Commemorating the 228 Massacre: Taboos, Scars, Stigmas, and an Essential Lesson in Taiwan History

Felicia Lin
6 min readFeb 25, 2023

228, February 28, 1947 is an important date in history for Taiwan. In Taiwan it is a national holiday known as 228 Peace Day, and since 228, which is also known as the 228 Massacre is just around the corner, we thought we’d share the first of 2 special episodes that we did last year for the 75th anniversary of the 228 Massacre.

[LISTEN to the Complete Episode HERE on APPLE PODCASTS or SPOTIFY]

At the same time, we wanted to share some community announcements for our listeners who might be looking for ways to commemorate 228. If you’re in New York, the Taiwan Center in Flushing, NY will be having a 228 Remembrance Memorial Service on Saturday, February 25, 2023 from 2:00–3:30pm. And for those in California, Josephine Pan tells me that annual 228 Commemorative Concert will be held in person again this year on Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at 7:30pm at the Arcadia Community Church. Both of these events are open and free to the public.

Full details for the 228 commemorative events in New York and California are listed below in the Related Links section.

This episode of Talking Taiwan has been sponsored by NATWA, the North America Taiwanese Women’s Association.

NATWA was founded in 1988, and its mission is:

  1. to evoke a sense of self-esteem and enhance women’s dignity,
  2. to oppose gender discrimination and promote gender equality,
  3. to fully develop women’s potential and encourage their participation in public affairs,
  4. to contribute to the advancement of human rights and democratic development in Taiwan,
  5. to reach out and work with women’s organizations worldwide to promote peace for all.

To learn more about NATWA visit their website: www.natwa.com

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • How each guest first heard of or learned about 228
  • How the 228 was a forbidden topic of discussion
  • How my guests and their families were personally impacted by 228
  • The Formosa Incident aka Kaohsiung Incident
  • The White Terror and Martial Law era of Taiwan
  • The writer who was sent to prison because of his Chinese-language translation of a Popeye comic
  • Why the topic of 228 has been so taboo
  • Tsuann’s grandfather who was a political prisoner during the White Terror era
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • What Tsuann’s relatives experienced and witnessed about 228
  • Why Tsuann decided to try to help 228 victims and their families
  • Green Island, the place where political prisoners were exiled
  • The case of a 15-year-old girl who was jailed
  • How political prisoners, after being released were ostracized by society
  • How things banned during the Martial Law era included books, music, art or any medium related to communism or that was critical of the Kuomintang
  • Personal accounts of people persecuted during the Martial Law era
  • The families whose husbands and fathers disappeared due to 228
  • What Josephine’s relatives experienced and witnessed about 228
  • The privileges and overrepresentation granted to the Chinese vs. local Taiwanese under Kuomintang (KMT) rule
  • The injustices in Taiwan’s society under the initial rule of the KMT
  • Why it’s important to remember and understand 228
  • The importance of healing from historic trauma
  • Canada’s residential schools
  • What Tsuann discovered about 228 survivors through her work with the Transitional Justice Committee
  • Why Josephine started organizing an annual concert to commemorate 228
  • How 228 became a national holiday in 1998 but has almost been cancelled as a holiday twice
  • Comparisons of 228 Peace Memorial Day with U.S. holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day or Memorial Day
  • My guests’ thoughts on whether or not 228 remains a national holiday
  • Indigenous Peoples Day
  • How to commemorate 228
  • What young people in Taiwan know about 228
  • What was previously taught to Josephine, Tsuann, and Wei-Wei about Taiwan in their textbooks when they were high school students in Taiwan
  • How the 228 Massacre has only recently been included in high school textbooks
  • How the 228 Massacre is being taught in high schools
  • The Jing-Mei Prison Museum in Taipei
  • Music that was banned during the White Terror era
  • Experiential ways to learn about 228

Related Links:

228 Remembrance Memorial Service

Saturday, February 25, 2023, 2:00–3:30pm

Taiwan Center (137–44 Northern Blvd., Flushing, NY 11354)

Event Link: https://fb.me/e/2ovnxPo9Q

2–28 Commemorative Concert

Tuesday, February 28, 2023, 7:30pm

Arcadia Community Church (121 Alice Ave., Arcadia, CA 91006)

FREE Admission

The 228 Incident: https://228massacre.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_28_incident

https://www.taiwandc.org/228-intr.htm

The 2021 228 Concert sponsored by Taiwan Elite Alliance and Taiwanese United Fund: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAR2dJ1wvwM&t=127s

Taipei 228 Peace Park: https://eng.taiwan.net.tw/m1.aspx?sNo=0002090&id=R3

The First 228 Peace Memorial Monument: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_First_228_Peace_Memorial_Monument

