Study Guide

The Orphan Master's Son

The Orphan Master's Son Summary

Part One

We're introduced to Pak Jun Do, a North Korean boy who begins life in an poor orphanage. He's convinced that the Orphan Master is actually his father and that the beautiful woman in a photo hanging from his wall is his mother.

Jun Do has heavy responsibilities at the orphanage, including naming all the new boys, portioning out the meager rations, and assigning the boys to dangerous work details. He does everything he's asked, sometimes making some morally questionable decisions in the process.

When he's 14, Jun Do becomes a tunnel soldier in the military. It's dangerous work usually doled out to orphans, who are considered expendable. After some years, Jun Do's conscripted into kidnapping work because of his skills at fighting in the dark. Even though he feels twinges of conscience—especially when he contributes to the death of an innocent Japanese woman—he does everything he's told. He's rewarded with a trip to language school, where he learns English.

Jun Do is then put to work on a fishing vessel, intercepting and translating international radio communications. He eventually forms bonds with the Captain and the young Second Mate, who share his enthusiasm for the broadcasts of two American female rowers attempting to cross the Pacific Ocean. Jun Do feels special sympathy with the night shift rower.

One day, the fishing boat is boarded by an American naval crew. The Second Mate tries to stand up to them, but the Captain intervenes. Jun Do does a very bad job pretending to be a fisherman, and the Captain decides to give him a chest tattoo like the rest of the crew so that he'll fit in better. He chooses the beautiful actress Sun Moon as his "chest wife."

The crewmembers make up an elaborate story about the Americans boarding their vessel and tell it to interrogators when they get to shore. The Second Mate is made a hero, and the crew puts back out to sea in good standing. But things fall apart.

The rowers find themselves in trouble. Jun Do and the Second Mate realize that some ghostly transmissions they'd received are really from the International Space Station, which defies their North Korean notions that the whole world is in conflict and out to get North Korea. The Second Mate, disillusioned, uses a life raft to defect—and Jun Do can't stop him.

To cover up, the remaining crew makes up a story about a second American boarding of their ship. In this version, the Second Mate is thrown to the sharks. The crewmembers give Jun Do a shark bite to authenticate the story. But this time they're not so lucky. Jun Do gets the snot beaten out of him by an interrogator—though he is later declared a hero.

Jun Do recovers at the house of the Second Mate's wife, who is waiting to be reassigned a swank new husband in Pyongyang. It soon becomes clear that she won't get her wish. Jun Do is sent on a mission to America with Dr. Song and Comrade Buc, who is Sun Moon's neighbor. They are to negotiate the return of a nuclear material detector that North Korea had stolen from Japan and the Americans had confiscated.

Once in Texas, the Senator's wife and a security specialist called Wanda befriend Jun Do, especially after seeing his wounds. Wanda gives him a special camera that will send images directly to her phone via satellite. The Senator's wife gives him a dog for his supposed wife, Sun Moon.

But things don't go well: the Koreans don't get the equipment back, and they're in trouble. Once back, the interrogator sends Jun Do with some "medics" to a prison camp in the North. He doesn't understand why he's being imprisoned.

Jun Do meets Mongnan, who photographs all newcomers and all the deceased. The medics enlist his help in draining the dying of their blood supply. Mongnan helps him gather what he needs to survive, and she promises to help him. We're told that this is the last we'll hear of Jun Do.

Part Two

This section opens with a first-person narrative from someone called the Interrogator, an otherwise nameless character who performs "soft torture" on enemies of the North Korean state. He tells the story of meeting Commander Ga for the first time in Division 42—interrogation headquarters. It becomes clear that this is not really Ga, the military state hero, sworn enemy of Kim Jong Il, and husband of Sun Moon.

This guy's been brought in because Sun Moon and her children are missing, and "Ga" is the prime suspect in their murders. The Interrogator has to get a confession. We understand that "Ga" is really Jun Do when he begins to talk about his experiences in Prison 33, including his encounter with and murder of the real Commander Ga in the prison mines. Jun Do assumes Ga's identity and shows up at Sun Moon's house, ready to take on the duties of a good husband.

What follows is an intertwined narrative: we get the present timeline in Division 42 broken up with the recollection of what landed "Ga" in the torture emporium. It turns out that the Dear Leader is okay with Jun Do pretending to be Ga—he needs "Ga" in order to pull off a visit by the American Senator and crew, who will be trading the nuclear material detector for the kidnapped American rower. "Ga" meets the imprisoned woman and takes her picture with Wanda's camera.

In the present timeline, the Interrogator takes his crew into the "sump," a dungeon beneath Division 42. Here, we meet Comrade Buc, who has lost his entire family and has been tortured. He tells them that Sun Moon was not murdered; she simply "flew away"—that is, she defected to America. The Interrogator doesn't believe him. Buc will eventually take his own life by eating peaches tainted with botulism.

Sun Moon and "Ga" begin to have a real relationship, after initial hesitation. At an official shindig, the Dear Leader declares Jun Do to be the real Commander Ga, which makes him Sun Moon's official replacement husband. "Ga" tells Sun Moon how he killed her husband in the mines.

As the Interrogator's character develops, we realize that he is a lonely and miserable person. His aging mother and father, already paranoid that they might be denounced, are terrified of their torturer son and don't treat him as family. When he gets hold of "Ga's" cell phone, he realizes that he would have nobody to call even if he could. He begins to have an identity crisis.

Back on "Ga's" timeline, we see that he's really bonding with Sun Moon and her kids. They go to the Martyrs' Cemetery, where he confronts the bust of Pak Jun Do, his namesake. He tells the children stories that they love and teaches them survival skills, really acting the part of a father. "Ga" also remembers the death of the Captain, who dies at his hands in the prison camp. He is devastated by this loss.

The Interrogator's life begins to fall apart in a big way. He's mysteriously losing members of his team, and he understands that things aren't as the state says. He and his team visit Buc's and Sun Moon's houses and find very little. But he does understand that Sun Moon had come to love "Ga," and he is baffled by this. He questions "Ga" about how he managed to get Sun Moon's love.

"Ga" makes discoveries around Sun Moon's house: a hidden laptop, cigarettes, and so on. He and Sun Moon watch Casablanca, a movie he brought back from America. Sun Moon realizes that she, like Ingrid Bergman's character in the movie, must leave the country. She and "Ga" make plans to defect.

When "Ga" visits Buc at the Texas-style ranch they're constructing for the American visit, he tells him about the upcoming defection. Buc is furious, because now he's implicated. He convinces "Ga" to stay and take the rap for Sun Moon's defection.

At the last minute, the ranch has to be moved to the airport, since the Americans won't leave the tarmac. "Ga" and the Dear Leader visit the rower again. This time, the Dear Leader confesses that he'd like to keep the rower for himself. "Ga" takes the opportunity to get a message to Wanda about Sun Moon by having the rower write a note and taking a picture of it.

The Dear Leader informs Sun Moon that she will perform for the Americans, and he gives her a guitar. He also makes her clean up the American rower. The two women pour their hearts out to each other, but neither understands what the other is saying.

In the present timeline, the Interrogator wants to visit the former site of the Texas-style ranch because he thinks that Sun Moon's body might be buried there—but his intern Jujack is hesitant. His more brutal intern Q-Kee senses that Jujack's keeping information from them.

When they don't find anything, Q-Kee denounces Jujack to the Pubyok and then kills him during a torture session. They learn that the ranch had been moved to the airport and that Sun Moon disappeared from there. Q-Kee now becomes Pubyok, and the Interrogator is totally alone.

Sun Moon and "Ga" spend their last night together before her defection. He wants to tell the children his real life story, but it doesn't work out. The Dear Leader summons Sun Moon, and "Ga" is crushed—he's worried that the Dear Leader will "touch her." We learn that the Dear Leader has gifts for Sun Moon: three dresses to wear for the Americans, the promise to finally show her last movie and have her mother at the premiere, and three new movies for her to star in.

Moreover, the Dear Leader wants his old relationship with Sun Moon back. When Sun Moon returns, she tells "Ga" her story so that she can be intimate with him. And then they get intimate with each other. Sun Moon senses that "Ga" won't be going with her.

The disillusioned Interrogator flees from Division 42 for a week. When he returns, he sees Commander Park and soon learns that Park's cut the tattoo off "Ga's" chest. He also learns that "Ga" will be branded with a huge, Texas-style cattle brand in the soccer stadium at dawn.

The Interrogator makes a quick decision. He returns home and feeds his parents the remaining can of botulism-tainted peaches and then returns to Division 42. He won't allow the officials to have either "Ga" or himself, so he hooks them both up to the "autopilot." He intends to erase both their identities and give them a new life, but he sees "Ga" crank up the voltage to a lethal dose.

We now get the final scene at the airport. After singing for the Americans, Sun Moon and her children are stowed in barrels meant for food aid and are carried toward the American plane on a forklift by Comrade Buc. But there is a commotion. The American rower panics and makes a run for the plane. The Americans bolt, and Buc races toward the plane, only to be stopped by Commander Park. "Ga" sics his dog on Park, which frees Buc—but then the dog is shot.

Finally, the Dear Leader realizes that Sun Moon is missing, and "Ga" tells him that he's taken the "ultimate" from him. And that's when "Ga" is sent to the Pubyok to be tortured. He feels immense satisfaction at having determined his own life course for himself, even if it did mean losing Sun Moon.

In the end, we get the state version of Sun Moon's disappearance and Commander Ga's heroic death. The Propaganda boys depict Ga as a super macho hero who chases down Sun Moon's plane and clings to the wings as it ascends with a kidnapped Sun Moon inside. At Sun Moon's suggestion, he uses his body as a missile to attack an American naval vessel in the ocean below. The voice on the loudspeaker encourages the citizens to cheer up: after all, Ga will get a bust in the Martyrs' Cemetery and be a hero of the state for all eternity.

  • Prologue

    • We hear an official daily broadcast on the loudspeakers that are in each and every North Korean household.
    • The "news" consists of miraculous signs relating to the Dear Leader (Kim Jong Il) and warnings to North Korean citizens not to catch up their children in pigeon traps—and not to look up at the stars.
    • The voice on the loudspeaker also tells of "acts of American aggression" toward a North Korean fishing vessel (you'll hear more about this later).
    • The news becomes a kind of defense of North Korean society. Of course North Koreans don't kidnap people (everyone wants to live there, after all).
    • Also, killing sharks for fins is apparently not cruelty to animals.
    • The mention of sharks brings the broadcast to Commander Ga, the hero and Tae Kwan Do champion who eats a bowl of shark fin soup before each competition. We also hear about the lovely national actress Sun Moon, Ga's wife, who toughed it out with heartless sharks in one of her films.
    • The Voice warns the citizens not to believe the rumors about Ga and Sun Moon having problems. Outside sources are just making stuff up.
    • The broadcast ends with promises of advice on how to be thrifty with rationed food and supplies. Finally, there is a treat: a performance by a "guest" opera singer called the "Lovely Visitor."
  • Part 1, Pages 7-20

    Part One: The Biography of Jun Do

    • We're introduced to Jun Do, a young boy living in a North Korean orphanage called Long Tomorrows.
    • Jun Do calls himself the son of the Orphan Master—the man who runs the orphanage and takes care of the boys there.
    • Jun Do guesses that his mother is a singer in a photograph on the Orphan Master's wall.
    • Jun Do knows that he's not really an orphan, for a few reasons: he's been in the orphanage longer than anyone else, he's had heavy responsibilities, and he's never been adopted. Also, the Orphan Master loves to punish him. Severely. Only a man hurting from the abandonment of his lover could treat his child that way, Jun Do thinks.
    • We learn about life at Long Tomorrows. The children are not really meant for families; they're meant for factories and other workplaces.
    • Jun Do names orphans as they arrive at Long Tomorrows. He chooses their names from a list of the 114 Grand Martyrs of the Revolution.
    • Jun Do also assigns the orphans to work details as the need arises—like when massive flooding sweeps the area and the army needs the orphans to help "hook" people from the river.
    • A deaf orphan named Bo Song is dragged into the swollen river when he attempts to catch someone. They never see him again.
    • The floods begin a period of famine (called "The Arduous March") in North Korea.
    • The Orphan Master resorts to desperate moves: he burns the children's bunks for warmth and then sends them all off with the army to begin their military career early.
    • Jun Do is 14 and becomes a "tunnel soldier," patrolling the tunnels that run under the DMZ into South Korea.
    • Officer So finds him in the tunnels, assumes he is an orphan because of his Martyr's name (Jun Do denies this) and "recruits" him into a new detail: kidnapping for the state.
    • Jun Do winds up on a fishing boat with Officer So and a translator named Gil. They take off for the Japanese coast.
    • Gil tries to teach Jun Do some Japanese to help him in this new task. Jun Do wonders why Gil doesn't do the kidnapping, since he can speak the language. But Jun Do is needed because he can fight in the dark.
    • We learn that Gil's former job was mapping landmines—but not with metal detectors, if you catch our drift. The crummy job makes Jun Do suspect that Gil is an orphan, but the man denies it.
    • Jun Do is sent onshore to kidnap a lone Japanese man who is out for a walk with his dog. It's a struggle, but Jun Do wins out. The dog is left howling on the shore after his master, and Jun Do is haunted by this.
    • Jun Do's also annoyed that neither Gil nor Officer So helped him out at all. He's completely over the kidnapping business. In his mind, anyway.
    • Back on land, the three men stay at a military base. The kidnapped man finds himself in a "hot box" while the others stay inside the infirmary.
    • There's a 16-year-old boy dying from something (malnutrition? tetanus?) on a cot nearby. The MPs are waiting for the boy to get sicker so that they can siphon his entire blood supply to help treat the wealthy in Pyongyang.
    • Jun Do thinks over his recent experience with the Japanese man. Like Bo Song and his mother, the man will now just be gone to everyone who knew him.
    • Jun Do allows himself to remember his mother from the picture in the Orphan Master's room. He knows this is dangerous: rousing the imagination brings the missing person back into his life.
    • This is not always a pleasant experience.
    • Officer So tells Jun Do that they have one more practice run before the real mission: to "acquire" a Japanese opera singer called Rumina.
    • Jun Do asks Officer So if it's true that he might be rewarded for doing a hard job. So asks if Jun Do has something in mind, but he says that he doesn't.
    • Then Jun Do asks what will happen to the Japanese guy they kidnapped. Officer So tells him to leave it be.
    • Jun Do asks if he might ask for a person as his reward. So assures him that he can.
  • Part 1, Pages 20-34

    • The three men make their next trip to the resort island of Dogo, hoping to catch a lone tourist. They come upon an "empty" boat and decide to take it—until the diver it belongs to surfaces. Jun Do has to take care of him.
    • So tells the guys that they need more practice.
    • Officer So sends both Gil and Jun Do onshore to take the next guy. When they reach land, they see a totally different world: individual houses, plum trees with fruit, a person sleeping on a bench.
    • Gil is entranced by all of it and wants to experience life in this new place. Jun Do has a bad reaction to it: he doesn't want to see that other people live well when he's starved and had to do immoral things to survive.
    • When they get close to their intended victim, the men realize that it's a woman—not a man. Gil wavers.
    • Jun Do and Gil pick her up and put her on the rail of the pier, intending to throw her into the sea so that Officer So can retrieve her. She speaks to them in Japanese—and then over she goes.
    • The cell phone the woman had been using is left behind on the pier. Jun Do can hear a woman's voice on the other end calling for "Mayumi."
    • It becomes clear that Officer So isn't in the right place to pick the Japanese woman up. Gil reveals that the woman had said that she couldn't swim. Jun Do can't believe Gil didn't stop him from chucking her over.
    • They men have taken the Japanese woman's cell phone with them, and now it is vibrating. Gil answers it and can hear a mother's voice on the other end. When Jun Do touches the screen to hang up, a picture of a baby pops up as the wallpaper.
    • When the men return from their botched kidnapping attempt, Officer So makes plans for the Real Thing. Jun Do and Gil will take a ferry to Japan and meet up with So after they've got Rumina.
    • The men arrive in Chongjin (the port), and Gil makes them go into the ruins of Long Tomorrows. Jun Do isn't pleased.
    • Gil sees the chart of the Martyr's names on the wall and asks Jun Do the story of his name. Pak Jun Do was a soldier who had to prove his loyalty as a soldier by killing himself.
    • Gil wonders why Jun Do would ever have chosen that name for himself. Jun Do explains that the "martyr" passed the "ultimate loyalty test."
    • Jun Do tells Gil that his father allowed him to have an orphan's name because he was ashamed of how he was forced to raise his son. He refuses to tell Gil his mother's name.
    • As they get closer to Rumina, Jun Do wonders how she would spend this day if she knew it was her last.
    • Jun Do and Gil go to the opera in Niigata to hear Rumina sing. Jun Do has no idea what he's hearing—all of this is new to him. Gil is into it.
    • Both Jun Do and Gil pretend that they're not really in town to kidnap anyone—they have to tell themselves another story to get through it.
    • Out on the town, the men see and try out things that don't exist in North Korea, like advertisements and vending machines.
    • Gil and Jun Do make some essential purchases for their evening escapade. Then they decide to go into a bar and drink—always a good plan when you've got to go kidnapping, we guess.
    • Gil flirts with the female bartender and begins to show signs of liking Japanese life. Jun Do is more resistant.
    • Gil encourages Jun Do to think about getting away to Japan—to reinvent himself. This would be especially easy for him, since he is an orphan. Jun Do tells Gil again that he isn't an orphan.
    • Jun Do decides he'd really like kick Gil's butt, but then Gil realizes it, too. Gil backs off and apologizes.
    • Gil and Jun Do arrive at the artists' village, where Rumina is staying. Gil attacks her in bed and manages to duct tape her up and stuff her in a duffle bag.
    • Then Gil and Jun Do ransack Rumina's place for anything useful. But Jun Do doesn't know what that might be. He grabs the dress Rumina wore in that evening's performance. Gil has no idea what he could be thinking.
    • Gil and Jun Do dump the duffel bag into a "borrowed" cart and push their victim down to the beach, where Officer So is meant to be waiting for them in a boat.
    • But things quickly get out of control. Gil disappears behind Jun Do, who is struggling to keep the cart from breaking away from his grip.
    • And then the cart flies out of control, dumping Rumina into the sand. When Jun Do opens the bag, Rumina thinks he is her savior. At least for a minute.
    • Rumina tries to talk Jun Do out of kidnapping her. Jun Do demands to know how one of her songs (about two lovers) ends. He puts a distinctly North Korean spin on his interpretation of it. Rumina tries to leverage his curiosity to get out of the situation, but no dice.
    • Jun Do meets up with Officer So and has to tell him that Gil has gone missing.
    • Officer So makes Jun Do understand that if they return to North Korea without Gil, they'll be sent to the prison mines.
  • Part 1, Pages 34-62

