Tag Archives: military

Single Shot: Standing Guard at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial

Taken from the archives as I still haven’t been taking new photos lately. Shot this last March while family was in Taiwan visiting Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

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In Korea: the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) (Korea Post 1)

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted here, so I’ll return to posting not with Taiwan, but with photos from a place that is a bit  more fast moving and hectic – South Korea.

Today’s post is about the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Military Demarcation Line (MDL). This region is a must-see for anyone wanting to visit and understand Korea, though you must go through a usually expensive (but reasonably priced) tour. With the right passport, you can book a trip through the USO or other organization that enters through Camp Bonifas, the joint US Army and Republic of Korea base situated near the border. The ticket is filled with a waiver notifying you that “The visit to the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom will entail entry into a hostile area and possibility of injury or death as a direct result of enemy action,” and you pay about 90 US dollars for the ability to visit.

I’m not going to give a specific account of what happens as you can find plenty of these that are very well written all over the web. Here are some photos though – to my surprise, I was able to use my telephoto lens and was generally pretty free to shoot photos of the interesting stuff, though there were some restrictions on when and what direction the camera was pointing. Unfortunately – or fortunately if you ask my mother and wife – not much happened on the Northern side of the border that day, but here is an interesting account including some interesting sword rattling on both sides. While it was a quiet day, it was also a beautiful day in terms of weather and visibility, which made the second part of the tour great.

Above: the lone visible North Korean guard standing his post at the Panmun Gak, the main, iconic building on the North Korean side of the Joint Security Area (JSA). According to our tour guide (a US Army military policeman), there was a second guard inside the tinted glass taking photos of our tour group. Notice the boarded window to the right.

       

       

Above: various shots of Republic of Korea (South Korea) soldiers standing guard. The soldier at bottom left guards the door to North Korea. On the bottom right, the soldier is standing half-exposed to keep cover in the (hopefully unlikely) scenario of shots being fired across the border. All are standing at a modified Tae Kwon Do stance. The soldier on top is actually the geographic border of the two sides while inside the treaty room. You can see this better in the next photo.

Above: the soldier shown above straddles the border at the main UN conference table.

Above: Republic of Korea soldiers stand guard at the JSA.

Above: a guardpost on the border.

Above: the “propaganda village” as seen from the South. Apparently, this village is fake. It was built in order to show people how prosperous the North is and why people should defect north. It is called propaganda village as it acts as a Potemkin Village that used to spout out propaganda on giant speakers. The flag pole is famous as its the largest in the world at 160 meters tall and was built after a bit of sabre rattling between the two sides in the art of flagpole construction.

Above: some detail of the propaganda village. A 100% zoom will show some (pixelated) glimpses of life like people airing dirty laundry – but I can confirm that it was eerily quiet.

Above: Dorasan Station, the last Korean rail station before heading north. It was briefly reused for freight reasons and there were plans for commuter trains to move north, but these plans were reversed. This station is in an area that is the furthest north civilians can go without having to cross the MDL, or Military Demarcation Line, which limits civilian movement due to military concerns.

 

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Hsinchu Air Show, 2012

Each year, the local air force base hosts an event for the public which is open to all to visit the base for an air show. Growing up, I frequented events like these with my grandparents taking me each year. It was exciting to see this again, even if we were a bit limited for time and the weather could’ve been better.

The stars of the show were the ROC Air Force’s “Thunder Tigers,” a stunt group much like the US Navy Blue Angels or US Air Force Thunderbirds. They flew AT-3 trainers, which is a Taiwanese-created and engineered aircraft. They aren’t too fast, but are very maneuverable and actually quite quiet compared to the louder engines of a Mirage or F-16.

I noticed that tigers play a big role in ROC squadron art – I’m guessing this is partially due to the involvement of the American “Flying Tigers” who flew against Japan for the Chinese Air Force before Pearl Harbor. Their history is a bit fascinating and serves as a sort of basis to the rest of the ROC Air Force.

After the Thunder Tigers was a Dassault Mirage 2000:

Unfortunately I didn’t get this “sweet spot” over the crowd, but I survived. It was quite humorous to see them moving their cameras in unison as the planes flew by:

One of the main issues facing the ROC Air Force is its weakening relationship with the United States. Ever since ties have warmed between the PRC and United States, the ROC has found itself short on weapons to buy as the US fears it will anger China. As a response, the IDF or Indigenous Defense Fighter, was created in the 1990′s:

Of course, Taiwan does have its own F-16s, but they are the older A/B variants:

In addition, other American-made aircraft include the E-2 Hawkeye and C-130:

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Double Ten, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

On Double Ten, the day which marks the Republic of China’s independence from the Qing Emporer, huge masses of people flocked to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial to witness a military display celebrating an anniversary of Nationalist rule. While Taiwan itself hasn’t been in its current form for 100 years, it is celebrated much more heavily here here than the mainland, where the date is foreshadowed by the 1949 Civil War.

It was nearly impossible to get a view of the main parade ground with the amount of people. For this reason, I stuck to the sides and got shots as the drill teams and bands came off and marched away. The day was beautiful for photography as it was a bit overcast but rather bright. The white tile ground acted as a huge reflector, which made things easy for me.

  

  

  

  

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Changing of the Guard, Taipei

This was taken at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. I had remembered that I took it after visiting last weekend and hadn’t realized that it was never posted. It’s my favorite image of a trip I took to the memorial when family members visited me in Taiwan.

I was taking these images with no flash and with the firing mode on the camera set to silent. This allows me to take a very quiet shot and then release the shutter button to put the mirror back. Perfect for a ceremony such as this where cameras are questionable, anyway.

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“The Fist”

This photo was taken during a concert which ended the Hsinchu County International Folk Drum Festival. While I planned on checking out more drumming that day, I missed much of it, unfortunately. The reason for this was because of some schedule/location confusion as well as some unseasonably cold weather which made me look like a big wuss.

Anyway, on to the photo. More will come – but don’t expect much drumming! I was mostly attending a concert in the evening. There were some very cool shows, though – including Taiwanese pop singers, a martial arts demonstration, and an orchestra with fireworks at the end.

This martial arts demonstration was very impressive and put on by members of what I gather to be Taiwan’s military. It was a tough set of shots to take, as I was reaching over shoulders and having struggle with timing shots.

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