[Reminiscences]Chapter 16 2. Hundreds of Miles rom Xiaotanghe at One Go > 새 소식

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 16 2. Hundreds of Miles rom Xiaotanghe at One Go

  

   

 

 

2. Hundreds of Miles rom Xiaotanghe at One Go 

 

After a great deal of heavy fighting near Manjiang, we led the unit to the secret camp at Yangmudingzi without leaving any trace of our passing.


Yangmudingzi was located half way up a hillside on the route rom Xinancha to Laoling. The place is said to have been so named because it is full of willow trees. On both sides of the trail to Laoling there were secret camps, called East\and West Yangmudingzi Secret Camps. We arrived at the west camp,\where Staff Officer Yu was quartered with his unit. On the other side of a hill to the south, not far rom the east camp, was the Gaolibuzi Secret Camp. These three camps, located in the shape of a triangle, with Laoling in the centre, made up the Yangmudingzi Secret Camp as a whole.


In 1940, after many years of use, Yangmudingzi was abandoned as a result of an assault made upon it by a large “punitive” force, led by Rim Su San in March of that year. In this final battle, many people were killed\and the camp was burnt down.


I shall never forget Yangmudingzi. Here, Ri Tong Baek, my comrade-in-arms\and reliable advisor, was killed, as was Ri Tal Gyong, commander of the Guard Company, who had been seriously wounded\and carried to the camp on a stretcher. It was here we published The Tasks of Korean Communists in the newspaper Sogwang,\and here that I so often met Wei Zheng-min\and other cadres rom the corps to discuss matters relating to our joint operations.


At Yangmudingzi I worked out the operational plans for the advance into the homeland in the summer of 1937\and set in motion the preparations for it.


Of crucial importance in these preparations was to obtain supplies.

I formed a small unit, led by O Jung Hup,\and sent them to Changbai,\where Kim Ju Hyon was waiting for them. The small unit included women soldiers rom the sewing unit, comrades suffering rom frostbite\and other infirm people. I thought it would be easier for them to obtain supplies in Changbai than to march along snow-covered trails, barely able to get as much as a daily ration of a bowl of maize gruel.


In addition to this small unit, I also sent out political operatives to work both in West Jiandao\and in the homeland.

The rest of us in the expeditionary force left Yangmudingzi for the secret camp of the 4th Division in the forest of Xiaotanghe. Our purpose was to lure away the enemy\and scatter them so as to get food. At the secret camp in the forest there were barrels of alcoholic spirits\and boxes of\oranges\and apples. The comrades of the 4th Division told us proudly that this was the booty they had captured by attacking the Jingan army. The booty also contained three machine-guns.


The comrades of the 4th Division gave us enough maize for two days’ rations. When leaving the camp, some of my men coaxed the youngest man, Pi, to give them a barrel of liquor.


Seeing the barrel they were carrying, I\ordered them not to touch the liquor. I did not like soldiers drinking\or smoking, for these habits were often dangerous to military action. At one time during a march, I don’t remember exactly in which year, I had found two men missing when checking my men at a rest period.

 

The entire unit began to search for the missing comrades. It was found later that the two men had slipped away rom the marching column to drink liquor at an inn. Needless to say, they were severely criticized.


Some cunning men could not tear their eyes rom the liquor barrel\and began to coax the company commander, Ri Tong Hak, to let them have a little, saying that warming up with a cup of liquor would be fine in such cold weather.


Ri Tong Hak could not silence the obstinate fellows who were begging\and hanging around him. He drew some liquor rom the barrel\and offered a cup to each of the men.


“Let’s have just one sip without the knowledge of the Comrade Commander. One sip won’t matter,” they said.

Every one of the Guard Company drank. Other companies drank as well. This reckless act of distributing alcohol equally among the soldiers led directly to the danger we were forced to face in the battle of Xiaotanghe.


I think this day’s blunder was the costliest one Ri Tong Hak ever made in his life. The glow of the brandy quickly dulled the wits of the utterly exhausted men. Even the guard acted carelessly that day, going against regulations. A man rom the 8th Regiment was standing guard at the edge of the camp that morning as hundreds of puppet Manchukuo troops were closing in on the camp to surround it. Hearing the rustle of movement, the guard challenged, “Who goes there?”


