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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 16 4. Across the Whole of Korea

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 16 4. Across the Whole of Korea





4. Across the Whole of Korea 


The movement to build up the\organizations for the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland, which started at the foot of Mt. Paektu, went into full swing throughout Manchuria\and Korea.

Each clause of the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF, the text of which was woven out of an ardent love for the country\and its people, breathed fresh life into the soul of the nation\and inspired the whole country with a burning desire for independence. All the patriotic compatriots—communists, nationalists, workers, peasants, intellectuals, students, craftsmen, religious believers\and non-comprador capitalists—joined in a single front for liberation.

The brisk campaign to build the ARF\organizations was first launched in Changbai\and other parts of West Jiandao\and Manchuria.

The ARF was able to build its\organizations quickly in Manchuria because in this region the anti-Japanese movement had been under way for many years,\and the masses were in favour of the revolution. Each of the nearly 900,000 Koreans living in Manchuria was a “high explosive”, so to speak, which could explode any moment.

The great task of rallying the anti-Japanese patriotic forces was not new to the people living in Manchuria. As is widely known, the meeting held in Kalun had seriously discussed the anti-Japanese national united front,\and after the meeting the Korean revolutionaries had done some fine work to form the national united front rom amongst the anti-Japanese forces in all sections of the population. The people of Manchuria had had a chequered history\and experience of the united front movement. It was only natural that the seed of the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF quickly germinated\and grew up on this soil.

While building up the ARF, we also pursued the policy of creating models,\and with them as parent bodies, spreading out a network of\organizations in all directions. Locations for such model units were chosen carefully: they were first\organized in places with good foundations for building\organizations—places that already had experience in social movements, a favourable ideological climate\and a strong revolutionary spirit among the masses,\and forces capable of giving leadership to the underground front. A membership of more than three formed a branch; more than three branches a chapter;\and three\or more chapters a district committee, several of which formed a county committee of the ARF.

We even infiltrated the army, police\and government establishments of the enemy with subordinate\organizations of the ARF. Those engaged in underground revolutionary work while serving in enemy establishments were called in those days special members of the ARF. Such special members operated even in the Jingan army units, which were under the strict surveillance of Japanese instructors.

Meanwhile, we strove to build the ARF in the KPRA areas of operation,\and using them as stepping stones, to expand the\organizational network into the neighbouring areas\and deep into the homeland.

Immediately after the founding of the ARF we convened a meeting of the officers\and men within the main force of the KPRA at the secret camp. At the meeting we took measures to admit all the men\and officers of the KPRA into the ARF in response to their unanimous request that we do so. They said that as their Commander had been elected Chairman of the ARF, they should also become its members\and make contributions to the united front movement. So we admitted all of them into the ARF\and encouraged them to become propagandists\and\organizers for rallying the people behind the anti-Japanese national united front.

Filled with a sense of their historic mission, every one of them became a standard-bearer for the united front movement, working to rally people of all political parties\and walks of life around the ARF.

Thanks to these standard-bearers we were able to form our ARF\organizations in nearly every village in West Jiandao in a short time.

The main part in the construction of the ARF\organizations in those days was played by the political operatives\selected rom the KPRA units. They included certain people who had worked on the preparatory committee for the founding of the ARF. These people served as the kindling for the united front movement that was to engulf Manchuria. In the autumn of 1936 the ARF struck root in Wangqing, Helong, Hunchun, Yanji\and other counties in eastern Manchuria. The Binlanggou district committee of the ARF was formed, with members of the peasant association as the core in Binlanggou, situated in Hunchun County\and the seat of the former Dahuanggou guerrilla zone. The inaugural number of Samil Wolgan carried news that a political operative dispatched to North Jiandao had finished the preparations for setting up branches of the ARF\and an armed unit in the four major villages under the enthusiastic approval\and unanimous agreement of the revolutionaries in Helong. rom this fact alone, one may easily imagine how ardently the people there supported our line of united front.


Those who had participated in the Donggang meeting went on to take charge of the building of the ARF\organizations in southern Manchuria. They admitted the men\and officers of Korean nationality in the Anti-Japanese Allied Army first, equipping them for our united-front line. Then rom amongst these they\selected those with a high political consciousness\and agitation ability,\and dispatched them to the Korean settlements. The dispatched men made contact with local revolutionaries\and formed ARF\organizations in many towns\and rural areas in southern Manchuria, among them Panshi, Huadian, Tonghua, Jian, Mengjiang, Huanren, Kuandian\and Huinan.

