China Exclusive: Crowds flock to Korean War martyrs’ graves [Xinhua]

By Xinhua writers Lyu Qiuping and Xu Yang

SHENYANG, April 4 (Xinhua) — …swarms of people are visiting a park for Chinese casualties of the Korean War, with the site having received new prominence after the remains of 437 such martyrs were delivered there from the Republic of Korea (ROK) [in late March 2014]…

…Veterans, family members of the martyrs, students, soldiers and locals are among those paying tribute to Chinese who fell in the conflict in Korea more than six decades ago.

The Martyrs’ Park for the Korean War is located in the northeastern city of Shenyang. Following the mass delivery of remains on March 28, it is now the last resting place of more than 500 martyrs.

“Tens of thousands lost their lives at that time in exchange for peace today,” said 65-year-old Wu Jizhang, who comes to the park every year with his octogenarian mother to remember both his father and other martyrs.

His father, Wu Guozhang, served as deputy commander of the No. 39 Army of the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPVs).

“Although many of their names are unknown, they share a common title: hero,” said Wu.

More than two million CPV soldiers fought to aid the army of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the war against the ROK army and U.S.-led UN forces from 1950 to 1953. Some 180,000 of them were killed, with most buried in the DPRK or ROK.

Last year, while on a trip to China, ROK President Park Geun-hye offered to return the remains of 437 CPV soldiers to China.

During a ceremony held at the airport to which the remains were delivered, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said the CPVs and their commendable military service had never been forgotten.

“We hold this ceremony to sing the praises of the CPV martyrs. Our deepest thoughts are with them and our highest respect goes to them,” said Zhang.

The Martyrs’ Park for the Korean War is currently preparing tombs and gravestones for the remains, which are expected to be buried there in the second half of 2014, according to Liu Xuyang, director of the park’s management committee.

The park was built in 1951 as a venue where people could gather for commemoration services. Nearly 10,000 people visit the site every Tomb-sweeping Day, and Liu expects the number to increase this year.

He said the return of the remains means more Chinese born in recent decades can feel the cruelty of war and better cherish peace.

Jin Canrong, vice president of the School of International Studies of the Renmin University of China, said the CPVs’ fighting in Korea was actually to safeguard peace and stability in China.

“More than 60 years later, China is still enjoying the ‘dividend of peace’ gained from the war,” Jin said, adding that long-term stability had provided a firm foundation for the country’s industrial and agricultural development.

“Our relatives marched across the border Yalu River to fight for the peace of our homeland,” said Li Haifang, son of a martyr. “They would be very proud if they could learn in heaven of the great changes in China.”

Wu Jizhang called for the park to erect a wall with inscriptions of the names of the CPV martyrs. The fixture would be a suitable tribute and would allow later generations to gather strength for patriotism, he said.

“Their names should be remembered and respected,” Wu added.

Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou

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