On China’s National Day holiday, Oct. 1, the movie ‘The Battle at Lake Changjin,’ based on the Korean War where the Chinese regime confronted the United States, was released to theaters and cinemas in China.
The Chinese Communist Party forced all its members —more than 95 million—to watch it to use its “success” as propaganda to enhance its image and try to intimidate the United States amid the tension over Taiwan’s independence.
According to China’s own statistics, the film broke all box office records this year, surpassing major Hollywood productions such as James Bond, but only because the CCP forced all its members to see the film, saying it was “a patriotic duty” to see it.
In addition, according to the BBC, the regime made sure that until November, there would be no releases, either Chinese or Western in cinemas, postponing major Hollywood releases. And of course, all cinemas have to screen the film.
At the same time, the authorities arrested a journalist who dared to call the film’s intention bad.
Retired journalist Luo Changping was arrested and interrogated for two weeks for saying ‘half a century later, few Chinese people have reflected on the justifiability of the war.’ Luo was accused of ‘defaming political martyrs.’ All his social media accounts were deleted, and he had to “confess” his ‘crimes’ and accept the punishment.
What really happened during the Battle al Lake Changjin
According to DW, in 1950, the North Korean regime invaded South Korea and forced troops to retreat as far as Busan, the southernmost city on the peninsula.
In response, U.N. troops led by the U.S. military pushed the North Koreans back and corralled them to the border with China.
When some 30,000 U.S. troops arrived at Changjin Lake, China, also known as Chosin Reservoir, they were confronted by some 150,000 Chinese troops, ultimately forcing them to withdraw due to numerical supremacy.
About 18,000 U.S. troops and nearly 50,000 Chinese were killed in the confrontation. Due to extreme weather conditions, many Chinese soldiers also died on the way to Lake Changjin. In other words, the cost of the Korean war was much higher for the CCP than for the US.
Making propaganda with a painful episode in Korean history
Many South Koreans reacted badly to the film, and it is quite possible or almost certain that it will not be released in any cinema or theater.
Han Ye-jung, a lawyer in the Seoul office of an international law firm, said:
“If China had not helped the North and attacked the South, then the war would have been over much earlier and hundreds of thousands of people would not have died. Instead, the fighting went on until 1953, the damage to the South was terrible and we still live on a divided peninsula.That is the reality of the Chinese attack on Korea, not what they are portraying in this movie.”
Rah Jong-yil, a former South Korean diplomat who was 10 years old when the war broke out, criticized the film as misguided.
“They want to change the narrative of what happened before and during the war, which is dangerous as Chinese people have no way of knowing that it is propaganda,” said Rah, who has vivid memories of battles fought near the village from which he had been evacuated for safety.
“We Koreans know that we were attacked and invaded by the North Koreans and then the Chinese. This is just whitewashing of the truth. But who can stop the Chinese government telling their people these things?” the former diplomat reflected.
Warnings to the United States
In addition to having launched the film during the CCP’s founding anniversary on October 1, it also comes at a time of high tension between Washington and Beijing that escalated recently due to the Taiwan independence issue.
While the CCP claims Taiwan must be ‘unified’ and has conducted provocative military maneuvers, the U.S. says it has an “interest” in maintaining the island’s independence.
The CCP has also recently tested what is said to be a supersonic missile, a technology the U.S. allegedly does not possess.
Global Times, one of the regime’s propaganda media, claims that the Chinese military is real heroes and not fictional ones like those seen in Hollywood movies.
However, hundreds of thousands of Chinese are persecuted by the Chinese state apparatus for their beliefs, for criticizing the regime’s policies,, or simply for reporting the facts of China.
In many instances, the People’s Liberation Army—the military—is involved in persecuting innocent people like the case of the live organ harvesting, so no matter how many movies the CCP makes, the notion of ‘heroes’ does not apply to a large segment of the Chinese population.