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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 19 6. My Meeting with Yang Jing-yu

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 19 6. My Meeting with Yang Jing-yu

  

   

 


 

6. My Meeting with Yang Jing-yu 

 

 From the moment he embarked on the revolution against the Japanese imperialists, the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung stressed the importance of the joint struggle with the Chinese people\and the internationalist ties with the Chinese communists,\and made every effort to promote an anti-imperialist common front with the patriotic forces rom various sections of the Chinese people. In the course of this, he came to know innumerable leaders, revolutionaries\and military cadres of China.


Yang Jing-yu, a distinguished commander of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army of Northeast China, was one of the renowned Chinese revolutionary fighters with whom the great leader shared life in the shadow of death in the years of joint struggle against the Japanese imperialists. His recollections of Yang Jing-yu attest to his warm feelings of friendship towards the Chinese people\and communists.


Yang Jing-yu, in cooperation with Ri Hong Gwang\and Ri Tong Gwang, rendered distinguished services in raising\and developing the guerrilla forces in southern Manchuria. The guerrilla army operating in southern Manchuria became the 1st Corps of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army,\and the commander of this corps was Yang Jing-yu.


Throughout the anti-Japanese armed struggle we attached great importance to the joint efforts of the Korean\and Chinese people\and took great pains to keep up our alliance with different units of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army. All of this fully accorded with the interests of the joint struggle of our two peoples. This was also why we made two expeditions to northern Manchuria, fought battles in cooperation with Cao Guo-an’s 2nd Division of the 1st Corps,\and expanded our relationship with the fighters in southern Manchuria.


Since the southern Manchuria forces often requested reinforcements of our troops, we sent them many military\and political cadres whom we had trained with great effort.


This process strengthened our ties with the communists in southern Manchuria\and deepened our comradeship with the military\and political cadres in that part of China. Yang Jing-yu expressed through different channels his gratitude to us for our sincere assistance,\and I sent my best regards for him occasionally through my messengers. In this manner, he\and I continued to develop the friendship through our united struggle.


It was not until a joint conference of the military\and political cadres of the KPRA\and the Anti-Japanese Allied Army at Nanpaizi in autumn 1938 that I actually met Yang Jing-yu. Nanpaizi is a very eventful place.


In Mengjiang County there is a large forest called Paizi.


Paizi is characterized by a dense forest\and an unusually large numbers of quicksands.


The anti-Japanese guerrillas used to refer to areas of muddy, treacherous bog in the forests as quicksand. A quicksand was usually overgrown with a variety of wild plants like tassel grass. If you stepped into one carelessly, you would be sucked down in an instant. You never knew how deep these quicksands were. There is also something like a quicksand in the grassland on the right side of the Monument to the Victorious Battle in the Musan Area.


The eastern section of the forest was called Dongpaizi, the western section Xipaizi,\and the southern section Nanpaizi. We had military\and political training at Dongpaizi in the winter of 1937,\and held an important meeting with the cadres of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army at Nanpaizi to discuss the task of eliminating the aftereffects of the expedition to Rehe. The rugged terrain of Nanpaizi, with its innumerable quicksands that swallowed up men\and horses in an instant, was an ideal place for secret meetings by our units. The meeting at Nanpaizi is also called the Mengjiang meeting because Nanpaizi belonged to Mengjiang County.


In the days before\and after the meeting at Nanpaizi, our revolution was in a very complex\and difficult situation. One aspect of the difficulty was the enemy’s constant offensives aimed at crushing our revolution,\and the other was Left-adventurist scheming on the part of some officials working at the Comintern.


While directing their main efforts southward in China, the Japanese aggressors stepped up their “punitive” operations against Anti-Japanese Allied Army forces in Northeast China in an attempt to promote security in their rear. The enemy’s dogged counterrevolutionary offensive was arresting the development of our armed struggle\and the anti-Japanese revolution as a whole.


The evil effects of the Rehe expedition, caused by Left adventurism, were also crippling. Since the results of the expedition eloquently proved that the Comintern’s directives were preposterous in that they ignored the actual situation,\and since it was evident that the expedition had caused an enormous loss to the anti-Japanese revolution, it was clear to everyone that we should sort out right rom wrong\and remove the evil effects.


If we were to break through the difficulty facing the revolution, it was imperative for us to adopt a new tactical concept capable of defeating the enemy’s offensive\and take practical steps to wipe out the grim consequences of Left adventurism. For this purpose, the KPRA\and the 1st Corps of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army decided to meet at Nanpaizi.


