2019 has been a gratifying year. Three months ago, my Cultural Revolution story Hidden Heritage was printed in Cricket Magazine. This month, Cricket published another story of mine: Cheonson and the Admiral!
Like Hidden Heritage, this is a historical; unlike Hidden Heritage, Cheonson and the Admiral is set in 16th century Korea. The aforementioned admiral is Yi Sun-Sin, a brilliant commander who turned the tide against the invading Japanese in the Imjin War (23 wins in 23 naval battles!). As for Cheonson, he was a young cowherd who brought Yi information critical to the Battle at Hansan.
Although Yi’s a national hero to Koreans, he’s relatively unknown in the West, and I have my husband to thank for introducing me to the admiral. He saw a feature film about Yi (The Admiral: Roaring Currents) during a flight to Korea, and it so impressed him he came home gushing about Yi’s trademark turtle ships. So when I saw the “Make a Splash” theme on Cricket’s Call for Submissions website, I figured Yi’s story was worth telling.
However, the tricky thing about writing Cheonson was the lack of reference materials. Korean texts about Yi and the Imjin War abound, but there’s not a whole lot in English. Pretty much only university collections have anything on the subject, and fortunately, Stanford University’s library has a limited public access policy so I was able to see the few books they had about Yi.
I was also fortunate to have friends help me with story details (thanks, Dorthy and Esther!). I’m of Chinese descent so I had a level of comfortability depicting the Bao family of Hidden Heritage. Cheonson and the Admiral was definitely outside my culture, and I was grateful that my Korean-American friends and their Korean-born parents were willing to vet out my portrayal of Koreans in the Imjin War.
I’m thrilled Cheonson and the Admiral made it into the world, and I hope you get to enjoy it in Cricket’s May/June 2019 issue!