Almost 70 years ago, a US merchant marine ship picked up more than 14,000 refugees in a single trip from a North Korean port.
It was Christmas Day in 1950 and 14,000 North Korean refugees were crammed into a US merchant marine ship, fleeing the advancing guns of the Chinese army. There was barely enough room on board to stand – and there wasn’t much medical equipment, either. And this was no ordinary birth.
“The midwife had to use her teeth to cut my umbilical cord,” Lee Gyong-pil tells me some 69 years on. “People said the fact that I didn’t die and was born was a Christmas miracle.” Mr Lee was the fifth baby born on the SS Meredith Victory that winter, during some of the darkest days of the Korean War.
The Meredith Victory’s three-day voyage saved thousands of lives, including the parents of the current President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in. It also earned the cargo freighter a nickname – the Ship of Miracles. Read more