Dear Onyang: A Story of the Last Refugee Ship in the Heungnam Evacuation During the Korean War


Dear Onyang: A Story of the Last Refugee Ship in the Heungnam Evacuation During the Korean War is the English translation of the heartfelt Korean picture book “온양이” published by SAMTOH more than ten years ago.  It is translated by the granddaughter of North Korean refugees who were rescued during the Heungnam evacuation. 

Dear Onyang is a historical fiction based on the December 1950 evacuation of the port city of Heungnam during the Korean War. From December 15 to 24, the U.S.-led UN troops carried out an evacuation by sea for tens of thousands of North Korean refugees. These refugees traveled from the North Korean port of Heungnam to South Korea. This story follows nine year-old Myeong-ho, his pregnant mother, and younger brother Myeong-nam as they make the difficult journey from their village to the port. When Myeong-ho’s family finally manages to board the last ship, the Onyang, Myeong-ho’s mother gives birth to their younger sister, who they name after the ship.

A poignant story of life and hope, Dear Onyang encourages readers to shine a light on the dark memories of war to brighten the future before us. This book can be appreciated by young and old to have conversations about difficult topics such as the fear and uncertainty of war as well as the hope that can be found.


Seon An-na

Seon An-na was born and raised in Ulju County of Ulsan City. She became a writer in 1990 after receiving the Saebeot Literary Award. In 1991, she won an annual spring literary contest held by the Korean newspaper, Dong-a Ilbo. Since then, she has published several other children’s books, picture books, and essays in criticism. Seon is the recipient of the Korean Children’s Book Award, the Sejong Children’s Literature Award, and the Korean Children’s Literature Award.

Kim Yeong-man

Kim Yeong-man was born in Seoul, and became an illustrator after graduating from college. Following eight years of working on countless children’s magazines, publications, and company promotional materials, he tried designing a game he enjoyed by spontaneously founding an online gaming company with friends. After experiencing different fields, Kim is currently working as the creative director for an advertising agency. From time to time, he enjoys going back to making comics, designs, illustrations, and creative works.

To illustrate Dear Onyang, Kim took into account the wartime background of Korea, and tried to emulate the feeling of seeing an old photo book or movie. Although Dear Onyang is rooted in a painful past, he hopes that its uplifting message leaves readers with a warm memory.

Lee Jinna

Lee Jinna is a second-year student at the University of Chicago who was born and raised in Hong Kong. She started translating Dear Onyang into English during her first year of college in honor of her late grandmother and great-grandmother, who were both North Korean refugees rescued by US troops during the Heungnam evacuation. To Lee, Dear Onyang shows how an act of empathy, more than one of violence, is the most powerful act of heroism there is. She hopes that her English translation of Dear Onyang spreads this message to more people―not only to young Americans, but also to second-generation Koreans living abroad who struggle with their mother tongue.

Over the course of translating Dear Onyang, Lee received support and guidance from Professor David McCann, an Emeritus Professor of Korean Literature at Harvard University, Professor Na Won-kyung at the University of Chicago Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, her parents, and her older sister, Lee Yanna. She will be donating all her earnings from Dear Onyang to the Korean War Veterans Association.

44 pp.
LC# 2021938534
Hardcover 26 x 24.5 cm
ISBN-13: 9781565915022
ISBN-10: 1-56591-502-X