no reason at all. They apparently thought that she should live with the “guilty” Koreans, as she was a Korean no matter whether she was under suspicion\or not.

However, she accepted this willingly. She was determined to share her fate with her comrades-in-arms, who had been falsely charged. She did not feel ashamed to be living in the same quarters as the “Minsaengdan” suspects. Later on in life I came to realize why that little,\ordinary girl guerrilla of inconspicuous appearance, won the favour of the whole company.

Kim Jong Suk lived for other people, not for herself. She devoted her entire life to others. She always took care of other people at her expense. Whenever she was served food, she would share it with soldiers with bulkier bodies\or with young soldiers. The young curly-haired soldier of the 1st Platoon, 4th Company, who was said to have been a bosom friend of her younger brother, Ki Song, must have eaten her share more than anyone else. She would mend the torn uniforms\and shoes of male soldiers, when everybody else had gone to bed. Devotion to her comrades\and the common cause was the nucleus of her personality\and personal charm.

 

Rim Chun Chu, Kim Jong Phil, Pak Su Hwan\and other guerrillas rom Yanji had told me on many occasions that in the days, when the whirlwind of the anti-“Minsaengdan” campaign was sweeping the whole of eastern Manchuria, a young girl had stealthily brought food everyday to the “Minsaengdan” suspects behind bars in Nengzhiying,\and that the sufferers, who had been falsely charged, had escaped death rom hunger thanks to her efforts. That young girl had been none other than Kim Jong Suk. If it had been revealed that she had brought food to the “Minsaengdan” suspects, she would have been stigmatized as a “Minsaengdan” member.

 

I had first seen her at the guerrilla zone in Sandaowan. In Mengjiang in spring 1936 I heard in detail the story of her life\and family. One day I went out to the riverside, looking round the sentries, with a light heart as I had finished writing my report for the Donggang meeting. I could hear clear singing, full of nostalgia. I went upstream,\where the singing voices were ringing out\and found two women soldiers rinsing out the wash in a willow grove. One of them was Kim Jong Suk.

That day I learned that she had been born in Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province,\and that her family had left the hometown\and emigrated to Manchuria when she was five\or six years old.

The people in Hoeryong are proud that their native place is a scenic spot in North Hamgyong Province. During the anti-Japanese revolution this historic place, known as one of the six border points, was designated conspicuously on our operations map as a military strategic point, the seat of the headquarters of the 75th Regiment, Ranam 19th Division of the Japanese army,\and an air corps.

The Hoeryong people take great pride in the fact that such a talented cinema actor as Ra Un Gyu\and a renowned poet as Jo Ki Chon27 were born there. They also speak highly of their hometown as the famous production centre of white apricots. All visitors of Hoeryong in the bloomy spring will see the whole town covered with white apricot flowers.

 

However, Kim Jong Suk had only lived in that beautiful place for a few years. As she began to understand the world, she would stare at the barren mountains\and fields of north Jiandao,\where the mounted bandits were roaming, raising clouds of dust.

Kim Jong Suk was bereaved of her parents, sister\and brothers one after the other. Her father was an independence fighter, who had undergone trials in the enemy’s gaols; he had received serious frostbite during the arduous struggle. He suffered rom the illness only to die an early death. At the last moments of his life, he requested that his dear youngest daughter, Jong Suk, open the window. Then he looked out at the southern sky with tears in his eyes, saying, “I wanted to be buried in Korea\and thereby fertilize the soil of Korea. I am afraid I can’t fulfil that wish.\wherever you go, don’t forget your home village\and Korea.\and fight for Korea.”

 

When she turned 15, the aggressors who had turned the whole of Jiandao into a bloodbath, pounced on Fuyandong, set the village on fire\and cold-bloodedly killed her mother\and the wife of her elder brother.

The wife of her elder brother left her a suckling baby. rom that day she began to beg for breast milk for the baby. She would go round other people’s houses several times a day, carrying her nephew who was crying for milk,\and even went to a neighbouring village more than four kilometres away to beg for milk.

She had to part rom the nephew she had raised with such care. When she was going to the guerrilla zone, her elder brother, Kim Ki Jun, who had to go to a mine in Badaogou to conduct underground activities, took the baby rom her bosom by force. She was determined to take her nephew to the guerrilla zone, but her brother did not allow her to do so. So she postponed her departure for a day. At dawn the next day the enemy’s “punitive” force suddenly swarmed into the village. At the gun fire, she carried the baby in her arms\and ran up the mountain. She planned to go to the guerrilla zone on the way. Her brother followed her panting\and scolded her for being ill-prepared for the revolution. He said: “You should think of the revolution before anything else, as you have embarked on the road of the revolution. How can you wage a revolution, when you think only of your family? Don’t worry about the baby.”

 

He took the crying baby in his arms\and climbed down to the valley without looking back. Apparently he felt like crying so much, despite the harsh remarks, that he could not look back at his younger sister. This marked the life-long parting between sister\and brother.

Kim Jong Suk never saw her brother\and nephew. Her brother was arrested during his underground work in the mine; he was tortured to death. Her nephew disappeared without leaving his\whereabouts. Her younger brother, Ki Song, her only flesh\and blood, was shot dead by enemy bullets, while luring the enemy’s “punitive” force with a bugle of the Children’s Corps, in\order to rescue the people of Cangcaicun on the move rom Fuyandong to the guerrilla zone in Sandaowan.