The ARF network struck root in northern Manchuria as well. Soon after the founding of the ARF in Donggang, I sent the

Inaugural Declaration\and Ten-Point Programme of the ARF to Kim Kyong Sok, who was engaged in party work at a unit of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army in northern Manchuria. In his days in eastern Manchuria he had also done party work in the area of Sandaowan, Yanji County. I had met him for the first time when I paid a visit to the Secretariat of the East Manchuria Special District Party Committee, situated in Sandaowan. At that time he had been in low spirits, having been suspected of being a “Minsaengdan” member. I heard that he had shed tears of emotion at the news of the Dahuangwai meeting. I had sent him to a unit in northern Manchuria at the request of Zhou Bao-zhong. Kim Kyong Sok disseminated the Inaugural Declaration\and Ten-Point Programme of the ARF among the Korean officers\and men in the 5th Corps,\and formed an ARF chapter rom a\selection of hardcore elements. At our request, Zhou Bao-zhong gave active support to the formation of the chapter in the capacity of its corps commander.

This was followed by successive formations of ARF\organizations in Fangzheng, Tonghe, Boli, Tangyuan, Ningan, Mishan\and several other counties in northern Manchuria. As a part of this rising tide of enthusiasm, the Anti-Japanese\union of Emu County was reformed into an ARF\organization. It was Choe Chun Guk, who was operating in the Kuandi area in command of the Independent Brigade with Fang Zhen-sheng, that had initially propagated among the\union members the Inaugural Declaration\and Ten-Point Programme of the ARF\and had led them to reform the\union into an ARF\organization.

As I describe the building of the ARF\organizations in northern Manchuria, I feel obliged to mention the painstaking efforts made by Kim Chaek. As soon as he received a copy of the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF, he carved each letter of the programme on a wood block\and printed hundreds of copies. The pamphlets were distributed widely amongst the Anti-Japanese Allied Army\and revolutionary\organizations in every county of northern Manchuria. At several meetings he took positive measures to expand the ARF network,\and to train the\organizations in practical struggle.

The Korean communists in Sanyitun, Raohe County, issued a declaration expressing support for the ARF movement. The declaration read as follows: “Compatriots! Do not forget your motherland. Let all of you who are against Japan unite\and promote the anti-Japanese common front, be you men\or women, young\or old, free rom party affiliations\and regional\and personal prejudices. Make your contribution to the anti-Japanese front for national independence, those of you with money donating money, those with weapons offering weapons,\and those with labour contributing labour.” This declaration could well have been made in our own voice: the comrades in southern Manchuria expressed our views exactly.

In this way the Korean people living in Manchuria accepted our united front for what it was: a fair\and patriotic line that would realize national unity at the earliest date possible.

The major target in the campaign to build the ARF\organizations was, to all intents\and purposes, the homeland\and our 20 million compatriots. This was in line with the spirit of the Nanhutou meeting, which had laid a special stress on building both the party\and the ARF\organizations,\and on developing an armed struggle in which the homeland was the main theatre\and its people were the main force.

The political operatives rom the KPRA played a decisive role in expanding the network of the ARF deep into our native land. Great contributions were also made by the hardcore revolutionaries in West Jiandao, whom the KPRA had trained with so much care,\and by the pioneers in the northern border areas, who had thrown themselves into the united front movement as a result of our direct influence.

The building of the ARF\organizations in the homeland had to be conducted under very arduous\and complicated circumstances, owing to the merciless oppression by the Japanese aggressors\and the mistaken line put forward by the factionalists.

The Japanese imperialists feared the expansion of the ARF\organizations in the homeland more than anything else,\and they made desperate efforts to check the tide of the united front movement rushing deep into Korea. Their first attack was directed at the patriots in the border areas. They blacklisted as most dangerous\and put down most brutally those\organizations\and individuals they considered to be within reach of our political campaign, together with the patriots\and campaigners who sympathized with our line\and sought national resurrection through our armed struggle. Even as the sound of gunshots\and bugles reverberated,\and flames lit up the sky above the walled towns\and villages in West Jiandao, the people in the homeland south of the River Amnok were forbidden to listen\or look: the enemy cordoned off the river banks on the days when the People’s Revolutionary Army was attacking walled towns\and villages on the opposite side of the river. They were very afraid that the people might witness their defeat\and spread news of it further afield. You can imagine what a nervous eye they kept on possible infiltration by political operatives of the revolutionary army into the homeland!

