Saturday, January 29, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Located in "Massacre Valley" south of Hoengsong, is the monument for the US Second Infantry Division, which suffered hundreds of casualties here on February 12-13, 1951.
In my novel, this is where some of the story takes place.
Friday, January 21, 2011
“When the cold, biting wind howls down from the mountains, I can almost hear their screams and cries riding upon that cold wind.”
When I’ve walk across the frozen Woosong campus here in Daejeon, South Korea (approximately two hours south of Seoul) on my way to school the past few weeks—when it has been so bitterly cold here—and have seen the snow-capped and pine-dotted mountains in the distance, I think about the war, which was fought north of here sixty-one years ago. I think about the men who had to traverse some of those mountains, trying to keep warm and dry during one of the coldest winters on the Korean peninsula. I think about the American blood spilled on the snow-covered ground of Korea, the same way that blood was spilled at Valley Forge and Bastogne. I think about the young men who died here far away from home and loved ones, who would never know warmth again.
And when the cold, biting wind howls down from the mountains, I can almost hear their screams and cries riding upon that cold wind.
Sixty-one years ago, as January came to a close; the Korean War still could have been lost for South Korea and the UN forces, which had come to Korea’s aid. Since November 1950, when the Chinese entered the war, the conflict had become, according to General MacArthur, “an entirely different war.” Those Chinese forces, an unstoppable juggernaut since Kunu-ri and Chosin, had pushed UN forces south of Seoul during the New Year’s Offensive. Poised to strike again around Wonju—a key transportation hub—men of the US Second Infantry Division, as well as French, Netherlands and other UN Forces, were about to turn the tide of the war at the Twin Tunnels and Chipyong-ni. It would not come easy and without cost, especially the casualties, which would befall the Second Infantry Division at Hoengsong February 12-13, 1951.
These were not the names of faraway places, which would become the vernacular of a nation remembering gallant stands and battles. For the generals sending men into harms way, these were names—marked by tiny flags and grease lines on crinkled, yellowed maps. For the hundreds of men who would lose their lives in “Massacre Valley” alone, they would be a cold, scribbled number written under KIA or MIA.
This is what I think about every day, when I see those cold, dark mountains shivering in the distance and the men who could have come from towns like LaSalle, Illinois; Vassar, Michigan; Waterbury Connecticut; San Antonio, Texas; St. Louis, Missouri; Charlotte, North Carolina; Indianapolis, Indiana; Cleveland, Ohio; Wheeling, West Virginia—who found themselves on those hills and mountains, in those frozen paddies and valleys of that so-called “forgotten war.”
This is why I wrote War Remains.
I haven’t forgotten.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Finding the US Second Infantry Division Memorial in "Massacre Valley" near Hoengsong is not too difficult.
First, the monument is visible from the highway; however, if you have trouble finding it, all you have to do is either look for this sign or show this photo to one of the locals to help you get to it.
It is interesting that in Korea, the Korean War is referred to as the "6.25" war.
And what about the cow on the sign?
Hoengsong County is famous for beef.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I thought the area would be more developed but aside from a few modern buildings and the highway, the area was not populated. In the distance is Oum-san, the mountain that Bobby describes in the novel.
This is the valley where the prologue in my novel takes place.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The digest is worth looking at for other interesting blogs about life, travel, culture and history in Asia.
Monday, January 10, 2011
You don't want to get "in the face" of too many folks at social networking sites or on your blog by reminding them to buy your book. On one hand, you don't want to be too aggressive to chase people away; on the other hand, you want to post "friendly reminders" from time to time.
Having a great marketing strategy including book signings are par for the course for marketing any book, but when you get right down to it, the best way to market a book, is still word of mouth.
And that's what one of my friends, blog follower and fellow blogger Nye did on her blog over the weekend by mentioning my novel. Whether or not this is going to translate into any actual sales remains to be seen, but her post is another way of spreading the word. Thanks Nye!
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I am deeply grateful and moved by the following commentary as it was written by the son of a Korean War veteran who fought in the same battles I describe in my novel.
Jeffrey Miller has constructed an insightful novel that explores the devastation that war, even forgotten battles in forgotten wars, can visit upon generations of an American family. The first year of the Korean War saw great victories and devastating defeats for both sides. Miller has the humility to know the horror of battle cannot be adequately described, but still conveys the emotional highs and lows felt by soldiers, veterans, widows, and children. Miller explores the emotional needs of the soldiers and their families to understand the unfathomable and how those needs can be met despite the collective reluctance of veterans and society to confront these stories and the psychological scars they’ve left, even after half a century. This is an impressive, well-researched first novel.
Friday, January 7, 2011
This was the book that started it all.
It was back in early February 2000 when I first came across this book in the Kyobo Book Centre in downtown Seoul. At the time I was a regular contributor to the Korea Times' Thoughts of the Times column in the Op-ed section and I thought that maybe I could do a book review; after all, it was the 50th anniversary year of the start of the Korean War.
This book and the subsequent book review led me on an amazing three-year journey as I "discovered" a forgotten war, just as much as Michael does in War Remains.
I owe a lot to his book and the veterans who penned the stories and poems inside.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I am curious about one thing, how does the book go from 101,345 at 7:00am and two hours later, it's 81,456--except, I haven't sold a book today?
Check out War Remains at Amazon.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Some more praise for War Remains from Andrew Salmon, author of To The Last Round:
In middle-class middle America, the accidental discovery of a missing veteran’s footlocker jogs buried memories of the Korean conflict. This is the starting point for Jeffrey Miller’s “War Remains,” a novel themed around war, amnesia and remembrance that is published, appropriately, on the 60th anniversary year of the conflict’s eruption.
There are few American historians or novelists of the Korean War; fewer still with first-hand knowledge of Korea’s landscapes or people. Miller, an American resident of South Korea and former columnist for The Korea Times, is the exception. Having interviewed dozens of veterans, he is as familiar with the soldier’s gun-sight view of the battlefield as with the big picture presented in cold war political histories.
Miller’s protagonist is a just-married soldier in the US 2nd Infantry Division, an ill-starred unit that endured some of the most hideous battles of the war. As his grandson searches for information about the grandfather he never met, the novel’s switching of locales between millennial USA and 1950-1 Korea carries the contemporary reader deep into this largely unknown but still simmering conflict
Unlike World War II and Vietnam, Korea was never memorably captured in literature or on film. “War Remains” helps fill that gap. Miller’s novel casts vivid light on a forgotten conflict in which superpower grappled with superpower on Asia’s grimmest killing fields, but his real achievement is in the poignant illumination he sheds upon the human cost stemming from statesmen’s failures.