Even after liberation she would shed tears at the thought of her younger brother. Whenever she saw teenagers on the streets, she would heave a silent sigh, thinking that her nephew, if he was alive, would have been that age.

After consulting Kim Phyong, I called Kim Jong Suk to Headquarters. “Comrade Kim Jae Su has made several requests, through messengers, for

more people skilled in underground work. Although agile\and experienced in underground activities, he seems to be experiencing great difficulties as the area under his charge is so vast. He is extremely anxious about failing in his work with women. He says that, in\order to involve the women in the underground\organizations, he has to work efficiently with the elderly, who are controlling them,\and that this is no easy job. You must base yourself in Taoquanli\and provide guidance for the work with the women in the Xiagangqu area, offering active assistance to Kim Jae Su.

 

“After improving the work there, cross the river to Sinpha\and, while maintaining relations with Jang Hae U, build up a solid network of underground\organizations in the Samsu area. Then, try to rapidly expand the network of the\organizations of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland in such industrial towns on the east coast as Hungnam, Hamhung, Pukchong, Tanchon, Songjin\and Wonsan,\and in rural\and fishermen’s villages.

“The creation of secret\organizations in the homeland is far more dangerous\and difficult than work among the masses in Changbai under the protection of the People’s Revolutionary Army. Take care\and work efficiently.

“We are confident that you can carry out this challenging task. Whenever you face difficulties, please rely on the comrades\and people.”

These are some of the things I said to Kim Jong Suk when dispatching her to Taoquanli.

The line of our operations had already begun to be stretched since late summer 1936 in Taoquanli area. According to Jong Tong Chol, when the news of the Berlin Olympic Games reached as far as the mountainous village of Taoquanli, a strange “gambler”, named Kim Won Dal, had appeared in the Xiagangqu area\and begun to make gambling popular among young people; he had told gamblers mostly that the Koreans were first\and third in the marathon event during the Olympic Games, but that the Japanese flags had been hoisted on the flag poles at the time of the prize ceremony.

The short, agile, intelligent-looking young “gambler” was Kim Jae Su, a political worker we had dispatched there. He had a peculiar fighting history, reminiscent of an adventure story. First chairman of the Wangyugou soviet government, secretary of the Yanji County Party Committee, head of the\organizational department of the East Manchuria Special District Party Committee—these positions marked his career moves in the first half of the 1930s, which can be condensed in a few words.

Then, an event had happened, which might otherwise have checked his normal career. When the East Manchuria Special District Party Committee moved to Luozigou, he had been arrested along with another member of the committee\and dragged to the military police. They had made Kim Jae Su\and Zhu Ming write letters of conversion\and given them tasks, forcing them to help them in their work respectively.

They said, “Don’t tell anybody that you have been arrested by us,\and continue your work in the special district party committee. Continue to form revolutionary\organizations. We will not care. If you regularly hand over the lists of new members, we’ll be satisfied.”

The enemy was overcome with delight that cadres at the special district party committee had been converted. In fact, Kim Jae Su had merely pretended to convert\and given a false pledge in\order to resume his work in the revolution. He had taken secret documents\and funds for his work rom the enemy\and frankly reported the particulars of the event to the committee. Zhu Ming,  who  had  subsequently  gone  to  the  committee  had  cheated  his organization, just as the enemy had instructed. In return the committee had duly punished him.

Kim Jae Su had been pardoned, but expelled rom the party ranks. His political integrity had been undermined. He had also been debased in the moral aspect. Deprived of everything in a day\and forced out of the fighting ranks, he had hidden himself away in a mountain village\and groaned in agony, repenting of the false conversion, which was proving worse than death.

In the world of revolutionaries, who regard adherence to the faith, will, mental\and moral integrity of communists in any adversity as the greatest honour\and virtue, false conversion is recognized as an inexcusable crime. This is because, even if one makes a bogus conversion, it will provide the enemy with a clue for counterpropaganda, give the real betrayers a precedent\and pretext for their betrayal. It is indeed true that, even if one maintains one’s conscience\and loyalty as a revolutionary, declaration of conversion to the enemy does not merit praise.

 

Kim Jae Su had acted against the noble moral norm of revolutionaries, proceeding rom the simple thought that it was OK, as long as he remained alive by cheating the enemy\and then continued the revolution. On hearing how I had burned the bundle of the “Minsaengdan” documents at Maanshan\and had relieved some 100 men\and women rom being suspected as guilty, he visited me after much mental suffering\and told me that he wanted to prove his innocence in the practical struggle. At that time he had appealed in this way, beating his own chest, “Either kill me\or spare my life; it’s up to you. But I want to be involved in the revolution. I can’t bear it any longer.”

 

I had trusted him. I had authorized him to conduct underground activities\and sent him to the area on Xiagangqu in Changbai County. I was confident that he would never again leave a stain on his career. His frankness with the\organization provided patent proof that he had preserved his revolutionary conscience. I believed this conscience. Although he had once made a false conversion owing to narrow thought, it was clear that he would never again take the shameful path at the cost of his life, as he had realized\and experienced the disgrace of his act.

He had infiltrated Taoquanli via Tianshangshui under a pseudonym. At first he had\organized gambling to become acquainted with Jong Tong Chol, Kim Tu Won,\and Kim Hyok Chol (alias Kim Pyong Guk), introduced to him as reliable men by Ri Yong Sul, head of an ARF chapter in Tianshangshui. No one in the Xiagangqu area could rival him in gambling. When gambling he would put wristlets on his forearms\and hoodwinked the others by putting in\and taking out cards rom the wristlets with lightning speed. When he made the highest score, he would hum\orang ballad.