Nevertheless, the people in the border area, curious about the activities of the People’s Revolutionary Army, found countless excuses to cross the River Amnok\and visit the battlesites by stealth. According to people in Samsu, Kapsan\and Huchang, the number of those who crossed the river through the customs office to West Jiandao went up considerably each time the People’s Revolutionary Army swooped in to annihilate the enemy, then swooped out again in withdrawal. This is a perfect example of how greatly the people in the homeland were encouraged by our armed struggle.

The factionalists placed great obstacles in the way of developing the anti-Japanese national united front movement. Engrossed in expanding the area of their own influence, they divided the anti-Japanese patriotic forces. While asserting dogmatically conventional theories inapplicable to the situation prevailing in our country, they gave a wide berth to the patriotic intellectuals\and conscientious non-comprador capitalists,\and regarded them with hostility. They contended that a revolution could be carried out only by a small number of special people with sound class backgrounds.

Our only way to enlist patriotic forces rom all strata in the mass movement that was being confused by the Leftists,\and to show a ray of light to communists groping in the dark, was to increase our influence on the revolution back home\and expand the ARF\organizations across the entire country.

To build the ARF\organizations in the homeland, we started first in the northern border areas on the River Amnok,\where political guidance by the KPRA could be provided most easily,\and then spread them further south deep into the homeland. Kapsan, Samsu\and Phungsan were\selected as the main areas for this undertaking, for they were close to us geographically. It was also a region in which campaigners\and forerunners of all kinds had gathered together rom all parts of the country,\and the people who lived there had relatives, friends\and acquaintances in West Jiandao.

I myself directed the building of the ARF\organizations in Kapsan\and Phungsan, using Kwon Yong Byok, Ri Je Sun, Pak Tal\and Pak In Jin as intermediaries. I have already mentioned that Pak Tal, after meeting me, reformed with his comrades the Kapsan Working Committee into the Korean National Liberation\union, an ARF\organization in the homeland,\and built up scores of its subordinate\organizations.

The Changbai County Committee of the ARF\and its subordinate\organizations also did their bit in building the ARF\organizations in the Kapsan area.

The Zhujingdong chapter of the ARF in Shibadaogou, Changbai County, played a great role in\organizing a chapter of the ARF in Kanggu-ri, Kapsan County. Kanggu-ri was situated opposite Zhujingdong. The chapter won over a peasant lad who crossed the river every day rom Kanggu-ri with a lunch-box at his waist to till the land in Zhujingdong. Back in Kanggu-ri, the peasant\organized an ARF chapter with like-minded young people.

The Paegam-ri chapter in Unhung Sub-county, Kapsan County, was also\organized by the initiative of an ARF\organization active in Changbai County.

The Korean National Liberation\union\and other\organizations subordinate to the ARF in Kapsan County managed to rally a great number of forestry labourers, slash-and-burn peasants\and religious believers to the cause.

The Changbai County Committee of the ARF was also deeply involved in building the ARF\organizations in the Samsu area, across rom Xiagangqu. The ARF chapter in Kwangsaeng-ri was formed under the guidance of Choe Kyong Hwa, head of the youth department of the Wangjiadong chapter in Shiqidaogou, Changbai County. He was later a commanding officer of the KPRA.

The ARF had its greatest growth in Phungsan, which had long been well known for its strong anti-Japanese spirit. In this area there were many slash-and-burn peasants rom North\and South Kyongsang Provinces, who had been deprived of their farmland by the Japanese imperialist occupation of Korea\and who had wandered northwards to make a living,\and contract labourers at the construction site of the Hochongang Power Station. The Japanese imperialists had brought in the newly-emerging Noguchi financial group to build the Hochongang Power Station, which was to have hundreds of thousands of kilowatts of generating capacity. The station was to be one link in the chain of their effort to mobilize the economic potential in Japan, Korea\and Manchuria for the expansion of their aggressive war. The thousands of labourers engaged in the project were a great force, easily rallied around the united front.

Hundreds of patriotic Chondoists\and Christians were also living in the Phungsan area.

Our strategic view of Phungsan was that once the area was covered with the ARF network, we could expand the Paektusan Base to the area of Kaema Plateau. This would provide us with a stepping stone for building ARF\organizations in the region to the east of Huchi Pass. Once the area of Kaema Plateau had been transformed in a revolutionary way, it could serve us as a foothold for placing the east-coast area in South Hamgyong Province under the revolutionary influence\and for expanding the anti-Japanese national united front movement deep into the homeland. .

After the KPRA’s advance into the area around Mt. Paektu, a number of our supporters in Phungsan frequented the Changbai area to make contacts with us. These supporters included people who hoped to join the revolutionary army.

