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북녘 | [Reminiscences]Chapter 16 7. The Mother of the Guerrilla Army

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[Reminiscences]Chapter 16 7. The Mother of the Guerrilla Army

  

   

 

 

7. The Mother of the Guerrilla Army 

 

 

 

 Among the comrades-in-arms who shared their life with me on Mt. Paektu for many years was a woman guerrilla who used to be addressed as “Mother”. Her real name was Jang Chol Gu, a cook for Headquarters. There were dozens of women soldiers\and several cooks in my unit, but only Jang Chol Gu was addressed as “Mother”.


She was a little more than 10 years older than I, so I could safely have addressed her as “sister”\or “comrade”. Usually, however, I called her “Mother Chol Gu” rather than “comrade”. Even old man Tobacco Pipe, who was much older than she, used to call her “Mother Chol Gu, Mother Chol Gu”,\and this provoked laughter among us.


Jang Chol Gu became a cook for Headquarters after we had destroyed the files of the “Minsaengdan” suspects at Maanshan in the spring of 1936.


While going through bunches of these files, which had been produced by Kim Hong Bom, I got to know her name of Jang Chol Gu. For some reason, her file was the only one to be written in red ink.


The information collected on her stated that her husband, a party worker in Yanji County, had been proved guilty of involvement in the “Minsaengdan”\and had been executed two years before,\and that among the “crimes” committed by Jang Chol Gu herself were those of starving guerrillas by burying army provisions deliberately while she was working as the head of the Women’s Association in Wangougou, Yanji County.


The red ink in which the document was written\and the manly name of the middle-aged woman were enough to arrest my attention.


Her appearance was also very conspicuous. She was the shortest of all the women soldiers\and had very sparse eyebrows, so sparse that she looked as if she had had none at all.


Love for her husband brought her into working for the revolution. She had so keen an affection for her husband that she even relished what her husband was doing. At his request she put up leaflets, conveyed secret notes, provided hideouts for revolutionaries, learned how to read\and write,\and attended secret meetings. In the course of this she herself became a revolutionary.


Unfortunately, however, her husband, whom she had believed in\and followed with all her heart, was executed on a false charge of involvement in the “Minsaengdan”. She was also arrested\and imprisoned, accused of a “Minsaengdan” member, while working in Wangougou. “Comrade Wang”, who had once eaten a delicious dish of hot barnyard millet\and leaf-mustard kimchi with her husband at her home, beat her with a stick\and yanked her about by the hair. But both the guerrillas\and the revolutionary masses were against her execution at her public trial. Thus she escaped death, but could not get rid of the label as a “Minsaengdan” suspect.


Crossing out the label of “Minsaengdan” suspect which had been imposed upon her by hangmen who defiled the sacred revolution\and massacred innocent people, I appointed Jang Chol Gu as a cook for our Headquarters.


Since she began to cook for us, our dishes increased greatly in their variety. She had a knack for brewing bean mash\and kimchi quickly.

 

People nowadays would not believe it if I said soy sauce\or bean mash had been brewed in only a day\or two. If moderately roasted beans are soaked in hot water, the water turns red. By salting\and boiling it down, you can get soy sauce. If boiled beans are put into a pot\and kept in a hot place, they ferment. Salt them\and boil them,\and you can get ssokjang (a kind of bean mash). It tastes like bean mash soup spiced with pollack.


We treasured her bean mash\and anise kimchi as if they were festive food.

She also used to press oil rom roasted maize germ.


Once my\orderly Paek Hak Rim was seriously ill\and bedridden. Usually he had such an appetite, he could chew\and swallow up bark, but now he did not even touch well-boiled maize porridge, saying he was sick of it. Jang Chol Gu gathered dry leaves of wild vegetables in the snow, retted them, rinsed them, boiled them,\and then fried them in oil she had pressed rom the maize germ. Thanks to the dish, Paek Hak Rim recovered his health\and appetite.


Jang Chol Gu really was a “Mother” to the guerrillas. She used to scrape the scorched crust of cereals rom the bottom of her cooking pot\and slip it into the trouser pockets of young guerrillas when the unit was going to fight.


