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Part of the Japanese occupation of Korea
Grand Monument Samjiyon 03.jpg
The battle depicted in the Grand Monument in Samjiyon, Samjiyon County
Date 4 June 1937
Location Pochon County, Ryanggang Province, Korea
(now the Democratic People's Republic of Korea)
Result Anti-Japanese victory
Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army Flag of Japan (1870–1999).svg Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
Kim Il Sung Unknown
Units involved
Kim Il Sung's Division Unknown
Hundreds Hundreds
Casualties and losses
Minimal Heavy

The Battle of Pochonbo was an event which occurred in northern Korea on 4 June 1937 (Juche 26), commanded by Kim Il-sung (or possibly Choe Hyon),[1][2] during the anti-Japanese armed struggle in Korea. The battle holds an important place in North Korean narratives of history.[3]


보천보사건 동아일보 호외 1

Report of the battle in The Dong-a Ilbo. The battle was reported in numerous newspapers across the world.

According to pro-North Korean sources, the battle was in retaliation to the brutality of the Japanese occupation of Korea at a time when "the Japanese imperialists perpetrated unheard-of fascist tyranny against the Korean people." Kim Il-sung crossed the Amnok River and arrived at the Konjang Hill on 3 June 1937. At 22:00, Kim Il-sung fired a shot into the sky, and the battle started. During the battle, the Japanese-occupied police station, post office, foresters' office and fire department hall were destroyed by the northern Korean army.[4]

Kim Il-sung subsequently made a speech, where he noted that the Korean people "turn out as one in the sacred anti-Japanese war."[4] The battle is featured in Kim Il-sung's autobiography With the Century. In it, too, Kim describes his guerrilla troops acting spontaneously and motivated by emotion rather than reason and strategic insights.[3] In it, he said of the event:

The Battle of Pochonbo showed that imperialist Japan could be smashed and burnt up, like rubbish. The flames over the night sky of Pochonbo in the fatherland heralded the dawn of the liberation of Korea, which had been buried in darkness.

The Pochonbo Battle was a historic battle which not only showed to the Korean people who thought Korea to be dead that Korea is not dead but alive, but also gave them the confidence that when they fight, they can achieve national independence and liberation.
—Kim Il-sung, With the Century[5]

The news of the battle was reported in numerous newspapers across the world, including the Soviet Union, China, Japan and France.[6]

Battle siteEdit

The battle site is situated at Pochon County, Ryanggang Province[7] at the Kusi Barrage on Kojang Hill.[8]

According to Ken Kato, a researcher and human rights activist:

Kim Il-sung's legitimacy came from propaganda that he fought against Japan, symbolised by the Battle of Pochonbo [...] Schools in North Korea teach children that the battle was a glorious victory against Japan led by Kim Il-sung.[1]


On 15 August 1945, the DPRK was officially liberated from Japan on V-J Day. According to the Association for the Study of Songun Politics UK a pro-North Korean, Juche study group:

Another historic significance of the Battle of Pochonbo was that it demonstrated at home and abroad a sure will of the Korean revolutionaries, who pioneered the revolution with arms and would advance it by dint of arms. The battle was an ordinary raid, which combined the use of small arms and a speech designed to stir up public feeling. However, that small battle made a great impact on the world because it showed the truth that the armed imperialists and colonialists should only be fought with arms to emerge victorious in the revolution for national liberation.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ryall, Julian. "Rival to Kim's regime among 200 on verge of being purged". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  2. Ryall, Julian (3 April 2014). "Son of North Korean 'hero' who was written out of history feared to be latest target of Kim Jong-un's purges". Associated Press. Retrieved 1 March 2015. "One article in the Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, dated June 7, 1937, three days after the skirmish, says: "A little more than 100 men led by communist bandit Choe Hyon attacked Pochonbo."" 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Silberstein, Benjamin (10 May 2016). "Warfare by Feelings: Strategy, Spontaneity, and Emotions in Kim Il-sung's Tactical Thinking". Sino-NK. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The Battle of Pochonbo". The Korean Friendship Association. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  5. Kim, Il-Sung. "With the Century". The Korean Friendship Association. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  6. "Anniversary of Victorious Pochonbo Battle Marked". Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  7. "The Global Intelligence Files - JAPAN/ASIA PACIFIC - Pochonbo Revolutionary Battle Site". Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  8. "Pochonbo Revolutionary Battle Site". Korean Central News Agency. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  9. "Flames of Pochonbo". Association for the Study of Songun Politics UK. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 

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