Pak In Jin, Ri Chang Son, Ri Kyong Un\and other men related of the Chondoist faith, who spread the seeds of the ARF in the soil of Phungsan, were patriots hailing rom Phungsan; they lived in Changbai\and yearned for political leadership rom the KPRA. Ri Chang Son succeeded first in joining the army,\and thanks to his introduction\and good offices, Pak In Jin met me\and discussed the matter of the united front; Ri Kyong Un joined our unit\and was dispatched to the Kaema Plateau area as a political operative.

In Phungsan, Ri Kyong Un mixed with the labourers working on the power station project\and introduced them to both our united front line,\and the Ten-Point Programme of the ARF; in this way he rallied comrades together\and\organized the Phungsan chapter of the ARF in spring 1937. With Pak In Jin he later\organized a paramilitary corps of hardcore Chondoist Youth Party members. The chapter absorbed hundreds of Chondoists in a short period of time. In Chonnam Sub-county an Anti-Japanese Workers’ Association of the Honggun area was brought in as a subordinate\organization of the ARF. A member of the ARF, Kim Yu Jin, whom Kim Jong Suk dispatched to the Phungsan area in the summer of 1937, when she was working in the Taoquanli-Sinpha area,\organized with Ri Chang Son the Paesanggaedok chapter of the ARF. The latter brought in the hardcore workers of the Hwangsuwon dam project.


The building of the ARF\organizations in the Kaema Plateau area was the most successful in Phungsan, largely because of the attentions paid to it by the political leadership of the KPRA. Many small units\and teams rom the KPRA went to Phungsan to help the revolutionary\organizations there. On my way back rom a meeting with homeland revolutionaries in the Sinhung area, I also\dropped in at the Phungsan secret base\and worked with the Chondoists.

The ARF also struck root in the Sinhung area,\where the coal-miners’ revolt in 1930 had aroused the sympathy\and support of people across the country. ARF member Ri Hyo Jun, who had been dispatched rom Taoquanli, Changbai County, to the homeland, was the first to develop ARF work in the Sinhung area.

The creation of ARF\organizations, begun along the River Amnok\and in the Kaema Plateau area, gradually spread out to the urban\and rural areas on the east coast. The political operatives of the KPRA displayed unexcelled\organizing ability\and drive in developing ARF work in this area. rom the summer of 1937 on, they came to Rangnim, Pujon, Sinhung, Hongwon, Pukchong, Riwon, Tanchon\and Hochon on many occasions, setting up ARF\organizations in close cooperation with Ri Ju Yon, Ri Yong, Ju Tong Hwan\and other revolutionaries in the homeland.

Ju Tong Hwan had been back\and forth to West Jiandao to establish contact with us\and had been absorbed in Kwon Yong Byok’s line of work in West Jiandao through the good offices of the village head of Wangjiadong. Kwon\and Ju had been classmates in the days of Taesong Middle School in Longjing. Knowing that Ju had been engaged in anti-Japanese propaganda in Changbai\and Yanji,\and had been imprisoned for more than two years in Sodaemun prison for his involvement in the revolutionary movement in his native land, Kwon entrusted him with the formation of ARF\organizations in the Pukchong-Tanchon area.

In the homeland Ju Tong Hwan\and Jo Jong Chol won over Kim Kyong Sik\and others to\organize a district committee of the ARF. Ten branches were formed under the committee in a short period of time. Later Ju returned to his native town\and set up with his colleagues the Tanchon chapter of the ARF with branches in various places, including Tanchon county town. They\organized friendship societies like the Northern Friendship Society\and Southern Friendship Society,\and recruited many people there.

After the eruption of the Sino-Japanese War, the Xiagangqu committee of the ARF in Changbai County dispatched a large number of operatives into the homeland. At that time Wi In Chan, along with many of his comrades, was sent to the Hungnam area. The secret operatives rom Xiagangqu succeeded in forming the Hungnam district committee of the ARF in Hungnam, an industrial centre, in which many munitions factories were concentrated.

Around that time the political operatives who had infiltrated into Wonsan rallied around the ARF the members of the Koryo Society, a progressive anti-Japanese youth\organization. While raising the consciousness of the masses, the society\organized the strike for expelling the evil Japanese headmaster of a school,\and against the Japanese imperialist policy of “transforming the Koreans into imperial subjects”.

The underground operatives rom the ARF chapter in Taoquanli also formed an\organization subordinate to the ARF in the Hongwon area. The name of that\organization was the Hongwon Peasant\union. It had several ri chapters under its authority.

The ARF also struck root in other places—for example, Riwon, Pujon\and Hamhung—and was built on a large scale in industrial centres, rural areas\and fishermen’s villages in northern area on the east coast.

