Korean War film's prototype defeats US' Task Force Maclean; history strikes a chord among current generation
Published: Oct 08, 2021 04:35 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

Korean War epic film The Battle at Lake Changjin has swept the Chinese National Day holidays box office with a new record of 3.3 billion yuan ($512 million) during the seven-day holiday, as it told a story about how a Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) company defeated the command center of the US army's Regimental Combat Team 31 (RCT-31, also known as Task Force Maclean). 

The heroic company in film was led by a character played by Chinese actor Wu Jing, while in 1950, CPV officer Li Changyan played the role in real life amid extreme cold near Changjin Lake. Global Times reporters visited the Military Museum of Chinese People's Revolution where the flag of RCT-31 is on display with other spoils from the war. 

The "dagger company" of the CPV, led by Li, arrived in Changjin Lake area amid an extraordinarily cold winter on the Korean Peninsula, with the temperature at night dropping to -40C, making the region a zone without any resemblance of life. 

Li and his fellow soldiers were attracted by dim lights coming from a US army station. They sneaked close to it and killed some 300 enemies before getting into US tents. The soldiers searched for food and clothes, and Zhuang Yuandong, the CPV company's political instructor, scraped a colored "blanket." 

The company encountered more enemies before Zhuang returned to the battlefield with others. The CPV soldiers made advantage of the region's geographical features and isolated the US troops, the Chinese fighters didn't know their rival was the FCT-31, but they still managed to destroy the task force's command center. 

The soldiers did not know the colored "blanket" was the FCT-31's flag until it was about to be used as a steamer cloth. 

The US army has since canceled the FCT-31 unit. The flag, embroidered with a bald eagle on a dark blue background, was on display at the military museum in Beijing after the war. 

The battle was a bitter one as many CPV soldiers died of conditions related to the cold and lack of food due to the poor logistical conditions. The entire War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53) involved China, who was already torn by civil wars, fighting the strongest and most modernized military in the world at the time.

But like a military museum visitor and viewer of the film told the Global Times on Friday, "our former generations fought the war they must fight, so that we can enjoy a peaceful and prosperous life now."

Chinese people cannot be trifled with, and it is not easy to stop them once they are riled up, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, quoting late leader Mao Zedong's remarks while addressing a meeting in October 2020 marking the 70th anniversary of the CPV entering Korea.

Mao's words convey a shared feeling of all Chinese people, and it still applies to today as China faces great geopolitical pressure from the US.