The challenged enemy soldier was sly enough to answer, “We are the 4th Division. Aren’t you Commander Kim’s unit?” The fooled guard made a hasty judgement\and affirmed that he belonged to Commander Kim’s unit. He even asked, “Where are you coming rom?” Meanwhile, the “punitive” force was encircling the camp like a slowly-tightening noose.


The enemy soldier asked the guard to send one of our men as a representative to his (the enemy’s) unit to confirm that this was truly Commander Kim’s unit. According to the regulations a guard of the KPRA was not allowed to send any representative to meet anyone rom a neighbouring unit. But the guard took the enemy soldier for a KPRA soldier\and arbitrarily sent the representative. Having occupied the ridge, the enemy arrested the representative, disarmed him\and then began attacking. In consequence, we were in an unfavourable position for some time.


In this situation it was very difficult to change the tide of battle. The enemy was already climbing the back slope of the ridge\where Headquarters was located. I\ordered the whole unit to occupy the height.

It was at this moment that the brandy Ri Tong Hak had offered to the men began to take its toll: I found many of the men lingering at the foot of the slope, unable to climb quickly, even after the\orders were given. These were the ones who had drunk thoughtlessly, even though they were not used to drinking. Among them was Kang Wi Ryong, a machine-gunner of the Guard Company. I barked at him repeatedly to occupy the height quickly, but it had no effect. Later he confessed that he had been unable to walk because his legs were wobbly\and he was feeling dizzy because of the brandy. As the machine-gunner was in such a state, it was a bad situation indeed.


The enemy had come so near that a close combat took place on the height. Ri Tong Hak’s pack was torn to shreds by enemy bullets,\and one man lost an ear in the fiery exchange. On top of that, the 2nd Company of the 7th Regiment under the command of Kim Thaek Hwan was still surrounded by the enemy.


Nevertheless, even in this confusion the machine-gunners of the Guard Company fought efficiently that day. Changing their positions now\and then, they poured heavy fire upon the enemy. Meanwhile the 8th Regiment broke through the enemy’s encirclement. Kim Thaek Hwan’s company, too, got out of the confusion, although it lost one squad.


The battle lasted rom morning to evening. We killed\or wounded hundreds of enemy soldiers\and captured a lot of booty. But even though we won the battle, we all felt bitter, for we, too, had suffered no small losses.

Kim San Ho got multiple wounds while running about in all directions to save his men. At his last moment he had\ordered Kim Hak Ryul, an expert in the bayonet charge, to lead the charge. Kim Hak Ryul had joined the army with Han Thae Ryong at Xinchangdong. In addition to his great physical strength, he was upright\and courageous. Whenever attacking a walled town, he led the charge,\and after the battle he was always the first to haul out heavy loads of supplies on his shoulders rom the enemy’s storehouse. Once he had carried away two rice sacks at one time, each weighing 100 kg, to the astonishment of his comrades. He had also led the advance by ploughing a path through the snow.


Receiving his\orders, Kim Hak Ryul plunged into the enemy ranks\and launched hand-to-hand combat. He finished off a dozen enemy soldiers with his bayonet, getting eight wounds in the process. He was, indeed, indestructible. When he became unable to wield his bayonet, he destroyed the enemy with hand grenades. With his last grenade he plunged into a group of the enemy. As the roar of the explosion shook the height, his comrades-in-arms clenched their teeth in bitter grief.


The greatest loss we suffered in the battle was the death of Kim San Ho, the political commissar of the 8th Regiment. He had shared good\and bad times with me for many years since our days in Wujiazi. He became our shining example of the rapid advance a man could make through the revolution. “From a hired farmhand to a regimental political commissar” became a catchword for the strong impetus the revolution could give to the development of an\ordinary man,\and for the rapid progress simple young workers\and peasants could make in the whirlwind of revolution in terms of political consciousness, military techniques\and cultural\and moral refinement.

In mourning over Kim San Ho’s death, I abstained rom that day’s evening meal.

The men made a campfire\and invited me, but I refused. As I thought of Kim San Ho who was lying frozen in the snow, the mere sight of a fire made me feel guilty.


Qian Yong-lin, the 8th Regimental commander, also went without the evening meal. Kim San Ho was a Korean\and Qian was a Chinese, but the difference in their nationality had never interfered with their revolutionary comradeship. Qian had always respected Kim’s opinions,\and Kim had always been a devoted assistant to Qian.