Of the provinces in the northern border area, this region was swept up most strongly by the “Jilin wind” of the early days. When we were carrying out our armed struggle rom our guerrilla bases in eastern Manchuria, we made a great revolutionary impact on the people in the province.

Under the direct influence\and encouragement of the anti-Japanese armed struggle, the people there took an active part in the early anti-Japanese struggle for national salvation. The peasant\union movement in this region attracted our attention for its persistence\and stubbornness. In all respects the province was advantageous for raising the awareness of the masses\and for\organizing them in a relatively short space of time.

In\order to spread out ARF\organizations in this region we dispatched a great number of able political operatives into the area. We even sent small units to the northern towns\and counties on the border. The small KPRA units\and teams built secret bases\and centres for their activities in many places in North Hamgyong Province rom which they provided guidance in building up ARF\organizations\and in the creation of mass movements.

Meanwhile, we brought to our bases the anti-Japanese campaigners\and the leaders of the mass\organizations in the province\and gave them several days of eduction before sending them back to their native areas to act as guides for the united front movement. Local people rom such places as the town of Chongjin\and Musan County were highly advantageous to our movement in that they could provide guidance best suited to the local situation. Training local people was also a very good way to replenish the required number of operatives, in increasing demand as the anti-Japanese revolution grew in intensity.


Thanks to patriotic fighters\and the political operatives rom the People’s Revolutionary Army, the flame of the ARF flared up in North Hamgyong Province—first in Musan, Chongjin, Odaejin\and Yonsa, all great working class areas, as well as in southern cities\and counties along the Kilju-Hyesan railway line,\where the peasant\unions were strong. In the summer of 1937 subordinate\organizations of the ARF were formed in these areas, the number of which further increased to the point\where in the first half of the 1940s they could be numbered by tens.

The campaign for building ARF\organizations in the province was conducted both most extensively\and intensively in Yonsa\and Musan. That was because we were engaging in political\and military activities on the River Wukou, across rom Yonsa\and Musan, after leaving West Jiandao in the latter half of the 1930s. We frequently dispatched small units\and teams to that area at the time to breathe life into the revolutionary movement on the border area. Choe Il Hyon had been to Yonsa at the head of a small unit,\and O Il Nam, too, had been there with a team of seven to eight men. Regimental commander O Jung Hup went to the area with his 4th Company of 50 men\and began operations there. Each time our small units\and teams were in the area, another chapter\or branch of the ARF was\organized.

Choe Won Bong\and Yun Kyong Hwan were underground operatives who greatly contributed to the building of ARF\organizations in the Yonsa area. Choe Won Bong was in charge of the ARF\organization in Yonsa, while Yun Kyong Hwan looked after party\organization in the area. Both of them had been trained by us in Changbai. Among the anti-Japanese revolutionary veterans buried in the Taesongsan Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery is a man named Choe Won Il: his elder brother was Choe Won Bong.

Choe Won Bong was man of principle\and deep thought, a strong revolutionary spirit. Kim Ju Hyon recognized these merits in the man before anybody else had done so,\and valued them highly. When he came to Changbai rom Donggang with his advance party, Kim introduced Choe Won Bong to Kwon Yong Byok\and Ri Je Sun.

Yinghuadong, in Shibadaogou, Changbai County, was renowned for its generous aid to the guerrillas\and for producing many anti-Japanese revolutionary fighters. Choe Won Bong worked there as head of the chapter of the ARF\and of the party sub-group. Kim Ju Hyon\and Kim Se Ok oversaw his activities. With their support\and guidance, Choe formed an\organization of the ARF\and the party sub-group,\and founded a paramilitary corps. Whenever he came to Shibadaogou, Kim Ju Hyon stayed in the back room of Choe’s\or Kim’s house\and helped the work of the underground revolutionary\organizations.

Choe Won Bong persuaded all of the guerrillas’ families to join the ARF\organization.

After the battle in the vicinity of Sanzhongdian in autumn 1936 I met Choe Won Bong at a secret camp. He was visiting us in the company of some other people who were bringing in aid goods. rom the first moment I saw him, I realized that he was very intelligent\and had a high sense of responsibility. He was not very big\or tall, yet he was able to command people with a word,\and they gathered\and dispersed at his\order. He sent us military information on several occasions.

Around May 1937 we dispatched him to the Yonsa area to promote the building of the ARF\organizations in the northern area, including Musan County. There he\and other operatives set up several branches of the ARF with memberships rom the raft builders\and raftsmen rom upstream on the River Yonmyonsu.