Even veterans like O Jung Hup\and Ri Tong Hak, not to mention Choe Kum San, Paek Hak Rim\and other young\orderlies, used to confess without reserve to her that they were hungry.


Ri O Song, the youngest boy in my unit, was Jang Chol Gu’s pet, the “most favoured with pot scrapings”.

If the boy hung around at a considerable distance, she brought the scrapings to him in the folds of her skirts\and slipped it into his pocket. The boy shared it equally with his mates.


Whenever I saw the scene, I pondered why women were always on more familiar\and intimate terms with their children than men were. Probably, I thought, mothers usually feed their children, clothe them\and take care of them. That is their duty, so to speak. The word “mother” therefore means the benevolent guardian of her children, one who feeds them\and clothes them.


Jang Chol Gu, who performed the duty of the guardian in good faith, became a most intimate “Mother” to us all.


Till late at night, while the rest of us slept, she prepared the next day’s meals, sorting\and trimming wild vegetables, milling grain,\and winnowing it. If she had to pound grain in a mortar at midnight, she did it in the open, in the howling snowstorm.

She had to work over the fire most of her time,\and her clothes wore out twice as fast as other people’s.


Once at a party held in the secret camp, she was asked to sing. All her comrades wanted to hear her\and clapped their hands in anticipation, wondering how well the excellent cook could sing. To everyone’s surprise, she leaped on her feet\and ran off into the bush.


Her behaviour puzzled all her comrades.


“Don’t blame her for not singing,” I said in her defence. “She was probably embarrassed to appear before a large audience because of her clothing. As you see, she wears patched-up clothes. Just imagine how she must have felt, knowing how she would look as she stood before you.”


All the gathering agreed with me. Later, she herself confessed that she had run away because she was ashamed of her ragged appearance.


Later, on my way back rom battle in command of a small unit, I obtained a piece of good cloth for her. I had sent one of my men to buy it, telling him to choose the best one without minding the price. He had bought grey cotton serge suited for middle-age women. To my relief, women comrades who had an eye for cloth felt it\and said that it was good material.


I had not bought a set of clothes for my own mother when she was alive. Even the one mal of foxtail millet I gave her as I took leave of her on my expedition to southern Manchuria—she was ill, lying in a ramshackle, straw-thatched house in a field of reeds in Xiaoshahe—had been obtained by my comrades. About the only thing I had ever given her was a pair of rubber shoes, which I had bought when we were living in Badaogou. However, the money for these shoes was not my own earning, but money she had given me to buy sports shoes. She had never received a gift rom me during her lifetime. She was buried in a solitary grave on the River Xiaoshahe without receiving a handful of dirt\or a\drop of tears rom her mourning son even after death.


As I was carrying the cloth for Mother Jang Chol Gu, I had mixed feelings of relief for Jang\and remorse of having done nothing for my own mother, either during her lifetime\or after her death.

On my arrival at the secret camp rom the battle, however, I found that Jang Chol Gu had been suddenly transferred to a hospital in the rear by Kim Ju Hyon’s\orders. Nobody knew why she had been\ordered to the out-of-the-way supporting camp rom the cooking unit of Headquarters. The news of her departure saddened us all.


In those days, all the supporting units such as the cooking\and sewing units, hospitals,\and arsenals were supervised by the logistics officer. So it was natural\and not much surprising that Kim Ju Hyon, a man in charge of logistics, had decided to\order one of the persons under his supervision elsewhere.


The point in question was why the woman cook, who had been respected\and loved by everyone\and had been loyal in her duty, was reappointed to a hospital in the rear.

 

I asked Kim Jong Suk, who had been staying with her at the secret camp, why Jang Chol Gu had been removed. She did not know either.


“Perhaps the hospital wanted her,\or there was some other unavoidable reason. She wept as she left here. She was so sad that I felt embarrassed for her.”


Explaining how Jang left for the hospital, Kim Jong Suk wiped her own tears in spite of herself, eloquent proof that Jang’s leave-taking was no doubt a painful shock to the other members of the cooking unit as well.


My own heart ached, as if I had seen the woman leaving only moments before. I thought bitterly that if she had to be sent to the hospital, she should at least have been sent after my return. Then I could have dressed her in new clothes.