Seeing the regimental commander mourning so bitterly over Kim’s death, all his men renounced food. The men who had been rescued rom encirclement with the help of Kim San Ho\and Kim Hak Ryul were unable to eat, being too grieved over the death of those who had saved them\and the loss of other fallen comrades.


In the meantime, the enemy showed no sign of withdrawing, even though the battle was over. Obviously they were determined to surround us completely\and drive us into the valley of Xiaotanghe so as to destroy us totally. One little slip might catch us in the enemy trap\and cause our total destruction. In such a situation guerrilla tactics required that we maintain the initiative\and put the enemy on the defensive.


We feigned a withdrawal through the forest, then returned to the same battlefield by stealth\and camped there for the night. We meant to confuse the enemy with this tactic.


But  the  enemy  continued  to  bring  in  reinforcements  in preparation for a decisive battle. Probably that spring they were determined to make up for the defeats they had suffered in the large winter “punitive” operations at any cost. More\and more enemy troops were swarming into Xiaotanghe. It looked as if all the Japanese forces in Manchuria were being massed into the valley. After dark I looked down rom an elevation\and found us encircled by a sea of campfires that spread across a dozen miles of Xiaotanghe. It looked like a night scene in a large city. I told one of my men to count the campfires so I could make an estimate of total enemy strength on the basis of the number of enemy soldiers surrounding each fire. It came out to an alarming number of many thousands.


At the sight of the sea of fire, my men stiffened with apprehension\and seemed to make a grim resolve to meet their end on the heights of Xiaotanghe.


“Comrade Commander, it seems there is no escape. What about preparing to fight the enemy to the death?” said Sun Zhang-xiang, the commander of the 7th Regiment, in a sombre tone. The faces of the other commanding officers revealed the same unflinching determination.


To my ears, Sun Zhang-xiang’s words sounded meaningless. Frankly, pitching a small force of scarcely 500 men against an enemy force of thousands showed a rashness that was little short of madness.

Of course we should not hesitate to lay down our lives in battle if it contributed to the immediate victory of the revolution. But because it was we who had initiated the revolution, we should make sure we survived to carry it through to victory.


“Comrades, surviving is more difficult than dying,” I told them. “We must live\and carry on with the revolution. We are faced with the great task of advancing to the homeland. This is a sacred\and honourable task which has been entrusted to us by history. How can we choose death when we are anticipating this great event? We must all survive\and make our way back to our native land,\where the arrival of the People’s Revolutionary Army is longed for by our compatriots. Let us use our heads to work our way out of this crisis.”

“Comrade Commander, it’s too hopeless racking our brains. How can we escape rom this trap?” said Sun Zhang-xiang, who was still pessimistic about the situation.


The whole unit watched me, waiting for my\orders. Never before had I felt so keenly the importance\and difficulty of a commander’s position as I did at that moment.


Looking down across the valley, which was ablaze with campfires, I thought of various tactics for breaking through the encirclement. The question was, how to do it without attracting the enemy’s attention,\and in which direction to move so as to get far enough away rom the enemy. Since the “punitive” troops concentrated in the Xiaotanghe valley were an estimated several thousand in number, the enemy’s rear would now be empty. They might consider that if we succeeded in breaking their encirclement, we would move deeper into the mountains. So it would be best to slip away near the highroad,\where the enemy force was probably relatively weak. Once we got to the highroad we could move quickly. I decided upon this idea\and gave my\orders at once:


“Comrades, your determination to fight to the death is commendable, but none of you should die. We have a way to survive. We must leave the forest of Xiaotanghe, move to the inhabited area,\and rom there proceed towards Donggang along the highroad. This is my decision.”


At the mention of the highroad, the commanding officers lifted questioning eyebrows. Secrecy in movement was an iron rule of guerrilla warfare,\and they were surprised at my\orders to move to a populated area, to march along the highroad at a time when a large enemy force was all around us.


Sun Zhang-xiang approached me\and uneasily asked me if it was not risky to do this. His uneasiness was not unfounded. My decision seemed to involve a somewhat rash adventure, for the enemy might possibly be guarding the highroad,\or keeping some of his forces towards the rear.


From the early years of the armed struggle against the Japanese I had been opposed to military adventurism. We had always fought only when we had the chance of winning. We had avoided any engagement we considered unlikely to be successful. We had risked ourselves only when it was unavoidable. But the risks we had taken were, without exception, those which envisaged success\and made the maximum use of our force.