Yun Kyong Hwan, a faithful assistant to Choe Won Bong, worked at an ARF\organization in Jiazaishui, in Badaogou, Changbai County, when Kim Il was also operating there. He was closely connected with Kim Il,\and was on very friendly terms with Kim Song Guk. Like Choe Won Bong, he came to our secret camp several times, carrying provisions. As we withdrew to our camp after attacking Jiazaishui, Yun followed us, helping to carry our booty.

The enemy tried their best to hunt down, to the last man, those who carried goods for the guerrillas so as to find out the line of our\organization rom them. Aware that he might be arrested at any time, Yun moved with his family to eastern Manchuria\and settled at a village called Xinkaicun, in Yushidong, on the River Wukou.

Later we dispatched him to the Yonsa area\and nominated him head of its party\organization. I was told that once he had come carrying aid goods with the members of his\organization to our unit, which was stationing in Zhidong,\and discussed the matter of\organizing a district committee capable of providing unified guidance to the ARF branches in the Yonsa area.

I had already given appropriate advice to the comrades in Yonsa on this matter at the meeting held on Kuksa Peak. I had told them that a well-regulated system of giving unified guidance to the scattered\organizations was needed to further develop the building of the ARF,\and they all had received my advice positively.

As far as I remember Yun Kyong Hwan visited my unit, carrying goods, before the arrest of Ri Tong Gol (alias Kim Jun). Ri Tong Gol had been punished for a mistake he had made in the secret camp in Qingfeng,\and had been sent to do political work in the Yonsa\and Musan areas. He directed the revolutionary movement in Yonsa in close touch with Choe Won Bong.

As a successor to Ri Tong Gol we sent Kim Jong Suk, who had the experience of working in the homeland to Yonsa. An armed group accompanied her on the way to Yonsa. She convened a meeting of the revolutionaries in the Yonsa area\and\organized the Yonsa district committee of the ARF. I still remember that having got back to Headquarters rom the meeting, she produced a sewing-machine, declaring it was a present rom the Yonsa\organization.

Choe Won Bong\and other patriots of the ARF\organization in Yonsa rendered much help to us at the battle in the Musan area.

Since the death of Ri Tong Gol, Choe Won Bong\and Yun Kyong Hwan, the inside story of the\organization activities in the Yonsa area remained a secret until the early 1970s, when the work of collecting materials related to the revolutionary history of our Party was conducted on a mass scale.

Once our effort to build the ARF\organizations had come to fruition in western Korea\and in southern Korea, we began to pay due attention to building up the ARF in the western, central\and southern regions of Korea, as well as in the north.

North\and South Phyongan Provinces, along with Hwanghae Province, were areas in which the nationalist force was strong, while Chondoist\and Christian forces prevailed in western Korea. These religious forces did not confine themselves only to religion; they were highly patriotic as well. It is known to the world that at the time of the March First Popular Uprising the three religious forces of Korea—Chondoism, Christianity\and Buddhism—took an active part in the uprising.

The region produced Kim Hyok, Cha Kwang Su, Kang Pyong Son\and many other communists of the new generation. rom early days on we had exerted our influence there through Kong Yong\and Kang Pyong Son. Our operatives also went to the Ryongchon area—widely known across the country for the tenant dispute at Fuji Farm—and raised the consciousness of the masses there. The tenant dispute demonstrated the fighting spirit\and patriotic enthusiasm of the people in this area in their struggle against Japan.

Sinuiju occupied an important place in the construction of ARF\organizations in northwest Korea.

In early July 1937 the Sinuiju chapter of the ARF was formed in this city. In August the Risan Anti-Japanese Association was formed in Wiwon, consisting of poor peasants\and raftsmen. The secret operatives formed one subordinate\organization of the ARF after another in several places along the mid-stream of the River Amnok. Kang Pyong Son’s family\and relatives were Chondoist believers,\and he drew upon the religion to form several\organizations.

ARF\organizations took root in Huchang\and Cholsan Counties as well,\and we also dispatched small units\and political operatives to build the ARF\organizations in Yangdok, Tokchon, Pyongyang, Haeju\and Pyoksong.

Ri Ju Yon, Hyon Jun Hyok\and Choe Kyong Min performed great exploits in the formation of the ARF\organizations in Pyongyang\and South Phyongan Province.

Ri Ju Yon came to Pyongyang rom Tanchon with the aim of conducting the anti-Japanese movement on a larger scale in a new place. The Workers’ Anti-Japanese Association in Jongchang Rubber Factory in Pyongyang, the Labourers’ Anti-Japanese Association of Pyongyang Cornstarch Factory\and the Anti-Japanese Association in Nampho, were all subordinate\organizations of the ARF formed by Ri Ju Yon.