I was really angered when I heard rom Kim Ju Hyon why she had been sent away:

“Since the incident of the hatchet I thought that there should be only people with clean records by your side, Comrade Commander.”


That was Kim Ju Hyon’s own explanation. Admittedly, he had been shocked by the hatchet incident\and decided to take better care of Headquarters, for he was exemplary in the care of security for Headquarters. That was why I held him in special confidence\and great affection.


In the autumn of 1936, when the whole of West Jiandao was bubbling over with enthusiasm for joining the guerrilla army, I had\organized a few replacement companies with young volunteers\and appointed instructors for a short period of training for them at the secret camp in Heixiazigou. Among the trainees of a replacement company there was an assassin who had wormed his way into our ranks, armed with a hatchet\and some poison, to make an attempt on my life. He was a young, simple-minded peasant. Judging rom his class\origin, there was no reason for him to become an enemy agent; probably he had been deceived by enemy tricks. One day a gang of enemy agents, disguised as soldiers of the People’s Revolutionary Army, had broken into the young man’s house\and behaved like bandits. They had robbed him of the money he had earned by selling firewood to buy medicine for his ailing mother,\and plundered his food grain, chickens\and everything else they could lay their hands on. In the wake of the gang, an enemy agent had come to him\and pretended to console him for his loss, flinging mud at the communists\and intimidating him until he agreed to do what the agent asked him to do. That was how the young man had become a minion for the counterrevolution in spite of himself\and infiltrated our ranks.


None of us were aware that the young man was a hired enemy spy. As he had hidden the hatchet he had smuggled in the waistband of his trousers in the bushes near Headquarters, none of us had noticed anything suspicious.

One day, on my visit to the secret camp in Heixiazigou, I learned that the recruits of the replacement companies had been eating only dried vegetable porridge for several days on end.


Although they had joined the guerrilla army with a determination to endure hardships, the recruits had not yet become accustomed to difficult conditions in the few months since their enlistment. They might become weak-minded\or waver unless they were given good education beforehand. So I gathered them together that night\and said:


“Shivering as you are rom the cold away rom the comfortable homes of your parents, wives\and children\and allaying your hunger with dry vegetables, your resolution may waver. But you young men who have come out to win back the country must know how to endure these hardships in\order to achieve the great cause. Although we are now going through hardships, we shall feel the pride of having fought when the country is liberated. We are going to build a people’s country that is good to live in on our beautiful land after the liberation, a people’s paradise\where there are neither exploiters nor exploited people,\where everyone has equal rights\and leads an equitably happy life. We are going to build a country\where the people are seen as number one,\where factories\and land belong to the people,\and\where the State provides the people with food\and clothing, education\and medical care. At that time visitors to our country will envy us.”


Among the recruits was the young man who had been given an espionage mission by the enemy. Listening to my words, he realized he had been deceived by the enemy into making an attempt on a good man’s life. He resolved to confess\and live honestly, even though he might be punished severely.


The young man brought the hatchet\and the poison before me\and confessed. Because he had made an honest confession, I forgave him.


The incident awakened our commanding officers to sharp vigilance. They each learned a lesson in his own way. Some of them thought that they should safeguard Headquarters with greater care, others felt that security checks on new recruits should be carried out more effectively so as to deny undesirable people the chance to infiltrate the revolutionary ranks. Others still believed that a mass campaign should be launched throughout West Jiandao to wipe out the enemy’s stooges\and reactionaries\and to prevent even a single enemy spy\or agent rom approaching the secret camp.


Kim Ju Hyon thought of an even more elaborate scheme.


“I thought that in\order to safeguard Headquarters we must watch both inside\and outside. We cannot say with assurance that the enemy will always stay only outside our ranks,\or that the external enemy will not get in touch with disguised reactionaries\or waverers within our ranks, can we? This is why I thought that anyone with a chequered record should be removed rom Headquarters.”

According to him, a person like Jang Chol Gu, a “Minsaengdan” suspect, was not entitled to work as a cook for Headquarters.


