Lyrics: Kim Hyok (김혁)
Written in October 1928
Revolutionary Poet Kim Hyok
Kim Hyok (1907–1930) was one of the young communists of a new generation who set out on the road of revolution to win back the country from the military grip of the Japanese imperialists (1905–1945). President Kim Il Sung, in Vol. 2 of his reminiscences With the Century, wrote as follows:
“When young, I had many comrades... Each of them was worth his weight in gold. Kim Hyok, who nowadays is known as a revolutionary poet, was a comrade of mine. He made a lasting impression on me in my youth. It is more than half a century since his death, but I still remember him.”
It was in the summer of 1927 in Jilin that Kim Hyok met the President first. He stayed with the President in his room for three days, and they talked every night through. Since then Kim Hyok formed comradely relations with the President on the road of revolution. His fascination to and worship for the President were extraordinary. He put forward the President as the centre of unity and cohesion of the Korean revolution and as its leader, and upheld him with all his heart.
He was a man of passion. He displayed his passion in the revolutionary practice. Though he was five years older and better educated than the President, Kim Hyok never showed off, but made sincere efforts to carry out the tasks given by the President. He was well-informed and excellent in theory. He was deeply versed in literature and the arts. He was good at poetry. He wrote both the words and music for the revolutionary hymn The Star of Korea, the first of its kind, in 1928, and widely spread it. The song contains the unanimous desire of Kim Hyok himself and all other young communists and the rest of the Korean people to be single-mindedly loyal to the President, who set out on the road of revolution in his early years and devoted his all to the national liberation, revering him as the centre of unity and cohesion and the leader of the nation. Kim Hyok conducted vigorous activities hand in hand with the President, and went to Haerbin in early August 1930. His mission there was to establish contact with the Comintern while enlarging the revolutionary organization in and around that city.
On the strength of his remarkable organizational skill and audacity, he made preparations for the formation at grass roots of the party and pressed on with the procurement of weapons while educating the young people and enlarging the organizations. Meanwhile he established contact with the liaison office of the Comintern. One day at a secret rendezvous in Haerbin daoli, he encountered the enemy who surprised him and fell upon him. Having exchanged fire with the enemy, he jumped from the third floor of the building he was in, resolved to die. Having failed in his suicide attempt, he was captured by the enemy and taken to Lushun prison. After suffering cruel torture and persecution he died in prison.
Eighty years have passed since his death, but he is still remembered by the Korean people. This is because he is one of the forerunners who ushered in an era of true unity, the pride and glory of the Korean people and the genuine source of their unfathomable strength, and who, at the cost of their blood, created a new history of unity and cohesion in which the leader and the masses were fused into a harmonious whole in the communist movement of Korea. His bust is set up at the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery on Mt. Taesong. (Voice of Korea)
"Because of the life he had led, he composed the Star of Korea and disseminated it among the revolutionary organizations. At first I knew nothing about it. On my visit to Xinantun I found some young people there singing the song. Kim Hyok had discussed the matter with Cha Kwang Su and Choe Chang Gol without my knowledge and spread the song in Jilin and in the surrounding area. At first I rebuked them severely for singing a song which compared me to a star.
Around the time the song Star of Korea was being spread, my comrades changed my name and began to call me Han Byol. They changed my name despite my protests and called me Han Byol, meaning “One Star.” It was Pyon Tae U and other public-minded people in Wujiazi and such young communists as Choe Il Chon who proposed to change my name into Kim Il Sung. Thus I was called by three names, Song Ju, Han Byol and Il Sung.
... As I was very fond of the name my father gave me, I did not like to be called by another name. Still less did I tolerate the people extolling me by comparing me to a star or the sun; it did not befit me, young man. But my comrades would not listen to me, no matter how sternly I rebuked them for it or argued against it. They were fond of calling me Kim Il Sung, although they knew that I did not like it. " - Kim Il Sung, With the Century