Hyon Jun Hyok, moving to Pyongyang after being released rom a prison in Taegu, accepted our line on the united front\and participated in forming a chapter of the ARF among the workers of the Sunghori Cement Factory.

The Fatherland Liberation Corps, to which my cousin Kim Won Ju belonged,\and the Ilsim Association for Liberation, formed in Kangso, were subordinate\organizations of the ARF. Choe Kyong Min, who had once sincerely helped my father in

his revolutionary work in Fusong,\and who had come to the homeland, conducted brisk activities for the united front in the Yangdok area. He even mixed with believers of Confucianism, educated them in\order to awaken them\and admitted them to the ARF.

A subordinate\organization of the ARF was also formed in Onchon, South Phyongan Province.

The building of the ARF in Hwanghae Province was performed mainly by Min Tok Won, who had been won over by our operatives. Hwanghae Province had many temporary secret bases built by our political operatives. Thanks to Min\and other patriots in Hwanghae Province, a string of\organizations subordinate to the ARF came into being across the province.

The centre for the ARF\organizations in the central part on the east coast was formed by Chonnae, Yangyang, Kosong\and Munchon,\where many workers lived. The Anti-Japanese Labour Association of the Chonnaeri Cement Factory was well-known, both for its scope\and for its efficient practical struggle. The Sokcho National Salvation Association in Yangyang\and the Jangjin Anti-Japanese Association in Kosong were\organizations affiliated to the ARF.

Materials related to the building of the ARF\organizations in southern Korea have not yet been fully brought to light because of the division of the country, but their number recorded in Japanese police documents is great.

Recently a great deal of information has been discovered on the building\and activities of the ARF\organizations in Japan. I was told that ARF\organizations existed in Okayama, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka\and Hokkaido. These might well be the tip of the iceberg.


The ARF, which pressed on for an all-people resistance with its more than 200,000 members, is a monument put up by the Korean communists during the struggle for the liberation of the Korean nation. Its\organizations rendered truly great contributions in rallying\and enlisting the broad sections of the patriotic population to the cause of national liberation under the banner of the restoration of the fatherland.

Their first\and foremost contribution is that they increased the revolutionary consciousness of the popular masses. Through the united front movement our people had become firmly equipped with the ideas that the liberation of Korea could be achieved only by the united efforts of the Korean people, that an armed enemy must always be countered with arms,\and that in\order for the Korean people to win national independence, they must unite as one. Moreover, this unity had to transcend differences in class, sex, age, party affiliation\and religious belief,\and form an allied front in cooperation with the oppressed masses throughout the world. The rapid development of the ideological consciousness of the masses was a factor that gave a strong impetus to the national liberation struggle in the latter half of the 1930s.

In the transformation of the people’s ideological consciousness, it is worthy of special mention that they regarded the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, which was fighting bloody battles against Japanese imperialism as the main force for liberating the country. They also realized that by casting their lot with us, they supported our leadership more faithfully. rom the latter half of the 1930s on, the national liberation struggle\and communist movement in Korea was conducted with Mt. Paektu, the central base of the activities of the KPRA, as an axis.

The popular masses of Korea accepted the slogans put forward on Mt. Paektu as an absolute truth\and carried them out unfailingly, no matter how great\or small they were\and regardless of their importance. They even risked their lives to help those fighting on Mt. Paektu.

The masses’ loyalty to the leadership of the Korean revolution was expressed by their material\and moral support for the KPRA. People across the country enlisted their talent, money, labour\and mental powers in our support.

The ARF\organizations unfolded a vigorous all-people campaign to assist the guerrillas. rom the latter half of the 1930s the Kapsan chapter of the ARF sent in an\organized way to the KPRA the rice which the Chondoist believers had formerly donated to the Chondoist centre. When the people of West Jiandao heard that the KPRA soldiers were suffering food shortages, they sent us the grain they had stored for wedding ceremonies\and 60th\and other birthday parties without the slightest hesitation.

The members of the Sinuiju chapter of the ARF shipped aid goods by boat to the area of our unit’s activities until 1938, when the dam of the Suphung Power Station on the River Amnok was constructed. The goods included cloth, shoes, salt, gunpowder, detonation caps, detonating fuses,\and various other items. After the dam had been commissioned\and the shipping routes were blocked, they set up special aid-goods stores in the third\and sixth streets of Dandong, China,\and sent goods by rail\or lorries to the large\and small units of the KPRA active in Kuandian, Xingjing\and Tonghua. A member of the branch in Majondong bought a sailing vessel of 0.5-ton capacity; he hired it out as a goods-transport vessel during the day,\and by night carried goods collected by his\organization members to KPRA units.

