This article assesses the memoirs of Chinese volunteers as a source for better understanding social interactions between the Chinese and North Koreans during the Korean War. The hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers serving in Korea were an almost ubiquitous presence in wartime North Korea. Yet the relationship between the volunteers and North Korean civilians has not been the subject of many studies. Memoirs written by the volunteers are one of the few sources that document these interactions. Among the subjects the volunteers wrote about, their encounters with older North Koreans whom they called “mothers” or ŏmŏni were among the most prominent. While acknowledging the propagandistic intent behind some of these memoirs, the article argues that they do shed light on some of the emotional norms that shaped relations between North Korean women and the volunteers even if they cannot always be treated as completely reliable descriptions of events.

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