A risk can be taken with success only by a man who has courage, an iron will\and the confidence that there is a way out even if the sky falls down.


The decision I made on the heights of Xiaotanghe to break through the encirclement, move to the inhabited area\and march along the highroad was a risk, but one I was certain would succeed. I was confident of success because the risk was accompanied by our unbreakable offensive spirit, which was quite capable of changing adversity into a victory by switching rom defensive to offensive. I also had faith in our ability to calculate scientifically just when to take full advantage of the enemy’s weakness.


A battle is, after all, a duel between two opposing forms of wisdom, confidence, will\and courage.

The enemy had massed thousands of troops in the area of Xiaotanghe with an aim to surround us\and destroy us by simple numerical superiority. The employment of massive manpower was a stereotypical tactic the enemy had used before against the revolutionary army, an outmoded device that had been exposed to the public more than hundreds of times. The enemy was depending on numbers,\and that was all. It was precisely through this method that the enemy rendered itself vulnerable.


By spreading its sea of campfires over a dozen miles of Xiaotanghe, the enemy had exposed his strength\and the tactics he was employing to destroy the People’s Revolutionary Army— a mistake as great as if he had allowed his plan of operation to be stolen by us. The enemy had already lost the initiative.


I was convinced that we would have no trouble slipping away to a safety zone. I put my hand on Sun Zhang-xiang’s shoulder with a smile,\and then addressed the commanding officers:


“The enemy has massed thousands of troops here. This means that he has scraped together all his military\and police forces, even the Self-Defence Corps, rom not only the area surrounding Xiaotanghe but rom Fusong\and its vicinity as well. This implies that the villages\and highways in this area are now all devoid of enemy forces. He is concentrating so hard on this forest, he won’t even imagine that we might escape along the highway. The highway is the gap in the enemy’s ranks. We must move quickly to the Donggang Secret Camp through this gap.” I spoke with perfect calm\and confidence.


The commanding officers looked relieved\and\ordered departure with assurance. The 8th Regiment led the procession down to the valley, followed by the Guard Company\and the 7th Regiment. The marching column glided noiselessly towards the highway, avoiding the enemy’s campfires. I was struck by the realization of the serious effect of a commander’s attitude, speech\and actions on his men, especially in a complex situation\or a crisis. They could well affect the life\and death of the army. If the commander is calm, so will his men be; if the commander is confused, his men will be even more so.

 

As I had predicted, the highway was completely deserted. On the edges of villages we passed there were heaps of cinders left over rom campfires. We moved as swiftly as an express train through the villages towards Donggang.


We passed through the enemy area in complete safety, with no need to shoot except once: when I found that the column of the 8th Regiment was marching in two separate groups, with more than 500 metres of space between them. The men had begun to relax, many of them walking, half asleep. I told the commanding officer at the rear of the column to fire a shot. At the sound of the gunshot the marching speed doubled. Now there were no more sleepwalkers.


We used this tactic of the highway march again later in the homeland, when we were passing Pegae Hill to the Musan area. We called it the tactic of marching hundreds of miles at one go.


Later, while reading the magazine Tiexin, I discovered the enemy had brought in a company of reporters rom Japan, Manchukuo\and Germany to witness\and report on the battle of Xiaotanghe. It is a usual practice for correspondents to visit battlefields in a war, but the presence of a Nazi war correspondent at a battlefield in Manchuria thousands of miles away rom Germany showed that Japan’s “punitive” specialists were attaching great importance to the operations in the Fusong area. They had also obviously taken it for granted that they would win.


According to the article “Punitive Actions Against Bandits in Dongbiandao,” carried in Tiexin, the journalist corps consisted of newsmen rom Japan’s major newspapers Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun\and Hochi Shimbun, reporters rom Radio Xinjing,\and Johann Nebel, a correspondent rom the State News Agency of Nazi Germany. There were also a number of diplomats rom Manchukuo. It was, indeed, a pompous company of observers. The enemy obviously saw the “punitive” operations in the Fusong area as a chance for worldwide publicity, a chance to boast in front of allies about the “brilliant battle results” they had been dreaming about throughout the operation.