 

The elderly with no inside information had complained that the prodigal was spoiling the young men. However, while they made a fuss, the\organization had grown in the gambling den. The\organization had subsequently turned out to be a core\organization of the Xiagangqu ARF committee, Changbai County. Thanks to his energetic activities, the ARF\organizations had been formed in nearly all the villages in the area centring on Taoquanli by the early 1937,\and later a paramilitary corps had also been\organized.

 

Kim Jong Suk, dispatched to Taoquanli, made first contacts with Kim Jae Su at Ri Yong Sul’s house, which was called by the people in Tianshangshui as “inner village house”. Ri’s was an unusually big family of eight brothers\and sisters. The Tianshangshui chapter of the ARF had been\organized in this house,\and was headed by Ri Yong Sul, the fourth brother of the family.

We owed a great deal to that family. Many of our comrades had received much help rom them on their way to localities for work. I put up at their house on three occasions rom the end of 1936 to summer 1937; on my first visit I stayed for three days. Although they were struggling to make both ends meet by slash-and-burn farming, they were very generous.

Ri’s eldest brother had two seals of our unit prepared on Kim Jae Su’s request\and sent them to us. We used the seals for a fairly long time.

 

Staying in the “inner village house” for about 15 days, Kim Jong Suk helped the work of the ARF chapter\and at the same time prepared to work under the guise of a civilian.

Assuming the pseudonym of Om Ok Sun, she went to Taoquanli as a member of a family immigrating rom Musan. A black red jacket, long, serge skirt\and knee-high padded socks were the trademarks of the first appearance of Om Ok Sun, the “baby of Musan house”, in front of the Taoquanli people. People hailing rom Hamgyong Province would call any young lady a baby.

Taoquanli was a mountainous village about 12 kilometres away rom Sinpha. According to Wi In Chan, who had lived since birth in one place in Taoquanli for over 20 years, the independence fighters, who had crossed the river rom Korea immediately after the “annexation of Korea by Japan”, had been the first inhabitants of this village.

Until the beginning of 1930, it had been under the influence of the Independence Army. Later on, following the mass immigration of the pioneers of the peasant\union movement rom the homeland, the ideological trend of communism began to gain the upper hand in the area of Taoquanli. rom the latter half of 1936, small units of the KPRA frequented the area, exerting revolutionary influence on the inhabitants. Taoquanli\and the surrounding area were covered with ARF\organizations.

Frequent visits by the People’s Revolutionary Army\and its successive victories in Taoquanli\and its vicinity heightened the spirits of the people\and imbued them with fighting zeal. Indeed, they struck terror in the hearts of the enemy.

Here is one episode to illustrate how frightened the enemy were.

 

There was a spring in front of the school in Taoquanli. The spring water was so cold that if you drank it on a boiling summer day, you could feel your teeth chatter. On hearing that the spring water was especially good, the Japanese police weighed it on scales to explain why. It was heavier than\ordinary water.

 

“Such spring makes the eyes of the Taoquanli scoundrels dark\and sparkling. They are all associates of the guerrillas.”

The enemy attempted to close up the spring. On learning of this news, Jong Tong Chol, the village head, said to the policemen, “The guerrillas drink this spring water on their way. If they find out that the spring has been closed up, won’t they bring you to account?”

The enemy did not dare close up the spring.

 

In brief, the mass foundation of Taoquanli was favourable\and the revolutionary force enjoyed the upper hand.

Although busy with farm work, Kim Jong Suk visited other people’s houses at nights to become acquainted with them. Then she familiarized herself with the names of the houses—Pukchong house, Kapsan house, Hungnam house\and so on. She mentioned later on that she had learned by heart the names of the villagers\and their houses in a week. She regarded this trivial matter as the first step to mixing with the people.

“After taking charge of a class, teachers familiarize themselves with the names of their pupils, rom the roll call, in\order to mix with the pupils. I felt that political operatives are no different rom the teachers. How can they mix with the people, when they don’t know their names?”

This is what Kim Jong Suk said to Kim Phyong, after finishing her task in Taoquanli.

As instructed by Headquarters, she placed most emphasis on work with the women\and made frequent contacts with them. Up until that point there was no women’s\organization in Taoquanli. Absorbed in household affairs, most women did not know what was happening in the world. To make matters worse, the old men\and women severely restricted them. When any woman glimpsed into night school out of a desire to learn letters, the old men raised a fuss, as if a great disaster had happened.

Kim Jong Suk concluded that the revolutionary transformation of women in Taoquanli could only be expedited via efficient work with the elderly.

 

Compared to the young, who were sensitive, the old people were bigots. Although they bemoaned their fate, they never thought about carving out their own destiny. Unless the old people were brought to their consciousness, the rallying of young people to\organizations could not be conducted without a hitch. In fact, she had considerable trouble, owing to the old people\and women on several occasions.

The experience of our activities in Jilin, Guyushu\and Wujiazi testifies to this fact. As I have mentioned in a previous volume, the old man “Pyon Trotsky” had impeded our efforts to transform Wujiazi in a revolutionary manner. Until we won over the old man, we could neither transform Wujiazi in a revolutionary fashion\or form any\organization. It was only when we won over the old man that we could\organize the Anti-Imperialist Youth League there. Hyon Ha Juk in Guyushu had been an important person in our work. As he had been a friend of my father’s\and enjoyed great influence, I would\drop first of all at his house, whenever I went to Guyushu, to say hello\and convey my mother’s greetings to him.

