Sat, Dec 08, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Kinmen calendar explores mystery of Dadan Island

Staff writer, with CNA

Photographer Tsai Jung-feng, who was stationed as a soldier on Dadan Island, holds up a copy of Kinmen County’s calendar for next year, which features his photographs of the island, in an undated photograph.

Photo: CNA, provided by Tsai Jung-feng

Filled with photographs of Dadan Island (大膽島), a Taiwanese island close to the southern coast of China, Kinmen County’s calendar for next year is a reminder that we should cherish the freedom and peace we enjoy today, photographer Tsai Jung-feng (蔡榮豐) said.

Tsai, 63, served as a soldier on Dadan, which means “bold” in English, during the military standoff between Taiwan and China in the 1970s.

He returned to the former battlefront in June as a volunteer photographer to help the local government document the history of the island.

Tsai was one of many veterans who, having been posted to Dadan as a young man, answered a call by the county government for recruits to help lay the groundwork for the island to be finally opened to tourists in March next year.

While most volunteers were asked to clean and restore former military strongholds that have been deserted for decades, Tsai’s main task was to shoot videos and photographs.

Over the past few months, Tsai visited Dadan five times at his own expense.

Staying there for more than 100 days, he took 60,000 photographs, which he said were still not enough to tell the full story of the remote island that he and his many former military colleagues called home.

Seen through the camera lens, Dadan remains a mysterious battleground, Tsai said in an interview with the Central News Agency.

He saw the past and present of the island, once frequently bombarded by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and now peaceful, all mixed together in front of him, he said.

Tsai hopes his photographs can help heal the wounds of the conflict, and remind people to cherish the freedom and peace they enjoy today.

The Kinmen County Tourism Department is handing out 3,000 copies of the Dadan calendar at the tourist center in Kinmen Airport.

Before the calendar, a promotional film directed by Tsai, titled The Westernmost National Border (國境之西大膽日月), was shown to visitors in Dadan when the island was opened as a tourist destination on a trial basis from July to October.

Dadan Island, approximately 12km southwest of Kinmen and 4.4 km from Xiamen, China, is best known as a Cold War era military outpost on the frontline of the Republic of China’s efforts to keep communist forces at bay.

It was heavily shelled by China during the Aug. 23, 1958, Artillery Battle, also known as the second Taiwan Strait Crisis, with more than 100,000 shells hitting the island.

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