1Long long ago at Solgae--Eagle Gorge--
There stood a huntsman's hut
Beneath the sheltering pines.
The eagles loved this wild and rocky place,
But now they have all vanished without trace.
Upon the naked peak sits one lone raven,
His plaintive call resounding round the cliffs.
Koreans lived here once,
They lived by hunting,
Gathering round the fire
To clean their guns
And talk about the business of the day.
But now their forebears' rusted weapons
Have been surrendered to the Japanese,
And on the lands below they work as peasants,
Burning the forest,
Grubbing up roots
And planting millet or kaoliang.
2Here in the isolation of Solgae
The aged Kim Yun Chil has made his home.
After the Battle of the First of March
After his wife was tortured by the Japanese
And thousands of Korean warriors
Withdrew beyond the Tuman River into China,
He hid his own old weapon
Within the hollow of an ancient pine
And set out on the road to seek for work
Till finally he and his daughter, like the rest,
Returned to work upon the land,
To bury in it all their grief and woe,
And for all time preserve their sacred hope.
But then, perhaps a year ago,
The ashes of his hope were fanned into a flame
When rumour reached his isolated home
That in the sacred heart of Paektu mountain
There was vast and mighty cavern,
In which the sun and stars both shone,
In which Korean warriors in their thousands
Sharpened their sabres on the rocks
And waited for the battle summons
To rush into the fray.
And on that fearful day
The cliffs would part asunder
And the warriors would flood forth
To wipe the Japanese from the face of the earth.
Henceforth Kkot Bun followed Chol Ho's instructions,
Henceforth, when she would gaze on Paektu mountain,
Her heart that had been wracked with weary torment,
Knew peace again,
As though the mountain streams of spring
Had washed away her pain.
Witness of the ages!
The slashing hooves of Genghis Khan's mounted hordes
Left wounds upon your breast.
And Toyotomi Hideyoshi's bloody samurai blades
Were thrust into your bleeding body.
Five centuries of Ri's despotic rule
Shattered in shame against your flank.
Since then hundreds of thousands of Koreans,
Rejecting conquest and oppression,
Have left their native land
To live beyond the Amnok River,
Bearing ever in their hands
The sacred torch of freedom.
Such is the legacy of Hong Kyong Rae
And of the mighty heroes of the Kabo War.
Our native land, nurtured by Koreans
For five thousand years,
Is now tormented by the Japanese dragon,
And even you, great Paektu mountain,
Have bowed your head in sad exhaustion.
But now the fires of struggle have been lit,
Koreans have taken up the sword,
The ranks of warriors strong and swift
Are swelling rapidly on every side.
The first day of March announced Korea's revolt.
The groans of hungry farmers filled the air
In factories the work ground to a halt.
Even the waters of the Songhuajiang rose up in wrath,
And the Great Wall of China was reduced to dust.
The partisans came forth to start their fight,
Beneath the sacred banner of resistance.
Within your heart a sudden blizzard stirred,
Like a swift storm upon the East Sea of Korea,
You gazed in wrath upon the cursed foe,
Invaders from the islands of the east.
4She was called Kkot Bun
For her great beauty,
Which was like a flower of spring,
And for the tender whiteness
Of her skin.
Her childhood flew by quickly
In the shadow of Hyesan,
Living in the lonely village of Solgae,
She never knew the classroom's discipline,
But in the long winter nights,
Her father her only teacher,
She learned somewhat to read and write.
And as she read the tattered books
She wept with rage and hate
And cursed the plundering merchants
Who flung Sim Chong into the ocean waves.
And as she gathered bitter roots and herbs
She dreamt her hand was joined with his
In severing the head of the oppressor
Who locked Chun Hyang into the torture-cell.
The woeful stories that her father told
Left in the young girl's heart a frozen core
Of hatred mingled half and half with pain.
5At nights she thought at length
About her mother,
Killed by the Japanese,
And the strings of her heart
Were wrung with grief.
She thought about the young Korean
Who bit out his own tongue
So it could not betray him as he slept
Or give away his comrades
When the torturer piled his trade.
She thought about the peasant-woman
Who lay beside her husband in the attic,
Covering him from the Japanese bayonets
That ripped and tore into her flesh,
And did not groan, because she feared
That he might hear her, and his righteous anger
Would drive him down to fight.
Kkot Bun swore an oath
That she would be like her--
And she will keep her word.
6Night-time in the mountain village,
The peasants are asleep,
Huddled beneath their piles of tattered rags.
The water-mill works softly in the gloom,
A weary sound of hopeless clutching
After flowing water,
A symbol for the hunger of Solgae.
And only in a single hut
The night is filled with struggle and with life.
Chol Ho and young Kkot Bun
Are printing out the final leaflets
Which Chol Ho must take with him in the morning.
There comes a sound of heavy tramping feet.
"Put out the light!"
That is the voice of Kim Yun Chil,
Standing on guard
Outside the window of the hut.
Chol Ho takes up the leaflets and the printer.
But already the police are at the door.
The moment draws out to a thousand years,
And through their minds the thoughts run
7"Chol Ho, lie with my father in the bed,"
Kkot Bun says calmly in the darkness,
"And take the printer and the leaflets, too."
"Are you asleep, old man?"
The Japanese call from the porch.
Kkot Bun drew back the curtain,
And called out in a sleepy voice.
"Excuse me, I am still undressed...
Before I light the lamp
Let me put on a dress...
Oh Lord! The kerosene has spilt
(To hide the dangerous duplicator smell)
One moment now..."
The policeman sees the fleeting silhouette
Of a half-naked girl upon the window.
"Come in," she said and gave a sleepy smile,
As though still in the grip of pleasant dreams.
8"It stinks of kerosene in here!
"I see. Now you're married,
You take much earlier to your bed!"
"Oh no, sir, it's already late..."
"No idle chatter now, tell the old man
To come in to the station in the morning!"
With one more glance around the room
The Japanese withdrew, and slammed the door.
Kkot Bun hid her blazing face
Behind her hands:
"Forgive me please..."
She hurried out into the kitchen,
Chol Ho was left alone in the dark room.
"What a fine warrior and comrade is Kkot Bun!"
The young man's heart called out in the darkness,
And in his heart he went down on his knees
Before his bold comrade-in-arms and friend--
Before this gallant daughter of Korea.
Gathering up the leaflets in his hands,
Chol Ho went out into the night.