Library:The path of the Korean revolution

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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 in Kalun
AuthorKim Il-sung
First published30 June, 1930
SourceKim Il-sung (1980). Kim Il-sung: works, vol. 1. [PDF] Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House.


We, young communists, are now faced with the important task of leading the Korean revolution along the right path in conformity with the prevailing situation.

The current internal and external situation is very complicated and tense.

Fearing the growing might of the Soviet Union and the everincreasing revolutionary struggle of the oppressed peoples, the imperialists are frantically manoeuvring to stamp them 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.

At present, caught up in the worldwide economic crisis the Japanese imperialists are trying to find a way out by accelerating war preparations to invade the Asian Continent and, at the same time, further intensifying the colonial repression and plunder of Korea.

In order to crush the Korean people’s anti-Japanese spirit and stamp out their desire for independence once and for all, the Japanese imperialists are covering the whole of Korea with police and soldiers as well as intelligence networks, and are enacting various evil laws to arrest, imprison and slaughter Koreans at will. Our fellow countrymen thrown into prison by the Japanese imperialists number tens of thousands.

The Japanese imperialist marauders are intensifying more than ever before 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 without restraint are robbing us of our rich resources, including gold, silver, coal and iron ore. In particular, the aggressors are making desperate efforts to ruthlessly exploit Korea’s cheap labour. 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 feudal landownership in Korea. They have not only seized vast tracts of land by force, but last year alone, while pursuing a coercive, predatory policy to obtain grain in the name of the “increased rice production plan,” shipped off as much as seven million sok of rice. Owing to the cruel expropriation of the Japanese imperialists and feudal landlords, our peasants are barely subsisting on grass roots and tree bark.

The Korean nation is facing a question of life or death today–it either perishes forever 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.

Across the country the Korean people, who have been pushed to the wall by the harsh colonial rule of the Japanese imperialists, are now waging a vigorous mass struggle against them.

Following the dock workers’ general strike 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 tenancy disputes, and the peasants fought against the Japanese imperialists and pro-Japanese landlords in various places.

The students in Kwangju and other youths and students throughout the country are also fighting resolutely against the Japanese imperialists’ policy of colonial slave education, their policy of obliteration of national culture and their policy of obscuration and assimilation.

As mentioned above, the mass struggles of workers, peasants and students against the Japanese imperialists and their lackeys take the form of uprisings everywhere. But due to a lack of leadership based on a correct line and policy, they meet one setback after another in the face of brutal armed repression from the Japanese imperialists.

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 snobs for their own comfort. On the other hand, some factionalists, prompted by political ambition and a desire for higher positions, have driven the people into reckless uprisings, only to shed blood in vain. A typical example is the recent May 30 Uprising in eastern Manchuria. Without correctly analyzing and assessing the revolutionary situation, the factionalists forced the peasants to join the reckless uprising. As a result, the barehanded rebels were brutally mown down by the bayonets of the Japanese imperialist army, the police and the reactionary warlords. Consequently, 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 as well, and we experienced bitter trials in our revolutionary struggle. All this was due to the lack of correct leadership in our revolution.


This situation 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 the single purpose of saving the country and people. Therefore, we should meet 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 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 quarrelling, instead of mobilizing the masses of the people for the revolutionary movement. It is true that large numbers of people have so far taken part in various anti-Japanese movements. But they were scattered and unorganized.

The masters of the revolutionary struggle are the masses of the people. 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 can 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 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 worship of great powers, did 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 the ranks of the communist movement are so imbued with worship of great powers that they have solved none of the problems facing our revolution; rather, they have 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 do not need someone else’s approval for 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 was the only “orthodox” and genuine “Marxist” group, approached the Comintern for approval, instead of building up the party. Thus the KCP failed to strike its roots among the masses deeply enough to overcome Japanese imperialist oppression and, in the long run, was expelled from the Comintern.

After the KCP was dissolved the factionalists put up the signboard of “Party reconstruction” but 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 worship of great powers.

The losses worship of great powers inflicted on our revolution are indeed serious. As mentioned above, the May 30 Uprising was merely the brainchild of the factionalists to satisfy their political ambitions, and from beginning to end took an ultra-Leftist direction under the instigation of the “Left” adventurists. This put 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 the people and organize them, and solve all problems arising in the course of the revolution independently on one’s own responsibility and 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 understand clearly what the character and tasks of the Korean revolution are at present.

How, then, can we define the character of the Korean revolution in its 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; it is 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 Japanese imperialists, the foreign aggressors, 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 the Japanese imperialists. The problem of launching an anti-Japanese struggle has already been advanced as the immediate task when forming the Down-with-Imperialism Union.

While combating 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 both the anti-imperialist revolution and the anti-feudal revolution–the former being to fight the Japanese imperialists and the latter, to fight 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, and democratic.

Broad sections of the anti-imperialist forces such as workers, peasants, students, intellectuals, petit bourgeoisie, non-comprador capitalists with a national conscience 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 Koreans 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 and peasants as well as other broad masses of the 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 just 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 and accelerating the world revolution.

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, independence will not be brought to us 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 they are heavily armed and intensifying their suppression as never before, we must gradually build up the violent mass struggle into an organized armed struggle.

Armed struggle against imperialism in colonies is the lawful demand of the development of the national liberation movement. Owing to its intrinsic aggressive and predatory nature, an imperialist country will never withdraw from a colony of its own accord. It always resorts 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 properly for armed struggle, we must first organize the Korean Revolutionary Army.

We must form the Korean Revolutionary Army, a revolutionary armed organization, out of young communists who have been educated and trained in revolutionary organizations, including the Young Communist League and the Anti-Imperialist Youth League. We must thus accumulate the all-round experience necessary 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 imperialists.

In essence, revolution is a struggle to liberate the masses of the 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 Korean people 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 righteous non-comprador capitalists, as well as 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 as the General Staff of the revolution. Only a revolutionary party can formulate a correct line, strategy and tactics, mobilize the broad masses for struggle against the Japanese imperialists, and build a socialist and communist society.

We must derive serious lessons from the dissolution of the KCP and make an effort to found a party on a sound basis. To do this, we must neither try to proclaim the founding of a party right away without any preparation nor try 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 did set up a party in that way it would not be able to discharge its mission properly or 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 this 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 for making the general preparations for party building more substantial, but also for striking deep roots among the broad masses when the party comes into existence. We must form the party not by proclaiming the party centre first but by setting up fully prepared basic party organizations and then 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 to 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 before tackled by anyone, we must be ready to encounter numerous obstacles and hardships. We will have to overcome whatever stands in the way by ourselves, as the masters of the Korean revolution.

Let us all fight stubbornly to hew out the path of the Korean revolution.