THE PATH OF THE KOREAN REVOLUTION
Report to the Meeting of Leading Personnel of the Young Communist
League and the Anti-Imperialist Youth League Held at Kalun
by KIM IL SUNG
June 30, 1930
We young communists are now faced with the important task of leading the Korean revolution along the right path to meet the prevailing situation.
The current internal and external situation is very complicated and tense.
Fearing the growing might of the Soviet Union and the ever-increasing revolutionary struggle of the oppressed peoples, the imperialists are frantically manoeuvring to stamp it out. Moreover, finding themselves in the vortex of a worldwide crisis, they are faced with severe political and economic difficulties, and in order to overcome them they are strengthening their aggressive and predatory policy with regard to other countries.
The Japanese imperialists caught up in the worldwide economic crisis at present are trying to find a way out by accelerating war preparations to invade the Asian Continent and, at the same time, by further intensifying the colonial repression and plunder of Korea.
In order to quench the Korean people’s anti-Japanese spirit and crush their desire for independence once and for all, the Japanese imperialists are covering the whole of Korea with military, gendarme, police, intelligence networks, and are enacting various evil laws to arrest, imprison and slaughter Koreans at will. Our fellow countrymen thrown behind prison bars by the Japanese imperialists number tens of thousands.
More than ever before the Japanese imperialist marauders are intensifying economic plunder as well as political repression in Korea.
By seizing Korea’s key industries, the Japanese imperialists are putting a brake on the development of the national industry and are robbing our rich resources including gold, silver, coal and iron ore without restraint. In particular, these aggressors are making desperate efforts to ruthlessly exploit the cheap labour in Korea. As a consequence, the Korean workers are leading a wretched life as wage slaves, as colonial slaves.
The Japanese imperialists are exploiting the countryside even more ruthlessly while maintaining the feudal landownership in Korea. They not only seized vast tracts of land by force, but shipped off as much as seven million sok of rice last year alone, while pursuing a coercive, predatory policy to obtain grain in the name of the “increased rice production plan”. Owing to the cruel expropriation of the Japanese imperialists and feudal landlords, our peasants are barely subsisting on grassroots and tree-bark.
The Korean nation is facing a question of life or death today—it either perishes for ever under the colonial yoke of the Japanese imperialists or rises up in a fight to survive. If it merely laments over its ruined land and tolerates the unheard-of Japanese tyranny, our nation will fall never to rise again, but if the whole nation rises up and fights defying death, it will greet the dawn of liberation.
The Korean people who are at a dead end because of the harsh colonial rule of the Japanese imperialists, are now waging a vigorous mass struggle against them across the country.
Following the general strike of dockers in Wonsan last year, the workers of the Pusan Textile Mill went on strike this year, and there were solid May Day strikes by workers in Seoul, Pyongyang, Taegu, Inchon, Hungnam, Chongjin and all other parts of the country. More recently the workers of the Sinhung Coal Mine came out on strike in force.
Together with the struggle of the workers, the struggle of the peasants is growing in intensity. Last year alone there were scores of tenant disputes and the peasants fought against the Japanese imperialists and pro-Japanese landlords in various places.
The students in Kwangju and youth and students throughout the country are also fighting resolutely against the Japanese imperialists’ policy of colonial slave education, their policy of obliterating national culture and their policy of obscuration and assimilation.
As mentioned above, the mass struggles of workers, peasants and youth and students against the Japanese imperialists and their lackeys take the form of uprisings everywhere. But they meet one setback after another in the face of the brutal armed repression of the Japanese imperialists, due to the lack of leadership based on the correct line and policy.
After the Korean Communist Party was dissolved in 1928, most of the factionalists—the self-styled “leaders” of the Korean revolution—gave up the revolutionary movement and turned philistines for their own comfort. On the other hand, some factionalists prompted by political ambitions and a desire for higher positions drove the people into a reckless uprising only to shed blood in vain. A typical example is the recent May 30 Uprising in east Manchuria. Without correctly analysing and assessing the revolutionary situation, the factionalists forced the peasants to join the reckless uprising. And so the barehanded rebels were brutally mown down by the bayonets of the Japanese imperialist army and police and the reactionary warlords, with the result that the revolutionary forces suffered tremendous losses and the revolution faced overwhelming difficulties. The uprising exposed and destroyed many revolutionary organizations, the revolutionary spirit of the anti-Japanese masses was lowered, and we had to experience bitter trials in our revolutionary struggle. All this was due to the lack of correct leadership in our revolution.
The situation thus created urgently demands that our revolution be led along the road to victory on the basis of a correct revolutionary line, strategy and tactics.
We are young communists who have set out on the road of sacred struggle with a single purpose in mind to save the country and people, so we should solve this pressing demand of the times.