I could not repress a surge of indignation. How could he be so cruel to a simple\and good-natured woman who had been working hard for the revolution with heartfelt loyalty? At the thought that Kim Ju Hyon, who was broad-minded\and careful in dealing with most things, had made such an absurd mistake, I grew even angrier. I dressed him down, saying:


“I am grateful for your constant watch over our security, but I have to make a bitter reproach at you today. You yourself praised Mother Jang Chol Gu as an honest, diligent\and kind-hearted woman. What banished your trust in her so easily? She has been a mother\and sister to all of us. Who cooked three hot meals\and three hot soups for us each day? It was Mother Chol Gu. If she were a bad woman, we would no longer be in this world. She has had a host of chances to harm us, but we are hale\and hearty even though we have eaten hundreds of meals she has cooked. This fully testifies that she is a good woman beyond all suspicion,\and that the charge laid against her in the past as a ‘Minsaengdan’ suspect was totally unfounded.”


Later he confessed that he had never sweated so hard under my reproach as he did that day.

In fact, I had never thought that Kim Ju Hyon would make such a blunder. He was a seasoned military\and political worker with a long revolutionary record. We had always shared bed\and board\and discussed our work around the same table as one in mind\and purpose. I could not understand why he who was aware of my policy\and intention better than anyone else had dealt so cruelly, contrary to communist obligation\and morality.


I criticized him further:


“It is already half a year since we destroyed the files of ‘Minsaengdan’ suspects. The wounds in the minds of these people have almost healed up. Why did you prod them open again? If she left the mountains Jang Chol Gu could marry again\and live comfortably by her fireside, eating hot meals. But she is living a life of hardships with us in the mountains because she is determined to carry out the revolution\and because she trusts us. For all this, you have dismissed her rom Headquarters\and, by so doing, you have made a mockery of our trust in her. Are we so stupid as to feign confidence in people in fair weather\and kick them out without hesitation when we are in danger? Sham can have no place in our confidence.”


Kim Ju Hyon went to the hospital\and brought Jang Chol Gu back with him that same day. The next day he got the sewing unit to make new clothes for her.


Jang Chol Gu kept herself aloof rom Kim Ju Hyon, although she carried out his\orders in a responsible manner every time. When she met him alone occasionally in the camp lane\or in a messhall, she simply saluted, refraining rom talking to him. When she needed a decision rom him, she used to send another cook to him.


The few days she had spent in the hospital might be an instant in the endless flow of time, but the gloom that the short span of her stay had lodged in her mind was not dispelled for a long time.


The destructive effect that distrust has on human relations is enormous indeed. A faint distrust can cause lifelong grievances to people\or destroy 10 years of friendship in an instant.


Jang’s return to the cooking unit at Headquarters animated the atmosphere of the secret camp again. The food acquired a new flavour. To tell the truth, she was not a talented cook, but even the uncrushed maize porridge tasted much better because she was cooking it with all her heart.


She worked harder than ever. No distance deterred her rom going to get things to improve our appetite. One day, passing through Shijiudaogou, I ate Miricacalia firma at Ri Hun’s. The rice ball wrapped in the leaves of this herb, which I ate for the first time in my life, tasted better than lettuce wrappings. During my leisure talk back at the camp, I mentioned the herb-leaf wrappings. Hearing this, Jang went many miles to Shijiudaogou\and returned with a large bundle of the herb on her head. Later we found the habitat of the herb around the Paektusan Secret Camp.


Jang Chol Gu used to sleep huddled up on twigs\and dry leaves on the moist ground near the kitchen. In the course of this her right arm gradually became paralysed. On top of it, she soon caught a fever. We sent her to Wudaoyangcha, Antu County, for treatment. Pak Jong Suk\and Paek Hak Rim kept her company as her “nurses”. Later, Kim Jong Suk nursed her. They went through a lot of trouble to look after her. In company with my chief\orderly Ji Pong Son, I also paid a visit to her grass hut at Wudaoyangcha.


Jang Chol Gu recovered rom her fever in a few dozen days, but not rom the paralysis of her right arm. Because of this handicap she was unable to do kitchen work properly\and handle her rifle as she should. She was tormented by the thought that she had become a burden to the unit,\and came to a conclusion that she had to leave the unit so as not to be a handicap to her comrades. In the early 1940s, when disabled soldiers\and old\and infirm people were being evacuated to the Soviet\union, she joined the evacuees of her own accord.