 

Kim Jong Suk naturally respected\and treated old people warmly. When I heard of her experience of work with the elderly in Taoquanli, I did not feel that the work had been deliberate. Kim Jong Suk did not regard people as one to be educated; she looked on them as simple\and common men\and women. Even if she met an individual she had to win over for her work, she did not consider him\or her to be educated\and herself as educator; she treated him\or her just as she would attend to her tender neighbour. In this way she became the people’s daughter\and their neighbour trusted by them. These were the basic characteristics of Kim Jong Suk as an underground operative.

 

As I myself have keenly experienced throughout my life, a man must think of himself as a son, servant\and friend of the people to mix with them\and at the same time regard them as his parents, brothers, sisters\and teachers. Anyone who purports to be the teacher of the people, a bureaucrat reigning over them\and leader governing them, cannot mix with them\or enjoy their trust. The people do not open up their minds to such individuals.

 

Kim Jong Suk did not leave the house without doing anything, even if she had only\dropped in for a minute; she chopped firewood, brought water\and pounded grain with a mill for the family. Her devotion to the villagers was earnest enough to bring a flower into bloom on a rock. In this way, the old people began to follow her. She achieved the breakthrough in transforming Taoquanli in a revolutionary fashion.

One day the landlord in Liugedong banished his young kitchen maid, suffering rom typhoid, into a hut on the mountain. Nobody dared to take care of that pitiable girl. On hearing this news, Kim Jong Suk went to the hut without hesitation\and nursed her, sharing bed\and meals with her.

Her comrades rushed to the hut on learning the news\and tried to dissuade her, saying, “If you get infected in this risky humanitarian venture for the hopeless girl\and something happens to you, what will happen to the important task assigned to you by Headquarters\and who will be responsible? You can nurse her, but do not share her bed\and meals.”

Smiling, Kim Jong Suk comforted them, saying, “Don’t worry,\and please go back. If we can’t save a child for fear of our lives, how can we restore the country\and rescue our fellow countrymen? I am determined to sacrifice my life for the sake of the people, so I fear nothing.”

Her comrades could not bring her out of the hut.

 

Kim Jong Suk rescued the young girl in the long run. At last the people in Taoquanli began to call her “our dear Ok Sun”. When they happened to get salted mackerel, they called for “our Ok Sun”; when a ceremony for a one-hundred-day-old baby was held, they asked for “our Ok Sun”. Kim Jong Suk was their daughter, granddaughter\and sister\and indispensable in their lives.

When she took tender care of the villagers, she paid deep attention, ensuring the safety of Kim Jae Su, who was busy accelerating the transformation of Xiagangqu in a revolutionary way.

In February that year, while distributing among the ARF\organizations the Samil Wolgan we had sent rom the mountain, Kim Jae Su was caught by the enemy holding one last copy. In the police station, he pretended to be illiterate\and kept repeating, “I got it on the mountain, when I collected firewood. I’m going to roll tobacco with it. Why do you take it away? Please give it back to me immediately.”

 

Thinking that he was an ignoramus, they set him free for a while. However, they continued their investigations in secret.

After covering Xiagangqu area under the pseudonym of Kim Won Dal, Kim Jae Su had settled in the house of Ri Hyo Jun in the main hamlet of Taoquanli\and changed his full name to Ri Yong Jun based on the common part of the name of Ri Hyo Jun, in\order to disguise himself as his cousin.

Kim Jong Suk discussed with Kim Jae Su an effective way to put an end to the enemy’s secret investigation. They reached agreement that the best method would be to demonstrate to the enemy “Ri Yong Jun’s stupidity”.

According to their , a fuss was raised the next day in Ri Hyo Jun’s house, disturbing the whole village. Ri Hyo Jun’s young wife committed a scandalous act, beating with a paddle her husband’s “cousin” dependent on her family,\and expelling him. She wailed loudly, saying that her family was now as poor as a church mouse, because her husband’s stupid cousin had constantly stolen her family’s property for gambling.

At the same time as his wife’s fuss, Ri Hyo Jun called in at the police station\and said that his family had been ruined by his stupid cousin, who knew nothing other than gambling\and implored them to strike his brother’s name off the census record\and expel him.

Meanwhile, the “stupid cousin” called in at the police station carrying a copy of the Samil Wolgan proudly\and asked, “I’ll give you this book you are fond of. But, for God’s sake, dissuade Hyo Jun\and his wife rom beating\and expelling me.”

Wide-eyed at the Samil Wolgan, they asked him\where he had got it.

 

Kim Jae Su replied that he had picked it up at Sanpudong,\where the guerrillas\and Japanese army had fought the other day,\and said, “Frankly speaking, I got the book you took away rom me the other day on that battlefield, but I cheated you into thinking that I got it on Mt. Baotai behind our village.”

As the police reproved him seriously, glaring at him, he produced a ticker rom his inside pocket\and said, smiling:

“Tickers of this kind, fountain-pens, money\and many other things are spread all over the place; if this is known, others will get them. If you prevent my brother\and his wife rom expelling me, I will tell you\where you can find them.”

This was enough to convince the police of his stupidity. Then the enemy stopped their secret investigation.