    • Jun Do makes his way back to town in the hopes of dragging Gil back home.
    • Jun Do finds Gil back at the bar, flirting outrageously with the bartender. He has no intention of going back with Jun Do.
    • Jun Do tries to reason with Gil: doesn't Gil worry about what will happen to his family if he defects? Not so much.
    • Jun Do has to resort to force. He places a nylon noose around Gil's neck. Gil tells the bartender that he's being kidnapped to North Korea. She takes a picture of him with her phone.
    • Jun Do steals a motorcycle and heads with Gil to the shore to meet up with Officer So and the captive Rumina.
    • Officer So is exultant at Gil's capture, but Jun Do tells him that he promised not to speak of it once they get back North Korea. It's clear that So has no idea of honoring that promise.
    • Gil accuses Jun Do of becoming just like the heartless Officer So, who relishes the thought of watching Gil's punishment.
    • Gil reminds So and Jun Do that this won't be the end of their kidnapping runs. Other members of the North Korean elite will want opera singers of their own.
    • Jun Do finally gets a chance to look at Rumina, who is battered from the kidnapping. She looks at him accusingly, but he tells her he had no choice in the matter. She kicks him in the face—and then tells him to die.
    • Jun Do realizes that this is the ending of the story in the opera that night: death for the lovers.
    • Gil was right: the kidnapping of Rumina was not the last one. These kidnappings go on for years.
    • When it's all over, Jun Do is sent to language school, as Gil had been before him. But Jun Do isn't there to learn to speak English. He's there to transcribe it.
    • In a year, Jun Do is sent to a "listening post" on a fishing boat called "Junma." Jun Do listens for radio transmissions that might be of interest to the DPRK, but mostly he hears chatter.
    • The crew doesn't like having Jun Do around. The Captain, who is jittery about being caught in international waters and imprisoned, hates tracking down radio signals.
    • Jun Do gains some popularity when he finds the broadcasts of two American female rowers who are attempting to row across the world.
    • Jun Do is especially interested in the girl who rows at night, since he has spent so much time in the darkness of the tunnels.
    • Jun Do listens to the stories of people on the radio and begins to get involved with them in his imagination. And then he stumbles upon a mystery.
    • Jun Do seems to be picking up a conversation involving an American and a Russian that takes place at the bottom of the sea. He has no idea what to think.
    • The crew is busy fishing for sharks (remember the bit about cruelty to sharks in the Prologue?).
    • The Captain, we find out, had been imprisoned on a Russian vessel for four years.
    • Generally, the fishermen's life is a good one, especially compared to the fate of citizens on the land. They don't have to listen to broadcasts over loudspeakers. And there's food.
    • The fishermen warm up to Jun Do, who they jokingly call Third Mate, since he gives them updates on the female rowers.
    • The Second Mate insists that the American rowers must be sexy—because only a sexy girl thinks she can do anything. He's speaking from experience, because, apparently, his wife is a hottie. The crew wonders how he found a beautiful wife.
    • Jun Do realizes that the crewmembers all have tattoos of their wives' faces over their hearts. He learns that the Captain's wife was "repurposed"—given to someone else—when he was with the Russians.
    • The Second Mate is particularly obsessed with the rowers. He also wants to know everything about cities outside of North Korea. He chats with Jun Do because has been outside North Korea.
    • Jun Do tells the Second Mate about the voices at the bottom of the ocean—and how he thinks there's some kind of conspiracy against North Korea.
    • The Second Mate wonders why Jun Do thinks the Americans and Russians are up to no good. Jun Do tells him that submarines can't possibly mean peace.
    • The Captain of the Junma gets a call from the maritime Minister in Chongjin. He has an order: get some live shrimp for the military bigwigs (perhaps even the Head Honcho).
    • The ship has to go to cold waters for this maneuver, which means stepping outside of North Korean borders. That means the possibility of capture and jail time.
    • The Captain, who has already served time, does not like this one bit. He recalls that he negotiated for his crew to be released, but he stayed.
    • The Captain tells the about his time in the gutting hold of a Russian fishing vessel. The crew would take in a large haul and funnel the flapping fish on top of the prisoners in the hold. They could only get out by gutting them.
    • One time, the crew took in a huge haul of huge squids and dropped them—angry and ready to do attack—into the hold of the ship, right on top of the prisoners. The Captain remembers a young Vietnamese boy who didn't come out of that experience in one piece. He's clearly haunted by the experience and doesn't want to risk such imprisonment again.
    • The crew brings the vessel into cold waters—in other words, Russian territory. They have to work in stealth and under cover of darkness, hoping not to run aground in the shallows.
    • But the crew finds something other than shrimp: a shipment full of Nike sneakers, probably washed up from a lost shipping container.
    • The crew fishes up hundreds of shoes—mostly non-matching pairs—and heads back south. The Second Mate "mix-matches" a pair of shoes (one red/white and one blue), which he calls his "America shoes."
    • The crew happens upon an upwelling of shrimp and scoops them up. But soon, they realize that an American frigate has found them.
    • The American sailors board the Junma with a South Korean sailor acting as translator.
    • The South Korean is immediately suspicious of Jun Do because he doesn't look like a fisherman. He asks Jun Do to empty the haul of shrimp into the live well, but Jun Do botches it.
    • Pak (the South Korean) immediately calls Jun Do a spy, but the Americans tell him to chill. They realize how dinky the Junma is and tell Pak that the people on this ship can't do much harm.
    • In fact, the Americans feel a little bit sorry for the Junma. One man (called Jervis) calls for sailors on the frigate to send down a fire extinguisher for the Junma to keep. Jun Do also asks for a life raft, in English.
    • One of the sailors takes the picture of Kim Jong Il from the pilothouse. Pak suddenly changes his tone, because he knows it will be very serious for the fishermen if they come back without it.
    • Another sailor comes out with a portrait of Kim Il Sung. Pak says that the men could be put to death for the theft of those portraits, but the Americans don't listen.
    • Another sailor takes the Captain's hat and puts it on. The Second Mate snaps. He pulls a knife on him. The Americans draw weapons, and Jun Do has to talk the Second Mate down.
    • Jervis is impressed and gives Jun Do his card. Then he orders his men off the vessel.
  • Part 1, Pages 62-75

    • The crew isn't sure if the Captain will take them back to North Korea after the humiliating meeting they've had with the Americans or if he'll just sink the ship instead.
    • The Captain's pretty annoyed with Jun Do for being unable to act like a fisherman even after spending three months with fishermen. If Jun Do could have pulled it off, Pak might not have been suspicious of them.
    • Jun Do reminds the Captain that he's not an intelligence officer—he's just a linguist.
    • The Captain tells Jun Do that he should at least have pretended he was a journalist or a scientist studying shrimp. He reminds Jun Do not to be fooled by the good will gestures of the Americans.
    • Now, the crew needs to come up with a story that will adequately explain what happened to their flag and to the portraits of the Dear Leader (Kim Jong Il) and the Great Leader (Kim Il Sung).
    • The Captain emphasizes that in North Korea, all people care about are usable stories.
    • The machinist suggests that they say a fire started and that the portraits burned in it. He will also say that he burned his hands trying to save the portrait. Of course, this means he'll really have to burn them.
    • The Second Mate chimes in to say that the fire started because of cheap Chinese fuel. The First Mate one-ups him by revising it to "tainted South Korean fuel."
    • The pilot says that he burned his hair off trying to save the portraits.
    • Only Jun Do is silent. He finally says that he poured buckets of water.
    • The Captain is not impressed with this contribution. They need something heroic to feed the propaganda machine.
    • The crewmembers decide that they can't explain their huge haul of Nike shoes, so they dump them all overboard. The Second Mate, who'd ditched his old pair of shoes, chucks his "America shoes" and has to remain barefoot.
    • Jun Do tries his hand at storytelling again: he will speak of the Second Mate's bravery, about how he took on the entire American Navy with a knife. The Captain thinks this is much better.
    • The crewmembers know they also have to throw the American fire extinguisher and the life raft overboard, but it's hard—they really need that stuff.
    • The Captain decides to deploy the life raft, just to see how it works. It's perfect and new and would fit all of them, but they watch it sail away.
    • The crew returns to Kinjye port and finds a "welcome party" waiting for them. They are Party officials who heard the radio transmissions from the American frigate—and they want an explanation.
    • Jun Do tells the agreed-upon story to a reporter and pretends to be humble enough not to give his name. The reporter is impressed, and Jun Do learns that it really is all about a "usable" story.
    • Jun Do goes back to his squat in the canning master's house, and the Second Mate is taken off by a scary older man who has clearly served in the military as an interrogator (not the nice kind—of there even is a nice kind).
    • We learn that no one else wants to live in the old canning master's house because of something awful that happened to him and his family. Jun Do doesn't much care about ghosts.
    • Jun Do's homemade transmitter is in pieces on the table, still waiting to be finished. He doesn't know what he would broadcast with it, so his progress has been slow.
    • But now Jun Do's going to rig the antenna on the roof, under the cover of darkness (he's not supposed to be doing any of this).
    • In the morning, the Second Mate appears at Jun Do's door. He is quite drunk.
    • The Second Mate tells Jun Do that he's been made a hero—with medals and a pension—for standing up to the American Navy. It appears that his story really was convincing.
    • Jun Do and the Second Mate have a drink, and the Second Mate reveals his beautiful wife, who is standing outside the canning master's house, waiting for him. She is afraid of ghosts.
    • The conversation reveals more about the "something" that happened to the canning master's family: it happened in the nursery upstairs, and it had something to do with survival.
    • The Second Mate also doesn't believe in ghosts. He thinks they are more like something you feel or know is there but can't actually see. He uses the example of an amputee feeling a missing limb.
    • Jun Do says he doesn't believe that ghosts are dead. He thinks of them as living but just out of reach. The Second Mate uses the Captain's absent wife as an example.
    • The Second Mate thinks that Jun Do believes in ghosts because he is an orphan, and the Captain said that orphans are always after something they don't have.
    • Jun Do gets annoyed and lists all the other unflattering things people say about orphans. The Second Mate tells him to chill; but the Captain did say that orphans don't know about loyalty.
    • Jun Do makes his usual move: he reminds the Second Mate that he's not really an orphan.
    • The Second Mate is like, "Sure, sure..."—but then he reminds Jun Do that orphans are always chosen for special military service that requires a lack of empathy for other people.
    • The Second Mate doesn't understand why Jun Do didn't just defect to a freer country, since he doesn't have any family in North Korea that the government could torture.
    • Jun Do wants to tell the Second Mate that he can't leave because he's trying to figure out his past and maybe get news of his mother—whoever she is.
    • Instead, Jun Do tells the Second Mate to go to the Captain for stitches, but the Second Mate reminds him that he can't go to the hospital now because he's a hero.
    • The Junma is blinged out with new portraits, a new galley, and a bathroom, and it's sent back out to sea. Jun Do goes along.
    • The Captain shows the crew something else they've received: a hand grenade. They're supposed to blow up the Junma if the Americans board them again.
    • But the Captain throws the grenade into the sea. Nothing happens.
    • The crew examines the "new" life raft, which is an old provision from Russia.
    • The Captain produces his own tattoo kit in order to make Jun Do an official member of the crew. But since Jun Do doesn't have a wife, he'll have to improvise.
    • The crew decides to make the national actress Sun Moon Jun Do's "wife"—at least for the purposes of a chest tattoo.
    • Jun Do wants to know the point of tattooing your wife's face on your chest.
    • The Captain says it's for the Americans: he'll look like a legitimate fisherman if he also has a tattoo. The pilot tells Jun Do it's so they can identify your body if you drown. The First Mate says it's to keep them faithful to their wives.
    • The Captain finally comes up with the most sentimental reason: the tattoo is there in order to place your wife in your heart forever. Jun Do wants to know if this will place Sun Moon in his heart forever.
    • The Captain tells Jun Do not to worry—she's just an actress. And as Jun Do has never seen her movies, he's in no danger.
    • It turns out that the Captain is a pretty good tattoo artist. As he works, he and the crew fill Jun Do in on his new "wife."
    • We learn that Sun Moon was discovered by Kim Jong Il—and that he forbade her to marry. But Commander Ga came along—a true military legend—and demanded Sun Moon as a reward for his excellence at taekwondo.
    • Now, the Captain says, Sun Moon is a sad wife with two children.
  • Part 1, Pages 75-90

    • As Jun Do recovers from his tattoo experience, he thinks about his nocturnal rower girl. He finds her signal and learns that she and her partner are in trouble—their guidance system is broken.
    • Jun Do hears the rower girl saying that there is a ship without lights by them; she has shot a flare. The rowers need rescuing, but Jun Do can't do it (since he is actually a spy, not a fisherman).
    • Jun Do hears something like gunfire on the broadcast and runs to see if he can spot the flare. He can't.
    • Jun Do is freaked out about "his" rowers, but he can't do anything for them. Instead, he pours seawater on his aching tattoo to prevent infection, and he sends a silent message to the rowers to hang on.
    • The routine on the Junma kicks in: the crew catches sharks and listens to the radio at night.
    • Jun Do wants to hear from the rowers, but the Captain likes hearing Russian workers on oil rigs singing.
    • Jun Do scans the radio waves and hears someone reading English sonnets, which helps him practice his spoken English. Basically, he's killing time till he can hear from the rowers.
    • The crew starts talking smack about the female rowers. They make all kinds of innuendos based on the women's strength and "obvious" masculinity. Jun Do is not amused.
    • The First Mate cuts up a shark that has shark pups inside it. The Captain kicks them into the water.
    • Despite his disappointment about the rowers, Jun Do feels like part of a team when he's working near the rest of the crew. It's a sense of belonging that is rare for him.
    • As he continues to scan the radio, the Second Mate picks up that his "ghost Americans" have turned up again. This time, the American is playing chess with the Russian—and there's a Japanese accent, too.
    • Jun Do and the Second Mate still think the voices are coming from under the sea, so they unhook the antenna and aim it about, trying to find the source. But they hear nothing from the water. The Captain points to the sky, where there is a light moving through the stars. They fix the antenna on that, and the broadcast comes in strong.
    • These guys have been tuning in to the International Space Station. The Second Mate is in disbelief, since these men—their enemies—are hanging out together, just playing a game.
    • It's not as Jun Do said. The Americans and Russians not conspiring to do harm to North Korea. They don't even care about North Korea. The Second Mate realizes they really are together for peaceful purposes.
    • Jun Do awakes one morning to see the Second Mate floating in the life raft off the side of the Junma, loading it with provisions. He's in the process of defecting.
    • Jun Do tries to tell the Second Mate that bad things happen to people who try to defect and are caught. Also, the guy's wife will be sent to a labor camp.
    • But the Second Mate doesn't really care about her, since she doesn't really want to be his wife, anyway. He also doesn't seem to care about what will happen to the rest of the crew.
    • The Second Mate's encounter with the sounds of the crew on the International Space Station really changed his understanding of the world—and North Korea's place in it. He wants something better now.
    • The crewmembers now have to decide what to do to save their own skins after the Second Mate's defection.
    • They begin to concoct a story that the government will like.
    • After several revisions, they decide to say that the Americans came back for the Second Mate and threw him to the sharks. The crew threw the life raft to him, but the sharks ate it.
    • The Captain adds an important embellishment: one of the crewmembers bravely jumped into the shark-infested sea in an attempt to save the Second Mate.
    • It becomes clear that Jun Do is earmarked to be the brave one who jumped into the shark fight. The Captain tells him it's because he needs to learn a lesson in loyalty.
    • The Captain emphasizes that the crew is Jun Do's family, and he needs to prove his loyalty to them by getting a convincing shark bite on his arm.
    • So the crewmembers catch a shark and let it clamp on to Jun Do's arm.
    • Jun Do knows that the story they've made up is unbelievable—but it's one that the authorities will just love.
    • The crewmembers of the Junma radio in about their unfortunate encounter and are met at the port by, well, everyone.
    • A doctor examines Jun Do's shark bite and gives him a pint of blood, which Jun Do has to hold up by himself.
    • Jun Do gives a short version of the story to a Minister and reporter, but then the scary old man from before appears. It's his turn to "work" with Jun Do.
    • Jun Do and the old man go to an abandoned cannery, where Jun Do tries to figure out exactly who this guy is. He learns that the old man was a soldier and then an "inspector."
    • The old man tells Jun Do that they found the Second Mate that morning. So, basically, he knows that their story is a lie. Jun Do knows he needs to stick to his story, since he has nothing else.
    • The old man tells Jun Do that the Second Mate will never be seen again—but Jun Do sticks to his guns and tells him that he should have respect for his dead, heroic friend.
    • Next comes the interrogation. Between blows, the old man tries to get Jun Do to go back on his story. But Jun Do not only sticks to his story, he also gives it realistic details.
    • In his mind, Jun Do recalls training with his pain mentor, Kimsan, who likened pain to an encounter with the flame of a candle.
    • But the old man still tries to break Jun Do by telling him that he and his fellow crewmembers are going off to the labor camps.
    • Jun Do keeps on with his story, describing what it was like to jump into the ocean and be bitten by a shark.
    • The old man keeps beating Jun Do and telling him that his story is a load of hooey.
    • Jun Do focuses on his pain training and retreats so far into himself that he sees a little boy there, smiling away, with no knowledge of what Jun Do is going through on the outside.
    • Jun Do's gotten so far into his own reality that he actually believes his own story. He begins to cry about not being able to save the Second Mate from the sharks.
    • But Jun Do makes a mistake when recounting the Second Mate's last words: it conflicts with his first assertion that he died praising the Dear Leader.
    • Jun Do admits that the whole thing is a lie. But he's so emotional and convincing that the old man feels he has enough to confirm his story. After all, he's not after truth; he just needs a good story to bring back to his superiors, who need a good story to broadcast over the loudspeakers.
    • Jun Do wants to know what will happen to the Second Mate's wife. He learns that she's not going to Pyongyang as she had hoped—she's going to be assigned a new husband in the sticks.
    • Now Jun Do is a hero: the old man is pleased with his story. Jun Do is stunned, since his story is obviously a lie. The old man tells him that facts don't really exist.
    • Jun Do's mind wanders, and he asks where "they" are—referring to the rowers.
  • Part 1, Pages 91-112

    • Jun Do wakes up in the room of the Second Mate's wife. He's all kinds of messed up from his encounter with the old man.
    • Jun Do listens to the "news" from the loudspeaker during the day, and then the Second Mate's wife comes home from her work in the cannery to take care of him. He can't move on his own.
    • The Second Mate's wife takes care of Jun Do's wounds and notices that Sun Moon, in his tattoo, is all black and blue.
    • Jun Do sees the Second Mate's "America shoes"—the ones he supposedly threw over the side of the boat—on a shelf in the room. He also sees a chart from the Junma with pins in the fishing grounds they'd visited. It was supposed to have been burnt with other papers from the boat.
    • The wife wants to know if her husband had really pulled a knife on American sailors. She thinks that Jun Do is an intelligence officer who is trying to learn about a war on the bottom of the sea.
    • Jun Do tells the Second Mate's wife that he is just a radio guy, not an intelligence officer—and that the Second Mate really did pull a knife.
    • The Second Mater's wife tells Jun Do that her husband had a lot of crazy plans in mind. She tends to him for a bit longer and then goes out for the night.
    • Jun Do wakes up to the news on the loudspeaker: this time, it's about a delegation going to America to discuss important issues.
    • Jun Do's still a mess, unable to move, unaware of how much time has passed. And he's alone in the room.
    • Jun Do can hear the movement and barking of dogs on the roof. When the Second Mate's wife reappears, she has a new suitcase. She thinks she's going to Pyongyang as the wife of a prominent official (since she's so beautiful and the wife of a hero).
    • Jun Do reminds the Second Mate's wife that she is the widow of a hero—and she doesn't like that very much.
    • Later on, the Captain stops by with some beers and tuna for Jun Do.
    • The Captain reminds Jun Do that he will get a reward for his "heroic" behavior. Jun Do says he only wants to stay on the Junma.
    • Since he can't think of anything the officials can give him, the Captain passive-aggressively asks if Jun Do will try to get his wife back for him. He asks Jun Do at least to consider it.
    • Through the window of his room, Jun Do sees the Second Mate's wife surrounded by drunk officials in the courtyard. When she reaches the room, she's crying—apparently she's been the victim of assault, or at least of some awful words.
    • The Second Mate's wife had been trying to impress people with her appearance and her singing voice, since her new husband was to be chosen soon.
    • The Second Mate's wife tells the story of how a pretty girl like her wound up in a job at a fish cannery. Her father didn't want her to disappear, like all the other pretty girls, so he kept her home. Then he pulled strings to get her the job at the cannery. Jun Do explains that her father was just trying to protect her. After all, what makes her think that the other pretty girls had a better fate?
    • Jun Do learns from the Second Mate's wife that the Second Mate pretty much worshipped him. He also learns that it was the Second Mate who set the boat on fire while reading Jun Do's dictionaries by candlelight.
    • The Second Mate's wife also reveals that the Second Mate had wanted to defect for a while. She only wanted to go to Pyongyang.
    • Jun Do tells the Second Mate's wife that he wants his radio, which is on the table at the canning master's house.
    • In the morning, Jun Do is at last well enough to stand and wait in line for the bathroom. When he returns to his room, the old man is there.
    • The old man wants to know what the Nikes are. And what the radio is for. Jun Do tells him the radio is work related and not entirely put together.
    • The old man has brought Jun Do a medal for heroism. Jun Do is not impressed.
    • The old man hints that there is a plan being set in motion to "stick it to the Americans" for what they did to Jun Do and the Second Mate. He also says that the Captain wants Jun Do on another boat. Jun Do tells him there's no bad blood between them—the Captain just needs his wife back.
    • The old man thinks that the Captain's wife wasn't reassigned a husband, since she was old. Maybe she just left him?
    • Jun Do asks what will happen to the Second Mate's wife. The old man tells him that she'll do okay, but she isn't going to Pyongyang to be with some bigwig official, since she's not a young virgin.
    • The old man thinks that maybe Jun Do wants her for himself, which he discourages. Jun Do says no; he wants his rights as a hero.
    • The old man quickly reminds Jun Do that heroes don't have rights—only privileges.
  • Part 1, Pages 105-123