At her leave-taking she gave her favourite silver ring to Kim Jong Suk, promising that they would meet again when Korea became independent. But the promise remains unfulfilled, for she heard in a far-off foreign land the news of the death of Kim Jong Suk. The silver ring she had given to Kim Jong Suk is now on exhibit in the Korean Revolution Museum.

Among Jang Chol Gu’s fellow cooks for our Headquarters was a Chinese comrade named Lian He-dong. He was an expert in Chinese cuisine. While Jang Chol Gu was a devoted cook, he was a first-rate one. He came to us in the winter of 1936.

For some time in the early days of his service in my unit he learned the cooking methods of the guerrilla army rom Jang Chol Gu. Jang learned Chinese cuisine rom him. In the course of this they became great friends.


He was very sad when Jang was evacuated to the Soviet\union. He prepared a large bundle of Chinese food\and slipped it into her pack.


Jang was also very sorry to take leave of him.


The story of how Lian He-dong came to join us is dramatic. The hero of the drama was Ma Jin-dou, a Muslim, who relished liquor\and pork, both Islamic taboos, in Jilin. Ma was my classmate in Jilin Yuwen Middle School\and my schoolmate in Badaogou Primary School.


I had many impressive acquaintances in my days at Badaogou. Li Xian-zhang, a son of the head of the Badaogou police station, was on very good terms with me. He was also one of my schoolmates at Badaogou. His father used to get medical treatment rom my father as one of the “regular customers”. He used to pay visits to my home on festive occasions\and make my father presents by way of payment.


When I was operating in command of my unit in West Jiandao, I got in touch with the head of the Badaogou police station through the agency of Li Xian-zhang. In those days his father was no longer the head of the police station. His father’s successor was also an honest man. He promised not to fight against us. Since then he did not touch the aid goods the people were sending to the revolutionary army. That was why we did not touch his police station, although we attacked other places in Changbai County.


Ma was a man of special character,\and his private life was also unusual. He was already married in middle school—to two women at the same time. His wives were sisters.


At first he fell in love with the elder sister\and they were engaged. Her younger sister, who used to go on errands for her, fell for him\and even became lovesick. Seeing this, the girls’ parents left their two daughters to his care. Thus Ma, who had plenty of money, became rich in wives as well.


After I left Jilin, released rom prison, I had no idea\where Ma was living\or what he was doing.

However, fate played a monstrous trick on us: we found ourselves hostile to each other, fighting on opposite sides with guns levelled at each other.


In the first winter since our advance to Mt. Paektu, Ma was in command of the “punitive” force of the puppet Manchukuo police, entrenched in Erdaogang, the enemy’s “punitive” operation base nearest to our secret camp in Heixiazigou. In addition to the puppet Manchukuo “punitive” force, hundreds of Japanese “punitive” troops rom the 74th Regiment in Hamhung were also stationed in the base.


At first I did not know that Ma was the commander of the puppet Manchukuo “punitive” police force. During our second\or third raids on Erdaogang in the autumn, my men searched the house of the escaped commander of the “punitive” police force\and captured the commander’s wife who was hiding with a pistol in her hand\and his cook. To my surprise, the captured woman was the younger sister who had been married to Ma.


I had been invited to Ma’s wedding ceremony in Jilin, so I recognized her at a glance. She, too, recognized me. It was a dramatic reunion.


According to the woman, Ma was already the father of four children. The woman had given birth to two sons,\and her elder sister to two daughters. She said that her husband used to talk about Mr. Kim Song Ju,\and asked me why I had been inveigled into joining “Kim Il Sung’s gang of communist bandits”. She was unaware that yesterday’s Kim Song Ju was none other than Kim Il Sung. I said:


“I am the man, Kim Il Sung, whom you refer to as the ringleader of the communist bandits. We are not communist bandits but a revolutionary fighting against Japanese imperialists, the common enemy of the Korean\and Chinese peoples. Remember me to your husband when he comes home. Out of our old friendship\and as a classmate of his I want you to tell him that he should keep away rom us, instead of fighting battles which he has no chance of winning. If it is impossible to avoid fighting, he should merely pretend to be doing it when forced to take part in ‘punitive’ operations. We strike stubbornly resisting puppet Manchukuo forces but deal leniently with the puppet forces who do not resist. I do not wish to see Ma acting as a shield for the Japanese, nor do I wish him to be killed by the revolutionary army. He is a man to be our friend, not our enemy.”


