China’s CCTV-6 airs 2011 Korean War documentary to ‘echo current era’

By Wang Qi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/20 18:23:40

Jiang Qingquan, a former solider of the China's People's Volunteer Army, shows off his medals. Photo: IC

China's Korean War film Heroic Sons and Daughters plays as people cross the Yalu River Broken Bridge, which connects the Chinese city of Dandong with the North Korean city of Yeng Byen, on July 25, 2010. Photo: IC

On Sunday night, China's State film channel CCTV-6 aired 2011 documentary Frozen Chosin, the fourth consecutive film about the Korean War (1950-53) the station has aired since Thursday. 

In a Sina Weibo post on Saturday, CCTV-6 said it was "using films to echo the current era," a possible nod to the current ongoing trade war between China and the US.

Despite the obvious political implications, the documentary was surprisingly well received by audiences, a number of viewers took to social media to post messages such as "salute our heroes," or "a touching documentary." 

Heroic sons  

Frozen Chosin delves into the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, one of the biggest and the most harrowing battles at the beginning stage of the Korean War. The title of the film refers to the freezing weather conditions during the battle. Three companies of Chinese soldiers froze to death while carrying out their duty in the minus 30 C weather. 

After China's People's Volunteer Army (PVA) 9th Army arrived in the northeastern region of North Korea, they encountered the US' X Corps in the mountainous region near the Chosin Reservoir, kicking off a 17-day battle. 

In addition to well-armed and well-supplied opponents, the PVA 9th Army also had to face life-threatening conditions due to the extreme cold weather and a lack of warm clothing and other supplies. According to statistics from US historian Roy Appleman, the freezing weather was directly responsible for an estimated 29,000 casualties in total on both sides. 

"Our martyrs were fighting against an enemy armed with the best weapons in the world in the minus 30 C weather without thinking about retreat. What a great spirit they had," a netizen commented on Sina Weibo. 

Although the Chinese suffered more casualties than the UN Allied Army, the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir is still seen as a remarkable victory for China. 

According to an expert from China's University of International Relations in Beijing who ask to remain anonymous, the battle demonstrated the initiative of the PVA, who was able to successfully hold the battlefield and force the UN Allied troops to retreat. More importantly, he noted that their tenacious fighting spirit and patriotism spirit will always be remembered by the Chinese people. 

Sign of the times

Produced by the PLA run August First Film Studio in 2011 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, the film was not as talked about as today, most likely due to the relatively stable relations the US had with China at the time, analysts say.

The documentary was highly regarded by those within the industry, however. It won Best Documentary at China's 29th Golden Rooster Awards and Outstanding Documentary at the 15th China Huabiao Film Awards. 

With the recent airing, it seems the film is getting recognition from a wider audience. 

"The documentary really made me excited and emotional. I salute those who sacrificed their lives to make China strong again," one netizen said, commenting on a Sina Weibo post from CCTV-6 about the documentary. 

The Korean War has been the source of numerous documentaries and dramatic films. About 14 Korean War films were made in China during the late 1950s and 1960s, reflecting tensions during the Cold War. The three previous films aired on CCTV-6 starting on Thursday date from this period. 

US director Randall MacLowry also produced a documentary, The Battle of Chosin, in 2016 from the viewpoint of the US military. The film has a score of 7.4/10 on film site IMDb. 

In addition to films, the war has also seen a resurgence on TV in China in recent years, such as The 38th Parallel. Released in 2016, the drama series broke the long silence for Korean War shows on TV. 

"I love my country and I would give my life for it. But war is not the answer after all, people should think more about how to coexist peacefully," commented one netizen.
Newspaper headline: Ice & blood

Posted in: FILM

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