In March 1948, when the dark clouds of national division were gathering over Korea, President Kim Il Sung, in an effort to frustrate the schemes of the United States and its south Korean stooges to divide Korea, proposed holding a conference of political parties and public organizations of north and south Korea. He handed over to the officials concerned a list of prominent people to be invited so that they could write out the invitations. Going over the list, they were surprised to find the name Kim Ku. While working as the president of the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai before Korea’s liberation and as the head of the Independence Party of Korea after the defeat of the Japanese imperialists, Kim Ku had masterminded terrorist acts against many revolutionaries. “Is it necessary to join hands with such a diehard anti-communist?” they wondered.
Reading their thoughts, Kim Il Sung said:
“It is true that Kim Ku is an anti-communist and nationalist. However, he entertained anti-Japanese sentiments and now he hates the United States. Also, he is patriotic-minded and apprehensive about the future of the country. Viewing him from this perspective, there is no reason why we cannot join hands with him on the road of accomplishing the common cause of national reunification.”
And so, an invitation was conveyed to Kim Ku.
However, on receiving it, he hesitated. He had thought that all communists did was clamour about class struggle without any regard for the nation, and give the cold shoulder to nationalists for no particular reason. He wondered if the communists were really willing to join hands with him
He was assailed by doubts and misgivings. Still, he could not remain indifferent to the reality in which the nation was facing division. So he sent his secretary to Pyongyang to ascertain what the communists intended with regard to an alliance with him.
His secretary, when he met Kim Il Sung, said: “Mr. Kim Ku is going to come to Pyongyang to meet you, General. Can you not make an issue of his past?”
Kim Il Sung answered in the affirmative.
And so, Kim Ku came to Pyongyang and attended the conference. During his short stay in Pyongyang he was so fascinated by Kim Il Sung’s great ideology, outstanding leadership and noble virtue that he came to admire him. He made a U-turn from his anti-communist stance to an alliance with communism.
When he met Kim Il Sung prior to his return to Seoul, Kim Ku brought with him a heavy box and said: “I have a favour to ask of you, General. I took the post of president of the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai, and did nothing worth mentioning while living in a foreign country. Please, keep this seal of the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai, a humble memento of the history of the nation.”
To Kim Ku, the seal had been as valuable as his own life. Regarding it as the provisional government itself and thinking that the provisional government could be recognized only through it, he had always cherished it–whether he was working in Shanghai, fleeing to Chongqing or returning home.
His decision to hand the seal over to Kim Il Sung was a manifestation of his determination to change his life and entrust his destiny to the leader of the nation and the peerless great man.