The Japanese observers present at the scene were Washizaki, an important man in the investigation department of the military administration within the Manchukuo government; Nagashima, secretary of the department;\and Tanaka, chief of the\andong Special Agency. They had no doubt been indulging in the fantasy that the Japanese army would annihilate the People’s Revolutionary Army in the steep mountains\and valleys of Fusong that spring\and root out the “cancer in\oriental peace” once\and for all. Washizaki was well-informed of the communist movement in Manchuria, a formidable strategist who had masterminded the campaign to stamp out communism. He was a major contributor to a secret book, A Study of Communist Bandits in Manchuria.


To show off the fighting on the small hilltop “T” during the Fatherland Liberation War (1950-53), Syngman Rhee invited a large number of foreign reporters. The report of this battle reminded me of the expedition to Fusong. Syngman Rhee’s rash act\and the bragging of Japan’s high-ranking “punitive” officers had something in common.


Hitler, Tojyo, Mussolini\and Syngman Rhee had the same habit of underestimating others\and overestimating themselves.

The “punitive” commander told the company of reporters that his units encountered Kim Il Sung’s communist army in the mountains, that Kim Il Sung was on this side of thirty, trained at Moscow Communist University (Japanese newspapers in those days all blared loudly that I had finished Moscow Communist University)\and that his army of 500 men\and women was the strongest force in Dongbiandao. He bragged, however, that they were now caught like “rats in a trap”. He spoke German fluently\and talked to the Nazi reporter without the help of an interpreter. Hearing that we were like “rats in a trap”, the reporters gave a cheer.


But discovering that we had slipped out of the enemy’s encirclement, the “punitive” commander changed his tune somewhat\and told the reporters that the communist army had only 300 troops\and had escaped. Awkwardly, he produced a “prisoner of war”\and told them to gather their news rom him. According to their news coverage, the soldier, who was alleged to be a “POW”, had recently “come over” to the revolutionary army after serving in the Manchukuo army in Tonghua. In fact the grinning “POW” declared he knew nothing about communism.\and as for us, we had never been to Tonghua. What a farce! One would easily imagine how disappointed the reporters were.


The sea of campfires spread by the enemy in the wide forest of Xiaotanghe not only gave us a chance to hit upon the idea of the highway-march tactic, it also convinced us that the objective of the expedition had been achieved, that is, the objective of luring the enemy forces assembled in the border area towards Fusong.


The enemy was filled with consternation when informed that the People’s Revolutionary Army had broken through the circle of thousands of enemy troops\and had vanished into thin air. They were at a loss as to how to go about finding us again. Rumours flew about among them—that even the devil was puzzled about the guerrillas’ tactics, that in the Korean guerrilla army there was a Taoist much wiser than Zhu-ge Liang,\and that the KPRA would attack Seoul\and Tokyo in a few years. Rumours spread also among the people\and became topics of conversation among old men visiting with one another in farm villages. The expedition created new folk tales\and legends about our guerrilla army.


Our march rom Toudaoling to Donggang was yet another indescribable hunger march.

 

On arrival in a forest near Donggang after marching hundreds of miles at one go, we began a search to obtain food supplies with an intention to stay there for about a month. It was no simple job to prepare one month’s victuals for hundreds of men.


Fortunately, we found a much better solution to the food problem than we had expected. The men who had been on long-distance surveillance duty at night happened to find a maize field near the sentry post. The maize, planted the previous year, had remained unharvested throughout the winter. There used to be such maize fields around Mt. Paektu.


The men, who had gone without food for days except for bran\and water, returned rom the sentry duty with a few packs full of maize ears for their comrades in the camp. They had picked it without getting permission rom the owner of the field. The owner was nowhere to be seen, they said, nor did they know\where the owner was living, nor did they have time to inquire about his\whereabouts because they had been relieved immediately rom sentry duty.


I gave them a stern rebuke\and sent them off to find the owner. They returned in a few hours with a grey-haired old Chinese peasant.


On behalf of the army I apologized\and offered him 30 yuan. The old man said in surprise, “Commander, please don’t


apologize to this insignificant old man for taking a few packs of maize. We begrudge it to the local bandits, but not to you, the revolutionary army. It’s ridiculous for me to take money rom you for such a trifle. What would the villagers say if they knew I accepted your money? I will not take it, nor will I take back the maize.”


I told the old man that he should take the maize because it had been picked rom his field,\and that he should also accept the money in compensation for his loss.

 

He finally yielded\and went back with the money\and maize. I got my men to escort him to his home. On the way he asked them who their commander was.


