American Experience (1988– )
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The Battle of Chosin 

The Battle of Chosin Reservoir, a crucial battle in the Korean War.


Randall MacLowry


Mark Zwonitzer




Episode credited cast:
Douglas MacArthur ... Self (archive footage)
Zedong Mao ... Self (archive footage)
Michael Murphy ... Self - Narrator (voice)
Harry S. Truman ... Self (archive footage)


Revisiting this pivotal 1950 Korean war battle through the eyewitness accounts of Participants / Veterans who were present for this first major military clash of the Cold War. An amazingly harrowing story of the 17 day engagement of bloody combat and heroic survival in subartic temperatures. UN forces largely outnumbered and surrounded, due to a surprise attack led by 120,000 Chinese troops. Also featured; insights from historians, and archival footage. Written by Mike D.

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Pulls No Punches
4 April 2021 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Despite summary rejections by some reviewers, the documentary is not about the politics of the Korean War or why our troops got trapped in Chosin. Sure, MacArthur got careless driving up to the border of China after his brilliant landing manuever at Inchon. However, it's pertinent for the docu to wonder, in passing, whether he really thought the Chinese would not massively intervene when thousands of US troops suddenly arrive on their border.

All that aside. What a shocker the docu footage is of the terrible suffering, freezing cold, and dwindling supplies, the Marines endured in Korea's extreme north in late November, 1950. Thankfully, there's no censoring of the frozen bodies or gasping breath that spread across the scattered mountains and canyons of Inchon. How gutsy of the final edit to retain that horrifying footage. Nonetheless, what courage and fortitude the Marines showed in combatting not just the Chinese but the sub-arctic conditions. There's very little blood flowing from wounds amidst those freezing temps, while the dead lie frozen in grotesque positions that are unforgettable. Conditions are further illuminated by aged survivors of that woeful campaign, who testify to their own personal experience amidst the carnage. Even though it's many years later (2016) their emotions remain movingly on high.

All in all, this is two hours of graphic display of why war is hell, regardless of rights and wrongs. So don't watch unless you're prepared for a reality seldom, if ever, shown. And above all, whatever one thinks of the war and its conduct, let's not forget these men who struggled so valiantly amidst that "forgotten" war.

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1 November 2016 (USA) See more »

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