Oxen Returned by Train

The following incident took place one November day during the Korean war (June 1950-July 1953). At that time the Supreme Headquarters was situated at Kosanjin.

Supreme Commander Kim Il Sung, during his inspection of a unit directly under the Supreme Headquarters, found that it had slaughtered an ox. It was one of several stray oxen that had been rounded up and herded along by the soldiers on their march along the Kujang-Hyangsan road running through the Chongchon River ferry.

An officer replied, without much thinking, that the ox had been slaughtered because it had a broken leg.

Regarding this as a grave incident, Kim Il Sung gave him a good dressing-down.

He said that even though it was of course praiseworthy that they had herded stray oxen along over a long distance, it was very wrong to slaughter one merely because of a broken leg. He continued: “The Americans are now randomly slaughtering animals in the occupied areas. If we too slaughter them on this or that pretext, our country will be left with not a single ox. Don’t you think so? It was terribly wrong.”

Awakened to the seriousness of his offense, the officer hung his head, his face turning crimson.

“You should have treated the broken leg,” continued Kim Il Sung. “A broken ox-leg is just as easy to mend as a broken human bone. For our peasants, an ox is a family member. … What did you think you were doing when you slaughtered an ox valued so much by the people? If you continue to behave like that, the word ‘people’ prefixed to the name of our army will make no sense.”

That night he sent a telegram to all the combined units banning the slaughter of oxen.

Some time later the oxen in question appeared at the Manpho Railway Station, on their way “home” with the re-advancing People’s Army; they had left “home” with the retreating army.

“Transport the oxen?” cried the railway security chief in surprise. “What are you talking about? We are hard put even to transport the troops.”

Finally, however, he had to concede, for the soldiers with the oxen produced a relevant order written by the Supreme Commander.

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