M*A*S*H episode
“Ping Pong”
MASH episode 112 - Ping Pong - Cho Lin
The camp's best ping pong player, Cho Lin in game in Season 5 episode "Ping Pong".
Season 5, Episode # 17
Number (#114) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Richard Narita
Frank Maxwell
Sachiko Penny Lee
Robert Phalen
Enid Kent
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: U817
Writer(s) Sid Dorfman
Director William Jurgensen
Original airdate January 18, 1977
IMDb logo IMDB Ping Pong
Episode chronology
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"38 Across" (U821)  "End Run" (U816) 

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"End Run" (U816)  "The Most Unforgettable Characters" (U818)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 5 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

 Ping Pong is the 114th episode of M*A*S*H, the 17th in the fifth season of the show, which originally aired on CBS-TV on January 11, 1977. It was directed by William Jurgensen, and written by Sid Dorfman.


The 4077th hosts a traditional Korean wedding, much to Frank's objections. And Colonel Potter runs into an old friend who has put his troops in jeopardy so that he could receive a promotion.

Full episode summaryEdit

The 4077th is watching with bated breath an inter-camp ping pong tournament, and their best player, Cho Lin, is facing off against the player from the 8055th. Cho wins the match, and of course everyone is thrilled - except for Frank, who bet against his own unit, claiming he got 3 to 1 odds.

Just as the tournament winds down wounded come in, one of them being Lieutenant Colonel Harold Beckett, an old friend of Colonel Potter, who is surprised to see him as Beckett normally worked at the Pentagon ordering commodities for the troops. Beckett explains that he had been given command of an infantry unit to advance his career. He needs five more days on the front line to get his Combat Infantry Badge; with that citation on his record he can get a promotion and retire as a full colonel.

After surgery, Cho brings his fiancée Soony by the Swamp, where he announces they're going to be married. Hawkeye and B.J. offer to hold the ceremony at the 4077th, and even pony up money so Cho can afford a wedding ring. Frank scoffs at Hawkeye and B.J.'s naivete, insisting it's foolish to trust an "Oriental."

Cho left for Seoul to get the ring, and Soony becomes worried - and then inconsolable - when Cho doesn't come back on time. Soony begins to cry, saying she doesn't think Cho is coming back. Hawkeye tries to reassure her, while Frank callously thinks it's funny.

Later on, more wounded arrive, and Cho is one of them. He explains there was a big mix-up in Seoul, when a South Korean Army truck came by, grabbed Cho, put a uniform on him, and abruptly sent him into battle. After tending to his wounds, Frank demands to know why Hawkeye and B.J. haven't shipped Cho out. They try and bluff their way out of it, but Frank is adamant, even drawing up a formal list of grievances against Hawkeye for various infractions which he turns in to Col. Potter. Hawkeye and B.J. then tell Potter about the impending wedding; Potter is disinterested at first, but changes his mind when Hawkeye (doing some fast thinking) says Potter will be giving away the bride. Now beaming with pride, Potter agrees to let the ceremony commence.

Later that evening Hawkeye and B.J. talk to one of the soldiers from that batch of wounded that came in with Beckett. The soldier tells them that Beckett's incompetence was responsible for all the injuries to his soldiers. When the enemy hit them with the big stuff Beckett panicked and then froze when the order to withdraw came down. The soldier then reveals that Beckett was only at the front because he needs five more days on the line to get his Combat Infantry Badge, which guaranteed him a promotion to full Colonel. Hawkeye and B.J. tell Potter about it the next morning, and when Potter confronts Beckett, he claims that Army intelligence let him down, but then Potter counters with the truth that Beckett had screwed up. Beckett begs Sherman for a break as he only needs five more days on the line. But Potter, caring more about the lives of the young soldiers, refuses and orders Beckett to be sent back down.  

The surgeons (except for Frank, still wearing fatigues), Margaret, and Radar turn out in their Class A uniforms for the wedding. Burns is furious that the ceremony is being allowed, and confides in Margaret that he will tell General Harrellson, but Margaret simply says, "Oh, shut up."  

Being a Buddhist* ceremony, Father Mulcahy narrates the actions of the wedding; no words are spoken as the groom arrives on a white pony. He dismounts, and he and the bride share a drink of rice wine. They bow to each other, and the groom places the ring on the bride's finger. They are then declared man and wife. Everyone watching bursts into applause and steps forward to congratulate the couple while Frank wanders over to the wedding cake table, sampling the refreshments while no one else is looking.

Later, Radar and Col. Potter play ping-pong, and Radar can barely contain his laughter as he beats Potter so easily.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • The Combat Infantryman Badge (referred to in the episode at "Combat Infantry Badge") was established in 1943 to recognize the contributions of infantrymen, who bore great risks in combat while receiving relatively little public recognition. According to the eligibility criteria for the Combat Infantryman Badge, the serviceman must be of the rank of Colonel and below and serving in a unit of brigade size or smaller. To get the award: "A recipient must be personally present and under hostile fire while serving in an assigned infantry or special forces primary duty, in a unit actively engaged in ground combat with the enemy." There is no 30-day qualifying period in the original criteria. The 30-day rule was added during the Vietnam War and applied only to officers, not from the infantry branch who are in command of an infantry unit. Going by the criteria as they existed during the Korean War, Beckett, who was injured by enemy shell-fire, was certainly under "hostile fire" and "actively engaged in ground combat". As such, he would have qualified. The trope of Potter exposing an incompetent friend is repeated in "Friends and Enemies."
  • This episode has the only instance where Potter mentions his home as being in Nebraska. All other times, it is Hannibal, Missouri.
  • *Father Mulcahy incorrectly describes the wedding ceremony as "Buddhist". It is actually an abbreviated version of a traditional Korean wedding ceremony, which doesn't have the bride being given away by her father, as Colonel Potter does for the bride here.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit

External linksEdit

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