Let The Photos Tell the Story — Part1

Political victim Chen Meng-ho was held in the New Life Correction Center for 15 years (1952-1967). Having been an art student with experience in his family’s photo shop, he was assigned various errands involving photography and art. In the course of setting up the park, his photos and the memories he was able to conjure up based on them were of inestimable value.

In summer 2002, with trembling hands and stroke by stroke, the 72-year-old Chen was able to paint this bird’s-eye panorama of the New Life Correction Center based on memory. Top left shows a aerial view facing south of how he remembered it. The numbers show the vantage point of the photos appearing on the following pages. Top right shows the park today with the same numbers. Putting the photos on the following pages together with the reference numbers above, the reader can imagine the New Life Correction Center of the years 

1951 ~ 1965 as it really was.

Between 1959 and 1960, the New Life Correction Center sent Chen Meng-ho on a fishing boat to circle Green Island to photograph the scenery from about a kilometer from the coast in order to publicize Green Island. (photo by Chen Meng-ho, 1959)

Pillboxes were built on the tidal flats during the time the New Life Correction Center was in operation. They were normally used as coastal defense posts, but also often served as detention cells. (courtesy of Tang Yen-ni, 1960s)

An overview of  Kongkuan Village from a high vantage point off the west side of the New Life Correction Center. At that time, Kungkuan Village was a sparsely populated, rustic place dotted with farmland. (photo by Chen Meng-ho, 1960s)

A bird’s-eye view of the New Life Correction Center from the west. In the foreground is an athletic field, to the west of which Oasis Villa would be built. (courtesy of Wang Chun-chang, 1959)

Opposite Elephant Trunk Rock, an eroded arch-like formation resembling the trunk of an elephant, is another giant rock. Together they form a natural gateway. In the 1950s, a small road that followed the winding coastline passed between the two rock formations. Political prisoners brought past Elephant Trunk Rock on the way to the New Life Correction Center dubbed it Devil’s Gate. (courtesy of Auyang Wen,1954)

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