    • Jun Do continues to work on his radio, and the Second Mate's wife keeps working on the assumption that she's going to Pyongyang.
    • The Second Mate's wife trades her husband's "America shoes" to a neighbor who deals in black market goods for something in a box. Jun Do doesn't know what it is.
    • The neighbor, called Gun, asks Jun Do to choose something from his inventory as a gift.
    • Jun Do doesn't want anything to do with it. As he looks around Gun's room, he sees some familiar old things: his English dictionaries, the Captain's shaving brush.
    • So the Second Mate had been stealing things and bartering them. Or maybe his wife had done the bartering.
    • The Second Mate's wife decides that she just has to have a pair of leather pumps, and she gives Gun an IOU. Jun Do doesn't like it.
    • As they are leaving, Jun Do sees a stationmaster's watch on a chain. It reminds him of the watch that the orphan master used to wear.
    • Gun encourages Jun Do to take it, saying he got it off an old man with an incurable foot wound.
    • When they leave, Jun Do tells the wife that she shouldn't have made a deal with Gun—but she tells him that she'll be long gone by the time he tries to collect.
    • Jun Do feels bad for the Second Mate's wife, since she doesn't know what is really going to happen to her.
    • Jun Do and the wife go up to the rooftop to set up Jun Do's radio antenna. He tries to describe for her what it's like being at sea.
    • Jun Do explains that this radio is not a radio that receives broadcasts: it's a transmitter. And they have a message to send.
    • When he turns on the radio, Jun Do sends a message to the Second Mate. He encourages him not to despair and gives him important psychological survival advice.
    • He tells the Second Mate that his purpose is to save the women rowers. And then he apologizes for not saving him.
    • Jun Do tells the wife that the rowers were just part of a dream. Then he offers her the chance to send a message, too. He encourages her to sing a song to the Second Mate, so she sings a lullaby.
    • Somehow, Jun Do knows the song. The Second Mate's wife feels better after singing it.
    • The Second Mate's wife then shows Jun Do what's in the box: a yellow dress. Jun Do tells her that she is beautiful, and she asks him why he never married.
    • People think Jun Do's an orphan, and that's just bad luck. No one would have him.
    • Jun Do tells the wife that he's sure the Second Mate heard her song, alive or not (he assures her that the Second Mate has died).
    • Jun Do talks about the alternative story lines: the "dream" of the Second Mate floating away on the raft and the one of the sharks rising to eat him. He says he can't tell which is the truth.
    • The Second Mate's wife tells him to pick the better story so that they won't have to think about the terror of the other one.
    • Jun Do thinks that being all alone at sea is worse.
    • The Second Mate's wife clues in that Jun Do's talking about his own lonely life. She kisses him.
    • When the Second Mate's wife takes off Jun Do's shirt, she sees the picture of Sun Moon on his chest, and it freaks her out. She tells him she's used to seeing her own picture on her husband's chest.
    • The next morning, Jun Do and the Second Mate's wife are on the roof together looking over the city. They see an official-looking car pull up in the courtyard.
    • The Second Mate's wife is excited because she thinks that her new, fancy husband in Pyongyang is ready for her. She runs back to her room and puts on her yellow dress, protesting that she isn't really ready to go. But Jun Do knows the truth about what's about to happen to her, and he's not excited.
    • Jun Do tells the Second Mate's wife that they've got to get out of there. She doesn't understand what he's talking about.
    • Jun Do explains that the Second Mate's wife's new husband won't be in Pyongyang—and that one of the candidates is an old man.
    • The Second Mate's wife insists that Jun Do can change things for her because he's a hero now. She tells him to say that he's marrying her.
    • But Jun Do isn't buying it. He knows she doesn't want to marry an orphan. He tells her not to worry, that she will survive.
    • The Second Mate's wife doesn't like the sound of that. And she doesn't want to survive to live a life not worth living.
    • The two really didn't need to worry about it right then, because the official company was not for the Second Mate's wife. It was for Jun Do. And they want to know if he has a suit.
    • It turns out that Jun Do has a new work assignment. He is driven to an airfield, where a plane and an older man called Dr. Song are awaiting them.
    • Dr. Song asks Comrade Buc (one of the men who escorted Jun Do) about Jun Do's suit. Since Jun Do doesn't have one, they make one of the drivers strip down and hand over his clothes.
    • Dr. Song teases Jun Do about the tattoo of Sun Moon, and Jun Do learns that she is Comrade Buc's neighbor.
    • Jun Do turns the conversation to Commander Ga, so as not to look like a complete babe-in-the-woods, and the two men go silent.
    • As Jun Do finishes dressing, he fumbles over the tie. Dr. Song and Comrade Buc debate which knot to teach him.
    • Jun Do gets on the plane with Comrade Buc and Dr. Song. It's his first plane ride.
    • We learn that Comrade Buc is in charge of procurement—which means that he flies around the world finding delicacies for the Dear Leader.
    • Comrade Buc introduces Jun Do to the Minister, who is also on the plane. The Minister doesn't actually speak; he just grunts in agreement when Buc says that he is handsome.
    • When Jun Do asks Dr. Song what the Minister is a Minister of, he gets an obscure answer: he's only there to distract the Americans.
    • Yes, the Americans. Jun Do is now part of that delegation to America that he'd been hearing about on the loudspeaker.
    • Comrade Buc and Dr. Song make a big deal over using seat belts as the plane takes off. Dr. Song refuses one (because he is old), but insists that Buc use it (because he is young and has a family).
    • Jun Do is reminded of his kidnapping days at sea, listening to the victims kicking and screaming in the hold. He thinks about how they would contain a prisoner on the plane.
    • Since he assumes that he's there as a kidnapper, Jun Do says that he's quite rusty at it and is perhaps not the best man for the job. The men tell him to calm down—he's only there to tell his story to the Americans.
    • Jun Do is appalled, mostly because he knows his story is a transparent lie. No American would believe it.
    • That's when Dr. Song asks Buc to bring the tiger out.
    • While Buc is gone, Dr. Song clarifies the nature of stories. They are fact, he says. If something gets made up by any man, he'd darn well better take action to make it true.
    • In North Korea, Dr. Song says, the man himself is of no consequence. But in America, the opposite is true. The man is important. And that is why they need Jun Do: he's believable and sincere.
    • Then Dr. Song shows Jun Do the "tiger." It's a bag of dirty, unrefrigerated cow meat.
    • Dr. Song says that it's a negotiation tactic. By offering a gift of tiger meat, the Americans get the moral high ground, which they love.
    • Then the talks can begin, since Americans won't negotiate without being on a moral high horse.
    • Jun Do thinks this is a bad idea. He feels that the Americans might eat the "tiger" meat so as not to offend them, and then they'll feel morally devastated. That can't help with negotiations.
    • Dr. Song says this is rubbish: the Americans should taste that this is cow meat. If they don't, it means they are being stubborn and don't want to talk with the North Koreans.
    • Jun Do receives a watch from the Comrade Buc's team, set to Texas time. He learns that Buc has a different mission and won't be joining them there.
  • Part 1, Pages 124-143

    • Jun Do, Dr. Song, Comrade Buc, and company land in Russian territory to refuel. Russian pilots can't believe the old hunk o' junk these guys still flying around in.
    • Dr. Song and Comrade Buc turn the conversation around, telling the Russians that it's a pity they don't have the know-how to make such "good" planes anymore.
    • Dr. Song also conveys his disappointment that Russia has moved away from good old-fashioned communism—now, only North Korea is a model society in that respect.
    • As they fly over the Pacific, Jun Do finally understands what the Captain had said about the size and depth of the ocean. It makes him think of the strength and courage of the rowers.
    • Somehow, the vastness of the sea makes Jun Do think about all the things that have gone missing: his dictionaries, the Captain's brush, his tunnel team, his kidnap victims.
    • Dr. Song briefs the crew on behavior and expectations in America. Among the highlights: how to behave among gay people, how not to assault women who smoke, how to treat dogs properly.
    • Comrade Buc pulls Jun Do aside and tells him that Dr. Song is somehow in hot water with the North Korean government, and he desperately needs this project to be a success.
    • Jun Do learns that Buc's mission is to go to Los Angeles and buy $300,000 worth of DVDs in 24 hours. He asks Jun Do if there's any specific movie he would want. Jun Do has no clue.
    • Comrade Buc promises to bring him a copy of Casablanca, because people say it's the greatest movie of all time.
    • The crew lands in Texas and is greeted by a Senator, his close friend Tommy, and a woman called Wanda.
    • The American delegation drives the North Koreans to a Western clothing shop and has them try on cowboy boots. They mean to buy each of the North Koreans a pair as a gift.
    • On the way, the Senator tells Jun Do and Dr. Song—who are sitting in the back seat of his vintage Mustang—that he had sex for the first time in that back seat. Dr. Song is appalled.
    • At the boot shop, Jun Do, Dr. Song and the Minister (who is really Dr. Song's driver), try on boots. The Minister is really into it—he's seen a lot of old westerns.
    • Dr. Song objects to accepting the boots as gifts, since the Dear Leader wouldn't have a pair. The Senator offers to buy the DL a pair just like Dr. Song's, since they are the same size.
    • But Dr. Song is appalled at the idea that he and the DL should be treated equally, so they all leave without the boots.
    • The group heads to the Senator's ranch for an official visit and talks. We learn that Wanda is in security and works as a civilian contractor for the U.S. government. She wears a Blackwater hat.
    • The Senator has set up some typical Texas ranch-style activities to amuse the North Koreans. These include cutting brush with a saw and a weed-whacker. Dr. Song is not amused.
    • They all go fishing, and the Minister gets a little over-excited when he catches a fish.
    • Wanda strikes up conversation with Jun Do, and when she gives him a little flashlight as a gift, she finds out he's done "tunnel work." She herself is a "bunker specialist."
    • Jun Do is amazed to hear of the technology the U.S. has to make tunnel combat easier—including using robots instead of humans.
    • Wanda tells Jun Do that she had an uncle who conducted old-school tunnel combat in Vietnam.
    • The Senator takes everyone to shoot with Smith and Wesson pistols. Dr. Song declines this as well, but the Minister is in his element—he's a really good shot.
    • The first thing that Jun Do notices about the Senator's house is the dogs and how well trained they are. He notes that in America, you get dogs to perform with treats. In DPRK, you get them to perform with threats.
    • The North Koreans are treated to a big BBQ, and Jun Do can't get enough of the ribs. Wanda joins him at his picnic table and tells him about all the people who are sitting around them.
    • Wanda tells Jun Do that he can ask her anything, and she'll answer him. He seems to be watching Tommy, who is black, and he notices Wanda watching him.
    • Jun Do tells her this is not the first time he's seen a black person. There was that encounter with the U.S. Navy, and his English teacher was from Angola.
    • Wanda tells Jun Do that although she doesn't speak Korean, she could tell that Jun Do was fudging the translations earlier in order to smooth things between the two sides.
    • At another table, Dr. Song presents the Senator with the 11-volume Selected Works of Kim Jong Il. The Senator gives the Minister an iPod with country music on it.
    • Then the Minister brings out the tiger. Jun Do knows that this is the breaking point of the talks. The tiger meat is going to freak out the Americans.
    • Jun Do decides this is the moment to take Wanda up on answering questions. He writes the name of the Second Mate across her palm and tells her he wants to know what happened to his friend.
    • Wanda takes a picture of her hand and sends a message to find out.
    • And then the tiger meat is presented. Dr. Song tells the Senator that he will take on the qualities of a tiger when he eats the meat—and then he presents the meat to the Senator's wife.
    • The Senator steps in and takes the meat off to the kitchen. Dr. Song is disappointed not to get a better reaction.
    • Dr. Song tries another tack: he approaches Jun Do and asks how his arm is doing. Cue shark story.
    • But again, the Americans take over. The Senator's wife had been a medical doctor. She takes Jun Do off to the kitchen to remove his overdue sutures.
    • In the kitchen, Jun Do strips off his shirt, and the Senator's wife scrubs up. The maid, Pilar, comes in and is introduced. She quips that Jun Do's name sounds like "John Doe"—a missing person. Then she notices the cooler of tiger meat, which looks like the type of cooler used to transport organs.
    • The Senator's wife corrects Pilar: "John Doe" isn't a missing person. It's a person whose identity is a mystery.
    • Jun Do tells the Senator's wife that he's never seen a real doctor in his life. She examines his torso and arms and sees the marks of torture and abuse everywhere. She asks how he got the bites.
    • Jun Do begins to tell the shark attack story while the doctor and Wanda remove his stitches.
    • Pilar asks about Jun Do's tattoo, and he says it's of his wife. Wanda takes a picture of it.
    • The Senator's wife tells Jun Do he needs a souvenir to take back to his wife and asks what she's like. Jun Do tells her that she is needy and sad, and that she married a real jerk. TMI.
    • The Senator's wife is touched and asks if she can call Sun Moon and offer her support. She has no clue. Wanda tells her that things aren't like that in North Korea: you just can't pick up a phone.
    • Jun Do sees a picture of the Senator in an astronaut's uniform and asks the wife if he'd been in space. Then he asks about the International Space Station: is it really all about peace?
    • The Senator's wife says yes—and then gives Jun Do packs of antibiotics to prevent infection.
    • Pilar deals with the tiger meat, which smells horrible. Jun Do tells them to throw it out and cook a flank steak instead because it tastes the same.
    • Pilar takes his advice and says she'll make tiger tacos.
  • Part 1, Pages 144-155

    • The Senator's wife shows Jun Do to a room in the house where he can rest. There's a quilt on the bed that was made by her grandmother; each square tells a story from her life.
    • The Senator's wife tells Jun Do that she wishes she could speak to Sun Moon about Christ—that would certainly make her feel better. She tries to give him a Bible to take home, but he declines. Bibles are not allowed in North Korea.
    • The Senator's wife finds this hard to take, but she gracefully retreats.
    • A dog stays behind and jumps on Jun Do's bed. Jun Do discovers a White Pages sitting on the bedside table and is amazed that you could just look someone up and know that they exist.
    • Jun Do is overwhelmed by hatred for North Korea, a place that dooms him to guessing about the fate of his friends and his family.
    • Jun Do rips a page from the phone book and writes down the names of all those he's kidnapped. He puts a star next to Mayumi, who died.
    • Suddenly, the pile of BBQ ribs Jun Do ate doesn't agree with him. He loses his lunch in the shiny American bathroom.
    • While Jun Do rests, the Minister and Dr. Song are engaged in talks with the Senator and his crew. Jun Do joins them again in the evening, when more festivities are planned.
    • As Jun Do walks through the house, he notes the family pictures hanging on the walls. It makes him wonder what it is to be a family.
    • Outside, Jun Do is amazed by the bonfire, which seems to be just for fun and to enhance the atmosphere.
    • Wanda is there, making mixed drinks. She starts talking about what was found in Saddam Hussein's bunkers—but Jun Do has absolutely no idea what she's on about.
    • Then Wanda tells Jun Do about the Second Mate: no information is available on him.
    • Jun Do hands Wanda the torn phone book page with the names of the kidnap victims. He tells her that they are all alive and well in North Korea, except Mayumi. He tells her that their families deserve to know what happened to them.
    • The company enjoys the "tiger tacos" created by Pilar, while Dr. Song praises the qualities of North Korean tiger.
    • Tommy tells everyone that the best meat he ever ate was on leave—and that it was probably dog. Wanda says that her favorite was fetal pig boiled in goat's milk. Yum.
    • Jun Do changes the topic to ask about the rowers he'd been following on the radio. The mood changes. Tommy tells him that the boat was found, but not the girls. They assumed that it might have been a murder-suicide, since they found the blood of one rower but not the other.
    • Jun Do tells everyone his theory: the night-rower got off course because she rowed with her eyes closed.
    • The Senator's wife asks Jun Do about his own wound and how he got it. Dr. Song pretends that the trauma was too recent to be discussed. But Jun Do, of course, is ready.
    • So Jun Do tells the concocted story—and nobody buys it.
    • The Senator gets a little hot about the story, especially since he knows the commander of Jervis, the officer who had given Jun Do his card. He knows that shenanigans like Jun Do described are not tolerated.
    • The Senator's wife also denies the truth of Jun Do's story. She knows about atrocities in wartime, but she can't believe an American sailor would randomly feed a Korean sailor to sharks.
    • Jun Do pours all of his powers of convincing out. He tells everyone about the sharks, about his dying friend, and about holding his friend's widow in his arms.
    • When Jun Do is in his room again, Wanda comes to visit him. She's found some info out on Jun Do and wants to question him.
    • Wanda had made a mistake at the beginning of her research: she had started with his wife, Sun Moon. Now Wanda thinks that Jun Do is Commander Ga.
    • Wanda even uploaded Jun Do's picture to update Commander Ga's file, since the U.S. government didn't have a picture of him.
    • Jun Do tries to correct her, but Wanda is having none of that. Still, she is friendly and tells him that they can catch a glimpse of the International Space Station if they go outside. As they talk, Wanda tries to work out why the North Koreans are there. More specifically, why is Commander Ga, Minister of Prison Mines, in Texas?
    • Jun Do tries to make Wanda understand—he's there to tell a story—but she clearly doesn't understand his cryptic speech.
    • Wanda wants to know if Jun Do intends to defect. Jun Do explains that he couldn't do that to Dr. Song and the Minister. They would be destroyed back in North Korea if he did such a thing.
    • Wanda asks Jun Do if he feels free—or if he even understands what that means.
    • Jun Do contemplates how to explain his concept of freedom. For him, freedom can only be felt when you experience true confinement.
    • Jun Do asks if the U.S. has labor camps or mandatory marriages—anything that forces something on the citizens.
    • Wanda says no, and Jun Do says he probably couldn't feel free in the U.S. Wanda is at a loss.
    • Jun Do tries again, using Wanda's uncle as an example. When her uncle was in the tunnels expecting to be killed at any moment, he really valued being alive. It probably made him feel invincible.
    • But Wanda is not convinced. She explains that this tunnel warfare wakes her uncle up in the middle of the night and makes him suffer.
    • Jun Do explains that Wanda's uncle is probably dreaming of being crushed in a tunnel collapse, choking on dirt.
    • Wanda gives Jun Do a present: a little digital camera. But it's a special one: he can take pictures of anything, and they will get right to Wanda through a satellite connection. No images stay on the camera itself, so he won't get caught taking pictures.
    • Wanda tells Jun Do to take pictures of anything he wants, to help her understand his country.
    • Wanda encourages Jun Do to take a selfie of the two of them together. She jokes that he needs to loosen up and smile—let people in. He has no clue what she means.
  • Part 1, Pages 156-175

