My daughter’s latest adventure has brought her and her boyfriend to Taiwan to teach English in Taipei. The riveting history of Taiwan is previously completely unknown to me. The culture that resulted from years as a Japanese colony, transitioned to the brutal military dictatorship wrought with the human rights abuses of Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang, to an aspiring independent spirit held in check by the Chinese Nationalist Party After WWII. The quest for power of Chiang Kai-shek with his KMT base in Taiwan and Mao Zedong’s Communist party stranglehold over mainland China, resulted in the the deaths, torture and psychological terror of thousands.
I highly recommend Green Island written by Shawna Yang Ryan. This story between the daughter and the father who delivers her into the world on February 29, 1947 casts light on the bloody, political history of Taiwan from the end of the WWII and into the 21st Century but also illuminates the love and strife that comes from being part of a family. The 2-28 Peace Park in Taipei emerges as a memorial to the dead and broken, who fought and suffered at the hands of those who revered power, far more that human life and dignity.
Our travels to the beaches of southern Taiwan brought us close to Green Island, which has become a tourist attraction. It mentions in the tour book that the old timers of Taiwan are not much interested in going anywhere near this reminder of the incredible fear and suffering. It seems much like historical sites that offer a legacy of fear, kindle curiosity, and promise an inability to forget.