I was inspired to write it after watching a special (maybe on the History Channel?) about US Korean War vets who go back to Korea and meet their South Korean counterparts.
During this special they talked about an almost entirely unknown event in the Korean War. It was the evacuation of 100,000 civilians from Hungnam in North Korea just before Christmas, 1950. As if that were not remarkable enough, they profiled one ship that took an astounding 14,000 North Koreans to safety in a single voyage. That ship was the SS Meredith Victory and her captain was Leonard LaRue. The narrator made the point that if this had occurred during World War II, there would have been movies made about it by now. At that moment, I knew I had to write about it. It was simply too great a story for the world to not know of it.
I decided that the narrative of saving 100,000 lives from being trapped in Communism in North Korea was too staggering to really wrap our minds around, so I created a fictitious US Marine and a fictitious North Korean woman and wove their stories together with that of the great rescue from Hungnam.
By zooming in tightly on just this woman (and her two children) and what it meant to them to be rescued, and what it meant to the world for them to be rescued - I hope to tell the story in a way that really engages the reader.
Hope in Hungnam takes place during the darkest days of the Korean War in 1950: from the brutal Battle of Chosin Reservoir to the stunning Christmas Eve evacuation of civilians from Hungnam, North Korea. As the flames of war engulf the Korean Peninsula, US Marine Jack Stiles desperately searches for meaning in the frozen killing fields of North Korea.
Bloodied by war and bigotry, Stiles' world is changed forever when he is critically wounded at Chosin Reservoir and left for dead. Nursed back to health by a mortal foe, he soon faces the realities of war, life, and love with new clarity.
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