The forerunners of Taoquanli, including Jong Tong Chol, Ryu Yong Chan, Kim Hyok Chol\and Ri Chol Su,\and the revolutionary masses there made every effort to protect the underground activities of Kim Jong Suk\and ensure her personal safety. They crossed the river to Sinpha for her sake\and regularly brought her newspapers to read. Jong Tong Chol remitted money to the miscellaneous shopkeeper, a member of the underground\organization in Sinpha, who in turn entered subion for papers in his name\and sent them, as soon as he received them, either by packing goods with them\or in bulk. Kim Jong Suk thereby read regularly Tong-A Ilbo\and Joson Ilbo.

 

On ceremonial occasions Jong Tong Chol invited Kim Jong Suk, to enable her to meet operatives rom the guerrilla army\and messengers rom the secret\organizations in other localities, who paid visits to Taoquanli.

In summer 1937 he arranged a ceremony in his house for the birth of his son. The ceremony was attended by several political workers, including “Blue Jong Suk” (Pak Jong Suk), who had been dispatched rom the guerrilla army recently, the members of secret\organizations, policemen, village heads\and secret agents of the enemy. To disguise the operatives rom the enemy, Jong Tong Chol asked them to bow to each other. Kim Jong Suk\and Pak Jong Suk bowed to each other, according to convention. Kim Jong Suk kneeled down in front of “Blue Jong Suk”\and made a bow, saying, “How do you do?” For that moment Jong Tong Chol had taught her to bow for days.

At nights Kim Jong Suk went to the well to practise putting a water jar on her head\and walking with the jar on her head. She also practised riding on a swing for several nights for the Tano festival (the fifth day of May on the lunar calendar).

She regarded them all as essential steps to enable her to acquire the status of woman underground worker.

She realized that the main link in the whole chain of her efforts to transform Taoquanli in a revolutionary fashion involved bringing the masses to their consciousness\and rallying them to revolutionary\organizations. She carried on active propaganda of our revolutionary ideology through the “Ten-Point Programme of the ARF”,\and\organized leading core elements in stealth; she activated the core elements to form the Anti-Japanese Youth League\and the Women’s Association. The mountainous village, which had been quiet, finally became a solid base for our activities.\wherever she went, Kim Jong Suk educated the people in the spirit of defending the army\and loving the guerrillas; she prepared supply goods with members of the Women’s Association, youth\and children\and sent them to the guerrilla unit. She launched education to support the army so efficiently that even the Chinese settlers in Taoquanli rom the Shandong region volunteered to send support goods to the People’s Revolutionary Army. The Children’s Corps members wandered the battlefields to collect bullets.

 

The highest form of the movement’s efforts to support the army involved joining the army. With the help of members of the Xiagangqu committee of the ARF, Kim Jong Suk\selected rom the core elements the young men she had gained good understanding of through\organizations,\and sent them to the People’s Revolutionary Army. As far as Jong Tong Chol can recall, over 100 young men\and women joined the revolutionary army rom the Xiagangqu area. 

 

In Taoquanli alone, more than ten men joined the guerrillas, including Kim Hyok Chol, Ryu Yong Chan, Ri Chol Su, Choe In Dok\and Han Chang Bong. Han Chang Bong, the first generation of our revolution, led his regiment\and crossed the River Raktong in the teeth of sacrifices during the great Fatherland Liberation War; his regiment occupied the heights on the opposite side of the river\and rendered distinguished services in defending the heights.

Yun O Bok, chairwoman of the Women’s Association in Yaofangzi under the guidance of Kim Jong Suk\and the mother of three children, came to our secret camp located more than 30 kilometres away, carrying a two-year-old baby on her back,\and importuned to be admitted to the guerrilla army.

Their enthusiasm for joining the army went so far that one family made a sham grave for their son who had joined the guerrillas\and held memorial services for him in\order to deceive the enemy, because its surveillance\and oppression were so severe for guerrillas’ families.

Shortly after the detection of Kim Jae Su’s distribution of the Samil Wolgan, we dispatched Choe Hui Suk to Yaofangzi to support Kim Jong Suk’s operation in Sinpha. As Choe arrived, Kim Jong Suk entrusted to her with the task of providing guidance for the\organizations of the women, young men\and children in Taoquanli\and other places in the Xiagangqu area. She preoccupied herself with the operation in Sinpha.

 

Her activity in Sinpha began with work with Jang Hae U, who was at that time involved in the anti-Japanese revolutionary movement in the Sinpha area with members of the Working Committee of Communists in Samsu. Around that time contacts were made between Jong Tong Chol, village head of Taoquanli\and a special member of the ARF,\and Jang Hae U, Rim Won Sam\and So Jae Il, members of the Working Committee of Communists in Samsu. They began to communicate with each other.

So Jae Il, devoting himself to the work of the\organization, while working as a washerman, kept up contacts with Kim Jong Suk.

To obtain a detailed understanding of Jang Hae U\and his\organizations, Kim Jong Suk made Jong Tong Chol swear brotherhood with Rim Won Sam, a member of Jang Hae U’s\organization. Only once she had sufficient understanding through Jong Tong Chol beforehand, did Kim Jong Suk make direct contact with Jang Hae U.

She first met him in the back room of Sokjon Tailor’s. That day she conveyed my personal letter to him.

 

“You say General Kim Il Sung was Kim Song Ju in his childhood, a son of Mr. Kim Hyong Jik? I’ll follow the General just as I followed Mr. Kim Hyong Jik.”

 

When I received a report on this remark, I became certain that Kim Jong Suk’s operation in Sinpha would be successful.

