China played a major part in the execution of the Korean War and, after the war was over, in rebuilding the war-torn North Korean economy. Very little has been known about the powerful international solidarity forged between the two countries through these collaborations, although recently several historians began to look into this important history of revolutionary international friendship using sources made available in Chinese archives. The power and virtue of Jojung Ch'insŏn (Korean-Chinese friendship) have also been a subject of intense revival in recent years by the North Korean public media and mass educational campaigns. This paper explores the meanings of Sino-Korean friendship using North Korea's several key postwar dramas and literature about the subject. The discussion will partly focus on the symbolism of blood donation and transfusions in North Korea’s war dramas, which, practiced between heroic Chinese volunteers and virtuous North Korean civilian supporters, allegedly can create, beyond the given boundaries of historical national communities, a relationship of revolutinary fraternal unity between these communities.
Heonik Kwon Senior Research Fellow in Social Science and Distinguished Research Professor of Social Anthropology, Trinity College, University of Cambridge
Heonik Kwon is Senior Research Fellow in Social Science and Distinguished Research Professor of Social Anthropology at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. Author of The Other Cold War (2010) and North Korea: Beyond Charismatic Politics (2012, co-authored), among others, he is currently directing an international project, Beyond the Korean War.