90-Year-Old Korean War Veteran Calls on China to Do Justice to Thousands of Missing Soldiers
Liang Suzhen, 92, was a female soldier in the Chinese volunteer army during the Korean War. Twenty years ago, she happened to meet the family of a missing North Korean soldier. Since then, she has been on a path to call on the Chinese Communist authorities to rehabilitate thousands of missing officers and soldiers, but has never heard anything back.
“Because we have been wandering in this strange land of 3,000 miles for 71 years.
We will never be able to speak out.
We will never be able to speak of the tragedy of our sacrifice;
We will never, never, never be able to speak.
We will never be able to tell of our humiliation in the POW camps;
We will never, never, never be able to speak.
We will never be able to tell the story of our longing for our country;
We will never, never, never be able to say
We will never be able to say how much we miss our parents, our wives and our children!”
At the end of 1950, thousands of young men and women, led by Peng Dehuai, the commander of the volunteer army, crossed the Yalu River and went to Korea, kicking off the war against the United States and Korea.
Some of the Chinese soldiers captured in the Korean War (Wikipedia)
It was not until three years later, when an armistice was declared, that China realized the tragic cost of its participation in the war. Initial statistics from the Chinese health service showed that nearly 149,000 volunteers were killed, about 220,000 were wounded, about 25,000 were missing, and about 21,000 were captured in the Korean battlefield. The 2010 edition of China’s Literature and History Reference revised the figures, stating that 180,000 people died in the Korean War, but did not list other specific figures. Excluding the more than 10,000 volunteers who “defected” to Taiwan after the war, Liang estimates that more than 8,000 of the missing volunteers have not been accounted for.
Since Liang is too old to be interviewed, her son, Yin Jin, told the station that these missing soldiers and officers have been carrying “trumped up” charges for decades.
“The people who did not return are neither martyrs nor heroes, so there is no way to characterize them, which makes them ‘trumped up’. But during the Cultural Revolution, if someone in your family ‘defected to the enemy’ or had overseas connections, these were the types of people who could not join the Party or become officials.”
Korean War veteran Liang Suzhen (left) and his son Yin Jin in a recent group photo (courtesy of Yin Jin)
Yin Jin introduced his mother to an elderly man named Lee Jin-young, whose brother, Lee Hsiao-chen, was sent to North Korea in 1950 and did not return home until after the armistice, and whose family was not notified that he had been killed in action, twenty years ago. Li Xiaochen’s mother, a small-footed peasant woman, once begged her way to Beijing and other places to inquire about her son’s whereabouts, but was suppressed by the local government, and the authorities confiscated all of Li Xiaochen’s identification, including a letter of condolence signed by He Long, commander of the Jinsui Field Army of the Eighth Route Army, and forbade her from petitioning again. Before she died, Li’s mother instructed her family to continue searching for her son. Li Xiaochen’s whereabouts were unknown, which became a stain and a crime for the whole family.
What happened to the Li family deeply shocked Liang Suzhen. Since she befriended Li Jinying, she has written to several state organs and government departments, including the National People’s Congress, the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, asking for the vindication of the thousands of volunteer soldiers and officers missing in the Korean War, but has received no response for more than a decade.
Yin Jin said his mother’s appeal for this reason for so many years but has been left indifferent, reflecting the cold-bloodedness of the Chinese government.
“The country lets you resist the U.S. and aid the North Koreans is honorable, you die in the end and no one cares, your family will be arrested anyway if you go to sue …… This reflects a very simple problem, and that is the disrespect for people.”
Our reporter was unable to immediately reach Lee Jin-young or independently verify exactly what happened to the Lee family.
Liang Su-jin’s transfer certificate issued after the Korean War armistice (courtesy of Yin Jin)
Yin Jin mentioned that after his mother left the country in 2004, she learned that the U.S. government had a department dedicated to finding missing soldiers and officers, while China did not have a similar agency, which further prompted Liang Suzhen to write to the Chinese government, media and NPC deputies in recent years, and she also started a Sina blog in 2015 called “Searching for Li Xiaochen, the wandering soul of the war. She also started a Sina blog called “Searching for Li Xiaochen, the wandering soul of the war” in 2015, but it was unexplainedly shut down soon after.
The reporter noted that the U.S. Department of Defense established the Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Administration (DPAA) years ago to search for the whereabouts of U.S. personnel who were still being held or lost and missing after the end of major wars. On its official website, this department lists the names of Korean War missing persons from every U.S. state and territory, including their names, ranks, affiliation, time of disappearance and other important identifying information. Official figures show that there are still 7,559 U.S. personnel from the Korean War who are still missing.
Cheng Gangyuan, a former truck driver for the 7th Division of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army Artillery and a scholar of the Korean War, said that the Communist authorities do not include non-combat casualties, including those killed by enemy aircraft and those who died during transit after being wounded, in the number of those killed in action, and that the government has long kept “two accounts” and that the figures released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs are clearly inaccurate.
Cheng Gangyuan said that the Chinese authorities’ indifference is demonstrated by their delay in giving an account of these missing soldiers and officers.
“The Chinese Communist authorities are indifferent to the lives of soldiers, and they lack the humanitarian spirit of Western countries to figure out the whereabouts of each person. Some of the (Chinese soldiers’) families went to track this down and the government gave them sloppy answers.”
As stated in the poem composed by Liang Suzhen, these missing officers and soldiers have waited too long.
Is it not enough to prove our loyalty to the motherland?
Do we need 710 more years?”