“Look at that soldier,” said a burly Dongbei redneck, shoving past me to get a better look at the painting. “He’s on fire. He’s a real man.”
His sweaty pal leaned in, and laughed. The torched soldier was still letting loose a volley of bullets from his machine gun, mowing down a row of terrified pale Americans. “That’s awesome.”
They probably didn’t realize I understood what they were saying. I didn’t stick around to find out.
This wasn’t the first time I’d been shoved, or glared at in this museum. One douche even spat at me. After all, this was Dandong’s Commemorative Museum of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea. A mouthful, I know, but it’s a big museum, too, entirely devoted to the war crimes of America in the first war we started and then lost.
Oh, yes. According to this museum, we started and lost the Korean War.
I was a little nervous. But it should be okay. After all, a large sign at the gate refused entrance to “the disheveled, psychotics, alcoholics and those with pets.”
“In June 1950, the civil war in Korea broke out,” a sign greeting visitors read. “The U.S. imperialists immediately carried out armed intrusion… Regardless of the repeated warnings of the Chinese Government, U.S. imperialists drew the flames of war.”
The Americans were shown as shoddy, sniveling, evil bastards. North Korea was just a mile or so away — you could actually see into the country from the museum’s entrance — but it felt like we were actually there. Paintings across the museum reminded visitors of all the cowardly captured Americans.
“After fighting a bloody war for two years and nine months, the Korean and Chinese people’s army defeated the UNC with modern technical equipment leaded by the US with inferior equipment.”
The US equipment, like this bomb below, was
claimed shown to have contained germ warfare. Bombs, full of infected American bugs. This was something we’d heard often during our short trip to North Korea.
The Chinese equipment was more than modern. It was also borne with joy, with a radiant Roberto Benigni-esque smile.
I love that this guy is off to fight a war.
This was a war people cared about. It was the first battle after the birth of New China. It was a direct battle with America. One of Mao’s kids was even killed in the war. And according to China, China won.
“The victory of the war to resist US aggression and aid Korea defended the security of the DPRK and China, safeguarded the peace in the Far East and the world,” read a sign.
I understood people’s anger at me being in their museum. But I was sick of the shoving, and the outward assholism. (I mean, maybe I was Canadian! Or Russian!!!)
Suddenly, someone grabbed my arm. I swerved around, sick of this nonsense.
“Excuse me,” the man said with an incredible nervous stutter, holding up a camera and literally shaking. “Can I take your picture?”
His name was Mr Li. He was from nearby Dalian. And he’d never met a foreigner before.
Even though he taught English to Dalian schoolchildren, he’d never spoken English to an English-speaker before. He was in second heaven, he was so excited. He could barely even speak.
Mr Li took twenty pictures with the foreigner. Some had his wife, some his child. Most of them were just him and me. For Mr Li, this was like the best day, ever.
Commemorative Museum of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea
Jinjiang Mountain Avenue No. 68, Dandong, Liaoning Province, China