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A Beijing Opera Classic:
Raid on the White-Tiger Regiment

8 June 2010

Welcome to 60 years ago when a Lee-led South Korea puppet government and its masters in the White House and Pentagon advanced their troops deep into North Korea territory with an apparent attempt to further its military action towards the border of a newly established People's Republic of China. Chinese leader Mao Zedong, the creator of the theories of "paper tiger" (美帝国主义是纸老虎: American Imperialists are paper tigers) and "dust broom" (扫帚不到灰尘不会自己跑掉: Dust won't be automatically cleaned off without being swept by a broom), decided to "打得一拳开,防得百拳来" (to obtain long-term peace through short term conflict), and sent the People's Volunteer Armies across the Yalv River to push the US-South Korea infantry armies back to the south of the Military Demarcation Line and their warships back to the south of the Byeongnyeong Island.

The classic Beijing Opera repertoire Raid on the White Tiger Regiment is based on a true story during this relatively short-term military conflict in which South Korea's best elite troop the White Tiger Regiment, that was a mechanized force fully equipped by the United States and boasted of being invincible (in a typical South Korean manner of bragging and fabricating), was destroyed in a raid.

The incident occurred on a night in July 1953, at the beginning of the summer counter-offensive campaign by Chinese and North Korean forces. Lieutenant Yang Yucai (杨育才), a flesh warrior from the home province of terra cotta warriors, led a scout squad of 12 men, including 2 North Korean officers, disguised as South Korean soldiers with Yang in U.S. military advisor's uniform, entering the tiger den. By the time they approached 415 Highland where the head of the White Tiger located, Yang found his squad was boosted from 12 to 13 members. Upon investigation, he learned that the extra one in the tail of the rank was a genuine South Korean soldier who pathetically identified the squad as his own unit.

From that poor loser, Yang got the password of the night and with the password his squad successfully logged into the headquarter of the White Tiger. It only took them 14 minutes to smash the tiger head and rendered South Korea’s most formidable war machine immobile.

All 12 men returned without scratch and with the banner of the White Tiger given by South Korean President Lee, which has been displayed as a first grade war relic in China's Military Museum in Beijing, serving as a proof to Mao Zedong's theory that the American weapons and their collaborators are just paper tigers.

The Tiger Beating feat was later made into film and kuaibanshu (快板书), a storytelling art punctuated by bamboo clappers. And the Beijing opera Raid on the White Tiger Regiment performed by Shandong Beijing Opera troupe further became one of eight Model Operas which are still passionately cherished today by many Chinese, old and young, and considered as the ones that have rejuvenated the ancient art form with refreshing modern storylines, more enriched melodies and a spiritually uplifting connotation.

The following are two aria lyrics from the opera:



The debate among the comrades,
Enlightened our minds,
Which helps us to see through
America’s tricks.

Some Yankees are warmongers,
Harbouring an ambition
To impose world hegemony
Over all nations.

When facing setbacks,
America waves olive branches
Talking about truce and peace;

But as soon as it recovers,
America waves its claws
Trying to tear you into pieces.

Wolves will always be wolves,
Even in sheepskin clothes.
We must not hold our breath
Waiting for miracles,
But hold tight our guns
Stand up to the warmongers
If they ever dare to challenge us!



We Chinese and North Koreans,
Together we go through thick and thin,
Watching each other’s shoulders.
For our rights and independence,
We are not afraid to sacrifice.

You Yankees and bandits in the South
Headed by President Lee,
Trying to make your last-ditch attempts
Before your final demise
By lying your faults
At someone else’s doorsteps.

I, the lieutenant,
Represent my squad
Request for a battle assignment
In a fight to destroy
South Korean’s crack unit
The U.S.-equipped White Tiger Regiment.


Lieutenant Yang (played by Song Yuqing 宋玉庆) in American military advisor's uniform seizes a White Tiger head and finds it is made of paper (not literally).

Prev: North Korea Today (3) - People
Next: Tale of Two Gates


Lieutenant Yang Yucai (杨育才)

The Scout Squad. The third man from the left in the front row is Lieutenant Yang

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