Kim Hak-cheol (1916.11.4. ~ 2001.9.25.)
Kim Hak-cheol’s literary career was introduces in the late 1980s, and his unique and robust writing style gained critical acclaim for its sharpness that did not overlook the authenticity of life.
His real name is Hong Seong-geol, an independence activist from Korean Volunteer Army. After the liberation on August 15, he started to work as a novelist in earnest.
Born in Wonsan, Hamgyeongnam-do, he completed elementary school at Wonsan Public Elementary School and graduated from Boseong High School.
After reading Yi Sang-hwa’s <Does Spring Come to these Stolen Fields>, he became aware of anti-Japanese ideology.
He began to face the reality of the nation while experiencing the 1929 Wonsan General Strike and Gwangju Student Movement. He was impressed by the ‘Yun Bong-gil’s Independence Activity’ and left for Shanghai in 1935 to join the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.
In July 1937, with the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, he graduated early form the Central Military Academy in Hobei Province, China. After the Chinese army’s defeat in the Battle of Wuhan, he joined the Korean Volunteer Army under the Eight Route Army and engaged in independence movement activities in Northeast China.
In 1938, he joined the Korean Volunteer Corps that was organized by General Kim Won-bong and served as a squad commander.
In 1941, he was captured during the Battle of Hogajang where he had suffered from gunshot wounds. Then, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison as a political prisoner and imprisoned in a penitentiary.
Afterward, because of not writing the letter of conversion, he could not receive proper medical treatment from the gunshot and eventually led to a leg amputation.
After the liberation, he engaged in political activities as a member of the Seoul City Committee of Korean Independence Alliance. But due to the leftist suppression, he went to North Korea and worked as a journalist for the 『Rodong Sinmun』 in Pyongyang.
However, expressing his opposition to the Kim Il-sung Regime, Kim Hak-cheol immigrated and settled in Yanbian during the Korean War.
He also could not hide the disappointment in China. During the ‘Cultural Revolution’, he wrote <The Myth of the Twentieth Century>, which contained critical content such as “Why worship when people are starving to death?” He was imprisoned as a ‘counter-revolutionary writer’ for 10 years and was subjected to forced labor for 24 years.
He reinstated his honor in 1980 and wrote numerous writings such as <Speak, Haeran River>, <Violent Emotions>, <The Myth of the Twentieth Century> until his passing.
In 2001, his health got worsen and refused life sustaining treatment. He returned to Yanbian and passed away on September 25.
He was the last surviving independence activist of the Korean Volunteer Corps and was also known as the ‘Last Squad Leader of the Korean Volunteer Corps.‘