Escaping from the Communists and then from the Anti-Communists: A Prisoner’s Odyssey from Southwest China to Korea, India, and Argentina

Visiting Scholar Talks

Oct 13, 2021 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Event Registration


David Cheng Chang | Associate Professor, Division of Humanities, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; HYI-Radcliffe Institute Fellow, 2021-22


Arunabh Ghosh | Associate Professor of History, Harvard University

Co-sponsored with the Asia Center, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, and the Korea Institute

Talk will be held via Zoom

Registration required:

By the end of the Korean War, only 88 out of more than 150,000 Chinese and North Korean prisoners of war (POWs) refused to return to either side of their divided countries; instead, they sought asylum in neutral nations. Using oral history interviews and archival documents from the United States, Taiwan, and India, this talk charts the life history of Cheng Liren: from his education as a police academy cadet during the civil war and his first job as a police officer in his home province Guizhou in the final days of the Nationalist regime, to his desperate enlistment in the Communist army, desertion in Korea, rise and fall as an anti-Communist POW leader on Koje and Cheju Islands, his daring escape from fellow anti-Communist POWs at Panmunjom, to his two-year sojourn in India, and his final settlement and business success in Argentina.