In order to lead the Korean revolution to certain victory, we must learn serious lessons from the stern reality that our people’s mass struggle against the Japanese fails time after time and our revolution undergoes ordeals.
Those who professed themselves to “guide” our people’s anti-Japanese national-liberation movement were divorced from the masses; they gathered together a few high-ranking officials solely to indulge in empty talk and quarrel, instead of mobilizing the masses of people for the revolutionary movement.
It is true that large numbers of people have taken part so far in various anti-Japanese movements. But they were scattered and unorganized.
The masters of the revolutionary struggle are the masses of people, and only when they are organized and mobilized can they win the revolutionary struggle. Therefore, the leaders of the movement must go among the masses and awaken them so that they themselves wage the revolutionary struggle as masters. But the self-styled leaders of the communist movement merely indulged in a war of words harmful to the revolution, and gave no thought to awakening the masses and mobilizing them for the revolutionary struggle. Without organizing the masses for revolutionary struggle, is it possible to achieve the sacred cause of liberating the country from the vicious Japanese imperialist colonial yoke?
The so-called “leaders” of our people’s anti-Japanese national-liberation movement not only failed to mobilize the masses for revolutionary struggle but, being infected with flunkeyism towards great powers, brought serious harm to our revolution.
Since our aim is to carry through none other than the Korean revolution, we should solve all problems arising in the course of that revolution by our own efforts, proceeding from the specific conditions in our country.
But the factionalists who have infiltrated into the ranks of the communist movement are so imbued with flunkeyism that they have solved none of the problems facing our revolution but, rather, put obstacles in its way.
Let us see how the factionalists acted in connection with the problem of party building in our country. This problem concerns the correct fulfilment of the Korean revolution, so Korean communists have to solve it by themselves to suit their actual conditions. We need not get someone else’s approval to our revolutionary movement. Whether anyone approves or not, we will succeed if we conduct our revolution properly. Nevertheless, the M-L group, the Tuesday group, the North Wind Association group and other factions, each insisting that it is the only “orthodox” and genuine “Marxist” group, approached the Comintern for approval, instead of building up the Party. Thus the Korean Communist Party did not set down roots among the masses deeply enough to overcome Japanese imperialist oppression and, in the long run, was expelled from the Comintern.
After the Korean Communist Party was dissolved, the factionalists put up the signboard of “Party reconstruction’” and were engrossed solely in expanding their own factions and in the scramble for leadership. Then each of them without any foundation fabricated the “Party centre” and again tried to get approval from the Comintern. This clearly shows how completely saturated the factionalists were with flunkeyism.
The losses flunkeyism inflicted on our revolution were indeed serious. As already mentioned above, the May 30 Uprising was merely the brain child of the factionalists to satisfy their political ambitions, and from beginning to end took an ultra-”Left” direction under the instigation of the “Left” adventurists. This put up big obstacles in the path of our revolution.
Experience shows that in order to lead the revolution to victory, one must go among the masses of people and organize them, and solve all problems arising in the course of the revolution independently on one’s own responsibility in accord with the actual conditions, instead of relying on others.
Drawing on this lesson we regard it as most important to take the firm standpoint that the masters of the Korean revolution are the Korean people and that the Korean revolution should by all means be carried out by the Korean people themselves in a way suited to the actual conditions of their country.
Only when we adopt this standpoint towards the revolution can we map out a correct line and policy and achieve the sacred cause of national liberation.
In order to guide the Korean revolution correctly, we must know clearly what the character and tasks of the Korean revolution are at present.
How, then, can we define the character of the Korean revolution at the present stage? This question should likewise be solved on the basis of our specific situation.
Korea today is a colonial semi-feudal society occupied by the Japanese imperialists, a society where the normal development of capitalism is retarded and feudal relations are predominant. The Korean people are not only subjected to all sorts of national contempt, exploitation and oppression as Japanese colonial slaves but also suffer untold hardships in the shackles of feudal relations maintained by the power of the Japanese imperialists.
Unless we overthrow the foreign aggressors, the Japanese imperialists, we can neither free our nation from the yoke of colonial slavery nor abolish feudal relations. For this reason our people’s first and foremost task is to fight against the Japanese imperialists. The problem of launching an anti-Japanese struggle was already advanced by us as the immediate task when forming the Down-with-Imperialism Union.
While combatting the Japanese imperialists, we must struggle to abolish feudal relations. Only then can we free the peasants from the chains of feudalism and succeed in undermining the foundation of Japanese imperialist colonial rule.
Our people’s urgent demand is to carry out the tasks of the anti-imperialist revolution and of the anti-feudal revolution, the former being to fight against the Japanese imperialists and the latter against their accomplices, the feudal landlords. These two revolutionary tasks are closely connected with each other. The main task of the Korean revolution, therefore, is to overthrow the Japanese imperialists and win independence for Korea and, at the same time, to liquidate feudal relations and introduce democracy.
