Biography

Kim Mu Chong
[LGen CG II-Corps NKPA]

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On the other hand, the career of former Lieutenant General Kim Mu Chong, ex-commander of II Corps and ex-chief of artillery, was blasted by the opposition of Kim Il Sung and Nam Il. A CCF veteran, Mu had served under Mao Tse-tung on the “Long March” as one of 30 Koreans to survive the ordeal. He commanded a Chinese artillery brigade and was rated the best CCF artilleryman. In 1945 he came back to Korea and conducted a speaking tour stressing the desirability of cooperating with Red China and omitting any reference to the Soviet Union. This lapse explains his failure in North Korean politics, but in deference to his high military reputation he was given command of II Corps in June 1950. The poor showing made by his units on the central front was ascribed by Mu to the fact that Kim Il Sung picked him for missions which could not succeed. Although he did not lack for support in the army, Mu was relieved of his command and other positions in the late summer of 1950. Expulsion from the North Korean Labor Party followed after Kim Il Sung denounced him in a speech for disobedience of orders.

Mu’s downfall was only one chapter in the bitter struggle for power waged by two opposing tactical schools in the North Korean army from 1948 to 1950. Veterans of CCF campaigns against the Japanese and Chinese Nationalists upheld a system of large-scale guerrilla warfare refined into a military science. Approach marches under cover of darkness, infiltrations, probing night attacks—these were the basic tactics employed by Mao Tse Tung’s forces for the conquest of China. Although mobility was the keynote, a rigid tactical system allowed little latitude of decision to officers below the regimental level. School solutions were provided for every military problem that could be foreseen, and many of the North Korean officers had graduated from the CCF military academy at Yenan.

Another group of officers advocated the tactics learned at Soviet military schools and in Soviet campaigns of World War II. This system, of course, made the CCF tactics seem primitive in comparison. For the Russians placed much more dependence in armor and artillery as preparation for infantry envelopments. Such tactics called for more supplies and ammunition than could have been provided by the elementary CCF logistics.

The CCF veterans seemed to have the upper hand in the North Korean army early in 1948. But a survey of NKPA officers’ careers during the next 2 years indicates that their opponents triumphed. Thus, at the onset of civil war, most of the key positions in the army were filled by men who had hitched their wagons to the red star of Moscow, both militarily and politically.

This does not mean that CCF tactics had been put aside entirely. On the contrary, these methods had evolved out of military poverty and were admirably adapted to an Asiatic peasant army. The North Korean forces, being compelled to import arms, were never able to afford enough planes, tanks, and artillery to make the best of the Soviet system. And it was inevitable that heavy losses of such equipment in combat would cause a reversion to CCF tactics.