Kim Jong Suk lived for other people, not for herself. She devoted her entire life to others. She always took care of other people at her expense. Whenever she was served food, she would share it with soldiers with bulkier bodies or with young soldiers. The young curly-haired soldier of the 1st Platoon, 4th Company, who was said to have been a bosom friend of her younger brother, Ki Song, must have eaten her share more than anyone else. She would mend the torn uniforms and shoes of male soldiers, when everybody else had gone to bed.
Devotion to her comrades and the common cause was the nucleus of her personality and personal charm.
Kim Jong Suk did not regard people as one to be educated; she looked on them as simple and common men and women. Even if she met an individual she had to win over for her work, she did not consider him or her to be educated and herself as educator; she treated him or her just as she would attend to her tender neighbour. In this way she became the people’s daughter and their neighbour trusted by them. These were the basic characteristics of Kim Jong Suk as an underground operative.
As I myself have keenly experienced throughout my life, a man must think of himself as a son, servant and friend of the people to mix with them and at the same time regard them as his parents, brothers, sisters and teachers. Anyone who purports to be the teacher of the people, a bureaucrat reigning over them and leader governing them, cannot mix with them or enjoy their trust. The people do not open up their minds to such individuals.
Through these secret places Kim Jong Suk amassed details on the movement of the troops, led by Kim Sok Won at the battle in Jiansanfeng and reported them to Headquarters in time, rendering a great contribution to the victory of the People’s Revolutionary Army.
Kim Jong Suk instructed members of organizations to learn the strength of enemy troops and police stationed in the Sinpha area, the distribution of their military installations and their military equipment. She herself personally confirmed the width and depth of the River Amnok, the speed of its current and even the most favourable site for crossing the river and returning; she then made a rough sketch before sending it to us.
In summer 1937 Kim Jong Suk was arrested by the enemy.
The rolls of paper which Women’s Association members in Taoquanli had prepared to send to our printing shop were detected during a search by Jingan army soldiers. This served as the prime reason behind her arrest….
Believing that this was the last moment of her life, she wrote her will to the organization, which read as follows:
“Take it easy. I will be killed, but the organization must continue its existence. I enclose two yuan, my only assets. Please use it for the organization’s funds.”…Jong Tong Chol prepared the written warranty they demanded and put it on the chiefs desk. The chiefs eyes almost popped out in astonishment. It was a common, popular mentality not to seal rashly with one’s thumb a document testifying that a “disturbing element”, spotted as a “traitor” or “communist bandit”, was in fact a “good citizen”. Although he had promised to release her in exchange for the written warranty as a matter of prestige arising from his “friendship” with Jong Tong Chol, the station chief thought it could never be carried out.
The warranty was signed by 500 seals and thumbs—this was indeed a miracle….
So many people placed without hesitation their stamps on the document as proof of their infinite love and support for her. In other words the people’s absolute trust and support proved more powerful than me power of authority and money….
Kim Jong Suk recalled tearfully her rescue from the jaws of death, thanks to the help of her comrades. She said that during her detainment in Yaofangzi, she could easily have escaped, but had decided not to. She said:
…When I looked at them, I thought: I can easily slip off; but if I do so, what will happen to the old couple and village head Jong, who vouched for my innocence and how much suffering and distress will the underground organizations and people in Taoquanli have to face?
“This thought made me determined to protect the organizations and people at the cost of my life. That night I slept soundly in the front room of the house. My determination to sacrifice my life calmed me. I feared nothing.”
The Women’s Association members also followed her, shedding tears and begging her to take them with her. One of them kept following her until she crossed over Mt. Baotai without any thought of returning home. After repeated attempts to dissuade her coming with her, Kim Jong Suk put her silver ring on the woman’s finger and untied the woman’s red belt and tied it round her own waist….
True to her promise, Kim Jong Suk wore the red woollen belt under her uniform all the time after her return to the unit. It was only after I married to her that I came to know the meaning of the belt, which had never been removed from her waist.
Kim Jong Suk always lived, cherishing the warmth of the people in her body along with the belt. Her soul was never separated from the people.
At times I ask myself; how could Kim Jong Suk carry out such challenging underground activities, enjoying the love and support of so many people?
If Kim Jong Suk hadn’t loved the people sincerely, they would not have paid any attention to her on the eve of her death. Anyone who does not devote his whole for the sake of the people, cannot receive sincere help from them at crucial periods. She was duly paid back by the people, whom she had treasured and nursed with so much care, with all the affection she had devoted to them. All in all, the written warranty signed by 500 people should be called an eternal document, vouchsafing her fidelity to the people.
In autumn 1991, more than half a century after Kim Jong Suk left Taoquanli, I paid a visit to Sinpha during field guidance to Ryanggang Province, the place she had devoted her heart and soul to.
Although scores of years had passed, the relics associated with her secret activities were preserved, as they had been in those days…
Looking at the nasty fort standing on the River Amnok as it had been, I thought that Kim Jong Suk must have run many risks and gone through several fateful moments to transform this locality in a revolutionary fashion.
As I headed for the railway station at dusk, I looked back at the streets in Sinpha; I do not know why, but I felt reluctant to leave this place.
At that time, some women guerrillas, getting wind of our photography session, ran to me and said they also would like to get their photos taken. So I posed for a few photos with them. They then suggested to me that I should have a photo taken with Kim Jong Suk. Hearing this, she grew shy and hid herself behind the backs of the women guerrillas. They pushed her forward to my side, smiling all the way. In order not to miss the moment, a comrade clicked the shutter.
That was probably the first time in my life that I had posed with a woman comrade individually. For Kim Jong Suk and me, it was as good as a wedding photo.
In those days we were still young and vivacious. We had many dreams of a bright future. Though we greeted the spring in a foreign land, we were full of confidence and in high spirits.
For both of us, it was an unforgettable first spring that we greeted after our wedding.
As I wanted to remember that spring forever, I jotted down on the back of the photo: “Greeting the spring in a foreign land, March 1, 1941. At Camp B.”
Kim Jong Suk wore her hair bobbed, like the other women guerrillas did. But you cannot see her hair style in this photo, for all her hair is covered by her cap. There was a reason for this.
That spring I went to Manchuria and the homeland with a small unit. As I was passing Hunchun across the Soviet-Manchurian border, I felt my feet growing warm. At first I took no notice, thinking that it was the result of the long march. But at each step I felt something warm and soft on my soles. So I pulled off my shoes, to find in them liners made with hair. Only then did I remember that Kim Jong Suk had been wearing her cap even indoors, and I realized that she had cut her hair to make the liners. She must have worn her cap because she was too shy to show her short hair.
It may be said that Kim Jong Suk devoted all her life to me. Even after marrying me, she considered me as Commander, Premier and as the foremost leader. The relationship between her and me was that between the leader and the led, between comrades. She always said she was a soldier of the leader. She never addressed me in familiar terms; she only said “General” or “Comrade Premier”.
Though she dedicated her all to the well-being of her comrades and fellows all her life, she did not leave a single penny or any property for her son and daughter. The money she spent came out of my salary and the house and furniture she used all belonged to the state.
If there is any heritage she left with us, it is that she brought up Comrade Kim Jong Il to be the leader of the future, and presented him to the motherland and the Party. You say I brought him up to be my successor, but in actual fact the foundation was laid by Kim Jong Suk. This is the greatest service she rendered for the revolution.
On her last day she sat Kim Jong Il by her side and told him to support his father loyally and inherit and consummate his cause. This was her last will. Three hours later, she breathed her last.