Episodes

A Formosa Files INTERVIEW: Manuel Tsao Talks to Eryk About the 100+ Year-Old Jhuzimen Hydro Power Plant - 竹仔門發電廠

Aug. 21, 2022

The Jhuzimen Hydro Power Plant (竹仔門發電廠) was built by the colonial Japanese authorities in 1908 -- in what's now Meinung District (美濃區), Kaohsiung City. Manuel Tsao is a German national in the renewable energy business who ha…

Bonus Episode: "Taiwan in 100 Books" - A Priest on Orchid Island Meets Sanmao (三毛)

Aug. 18, 2022

In this special episode, we thank listeners and talk briefly about season two (We are now being listened to in 90 countries/regions!!), and share an excerpt from the audiobook of John Ross' 2020 "Taiwan in 100 Books" related…

S2-E22 - USS Tang: The Most Successful US Submarine of WWII

Aug. 11, 2022

War is not glorious, and shouldn’t be glorified. But war does provide the chance to be brave, and bravery can be glorious. Such was the case of Commander Richard O’Kane and the crew of the USS Tang. In 1944 the American subm…

Special CURRENT EVENTS Episode: Why hasn’t the PRC invaded Taiwan?

Aug. 4, 2022

We've gotten so many questions from Formosa Files listeners about the threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan that we thought we'd do a round-up of previous attempts, fill in some history from 1949 to 2014 or so, and tell you…

S2-E21 - Taiwan's Global Shipping Empire - EVERGREEN

July 28, 2022

Go virtually anywhere in the world and you'll see them: green shipping containers with large white letters reading "EVERGREEN." The company is one of the biggest and best in the shipping world, while also having a hand in ai…

Bonus Episode: "Taiwan in 100 Books" - A Martial Arts Hoax

July 20, 2022

In this special episode, we talk about where the inspiration for the Formosa Files podcast came from, and share an excerpt from the podcast's origin source: John Ross' 2020 book "Taiwan in 100 Books." After our quick chat, …

S2-E20 - Mr. and Mrs. Giles

July 14, 2022

Why is "Kaohsiung" spelled so strangely? Shouldn't it be closer to "Gao-Shung"? (Or we could just use Hanyu Pinyin, "Gāoxióng"). Well, many names in Taiwan are spelled with the Latin alphabet, using a romanization system pop…

S2-E19 - Golf in Taiwan: A Surprisingly Long History

July 7, 2022

Some might think golf came with U.S. troops after WWII, but the origins of this sport in Taiwan actually go much further back. Listen to this episode for stories of Japanese colonial officials discovering golf as the "new co…

S2-E18 - Teresa Teng 鄧麗君 - "Asia's Eternal Queen of Pop"

June 30, 2022

Teresa Teng (Deng Lijun 鄧麗君) was arguably Asia's first pop superstar, a singer from Taiwan who won hearts across the continent and the world. Teng got so famous in behind-the-bamboo-curtain China that PLA air force defectors…

S2-E17 - The Brief and Often Forgotten Kingdom of Dongning 東寧王國

June 23, 2022

Koxinga's eldest son, Zheng Jing, -- the ruler of the short-lived Kingdom of Dongning (1661-1683) -- almost lost his head in his late teens. Daddy Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga) twice ordered his execution for fooling around with…

S2-E16 - Ang Lee in the Spotlight: His Story from Pingtung to Hollywood

June 16, 2022

Two-time Academy Award winning director Ang Lee (李安) is probably the most globally famous person from Taiwan. But this Pingtung-born movie master actually started out wanting to be an actor. And, if it had not been for his w…

S2-E15 - "123 Freedom Day" Taiwan's Shadowy Involvement in the Korean War - Part Two

June 9, 2022

The Korean War would almost certainly have ended much earlier but for the tricky question of what to do with Chinese POWs. The 21,000 Red Chinese soldiers captured were finally given a choice: go home to China...or go to "Fr…

S2-E14 - Taiwan's Shadowy Involvement in the Korean War - Part One

June 2, 2022

It's 1950 and a war-weary world is at it again. Communist China pours fuel on the conflict in Korea by sending in a quarter of a million soldiers. ROC President Chiang Kai-shek has, from the start, offered to send his Nation…

S2-E13 - A Cruise on an Opium Clipper to Takao (Kaohsiung)

May 26, 2022

Kaohsiung Harbor was, in the late twentieth century, one of the world's busiest ports, but back during the time of the Opium Wars, it was still a rather secluded and hard-to-find place. Based on the somewhat embellished "A C…

S2-E12 - "The National Game" -- Taiwan Falls in and out of Love with Baseball

May 19, 2022

After the Americans introduced baseball to Japan in the late 19th century, Japan took the game John Ross might call "a corruption of cricket" to their new colonial possession, where it became a hit. Surviving -- somewhat sur…

A Formosa Files INTERVIEW: ICRT General Manager Tim Berge

May 15, 2022

Taiwan's only English radio station, International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT) has been a part of millions of Taiwanese -- and many an expat in Taiwan's -- lives since it took over from the US military in 1979. Tim Berge, …

S2-E11 - Taiwan's Nearest Neighbors - the 1,000+ Kilometer-Long Ryukyu Island Chain

May 12, 2022

Taiwan lies at the heart of what's called the "first island chain," a boring name for a long line of amazing islands that stretches from Borneo to Russia’s Kuril Islands. The main island of Taiwan's closest neighbor is Yonag…

S2-E10 - Christian Samurai – Japan’s Katana Diplomacy in Taiwan

May 5, 2022

After unifying Japan’s warring states, supreme feudal lord Hideyoshi launched a massive invasion of Korea. In 1593, a year into this Imjin War of 1592-1598, he sent an envoy to Taiwan on a doomed mission to establish formal …

S2-E9 - The Murder of Pai Hsiao-yen 白曉燕 and the Alexander Family Hostage Crisis

April 28, 2022

April 1997. Taiwan’s crime story of the century starts with the kidnapping and murder of a celebrity’s 12-year-old daughter by a trio of hardened criminals. In the seven-month crime spree that follows, there are more kidnapp…

S2-E8 - Makalu Gao 高銘和 : The Taiwanese Climber Who Survived a Night on Mt. Everest

April 21, 2022

The high number of deaths during the 1996 Mt. Everest climbing season supplied a tragic plotline for books, movies, and documentaries. Taiwanese climbers did not come out of these accounts looking competent -- to say the lea…

S2-E7 - Part 2: Dr. Peng Ming-min 彭明敏 (1923-2022) - Escaping Taiwan and a Hero's Return

April 14, 2022

How do you get a famous, one-armed democracy activist -- who is under house arrest and being watched 24/7 by the authorities -- off of a well-guarded, militarized island? Hint: A team of brave supporters, some forgery, and a…

S2-E6 - Part 1: Dr. Peng Ming-min 彭明敏 (1923-2022) - The Incredible life of a Democracy Fighter

April 8, 2022

Dr. Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) was a Taiwanese pro-independence/pro-democracy activist who lived an exceptional life - losing an arm in a WWII US air raid, witnessing the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, and being arrested for sedition …

S2-E5 - Tragedy on Taiwan's Majestic Mountains

April 7, 2022

Two-thirds of this island is mountainous, and climbing the mountains -- or even just driving across them -- is an awesome experience. But, woe be to those that are unprepared... or, sadly, just unlucky. With many peaks over …

S2-E4 - Searching for the "Motherland"

March 31, 2022

Western-style adoption (as in a couple taking a baby home from an orphanage) has not been and is still not very common in Taiwan. But there are plenty of local ways kids find new homes here, including a now-abandoned, rather…