The men said, frankly, that he was General Kim Il Sung. Then, the old man said that he felt as if he had committed a


criminal act, taking our money,\and that he would never forgive himself. For the rest of the way he was lost in deep thought. When he got home, he gathered all his family\and relatives together, harvested the crop,\and then brought it to me on a sleigh.

“Commander Kim, today I was deeply moved by your generous gesture. I am overwhelmed by the fact that you should show respect towards a man like me. Please do accept the sleighful of maize as a token of my gratitude for your kindness.”


This time I was obliged to accept the old man’s offer. The maize helped us to overcome the food crisis.

He even told us\where we could obtain more food. About five miles down the River Man, he said, there were insam (ginseng) fields,\and we should approach the owners. He explained that the owners had planted beans\and maize in the fields instead of insam,\and that they would not be reaping the crops, but would sell them as they stood. He added that if we wanted, he would go\and bargain for us.


I sent the old man to the place, together with my\orderly. The\orderly returned to the unit with the answer that a deal had been struck.


We\selected several sturdy men rom the Guard Company\and the 7th Regiment\and sent them to the fields.

While the foraging party was away, we ate maize. A few days later, the foraging party came back with defatted bean cakes on their backs. This had been kept by the owners of the insam fields. We ate them raw\or steamed\or baked.


According to the foraging party, the owners had expressed deep sympathy for the fact that the revolutionary army was suffering food shortages. They added that the insam fields had been planted with beans\and maize\and that the crops had not been reaped. The amount, they calculated, would be more than enough for one month’s food for us. But when our men asked them to sell the crops, the owners said, “Why should we take money for helping General Kim Il Sung’s army? We can manage without these crops, so please harvest them all\and take them away.”


In the end the foraging party rom the 7th Regiment managed to persuade the owners to sell the crops.


After supper all my men hurried to the fields\and picked the maize\and beans. The maize ears were stored whole,\and the beans were threshed. They did the threshing with sticks,\or by trampling, since we had no flail. Both the maize\and beans amounted to dozens of som2.


I met the owners\and thanked them.


The kind-hearted owners also brought us salt, more than enough for one month,\and urged us to fight well.

With the food problem resolved, I led the unit to the Donggang Secret Camp. This was the site we had intended to use for military\and political training at our departure rom Changbai.


The previous spring\or summer I had heard rom old man Ho Rak Yo that in the forest of Donggang there were the remains of a village, formerly called Gaolibuzi, in which one could still see the cornerstones of a fort\where our ancestors had gone through military training. The old man told me that when his family was settling down in the village of Hualazi (he was a teenager at the time), there were many purely Korean villages around Gaolibuzi,\and the fertile slash-and-burn fields yielded good crops.


But as the waves of the Sino-Japanese\and Russo-Japanese Wars reached the foothills of the Paektu mountains, Japanese soldiers appeared even at Gaolibuzi to plunder the villagers. The enraged young villagers fought back with bows\and arrows, spears\and slingshots. When Gaolibuzi became a training ground for the army of Hong Pom Do3 most of the young villagers joined up\and took part in the training.


A massive “punitive” attack in the year of Kyongsin (1920) devastated the place. The village was burnt down, the fort was demolished,\and the majority of the inhabitants were killed. The small number of people who had narrowly escaped death lived in hiding in the forest for a while, then scattered away to different places. This was why Gaolibuzi was now completely deserted.


Drawing on this piece of information, I searched for\and found Gaolibuzi on the map.

Within a range of 25 miles rom Mt. Paektu there were actually quite a number of places named Gaolibuzi. There was one in Linjiang, for instance,\and another in Changbai. In Antu County there was Gaoliweizi, a name that signified the existence of a fort with Koryo4 people. In the areas east\and south of the Paektu mountains there were places with such names as Yowabo, Pochonbo, Rananbo, Sinmusong, Changphyong, Changdong, Hyesanjin, Singalphajin\and so on, which meant that in the old days there had been forts, walls, munitions depots\or ferries guarded by sentries in these areas. This proves that our ancestors in the times of Ancient Korea5, to say nothing of the Koguryo6\and Koryo eras, had built walls\and forts in many places around Mt. Paektu to strengthen national defence.


Listening to old man Ho’s account in the village of Manjiang, I had memorized the location of the old fort built by our ancestors in the forest of Donggang that had been marked with traces of their hardships.