    • Jun Do dreams of Bo Song, the deaf orphan lost in the floods when he was a child at Long Tomorrows. Bo Song is trying to tell him something important, but he can't quite make it out.
    • Jun Do wakes up to find the dog sleeping next to him, sharing a pillow. It is late at night, but Jun Do finds Dr. Song outside.
    • Jun Do tells Dr. Song that Wanda asked if he felt free. When Dr. Song asks his response, he simply says he told the truth.
    • Jun Do wants to know how the talks went. Dr. Song reflects on his life of privilege back in North Korea—and ends with his last experience of tasting Texas BBQ. Jun Do is confused.
    • Dr. Song explains that he has lived longer than all of his other colleagues—who have been sent to camps, farms, or just disappeared altogether.
    • Jun Do doesn't really understand what Dr. Song is trying to say, but he's not going to get any help understanding from him.
    • Dr. Song dismisses Jun Do to bed.
    • In the morning, the North Koreans say goodbye to the Senator and his crew. The Senator's wife gives Jun Do a puppy to take to his wife, Sun Moon. He takes it.
    • The Senator tells Jun Do that the puppy is called Brando, and Jun Do keeps the name.
    • The Senator also decides he wants to drive Jun Do to the Air Force base.
    • Now it's time to play hardball. The Senator is annoyed because he realizes that something is not quite right about these North Koreans. Why, he asks, is Dr. Song manipulating the Minister?
    • And why did Jun Do tell such a ridiculous story about a shark and the U.S. Navy?
    • Jun Do tells the Senator that the Minister is really Dr. Song's driver. The Senator doesn't understand why they don't "play right."
    • Jun Do wonders aloud how the talks would have gone if he had negotiated with them. What would the Senator have wanted from them?
    • The Senator says he wanted something solid from them—but he doesn't specify what.
    • Jun Do doesn't really know what is at stake in the negotiations. The Senator says that they would have been willing to lay off the boats if the North Koreans weren't always hell-bent on causing trouble.
    • And then the Senator mentions the "Leader's toy." He tells Jun Do that they can't give it back.
    • Jun Do is feeling in the dark here, since he doesn't know what the Senator is talking about. But the Senator is no longer in negotiating mode, so his attempts are futile.
    • The Senator is ticked off, especially about Jun Do/Commander Ga's past. He knows that Jun Do is a killer, and he doesn't appreciate having him as a houseguest.
    • The Senator wants Jun Do to tell the Dear Leader never to pull these kinds of shenanigans again—and that his "precious toy" will never be returned, and that all North Korean boats will be harassed.
    • Back on the plane, Jun Do finds Commander Buc amid thousands of DVDs and two motorcycles.
    • Dr. Song is trying to figure out how things could have gone so wrong. He berates Jun Do for not telling him he had a wife. Jun Do explains the tattoo and the lie.
    • Dr. Song understands that the Senator figured out the game with the Minister and would only trust Jun Do.
    • Jun Do mentions the message from the Senator to the Dear Leader but says he doesn't understand what it means.
    • Dr. Song explains that the "precious toy" was a background radiation detector invented by the Japanese to study space and stolen by the North Koreans to find uranium in the mountains. The theft was intercepted by the Americans.
    • Now Dr. Song, the Minister, and Jun Do have to come up with a good story to explain their failed talks with the Texans. They rehearse an elaborate story with lots of details.
    • Comrade Buc gives Jun Do his DVD of Casablanca. Jun Do asks if it's a story about triumph or failure, but Buc doesn't know, since he doesn't watch black-and-white films.
    • Buc tells Jun Do not to worry about Dr. Song—he's survived worse.
    • When they land to refuel, Comrade Buc says that if he thought anyone on the plane was headed for the labor camps, he would do them a favor and kill them right now. That's confidence.
    • As they approach North Korea, Jun Do gives the puppy to Comrade Buc and asks him to give it to Sun Moon.
    • When Dr. Song sees the officials waiting to debrief them, he panics. He tells them to forget the whole elaborate story they made up and say that the Americans never meant to negotiate.
    • The story will now be that the Americans took the opportunity to insult them at every turn.
    • There are "crows" on the runway—the type of vehicles needed to take people off to the labor camps.
    • Jun Do is taken off to an empty hangar to be debriefed by two interrogators. He starts off well, but then begins to muddle the story as the men divide up the gifts that were given to him.
    • The men try to use Jun Do's camera, but it doesn't seem to be working. Jun Do tells them that it's broken. They seem more interested in collecting up the spoils of the trip than getting the story.
    • The interrogators tell Jun Do to practice his story one more time—to say it out loud, so that it can be recorded—and then they leave him alone.
    • Jun Do's not sure where to start his story, so he fumbles along. When the interrogators return, they have the Minister's iPod. They want to know if Jun Do has one, too.
    • The interrogators also want to know why Jun Do's the only one with a camera. They are moving between the three men to see if their stories check out.
    • The interrogators tell Jun Do to write down his story, but the pen they give him is dry. Jun Do only gets about two sentences down.
    • A driver of the "crow" on the tarmac comes in to ask if Jun Do is the guy he's taking away. Jun Do's immediately worried.
    • The interrogator tells Jun Do that his story checks out and that he's free to go. The driver of the "crow" will "give him a ride."
    • Jun Do learns that Dr. Song is still writing out his story and that he'll have to share his ride with some medics. He gets his DVD of Casablanca back because no one wants a black-and-white movie.
    • Jun Do spends hours in the back of the "crow"—clearly, he's not going where he hoped to go.
    • The medics are carrying a white cooler with them that sloshes pink ice water out when they hit a bump in the road. Eew.
    • Jun Do realizes that these are "blood harvesters," people who visit the prison camps and milk the blood supply out of dying patients to use in hospitals in Pyongyang.
    • Jun Do sees egg shells spinning on the floors of the vehicle and thinks that they must have been left there by a whole family.
    • And then Jun Do gets creeped out: if they take children to the prison camps, what chance does he have?
    • The car arrives at a prison camp. The medics get out to do their work, and they order Jun Do to follow them. But his legs are numb and he can't follow, so they throw dirt in his face.
    • Inside the infirmary, Jun Do sees dying people on cots. He has to use the bloody water to rinse the dirt from his eyes.
    • There is a woman in the infirmary with a camera on a tripod, and the medics get ready to work. Jun Do notices that there are no portraits of the Dear and Great Leaders in this room. He understands what this means: the infirmary is a place that doesn't matter.
    • Jun Do decides to take a sneaky picture of the blank white wall. He hopes that Wanda will understand.
    • But the old camerawoman sees him take the picture.
    • The medics are starting to drain the blood of a nearly dead woman. They follow a ritual: first, they strip her of anything valuable. In this case, it's a wool cap, which the photographer hands to Jun Do, saying that he will need it.
    • Then the medics pose the sick woman for a picture. The flash revives her, and she grabs Jun Do. But the medics drain her blood and move on to a teenager.
    • The camerawoman, called Mongnan, takes Jun Do's picture. Jun Do has to help drain the blood and bring the bags to the cooler.
    • Mongnan whispers to Jun Do to find a pair of boots on one of the dying men. He will need those, too.
    • Though Jun Do doesn't know what Mongnan's talking about, he does it. The boots come from a man who had lost toes to frostbite. Jun Do's afraid to look in the boots.
    • Now Mongnan turns the camera on Jun Do. It's a kind of mug shot, with his name written on a slate board.
    • Mongnan writes the number of Jun Do's barracks on his hand and tells him that he needs to find it before dark.
    • It dawns on Jun Do that he is now a prisoner in the labor camp. He doesn't know what to do.
    • Mongnan tells Jun Do to do what the others do to survive, and she promises to find him in a couple of days.
    • Mongnan tells Jun Do that he will have to fight to keep the boots he scavenged off the dying man. She says he should put them on.
    • Jun Do has to do the unthinkable—fish out the man's rotted-off toes from the boots—before putting them on.
    • As Jun Do heads to the barracks, he protests that he was a hero. The narrator tells us that this is the last we know of Pak Jun Do.
  • Part 2, Pages 179-193

    Part Two: The Confessions of Commander Ga (One Year Later)

    • Keep your eyes open, because we're switching point of view here. This is the first-person narrative of an unnamed North Korean interrogator in Pyongyang.
    • This guy works for Division 42, and he tells us that while he and his team are finishing up an interrogation of a professor, Commander Ga is brought in.
    • The whole team is very excited, and they send their young interns Q-Kee and Jujack to find out if the rumor is true.
    • The Interrogator talks about the professor. He's accused of "counterrevolutionary teachings"—that is, playing South Korean pop songs to his students.
    • We learn that there are two divisions inside Division 42: the old-school thugs, called the Pubyok, and the team that the Interrogator is on.
    • The Interrogator's team is more intellectual and psychological. They do a kind of twisted talk therapy that combines compassion and cruelty to get the subject to confess.
    • At the end of the team's Q&A, they make a bound biography of the subject's life. In this case, they're studying the professor. They present him with the book about him, and he seems to enjoy reading it.
    • But the professor still hasn't confessed to anything, so the Interrogator has to hook him up to the "autopilot," which is an automated pain delivery system that uses an electrical current.
    • The Interrogator takes away the professor's gold pen so that the electricity will zap him extra hard there. When this happens, the Interrogator says, the man will realize that he will never be a professor again.
    • The team is going for total transformation of the person in this type of "interrogation," so pain, they say, is an essential part of the process.
    • The team leaves the professor to his pain machine and takes his biography to the "library," a bare storeroom that nobody ever visits.
    • The Interrogator thinks of the biography collection as something that "saves" the subjects, no matter what happens to them when they leave Division 42.
    • Q-Kee and Jujack return with the news that the Pubyok have got to Commander Ga first, which is bad luck for their own team. Now they have to wait their turn.
    • The team members go upstairs to talk to Sarge, who is the leader of the Pubyok. Sarge has a bloody nose. He tells them that his "subject" is not the real Commander Ga.
    • Sarge tells the Interrogator that they're sending this Commander Ga to the "sump"—more on that later.
    • But the Interrogator really wants to get his hands on Ga, especially so that he can learn his story and create a biography for his "library."
    • Sarge doesn't like the other team's way of doing business, but he lets them have their turn. When they see Ga, he's in pretty rough shape: there's frostbite on his fingers, and his Sun Moon tattoo revealed.
    • The interrogators tell Ga that they are here to take down his story, and Ga tells them that he hopes they like happy endings.
    • The team puts Ga in a "Q&A chair" and gives him aspirin to soften him up. They put a note saying "Is not Commander Ga" into a vacuum tube and send it off to some floor above them.
    • When it comes back, a note reads "Is Commander Ga." It's all very perplexing.
    • The interrogators let Ga rest in the chair for the day. When they check on him, he's half awake, and it looks like his fingers are typing something out on his stomach.
    • The team is in suspense. They want to ask him so many questions, but they know it would be poor technique.
    • Q-Kee, however, is young and blurts out the obvious: where did he put Sun Moon's body? The plot thickens.
    • The team has to remove Q-Kee from the room and school her a bit on interrogation. They need to build some kind of relationship with Ga so that he will open up to them.
    • Q-Kee tries again and asks Ga how he first met Sun Moon. Ga gives a strange answer: he speaks of the cold, of the infirmary, and of the snow blocking his view. Hmmm.
    • Jujack asks Ga what he was dreaming about when they came in. Ga tells them about driving with Sun Moon in a car back to her house, thinking that she would let him touch her when they got there.
    • Ga talks about coming across families in the park stealing chestnuts because they were starving, and about how Sun Moon thought that they are playing a game or were circus families.
    • Ga says this makes him love her more, because she knows nothing of suffering.
    • The team leaves Ga alone after that. They ride to their separate homes in Pyongyang.
    • The Interrogator notes how the impostor has totally taken on the identity of Commander Ga and even dreams that he is actually Ga.
    • The Interrogator says that the impostor has completely forgotten that he'd "disposed" of the real Commander Ga. But the Interrogator knows most of that story from rumors that have been flying around.
    • The Interrogator's excited because it seems that this will be a significant biography to compile.
    • The Interrogator talks about the library as something sacred. He says that the stories inside it are never read except by the Propaganda folks who need something for the loudspeakers.
    • The Interrogator makes his way home, trading the professor's gold pen for food. We learn that the Interrogator lives on the 22nd floor of a building with his elderly parents. It works out, because it's too far up for them to wander off. Furthermore, nobody else wants to live up there, because the elevators don't work.
    • The Interrogator's parents are kind of paranoid because they've both lost their eyesight. On top of that, they feel that they are constantly being watched by someone who will denounce them to the government.
    • We learn that the Interrogator has tried to write his own biography, but he finds his life boring. He's also superstitious, thinking that if he completes it, something will happen to him.
    • The Interrogator gets an idea about Commander Ga, so he leaves home and returns to work. He wakes Ga and asks him if his first encounter with Sun Moon was by watching a movie in a prison infirmary.
    • And the Interrogator is exactly right: this "Commander Ga" was a prisoner—with a tattoo of Sun Moon on his chest. Sound familiar?
    • The Interrogator asks the fake Commander Ga what the real Ga did that made him want to murder him—and murder his wife and children, too.
    • But Commander Ga falls asleep in the chair and doesn't answer. The Interrogator takes a sedative and goes home.
    • We're in Commander Ga's point of view now, as he sits in the Q & A chair for the night, after the Interrogator has left for the second time.
    • Ga recalls one of Sun Moon's roles—the one that hooked him—as one of three abalone-diving sisters.
    • In the flick, Sun Moon dives into the dark sea and stays away for a long time. Soon, both the audience and the two remaining sisters begin to panic. What if she doesn't surface?
    • Ga recalls that he saw the film on a day off from work, in the infirmary, with dying patients having their blood drained away all around him.
    • Sun Moon's character surfaces again, and all is well. Mongnan pulls Ga away from the group to teach him an essential scavenging skill: how to collect and eat moths that fall from searchlights.
    • We learn that Ga's hunger is serious, since he hadn't eaten much since Texas. Both he and Mongnan gather enough moths in their pockets to eat for a week.
    • It's back to the loudspeaker and the vital news of the day.
    • Along with warnings to keep off the subway escalators and to can enough kelp to defend against hunger, the voice promises to air the Best North Korean story of the year.
    • The story will be one of love and woe, with lots of action.
  • Part 2, Pages 194-208

    • Back at Division 42, the Interrogator and his team get a second go at Commander Ga. They start off gently, offering him breakfast in the cafeteria.
    • Q-Kee tries to engage Ga in conversation about taekwondo, but Ga—despite his supposed prowess at the sport—doesn't bite. He's only interested in eating.
    • Besides, Ga sees through the small talk. He simply tells the interrogators that they will never find Sun Moon and her children.
    • Members of the Pubyok hear Ga's cheeky talk and decide to step in. The Interrogator tells them to back down, since Sarge handed Ga over to his team.
    • Ga says that he will give his story, but he wants the answer to a question in exchange.
    • Everyone but the Interrogator goes ballistic. No subject has ever demanded—much less received—something from the interrogators.
    • But the Interrogator keeps his cool. He'll allow it, if the subject will tell them how he first met Commander Ga.
    • Impostor Ga thinks this is acceptable, so he begins. He met the real Ga when the Commander visited Prison 33.
    • Ga says that Mongnan started a rumor that made the guards stop randomly maiming the inmates of the prison. But the winter was harsh, and he barely lived. After that, he was a changed man.
    • Ga says that he didn't care about consequences. He refused to play by the rules of the camp, and he would rebel in the "self-criticism" sessions.
    • The Pubyok are seething at this and tell the Interrogator that they would already have had this Ga killed for his crimes.
    • The Interrogator tells impostor Ga that the hills were colder during the war, when bombs were dropped on them. The prison camp is an improvement, in fact, since they had a cook and an infirmary where you could be "put down" when you got sick.
    • The Interrogator knows that what Ga says about the winter is true, since he and his comrades had gone on a scary ride to the north to take the biography of a prisoner. They weren't totally convinced it wasn't just a way to inter them without a fight.
    • Ga continues with his story. He says that he was housed near the infirmary and that he kept hearing the complaints of the sick. One guy in particular was a total pain in the butt. He would cry out questions that had no answers, like, "Why won't you confess?"
    • Finally, Ga would start screaming answers to the man's delusional questions.
    • In the middle of all this, Mongnan is still looking out for Ga. She comes to fetch him one night, telling him that the Minister of Prison Mines is coming in the morning.
    • Mongnan points out that the only way they can light the camp will be to shut the electric fences. Ga tells her that escape is pointless, since there is nowhere to go. But this isn't what Mongnan has in mind.
    • Mongnan shows Ga a place between the fences that have wild ginger and radishes. It's also the place where the women bury the dead. They harvest as much of the roots as they can.
    • Ga remembers that Mongnan made a comment about supply and demand—and about how the whole prison was her blackboard.
    • At that, Q-Kee gets excited. She realizes that Ga's friend called Mongnan was a professor who had been denounced by all her students.
    • Commander Ga instantly wants to know more about Mongnan and what she taught, but the Interrogator sends the interns away, since they've made the mistake of giving away info.
    • Ga continues his story about Mongnan teaching him survival skills: she teaches him how to "milk" the trout in the guards' pond to get the eggs without harming the fish.
    • Then Mongnan gives Ga a stern talking to: the Minister of the Prison mines will be coming in the morning, and he is having a hard time of it. One of his prisons has just burned to the ground, and he's lost 1,500 workers. He will have no patience with an inmate who argues and talks back to everyone else. Mongnan tells Ga that he will have to chill out and lay low until the Minister was gone.
    • Mongnan also tells Ga it is her prerogative to help him out.
    • And then Mongnan teaches Ga a really, utterly disgusting survival skill: getting semen from an ox. It was a vile experience for Ga.
    • Mongnan also prophesies that the current political regime is doomed. She tells Ga to make sure he has a plan for when it happens.
    • When Ga got back to the building by the infirmary, he and Mongnan hear the dying old man again. He moans out the question: "Who am I?"
    • Mongnan tells the old man, with disgust, that he is Duc Dan—and that he should die quickly to make everyone happy.
    • One of the Pubyok completely loses his composure. He tells the Interrogator that Ga is playing with their minds. Kim Duc Dan, apparently, is a "retired" interrogator—one of their own.
    • Another interrogator protests that they went to Duc Dan's retirement party and were told that he had a house on the beach (which Jun Do learned, in his fisherman days, wasn't true).
    • The interrogators also reveal that Duc Dan interrogated many people in Prison 33. They don't want to believe impostor Ga.
    • Finally, the tension explodes, and the old men pour hot tea into Ga's open wounds and drag him off for some more good, old-fashioned torture.
    • The Interrogator and his crew immediately begin the bureaucratic process to get Ga back.
    • The Interrogator's team gets approval to get Commander Ga back. But they have to go into the torture wing to retrieve him. It creeps them out—especially when they have to go into the "sump," a dungeon that holds all the subjects who will never be seen again. Those guys are in bad shape.
    • But the interrogators don't find Ga in these places. He's actually back in his bed, clearly suffering from the effects of electricity applied to the brain.
    • Ga's pretty out of it, and the Interrogator's crew has to concede that he won't be able to give them anything useful for a while. If ever.
    • The interrogators all want to know if Ga reveal what was done to Sun Moon, but Ga really can't communicate properly. They all assume that he did reveal it, and their dream of the most interesting biography in the world flies out the window.
    • Soon, the interrogators are guessing at the place and type of execution Ga will face. They feel disappointment that they will never know his real name.
    • The interrogators decide to go and congratulate the Pubyok for getting the information. But when they get there, they learn that Ga gave them no information. Apparently, Ga's pain training paid off.
    • But there's one disconcerting thing: Ga would never take back what he had said about Duc Dan. Although the Interrogator tries to convince the older men that Ga was lying in order to survive, they all kind of know Ga's telling the truth.
    • The Interrogator promises Sarge—who is totally rattled at the idea that his retirement won't be on the beach—that he'll get the truth out of imposter Ga.
    • Q-Kee suggests that they get a mother figure, like Mongnan, to interrogate Ga. But there are no older women in Division 42.
    • Jujack wonders why they don't just bring Mongnan herself in. Ga tells them through his delirium that Mongnan is dead. He saw her name on a list on the "master computer."
    • The Interrogator tells Ga that the "master computer" is just a hoax, something that they use to threaten the subjects with.
    • Ga wants the answer his question now, but the Interrogator decides to push his luck and ask Ga about his oldest memory.
    • Ga tells about walking away from his parents and getting lost forever. He is offered shelter by a cold wind, a mineshaft, and the ghost of a person who died of illness.
    • The boy doesn't want to take their hospitality, since he knows he will die of cold, darkness, or fever. Then a bear takes him on and feeds him with honey.
    • The interrogation crew is not impressed: it's an old Party allegory that equates the bear to Kim Jong Il, the champion of orphans. They conclude that this Ga was an orphan.
    • Finally, Commander Ga asks his question. Pointing to his food, he asks if it belongs to Comrade Buc? Then he asks Buc to forgive him for giving him a scar—and passes out.
    • Jujack recognizes Buc's name, since it was on the ankle bracelet of a "subject" down in the sump.
  • Part 2, Pages 209-232