At that time I eagerly awaited Yang Jing-yu’s arrival, for I knew that he had suffered the heaviest losses in the expedition\and that he was having to come to Mengjiang through many hardships. Yang Jing-yu was also said to be impatient for the day of our meeting.


I sent some of my men out to welcome him\and to guide his unit,\and prepared adequate accommodations for them, as well as clothing.


When we finally met each other after so many hardships, we were both elated.


Yang Jing-yu’s luminous eyes attracted my immediate attention. There is a saying that a person’s eyes are worth 800 pounds out of his overall worth of 1,000 pounds,\and I could see at a glance that Yang was a man of honesty\and passion.


We chatted briefly over a small fire. After warming himself a little, he casually broached the topic of the Koreans in the 1st Corps. He said that there were many Koreans in the corps, all renowned fighters,\and that not all of them had been left alive to come with him. He lamented over\and over the loss of these excellent comrades.


He was grieving over the death of his Korean comrades so deeply that I finally had to console him.


Yang\and I were destined to fight in close cooperation against Japanese imperialism.


In southern Manchuria, Yang Jing-yu, along with Wang Feng-ge, commander-in-chief of the Liaoning National Salvation Volunteers, the army of the Broadsword Society, gained the reputation of a hero in the first half of the 1930s. They fought many battles\and shed much blood around Dongbiandao.


After we occupied West Jiandao, the enemy put their names\and mine on the same list. When Wang Feng-ge\and his wife were killed by the enemy, the Japanese focused their attention on Yang Jing-yu\and me. The Korean People’s Revolutionary Army (also called Kim Il Sung’s army by the enemy),\and Yang Jing-yu’s army were the two major armed forces to overwhelm the Japanese through their fighting efficiency in eastern\and southern Manchuria. The enemy’s top-secret documents often mentioned Yang’s name\and mine side by side, as did newspapers\and magazines.


A Japanese expert on Yang Jing-yu’s activities, when writing about Jilin, pointed out such details as “the street\where young Kim Il Sung conducted anti-Japanese activities\and was imprisoned”, “the street\where Yang Jing-yu stayed before he entered the guerrilla zone”, while another article made a note on the map of Manchuria, across which the anti-Japanese movement was sweeping, “South Manchurian region\where Yang Jing-yu\and Kim Il Sung developed guerrilla warfare against the Japanese”.


An article dealing with Yang Jing-yu’s death said he was a leader of the anti-Japanese guerrillas whose name was well-known to the Japanese next to that of Kim Il Sung.


Another article in those days said:


“Kim Il Sung, a dyed-in-the-wool communist guerrilla, is a young man this side of thirty. ...

However, he seems to have about 500 men under his command, with hide-outs in areas beyond the reach of punitive operations, such as Linjiang, Fusong, Mengjiang\and Changbai. His is the strongest force now in the area of Dongbiandao.” (Tiexin, May issue 1937, p. 106.)


After the chat, I took Yang Jing-yu to the quarters we had set up for him. All the comrades-in-arms rom the 1st Corps were surprised at the sight of the tents that had been pitched for them in good\order. They could hardly believe that the tents had been arranged for them.


When we showed Yang Jing-yu to the tent for the cadres of the 1st Corps, he was deeply moved.

He said, “I have heard that you, Commander Kim, are hospitable to your guests, but I never dreamed of being accorded hospitality as warm as this in this valley, in this severe winter!” He hesitated to enter the tent. I told him to go in, have a sleep\and break the fatigue that had accumulated for so many months, but he declined my offer.


He said it would be improper to take a rest before greeting the comrades-in-arms of my unit. It struck me then that he was no\ordinary man. Many guests had been to my unit rom our friendly units, but few of them had ever thought of greeting my men before they even unpacked.


Tong Chang-rong was the first to tell me about Yang Jing-yu. Apparently he had heard about Yang when he was doing Party work in Dalian. He said that miners at the Fushun coalmine followed Yang as they would their own brother.


When he was in my secret camp with his unit, Cao Guo-an, commander of the 2nd Division, also heaped praise on Yang.


When he was appointed secretary of the special branch of the Fushun Party\organization, Yang Jing-yu, whose\original name was Ma Shang-de, had gone among the workers under the assumed name of Zhang Guan-yi, saying that he had come rom Shandong to find a job. In\order to set foot in Fushun,\where many people rom Shandong were living, it was favourable to appear in the guise of a Shandong provincial.


Fushun coalminers wanted to strike against the Japanese owner, but they had no leader who could champion their rights\and interests. So they chose as their leader Yang Jing-yu who had a way of saying the right thing. Yang led the strike forcefully, but was arrested by the police.


