On his way to the Mt. Paektu area from the Nanhutou meeting (a conference of military and political cadres of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army held in February 1936), Commander Kim Il Sung decided to drop in at the Mihunzhen secret camp in the primeval forests.
He came across the soldiers of the 1st Company, 1st Regiment of the Independent 1st Division, and asked them to guide him there, but they balked at his request.
“No, you must not go there, General!” one shouted in alarm. “The whole of the Mihunzhen valley is typhoid-infested.”
“No one can tell how many people have died there,” another chimed in. “We cannot take you there. We cannot take that risk.”
Earlier in the guerrilla zones they had experienced outbreaks of the disease, which had taken a heavy toll of lives.
“Typhoid is a human disease,” explained the Commander. “So man will get it under control. Man will prevail over the epidemic, and not vice versa, eh?”
“Impossible!” protested the soldiers, digging their heels in the ground. “The disease sweeps away the strong and the weak alike. You know Company Commander Choe Hyon is a tough man, but he too has been sick in bed there for weeks.”
“Even that iron fighter?”
The Commander was caught unawares.
“Then I must go there at all costs.”
His tone was peremptory.
The men knew they could not talk him around, but they added that he might go there, but not to the typhoid ward.
Kim Il Sung arrived at the camp, and immediately headed for a cabin where some 50 typhoid cases were housed.
“Don’t come in! I beg you!” one shouted, scrambling out towards the door. He was Choe Hyon, now reduced to a skeleton.
Kim Il Sung came up to him and clasped his hands, which were being withdrawn beneath the blanket. Choe’s eyes were swimming with tears, and all the other cases were sobbing.
Later the wizened men recovered, supported by the warm love of Kim Il Sung, who was ready to cross even the threshold of death unhesitatingly just to save his comrades.