    • It's back to Commander Ga's point of view.
    • Ga thinks about his "pain reserve"—the place you go to when you're being tortured, apparently. It's a protected place that no one else can access.
    • Ga first tried to use the Junma as that place, then the song of the opera diva he'd kidnapped, and then even the beautiful yellow dress of the Second Mate's wife.
    • But it was Sun Moon who really provided a useful reserve. Whenever Ga is faced with physical adversity, he can escape into fantasy with Sun Moon.
    • Ga remembers when he first thought he might really meet her. It was when he left Prison 33 wearing Commander Ga's uniform and carrying Mongnan's photos.
    • Ga had also managed to keep the digital camera and the DVD of Casablanca that Comrade Buc had got for him.
    • Commander Ga's driver is startled to see someone else wearing his employer's uniform, but the new Ga challenges him: if he wants to serve the other Ga, the new Ga will take him back to the old Ga's body in the mine. Clearly, the driver prefers the change of employer.
    • The new Ga asks to be taken home to Sun Moon. On the way, he looks through Mongnan's photos. They are the inmates' entrance and exit photos, clipped back-to-back. There are thousands, and Ga observes that this is North Korea's White Pages.
    • When Ga sees his own entrance photo, he flips it over to make sure that there is no exit photo—no picture of his corpse drained of blood.
    • Ga tears up his picture, effectively erasing himself from existence.
    • When they reach Pyongyang, Ga goes into a hotel and takes a bath. He feels his body and mind coming together again, and he prepares himself to meet the real Sun Moon.
    • Like most obsessed fans, Ga wants to be close with her. He feels that he already has a connection with her.
    • Ga gets used to the real Commander's haircut, cologne, uniform, guns. When he arrives at the house, Sun Moon opens the door. She's wearing a dirty robe. And she thinks that he's a messenger from the film studio, coming to bring her a new script. Yeah, but he's wearing her husband's uniform and cologne…
    • Ga tells her that he is Commander Ga. Sun Moon thinks it's a sick joke on the part of the studio.
    • The thought of being rejected by the studio brings out the diva drama queen in Sun Moon. She falls on the grass, weeps, and smokes a cigarette.
    • Ga loves Sun Moon's innocence. She has no clue about real suffering.
    • Sun Moon pleads with Ga to take a message to her real husband, to tell him to make up with the Dear Leader in public so that she make another film.
    • But this Ga is operating on a different level of reality. He tries to impress on Sun Moon that he's not going anywhere, that he's her husband now. Oh, and would she just speak those lines from her movie to him? It would mean so much.
    • Ga lets slip that he was in prison, and that freaks Sun Moon out completely.
    • Ga confesses that he killed the real Commander Ga that morning, after the latter attacked him. At least, he thinks he's killed the real Ga.
    • Now Sun Moon is properly scared. But at this moment, there's some relief: a dog appears at the door. The new Ga calls out "Brando!"—and the dog comes running to him.
    • Ga's in disbelief that Sun Moon really got the dog he brought from Texas.
    • Sun Moon insists on knowing who this guy is, and Ga tells her that he is "the good husband."
    • Sun Moon looks dismayed that she's somehow been given over to yet another man without her consent.
    • Now Commander Ga, in Division 42, wakes up of his memories, and he notes that Sun Moon has saved him again. He's way above feeling any pain.
    • The loudspeaker delivers the news and the promised Best North Korean Story. The story begins with Sun Moon.
    • The voice asks citizens to ignore the rumors they've been hearing about Sun Moon and to remember her as the patriotic actress she will always be in everyone's memories.
    • Sun Moon is painted as an ideal wife and citizen, canning kelp against famine, caring for her perfect children—all that jazz.
    • The voice recounts the moment when Sun Moon hears a knock on the door and opens it to find Commander Ga there. But this Commander Ga is impure because he looks at his wife with lust.
    • It's an impostor Ga, a man with half his build. Sun Moon does not believe that he's her husband, but because he's wearing the uniform, she knows it's her duty to obey.
    • Sun Moon has the impostor sleep in the tunnel outside with the dog for two weeks. He's only allowed in the house to wash, and she feeds him only once a day.
    • The dog, on the other hand, takes a real shine to the new Ga. The new Ga is able to train him quickly with praise, while the old Ga could do nothing with threats.
    • The voice tells how Sun Moon finally gets a little share of adversity after a life of thinking that suffering is a fairy tale.
    • The new Commander Ga still has to live in a tunnel, but at least he can hear what is going on in Sun Moon's house and fantasize about being in there with her and the children.
    • Then a messenger delivers word that Commander Ga is to return to work. So off he goes to the "modern" Building 13, fully equipped with vacuum tubes for sending messages.
    • Soon, a message from the Dear Leader himself comes through the system for Ga. It requests a meeting with him.
    • Ga picks up a Geiger counter from his desk and climbs onto a tree outside his office window to give to an old woman who is scavenging for food. He tells her to sell it at the night market.
    • The narrating voice tells the citizens that there is no such thing as a night market, of course, but that the story shows that the Dear Leader must have wanted Ga to do this.
    • It must also be the Dear Leader's idea that North Korea will have two Commander Gas.
    • On the way to speak with Kim Jong Il, Ga sees Comrade Buc, who gives him a thumbs-up. The narrator tells us that this is wrong, wrong, wrongitty wrong: too much like the Americans.
    • Ga gets into an elevator and is taken all the way down beneath Pyongyang. When he emerges, there is Kim Jong Il, who is portrayed as a divine presence.
    • After Ga bows, the Dear Leader tells him that he's cooking up something for the Americans and needs his help.
    • The voice winds up the segment by asking what the Dear Leader could be up to with this plan.
    • We now get another point of view on the story told over the loudspeaker. Ga takes the elevator to Bunker 13 to meet Kim Jong Il.
    • The encounter with Comrade Buc feels dangerous for Ga, as if his two lives are overlapping in ways that were not useful.
    • When Ga arrives, he's searched and compelled to give a urine and hair sample. Kim Jong Il plays right along, saying how much he's missed Ga.
    • Kim Jong Il tells Commander Ga that he ought to be angry about that whole burned prison mine and the 1500 dead workers. Still, he's going to give Ga another chance.
    • Kim Jong Il has a plan, and he wants help. He gives Ga, ironically, tiger meat jerky. He promises to write a new role for Sun Moon.
    • The two descend further into the bunker, where the Dear Leader reveals that the Americans will soon visit North Korea.
    • The Dear Leader also outlines another problem: an orphan soldier has gone escaped from Prison 33. This soldier had visited Texas.
    • Kim Jong Il needs the details of that mission so that he can plan his humiliations for the Americans. Had this soldier/inmate spoken to Ga of these details when he visited the prison?
    • The impostor Ga takes his cue and says that he has all the details, since he and the orphan spoke often.
    • Kim Jong Il shows Ga a revolver that is made to look like the American revolvers that the Minister had shot with on his trip to Texas. Ga suggests some details to make it a better replica.
    • The Dear Leader wants to show the Americans that the North Koreans can make their own guns bigger and better.
    • Ga wants to know how he will get the Americans to visit.
    • Kim Jong Il has an ace up his sleeve. He takes Ga further down, into a dungeon-like hold. He shows Ga a room with an American woman in it. Ga recognizes her as the nighttime rower.
    • The Dear Leader tells Ga that a fishing boat picked her up after she killed her mate.
    • Ga speaks to her in English and learns from her that her mate was killed when the North Koreans tried to board their craft.
    • Ga asks her if she wants to meet a Senator, produces his digital camera and takes a picture of her.
  • Part 2, Pages 233-253

    • The Interrogator suits up and leads his team into the "sump" to look for Comrade Buc. They have some questions for him.
    • The interns are still shaken by Ga's assertion that old interrogators, like Duc Dan, get sent to prison instead of retirement homes.
    • We learn that the sump is the place where the most hardheaded subjects are sent to bend them a little. It's dungeon-like, filthy, and primitive.
    • Most of the subjects in the sump are in a stupor, chained together on a kind of bicycle rack for human beings on a sloping and wet floor. Q-Kee uses a cattle prod on the metal to wake them all up.
    • When they find Comrade Buc, the interrogators ask him about his scar. They want to know how and why Commander Ga did it all to him.
    • Buc negotiates: his story for information. He wants the interrogators to answer a question for him. They agree.
    • Buc tells about a time when Commander Ga, before the disaster at Prison 9 (the fire and loss of 1500 workers), attacked him at the office.
    • It was a feigned "man-attack" (i.e., rape), to show that Ga had power over Buc, and to humiliate him. In the process, Buc was dropped to the floor, and he hit his eye on the desk on the way down.
    • Commander Ga takes pictures of Comrade Buc before and after his beating (which may make you assume that this is the impostor Ga—but wait).
    • Comrade Buc then asks his one question: is his family alive? The interrogators tell him no. To help him feel better about it, they move him "uphill" out of the filthy standing water in the sump.
    • Buc asks to see his family's file, but the interrogators warn him that there are pictures. They tell him that his family probably died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Buc asks if the girls were wearing white dresses. But the interrogators are done answering questions.
    • Comrade Buc says that Commander Ga couldn't have had anything to do with the loss of Sun Moon—he never made it out of Prison 33. And then Buc get's confused, because he doesn't know which Ga the interrogators are talking about.
    • Buc explains that the scar-giving Ga is the dead one. This confuses the interrogators, since the impostor Ga is the one who apologizes for the scar. It's a puzzle.
    • Buc says that impostor Ga is his friend for killing the real Ga, who had assaulted him in such an insulting way. He tells them that impostor Ga never killed Sun Moon and her children—he just turned them into birds, and they flew away.
    • Buc doesn't want to say more, since his family is dead. There's no incentive to speak.
    • To make their point, the interrogators take away Comrade Buc's wedding ring. It upsets Buc, but he tells them that they really have no power over him now.
    • As they leave, Buc screams some grim truths at the interrogators. When he used to procured for the prisons, he would bought children's prison uniforms and work tools. He never bought food or medicine, but always barbed wire and blood transfusion bags for harvesting prisoners' blood.
    • The interns are not moved by Buc's tirade, but the parents among the interrogators are mighty uncomfortable.
    • We're back to Impostor Ga and Sun Moon's timeline. After he visits with the Dear Leader and gets his new mission, Sun Moon allows him to come into the house.
    • Ga still doesn't know the children's names, but they attend to him as they would if he were their real father.
    • Ga is wearing the pistol that Kim Jong Il supposedly had made to mimic the .45 caliber, to impress the Americans on their upcoming visit.
    • But Sun Moon recognizes the gun as a prop from one of her movies. Soon, she and Ga are talking. Sun Moon tries to sort out who he is.
    • Ga tells Sun Moon that he used to live by the sea and that he almost had a wife. (He's speaking here of the Second Mate's wife.) But she had faded from his memory once he'd seen Sun Moon on the screen.
    • Ga tells Sun Moon of going to America, of getting the dog that now lived in Sun Moon's house.
    • Sun Moon doesn't understand how any of this can be happening. It beggars belief that impostor Ga hasn't been executed already.
    • But Ga is having a fine time, hanging out on the balcony of a deluxe house with his beautiful Sun Moon.
    • Sun Moon asks if Ga killed the Second Mate, and Ga tells her of the Second Mate's defection.
    • Sun Moon makes it clear that she doesn't want Ga to touch her.
    • Ga tells Sun Moon that her husband went into the darkness—and she shouldn't worry about him. He's pretty sure he won't be alive for much longer.
    • Ga and Sun Moon hear the sound of a truck climbing the mountain to their house. Comrade Buc, who is their neighbor, steps out and tells them to come on over—and make it snappy.
    • Ga explains to Sun Moon that the "crow" is a truck that comes to take you away to prison camp. He tells her to take the children into the escape tunnel that the other Ga had built.
    • Buc is still insisting that Ga and Sun Moon come over. But down they go into the tunnel—only to find that it is incomplete and goes nowhere. Sun Moon is pretty annoyed. Why hadn't her husband actually finished the darn thing?
    • Buc finds Ga and Sun Moon and tells them to stop being stupid and come over to his house. When they get there, Buc's wife and children are sitting around the kitchen table.
    • The daughters are wearing white dresses. A can of peaches is on the table, along with glass bowls.
    • Buc gives Ga and Sun Moon each a slice of peach. A soldier comes in looking for Ga. But he's not there to transport him. He gives him a key to a classic Mustang, which he's just delivered to Ga's house.
    • No need for the peaches at this time. Ga doesn't seem to understand what just happened at Buc's house.
    • Buc gives Ga his own can of peaches. They are special, scavenged from the stock of a fruit factory that had to be burned to the ground.
    • Buc admires Ga for getting away with "it," but Ga doesn't even know what "it" is. Buc tells him that there's no name for what he's doing.
    • Sun Moon is shaken by the experience at Comrade Buc's house, but she and Ga have to get ready for one of the Dear Leader's get-togethers.
    • Sun Moon carries out a Japanese tea ritual for Ga with the paraphernalia from her latest unreleased movie, Comfort Woman.
    • In it, Sun Moon's at the mercy of Japanese officers who will use her for sexual gratification later.
    • Ga asks Sun Moon if that's how she sees him—as a hostile enemy force. She tells him to chill out.
    • Sun Moon dresses Ga in her husband's uniform, pinning him with various medals. She has to explain what all of them are.
    • Sun Moon makes Ga promise her to protect her children—which he does.
    • Before leaving, Sun Moon stop to look at the Golden Belt, specially displayed in a case. Sun Moon is about to comment on her husband, but she stops herself.
  • Part 2, Pages 251-271

    • Sun Moon and Ga drive the vintage Mustang into Pyongyang to attend the party. Sun Moon explains that the Mustang, too, was a prop from a movie of hers. In the movie, MacArthur used it to escape from the North Korean Army.
    • Sun Moon and Ga drive past the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery, and Sun Moon sees families stealing flowers to eat. She is indignant at their behavior, saying it is insulting to the ancestors.
    • Ga is ticked off and asks Sun Moon why she thinks they would steal the flowers from a cemetery. She doesn't appear to know.
    • As Sun Moon and Ga make their way through Pyongyang, something heavy crashes onto the car. It is a baby goat that has fallen off the roof of a building.
    • Sun Moon and Ga are stunned, but a clever citizen steps up and helps herself. That's good eating right there.
    • When Sun Moon and Ga get to the Grand People's Opera House, the people around Sun Moon pretend that she hasn't been missing from the fashionable set for a long time.
    • But Sun Moon can feel the tension, especially when everyone sees impostor Ga with her. She has to psych herself up to pretend to be a talented actress just hanging out with her husband.
    • Commander Park approaches, and Sun Moon senses trouble. Ga is oblivious, of course. The conversation between Ga and Park ends when Park punches Ga in the stomach and leaves.
    • Sun Moon explains that Park was Commander Ga's best friend.
    • As they try to recover from that display, a woman approaches Sun Moon and Ga. She seems desperate and is pocketing live shrimp (the shrimp that Jun Do and crew risked themselves to get).
    • The woman is begging for information about her husband, who had been sent to the prisons. She had heard about the new Ga's past and thought perhaps he had seen her husband in prison. She tries to tell Ga her husband's name, but Sun Moon stops her.
    • The woman also conveys the rumor that men are given lobotomies when they are taken into the prisons.
    • Ga tells the woman that lobotomies aren't necessary in the prison camps to make prisoners work like slaves.
    • Soon, a show begins. The band is playing "The Ballad of Ryoktosan," which is about a kwan who defected (or was murdered, according to the state).
    • A comic figure emerges from the stage and engages Ga in a "mock" fight—but Ga thinks it is the Dear Leader in disguise and is afraid to defend himself or fight back.
    • Ga takes a beating from the creature, who turns out not to be the Dear Leader. It's just another one of the Dear Leader's pranks. Everyone congratulates him on a good joke.
    • After causing impostor Ga pain, Kim Jong Il publicly acknowledges him to be the real Commander Ga. End of discussion.
    • Sun Moon knows it's for real after this: her husband has just been replaced. She's feeling pretty devastated and compares her feeling of emptiness to the hunger that must be felt in other places, like Africa.
    • Ga is disgusted by Sun Moon's lack of understanding and her denial of the reality of North Korean life.
    • Ga decides to teach Sun Moon a lesson about hunger and forces her to eat a flower petal—just like the starving families in the cemetery. She kind of hates him for doing this.
    • We hear the loudspeaker's official version of Sun Moon and Ga's evening after leaving the Dear Leader's party.
    • Pyongyang is dark so that its citizens can sleep in peace (not, apparently, because the electricity is limited), unlike in America, where there is light all night, and everyone has to work or engage in immoral activity.
    • Sun Moon and Ga see a man stealing an ostrich egg from the zoo. Ga asks if Sun Moon feels sorrier for the poor man or for the guards who have to chase him. She feels sorry for the bird.
    • Ga likes the car and regrets that he has to give it back (not because Korean cars aren't super, but because life is short and he can't hold on to material things).
    • Sun Moon wonders if she's just acting a part in another movie. The narrative voice says to stop being so melodramatic.
    • Then, the loudspeakers deliver a "trailer" for the next installment of North Korea's Best Story: there will be sex, so make sure the kiddies don't listen in.
    • The voice also reminds all female citizens that it isn't convenient to mourn the loss of a husband once a replacement has been found. The replacement should be comfort enough.
    • The voice then encourages all citizens to join him in a rousing chorus of encouragement for Sun Moon.
    • Back to the objective narrative: at home, Sun Moon inspects Ga's injuries from the "party."
    • Sun Moon tells Ga that he kind of deserves it, since he chose to impersonate her husband. He tells her no: her husband chose him.
    • But Ga doesn't want to be exactly like the old Commander Ga. He can tell that the children were terrified of that guy.
    • Sun Moon is still troubled by the woman looking for information about her imprisoned husband. Ga tells her there are no such things as "lobotomy prisons." He's lying to make her feel better.
    • Ga offers to tell Sun Moon the whole story about his encounter with the real Commander Ga.
    • Instead, Sun Moon briefs him on his duties as her husband: he needs to pour the wine and keep her supplied with cigarettes.
    • While looking for the wine, Ga finds the DVD collection. He and Sun Moon contemplate one called Schindler's List. Probably a bad choice in their current situation.
    • Sun Moon explains to Ga that she's never seen any of these films, because she is "pure" actress.
    • Sun Moon says that she doesn't act for money; she acts for the nation.
    • Sun Moon is sad because no one in America knows who she is, even though the Dear Leader promised that she would act for the world.
    • Ga is worried about more practical things. He wants to know how the real Ga watched those DVDs. Sun Moon reveals that there is a laptop somewhere in the house. But where?
    • We learn that Comrade Buc's gifted can of peaches resides on the mantel above where the children sleep in their bedroom.
    • Now that they are in the bedroom, Sun Moon outlines the rules: the new Ga will dig a proper escape tunnel, and the children will tell him their names when they want to.
    • Ga's also not allowed to use force on the kids or test them. And there will be no touching.
    • Ga begins to tell Sun Moon the story of how he met her husband in the prison camp. He had lined up the prisoners and was checking their chests with a Geiger counter to see who had been exposed to radioactive rock.
    • When Commander Ga came to him, the Geiger counter went ballistic. He also saw that the prisoner had a tattoo of his wife Sun Moon on his chest. Because Ga needed the prisoner, he chalked that indiscretion up to patriotism.
    • Ga decided he wanted the prisoner to be his "eyes and ears" in the mine.
    • Commander Ga made the Warden hold up a twenty-five kilo chunk of rock as a demonstration. He also told the prisoner (soon to be imposter Ga) to tell him if the Warden dropped the rock.
    • The Warden had to hold the rock until Commander Ga returned a month later.
    • Sun Moon tells Ga to stop his story. She recognizes her husband's cruelty.
    • Sun Moon also wants to see the tattoo, but Ga's afraid she will be freaked out. She isn't.
    • Sun Moon understands how the rest of impostor Ga's story will play out once her husband returns to the mines.
    • We're back with the Interrogator, who tells us that he suspects his parents aren't as blind as they say they are.
    • The Interrogator asks them why they never found him a wife. They spout off Party rhetoric about their first duty being to their country.
    • Though his father is speaking along Party lines, the Interrogator can see the old man's fingers twitch. That is a sign that the old, loving dad is in there somewhere.
    • The Interrogator heads out to the night market. He wants to find a charger for Commander Ga's cell phone.
    • The Interrogator tries to pass himself off as a tough member of the Pubyok, but the black marketer isn't buying it. Still, he'll give him a charger for his ID badge.
  • Part 2, Pages 272-292

