North Korea and October 25

Just a brief note: China is indeed commemorating the anniversary of the entry of Chinese troops into combat on the Korean peninsula on October 25, 1950!  Front page of Cankao Xiaoxi, Huanqiu Shibao, and a long, long series of stories in the Time-magazine equivalent of Sanlian Shenghuo.  More on this subject, and its connection to China’s Nordpolitik, in subsequent essays.  In the meantime please enjoy some solid analysis .


  1. I feel like we should be dong commemorative stuff in America every 6-25. Some parades, maybe dropping some rats laced with cholera and plague from air planes. Maybe even get some napalm going, or bayoneting children.

    1. Yikes! I would imagine that veterans associations in the US did something in DC or at the various memorial sites around the US…or perhaps there was very little fanfare about the Korean War, much less the Chinese intervention, in this year of anniversaries. I was in Berlin for the 6-25 anniversary and in Seoul a few weeks later and got a fair amount of ambient input in those places. The German Left press seemed particularly attentive.

  2. Writing of wars and their aftermath, I recommend War Trash 2005 by Ha Jin. Loosely based on a real POW incident which took place in a US holding camp on Jeju Island after the cease of hostilies in the Korean War. Repatriation and the struggle for the hearts and minds of PRC prisoners.

    Slighly stilted writing, but killer stuff nonetheless.

    The author Ja Jin also has had a pretty interesting life journey to put it mildly.

    1. Thanks King! I wrote a review of Ha Jin’s War Trash a while back for a journal in the Netherlands and included some North Korean prisoner art that I found in the New York Public Library’s special propaganda collections. I then ran across a solid young scholar in the National Archives (I believe he was doing grad work in Chinese history in San Diego) who stated that Ha Jin basically plagiarized whole sections of the book from memoirs of Chinese People’s Volunteers published in China. Hopefully that young man (whose name is floating around somewhere in my Yahoo inbox, as we had a chance to correspond) will get his findings published soon.

  3. Adam. What a turn up. I head Ha Jin being interviewed on Oz National Radio Book Show talking about how hard it was to write in a second language.

    Read about the Jeju POW holding camp incident somewhere else which escapes me.

    As you have sort of deflated me here, I will fall back on the belief that, as Russian structuralists and recent post-others have noted, there are seven narrative forms to choose from when telling a story, and the author alighted on the one which coincided with the Chinese Peoples Volunteers memior. Bit of a weasel argument I know.

    I hope you are able to follow up this *author issue*.

  4. Your Submit Comment button is treacherously quick.

    Sp: heard.

    I am of the view that North Koreans (like their southern counterparts) are pretty high up in the xenophobe scale in certain circumstances, in that if the DPROK got seriously pushed against their will by Beijing, they would be just as likely to lob a missile into the Middle Kingdom.

    Interested in your views. Thanks.

    1. I think China got this idea publicly into discussion right after the May 25 2009 nuclear test which shook some schools in Yanbian Autonomous Region, news reports got fairly explicit with the notion of North Korea as a danger state, and realization that the nukes might not always be pointed south. Then there were those reports (rumors?) that North Korean military leaders were talking about nuking possibly rebellious cities (like Sinuiju tends to be, and Hoeryong, both right on the border) within the DPRK. But this idea of Beijing being a target isn’t taken seriously at the moment, and as long as North Koreans are supping at the ample bosom of the PRC, it seems unlikely to be broached any further.

      1. Many Thanks Adam. I wasn’t so much thinking of nukes, but more like a bit of garden variety missile posturing. When time permits, a link to your Sinuiju/Hoeryong comment would be appreciated. When thinking about it. PRC could instantly strangle NKs “economy”, if the latter started getting missile belligerent anyway.

  5. If still in China, I believe Adam is frantically searching the shops for protective equipment, re fallout. Hence no views of him yet.

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