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  • Excerpt from Travels in China:A Great New China
  • Yi T'aejun
    Translated by Jun Youb Lee (bio)

I. To Beijing

October 1st is the National Day of the People's Republic of China, our brother and comrade nation. To celebrate the second anniversary of its establishment, and commemorate the great triumph of its founding, every organization in China, including the Federation of Trade Unions, invited people's representatives from friendly nations around the world. I had longed to visit China, and had the good fortune of journeying there as a member of the Korean delegation.

China is such a venerable nation! An ancient civilization with the longest history and earliest development, China built the Great Wall, created the written characters widely used throughout the East, and invented gunpowder. It also crafted the bronzeware of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the lacquerware of the Han dynasty, the Sancai pottery of the Tang dynasty, and the splendid ceramics of the Song and Ming dynasties, housed in the best museums around the world. In this age-old nation with abundant resources and people, many outdated customs were interwoven with the nets of invaders to trap the population in bleakness and chaos. China had a deeply rooted feudalism, fierce warlords, and contemptuous foreigners demanding concessions. Great numbers of people, a quarter of the world's population, suffered over prolonged periods through multiple layers of oppression. [End Page 295]

China is Korea's nearest neighbor. We share deep ties politically and culturally, and groaned under the same weight of invasion by foreign capitalist powers in modern times.

The People's Republic of China! Youngest of the new nations. It feels like yesterday when the People's Liberation Army unlocked the gates of Beijing, long shackled by the eternal tradition of feudalism, and the army also emancipated Tianjin, carved up and occupied by eight powerful nations. It feels like yesterday when, defying the blockading warships from America, Britain, and France, the army crossed the Yangtze River to liberate traitor Chiang Kai-shek's capital Nanjing and China's largest city, Shanghai. After overturning like a mat an antiquated and repulsive China plagued by the toxins of feudalism and imperialist invasions, the new People's Republic of China has risen gloriously!

Who wouldn't bless the Chinese people who have accomplished this great victory and founding, and who wouldn't have the utmost respect and admiration for the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman Mao Zedong who led them! The People's Republic of China became an undefeatable bastion to repel the imperialist invasion in Asia, and emerged as a major political force to defend world peace. The nascent People's Republic of China is the new Promised Land for people around the world who love freedom and peace. Today's 475 million Chinese citizens are fighting in the trenches to aid the Korean people who stood up for their own national liberation to expel our common foe, American imperialists. So the hearts of the Korean delegation leaving for China were trembling with excitement and fraternal love.

At twilight on September 27, Hyun Hoon of the Korean General Federation of Trade Unions, Cho Pok-rae of the Korean Democratic Women's League, Jung Sung-un of the National Pacifists' Committee, hero Kim Pong-ho of the Democratic Youth Committee, Im Sŏng-hak of Democratic Korea, and I split into two groups, and left Pyongyang by Jeep. [End Page 296]

After a series of aerial defeats, the American air force bandits hovered high in the sky invisibly during the day, only whizzing above our heads once the sun had set. The sky turned so murky that not even a single star was visible. Almost every ten minutes, a roadside or mountainside gunshot or airplane noise warned us to keep our lights off.

We set out toward Sunch'ŏn and were passing the village of Sainjang when a pillar of fire soared up nearby with a roar that seemed to split the mountains, and the soil and rocks of the valley blazed in fireballs as if a furnace had burst. Americans had hung flares in the sky, as if for a lantern festival. In some places there were...


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pp. 295-310
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