Kim Il Sung: Artist of Guerilla Tactics
Kim Il Sung indicates the way to national liberation after the Pochonbo Battle
On August 15, 1945, 66 years ago from now, Korea was liberated from the military occupation of Japan.
The liberation of Korea was, in one sense, the victory of the adroit guerilla tactics employed by Kim Il Sung (1912-1994), commander of the Korean guerillas and later President of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Having embarked on the road of revolutionary struggle in his early years to save the destiny of the country and fellow people, Kim Il Sung waged a 15-year-long anti-Japanese armed struggle.
In the course of leading the struggle to victory, he created and employed a large number of guerilla tactics. The combing tactics, tick tactics, the tactics of deploying troops at vantage points, the tactics of step-by-step occupation, long-distance pursuit and other tactics of the enemy were all thwarted by these unique and mysterious tactics employed by the Korean guerillas under the command of Kim Il Sung.
Nozoe, the commander of a Japanese “punitive” force, said later, “Kim Il Sung’s force acted in several units, each claiming that it was Kim Il Sung-led unit. This gave us an impression that Kim Il Sung’s unit was here and there.” Nakasima, a special agent of the Japanese Command, confessed that the tactics employed by Kim Il Sung’s unit was quite mysterious.
Thanks to Kim Il Sung’s strategy and tactics, the Korean guerillas, though they did not enjoy support from a state or regular armed forces, placed in a continuous dilemma the one-million-strong Japanese Kwangtung Army, equipped with aircraft, guns, tanks and other modern military hardware.
The Arduous March between the late 1938 and early 1939 was the peak of arduousness during the anti-Japanese armed struggle. There was a snowfall, the heaviest of its kind in the past 100 years, and the guerillas had to march braving the cold of 40 degrees Celsius below zero and shortage of food supplies.
When they were making a round of tableland with an enemy’s unit in their wake, another “punitive” force of the enemy appeared in their front. When the enemy’s units came nearer in the front and at the rear, Kim Il Sung ordered each of his men to cut a tree as long as a sleigh pole and throw them across the scattered tree stumps and slip away to one side, using the poles as bridges. Unaware of this, the two units of the enemy mistook each other as Korean guerillas and battled it out between themselves all night.
Having found out only after daybreak that they fought between themselves, the enemy soldiers said in despair, “The guerillas are too slippery.” A Japanese, who was the commander of a “punitive” unit in those days, said later, “I still cannot understand how the footprints vivid on the snow disappeared all of a sudden. Did they soar in the sky or sink in the ground? Quite mysterious it was. It was a brilliant tactic that could not be found in any manual of tactics of the Japanese army.” Many other Japanese soldiers and policemen, who had been enlisted for “punitive” operations, said that the communist army had employed the tactics by which they gathered like clouds and then dispersed like the wind. And spread among the Korean people were legendary tales, that General Kim Il Sung employed the art of shortening distance and of rising to heaven and disappearing into the earth.
The Battle of Pochonbo on June 4, 1937, was another fine example of Kim Il Sung’s tactics. The battle assumed the unique features of a street battle, breaking the conventional concept that the guerilla warfare is mountain warfare. The Korean guerillas commanded by Kim Il Sung broke through the border guard line, which the Japanese were calling an “iron wall,” and advanced to their homeland. After making full preparations for the street battle, Kim Il Sung fixed the command post less than 100 meters away from the enemy’s police station. At 10 o’clock p.m. he pulled the trigger, and the signal started a barrage of fire destined to destroy the enemy’s establishments. The flames that flared up in Pochonbo of the colonized Korea, which had been eclipsed on the map of the world, drew the world attention instantly.
Dong-A Ilbo, Chosun Ilbo and other Korean newspapers, the Domei News, Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun, Osaka Ashahi Shimbun and other Japanese media, Manchuria News, Taiwan Daily and other Chinese newspapers, Tass, Pravda newspaper and Pacific magazine of the former Soviet Union, and even Orienta Kuriero, a magazine in Esperanto, gave liberal space to this battle.
Tremendous was the significance of the Battle of Pochonbo, which demonstrated to the whole world that Koreans were not dead but alive, and that they were fighting against the Japanese imperialists to win back the independence of their country.
The Japanese imperialists whimpered, “We feel as if we had been struck hard on the back of the head,” and “We feel the shame of watching the haystack we had been carefully building for a thousand days go up in flames in an instant.”
Having one victory after another at battles by employing extraordinary tactics, Kim Il Sung brought final defeat to the Japanese and implemented the historic cause of national liberation.
The exploits Kim Il Sung achieved for his country’s liberation from the Japanese military occupation will shine forever in the world of liberation struggle of colonized countries.