In the first half of the last century the Korean people were suffering under the yoke of colonial slavery. The Japanese imperialists, during the period of their military occupation of Korea from 1905 to 1945, killed a million Koreans. The Japanese forcibly drafted 8.4 million young and middle-aged Korean people to work for them and took 200 000 Korean women to serve as sex slaves for their army. They plundered Korea of its resources and cultural properties, and prohibited Koreans from using their spoken and written language, even forcing them to change their names in a Japanese style. This situation occurred due to flunkeyism and incompetence by the old feudal rulers of the Ri Dynasty. The Japanese imperialists were also aided and abetted by other big powers and imperialists such as the US and UK. By 1910 Japan had annexed Korea and turned it into a colony. The Korean people fell victim to the cruel Japanese colonialists who plundered huge amounts of Korean resources.
The Korean people yearned for independence and freedom from Japanese imperialism. However, no leader existed that could deliver Korea from Japanese rule. Bourgeois nationalists were totally divorced from the popular masses and turned to national reformism which meant capitulation to Japanese imperialism. On the Left a communist movement was formed based on Soviet lines but this quickly collapsed into flunkeyism and factionalism. In the March 1 Uprising in 1919, the Koreans rose in revolt against the Japanese and launched the Independence Army movement. But, the desired liberation did not come and the bloody struggles ended with failure due to lack of clear leadership.
However, a strong and independence leader would emerge and his name was Kim Il Sung. The great leader comrade Kim Il Sung came from a humble but patriotic family. He was born at a straw thatched farmhouse at Mangyondae near Pyongyang. Kim Il Sung’s father Kim Hyong Jik was a staunch Korean nationalist and president of the Korean National Association.
His great grandfather Kim Ung U led the struggle to sink the US imperialist ship the General Sherman which had intruded into Korea in the 1860s. Kim Il Sung became aware of social and class contradictions, the gap between the rich and the poor at an early age. He also became aware of Korea’s suffering under Japanese rule and the contradictions within the national liberation movements.
In his early teens, he embarked on the road of revolution with a grim resolve not to return before Korea had become independent. In 1925 he made the epic journey from Korea to China on foot.
During this time many Koreans left Korea to live in China because of the oppressive rule of Japanese imperialism, thus north east China became a theatre of struggle for Korean revolutionaries. Kim Il Sung studied at the Hwasong Uisuk school run by Korean nationalists. However, he became disillusioned with bourgeois nationalism and reformism and turned to revolutionary ideas. He formed the Down With Imperialism Union with revolutionary youth and school students in 1926.
The formation of the DIU whose immediate task was to overthrow the Japanese imperialists and achieve Korea’s liberation and independence marked a new starting-point for the national liberation struggle in Korea. In 1927 he organised the Young Communist League and later the Anti Imperialist-Youth League with members of the DIU. In 1929 he was imprisoned by the Japanese imperialists for his revolutionary activities. Kim Il Sung stressed the need to make a clean break with the factionalism that had plagued the Korean revolution and disrupted the revolutionary struggle. The young Kim Il Sung realised that no other country was going to give the Korean people their independence. He stated that independence had to be achieved by their own efforts alone. Kim Il Sung correctly believed that to achieve independence the Korean masses had to be mobilised in an armed struggle.
In June 1930 Kim Il Sung made a historic speech titled “The Path of the Korean Revolution” at a meeting of Korean revolutionaries held in Kalun. In the speech he clarified the principles of the Juche idea and advanced the line of anti-Japanese armed struggle based on the Songun idea.
The line served as an ideological banner of the Korean revolutionaries. At this meeting Kim Il Sung stressed that the masters of the Korean revolution were the Korean people and that the Korean revolution should be carried out by the Korean people themselves in a way suited the actual conditions of Korea. In July 1930 the Korean Revolutionary Army was founded. Kim Il Sung pursued a unique Songun based line of guerrilla warfare in which the armed forces were founded before the Party. In 1931 at the Mingyuegou meeting Kim Il Sung reiterated that the armed struggle was the basic line of the anti-Japanese movement and clarified strategic and tactical problems immediately arising in organising and developing the anti-Japanese armed struggle. The anti-Japanese national liberation struggle of Korea could now take the correct path and advance toward victory with full confidence.
Then Kim Il Sung founded the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army on August 25, 1932. It was the birth of a new-type of revolutionary armed force for national liberation and it heralded the start of the anti-Japanese revolutionary war.
The Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army fought with the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance and the Juche Idea. They seized weapons from the Japanese aggressors or manufactured their own. In March 1934 the Anti-Japanese People's Guerrilla Army became the Korean People's Revolutionary Army. The KPRA fought many battles against the Japanese imperialists such as the battle of Pochonbo in 1937. The fighters under the command of Kim Il Sung once had to march through freezing snow in sub-zero temperatures with no food and this was known as the arduous march. Kim Il Sung also applied the Juche idea to the question of the united front and founded the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland, a Juche-orientated united national front in May 1936. As a result, all the Korean people who loved their country, regardless of their differences in ideology, political views, social strata and religious beliefs, were united as one under the banner of the ARF, and the national liberation struggle could be conducted on a nationwide scale.
The hard and arduous revolutionary armed struggle led by Kim Il Sung paid off in 9th of August 1945 when Kim Il Sung gave the order for the final offensive against the Japanese. The KPRA units advanced in close contact with the Soviet army, annihilating the Japanese army. In response to the final offensive operations, the small units and political operatives from the KPRA roused paramilitary corps, armed resistance organizations and broad sections of the people to armed revolts. They harassed the enemy in the rear by boldly attacking the Japanese troops, in strong support of the advancing KPRA units. Kim Il Sung led the 15-year-long armed struggle against the Japanese to victory using his military idea that the masses of soldiers are the most powerful beings. He stressed that soldiers are the decisive factor for victory in war, and that they can emerge victorious against any formidable enemy if they fight with confidence in their strength. By drawing on these ideas, he defeated the one-million-strong Japanese army.
The liberation of Korea was not only a great event for the Korean people but had worldwide significance. The liberation of Korea by the Korean People's Revolutionary Army led Kim Il Sung made a great contribution to the victory of the international anti-fascist forces. The victorious liberation struggle fought by the Korean people was also an inspiration for the peoples of the colonial countries fighting for their independence and liberation. This fact was acknowledged by the World Cultural Congress in Havana in 1968 as the congress adopted a document praising the anti-Japanese armed struggle waged under the leadership Kim Il Sung. The anti-Japanese struggle also proved beyond doubt the validity of the Juche and Songun ideas.
This great struggle should always be remembered by progressive people the world over as an example of how those who are oppressed can free themselves by undertaking a Juche-based revolutionary armed struggle.
The Korean people now celebrate 73 years of independence and socialist success. Today the Korean people under the wise leadership Marshal Kim Jong Un are consolidating the gains of liberation and marching forward towards final victory and reunification.