Even in the hands of the police, however, he demanded the rights\and interests of the working class\and was outspoken about all that he believed to be right. He never once yielded to threat\or torture. The underground\organization\and the miners finally rescued him rom the enemy’s hands.


I took Yang to the secret camp of my unit, as he wished. Our secret camp was located just beyond a ridge rom the camp\where the comrades rom the 1st Corps were to stay. At the short notice I sent them, all my unit had lined up in front of the camp.


With tears in his eyes, Commander Yang said: “My entire unit suffered heavy losses in our repeated efforts during the expedition to Rehe, but you, Commander Kim, have kept your forces intact, thanks to your own sound judgement\and correct leadership. By contrast, I have lost nearly all my men. I cannot hold back my tears when I think of my men, poorly fed, poorly clothed, without proper sleep, falling in their advance to Rehe. How much more honourable I would have felt had I come here with all of them together!”


I could not repress my own emotion at the sight of the tears he was shedding when he thought of his fallen men. Yang obviously loved his men dearly.


I gave a simple party in honour of Yang, who had come through so many hardships. A few glasses of brandy\and some dry snacks were all on the table on this occasion. Declaring that he was undoing his belt for the first time in many months, he removed his pistol\and field bag rom his waist.


As he did this, So Chol, who had arrived with Yang, whispered to me that Yang had never done such a thing before\and that he was breaking his own rule of always maintaining as neat\and soldierly appearance as possible.


Although it was our first meeting, Yang talked a lot.


I was surprised to hear that he had once studied textile design at an industrial school. How interesting it was that a man, destined to be a commander of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army, should have studied textiles! He said he had done this in the hope of some day beautifully clothing his fellow Chinese who had been so ill-clad\and had lived in poverty for so many generations. I think this was an expression of his class consciousness.


Such class consciousness is the basis of a determination to commit oneself to the revolutionary struggle for the good of the exploited\and oppressed masses.


Already in his school days, when he was a little over ten years old, he started resisting the unfair educational policies of the school authorities. This single fact is enough to show that he was unusually upright\and had a strong sense of justice.


Yang Jing-yu came rom Henan Province, not rom Northeast China. He came to Northeast China, on assignment rom the Communist Party, to do underground Party work\and conduct an armed struggle.


At first he worked for the special branch of the Fushun Party\organi-zation,\and then did underground Party work in Harbin.


In autumn 1932, when the Manchurian incident broke out\and anti-Japanese armed units were being\organized in various parts of Northeast China, he was dispatched to southern Manchuria as an inspector by the Manchurian Party\organization of the Chinese Communist Party. He was sent there partly in consideration of the composition of the southern Manchurian guerrilla army.


The majority of the population in southern Manchuria were Chinese. In the early period of armed resistance, however, all of the guerrilla army here, formed at Panshi, consisted of Koreans. Its\organizers Ri Hong Gwang\and Ri Tong Gwang, as well as all the men, were Koreans. Because of this, the guerrilla army saw many difficulties in its early years. Made up totally of Koreans the army found it hard to seek aid rom the people\and find replacements among the people while operating in an area mostly inhabited by Han\and Manchu people.


Among the comrades who had been sent to the guerrilla army in southern Manchuria was So Chol, who had been doing work for the Young Communist League in Harbin with us. Although he was a Korean, So Chol was sent to the guerrilla army here as a medical officer, with instructions to act as a Chinese in\order to serve as a liaison between the army\and the people. The\organization\ordered him to behave as a Chinese towards everyone in southern Manchuria, except Ri Hong Gwang\and Ri Tong Gwang.


Born into a slash-and-burn peasant family, So Chol had worked his way through medical college in Harbin. As a young intellectual he had a good command of the Chinese language as well as expert knowledge of Chinese customs, for he had lived among the Chinese rom his childhood.


There are many anecdotes about how he joined the revolutionary ranks. Once, while still in primary school, he was on his way back rom pasture, where his cow had spent the day grazing. Suddenly, he was set upon by the police. The policemen leaped on him for no particular reason as he was coming home, riding on his cow’s back. They pulled him down without warning\and kicked him, snarling abuse\and shouting that he was swaggering on the cow’s back, getting in the way of the police, not even greeting them politely.


He is now a member of the Political Bureau of the Party in our country, but at that time there was no way for him to escape the beating. He suffered rom injuries for months. rom that time on he hated the police, as well as the landowners\and minor officials who were in league with them.


Having fully accustomed himself to the land\and the way of life in Northeast China, So Chol was the right man to play the role of a Chinese to help the southern Manchurian guerrilla army out of its difficulties.


