Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, First Revolutionary Armed Forces in Korea


In the early 20th century the Korean nation was forced into colonial slavery owing to the Japanese imperialists’ military occupation of Korea (1905–1945), and the Japanese imperialists asserted that “Koreans should obey the Japanese law or die.” In those days when the 5 000-year-long history of the Korean nation was mercilessly being obliterated, a man held aloft the anti-Japanese banner. He was none other than Kim Il Sung (1912-1994).

Experiencing the miserable reality of Korea, he embarked on the road of revolution in his teens with the intention of liberating Korea. In order to defeat the armed enemy and liberate the country, he advanced the line of the anti-Japanese armed struggle and founded a guerrilla army.

Under the guidance of Kim Il Sung, a small guerrilla army was formed with young revolutionaries of the new generation at first and similar armies with 10 to 20 guerrillas were widely organized in different regions.

At last, the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army, the first revolutionary armed forces of Juche type, was founded in the forests of Antu (northeast China) on April 25, 1932.

The Japanese imperialists likened the guerrilla army to a “drop in the ocean” and, in fact, the AJPGA had only 100 men in its early days. It, however, embarked on the decisive armed struggle against a million-strong Japanese Kwantung Army armed with modern weapons such as aircraft and tanks.

Kim Il Sung steadily increased the ranks of the army through the struggle to advance to north and south Manchuria of China and defend the guerrilla zones along the Tuman River and, at the same time, further strengthened their might militarily and politically. The reorganization of the AJPGA into the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army was a revolutionary step that made it possible to give better unified guidance to the guerrilla units which had grown stronger in different regions, thus increasing their fighting efficiency and coping more actively with the large-scale offensive of the Japanese imperialists.

Under the guidance of Kim Il Sung, the KPRA advanced into a wider area and conducted positive activities.

The KPRA made the enemy’s elite units shudder in many battles such as those in Luozigou, Laoheishan, Jiansanfeng, the Musan area, Damalugou, Hongqihe and Dashahe, and dealt a strong military blow to the Japanese imperialists.

In those days, many unique strategies and tactics and superb war methods based on the idea that the enemy’s numerical and military and technical superiority should be defeated by the political, ideological and strategic superiority of the revolutionary army were created, and the huge “punitive” forces of the Japanese imperialists had to suffer repeatedly crushing defeats by the protean KPRA.

But, the anti-Japanese armed struggle was the most arduous and heroic one unprecedented in history.

The anti-Japanese armed struggle was really difficult as it had to be waged for a long time with neither the backing of the state nor assistance of the regular army. This is eloquently proved by the course of the arduous march carried out by the KPRA from the end of 1938 to the spring of the following year.

During the march, Kim Il Sung overcame all trials in the van of the guerrillas; sometimes, when young men fell wearily, he carried them on his back; when food ran out, he shared even a bowl of parched-rice flour with his men; he himself stood guard to defend his men who had got tired from the march; and when the enemy suddenly attacked, he counterattacked them with a rifle before anyone else.

As he wrote in his reminiscences, the arduous march was, in a nutshell, a constant, non-stop struggle against the worst of natural conditions, hunger, exhaustion, diseases and of course the brutal enemy. All of these were accompanied by yet another severe struggle: that of not giving in to all these hardships. It was primarily a struggle to survive and to destroy the enemy.

The anti-Japanese armed struggle itself was a nationwide struggle organized and waged through the combination of the founding and development of the revolutionary armed forces and the formation of the united front of the whole nation from the beginning. The whole course of the struggle was the one in which there was created a new history of the KPRA’s active armed struggle and all-people resistance.

On August 9, 1945, Kim Il Sung issued an order to launch the final attack for the country’s liberation. The People’s Revolutionary Army units, which had been fully prepared, took the enemy’s strategic points and expanded their war results with irresistible force, and the people joined them with an all-people resistance across the country.

Finally, on August 15, 1945, the Japanese imperialists were defeated and Korea was liberated. The Korean people put an end to their 40-year-long sufferings as stateless slaves and greeted new days of national restoration.

Afterwards, the Korean People’s Army was founded on February 8, 1948 as a regular revolutionary armed force composed of excellent sons and daughters of the workers, peasants and other working people with the anti-Japanese fighters tempered in the flames of the anti-Japanese war as its backbone.

In the Fatherland Liberation War (1950-1953), which started two years later, the KPA resolutely repulsed the allied imperialist forces’ aggression and has honourably defended the sovereignty and dignity of the country, smashing every military threat and provocation of the enemies since the postwar days.


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