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Exploring Keelung: The 228 monument

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Nestled between Zhongzheng Park and Ershawan fortress, amidst surrounding hikes and forests, stands the Keelung 228 memorial. In its subtle but powerful presence, it recalls a difficult past, and reminds locals and tourists alike of the struggles Taiwanese people have overcome, and the power of peace in our current times.

Exploring Keelung through solo walks

I recently took a walk to Zhongzheng Park, with the aim of exploring Keelung and visiting the surrounding forests. But along the way, I was surprised to stumble across a tall, screw-like structure, which I at first did not recognise. 

After reading the plaque, I discovered that this large metal shape was actually a monument to remember the victims of the ‘228 incident’ in Keelung, a violent massacre that gets its name from the day it all kicked off, the 28th of February, 1947.

228 monument
The Keelung 228 monument stands tall between Zhongzheng Park and Ershawan Forest

What was the 228 incident?

The monument told the story of how citizens throughout Taiwan took to the streets in 1947 to protest the harsh conditions of life created by the Kuomintang fleeing from mainland China to rule Taiwan. They called out the government’s immoral use of violence to suppress the Taiwanese population’s dissent. Triggered by the murder of a female cigarette seller in Taipei, protests erupted throughout the island on 28th February, and Keelung was certainly no exception. By March 1947, Keelung’s harbor turned red with blood. As government forces shot into crowds of protesters, the streets of Keelung fell silent with grief, whilst the Harbor, Tianliao Port Canal, and Heping Island exploded with gunfire, soon to become the sites of violent massacre. Experts estimate a death toll of around 2000 men, women, and children.

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The 228 Monument’s Plaque recalls the events of the massacre

Where is the 228 monument?

Now, Keelung’s 228 monument stands tall, at the peak of a small mountain, facing down towards the Pacific Ocean. There have been recent debates about whether to relocate the monument to a more noticeable location. Many argue the structure should be moved to Keelung’s harbor, where it can receive more public attention from passers-by and stand in the exact place where many were killed in the 1947 massacre. This, of course, would be a powerful message, demanding the attention of the many visitors to Keelung’s bustling port. But I believe the current, more hidden location also has great symbolic value…

The importance of place

Nestled amongst green forests and parks, the monument’s surroundings are a reminder of the very peace and tranquility which is natural to this world, and towards which we ought to strive. In the neighboring memorial park, you can watch happy families take their children for a walk, observe grandmas meeting to socialize with their friends, and feel connected to all the people exercising, laughing, and chatting to each other in their own little bubbles. Seeing people so joyous and bustling next to such a painful reminder of the past brings a message of hope to the people of Keelung.

It reminds us of the resilience of the Taiwanese people, and the friendly, warm nature that is inherent in the Taiwanese character. It also reminds us of the Taiwanese values of community and harmony, which would not have the same significance located at the tourist-hotspot of the Keelung harbor. Symbolically placed next to a bygone military fortress and streets lined with old army airplanes, the 228 monument is a hidden voice calling out for peace. Though it is subtly tucked away in nature, it is a powerful reminder that traces of history are all around us, and the scars of the past may be hidden. It is up to us to discover them and strive to never forget.

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Keelung’s 228 monument is surrounded by lush forests and greenery

 

To find the 228 monument, take a walk to Keelung’s Zhongzheng Park, continue on towards Ershawan Fortress, and you will pass the monument and its memorial park.

Keelung’s 228 monument is just one of many memorials of the 228 Massacre in Taiwan. To explore how they are all connected, see Taiwan 228, Memorial foundation of 228, and Historical Sites of Injustice Archive [in Chinese]

 

If you’d like to learn more about cultural highlights in Keelung, please click the banner below to book a culture tour!

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