Life devoted to Women’s Emancipation
Kim Jong Suk (December 24, 1917 – September 22, 1949), who is held in high esteem by the Korean people as an anti-Japanese heroine, was an outstanding woman activist who devoted her whole life to women’s social emancipation and the development of their movement.
In the days fo the colonial rule of Japanese imperialism (1905-1945), she led the Korean women to turn out in the struggle for the country’s liberation and the women’s emancipation.
Kim Jong Suk participated in the anti-Japanese war commanded by Kim Il Sung, founding father of socialist Korea, winning the fame as an anti-Japanese heroine and woman general of Mt. Paektu. Thanks to her warm care, many women were trained to be excellent revolutionaries.
It happened when she was engaged for several months from April 1937 in underground activities in Taoquanli, northeast China. She taught the village women, who had been under darkness and ignorance, their letters, brought home to them the fundamentals of the revolution, and formed the Anti-Japanese Women’s Association by involving them. Saying that in order for the women to be freed from rightlessness and inequality and achieve social emancipation they should turn out in the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle led by Kim Il Sung , she ensured that they assisted the KPRA (Korean People’s Revolutionary Army) in every way. Along with this, she made sure that they played a big role in reconnoitring the enemy movements for successful military operations of the KPRA. Exploits of Kim Jong Suk and other women were permeated in the victorious Phochonbo Battle on June 4, 1937, which announced to the world that the Korean nation would not live as slaves of Japanese imperialism and would surely win back their country’s independence by fighting Japanese imperialism.
In the early 1940s, when military and political training for final battle for national liberation was underway, she stood in the van of such drills as parachuting, river-crossing and skiing, which even men soldiers, found difficult, encouraging women guerrillas to gain excellent marks.
After the country’s liberation(August 1945), she, while actively assisting Kim Il Sung in his work, motivated women to turn out in the effort for building a new society.
Just from the stage of formulating its programme after the country’s liberation, the Korean women’s movement encountered various assertions: some insisted that the theory of defending human rights and the programme advocated by women the socialist women campaigners of the past should be copied mechanically. Having learned of this fact, she presented her view that the foremost task of the Democratic Women’s Union of North Korea was to enlist women in the effort to found the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the major political task of the Worker’s Party of Korea. She enlightened officials of the women’s union, saying that the programme of the union should contain such issues as thorough liberation of women from the colonial and feudal exploitation, elevation of their political and economic positions, abolishing of the feudal evils of maltreating women and their emancipating from centuries-old ignorance and darkness. The first programme drawn up under her deep care won the unanimous approval at the First Conference of the DWUNK held in May 1946, and the Korean women and the DWUNK organizations were able to confidently advance with their clear objective.
Kim Jong Suk also paid her deep attention to building up the DWUNK and rallying the broad sections of women around it. She said to officials of the union that the DWUNK should be political organization in which all Korean women, who loved the country, were rallied as one to strive for the building of a new country, adding that if women who accounted for half of the total population were united as one they could display their great strength. As a result, the union whose membership numbered 150 000 as of November 1945 increased to a million by late 1946.
With a great importance attached to improving the women’s political and ideological standards, she used to go deep among them to conduct the explanatory and publicity work.
She visited many factories, including the Pyongyang Cornstarch Factory and the then Pyongyang Silk Mill, to arouse women in the efforts to build a new country. She took a lead in the Pothong River improvement project, the first nature-harnessing project in liberated Korea, with a pannier on her back, arousing women in the patriotic work and, through this, encouraging them to display their strength.
True to Kim Il Sung’s instructions that it would be advisable for the women’s union to train women officials needed for nation building, she actively helped the work to set up model technical school for training women officials and technicians. Thus, competent women officials were trained in a short period in the liberated country to become pillars for the building of a new society.
The undying exploits she achieved for women’s emancipation and the strengthening and development of the women’s movement will shine forever with the history of ever-prospering socialist Korea.
Supreme Commander and Soldier’s Families
The relationship between Supreme Commander Kim Jong Il and soldiers’ families in the DPRK is one between parents and their children, in which they share the same destiny.
Followings are few examples.
Family with Eight Officers
There is a family whose eight sons are serving in the army.
The eldest, Pak Yong Chol, determined to defend his motherland and fellow people with arms throughout his life like his father, became an officer of his father’s former unit; the second son, following in the steps of his elder brother, also became an officer; the third volunteered for service in the army when the situation in the Korean peninsula was brought to the brink of war owing to the incident caused by the Pueblo, US armed spy ship which had intruded into the Korean territorial waters and been captured by the People’s Army; and the fourth refused the recommendation to a university after military service, and decided to continue serving in the army; the other four younger brothers also became officers in keeping their family tradition of defending the country.
In October 1992, when the youngest brother was assigned to a post in the frontline and so all eight brothers became officers, they wrote to Supreme Commander Kim Jong Il a letter reading as follows in part:
“ We will only trust and follow you and cast our lots with you whatever howling wind may blow and even if the sky and land may change hundreds of times. It is our determination to remain as eight officers who defend you, the Supreme Commander, with arms of the revolution in our hands forever. If harsh ordeals crop up, we, eight brothers, will become a bulwark and shield that defend you at all costs, and in a decisive battle we will bravely fight the enemy at the risk of our lives, shouting ‘Long live General Kim Jong Il.’
“ ‘Let’s be eight human rifles and eight human bombs that defend the respected Supreme Commander!’ This is our faith and oath. …”
The Supreme Commander, after reading their letter, raised the eight brothers as pioneers of soldiers’ families, saying that they greatly encouraged him.
Afterwards, many soldier’s families, such as Ri Chong Song and his four brothers, Li Jong Un and five brothers, and Ri Jang Ung and his six brothers and sister, were born in Korea.
A Blessed Soldiers’ Family
One November day in 1997, Supreme Commander Kim Jong Il gave field guidance at a women’s coastal battery. While looking round the company with affection, he learned that a daughter of a former artillery woman, who had presented a bouquet of flowers to President Kim Il Sung 25 years ago on his inspection of the company, was serving in the same company.
Pleased, he called her to his side and asked how old she was and what her parents and brother and sister were doing. She answered that her father was on officer, her mother was working as a civilian in an army unit, and her brother was serving in the army. The Supreme Commander highly praised her family, saying that it was the manifestation of patriotism that all her family members were guarding the post of national defence. He was so proud of the girl for defending her mother’s former post that he posed for a photograph with her.
That day he said to officials that all the members of society should take their cue from the girl’s family for national defence, and that he would meet her parents later.
One week later, busy as he was, he met the girl’s mother, Om Pok Sun, and her father and inquired into their work and life, and even the future of their youngest daughter, still a secondary-school student.
In February 2000 he met the family again; by now, the youngest daughter had enlisted in the army, Om Pok Sun reenlisted in the army. He highly praised them for serving in the army, and posed for a souvenir photograph with them.
The family of Om Pok Sun is now as a model of revolutionary soldiers’ families in the DPRK.
There are many such families in the country.