Chinese Nationalists aka Kuomintang: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuomintang

Republic of China (1912–1949): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_China_(1912%E2%80%931949)

History of Taiwan and Republic of China (1945-present): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Taiwan_(1945%E2%80%93present)

Martial Law in Taiwan: https://oftaiwan.org/history/white-terror/martial-law/

Nine years lost to ‘Popeye’ (an article from the Taipei Times): http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2017/09/24/2003679025

The “Kaohsiung Incident” of 1979 (an article from Taiwan Communique): https://www.taiwandc.org/hst-1979.htm

Formosa Incident (an article from OFT- Outreach for Taiwan): https://oftaiwan.org/history/white-terror/formosa-incident/

Formosa Magazine: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formosa_Magazine

The Kaohsiung Tapes (from Taiwan Communique): https://www.taiwandc.org/kao-tapes.pdf

International Human Rights Day: https://www.ohchr.org/en/aboutus/pages/humanrightsday.aspx

Taiwanese Hakka: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwanese_Hakka

https://taiwaneverything.cc/2020/10/08/hakka-people/

Yao Chia-wen: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yao_Chia-wen

A-bian (Chen Shui-bian): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chen_Shui-bian

PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder): https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd

Green Island: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Island,_Taiwan

National Assembly Elections Coming Up (1991): https://www.taiwandc.org/twcom/tc52-int.pdf

Su Tseng-chang: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Su_Tseng-chang

Hsieh Chang-ting (Frank Hsieh): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Hsieh

Museum of Tolerance: https://www.museumoftolerance.com/

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King_Jr._Day

Martin Luther King Jr.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King_Jr.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_Peoples%27_Day

Memorial Day: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day

‘Cultural genocide’: the shameful history of Canada’s residential schools — mapped (an article from The Guardian): https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2021/sep/06/canada-residential-schools-indigenous-children-cultural-genocide-map

HoChie Tsai, speaker: http://hochie.net/speaker.html

The Life Journey of a second generation Taiwanese American : Dr. Ho-Chi Tsai (from the Taiwanese American archives): https://taiwaneseamericanhistory.org/blog/mystories554/

Check out Talking Taiwan Episode 29 (One of our earliest episodes, so please excuse the sound quality): HoChie Tsai about TaiwaneseAmerican.org: https://talkingtaiwan.com/tt025-ho-chie-tsai/

In 2001, 228 was almost downgraded from a public holiday to a memorial day: https://www.taiwandc.org/twcom/96-no4.htm

https://www.qppstudio.net/public-holidays-news/2001/taiwan-to-maintain-228-public-holiday–for-the-moment-001476.htm

228 almost canceled in 2009: https://www.qppstudio.net/public-holidays-news/2009/taiwan-to-consider-cancelling-228-public-holiday-002061.htm

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2009/02/16/2003436230

Transitional Justice Commission: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitional_Justice_Commission#:~:text=The%20Transitional%20Justice%20Commission%20

921 (September 21, 2009) Earthquake: https://bit.ly/3uychlo

Taiwan’s Textbook Controversy and the Struggle Over Taiwanese History: https://newbloommag.net/2015/07/06/taiwans-textbook-controversy/

Taiwan Has Its Own Textbook Controversy Brewing: https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/07/21/taiwan-textbook-controversy-china-independence-history/

United States Holocaust Museum: https://www.ushmm.org/

Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park: http://museu.ms/museum/details/18264/national-human-rights-museum

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jing-Mei_White_Terror_Memorial_Park

Chiang Kai-shek: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Kai-shek

Gone but Not Forgotten: 7 Historic Sites to Learn More About the White Terror: https://taiwan-scene.com/7-historic-sites-to-learn-more-about-the-white-terror/

Martial Law in Taiwan (Chinese language article): https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/trad/chinese-news-40593296

228-related Music:

1947 Overture by Tyzen Hsiao: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNCrnfhyUKw

228-related Movie:

Detention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq0K2ipTaPM

228-related Movie:

A City of Sadness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLcnPS3FgNo

228-related Museums:

National Human Rights Museum: https://www.nhrm.gov.tw/w/nhrm/index

Green Island White Terror Memorial: https://www.nhrm.gov.tw/w/nhrm/GI_Visit

Armenian Genocide: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_genocide

LISTEN to Episode 228: Commemorating the 228 Massacre: Taboos, Scars, Stigmas, and an Essential Lesson in Taiwan History HERE

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Felicia Lin

Felicia Lin is the producer and host of Talking Taiwan, the longest running Taiwan-related podcast, and Golden Crane Podcast Award Winner.