Sun, Aug 31, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Exhibition gives insight to Taiwan soldiers’ devotion

IN THE BLOOD:A recent Tainan exhibition includes photographs of soldiers who tattooed themselves to prove their loyalty to their nationalist ideals

By Lin Meng-ting and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A photo at an exhibition in Greater Tainan shows a man with tattoos on his chest and back. The text on the bottom image reads “Bring down the Soviet Union.”

Photo: Lin Meng-ting, Taipei Times

A recent calligraphy and painting exhibition by the Nanying Military Village Cultural Museum in Greater Tainan showed how calligraphy and paintings by veterans and their families reflected their loyalty to the nation and their helplessness in war.

Military villages, better known as juan cun (眷村), are residential compounds set up to house soldiers and family members brought to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) Nationalist army in 1949.

The museum said the artworks depicted the merciless and destructive nature of war.

Chin Kuan-hung (金冠宏), warden of Chenggung Borough (成功) in the city’s Yongkang District (永康), said many of the exhibition’s pictures featured tattooed words on veterans’ bodies, such as “Defeating Soviet Russia” and “Fight the communists, save the country.”

“The tattoos are not only the most visible signs of these veterans’ loyalty to the nation, but also carry with them stories of the past,” he said.

Retelling stories told to him by veterans, Chin said many Nationalist army soldiers had been captured by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) during the Chinese Civil War and were then sent to the front lines when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) supported the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the Korean War.

Liu Cheng-chiang (劉正強), an expert on the juan cun culture, said that the prisoners of war sent to fight for the PRC were later captured by US soldiers.

According to Liu, the captives told the US soldiers they wished to be sent to Taiwan, and to show their determination, they used needles and coal dust to ink on their own flesh words professing loyalty to the nation.

More than 14,000 prisoners of war were sent to Taiwan, Chin said, adding that most of the soldiers devoted themselves to helping the nation and made it their home after they retired from service.

“Currently, there are only eight veterans in the Chenggung Borough with such a background and tattoos,” Chin said.

The photographer for the event, who wished to only be known as “Mr Cartoon,” said that many of the veterans had been close to tears when they saw there were people willing to listen to their stories.

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