President Kim Il Sung wrote in his reminiscences With the Century that the March First Popular Uprising in 1919 was an explosion of the pent-up anger and resentment of the Korean nation who had been subjected to extreme humiliation and mistreatment under the ten-year-long brutal “sabre rule” of Japanese imperialism.
When he was young, he joined the ranks of adult demonstrators and cheered for Korea’s independence.
As to the then circumstances, the President recalled that the enemy used swords and guns indiscriminately against the masses everywhere, even mobilizing mounted policemen and troops, and that although many people were killed, the demonstrators resisted the enemy fearlessly, becoming human weapons. Referring to a battle fought in front of the Pothong Gate, he said that was the first time he saw one man killing another and the day when he witnessed Korean blood being spilled for the first time and added that his young heart burned with indignation.
In Kyongsong (Seoul at present) a courageous demonstration was held with the participation of hundreds of thousands of people, including those peasants who had come there from the provinces to attend the funeral of Korean Emperor Kojong.
With the demonstrations in Kyongsong and Pyongyang as the start, in the middle of March the uprising swept across all the provinces of the country, spreading even to the Korean compatriots elsewhere such as Manchuria, Shanghai, the Maritime Province of Siberia and Hawaii and thus becoming truly nationwide resistance. At that time every Korean with a national conscience took part in the uprising irrespective of occupation, religious belief, age and sex.
Through the uprising the Korean people realized that the aggressors would not withdraw and they would be unable to regain national sovereignty and independence if they only held demonstrations and cheered.
The President wrote that the popular uprising served as a serious lesson that if the masses of the people were to win in the struggle for national independence and freedom, they must fight in an organized way with a correct strategy and tactics under the leadership of a revolutionary party and that they must completely reject flunkeyism and prepare a strong revolutionary force for themselves.
In order to soothe the anti-Japanese feelings of the Korean people after the uprising, the Japanese imperialists had to change, although it was for form’s sake, the “sabre rule” for a “civil government.”
Through the uprising the Koreans demonstrated to the whole world that they are a people with a strong spirit of independence who do not want to live as the slaves of others and that they are a people with indomitable stamina and ardent patriotism who fear no sacrifice in order to regain their country.