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The most lovable: Chinese soldiers in the Korean War

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Guangzhou Daily, January 25, 2010

Today marks the 60th anniversary of North Korean troops marching into South Korea, and the beginning of the Korean War (1950 - 1953). Chinese troops were sent in to fight on the side of North Korea, and these soldiers were famously declared "the most lovable" by war reporter Wei Wei.

Today, although not on their front pages, newspapers are still marking the day on their calenders. For example, the CPC-run newspaper Guangzhou Daily devotes a feature to ex-soldiers who had participated in the war back in 1950. An excerpt:

When we talked about the comrades who had perished, the old soldiers' shed plenty of tears, and everyone made the same wish: "We want to go see North Korea again! To see the places where we fought! To see the graves of the soldiers! To see the comrades who will be buried in a strange country forever...." "We want to see how North Korea has developed." To walk around North Korea before they die is the strongest wish of all the old soldiers.

Not long ago, when the train to North Korea was opened, their wish became even stronger. But going to North Korea is something that can only be hoped for: "We can't go... truthfully speaking, we don't have money!" said one old ex-soldier, sighing. Apart from getting 300 yuan every month as a government subsidy for demobilized soldiers, these old soldiers have no other source of income. These old bodies will also find it hard to walk the door, with dropping energy levels..

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Wang Fenghe (王凤和), aged 81
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Li Shuguo (李树国), aged 77
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People's Volunteer Army crosses the Yalu River

The reports also give a background for the conflict:

At the time, the US was producing 8.7 million tons of copper, and China was only producing 610,000 tons. One US division had 959 pieces of artillery, 140 tanks, 3,800 vehicles, the People's Volunteer Army only had 522 pieces of artillery, and temporally got together 100 vehicles, no tanks, and definitely no command of the sea or of the sky.

But the biggest decision made by the People's Republic, not yet 1 year-old, was that on the night of October 19, 1950, the four armies and three divisions the Chinese People's Volunteer Army - all 260,000 soldier, without protection from the skies, left from Andong (today's Dandong), majestically, proudly, crossing the Tumen River, entering into North Korea, into war...

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There are currently 9 Comments for The most lovable: Chinese soldiers in the Korean War.

Comments on The most lovable: Chinese soldiers in the Korean War

Ain't nuthin' like human wave warfare and sending boys into the meat grinder.

Thanks, Chairman!

The article proudly highlights the fact that North Korea exists only because of Chinese help. This is true today as it was 60 years ago
So China' how does it feel to be completely responsible for the World's most repressive country ? A country that starves it's citizens while it's leaders grow fat. A pariah in the world and a menace to peace. How proud China should be.
Of course if the only other country you ever saved was Pol Pot's Cambodia I guess North Korea is looking pretty good.

True, the US have more gear and firepower...but China and the Russia have more disposable (brainwashed) sheep to swarm and flank the US positions.

This in addition US arrogance in not knowing the terrain and fighting a cold weather war.

as they say in China: labor/men is cheap. what's one more death (then and even now.)

After the Inchon Landings MacArthur was told by Washington NOT to take his troops up to the border of N. Korea with China, but to stay short of that and leave a buffer zone. This was to show the Chinese the US had no intention of invading China. But MacArthur ignored Washington's prudence and went right up to the border. At this point the Chinese army swarmed across the Yalu River and drove the US/UN forces back down the peninsula. MacArthur's defiance of Washington also cost him his job.

I am glad to see the myth of human wave perpetuated by terrified US soldiers still persists. Branding infiltration tactics performed by disciplined soldiers as waves of mindless drones sure makes losing an entire nation to a technologically inferior army feel a lot better.

"True, the US have more gear and firepower...but China and the Russia have more disposable (brainwashed) sheep to swarm and flank the US positions."

I always wondered if the US had that many people...

I remember the war stories, from my Uncle who was around 19 or so, and a machine gunner for the U.S. The experience was horrifying, and he had nightmares about it throughout his life.
I was fascinated, and at the same time horrified of the descriptions of the screaming, and shaking ground from the hordes of Chinese troops, while his 50 caliber machine glowed from the heat.
He was gentle by nature, but in the war he earned the nickname "Babyface Killer".
This was reality.

Actually vast majority of Chinese casualties came from adequate supply, and in the first phase of the war that of winter cloth. (since the 9th and 3rd Army group are literally pulled from a planned offensive against Taiwan) And in future conflict, such as the brief 1962 war with India and the 1979 war with Vietnam, poor logistics continues proves its greatest weakness. As it is extremely often for a Chinese unit to get into a situation where it's running out of ammunition, having only 3 days of ration left and lost contact with its commanding unit.

@nulle
Actually for most of the war the number is parity between the UN and communist force. It is due to theater constrains. Keep in mind Korea is about 100 mile wide, most of which is mountainous terrain. (similar to Italian Theater in WWII)
for example the bloodiest offensive of the war: link

@Bob
This depends on the unit, for some units such as the 38th (which is what original The most lovable article is about) could attack, disengane, match 100km and engage anther unit again. When UN intel believe it was destroyed in the first engage and then over estimate OPFOR strength. while others, it just get destroyed. Then of course environmental attrition is really bad particularly in the 2nd and 3rd phase, due to the reason I state above.

@Hal
While this view is popular, timing wise it doesn't make sense, since Ridgway replace MacArthur when Stalemate alright emerged in Korea. (and solidified after a failed Communist offensive in the Spring and a failed UN offensive in Summer.)

The official reason for his dismissal is his intention to have Nationalist China join the war and open a second front in Eastern China via Taiwan and Southwestern China via Burma. (both of which is just under KMT control only two years prior.) This of course is over stepping his authority and Truman wouldn't allow that.

For narrative from both the US and Chinese side, read the following. they really should sit down together and sort out the now de-classified record and sort the whole thing out. link link

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