The Yalu River Broken Bridge

Because of its immediate vicinity to the North Korean border, the City of Dandong 丹东市 was an important combat base for the People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) who participated in the Korean War (1950-1953). The city in the Southeast of Liaoning Province 辽宁省 is located at the Yalu River 鸭绿江, the border river between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 朝鲜民主主义人民共和国. At the beginning of the Korean War in October 1950, thousands of Chinese troops under the leadership of PLA Marshal Peng Dehuai 彭德怀 (1898-1974) were ready to cross the Yalu River for advance to the south of the Korean peninsula where the troops of the United States and the United Nations had landed. Due to the strategic importance of bridges over the Yalu River, it was predictable that the US-Air Force “would certainly bomb all the river bridges” (Shu 1995: 90). 

The Yalu River Broken Bridge in Dandong 鸭绿江断桥景 is one of the best-known among the bridges that were destroyed during the Korean War. According to the website “Meipian.cn”, the bridge was built between 1909 and 1911 with a length of 944,2 meters. A second bridge was completed in 1943 near the first one by the Imperial Japanese Army to connect Korea and Manchukuo, both under Japanese control then. In November 1950, The US Air Force dropped bombs on the two bridges to disrupt the transportation of military supplies and Chinese troops into Korea.

Picture 1: Bombenangriff auf die Brücke 1950.

Whereas the second bridge was repaired later, the Chinese part of the first bridge that survived the air raid was preserved and came to be known as the “Yalu River Broke Bridge.” Until now, the Yalu Broken Bridge has been used as a memorial that commemorates the Chinese engagement during the Korean war. 

Picture 2: Aussichtsplattform der „gebrochenen Brücke“ auf der chinesischen Seite

Today, visitors can walk over the broken bridge to gain an impression of the intensity of the American attack. In addition, boat tours on the Yalu are offered to get a better view of the bridge, which still contains shrapnels that should testify the confrontation between the American and Chinese troops (mafengwo.cn). 

Alongside the “Resist US, Assist North Korea Memorial Museums in Shenyang and Dandong”, the Yalu River Broken Bridge is also an important site to memorialize the Chinese engagement in the Korean War. In June 2001 the Yalu River Broken Bridge was announced a “National Patriotic Education Demonstration Base 全国爱国主义教育示范基地“ (People’s Daily 人民日报 2001). These bases are being built into places of memory in the PRC, which should play an important role in its history and historical memory. 

Bibliography: 

Denton, Kirk A. (2014): Exhibiting the Past – Historical memory and the Politics of Museum in Postsocialist China. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Chen, Jian (1994): China’s Road to the Korean War – The Making of the Sino-American Confrontation. New York: Columbia University Press. 

N.N. (2001): “Zhong Xuanbu gongbu di er pi quanguo aiguozhuyi jiaoyu shifan jidi 中宣部公布第二批全国爱国主义教育示范基地 (The Minister of Central Propaganda announced the Second Batch of National Patriotic Education Demonstration Bases)” In: People’s Daily 人民日报, 12.06.2001. 

Shu, Guang Zhang (1995): Mao’s Military Romanticism – China and the Korean War, 1950-1953. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press. 

Websites: 

meipian.cn: https://www.meipian.cn/2zh1r10c

mafengwo.cn: http://www.mafengwo.cn/poi/33267.html

List of Pictures:

Featured Image: Chinesisch-koreanische Freundschaftsbrücke (source: Dandong, Liaoning Province – Chinesisch-koreanische Freundschaftsbrücke – Wikipedia, author: Prince Roy – Flickr).

Picture 1: Bombenangriff auf die Brücke 1950. (source: Chinesisch-koreanische Freundschaftsbrücke – Wikipedia, author: U.S. Navy).

Picture 2: Aussichtsplattform der “gebrochenen Brücke” auf der chinesischen Seite (source: 断桥尽头 – The End of Yalu River Broken Bridge – 2011.05 – panoramio – Chinesisch-koreanische Freundschaftsbrücke – Wikipedia, author: rheins).


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