In view of the main task of the Korean revolution, its character at the present stage is anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic.
Broad sections of the anti-imperialist forces such as workers, peasants, youth and students, intellectuals, petty bourgeoisie, conscientious non-comprador capitalists and religious communities can participate in this revolution. By mobilizing all the anti-Japanese patriotic forces, we must strike down the Japanese imperialists and their accomplices—landlords, capitalists, pro-Japanese and traitors to the nation—and win national liberation and independence.
After defeating the Japanese imperialists, we must establish a government that will protect the interests of the workers, peasants and other broad masses of people. Only when we set up a people’s government, can we liquidate completely the remnant forces of imperialism and all the other reactionary forces, and successfully carry out the tasks of the anti-feudal democratic revolution.
We must not mark time after carrying out the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution, but press on with the revolution to build a socialist and communist society and, further, carry through world revolution, too. To complete the Korean revolution in a responsible manner is tantamount to being faithful to world revolution and to accelerating it.
In order to guarantee success in the Korean revolution, we must, first of all, organize and wage an armed struggle against the Japanese imperialists.
As the historical experience and lessons of the anti-Japanese struggle show, no one can bring us independence on a tray; we can never vanquish the Japanese imperialists and win national independence by peaceful means.
Moreover, the present situation urgently demands that we wage an organized armed struggle against the Japanese imperialists. Since the Japanese imperialists are intensifying their suppression without precedent and we are dealing with an enemy armed to the teeth, we must gradually build up the violent mass struggle into an organized armed struggle.
In colonies an armed struggle against imperialism is the law of the development of the national-liberation movement. Owing to its intrinsic aggressive and predatory nature, imperialism will never withdraw from the colonies of its own accord, and will always resort to brutal violence to maintain its colonial rule. So the imperialist forces of aggression must be smashed by revolutionary armed forces.
We must overthrow the Japanese imperialist aggressors and achieve national liberation and independence by our own efforts. Therefore, we must rapidly build up our strength by making good preparations for organizing and waging an anti-Japanese armed struggle.
To prepare ourselves well for an armed struggle, we must first organize a Korean Revolutionary Army.
We must form the Korean Revolutionary Army, a revolutionary armed organization, out of young communists educated and trained in revolutionary organizations including the Young Communist League and the Anti-Imperialist Youth League. We must thus accumulate the necessary all-round experience for armed struggle.
In order to make the Korean revolution a success, we must also arouse and unite all the anti-Japanese patriotic forces and marshal them for the sacred struggle against the Japanese.
In essence, revolution is a struggle to liberate the masses of people, so it cannot triumph without the participation of the broad masses. Moreover, since we intend to defeat the Japanese imperialists and free the whole nation by relying on the efforts of the Koreans themselves, we must unite as one all the forces opposed to the Japanese imperialists.
That is why we must rally under the anti-Japanese banner all the forces with anti-Japanese tendencies, including men of religion and conscientious non-comprador capitalists, to say nothing of the workers and peasants.
Next, in order to guarantee success in the Korean revolution, we must step up the work of founding a party.
For the Korean revolution to be victorious there must be a Marxist-Leninist party, the General Staff of the revolution. Only a revolutionary party can formulate a correct line, strategy and tactics, mobilize the broad masses for a struggle against the Japanese imperialists, and build a socialist and communist society.
We must derive serious lessons from the dissolution of the Korean Communist Party and make an effort to found a party on a sound basis. To do this, we must not try to proclaim the founding of a party right away without any preparation or to gain the approval of the Comintern, as the factionalists did. We cannot by any means build a revolutionary party in the way the factionalists do; even if we formed a party it could not discharge its mission properly nor could it continue to exist in the face of a counter-revolutionary offensive.
We must not fail to found a new revolutionary party for ourselves. We must make ample preparations for the purpose. If thorough preparations are made, the approval of the Comintern is a foregone conclusion.
In going ahead with the formation of a party, we must, for a start, set up basic party organizations. This is of great significance not only in making general preparations for party building more substantial, but in striking deep roots among the broad masses as soon as the party comes into existence. We must form the party not by proclaiming the party center first but by setting up fully prepared basic party organizations and steadily expanding them.
We must closely link preparations for forming a party with the struggle against the Japanese imperialists. Only when we combine preparations for party founding with revolutionary practice, can we rear fine communists tried and tempered in struggle and carry out the Korean revolution successfully.
Whether we lead the Korean revolution to victory along the right path or not depends on how we implement the revolutionary tasks before us.
Since we are having to deal with difficult revolutionary tasks never tackled by anyone before, we must be ready to encounter numerous obstacles and hardships and, whenever they stand in the way, we will have to surmount them for ourselves as the masters of the Korean revolution.
Let us all fight stubbornly to hew the path of the Korean revolution.