Shar­ing tales of Korean con­flict on small screen

China Daily (Canada) - - TORONTO - By XU­FAN

Sixty-five years af­ter the out­break of the War to Re­sist US Ag­gres­sion and Aid Korea (195053), an up­com­ing TV se­ries pays homage to the mar­tyrs and vet­er­ans of that con­flict.

The 38th Par­al­lel, a 40-episode drama named af­ter the ge­o­graph­i­cal line which di­vided the Korean penin­sula roughly across the mid­dle through a post-World War II ar­range­ment, will be pre­miered dur­ing prime-time hours by CCTV on Oct 25 to com­mem­o­rate the 65th an­niver­sary of the be­gin­ning of the Korean war.

For most Chi­nese film fans, rev­o­lu­tion­ary themes fea­tur­ing the war, such as the 1956 smash hit Bat­tle on Shang­gan­ling, formed a cru­cial part of their col­lec­tive mem­ory from the mid-1950s to the 1960s. But the theme rarely has been adapted for small and big screens in­mor­ere­cent decades due to po­lit­i­cal con­cerns and his­tor­i­cal rea­sons.

Seen as an ice­break­ing pro­gram, the se­ries is the first of its kind to present the war on screen in a long time, ac­cord­ing to the pro­duc­ers.

A 40-minute trailer re­leased on Sept 17 im­pressed view­ers with its grand pre­sen­ta­tion of the bat­tles and ex­am­i­na­tion of hu­man ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing the war.

Open­ing with a flash­back fea­tur­ing a re­turn cer­e­mony of the re­mains of the Chi­nese sol­diers killed in the con­flict, the sto­ry­line cen­ters on two fic­tional Chi­nese fish­er­men-turned-sol­diers striv­ing to be war he­roes.

The ca­su­alty fig­ures con­firmed by Chi­nese gov­ern­ment last Oc­to­ber re­veal that 197,653 mem­bers of China Peo­ple’s Vol­un­teers died in the fight­ing that ended with an ar­mistice in 1953.

The war holds much sig­nif­i­cance in Chi­nese history. It en­hanced China’s in­ter­na­tional stand­ing and boosted its peo­ple’s con­fi­dence in in­de­pen­dence. Many Chi­nese youth, who nowa­days are un­fa­mil­iar with this pe­riod of history be­cause they were born long af­ter the con­flict had ended, should know about the sac­ri­fices made by the Chi­nese peo­ple back then, says scriptwriterWangHaip­ing.

Wang, an award-win­ning writer, re­veals that he has in­ter­viewed many vet­er­ans and re­searched his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing mem­oirs from the Re­pub­lic of Korea and the United States.

“I’ve spent nearly four years on writ­ing and re­vis­ing. I can­not hold back my tears when the sto­ry­line reaches some touch­ing sce­nar­ios,” he says.

“Most of the Chi­nese young­sters have lim­ited knowl­edge of this pe­riod in history, which de­serves to be re­mem­bered for­ever. I hope they will learn about it from the screen.”

Li Yang, the art di­rec­tor, tells China Daily that the se­ries is in some ways a res­cue of dy­ing history, as most of theChi­ne­seKore­anWar vet­er­ans are in their 80s, with poor health con­di­tions.

“The se­ries will act as a good gift for those re­spectable peo­ple, who risked their lives to de­fend the peace and sta­bil­ity of our coun­try,” he says.

More than 80 per­cent of the sce­nar­ios are based on the real war history, and de­tails fea­tur­ing weapons have been vet­ted by mil­i­tary ex­pects, says pro­duc­erWang Fei.

With a bud­get of 100 mil­lion yuan ($15.7 mil­lion), the se­ries re­cruits the spe­cial-ef­fects team from the 2007 block­buster Assem­bly, which re­ceived high ac­claim for its sta­teof-the-art tech­niques to re-cre­ate ex­plo­sions and fires.

For di­rec­tor Meng Ji, the vet­eran TV hand be­hind a se­ries of pop­u­lar ti­tles, the se­ries has a big­ger am­bi­tion.

In­sist­ing the showbiz in­dus­try should take re­spon­si­bil­ity to set role mod­els for to­day’s youth, he says the se­ries can change the “idol stan­dard” dom­i­nated by “young heart­throbs, who wear heavy makeup and lack mas­cu­line char­ac­ter­is­tics”.

He says the se­ries will be re­leased for the North Amer­i­can mar­ket af­ter its Chi­nese main­land de­but.

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