A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution (1966–1976)  Raid on the White Tiger Regiment
Posted by Grace Feng on September 1, 2012
The Chinese Culture Revolution is a very special period of Chinese history in which the Gang of Four dictated almost every aspect of people’s life. During the Revolution, nothing is allowed in theatres except 8 model dramas (样板戏 yàng bǎn xì ) that were personally approved by Jiang Qing, Mao’s wife, also the leader of the Gang of Four.
It is hard to watch the 8 model dramas today since the roles in the play were depicted so “unreal and unnatural”. Good characters move between heroic poses that keep reminding me of a puppet, instead of a real person. Bad characters are purposely uglified to show how miserable and pathetic they are. The story itself might not be a bad one. But with all these deliberately set up “stereotype performance”, the play is full of weird taste.
History is history. 10 years of Culture Revolution was a tragedy of a nation that China can never forget. It has always been a heavy topic to talk about even after so many years.
In this series of post, I will collect the stories and images of all 8 model dramas and translate the story into English. They might can help my readers to have a peek into that period of Chinese history.
《奇袭白虎团》Raid on the White Tiger Regiment
This story happened in 1953 when China was engaged in the Korean War.
In China, it is called 抗美援朝战争 (War to resist US Aggression and Aid Korea).
Inchon (金城), North Korea, 1953.
Weicai Yan, a Chinese medal soldier, also the head of a scouts platoon, was actively engaged in the military activities in that area. He has befriended with the local family Cui. Mother Cui’s son was in the military. She and her daughter-inlaw lived together and helped Yan to recover when he got wounded in a previous battle.
To prepare for a major attack, ROK (south Korean) soldiers forced the villagers to build military fortresses for them. They found out that mother Cui had connections with Chinese army. So they brought her in and interrogated her. She challenged her interrogators and called them intruders. That provoked her enermy and they killed her.
Upon hearing this news, Yan and his soldiers were furious. They all made up their minds to revenge for mother Cui.
The ROK and UN forces had collected tens of thousands of soldiers south of Inchon. They used one of their best troop – “White Tiger” regiment as the leading troop to start a major attack at Inchon. Chinese army decided to counterattack. Yan and his soldiers volunteered to be the scouts to penetrate into the heart of their enemy.
They disguised themselves under enemy’s uniforms, assisted by the local people, they entered the base of their enemy. They forced their way ahead regardless of all difficulties. Finally, with the help from the daughter-inlaw of mother Cui, they successfully captured the leader of “White Tiger” regiment and their American consultant.
Their operation defeated the whole “White Tiger” regiment, which in turn prepared a strong counterattack at the ROK and UN allies for Chinese army.
I admit I’ve done quite a few look-ups for this introduction since I’m not that familiar with military terminologies. Anyhow that’s the best I could get for now.
I’m not confident in using “Inchon” as the exact English translation of 金城. However, 金城战役 was the exact historical background of this drama. And that battle was also the only large-scale attack from Chinese troops in Korean War that occurred near the end of the war in 1953. Based on the limited research I did online, “Inchon” is the best match. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
The following photo was shot while the operation was actually taken place in the war (curtsey of http://tupian.hudong.com):
The original form of Weicai Yan is the third soldier from left (front row). His name is 杨育才. The photo was taken while they were honored for their outstanding military exploits (curtsey of http://tupian.hudong.com):
Category: Chinese culture and history
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