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Like a Fireball Burning Hot


After graduating from the Kyongsong Institute, I traveled to Japan in 1941 to continue my studies. I went, because I felt that I needed to have exact knowledge about Japan. On the train to

Busan, I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. I covered myself with my coat and cried out loud. I couldn't stop myself from crying so much that my nose ran and my face swelled up. It grieved me to think that I was leaving behind my country that was like an orphan as it suffered under the yoke of colonial rule. I looked out the window as I wept, and I could see that the hills and rivers were weeping even more sorrowfully than I was. I saw with my own eyes the tears flowing from the grass and trees. I gave my promise to my country's nature as it lamented my departure.

"1 make this promise to the hills and streams of my homeland. I will return, carrying with me the liberation of my homeland. So don't cry, but wait for me."

I boarded the Busan-to-Shimonoseki ferry at two o'clock in the morning on April 1. There was a strong wind that night, but I could not leave the deck. I stayed there, watching as the lights of Busan became

more and more distant. I staved on deck until morning. On arriving in Tokyo, I entered Waseda Koutou Kougakko, a technical engineering high school affiliated with Waseda University, and studied in the electrical engineering department. I chose electrical engineering, because I felt that I could not establish a new religious thought without knowing modern engineering.

The invisible world of mathematics has something in common with religion, lb do something great, a person needs to excel in powers of reasoning. Perhaps because of my large head, I was good at mathematics that others found difficult, and I enjoyed studying it. My head was so

large that it was difficult for me to find hats that fit. I had to go to the factory twice to have a hat tailor made for me. The size of my head may also have something to do with my ability to focus on something and finish in three years what may take others ten years to complete.

During my studies in Japan, I showered my teachers with questions, just as I had in Korea. If I had any doubts about something, I couldn't be satisfied until I had pursued the matter all the way to the root in order to resolve it. I wasn't deliberately trying to embarrass my teachers. I felt that if I was going to study a subject, I should study it completely.

On my desk in the boarding house, I always had three Bibles lying open side by side. One was in Korean, one in Japanese and one in English. I would read the same passages in three languages again and again. Each time I read a passage, I would underline portions and make notes in the margins until the pages of my Bible became stained with black ink and difficult to read.

Soon after school began, I attended an event held by the association of Korean students to welcome new students from our country. There, I sang a song from our homeland with great fervor, showing everyone there my love for my people. The Japanese police were in attendance, and this was a time when Koreans were expected to assimilate themselves into Japanese culture. I sang the Korean song with pride, however. Dong Moon Eom, who entered the department of architectural engineering that year, was moved to see me sing this song, and we became lifelong friends from that day. Korean students enrolled in various schools in the Tokyo area had formed an underground independence movement. This was only natural, since our homeland was groaning in agony under Japanese colonial rule. As the "Great East Asian War," as it was called by the Japanese then, grew in intensity, the Japanese began conscripting innocent Korean students as "student soldiers" and sending them to the war front. The work of the underground independence movement was spurred on by such moves. We had extensive debates on what to do about Hirohito, the Japanese emperor. I took on a major position in the movement having to with carrying out various actions. It involved working in close relationship with Republic of Korea Provisional Government that was located in Shanghai and headed by Kim Gu. My responsibilities in this position could have required me to give up my life. This did not make me hesitate, though, because I felt that if I died it would be for a righteous cause.

There was a police station on the right hand side of Waseda University. The Japanese police got wind of my work and kept me under close watch. When I was about to return home to Korea during school vacation, the police would have this information very quickly and follow me to the dock or the train station to see me off. I cannot even remember the number of times I was taken into custody by the police, beaten, tortured, and locked in a cell Even under the worst torture, however, I refused to give them the information they sought. The more they beat me the bolder I became. Once, I had a fight on the railing of a bridge called the Yotsugaw Bridge with police who were chasing me. I ripped out a piece of the railing and used it as a weapon in the fight. In those days. I was a ball of fire.



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