Vladimir Tikhonov, Kim Saryang’s Ten Thousand Li of a Dull-Witted Horse: Remembering the Anti-Colonial Struggle

Vladimir Tikhonov, ‘Kim Saryang’s Ten Thousand Li of a Dull-Witted Horse: Remembering the Anti-Colonial Struggle,’ European Journal of Korean Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Winter 2017), 1-21.

Abstract: Kim Saryang (real name: Kim Sich’ang, 1914-1950) was among the Korean authors of the 1930s and 1940s who wrote abundantly on the issues related to the Korean ethno-national identity, both in Korean and in Japanese. When dispatched on a lecture tour to the Japanese army units stationed in North China, he used this opportunity to escape and join the Chinese Communist Eighth Route Army guerrillas in the Taihang Mountains in May 1945. His China diary, Ten Thousand Li of a Dull-Witted Horse (Nomamalli, serialized in Seoul-based journal Minsŏng in 1946-47 and published in book form in Pyongyang in 1947), written in his new status as a North Korean writer, is the main object of analysis in this article. The diary was an attempt to systemise the remembrances about the joint Sino-Korean anti-Japanese struggle, with the continuous process of building of the new, Socialist subjectivities in Communist-controlled parts of China and Korea in mind. The article deals with the ways in which the new, post-colonial and Socialist Korean identity-in-making is being both reflected in Kim’s rendering of his battlefield observations and remembrances and further given form through the act of writing on the armed anti-Japanese resistance – in broad meaning, the sacred formative background of what further was to become North Korean history. At the same time, the article emphasises the role Socialist international ideology played in articulating Kim’s narrative.

Keywords: Kim Saryang, Nomamalli, North Korea, post-colonial, Chinese Communist Party, Taihang Mountains.