The ARF members in Seoul, more than 250 miles rom Mt. Paektu, sent goods needed for the activities of the revolutionary army.

Jon Jo Hyop, a member of the Pukchong\organization of the ARF, had been imprisoned for being involved in the “pioneer incident” in Sokhu, Pukchong County; rom 1937 on he was entrusted by his\organization to carry out underground activities in Seoul.

While working to expand\organizations, he also worked as a water-carrier, hauling a large metal container of water on his back\and selling it to raise fund for the guerrillas.\originally the people of Pukchong had been well-known for carrying around water to earn school fees for children who studied in Seoul. Jon had no son of school age, but he carried water for the sake of the revolution. With the money he earned in this way, he bought cloth, shoes, white paper, medicines, copying ink\and other goods for the guerrillas. He sent them to Pukchong,\and the\organization there forwarded them to us.

Early one morning, while climbing up a hill with his water, he found a lady’s gold watch. It was the kind of high-quality watch that even a high-class person rarely possessed. Determined to find out the owner, he visited the houses along the road on the hill, finally discovering that it belonged to a shopkeeper’s daughter who had got it as an engagement gift. The shopkeeper rewarded him with an amount of money that was even greater than the price of the watch itself. He bought a large quantity of aid goods for the guerrillas with the money.

After this event he got on intimate terms with the shopkeeper’s family. Under his influence, they began to sympathize with the anti-Japanese guerrillas\and spared no effort to help them. They would procure by themselves the goods required by Jon Jo Hyop\and send them to Pukchong. Thus the family of a simple petty-bourgeois family in Seoul participated in the campaign to support the guerrillas, thanks to the guidance of a member of the ARF.

The ARF\organized\and guided an unremitting country-wide mass struggle by the use of various methods—slowdowns, walk-outs, demonstrations, revolt\and tenant disputes—against the plundering banditry of the Japanese imperialists, against their policy of “transforming Koreans into imperial subjects”, against their continental aggression\and the execution of their policy of war.

Another achievement made by the Korean revolutionaries in building the ARF\organizations was to further consolidate the\organizational\and ideological basis for building the party\organizations. With the hard core trained in our ARF\organizations, we formed party circles in every part of the country. These circles in the long run provided guidance for both the ARF\organizations themselves\and for the mass struggle. The party\organizations, born out of the struggle\and trained ceaselessly by it, became the cornerstone on which a powerful political party of the working masses could be built after liberation.

In addition, the building of the ARF\organizations gave the Korean revolutionaries a chance to gain a rich experience in building mass\organizations. Had it not been for this experience, they could not have built in such a short period of time after liberation such mass\organizations as the Democratic Youth League, the Trade\unions, the Women’s\union\and the Children’s\union.

In the struggle to build the ARF\organizations, the Korean communists created for the first time in the long history of our nation a truly united front, one that was unfailingly patriotic, revolutionary\and powerful. The anti-Japanese national united front, with Mt. Paektu as its axis, started the tradition of the national united front movement in our country\and demonstrated the undaunted spirit of our people.

The entire process of building the ARF\organizations confirmed that our people preferred unification\and harmony to division\and confrontation,\and that they had the willpower to fight by uniting under a single banner, regardless of the differences in party affiliation\or religious belief.

Our people, living in the era of the Workers’ Party, have long achieved the single-hearted unity of society as a whole, the highest form of unity. What remains is the reunification of the country which has been divided into north\and south.

The reunification of our country is the one inflexible belief running through my life. It is our stand on the national reunification that our nation, which boasts 5,000 years of history, can,\and must, live as one unified country. What guarantee do we have when we say that the reunification of north\and south is feasible? We have a powerful weapon, the great national unity,\and the rich experience of a national united front, gained through the building of the ARF\organizations.

There is no reason why our nation, which admirably realized the cause of the united front already half a century ago, cannot achieve the great national unity.

We must achieve the united front at any cost\wherever we live, in the north, in the south\or overseas. Only the united front is the way for the survival of our nation in this world,\where the law of the jungle prevails, the eternal way for us to live\and prosper\and survive as one. This is what I want to tell our compatriots at home\and abroad.

 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

[Reminiscences]Chapter 16. Crossing\and Recrossing the River Amnok  2. Hundreds of Miles rom Xiaotanghe at One Go

[Reminiscences]Chapter 16. Crossing\and Recrossing the River Amnok  3. Guardsmen


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