    • In the morning, the Interrogator gets waylaid by a "Grass into Meat" project at his building: he's conscripted into moving tons of soil to the roof to make a grazing space for goats.
    • The Interrogator tells us that he narrates the events of the day in his head, like he's writing his own biography. But by the time he tries to write it down, it all feels insignificant.
    • The Interrogator really wants to get back to Division 42 and Commander Ga, but he gets pulled into more community service. This time, he's got to carry the goats up to the roof.
    • After that, the Interrogator sells Commander Buc's wedding ring but gets little for it. He does, however, get a little feast for his elderly parents.
    • Commander Ga's phone is finally fully charged, so the Interrogator starts fiddling with it. He gets depressed when he thinks that he has no one to call. He's lonely.
    • The Interrogator tries to think of people from his family's past that his family would like to contact, if they could. But all suggestions of this type make his parents paranoid. They think their son is testing them.
    • The Interrogator remembers the moment when his father explained what family love and loyalty looked like in North Korea: you might be denouncing a loved one with your mouth, but really you're holding hands with them on the inside.
    • As a child, the Interrogator's father would mock-denounce things with his son. It was like a game until one day, when he put real feeling into it and denounced his son in public.
    • His father wasn't really denouncing the Interrogator. He was demonstrating his philosophy: betrayal on the outside, solidarity on the inside.
    • The Interrogator is obsessed over how Commander Ga was able to so thoroughly change his own identity. How did he evade the watchful eye of the State?
    • The Interrogator puzzles over whether the change was wholly external—was Commander Ga on the outside and his original self on the inside? Or had he gone all the way and reformed his inner landscape?
    • The Interrogator stays up late searching Buc's file for any ideas on Ga. And then the cell phone beeps.
    • A picture comes up: it's Ingrid Bergman's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This has no meaning for the Interrogator.
    • The Interrogator turns to Comrade Buc's file and begins to look at the pictures there. Sure enough, his daughters were found wearing white dresses.
    • The Interrogator remembers Buc's warning to "always have a plan in place" for your loved ones. Suddenly, he knows what that means. He thinks about having such a plan for his parents.
    • Then the Interrogator notices the can of peaches in the pictures of Comrade Buc's dead family—and he realizes that he left Commander Ga with another such can of peaches within his reach. Bummer.
    • When the Interrogator gets back to Commander Ga, the man is still alive—and his can of peaches is nowhere to be found.
    • The Interrogator demands to know if Ga killed Sun Moon with peaches.
    • Ga realizes that his peaches are gone and is alarmed. The Interrogator has to get them back before real harm is done.
    • But the Interrogator wants to know what an Ingrid Bergman is first. Ga ignores him.
    • The Interrogator asks Ga how he got Sun Moon to love him back even though he was an impostor. Ga introduces him to the concept of intimacy: not keeping secrets from each other.
    • The Interrogator's mind is blown by this idea.
    • The Interrogator sees Q-Kee bustling through the hallways—at 3 a.m. He knows something's up.
    • Q-Kee's carrying a device that could, say, pump a stomach. He follows her into the sump and realizes that Q-Kee has given Buc the peaches with botulism. Buc is already dying.
    • Q-Kee had overreached: she tried to get Buc's confession on her own, and she wound up making a bad deal. She gave him the peaches before he made his confession.
    • And then Buc did something strange. Just like Commander Ga, Comrade Buc asked whose peaches they were: his or Ga's?
    • Q-Kee says that she never gave Buc the answer.
    • Inspired by the knowledge that there's a tainted can of peaches lying around Division 42, the Interrogator begins the search. He finds it among Comrade Buc's things—and then he goes home.
    • We're back with impostor Ga at home with the children. He had seen Sun Moon hide the pistol high up in a kitchen cabinet, so he begins to search for others. The children see him.
    • Ga asks the kids how many guns are in the house. There are three. Ga makes sure the kids know not to touch them. Good fake dad.
    • But then Ga asks the kids to help him find mummy's ciggies before she wakes up. He finds a loose piece of molding, behind which is a carton of her cigarettes.
    • The boy finally understands that he's looking for hidey holes—and he leads Ga to the portrait of Kim Jong Il. Bingo: laptop, U.S. dollars, testosterone.
    • Ga cooks breakfast for the family and then tells them about life in America. The children want to know if you have to pay for food and other basic things there.
    • The boy wants to know if dogs really have their own food in cans in America. Ga thinks this is preposterous—at least, he hadn't seen such a thing.
    • Back at work for the Dear Leader, impostor Ga prepares for the American delegation by creating an American menu. They are going to reconstruct the Senator's Texas ranch from movie props.
    • Other finishing touches have a distinctly North Korean touch: a scythe instead of a weedwhacker, puppy-skin gloves instead of calfskin ones.
    • On his off days, Ga teaches the children how to snare birds and do real work, like finishing up the escape tunnel. They love it.
    • Ga also takes time to check out Commander Ga's laptop. He finds photographs like Mongnan's on there.
    • Sun Moon also receives a new movie script written for her by the Dear Leader. It's called Ultimate Sacrifices. It upsets her because it is really the story of her existence with imposter Ga.
    • Sun Moon is depressed by the sameness of all her roles. They're all about survival and endurance: nothing more. Ga tries to cheer her up by saying that her acting inspires people. It makes them feel like there's a purpose for their suffering, even when there really isn't. A backhanded compliment, perhaps?
    • But Sun Moon isn't buying it. She knows that the Dear Leader is doing this to humiliate them both. He would love to see her acting in a role about submission—and then never release it, like he did with her last movie.
    • Ga assures Sun Moon that he only wants to humiliate the Americans. Sun Moon takes the opportunity to school her new husband on Kim Jong Il. When he wants you to suffer, she says, he gives you something to lose. And he doesn't need reasons to destroy.
    • Ga tells Sun Moon that they should use her former husband's laptop to rewrite the script. Sun Moon warms to the idea and begins offering changes.
    • While Sun Moon and Ga are deep in editing mode, Brando barks. The children's bird trap has worked. Ga takes the children outside and shows them how to dress—and eat—a little bird on the spot. They think he's totally awesome. A little gross, but awesome.
    • The voice on the loudspeaker blares the news and asks all citizens to make sure their neighbors' loudspeakers are working, just in case there is another sneak attack from the Americans.
    • And we continue with the official story of Sun Moon and Commander Ga. This time, they are going on a picnic in the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery to honor Sun Moon's great uncle.
    • Sun Moon tells Ga that she only has her mother left—and she's at Wonsan in retirement. Sun Moon wonders why she never writes.
    • Ga assures Sun Moon that the old people in Wonsan are probably having wayyy too much fun to write to anyone. She shouldn't worry about her mother's silence.
    • Ga takes the children through the cemetery to look at the busts of the martyrs. He can tell the story of each one, including Pak Jun Do and Un Bo Song.
    • Sun Moon is quite turned on by all the stories of sacrifice and patriotism, so she sends the children into the woods so she can have some "quality time" with Ga.
    • Sun Moon and Ga enter into a hothouse that grows kimilsungia, and, in one of the greatest socialist love-making scenes ever written, they get busy.
  • Part 2, Pages 293-305

    • Here comes the real version of what happened in the Revolutionary Martyr's Cemetery.
    • Sun Moon and Ga head out to honor Sun Moon's great-uncle, and Ga promises to cook his favorite meal for them. They tie Brando on a tree in the woods so as not to offend others in the cemetery.
    • Ga immediately recognizes and knows the story of Sun Moon's great-uncle. In fact, he knows the stories of all the martyrs. And as he looks at them, he thinks of all the boys in the orphanage who bore their names.
    • Ga feels comforted when looking at the bronze busts of these grown men. It's like all the orphans, even the ones who died horrible deaths, were allowed to live until they were grown.
    • When Ga reaches the bust of Pak Jun Do, there's an internal standoff. He challenges the face of bronze, telling it that he is his own man.
    • Sun Moon can see that something's going on and asks if there's special significance in that martyr for Ga. He tells her no—but it was important to a guy he used to know.
    • Ga takes Sun Moon and the kids into the woods to show them how to cook his very favorite meal: a fish soup. He shows the children how to catch fish with a shirt, how to gather the ingredients, and how to build a fire.
    • Ga tells the story of how he used to make this meal when he was allowed the freedom of logging duty. Sun Moon wonders about his parents, who should have been in the camp with him. Ga tells her that he had no parents to worry about at that time.
    • Sun Moon tells Ga that she only has a mother—retired in Wonsan. Ga begins to question how long she's been there. Sun Moon says her mother hasn't written, because she's too busy.
    • It's an awkward moment for Ga as he unconvincingly tries to reassure Sun Moon that probably nothing is wrong. But then Ga tells her not to believe the rumors about Wonsan.
    • The problem is, Sun Moon hadn't heard any rumors.
    • Ga reflects on the value of self-deceit, and he thinks that losing his illusions was the hardest part about being in the prison camp.
    • Ga had a moment when all of his comforting lies fell apart. This happened on a stoning day, when the whole camp was lined up at the river to stone a man who'd tried to escape.
    • Each inmate had to take a shot at the prisoner, who was buried waist high in the dirt.
    • Ga had helped Mongnan down to the site, and when it was their turn, Ga realized it was the Captain buried in the sand.
    • Ga ran to the Captain to speak with him instead of throwing a rock, but the Captain only told him he needed to get himself out of the camp. Mongnan pleaded with Ga to throw the rock.
    • The soldiers fired a warning shot at Ga, and he finally threw the rock, hard enough to put his friend out of his misery.
    • After that, Ga was a mess. Mongnan realized that the Captain had been a father figure to him—and then she called him out about being an orphan (stop lying to yourself, boy).
    • Mongnan tells Ga that it is time to drop his illusions and figure out a way to get out.
    • Back in the woods outside the cemetery, Ga refocuses on what he's doing. He takes his camera out and snaps a picture of his little "family," as if preparing her for something.
    • And then the soup's ready. Ga lets Brando off the leash to hunt for his own food. He tries to talk to the children about what happened to their real father, but Sun Moon is not into it.
    • Ga tells Sun Moon that not knowing will be bad for them. But Sun Moon is not ready to take away her children's illusions.
    • At that moment, there is a noise in the bush. The boy sends Brando to hunt.
    • Then a scream is heard. When Ga finds the dog, he sees him keeping a whole starving family at bay.
    • Sun Moon is shocked to see that these people are actually starving to death—but the family denies that things are so bad.
    • Sun Moon wants to give these people her diamond ring to help feed them, but Ga stops her: they will be killed for having such a thing. They need practical items instead, so Sun Moon and Ga give over shoes, boots, earrings—and the good pot of soup.
    • The family would like the dog, too. Remember, those are good eating.
    • But Ga says no.
    • Just to point out, there's no lovemaking scene in this version of the story. When Sun Moon and Ga tuck the kids in that night, Sun Moon gets to work on the revision of the script.
    • But Ga is bothered by something. He has to tell Sun Moon the truth about Wonsan. The old people of North Korea do not go there for retirement. They just disappear.
    • At that moment, Sun Moon hates Ga for stripping away her illusions.
    • The next morning, Sun Moon is in a foul, depressed mood—as you might expect of a woman who just learned that her mother probably died a horrible death.
    • Buc visits to shoot the breeze with Ga. He tells Ga that the Dear Leader wants to give a branding demonstration to the Americans. Eek.
    • Ga knows that he's dead meat in a short time, but Buc seems to think it's smooth sailing from here out, since Kim Jong Il had publicly declared him the real Ga.
    • Ga tells Buc that he's found the real Ga's laptop and that there are maps and blueprints on it that he can't read. Buc tells him that these are maps of uranium mines.
    • Buc offers to go over the laptop with Ga, but Ga tells him about the disturbing photos, including the terrible one of Buc.
    • Buc wants to make one thing clear: Commander Ga did not actually rape him. He tells Ga the story of being beaten into submission in the office.
    • Buc would really like to know how imposter Ga killed the real Ga—so impostor Ga tells him.
    • It happened in the deepest level of the mines.
    • Suddenly, the real Commander Ga appeared and ordered impostor Ga (then a prisoner) to grab another prisoner and hold him.
    • Then Commander Ga stripped off the prisoner's clothes and instructed him on how to rape a man to see if he's "really a man" (i.e., heterosexual). If you grab him, and he's aroused, then he's not.
    • Commander Ga tried it out on soon-to-be impostor Ga, telling him that he respected him because he was trying to avoid him. But it didn't go well.
    • Commander Ga said that soon, they would both have the same scar on their souls.
    • The two began fighting—and then impostor Ga kicked out the light.
    • The impostor had the advantage in the dark, so he took it.
  • Part 2, Pages 305-327

    • Sun Moon changes her mind about Casablanca—she absolutely must see it. With 90 minutes of charge on the laptop, they get ready for a nonstop Ingrid Bergman/Humphrey Bogart experience.
    • Ga has to translate into Korean for Sun Moon, and at first things don't go well. Sun Moon is disappointed that there's no singing, no glorification of anything, no portrayal of real problems.
    • Sun Moon doesn't understand why Bergman's character can't just settle down with the nice Victor Laszlo. But then things change.
    • Sun Moon begins to see similarities between herself and the characters. By the end, she's crying—which is the proper response to Casablanca, of course.
    • But Sun Moon's crying because the black-and-white purity of the film makes her "acting in color" pale in comparison.
    • Sun Moon vows to go to the place where this film was made. She'll need a letter of transit, just like Rick and Ilsa.
    • Ga tells Sun Moon that it's just a movie, but she goes on: Ga is like Rick, and he will get them out. Ga feels a little freaked out by this.
    • Ga wants to make his own choices in life and not be ruled by a character in an American film. Also, he's not sure that Sun Moon wants him in her life. And what about her kids? Would she leave them?
    • But no—Sun Moon accepts that impostor Ga is her husband now, and they all must go.
    • Ga asks Sun Moon if the real Commander Ga had a plan for when everything came crashing down. He did, she says, but it didn't include his wife and kids.
    • Ga promises that his own plans won't be like this.
    • The Interrogator can't sleep for thinking about himself and Commander Ga. He feels that they are alike in some ways—both are essentially nameless. They both also don't know the fates of people in their lives.
    • It occurs to the Interrogator that once he writes a biography, he doesn't really know what becomes of the person. He feels that if can write Ga's biography, he will also be writing his own.
    • Down on the street below, the Interrogator can see workers being rounded up for some detail or other. He asks his father, who he assumes is also awake, if this is all there is to life. He gets no response.
    • When the Interrogator gets back to Division 42, another member of his team is missing. The percentages have been bad for his team—they're really dwindling.
    • The Interrogator takes his team to search Sun Moon's and Comrade Buc's houses. They find the tunnel with the rice and DVDs, but the garden has been harvested.
    • Q-Kee makes some deductions based on the arrangement of things in the bathroom and the bedroom. Ga and Sun Moon were in love, but they haven't had sex.
    • The interrogators note that only one of Sun Moon's dresses is gone. Q-Kee understands that the dresses in the closet were costumes from Sun Moon's movies, and she feels she can figure out which dress is missing if she's given a little time.
    • In Comrade Buc's house, the interrogators find only a secret stash of miniature Bibles. They divide the rice and DVDs, but chuck the Bibles out the window.
    • The Interrogator continues to work with Ga, but he's not getting what he wants: the location of Sun Moon's body.
    • But the Interrogator also wants something else: to understand how Ga got from showing up at Sun Moon's door as the murderer of her husband to the point of sharing a bed and bathroom with her.
    • What the Interrogator really wants to know is how to be loved.
    • And this is where the dynamic shifts between these two men. Ga starts asking questions. Is the Interrogator in love? Does the woman he loves mind what he does for a living?
    • The Interrogator is a little surprised. What's so bad about his work? He saves people from the Pubyok, after all.
    • The Interrogator throws the question back at Ga: why should he have been worthy of Sun Moon's love? Ga was just a replacement husband. Who loves those?
    • It suddenly occurs to the Interrogator that perhaps he, too, is a replacement. Had his parents had children before him? They were kind of old, and they seemed distant from him.
    • The Interrogator decides to take a look at his parents' files, just to make sure, but he doesn't find anything noteworthy. It seems to have been only him from the beginning.
    • When he returns to Division 42, the Interrogator realizes that Q-Kee is cozying up to Sarge. He also notices that he's wickedly behind on his workload: 11 unfinished cases.
    • The Interrogator has even forgotten to check on his easiest case, a nurse who had flirted with a South Korean officer. He had taken her in five days ago.
    • By the time the Interrogator gets to her, this nurse is really eager to denounce everyone she knows and confess to anything.
    • Despite this, the Interrogator hooks the nurse up to the autopilot. He touches her so that he can feel the electricity moving through her body.
    • The Interrogator thinks back on his days as an intern, when he and his co-worker Leonardo performed lobotomies on most subjects. But the lobotomies didn't produce the desired results. Instead of creating happy, dedicated workers, they made zombies out of everyone. No work could be done on the labor farms with these people.
    • This experience made the Interrogator want to improve their methods.
    • The autopilot was "test driven" by him and his crew. It delivered electric shocks designed to peel away a subject's personality and desire to resist.
    • The nurse is getting her fair share now, so much so that the Interrogator can smell ozone in the room.
    • It's back to impostor Ga, who is fulfilling his promise to the Dear Leader to oversee a replica of the Senator's Texas ranch. He meets Comrade Buc on the site—who hands him the pair of cowboy boots he had had to leave behind at the store in Texas.
    • Ga changes the real Ga's shoes for the boots, which are a better fit.
    • Buc wonders if the set-up looks enough like Texas. Ga tells him that the Dear Leader has never been there, so who cares?
    • Ga reflects on a conversation he had with Sun Moon that morning. She wanted him to confirm that her husband was really, truly never coming back. She was afraid he might pop up again. Ga told her she would never see him again—but in her mind, that's not the same thing as saying that Commander Ga is dead.
    • For sure he's dead, impostor Ga said. It's just that it was dark down there. And things were crazy. And he'd refused to crush his skull with a stone, like Mongnan suggested.
    • What if Ga had only very nearly killed the real Commander Ga? That would be awkward.
    • As he surveys "Texas," Ga thinks of Dr. Song, who is now dead. He asks Buc what will happen if, despite their work, the Dear Leader isn't happy.
    • After all, Dr. Song followed all the rules.
    • Buc shows Ga a ridiculously enormous branding iron. It says "Property of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea"—we kid you not.
    • Ga laughs at the branding iron but assures Buc that it's spelled correctly.
    • Ga then confesses to Buc his worries about possibly maybe not exactly having absolutely killed Commander Ga in the mine.
    • Now it's Buc's turn to reassure Ga. They would have heard by now if Commander Ga were still alive.
    • Impostor Ga tries to hint that Buc should maybe distance himself from him—for the sake of his wife and girls.
    • Buc gets suspicious. Ga explains that he and Sun Moon's family will be leaving on the American plane when the delegation goes. They're defecting.
    • Now Buc is mad that he knows. Why would Ga tell him such a thing? He's placed Buc in danger.
    • Ga changes the subject by saying that the gigantic branding iron will probably kill the ox they procured for the branding demonstration.
    • Though Comrade Buc is angry with Ga for telling him his plans, he believes that Ga has a chance of making it. He feels that Ga is extraordinary in some ways.
    • Buc asks if Ga is in love with Sun Moon. Could he live without her? No, Ga says.
    • Buc tells Ga that if he chooses to go with Sun Moon, the chances of making it are average. If, however, he stayed by the Dear Leader's side and distracted him, her chances would be good.
    • It's convenient for another reason: Comrade Buc won't be the one to suffer for the defection, since Ga himself will be around to do that.
    • Buc promises to help Ga through the repercussions if he stays in North Korea.
    • At this moment, Commander Park approaches and says there's been a change of plans.
    • Back in the Dear Leader's bunker, Ga learns that the Americans won't even be leaving the tarmac on their visit to North Korea. He tells Ga that they have to move the ranch to the airport.
    • The Dear Leader is humiliated by the American plan, so he's trying to think of a humiliating gift to give them. He's leaning toward rhinoceros-horn bookends.
    • Ga also thinks they should give back the pallets of food a Texas church group had sent for them when they made the trip. And, he says, they should give back the dog, Brando.
    • In lieu of the Bibles that were also sent home with them, they could offer Kim Jong Il's latest work on opera.
    • The Dear Leader is pleased by this, and he decides to show Ga something important.
  • Part 2, Pages 327-347

