A memorial park in Shenyang dedicated to Chinese and Russian soldiers during the Korean War.
Shenyang Korean War Martyrs' and Soviet Cemetery
The Korean War Martyrs’ Cemetery, literally the “Resist America and Support Korea Martyrs’ Cemetery“ ( 抗美援朝烈士陵园), and Soviet Cemetery ( 苏联烈士陵园) make up a memorial park in Shenyang, China. The park commemorates Chinese soldiers who died in the Korean War (1950-3) and Soviet soldiers who died in the liberation of northeast China and Korea as well as the Korean War, a period spanning 1945-53. The park combines elements of traditional, socialist, and non-socialist memorials for an interesting and poignant walk through a turbulent era of history.
Visiting the Korean War Martyrs’ Cemetery
The main entrance to the Korean War Martyrs’ Cemetery is at the end of short road off Shenyang’s second ring road. The years “1950” and “1953” are written on the adjacent walls, representing the Korean War, known in China as the War to Resist America and Support Korea (抗美援朝战争).
The cemetery was established in August 1951, less than a year after the Chinese intervention in the Korean War.
At the cemetery entrance there is a large parking lot with stairs leading up to the memorial park above and a stone spire with the bronze figure of a solider holding a gun atop. To the left of the solider is the Chinese flag and to the right there is a North Korean flag.
A series of Socialist-style bronze work showing specific scenes of Chinese involvement in the Korean War line the base of the monument. Two bronze sculptures depicting brave soldiers in the midst of battle are located to each side of the monument.
Behind the monument itself is a graveyard containing the tombs of prominent martyrs. Each tomb is a circular mound, in traditional East Asian fashion, made of a modern material — concrete. The tombs are laid out in rows, each one accompanied by a small stele giving a biography of the martyr, and set amid a grove of pine trees. Similar Chinese burial mounds can be found in North Korea today, including the cemetery where Mao Anying, the song of Mao Zedong, is laid to rest.
At the back of the memorial park, there is a modern monument and square, sunken into the earth and molded after the American Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC. On walls of black stone are 174,407 names engraved in small gold lettering. These names are only a partial list of the Chinese soldiers killed in the Korean War.
These names, mostly three, sometimes two characters in length and arranged methodically into tightly-spaced, orderly columns. At first the memorial seems impersonal, yet its power is in precisely this: the names on the monument, and the unfathomable destruction which it represents, is almost too much for the human mind to comprehend, a seemingly endless list which forces us to refocus on the fact that each name represents an individual person swept up by the destruction of war.
In the middle of the square is a peace monument containing the remains of Chinese soldiers recovered from South Korea. The monument reads “Long Live Peace” (和平万岁!). It may seem like a naive message, but surrounded by 174,407 names, each once a person, one must agree.
Visiting the Soviet Cemetery
The Soviet Cemetery is located on the east side of the Korean War Martyrs' Cemetery. Along the walkway leading to the cemetery entrance, there are a series of modern reliefs depicting the Soviet liberation of Manchuria in World War II.
Today the cemetery contains grave stones of Soviet soldiers, a stone spire with a bronze tank atop, and explanations of Chinese-Russian friendship. There are similar Soviet cemeteries in North Korea and are helped maintained by the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang. The bronze tank monument was formally located at Shenyang Station.
Location and Access
The Korean War Martyrs’ Cemetery and Soviet Cemetery are located to the east of Shenyang’s Manchu North Tombs (北陵).
Entrance to the park is free and requires registering your ID at the gate. At the time of writing (January 2019), the memorial park’s museum was closed for renovation.
The city of Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province in Northeast China, is a potential starting point for Koryo Tours’ custom private tours of North Korea. There are twice-weekly Air Koryo flights（Wednesdays and Saturdays) between Shenyang and Pyongyang. Shenyang is also a stop on the Beijing-Pyongyang rail line. The city is known for its rich mix of Manchu, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Islamic heritage.