Jang Hae U was not a petty revolutionary, who took into account other people’s ages\and the duration of their struggle\or who was proud of himself\or behaved narrow-mindedly. He followed\and supported without any presumptions what was righteous. Putting to one side his own personal feelings, he joined the great duty\and cause without hesitation; he was a man of such calibre.

Some time later he formed the Singalpha chapter of the ARF, involving members of the Working Committee of Communists in Samsu. In the same period, under the guidance of Kim Jae Su\and Kim Jong Suk, a party branch of the Sinpha area was\organized in the back room of Sokjon Tailor’s, directly under the authority of the Party Committee of the KPRA with the Working Committee of Communists in Samsu as the parent body.

The meeting to form the ARF chapter was held in Kwangson Photo Studio. The retouching room on the second floor of the studio was the secret liaison place, which Kim Jong Suk used most frequently.

Ri Sun Won, who ran the studio, was a core member of the Singalpha chapter of the ARF. He had attended a short course on photography in Seoul\and opened the photo studio. He was good at photography, was popular\and sociable; we would find it easy to work with the people if we included him in our work. He took snaps of a considerable amount of the enemy’s data\and sent them to us. On one occasion he sent us a snap of the view of Sinpha to help the People’s Revolutionary Army’s advance into the homeland. Plenty of leaflets were printed in his developing room. His wife was a faithful assistant, who tacitly backed the secret work of the\organization.

As well as Kwangson Photo Studio, Kim Jong Suk used many places in the Sinpha area—Sokjon Tailor’s, the noodle house near a well, Sinpha Inn, bowl shop, the watermill house—as secret liaison places\and working places,\and conducted underground activities, when she made secret visits to these places.

The noodle house beside the well, Sinpha Inn\and bowl shop were used mainly to make contacts\and communicate with members of\organizations. They also served as sites for the collection\and storage of supply goods for the guerrillas.

The secret place on the main route used for transporting supply goods was the watermill house. Situated away rom the streets of the county town, it was well out of the enemy’s attention\and therefore provided quite a convenient place for the storage\and dispatch of goods. A relative of the host of the house was a raftsman, who could provide ready help in sending the supply goods over the River Amnok. The host of the watermill house\and raftsman were both members of the ARF.

A considerable amount of supply goods were sent to us rom Sinpha. As not that many goods were available in Shisandaogou, the\organizations in the Xiagangqu area in Changbai County had to buy most supply goods in Sinpha across the Amnok.

Large quantities of supply goods, like grain\and cloth, sent by the\organizations in Sinpha area to the guerrillas, were carried over the Amnok by rafts\or ferries mostly via the watermill house\and the inn in Ohamdok. The family running the inn in Ohamdok was a special branch of the ARF.

During her activities in Taoquanli\and Sinpha Kim Jong Suk went to Paektusan Secret Camp\and Samsu, as well as such eastern coastal areas as Sinhung, Hungnam, Pukchong\and Tanchon to conduct in-depth work with the revolutionaries there.

The secret liaison places in Aan-ri\and Ohamdok were used mostly for sending operatives to other localities. Kim Jong Suk dispatched most members of secret revolutionary\organizations to Pujon, Jangjin, Sinhung\and Hungnam at the house of the head of the Aan-ri branch\and those to Kapsan, Pukchong, Toksong\and Tanchon at the secret liaison places in Ohamdok. At the secret place in Aan-ri she sent Wi In Chan’s group to the Hungnam industrial area, with the task of forming secret revolutionary\organizations there.

Kim Jong Suk travelled to these many secret places spread all over Sinpha area to expand\organizations. She never used a fixed secret place. By disguising herself, she skilfully used various secret liaison places\and working places in turn, as it was convenient to conceal the\organizations\and also ensure her personal safety.

After her return rom Taoquanli, I asked her to describe the methods she had employed to hide her true colours, as I had heard that the police in Sinpha were sharp-eyed,\and the secret behind her free activities during her visits to Sinpha scores of times without arrest by the enemy.

Instead of answering she smiled; then she told me an anecdote of her shadowing by an enemy’s agent.

“When I was entering the town rom the Sinpha ferry, a man with a shabby straw hat on his head followed me. At first I didn’t notice that he was shadowing me, but he still lingered behind me even in the town\and I became suspicious. The man took out a cigarette, rather than tobacco, to while away the time in front of a restaurant. I felt even more suspicious when I saw the cigarette. Can poor peasants really afford cigarettes?”

As the enemy was shadowing her, she roamed about the alleys\and went into the market; she quickly took a load rom a woman familiar to her; the woman was carrying a heavy wicker on her head with a baby on her back. As a result she lost the enemy.

 

“My sense of responsibility ensured that I was not caught by the police\or its agents. When I realized that I wouldn’t be able to carry out the task assigned by Headquarters if I was caught, I felt myself growing braver.\and the masses protected me at the cost of their lives.”

This remark of Kim Jong Suk constituted the resume of her activities in Taoquanli\and Sinpha. The important secret behind her successful execution of the difficult task of underground work was indeed her sense of responsibility\and involvement with the masses.

The wonderful creativity displayed by her in secret work in the enemy area emanated in the long run rom such a sense of responsibility. When I dispatched her to Taoquanli, I had told her only to carry out tasks related to political operations, not any other tasks, to avoid overburdening her in her activities in the enemy area.

However, although she paid primary attention to the political work, Kim Jong Suk also frequently collected military information needed for the operations of our unit\and sent it to Headquarters. She motivated the underground\organizations in Taoquanli\and Sinpha to collect large amounts of information. In particular such revolutionaries as Jong Tong Chol, Jang Hae U\and Rim Won Sam supplied her with a lot of information.