    • Kim Jong Il shows Ga the master computer. He explains that they used to have a dummy version (the one that the Interrogator knows about)—but this one, he claims, is the real thing.
    • Kim Jong Il tells Ga that he may look up anyone he wants to have information about. A screen appears that keeps tabs on the population of North Korea. As they watch, it goes up by one.
    • The Dear Leader says that in South Korea, they have an ultrasound machine that can tell when a baby is female. They terminate those pregnancies.
    • Ga doesn't know if this is true, but he thinks about the termination days in the prison camp, when all expectant mothers are injected with saline, and their fetuses are collected in a box.
    • Kim Jong Il tells Ga to type in any name to the computer—perhaps someone from the orphanage?—and the inquiry will be sent to people who will find out.
    • For Ga, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Who will he reach out to? In the end, he decides to type in Commander Ga's name.
    • But the Dear Leader won't allow that. It seems that the teams awaiting the name were probably part of Division 42 or the like.
    • Kim Jong Il takes Ga back to the rower's cell. He confides in Ga, saying that he's kind of fallen for her. He likes talking to her, even though she can't understand him.
    • Kim Jong Il also asks Ga if he's ever heard of a syndrome that makes captives fall in love with their captors. Ga has not.
    • But the Dear Leader fears that he doesn't have time for the syndrome to take effect—it sometimes takes years—and the Americans are coming.
    • The Dear Leader laments the loss of Sun Moon to Ga and tells him how incredibly lucky he is not to have been thrown to the Pubyok before this.
    • The Dear Leader wonders where he will ever find another rower girl and another Sun Moon.
    • Kim Jong Il and Ga enter the rower's cell, where she is still transcribing his works. He's enthralled that she's read all his works, which means she knows his heart.
    • Kim Jong Il rhapsodizes about the possibility of an American girl falling in love with him. Wouldn't that be so cool? That would be triumph over the Americans for sure.
    • Ga asks the rower if she's ready to go home. Of course she is. He tells her to write a note that he will dictate into her notebooks.
    • Ga addresses his American friend Wanda and tells her that she needs to accept the food aid and all the gifts the Dear Leader gives them.
    • Meanwhile, the Dear Leader is talking about taking the rower to a spa to spoil her a bit and maybe convince her to stay.
    • Ga adds something else to the note: there will be "guests" who will bring a laptop to the Americans.
    • Ga tells the rower to destroy the note when they leave.
    • Kim Jong Il asks whether or not it would be advisable to keep the rower and send the Americans back with nothing. His advisors say it's not... advisable.
    • Ga tells the Dear Leader that the rower belongs to him. If he gives her back, it's because that's what he wants. Excellent diplomacy, Ga.
    • In the end, the Dear Leader figures it's a hopeless case.
    • Ga says that he needs to get a "before" picture—before she's cleaned up. In reality, he wants to take a picture of the note with Wanda's camera.
    • As Ga is snapping away, Kim Jong Il poses with the rower himself, and then he tells Ga he wants copies of the photos. Oops.
    • The Interrogator isn't doing so well. He's worn out and also trying to avoid the work details that have been scooping people up off the street.
    • But the Interrogator's luck doesn't hold out, and he gets taken to the countryside to harvest rice. Still, sleeping in the open does him good.
    • The next day, the Interrogator's assigned to empty latrine pots because he stinks at rice harvesting. During his detail, a woman gets bitten by a snake. He tries to help her, but she hits him.
    • The Interrogator watches the offending critter skedaddle into the water, and he can't help but think that its mate is out there waiting for it.
    • The Interrogator gets home late and finds the door to his apartment barricaded. He can't rouse his parents to open the door, so he sleeps in the hallway.
    • The phone goes off and shows a picture of a Korean boy and girl wearing mouse ears. He doesn't know what this means.
    • The Interrogator's parents let him back into the apartment in the morning. His files look as though they've been spread about, and his parents claim not to have heard him calling from the hall. They explain that they blocked the door because of something they'd heard on the loudspeaker that evening.
    • But the Interrogator is suspicious: his blind mother is cooking away. How can she do it? She gives him some probable explanations.
    • The Interrogator's parents also explain that his papers had fallen on the floor, and they tried to pick them up. They now start to ask him questions about the file.
    • The Interrogator is irritated and asks if his parents are still mad about a neighbor he'd denounced. They tell him that they are just feeling compassion for the poor people who come to his place of employment.
    • The Interrogator objects. He also suspects that his parents been fiddling with his can of peaches, but he can't be sure.
    • The Interrogator demands to know if his mother can see him. She answers cryptically, saying that she sees him the way she saw him first on his birthday. He was born in the dark, and they had no candles.
    • Then the Interrogator asks the Big Question: did his parents have any other children?
    • The Interrogator's mother doesn't answer. She says that though she's blind, she can see what her son has become.
    • Ga and Sun Moon take the children to walk by the river. He slips coins to poor children whenever he sees them.
    • Ga tells Sun Moon that he really wants to tell the children what happened to their father. He doesn't want them to leave and never know.
    • But Sun Moon doesn't want to break the kids' illusions—she wants them to go on thinking that their dad was a great hero. Ga disagrees.
    • Sun Moon tells Ga there will be time to discuss this in America. Ga knows he won't be there.
    • Ga thinks about Sun Moon's new life in America without him and is pained to think of her with another husband at her side. He wonders if he can die knowing that she was in love with someone else.
    • Ga asks Sun Moon the Dear Leader's question about Stockholm syndrome: can a captive fall in love with her captor?
    • From his personal kidnapping experience, Ga knows this to be absurd.
    • Then Ga tells Sun Moon a little about the American rower—it's the first time Sun Moon is hearing about this. If the Dear Leader goes back on his word to hand the girl over, their own plan of escape will be ruined.
    • Sun Moon wants to know about the rower's captivity: is she in a cage? Ga describes the rower's situation, then demands to know whether the syndrome is real or not.
    • Sun Moon turns the tables: what about a woman who shares a bed with her captor? What if she depended on him? What if they had children?
    • This confuses Ga. Is Sun Moon talking about him, or is she talking about her previous husband?
    • Either way, Ga knows the rower wants out. Sun Moon understands that he must know her well, and he tells her the story of listening to broadcasts on the water.
    • Ga talks about the bond with the other rower, even though she felt totally alone at night on the water, completely free.
    • Ga wants to discuss the plan with Sun Moon, and she's finally ready. He tells her to remember the bound/alone thing if they somehow get separated.
    • Sun Moon doesn't like that kind of talk. Ga tells her not to worry. If something goes wrong, he'll find her later.
    • Sun Moon puts her foot down: Ga can't abandon her. He has to come with them to America. She's his captive, all right?
    • Ga and Sun Moon kiss their first kiss, right there in the park. Ga recognizes her kissing stance from one of the movies—but he's totally okay with it.
    • The voice on the loudspeaker tells of the American acceptance of an invitation to visit Pyongyang. It speaks of a crow that protectively patrols the land to sniff out capitalist sympathizers.
    • The allegory of the crow continues. In it, Ga undermines the self-sufficiency of orphans by tossing them coins. The crow can also see that Ga and Sun Moon are planning.
    • And that's a bad thing. Citizens must leave all future plans to the leaders of the State. They must only live for the present.
    • Now the crow presents a summons for Sun Moon, and a car appears to take her to Kim Jong Il.
    • As Sun Moon is driven through the city, she sees the places of her youth and feels sad. She wonders what has happened to the people from her past.
    • The voice says that perhaps Sun Moon knew she would never see those places again.
    • When Sun Moon gets to Kim Jong Il, he's wearing his signature gray jumpsuit—but with an apron over it. He's dressed as a waiter, and he wants to bring Sun Moon a drink.
    • Kim Jong Il can tell that Sun Moon's a little sad, and he offers to chat. She tells him she's been practicing her new role. But the Dear Leader tells her it's a happy one. What's the prob?
    • To cheer Sun Moon up, Kim Jong Il gives her an American guitar and tells her it's what they use to sing the blues. She has no idea what the heck he's talking about.
    • Sun Moon tries to play the guitar, but it sounds awful to her. Kim Jong Il tells her that she's to compose a goodbye song for the girl rower. She tries again, but she's playing it flat on its back.
    • Then Kim Jong Il brings up the good old days. Wouldn't it be great if Sun Moon's husband went out on a dangerous mission and never came back?
    • Sun Moon gets it. She wants to know if an accident is about to befall her replacement husband. Kim Jong Il assures her it is not.
    • Sun Moon reminds Kim Jong Il that he, too, has another person to talk to: the girl rower.
    • Kim Jong Il tells Sun Moon that the rower girl is charming, but nothing compared to Sun Moon.
    • Sun Moon knows she has to keep the Dear Leader from detaining the rower girl, so she works on him a bit. She tells him that a spoiled little capitalist could never do it for him. Could she?
    • Kim Jong Il hands Sun Moon a gold dress, soap, and a comb. He will judge after Sun Moon fixes the rower up a bit.
  • Part 2, Pages 348-366

    • The voice of the loudspeaker narrator interrupts to show us the grooming scene between Sun Moon and the rower.
    • Sun Moon bathes the rower and chatters away in Korean, regardless of whether the woman can understand her or not.
    • In order to convince the strong American that she has also overcome adversity, Sun Moon tells the story of her grandmother—the story Kim Jong Il told in the Comfort Woman script.
    • Sun Moon's grandmother had been taken to be a concubine for the Japanese Emperor Taisho. She had to act as though she was pleased when really she wanted to kill herself all the time.
    • Sun Moon talks about her mother, who also had to make tough choices. She says that although she hasn't suffered much yet herself, she feels that it is coming.
    • As Sun Moon continues to clean and brush the girl, she talks about feeling sorry for her, since the American government does nothing for its citizens.
    • Sun Moon's kind of panicking about heading over to America herself, and she begins to question the uncomprehending rower. Sun Moon gets frantic.
    • The girl makes some gesture that makes Sun Moon think she wants to hear the end of her grandmother's story.
    • After she makes it back to her village and raises her children, Sun Moon's grandmother kills herself out of honor.
    • The rower catches Sun Moon's emotion and begins trying to tell her something.
    • The voice tells us that the rower takes up Kim Jong Il's books and motions that they are the wisdom that will pull them through. It says that the rower's clearly sad to be leaving North Korea.
    • But, the voice says, the rower will be sustained by her memories of her stay in North Korea.
    • The Interrogator is breaking down further. Now he's sleepless because he's dreaming of snakes. He dreams that the cell phone delivers him a picture of his own wife and kids.
    • The Interrogator thinks about the subjects hooked up to the autopilot, about how they live in a dream-like state and have intense experiences, even if they can't remember them.
    • The Interrogator thinks it would all be worth it, to get a new life.
    • The Propaganda guys are in the library when the Interrogator gets to Division 42. They need a workable story, but the Interrogator is feeling hostile to them. They always change too much. He sends them packing after a tense and grouchy exchange. They promise to return.
    • The Interrogator enters the Pubyok lounge and sees that Q-Kee's cut hair is on the floor. Then he sees that the old men have "taken care" of his backlogged cases. He's lost the stories.
    • When Q-Kee appears, it's clear that she's gone over to the Pubyok. And she's wearing Commander Ga's cowboy boots.
    • Q-Kee found a sketch of the Texas ranch in Ga's boot, which leads her to think that the ranch may be the place where he's hidden Sun Moon's body.
    • Q-Kee really wants to find Sun Moon and give her a proper burial. She thinks the Interrogator can figure it out.
    • When Sarge returns to Division 42, the Interrogator asks what has happened to his colleague, Leonardo. Sarge says he has no clue. They study the map together.
    • Sarge recognizes the place on the map as an old military base. He tells the Interrogator that he doesn't have to write a book on everyone. The Interrogator, however, says that he does—or just what would his job description be?
    • Sarge invites the Interrogator over to the dark side. Why doesn't he just want to be one of the boys?
    • But the Interrogator persists: Commander Ga's biography is too important.
    • Sarge points out that the "guys at the top" already know what happened.
    • The Interrogator is thrown. What is all this about, then?
    • Sarge is belligerent. He tells the Interrogator that he's not even allowed to tell stories. That's Propaganda's job.
    • Propaganda, the Interrogator says, is filled with liars.
    • Sarge is pretty shocked by this. He leaves the convo by saying that the military base is hell during the rains—which is now.
    • But the Interrogator won't be stopped. He takes what's left of his crew—Jujack and Q-Kee—and heads out. They get into a "crow" to drive to the military base—much to Jujack's dismay. His father told him never to get into one of those.
    • While they ride, Q-Kee finds the name of someone she knows carved into the seat. She doesn't seem to care. She says that she really wants to find Sun Moon, even though this would be confirmation that Sun Moon is dead, and there would be no more illusions.
    • The three start to talk of one of Sun Moon's gorier movies, one in which she's been beheaded. Jujack really liked it, and Q-Kee was inspired by Sun Moon in that one.
    • When the three get to the site, it's already mud and flood. Jujack doesn't want to get out—he says they're just wasting time. Q-Kee gets suspicious; Jujack seems to know something.
    • Still, the all get out and slog through the muck. There are snakes in the trees, much to the Interrogator's horror, and eels in the water.
    • But the three find nothing. Not even a body floating by in the rising water.
    • The Interrogator is not deterred. He feels that this might be the defining moment of his career—maybe even his life.
    • Then night falls, and still there's nothing. The three decide to give in. Q-Kee continues to accuse Jujack of knowing something that he won't share.
    • As soon as the crew gets back to Division 42, Q-Kee denounces Jujack to Sarge. He asks for proof, and Q-Kee says that she feels it in her heart.
    • Apparently, that's enough proof to get Jujack hauled off by the Pubyok. The Interrogator can't stop them.
    • Sarge has already decided that Jujack is disloyal; he praises Q-Kee.
    • The Interrogator runs to Commander Ga to try to save Jujack. If Ga knows what the boy is concealing, there won't be any reason to torture him.
    • Ga is looking at his tattoo, wishing it had been inked in reverse so that he could see Sun Moon properly in reflection.
    • The Interrogator pleads for the necessary information. He explains their adventure at the site where the Texas ranch should have been. Ga tells him they won't find anything.
    • Everything was moved, but Ga won't tell him where. It's the thing that pushed the Dear Leader over the edge.
    • The Interrogator tells Ga that he isn't going to live. Why not save Jujack's life? Ga says simply that no one will survive, and then he asks about the Interrogator's plan.
    • The Interrogator dangles the cell phone before Ga. He will exchange the pictures on it for information.
    • Ga tells the Interrogators that the Americans wouldn't leave the plane. The ranch had to be moved to the airport.
    • But it's too late. Q-Kee enters with blood on her smock. She has the same information.
    • The Interrogator is frantically asking about Jujack. No one answers.
    • Q-Kee takes a signal from Sarge and breaks her hand, for the first time, on the doorjamb. She's now one of them.
    • Sarge confirms this and tells Q-Kee that she no longer needs a name. He's also finally glad that they let a woman join the Division.
    • Back at Sun Moon's house, things are getting tense. She realizes what it will mean to leave: it means leaving behind everything that has meaning to her.
    • Sun Moon even has to choose just one dress from her dazzling collections. That means picking one identity and sticking to it.
    • Ga picks for her: it's a shimmering dress worn by Sun Moon when she played an opera singer who simply disappears.
  • Part 2, Pages 366-387

    • Ga, the children, and Sun Moon are really wrapping things up. They harvest everything in the garden and make a feast. The children start to tell stories, but they are all grim.
    • Ga decides to tell the story of the space dog from Pyongyang. The children get into the spirit and begin to add parts to the story of the brave little dog that went to the moon.
    • The dog wanted to leave because the mean zookeeper fed him badly, and the moon was his friend.
    • Ga asks the kids if the scientists ever told the dog that he couldn't come back once he reached the moon. The boy says no: the scientists betrayed the dog.
    • The story continues, Ga steering it to make an allegory of their imminent departure.
    • The children keep the story going, and Ga takes it all in: it's a real family moment. Perfection.
    • Sun Moon makes up a ballad about the brave dog, and Ga is even more affected.
    • Ga knows he will have to give them all up in the morning. He thinks back to his time in Prison 33, when he really learned how to give up everything that mattered.
    • Ga realizes that he's already letting go of his family, and it physically pains him. He tries to remember his pain training so that he can keep them all in the glow of the fire while his heart hurts.
    • Ga realizes that Sun-Moon-as-pain-reserve will save him from the loss of Sun-Moon-as-woman. After the children go to bed, Ga asks her if she's having second thoughts. But really, it's Ga who's having the thoughts.
    • Ga asks Sun Moon what if this is their last moment together? She thinks he's just trying to get her in bed—okay, and maybe he is—but he's also really asking.
    • Sun Moon tells Ga that he still doesn't really know her, but Ga reveals observations about her that show how much he really does know.
    • Ga guesses that Sun Moon must have had a sibling as a child, because she reaches out for a hand in the darkness every night. He knows that she must have worked hard, because there are scars on her knees.
    • Ga also knows that she'd tasted flowers before, because she'd been hungry before.
    • While Ga is holding Sun Moon on the balcony, a car from the Dear Leader pulls up at the house. It's there to collect Sun Moon.
    • Ga is devastated when Sun Moon leaves. He feels as though Kim Jong Il is taking away the one thing that matters.
    • The children ask where their mother has gone, and Ga tells them that he has a serious story to share with them. But first, he's got to talk to Comrade Buc.
    • When he gets to Buc's house, Ga notices all the family paraphernalia from many generations on the walls. He hadn't seen them before.
    • Buc's wife is making a new white dress for a daughter, who had outgrown hers. She tells Ga that her hope is to grow old and mark her life by all the white dresses that never got worn. She reminds Ga that he made a promise to her husband to keep him out of danger. Ga renews the promise to her—he won't be going anywhere.
    • Buc's wife tells Ga that she never imagined making white suicide dresses for her children when she got the sewing machine as a bridal present.
    • Ga asks why it matters what the girls wear. Buc's explains that their whole world has fallen apart and become uglier. She won't let her daughters die in an ugly way.
    • Ga tries to tell Buc's wife about the tradition of quiltmaking in America, but she's in no mood. She's mad at Ga for putting them in danger.
    • But Buc's wife feels a little compassion for Ga as he leaves and tells him that Sun Moon is most definitely with the Dear Leader.
    • Ga asks what Buc's wife tells the children when she's dressing them in the suicide dresses. She says that she would never tell them the truth—it would take away their future.
    • Buc's wife has groomed her children for this moment by protecting them from something else. Since the ice cream vans in the city snatch children for labor camps, she's always told her kids that peaches are the best dessert. She's promised them they will have the last can of peaches in North Korea on some special day.
    • When Ga returns to the children for their serious talk, he makes sure the peaches are on the mantel where he left them.
    • Then Ga tries to tell the kiddies about what he's done to their father. He doesn't want his own personal propaganda to be all that they remember about him.
    • But Ga finds it impossible. Instead, he answers the kids' questions about their mom: she is with the Dear Leader.
    • When Ga attempts to tell his story, he realizes that the children don't even have the vocabulary to understand the basics of the tunnel situation. What they really want is a dog story.
    • So Ga decides to tell them an allegory, something that they can remember when they are older and unlock the true meaning of when the time is right.
    • Ga begins a story about a search for two dogs: one is the smartest and the other the bravest in North Korea. But the scientists couldn't find these types of dogs.
    • The children start to contribute again. They skew the original intent of Ga's story, and he changes the purpose: he can make the dog teach the kids about defecting.
    • In the end, the story becomes so spontaneous that it has no purpose—it's just for fun. And everyone feels better.
    • In the end, the boy wants to tell Ga his name. Ga tells them that they don't have to, because names aren't forever. He confesses that he doesn't even have a real name.
    • And then, Ga tells the kids that he was an orphan. Wow. Ga explains that the children should never remember someone by a name; they should remember by keeping that person in their hearts.
    • Ga tells the kids that he can never forget them. But the kids don't like his tone: it sounds like he's going away.
    • The voice on the loudspeaker announces the next installment of the Best North Korean Story. It opens at the Central Cinema Studios, where the Dear Leader is preparing for the Americans.
    • There is Tex-Mex food cooking and a strange array of child gymnasts who will help load the food aid on pallets in style.
    • The Dear Leader tells Sun Moon that he has a treat for her. He leads her to a display of three beautiful choson-ots (in red, white, and blue)—but this isn't the surprise. These are merely the dresses she is to wear during the Americans' visit.
    • Sun Moon is dismayed because she'd picked her own dress.
    • The Dear Leader hands Sun Moon tickets to the premiere of her suppressed movie Comfort Woman. He wonders whether if, by some random chance, Ga were to get sent on a mission, would she accompany him to the premiere?
    • The voice says that Sun Moon is overwhelmed by the Dear Leader's attention and generosity. He also wants to talk of her next film, which he informs her will not be Ultimate Sacrifices.
    • Kim Jong Il has Dak Ho, the movie producer, remove a cover from the first of three easels. On it is the concept for the first new movie: a reverse Stockholm syndrome storyline.
    • The second easel is uncovered. It's a movie called Floating Wall, and it's about the first female Pubyok. Sun Moon protests: she can't act with such short hair.
    • The third movie stays covered because Sun Moon breaks down. She says it's because her own mother won't be able to see Comfort Woman.
    • Sun Moon explains that she's never seen or heard from her mother since she was retired to Wonsan. The Dear Leader promises to fix this: she will have letter from her mama tomorrow.
    • Sun Moon marvels over the Dear Leader's power. He reminds her how he found her and named her. He also reminds her that she keeps no secrets from him. What does she need?
    • And then Sun Moon drops the bomb: she wants her mother to attend the premiere of Comfort Woman.
    • The Dear Leader gives Sun Moon his word. The voice says that only something totally unpredictable could keep her mother from showing up—like a natural disaster or a train accident.
    • Kim Jong Il tells Sun Moon that he absolutely needs her back in his life. He's kept his end of the bargain, after all. He promises they will play all their old games together, and he will amuse her children.
    • The Dear Leader asks if Sun Moon has brought the board game (chang-gi) so that they can pick up where they left off—and she has. After playful banter, the two are reconciled.
    • Comrade Buc appears on the scene, and the Dear Leader commissions him to make a portable changing station for Sun Moon at the airport so that she can get into those dresses.
    • As happy as a lark, Kim Jong Il leads Sun Moon off to watch a Western. She stops him and asks him to promise not to hurt her replacement husband.
    • Kim Jong Il tells Sun Moon that no such promise can be made.
  • Part 2, Pages 388-407

