China’s Memory and Commemoration of the Korean War in the Memorial Hall of the “War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea”
- Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 4, Number 1, May 2015
- pp. 14-39
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After confronting each other as enemies during the Korean War, South Korea and China established diplomatic relations in 1992, forty years after fighting had ended. Around this time, the Chinese city of Dandong near the northern border of the Korean peninsula erected a memorial to observe the fortieth anniversary of the Korean War. In the twenty years since, China has become South Korea’s primary economic partner and its largest market for exports. In effect, the memory of wartime hostility has coexisted with the reality of economic cooperation. This article examines how the Korean War, known in China as the “War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea,” is commemorated by the war memorials in China, with a specific focus on the memorial in Dandong. It also discusses how North and South Korea have responded to the contrasting perspectives on the war embodied by these memorials, and it concludes with some reflections about how the memory of war can be restructured to convey a message of peace for the future.