The woman said that her husband knew well that “Kim Il Sung’s gang of communist bandits” did not shoot at the puppet Manchukuo army indiscriminately. The night raiding party of the People’s Revolutionary Army had not touched the tents of the puppet Manchukuo army while attacking the bivouacking enemy during the battle at the edge of Heixiazigou; they had shot at the tents of the Japanese army only. Knowing this, the commanders of the Japanese “punitive” troops shot all the officers of the puppet Manchukuo army involved in the battle, giving vent to their anger. Her husband had avoided the tragic event because he had not participated in the “punitive” action under the excuse that he had caught a bad cold. Probably this incident had awakened her husband somewhat to the truth of our policy towards the enemy.


The woman said: “I now clearly understand why your army is lenient to the Manchukuo army. I know well that in your school days you always emphasized Korea-China friendship\and were on good terms with your Chinese schoolmates. My husband also often talked about this point. I am only grateful to you for your kindness to Chinese people\and for your lenient policy towards the Manchukuo army. I will persuade my husband not to level guns at the revolutionary army again. When he learns that Commander Kim Il Sung is yesterday’s Kim Song Ju, he will act prudently.”


I reiterated my advice that she dissuade her husband rom leaving a stain on his name as a traitor, then released her\and her cook\and withdrew rom Erdaogang.


The cook refused to return with her\and asked to be admitted into our revolutionary army. The cook was none other than Lian He-dong. He said he was tired of being torn between the two sisters quarrelling for one husband.

“I have heard a lot about Mr. Kim Song Ju rom Commander Ma. Now that I know that Mr. Kim Song Ju is General Kim Il Sung, I don’t wish to leave you, General. Please let me fight in your unit,” he said.


I granted his request. Around that time Wei Zheng-min was receiving medical treatment at the Hengshan Secret Camp. I was glad that a cook who was capable of making Chinese food had come to us. Kim Ju Hyon\and I had been embarrassed because we had had no cook to prepare palatable food for the Chinese patient. I sent the cook to work for Wei Zheng-min for some time. Wei was delighted with him, saying that he was very talented, a cook worthy of a fashionable restaurant.


Since then, Lian He-dong worked by our side as a member of the cooking unit until we returned to the homeland in September 1945 after the defeat of imperialist Japan. He was capable of making a variety of dishes out of the same materials. He always carried a cauldron with him, saying that meals cooked in a cauldron were tastier.


In the first half of the 1940s we were at a training base in the Soviet-Manchuria border area. We occasionally formed an allied force with both Chinese\and Soviet comrades\and had joint exercises. On these occasions Lian He-dong’s cooking skill became so renowned that even Soviet commanders, to say nothing of Chinese commanders, frequented the field messhall of my unit.


One day after eating the Chinese food prepared by the cook,


Zhou  Bao-zhong  asked  us  jokingly  to  give  him our  cook.


Comrade An Kil, also joking, agreed.


The joke went rom mouth to mouth until it reached the cook’s ears as truth. The cook came to me with a tear-stained face\and asked me if it was true that he was going to be transferred to a Chinese unit.

“I don’t know to which unit you might have to go. I am in a difficult position because too many people want you. The Soviet comrades also want you. If they are really insistent on having you, you may have to go to the Soviet side,” I said.


He leaped up at these words, refusing to go anywhere, neither a Chinese unit nor a Soviet unit. He glowered at me stubbornly.

I realized after Japan’s defeat that he had meant what he said. Pending our triumphal return to the liberated homeland, I summoned him, praised him\and thanked him for nearly 10 years of his devoted service,\and then conveyed to him the decision of the party\organization to transfer him to Zhou Bao-zhong’s unit. Zhou Bao-zhong had promised that he would promote him to a regimental commander.