On arrival at the site of Gaolibuzi, we found two empty huts that had been built\and abandoned by insam growers. In the Fusong area there were many people who grew insam in forests. Some of them spent the winter in their villages near urban communities,\and worked in mountains only in the summer season.


The huts were located at the foot of two mountains, both called Mt. Guosong (Pine-nut). The twin mountains, which stood face to face in a friendly manner, one in the east\and the other in the west, were thick with pine forests\and created a friendly ambiance in the magnificent alpine scenery.


We repaired the vacant huts\and then proceeded to give political\and military education to the men. The training ground was prepared on a clearing in the forest of the east Guosong mountain.


Realizing that we had settled in the secret camp with food supplies for at least one month, many of the men looked forward to a long period of rest. This was a natural reaction, for they had been exhausted to the\limit by the long forced march\and heavy fighting.


Unfortunately, we could not afford to relax.


Even before the men had settled down, we convened a meeting of company political instructors\and higher officers\and reviewed the expedition to Fusong. At the meeting, many officers spoke highly of the laudable deeds by the men in defence of their commanders,\and of the officers’ loving care of their men during the expedition. They emphasized the need to further encourage such deeds in the future.


This meeting was followed by the Xigang meeting, which was to become a historic turning point in the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle.


The Xigang meeting was held at West Yangmudingzi Secret Camp\and lasted three days. It was attended by cadres rom the 2nd\and 4th Divisions\and other corps-class cadres such as Wei Zheng-min\and Jon Kwang. The discussion at this meeting centred on the policy of advance on the homeland. After I had spoken about the policy it was unanimously approved by the meeting. We then came to a decision on the mission, direction of activity\and area of operations for each unit.

The meeting was followed by military\and political training at the Donggang Secret Camp, the entire course of which was directed towards political\and military preparations for the advance into the homeland.

Our political training programme concentrated mainly on the line taken by the Korean revolution, its strategy\and tactics,\and the situation at home\and abroad. The lecture on the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF greatly promoted the understanding of our own independent line of the Korean revolution. Through this lecture the recruits were able to deepen the knowledge they had gained at the Paektusan Secret Camp.


At that time, too, we rejected the dogmatic method of studying, encouraging instead debates\and study through questions\and answers, combined with practice.


I myself lectured to the Headquarters personnel, military\and political cadres,\and the Guard Company. My lectures dealt with the line of our revolution, the rudiments of social progress, world-famous revolutionaries, heroes, great men,\and typical fascists. Lectures on the international situation were focussed on the war between Ethiopia\and Italy, the battle results of the Spanish popular-front army,\and the fascistization of Germany, Italy\and Japan.


A contemporary magazine carried a photograph of Hitler inspecting a local army unit. Showing the photograph to the men, I warned them of the dangers that Hitler represented.


Our lecture also dealt with martyr Fang Zhi-min, an outstanding figure of the Chinese peasant movement. The story of his heroic career made a strong impression on the audience.

 

Of the men evaluated as exemplary in the training at Donggang, I still remember Ma Tong Hui. He was both enthusiastic\and very good at debating. Thanks to the training he received at Donggang, he grew into an excellent political worker.


At Gaolibuzi, once an old fort belonging to our ancestors, our youngsters, who only yesterday had been slash-and-burn peasants\and day labourers, developed into reliable fighters capable of forming the front for the main attack that was to liberate their homeland.


In later years a story was to spread among the people that we had trained a large number of soldiers in one of the deep Paektu mountains. In some places the story was exaggerated to mythical proportions, stating that we had trained tens of thousands of flying giants in a deep cave in Mt. Paektu. The Gaolibuzi training ground in Donggang was the\origin of the legend.


Early in May 1937, when the training at Donggang was just about finished, we published Sogwang, the\organ of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. The title of the newspaper was a powerful symbol for the burning desire of our people to witness the new dawn of a liberated country,\and the determination of the Korean communists to hasten the arrival of that dawn.


As soon as the inaugural number of the newspaper had been published, we left the Donggang Secret Camp\and headed for our homeland.




 Related articles

[Reminiscences]Chapter 15. Expansion of the Under-ground Front 7. A Written Warranty for a Good Citizen

[Reminiscences]Chapter 16. Crossing\and Recrossing the River Amnok  1. Expedition to Fusong



 

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