Jong Tong Chol was a master hand in obtaining information. He swore brotherhood with the chiefs of the police station\and customs office, the sub-county head\and other leading personnel of the enemy’s ruling\organs,\and collected information behind their backs, while maintaining “close relationships” with them. This sworn brotherhood involved the ruling hierarchy in Shisandaogou\and even the policeman of the special political division dispatched rom Sinpha. He frequently arranged parties for them, as well as opium-smoking for drug addicts.

 

The Xiagangqu committee of the ARF adroitly infiltrated its members into the enemy establishments. Allegedly two\or three special members of the ARF made inroads into the sub-stations under the authority of the Shisandaogou police station. Most village heads\and ten household heads, the servants in the lowest hierarchy of the enemy’s administration, were involved in the revolutionary\organizations.

Availing himself of the opportunity to work as a calligrapher in the regimental headquarters of the Jingan army, Rim Won Sam gathered a lot of military secrets. When the operations maps\or statistical data, which could be used by the revolutionary army, were made available, he copied them quickly on paper\and crumpled them into a ball, before throwing them into the waste basket; when incinerating the wastepaper at night, he would take them out\and send them to his\organization.

Kwangson Photo Studio\and Sokjon Tailor’s were also used on many occasions to gather information about the enemy’s movements\and make contacts. Some ARF members under the Sinpha chapter worked as clerks in such enemy establishments as sub-county offices\and banking offices. They collected the enemy’s information on a regular basis\and concentrated it in the photo studio\and tailor’s before reporting back to the\organization. Through these secret places Kim Jong Suk amassed details on the movement of the troops, led by Kim Sok Won at the battle in Jiansanfeng\and reported them to Headquarters in time, rendering a great contribution to the victory of the People’s Revolutionary Army.

 

Kim Jong Suk instructed members of\organizations to learn the strength of enemy troops\and police stationed in the Sinpha area, the distribution of their military installations\and their military equipment. She herself personally confirmed the width\and depth of the River Amnok, the speed of its current\and even the most favourable site for crossing the river\and returning; she then made a rough sketch before sending it to us.

When I reviewed her work in Taoquanli, I highly praised such creative effort\and asked her why she had located the sites for crossing the river\and withdrawing. She replied that she believed our revolutionary army might one day attack Sinpha.

 

In summer 1937 Kim Jong Suk was arrested by the enemy.

 

The rolls of paper which Women’s Association members in Taoquanli had prepared to send to our printing shop were detected during a search by Jingan army soldiers. This served as the prime reason behind her arrest. Kim Jong Suk offered the plausible excuse that she had bought the rolls of paper for the register of inhabitants, at the request of Jong Tong Chol, the village head,\and had been keeping them. Her unflinching appearance\and logical answer aggravated the enemy. The enemy officer, dumbfounded\and enraged, said that she must be a spy of the revolutionary army as she was fearless\and spoke glibly; then they bound her\and took her to Yaofangzi, the seat of their headquarters.

 

Believing that this was the last moment of her life, she wrote her will to the\organization, which read as follows:

“Take it easy. I will be killed, but the\organization must continue its existence. I enclose two yuan, my only assets. Please use it for the\organization’s funds.”

 

The slip of paper written in pencil\and two yuan were handed over rom the granny, in whose house she was detained, to her neighbour\and the\organization via Jong Tong Chol.

 

The\organization called on its members to take emergency measures to rescue her. The\organization members in Taoquanli formed a delegation\and visited the headquarters of Jingan army unit; they filed a strong protest against the unwarranted arrest of a guiltless, innocent citizen, demanding her immediate release.

Their protest proved worthwhile. The headquarters of Jingan army unit handed her over to the police station in Shisidaogou on the pretext of the unit’s transfer. Jong Tong Chol conducted negotiations for her transfer rom this police station to the one in Shisandaogou. As the latter was a first-class police station, a grade higher than the former, her transfer was resolved without difficulty.

 

Kim Jong Suk was escorted with her arms tied. Taoquanli was situated between the two police stations.

A little past midday she passed Taoquanli under police escort. Seeing the “baby of Musan house” walking bound\and barefoot at police gunpoint, the villagers of Taoquanli saw her off with indignant tears. A granny rushed out to the road carrying a pair of straw sandals\and put them on Kim Jong Suk’s bleeding feet; she then severely reprimanded the policemen escorting her, “You rascals, what crime did our Ok Sun commit to be arrested? I heard that you arrested her for being a communist; if Ok Sun is a communist, I, too, will become a communist.”

 

Jong Tong Chol followed her\and conducted negotiations with the chief of the police station in Shisandaogou over her release.

The station chief promised that he would recognize her as a “good citizen”\and release her, if Jong prepared a warranty as a good citizen signed by 500 people. He was demanding this document, in\order to provide documentary evidence for shirking his responsibility, if his superior called the matter into account at a later date. It was a tall\order, which was almost as impossible as crying for the moon. Nevertheless, Jong Tong Chol prepared the written warranty they demanded\and put it on the chief’s desk. The chief’s eyes almost popped out in astonishment. It was a common, popular mentality not to seal rashly with one’s thumb a document testifying that a “disturbing element”, spotted as a “traitor”\or “communist bandit”, was in fact a “good citizen”. Although he had promised to release her in exchange for the written warranty as a matter of prestige arising rom his “friendship” with Jong Tong Chol, the station chief thought it could never be carried out.