Lian He-dong entreated me to take him to Korea.


“I cannot live away rom you, General,” he said. “There is no reason why I should live in China just because I am a Chinese. I don’t want to be a regimental commander\or anything else. Please let me stay by your side. There is no need to break our friendship deliberately, a friendship that even Japanese guns\and swords\and Manchurian gales failed to break.”


I was moved by what he said. His words contained the essence of his view of life, an outlook that could be conceived by only people who have shed tears, spilt blood\and gone through hardships for their comrades on the path of revolution. As he said, people live by the bonds of friendship rather than within the boundaries of a country. It was friendship\and love that united the anti-Japanese fighters into a large family throughout the forests of Mt. Paektu\and in the wilderness of Manchuria. If a human community is devoid of friendship\and love, mountains\and rivers will be dark as well.


Lian He-dong’s insistence on going with us was also an expression of his noble spirit of internationalism.

I on my part was also reluctant to part with him, so I said, “If you really wish to come with us, do so. I have no wish to bid farewell to you, I am not particular about one’s nationality. I am only giving some prudent thought to the matter because I’m afraid the situation might be awkward for you. As you know, China is on the eve of a civil war. We have promised with Zhou Bao-zhong that we will send Kang Kon\and many other Korean military\and political cadres\and soldiers to assist the Chinese revolution. In this context, if you, a Chinese, shut eyes to the Chinese revolution\and go to Korea, everyone will think it strange. You, too, might regret it.”


He decided to remain in China. He even asked me jokingly to choose one of the Pyongyang beauties for his wife when he came to Korea after the triumph of the Chinese revolution. But I was unable to comply with his request, for he died fighting heroically as a regimental commander against Jiang Jie-shi’s Kuomintang army. At the sad news I regretted that I had not taken him to Korea. However, he will live for ever in the memory of the Chinese people as a man who laid down his noble life in the revolutionary war to found a new China.


Instead of Lian He-dong, Jang Chol Gu came back to us after the Korean war rom a far-off corner in Central Asia. Soon after her arrival her comrades-in-arms in the days of Mt. Paektu got together. She told me on the telephone:


“General, the comrades rom Mt. Paektu have all gathered here. Could you take off time to come here? I wish to offer you, General, a bowl of my porridge after an interval of twenty years. As I came rom a foreign land thousands of miles away, I have nothing to offer you except uncrushed maize porridge.”


I wanted to go very much, but circumstances would not allow it.


“Thank you, but I am about to leave for the provinces. I have to keep the appointment with the people, so let’s make it at a later date.”


Her old comrades-in-arms were all said to have enjoyed the porridge cooked with firewood, just as they had done on Mt. Paektu.


Whenever I pined for the days on Mt. Paektu after that, I asked her to cook uncrushed maize porridge for me.

She lived in a house perched on the hill across rom the gate to my house. She often came to see me,\and I, too, visited her in my leisure hours.


Back in the homeland, she spent most of her time telling the younger people the story of her old comrades-in-arms who had fought on Mt. Paektu.


She passed away in 1982.


Her death gave me a great shock. I grieved over her death as I had mourned over my own mother’s death. She had taken care of me as if I had been her brother,\and she had loved me as my own mother loved me.


We accorded her a grand State funeral just as we had done for the death of the veterans who had rendered distinguished services in the building of the revolutionary armed forces.


Her bust was set up in the Taesongsan Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery\and a film, Rhododendron, was produced with her as the heroine. We wanted her to be remembered down through the generation.


All our people were delighted at the renaming of the Pyongyang University of Commerce after Jang Chol Gu. They were deeply moved by the fact that a university could be named after the\ordinary member of a cooking unit. Such a title of honour, they said, could only be given under our socialist system, which does not discriminate between jobs, but holds in high esteem workers as unassuming heroes who work hard to provide their fellow people with a comfortable life, good food, good clothing\and good housing.


When renaming the Pyongyang University of Commerce as Jang Chol Gu University, we hoped that the younger generation would be workers as loyal to their revolutionary duty as Jang Chol Gu had been.



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