He behaved like a perfect Chinese so as not to fail the expectations of the\organization. He made no small contribution to enhancing the prestige of the Panshi guerrilla army\and improving the relation between the army\and the local people.


By the time Yang Jing-yu arrived at our camp in Nanpaizi, not many of his men had survived to come with him under his command. He told me the memory of the losses he had suffered in the Rehe expedition was breaking his heart.


He said his unit had not only shed a great deal of blood during the expedition, but had also gone through terrible hardships on the march rom Jian to Mengjiang. The enemy had pursued them without giving them a single moment to breathe, even using airplanes\and heavy weapons, including artillery, against them. At one point the whole unit was surrounded by the enemy\and fighting desperately for its life. They were being attacked rom the air, Cheng Bin was shouting at them to surrender,\and the enemy was tightening the noose around them, showering them with artillery fire rom all directions. He had the feeling there was no way out. But the Korean soldiers in the 1st Corps, he said, were first-class fighters,\and he praised over\and over again Pak Son Bong’s regiment\and Pak Song Chol’s company who had displayed their courage at this most difficult battle of Waichagou. He had been prepared for the worst at Waichagou, he said.


It was Pak Song Chol’s company that played the decisive role in the battle of Waichagou, for all of Pak’s company became human bombs\and death-defying corps to break through the encirclement\and thus rescue Yang Jing-yu’s unit.


Had it not been for the Korean soldiers, Yang said, his entire unit would have been wiped out at Waichagou, unable to break through the encirclement. Had the Chinese\and Korean communists fought separately, rather than as the Anti-Japanese Allied Army, he would not have been here in Nanpaizi with me, he declared,\and heartily thanked us for the many Korean cadres we had trained\and sent to him.


I seem to remember that we held the meeting at Nanpaizi for ten days\or so. In the course of it we analysed\and severely criticized the Left-adventurist

nature of the expedition to Rehe, as well as its grave consequences,\and earnestly discussed measures to eliminate its evil effects.


We decided to move the KPRA forces to the border area around Mt. Paektu\and to invigorate our military\and political activities in\order to counter the enemy’s massive offensive. We also resolved to rehabilitate\and improve the damaged\organizations of the ARF, further activate mass political work,\and adhere to the independent position in the revolution.


The meeting also reorganized the KPRA into directional forces, appointed their commanders\and designated the theatres of their operations.

 

It is necessary that the historians should write about the political\and military significance of the Nanpaizi meeting properly. I can say that this meeting, along with that held at Nanhutou, took a lion’s share in strengthening the Juche character of the Korean revolution\and the revolution in Northeast China. What is the Juche character of the revolution? It means carrying out the revolution independently, guided by one’s own judgement\and decision\and in conformity with the characteristics of one’s own country\and its specific situation.


The meeting at Nanpaizi was another qualitative leap forward in the Korean revolution. All the officers\and men of the KPRA were greatly encouraged at the meeting. The men’s will, their endurance, was not the only factor that tided them over trials like the arduous march. They derived great strength rom the spirit of the Nanpaizi meeting. That strength pushed me\and my comrades-in-arms forward at all times in the course of the march.


At the Beidadingzi meeting in spring 1939, we reaffirmed the policy adopted at the Nanpaizi meeting\and decided to advance into the homeland. Had it not been for the important policy adopted at the Nanpaizi meeting, it would have been impossible for us to trek across the snow-covered ridges\and fields of Changbai to advance into the homeland\and sound our gunshots in a situation\where we were ringed by a dozen layers of the enemy. The roar of KPRA gunshots in the Musan area was the direct result of the meetings at Nanpaizi\and Beidadingzi.


At Nanpaizi we\organized a new Guard Regiment with my men for Yang Jing-yu\and Wei Zheng-min, providing the regiment with large reinforcements. At that time we appointed some new commanders for them\and gave Yang Jing-yu an\orderly. The formation of the Guard Regiment deepened the friendship\and brotherhood between the Korean\and Chinese communists.


After the meeting at Nanpaizi, the units left for their theatre of operations. The farewell to Yang Jing-yu was as deep-felt as our first encounter. We pledged, on our honour as revolutionaries of the two countries, to emerge victorious by turning misfortune into blessings without fail. We also promised to meet again after victory.

 

To my regret, however, I never saw Yang Jing-yu again.


Having parted rom us, Yang Jing-yu went on to conduct military activities in Huadian, Dunhua, Mengjiang, Huinan, Fusong, Jinchuan\and other areas. His unit had to fight through many difficulties against the enemy’s massive “punitive” offensive, staged in the name of a “special clean-up campaign for maintaining public peace in the southeastern areas”.