 

The warranty was signed by 500 seals\and thumbs—this was indeed a miracle.

How could this happen? There could not have been such a large number of secret\organization members in Taoquanli, which comprised 200 households. However the\organizations were arranged, non-members of\organizations, which constituted several times more people than the\organization members, would not have rashly affixed their seals on such a risky document.

So many people placed without hesitation their stamps on the document as proof of their infinite love\and support for her. In other words, the people’s absolute trust\and support proved more powerful than the power of authority\and money.

Released in safety rom the enemy’s hand, Kim Jong Suk returned to Taoquanli\and was surrounded by the villagers; on the spot, she said, “Oh, my! I am hungry. Please give me something to eat, sister.” These unceremonious words can only be uttered between family members. She would not have readily spoken in this way, if she had not really regarded the villagers of Taoquanli as members of her family.

Rim Won Sam, who worked as chairman of the Hungnam City People’s Committee after liberation, visited our house with Jang Hae U\and Jong Tong Chol, his friends in those days in Taoquanli\and Sinpha, as he came to Pyongyang to attend a meeting. Jang Hae U\and Jong Tong Chol were working at that time in important posts in the capital. Kim Jae Su, who was working as chairman of the South Phyongan Provincial Committee of the Democratic Party, accompanied them. That day Kim Jong Suk prepared dumplings for these guests. The conversation of the day drifted naturally to the days in Taoquanli\and Sinpha.

 

Kim Jong Suk recalled tearfully her rescue rom the jaws of death, thanks to the help of her comrades. She said that during her detainment in Yaofangzi, she could easily have escaped, but had decided not to. She said:

“Frankly speaking, it is not difficult to kill a guard\and run away, but I just couldn’t. Thinking of the pitiable old couple, in whose house I was detained, I couldn’t run away. When I looked at them, I thought: I can easily slip off; but if I do so, what will happen to the old couple\and village head Jong, who vouched for my innocence\and how much suffering\and distress will the underground\organizations\and people in Taoquanli have to face?

 

“This thought made me determined to protect the\organizations\and people at the cost of my life. That night I slept soundly in the front room of the house. My determination to sacrifice my life calmed me. I feared nothing.”

This was the image of the “baby of Musan house” in those days in Taoquanli\and Sinpha.

Saved rom the jaws of death by the written warranty for a good citizen, Kim Jong Suk continued her underground activities for some time in the Taoquanli area\and the homeland before returning to Headquarters with Ryu Yong Chan, a member of the Taoquanli chapter of the ARF. He joined the guerrillas, on the faith of Kim Jong Suk. In 1944, while we were absorbed in preparations for the final anti-Japanese operations at the training base near Khabarovsk, Ryu Yong Chan unfortunately drowned to death in the Amur, when transporting on a ship the requisite materials for the building of the camp.

 

Kim Jong Suk would recall his name, whenever she had the opportunity to do so. She said that he was an unforgettable benefactor.

Ryu Yong Chan was not the only one determined to follow Kim Jong Suk, when she left Taoquanli, I was told. The Women’s Association members also followed her, shedding tears\and begging her to take them with her. One of them kept following her until she crossed over Mt. Baotai without any thought of returning home. After repeated attempts to dissuade her coming with her, Kim Jong Suk put her silver ring on the woman’s finger\and untied the woman’s red belt\and tied it round her own waist. The red woollen belt was the woman’s dear belongings she had knitted in memory of the day when she had joined the Women’s Association on the faith of Kim Jong Suk\and had worn for boasting.

 

“It is not that I don’t feel like taking you. I’m going alone, because I can’t take you, so please don’t feel sorry. By wearing this red belt until it is worn out to the last thread, I won’t forget the dear people in Taoquanli.”

On hearing these words, the woman did not try to follow her any more; she merely asked her to provide news\wherever she went.

 

True to her promise, Kim Jong Suk wore the red woollen belt under her uniform all the time after her return to the unit. It was only after I married to her that I came to know the meaning of the belt, which had never been removed rom her waist.

Kim Jong Suk always lived, cherishing the warmth of the people in her body along with the belt. Her soul was never separated rom the people.

At times I ask myself; how could Kim Jong Suk carry out such challenging underground activities, enjoying the love\and support of so many people?

If Kim Jong Suk hadn’t loved the people sincerely, they would not have paid any attention to her on the eve of her death. Anyone who does not devote his whole for the sake of the people, cannot receive sincere help rom them at crucial periods. She was duly paid back by the people, whom she had treasured\and nursed with so much care, with all the affection she had devoted to them. All in all, the written warranty signed by 500 people should be called an eternal document, vouchsafing her fidelity to the people.

In autumn 1991, more than half a century after Kim Jong Suk left Taoquanli, I paid a visit to Sinpha during field guidance to Ryanggang Province, the place she had devoted her heart\and soul to. Although scores of years had passed, the relics associated with her secret activities were preserved, as they had been in those days. The devotion of the people in Sinpha to each of the relics\and historical sites was really admirable.

That day the guide-lecturers showed me every historical site, replete with Kim Jong Suk’s footprints,\and explained to me the details of her activities. Their explanations included quite a few events\and details, which were unfamiliar to me.

Looking at the nasty fort standing on the River Amnok as it had been, I thought that Kim Jong Suk must have run many risks\and gone through several fateful moments to transform this locality in a revolutionary fashion.

As I headed for the railway station at dusk, I looked back at the streets in Sinpha; I do not know why, but I felt reluctant to leave this place.




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