In the Dong (東) Bei(北) (North East China) Region, last month article talked about the north west border to Russia. Over to the other side, Ya (鸭duck) Lu (绿green) River marks the border of China/Korea, at least it was tru for the past millennia’s until 1962. At that time, in a close door meeting, the leadership of Chinese and Korean Communist parties signed a “border agreement” in which a huge strip of land from Ya Lu river to the tip of Chang (長ever) Bai (白white) mountain was given to Korea for no other reason but “let us be friend in International Communism.” This agreement was not publicly announced until a Korean news paper got a copy and had it printed. A historian has to do a research to prove its validity. In the USSR period of time, this is a non-issue because everything is under the Socialist Soviet. I.e., everything yours is mine. However, now, national boundary is recognized. That means a big chunk of land changed nationality. Would you not be surprised one day you woke up and the land from El Paso to Houston had belong to Mexico.
Last September, I traveled with some relatives to the town of Dan (丹red) Dong (東east) on Ya Lu River. This town is of great significance in Korean war. During Korean war, at one point, the UN force pushed very far north. At the time, the N Korean government and army had the choice of either surrender or to go to their friend in communism, either Russia or China as refugees. Neither Country wanted them. So Russia pressured China to send in troops to support N Korea. What the leadership told the soldiers was to show their real willingness to destroy the imperialist Capitalist United States by supporting N Korea, friends and comrade in Communism. So in 1950, millions Chinese crossed Ya Lu River at Dan Dong. The Americans’d never seen such a thing before. Even though they were warned many times, they still did not believed what was before their own eyes (and feeling it with their own pains). The whole field simply was covered with Chinese people they called soldiers, each wore raggedy uniform and carried an old WWII rifle, marching towards them under heavy fire. The UN soldiers were overwhelmed because they just didn’t have the heart to fire machine guns to mow them down. A moment’s hesitation would cost them their posts and their lives. Thousands of UN soldiers (mostly Americans) died against ten times more Chinese. It was only months before the battle line went back down south to the present 38 degree line. The rest was history. Well, that (not only the rest) was history. Dan Dong Bridge was heavily bombed because it was the point of entry and the supply line. (Dan Dong was not bombed because UN force was not supposed to cross the line to China even though there was a big concentration of Chinese soldier there. That was the “rule” and that was war. Actually I am happy for that because I would hate to see millions of Chinese killed by Americans, the old comrade in WWII. Besides, there were the talk of nuke China. I am glad it did not happen. The railway bridge across the river was heavily bombed but the Chinese half was intact. The Korean side, from the middle bridge post down, was completely destroyed. Way after the war, a new bridge was built but the Chinese half had been kept as a memorial. You can see the twisted steel beams protruding from the “middle post.”
Dan Dong used to be called An (安 peace, or to keep peace) Dong. So it means to keep peace or control the East, a typical mane for an outpost town. he old market place was well planned and is quite attractive. Long buildings line four sides and left a courtyard open in the middle. There is even an old tree there. on one side of the courtyard is an old fashioned stage designed for Peiking opera. It is used for any performance now. When I went, there was an old movie playing. The buildings on all four sides are filled with all sorts of shops and, of course, restaurants and candy stores.
There is a park by the river. At the end, one can buy ticket to get on the Half Bridge Memorial. You can walk the length of the half bridge and see many photos of the time when soldiers crossed the border to “destroy the American Imperialist Capitalists” (抗美援朝).
By the river, you can also buy a ticket for a boat ride to go up and down the river where the boat carefully sail on the Chinese side of the middle line of the river. That way, you can see with your own eyes how poor and horrible the Korean side is, especially compared to the CHinese side.
I enjoy walking through the “antique mall” near the river park on the main street. Antique stores fill up the 6 floor building. The Red Guard disaster during the Cultural Revolution was probably less severe in the North East region because it is far from Beijing. There is probably more chance to get real antique than in Beijing.