I heard that the greatest of the difficulties he had to cope with was making preparations for the winter. Getting ready for winter meant a great deal of fighting. He intended to defeat the enemy’s “punitive” offensive through dispersed action. We can’t say that his decision was contrary to the principles of guerrilla warfare, but even a tactic that is correct on principle needs to be applied in such a way that it suits the situation. Otherwise, it may turn into a catastrophe. Battle situations are multifarious\and constantly changeable.


Small units acting in dispersion can evade the enemy’s observation with relative ease. Yang Jing-yu must have taken this factor into consideration\and tried to combine the tactics of disappearing into nowhere\and appearing rom nowhere skilfully so as to defeat the enemy\and break through all the difficulties that lay in the way of his unit. Apparently, however, his dispersed small units were unable to mass whenever necessary, as he had intended.


If you adopt only dispersed actions when you are surrounded by a large enemy force, you will find it difficult to destroy the large force of attackers. If you fail to destroy the enemy force, you will be pursued\and fall completely on the defensive. Needless to say, the dispersed unit finds itself at a disadvantage when compelled to fight a large enemy force. Aware of the fact that Yang Jing-yu’s unit was moving in small, dispersed groups, the enemy sent out even larger forces to the flank\and rear of each small unit to destroy them. To make matters worse, Yang Jing-yu built secret camps\and stayed there throughout the winter instead of carrying out mobile manoeuvres, with the result that he was unable to evade the enemy’s massive “punitive” operations.


To my surprise, at the head of these “punitive” operations was Cheng Bin, who had been commander of a division under Yang’s own command\and who had surrendered. Cheng Bin became commander of the Tonghua police force in January 1940. In an encounter with Yang’s main force Cheng Bin had a six-hour battle with him at Xigang, Mengjiang County. In early February he, with the support of an additional battalion, had another clash with Yang’s main force.


Yang Jing-yu died a heroic death in a pitched battle with the enemy’s “punitive” force in a forest in Mengjiang County in February 1940. In the last hour of the decisive battle, yang had only his guards by his side\and was surrounded by the enemy. The enemy shouted at him to surrender, but he kept shooting, exchanging heavy fire with the enemy until he feel, a pistol in each hand.


It was Ri Tong Hwa, the\orderly we had turned over to Yang at Nanpaizi, that guarded the commander to the last moment. Ri Tong Hwa cast his lot with Yang Jing-yu\and stayed by him to the end. We read the grievous news of Commander Yang’s death immediately after the battle of Damalugou. A newspaper we captured rom the enemy carried the news. The moment I read it, I lost my appetite.


In spite of the difference in our personal backgrounds\and nationality, I shed many tears in secret when I thought of our meeting.


The enemy cut Yang’s head off, photographed it\and scattered the photos all over Manchuria rom the air. They even ripped his belly open. Apparently they wanted to know what he had been eating in the wild mountains\and how he could display such a superhuman fighting spirit. His stomach was said to have contained nothing but digested dry grass, roots\and tree bark–literally no grain\or food, just grass, roots\and bark.


When sharing friendship with Yang Jing-yu at Nanpaizi, I lost Kim Ju Hyon, Kim Thaek Hwan\and Kim Yong Guk, my most treasured\and beloved commanding officers. That is why my memory of Nanpaizi is so painful.


After liberation, China renamed Mengjiang County,\where Yang Jing-yu fell in battle, Jingyu County after him.


When the “Jingyu Tomb” was built in the town of Tonghua, China, for Martyr Yang Jing-yu, I sent a wreath to the opening ceremony in his honour.


In an article on the significance of the guerrilla war in Northeast China, written by a leader of the Chinese Party after liberation, the author said that the three most arduous periods of warfare in the twenty-odd year history of the Chinese Communist Party were, first, the Long March of 25,000 li; second, the three-year-long guerrilla campaign by the Red Army forces remaining in the south after the main force of the Worker-Peasant Red Army went on the Long March;\and third, the 14 years of bitter combat by the Anti-Japanese Allied Army in Northeast China.


The flag of the heroic war of resistance, fought by the Anti-Japanese Allied Army in Northeast China, is permeated with the blood of Yang Jing-yu, a stalwart communist rom amongst the Chinese people. Our people will remember for ever the brilliant fighting exploits of Yang Jing-yu in the joint struggle against Japanese imperialists.

 


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[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  1. The Matanggou Secret Camp

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  2. The Weasel Hunter

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  3. The Last of the Independence Army Forces

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  4. Village Headman Wang\and Police Chief Wang

[Reminiscences]Chapter 19. Overcoming Trials  5. Expedition to Rehe



         

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