Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Chosin, for Remembrance on July 4th

How would you like to watch a German movie that pretends the Allied invasion was completely rebuffed at Normandy? That is essentially what the recent Chinese blockbuster Battle at Lake Changjin tries to do for the Korean War battle referred to in America and Korea as Chosin Reservoir (the film even opened in America with minimal challenges from what pass for Twitter-approved film critics). The truth is, it was the American Forces who were vastly outnumbered, but inflicted disproportionate casualties on the North Koreans and PLA—not vice versa. With the CCP literally trying to rewrite history, it is important to establish the truth, which director (and former Marine) Brian Iglesias does with authority in the documentary Chosin, which makes perfect 4th of July viewing (and look for a capsule review in an upcoming issue of American Essence magazine).

The Second World War was not so very long ago, but America had already grown complacent. As a result, many young recruits were being trained by WWII veterans (probably including my grandfather) on the ships bound to Korea. Even to this day, Chosin is considered one of the three bloodiest battles the Marine Corps ever fought. Of course, the Korean War started when North invaded South, despite the DPRK’s propaganda to the country. By the time the Marines landed, South Korea was almost lost. The entire war was also almost lost at Chosin Reservoir.

Basically, the 1
st Marine Division found itself encircled at Chosin, largely by Chinese PLA troops, whom the top brass insisted were not in North Korea. Yet, the 15,000 Americans managed to punch through the 120,000 hostiles surrounding them, in order to escort 98,000 Korean civilians over 78 miles to safety. It is somewhat analogous to Dunkirk, but it was a much greater failure on the PLA’s part, allowing the 1st Division to largely remain intact.

The veterans Iglesias interviews have harrowing stories to tell of the battle, especially the Marine who fought barefoot in the frozen snow, because he had been wrapped in his sleeping bag when the fighting erupted. Admittedly, they often use colorful terms to refer to the PLA. Yet, it is important to also listen to how movingly they describe their experiences visiting South Korean decades later, as part of the ROK’s ongoing campaign to thank American veterans for their service and sacrifices.

is the definitive film on the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. It is also an extremely moving work of cinema. Iglesias’s approach to documentary filmmaking is straightforward and conventional, but it suits the seriousness of the subject. Since the CCP is trying to obscure, censor, and rewrite the truth, it is important that we preserve and remember it.

This documentary is all about courage and the price of freedom. At the end of the film, one of the veterans argues the Korean War should not be called the “Forgotten War.” It should be known as the “Forgotten Victory.”

Indeed, it was a victory. South Korea became one of the Four Asian Economic Tigers, which currently dominates global culture with its K-pop and K-dramas. On the other hand, North Korea cannot be seen at night from satellites, because there is so little electricity. Yet, at the end of the War, the North was thought to have a slight advantage, in terms of natural resources. Thanks to the heroism of the Chosin veterans, we have a crystal-clear example of capitalism’s superiority over socialism and tyranny. So, this 4
th of July, give thanks and consider watching Iglesias’s highly recommended Chosin, which is available to rent or buy on Prime.