China's only memorial hall featuring the complete history of the Chinese People's Volunteers in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53) reopens in Dandong, Liaoning province, on Sept 19, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]
Facility had been closed since 2014 for huge refurbishment, expansion effort
China's only memorial hall featuring the complete history of the Chinese People's Volunteers in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53), often referred to as the Korean War in the West, reopened on Saturday in Liaoning province.
Located in the border city Dandong－about 280 kilometers from Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea－the renovated and expanded memorial hall, which offers free entry to the public, consists of an exhibition hall, a memorial tower, a national defense education park and a panorama hall.
"The great spirit of Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea is a manifestation of the precious spiritual wealth of the Chinese people. We should do well what we are doing now－cherish the memory of the martyrs with practical actions and actual results, and comfort the predecessors," Zhang Guoqing, Party chief of Liaoning province, said during the reopening ceremony.
Established in 1958 and moved to its current site in 1993, the memorial hall closed in late 2014 for massive refurbishment and expansion.
Gong Shaoshan, deputy curator of the memorial hall, said the number of items on display has increased from over 700 to more than 1,600, and the floor area has expanded from the original 5,400 square meters to 23,845 square meters.
"This is the place where I fought. I will never forget it," Guo Guolian, an 87-year-old CPV veteran, said while pointing at an old military map in the exhibition hall.
"Despite the outdated weapons, we scored an ultimate victory because we were not afraid of shedding blood and dying while bearing in mind the fighting spirit of defending our motherland."
A chart listing the number of heavy weapons on both sides of the conflict has drawn many visitors. Compared with its foes, the CPV was in an inferior position.
According to the chart, at the beginning of the war, a division of the US-led army with some 17,000 to 25,000 soldiers was equipped with 149 tanks, 35 armored vehicles and 72 howitzers, while an infantry army of the CPV with 50,000 soldiers had no tanks, armored vehicles or howitzers.
The Korean War broke out in June 1950, only eight months after the founding of the People's Republic of China, and fighting soon reached the Yalu River that separates China from the DPRK, wreaking havoc in Dandong, formerly called Andong. Combat aircraft invaded Chinese airspace and bombed an airport and railway station, killing civilians.
On Oct 19, 1950, as requested by the DPRK, CPV forces crossed the Yalu to aid the DPRK in battle until an armistice was reached in 1953. A total of 2.9 million CPV soldiers entered the battlefield, and 197,653 of them sacrificed their lives in the war.
"Our soldiers fought for the security of their homeland and peace, which won the heartfelt support of the whole country. This will always be remembered," said Zhu Yong, former president of the CPV's general hospital.
The hospital－now the No 966 Hospital of the People's Liberation Army Joint Logistic Support Force－is less than 4 km from the memorial hall. Between 1950 and 1954, the hospital received over 340,000 wounded soldiers and carried out 63,000 operations.
To mark the 70th anniversary of their participation in the war, China will bestow memorial medals upon CPV veterans this year. The medals are to be presented in the name of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission.
Jiang Zhongguo and Lin Yajie contributed to this story.