    • Ga waits for Sun Moon to return from her rendezvous with the Dear Leader. He reviews his life.
    • Ga hears a dog barking at the zoo and thinks of the dog he left on the beach in Japan, barking after his kidnapped owner.
    • But Ga's also thinking about the roles he's played in his life—and he anticipates that the next step is going to be the worst, because it's going to bring everything together.
    • Ga thinks about how North Korea makes people. There's no sense of self-determination or free will.
    • Ga doesn't understand how Comrade Buc's wife can accept it all and do what she feels must be done.
    • Ga feels like he's missing something—some crucial bit of information—so he begins searching the house.
    • Ga thinks the movies might help, but Americans don't seem to know about the North Korean experience. They can't offer any advice or solace for his situation.
    • Sun Moon finally returns and gets into bed with Ga. He's anxious that the Dear Leader has hurt her. She tells him no, but he did give her a sense of what her future would be.
    • Ga sees Sun Moon's costumes hanging in the room and is disturbed to learn that she can't wear her silver dress tomorrow. Again, there's no hope of self-determination.
    • Ga asks Sun Moon whether she's changed her mind, or whether she's still going through with the plan. Sun Moon reminds him that the plan is about them, not just her.
    • Sun Moon sees that the can of peaches is missing and wants to know why. Ga lies and says he's thrown them out. They're not going to choose that "path."
    • Sun Moon decides that she wants to be intimate with Ga—but it means more than physical closeness. She wants to tell her story, but not until they are on the plane.
    • At the moment, Sun Moon's going to tell all the secret things—things even unknown to the State.
    • Sun Moon explains that the real Commander Ga and Commander Park were plotting against the Dear Leader.
    • Sun Moon also eases Ga's mind by saying that she pretty much hates everything about her time with Kim Jong Il. And she confirms his suspicions that she had starved as a child.
    • Sun Moon speaks of losing her baby sister, of how her mother played music during that night, and of how her father steamed herbs to keep her with them a little longer. This is the sister that Ga observed her reaching for in the night.
    • Sun Moon says that the Dear Leader knows the facts but not the real story. He doesn't know her inner life.
    • Sun Moon talks about her grandmother, who was the comfort woman in Japan, and about how she used her music to convey her emptiness.
    • Sun Moon tells Ga the real story of how she met the Dear Leader for the first time. She and her mother were in separate train cars, being herded to "redeemability camps" after her father had defected. She sang a song so that her mother would know she was well.
    • The Dear Leader's train rested on the tracks alongside hers, and he heard Sun Moon singing. When he heard and then saw her, he decided he wanted her for the movies. She agreed—if he promised to keep her mother safe.
    • Sun Moon remembers that Kim Jong Il said he would "cancel" the other actress he'd intended for the roles. She now understands what that means.
    • Finally, Sun Moon speaks of the future. In America, she intends to perform her grandmother's songs—only she will tell the world the truth about North Korea in them.
    • Ga tells Sun Moon that the world already knows the truth about Kim Jong Il and North Korea. But Sun Moon is not deterred. Her song will be powerful.
    • As they get closer, Sun Moon wants to see Ga's tattoo, but Ga is afraid it will freak her out. She teases that she might also get a tattoo and asks what it should be of.
    • Ga tells Sun Moon that she must tattoo an image of whatever she wants to remain in her heart forever.
    • Ga and Sun Moon begin to kiss and touch, and Sun Moon says there is a song in her mind. Ga asks her if she really never sang for pleasure.
    • Sun Moon tells Ga that all songs in North Korea are about violence, nationalism, or sacrifice. How can there be pleasure in that? Even love songs are in the service of the State.
    • So Ga sings the one song he knows that stands outside of these categories: "The Yellow Rose of Texas." They sing the first lines together (that's all Ga knows), and Ga tells Sun Moon that the song is about a man who will do anything to get to the love of his life. He also says that it doesn't matter if they are separated, because she is always in his heart.
    • Sun Moon knows that the man in the song is Ga. She's pretty caught at this point, and pretty soon, they are making love.
    • A little different from the Party version, isn't it?
    • As the Interrogator's work life has completely fallen apart (Jujack is dead, and Q-Kee is with the Pubyok), he wanders around Pyongyang. He can't really remember what he's been doing.
    • The Interrogator remembers recruiting Jujack at university and telling him that interrogation wasn't violent anymore. He's kind of torturing himself with the memories of his past, and he's thinking about the fact that he really has no future anymore, personal or professional.
    • The Interrogator loses track of time and feels his memory of the last few days slipping away. And he kind of likes it. Reality just sucks.
    • The Interrogator returns to Division 42 after his wanderings. Q-Kee is cordial to him, and Sarge seems positively chipper.
    • The Interrogator sees Commander Park limping past with some bloody biomaterial in his hands. He sends whatever it is in a vacuum tube into the bunker below.
    • Sarge gives the Interrogator another Pubyok ID badge so that he can take the reserved cars on the subway and avoid being drafted into another work detail. He also asks him to join the Pubyok again.
    • But the Interrogator still has Ga to attend to. Sarge shows him something peculiar: it's the large branding iron from the Texas ranch set-up.
    • Sarge tells the Interrogator how the iron works. He also says that they're planning to use it on Commander Ga at dawn in the soccer stadium.
    • The Interrogator puts two and two together. Commander Park is there to retrieve something to ease the grieving mind of the Dear Leader.
    • The Interrogator runs to Ga's room, where his fears are confirmed: Park has cut the tattoo off Ga's chest. And Ga knows about the soccer stadium.
    • As Ga and the Interrogator talk, it's clear that Ga is still upset by the news of Comrade Buc and his family. He'd endured all of this—including the loss of Sun Moon—just to keep them safe.
    • The Interrogator tells Ga that Comrade Buc died "on his own terms," not in humiliation.
    • Sarge comes in and taunts Ga more. He blows into his wound to cause pain. He tells the Interrogator that it's time to get Ga's confession.
    • But the Interrogator is after more: he wants Ga's biography. And then Sarge breaks it to him—this is the last biography. There will be no more interrogations, just old-school thuggery.
    • When Sarge leaves, the Interrogator promises Ga that he won't allow them to carry out their plans at the stadium.
    • The Interrogator heads back to his apartment. On the way, he keeps seeing the brand marks destined for Ga on everyone's body, saying "Property of..."—they're all property of the State.
    • When he arrives at home, the Interrogator's paranoid mother and father are alarmed. They yell at him as if he were a thief, promising to sic their torturer son on whoever is there.
    • The Interrogator tells his parents that he's there to cook them a meal, since he's going to have a long night. He takes down the special can of peaches, and then tells them that he wants to tell them his biography. He wants them to know who he really is.
    • As he speaks, the Interrogator feeds his parents the peach slices, one by one. The listen to the loudspeaker and thank Kim Jong Il for the good peaches.
    • The Interrogator tells his parents they do have the Dear Leader to thank for this moment—but they don't get it. He tells them about his new friend at work (Ga), and about how he has made the ultimate sacrifice for love. They have no idea what to say to this. And they've had just about enough peaches. Why doesn't he save some for himself? He tells them that way would be too easy for him. His mom starts to understand.
    • The Interrogator tells his parents about his difficulty in trying to write his own biography. He understands now that he was worried about his audience. But an audience isn't necessary for a biography, he's learned. It's just like with a tattoo: it's personal.
    • The Interrogator begins to narrate his life to his parents, even the parts they know. Then he tells them how he was loyalty-tested in school, his military service, his meager sexual experience, and the cruelty at work. He explains that the loyalty test was really the thing that sent him into his profession: he became suspicious of everyone.
    • The Interrogator's parents become alarmed at his casual mentioning of Commander Ga as his new friend. They know him as an impostor and enemy of the State.
    • The Interrogator is confused: how do his parents know this? They explain that Ga's story has been the subject of the Best North Korean Story, which has been aired on the loudspeaker.
    • Somehow, Commander Ga's story was being written the whole time—and it was running ahead of the Interrogator. Now, the story is making the man.
    • The Interrogator is so enraged about this that he pulls the loudspeaker out of the wall. His parents are terrified, but the botulism is already taking hold.
    • The Interrogator continues talking to his parents, telling his story, until they are in their final death throes. Then he kisses them goodbye and heads out.
  • Part 2, Pages 407-417

    • The Interrogator heads to the night market to trade his new Pubyok badge for first-aid supplies for Ga's chest.
    • As he travels to Division 42, the Interrogator wishes that there was a place in his society for a biographer—something that he doesn't even know exists in other places.
    • When he reaches Ga, the Interrogator tells him he's going to get him out of there—as long as he doesn't care about the destination.
    • The Interrogator takes Ga to an interrogation room, where he's going to hook him up to the autopilot. He thinks that after he wipes Ga's memory, they'll send him to a farm or something.
    • Ga is ready to trade it all in—he doesn't want a new identity. But the Interrogator does. He offers Ga a diaper, just in case he's worried about soiling himself, and he also takes one for himself.
    • Finally, Ga tells the Interrogator about Sun Moon: she's defected with her kids.
    • The Interrogator thinks that Ga is still lying. Ga tells him that the photos on the phone are from her. The Interrogator's still not willing to believe it. He erases the photos on the phone.
    • The Interrogator apologizes for not finishing Ga's biography. He feels it could have been useful when he made it "to the other side" after torture, to remind him of who he was.
    • Ga tells him not to worry: "she" will be on the other side and will recognize him.
    • The Interrogator tells Ga that they've been telling his and Sun Moon's story on the loudspeaker every day. At least the two of them are going to stymie the planned soccer stadium ending.
    • The Interrogator hooks Ga up to the autopilot and laments the state of interrogation in North Korea. Now, they will be killing people and their stories.
    • The Interrogator wants Ga to tell him how intimacy works again. Ga does, and it helps.
    • The Interrogator sets the dials on Ga's autopilot and them hooks himself up to one next to his new friend. Ga's last words are: "My mother was a singer."
    • The Interrogator flips his own switch and experiences the electricity for the first time. He describes his frenzied, unconnected thoughts—but he doesn't see the white flower he expects.
    • And then the Interrogator sees Ga come free of the restraints and reset the dial to a fatal dose of electricity.
    • The Interrogator is too far gone to care. All he can think about is reaching his own special place, a quiet village where a wife and family await him.
    • Jumping back in the timeline, we get the story of Sun Moon's last day and the meeting with the Americans.
    • Sun Moon wants Ga to know how important she is to the Dear Leader. When he realizes that she's gone, there will be hell to pay. So Ga can't stay behind, if that's what he's thinking.
    • Ga gets all evasive with his "I'll always be with you" rhetoric, but she sees right through it.
    • Ga's nervous about the punishment that awaits, but there is also something great in having advance notice. It's also charming to know that he had a hand in bringing it about, too.
    • Sun Moon tells Ga that everything she's loved has been taken from her, and that it would be irresponsible of him to leave her now.
    • Sun Moon says goodbye to the real Commander Ga by addressing the Golden Belt. They drive past the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery (Sun Moon does not actually have a relative there).
    • Ga contemplates what his punishment will be and tries to hold on to the best-case scenario, which is prison mines. He knows this will be his last drive, so he treasures it.
    • It turns out that Sun Moon hasn't even written the farewell song for the rower, so she and Ga start to improvise in the car.
  • Part 2, Pages 417-438

    • At the airport, the American plane lands, and the Dear Leader hands Sun Moon the keys to her improvised dressing room.
    • As they wait for the American delegation to disembark, Kim Jong Il asks Ga how he got out of the prison mines. Ga thinks of a sarcastic reply, but he suppresses it.
    • Instead, Ga tells Kim Jong Il that he put on the Commander's uniform and simply became him.
    • The Dear Leader doesn't understand how Ga compelled the Warden to do his will. Ga tells him that the Warden was intimidated because he had just defeated the most dangerous man in the world. The Dear Leader chafes at this—he is the most dangerous man.
    • The Americans pull a last-minute change: instead of taxiing to the welcome area on the tarmac, they pull away down the runway, and it looks like they will take off again.
    • Everybody freaks out and starts to move the festivities toward the plane. The Dear Leader is mighty annoyed.
    • As the commotion continues, Kim Jong Il tells Sun Moon and Ga that he's learned of a procedure that will make a Korean eye look Western. His own doctors say the reverse can be done. The couple is confused—why does this matter?
    • It appears that the Dear Leader wants to transform an American woman into a Korean one. Do they think she would be accepted as Korean?
    • Sun Moon has a ready answer: Are you kidding? She gives Kim Jong Il a patriotic explanation: to be Korean is to have your identity carved in your heart—it's not something you acquire. Part of this identity is all the suffering, she says. How can a spoiled American just assume it?
    • The Dear Leader really likes this explanation. He turns the discussion about impostors on to Ga. Ouch. But Ga is ready: the replacement is real if the Dear Leader says it is.
    • But Sun Moon can see that Ga is fumbling it. She doesn't want Kim Jong Il to go back on his promise to return the American rower. If he does, their plan will fall apart.
    • The Dear Leader is surprised that Sun Moon doesn't think that replacements are worthy of being loved, especially since she had tried to protect impostor Ga the night before.
    • The Dear Leader calls Ga what he truly is: orphan, assassin, and kidnapper.
    • Sun Moon tells the Dear Leader that this was all his doing, and that she accepted Ga for reals because the Dear Leader himself required it.
    • It's clear that Kim Jong Il still blames Sun Moon for going with the real Commander Ga in the first place. She tries to placate him by saying that she's there now, and he can take her back.
    • The Dear Leader wonders what Sun Moon wants him to do with the rower? She tells him she'll take care of her—with a knife.
    • The Dear Leader's pretty turned on by this—and encouraged, as Sun Moon intends for him to be.
    • Meanwhile, the Americans have disembarked and are ready to greet the Dear Leader.
    • The Senator explains that the pilot felt the plane was too heavy for the tarmac and therefore moved to a safer location.
    • Ga is translating and adding a few things to his old American friends. He tells the Dear Leader that they are asking after Dr. Song. Kim Jong Il tells them in his limited English.
    • Tommy speaks Korean, so he addresses Kim Jong Il directly, offering him a "pen of peace" as a gift in the hope that it will someday sign a peace accord.
    • And Kim Jong Il presents the Americans with rhinoceros-horn bookends. Awkward.
    • The Senator gets right down to it—they're just here for the rower girl, whose name is Allison Jensen.
    • But Kim Jong Il won't have any of that talk until he sees his "toy" again. In the meantime, the bizarre entertainment starts. The Dear Leader tells Ga to get Sun Moon ready for her song.
    • Sun Moon is losing it at this point. She's doubting that everything will work out.
    • Comrade Buc moves the changing room down the runway to accommodate their new location, and they go inside. Sun Moon changes and prepares for her song.
    • But the Americans want to see the rower. Now. Kim Jong Il asks to borrow Ga's camera—and Ga freaks out. He knows about the camera.
    • The Dear Leader takes the camera to his car, snaps a picture of the rower—and it shows up on Wanda's phone. Ga takes the phone from Wanda and puts it into his pocket.
    • The Senator then allows the equipment to be unloaded from the plane. Then Sun Moon is to sing her "blues" song to the Americans.
    • When Sun Moon does sing, she sings the song about the orphan and the bear, but she uses a sad tone—and the Korean audience is stunned. Commander Park wants her to sing it the right way.
    • The Dear Leader is miffed. He wants it all to be over, so he signals for the food aid to be delivered to the American plane. He tells Ga to make Sun Moon change into her red dress.
    • When Ga and Sun Moon reach the dressing room, it's time to smuggle them out. Ga hands Sun Moon her silver dress and then puts the children into plastic barrels to get them aboard the plane.
    • Then it's Sun Moon's turn. Ga gives her the real Ga's laptop as her "letter of transit." He dumps the photos of the inmates from Prison 33 into the fourth barrel.
    • Buc has to load everyone on to the plane. He makes Ga promise to take the fall for all of this.
    • There's a tense moment when Ga realizes that the barrels clearly show the bodies of three people through their sides. He hopes no one will notice.
    • The delegations are now taken up with the rower, who appears in her golden dress and with big sunglasses. Ga wonders if she's had the eye operation after all.
    • Ga makes excuses for Sun Moon's absence and asks the Dear Leader when he should give the dog back to the Americans.
    • Tommy sees the forklifts of aid going into the plane and wonders what the heck they're giving them. The Dear Leader decides to stop one of the forklifts so that Tommy can inspect.
    • Guess whose forklift gets stopped? You got it: Comrade Buc's. At the last moment, Ga redirects their attention to another forklift full of aid, and it seems that Buc will get away.
    • But then Commander Park gets involved. He tells Buc to wait for inspection. He and Ga walk toward the Dear Leader, and Brando gets all worked up.
    • Kim Jong Il needs Park's box cutter to open the box of his books for the Senator to inspect. The rower girl balks when she sees them.
    • And now, the Dear Leader wants to know where Sun Moon is. Ga stalls by getting him to sign some of the volumes for the dignitaries there.
    • Now, Ga has to distract Commander Park. He asks him to come along to find Sun Moon—but Park is determined to inspect Buc's cargo.
    • Then Ga does what he has to: he sics Brando on the Commander. Chaos erupts. Park slashes the dog with his box cutter, the rower freaks out and runs to the plane—and, finally, Brando is shot.
    • The Dear Leader can't comprehend it, but he worries for Sun Moon. He checks her changing room and finds that she is gone.
    • Word gets around that Sun Moon and her children are missing, and everything goes on lockdown. But the American plane is already taxiing down the runway for takeoff.
    • The Dear Leader tells Commander Park that Ga must be behind it all, since he's friends with the Americans.
    • Ga recognizes that the Dear Leader has finally been hurt the way he'd been hurt his whole life—and that he has to suck it up, just like all the people he's tortured in his life. At last.
    • Ga owns his misdeed, telling the Dear Leader that he's just gotten a dose of his own medicine. He's taken away the most precious thing from the Dear Leader.
    • But Kim Jong Il doesn't know exactly what Ga's done. He wants to know what's become of Sun Moon. Ga tells him they now both have the same scars on their hearts. Now they both have to do without Sun Moon.
    • Commander Park unilaterally decides to send Ga to Division 42. Along with Comrade Buc. Ga is in disbelief and tries to get Buc out of it.
    • Park tells Ga that the Leader's wrath will be too much to take out on one man. It won't suffice.
    • Buc pleads for himself (and, really, his family) by reminding the Dear Leader who gets him all the great goodies from around the world.
    • But Kim Jong Il is taken up with Ga. He's in disbelief over the unknown man's behavior. He doesn't understand why a person who could get away, like Ga, would stick around only to ruin the Dear Leader's life.
    • Ga knows that Sun Moon is on her way to freedom, and the he's in trouble out of free choice—and it feels great.
    • Ga understands now that he could have felt this always, if only Kim Jong Il had never existed. He also has an answer to the question that Wanda had been asking him Texas: does he feel free?
    • Yup, he does now. And not even captivity is going to take that away.
  • Part 2, Pages 439-443

    • At last—the final installment of the Best North Korean Story. The voice on the loudspeaker describes the day when the American rower went home.
    • Of course, the rower is sad to go back to America, but there it is. The voice catalogues all the American atrocities in Korea that the Dear Leader is willing to overlook to hand her back.
    • Everything goes well at first, despite the fact that the Americans brought a herd of dogs with them. Why? For a sneak attack, of course.
    • When the Americans say a code word, the beasts all attack at once. In the confusion, American commandos kidnap an unwilling Sun Moon and take her to the plane.
    • Comrade Buc fails in his duty to defend Sun Moon—and now his name is mud.
    • Sun Moon, meanwhile, is properly begging for death. The Dear Leader is truly heroic, of course, running into the teeth of battle to save Sun Moon.
    • Commander Ga at first does nothing, but inspired by the Dear Leader's efforts, he becomes a true hero. He jumps onto the wing of the departing American plane. Then he writes backward on the window of the plane—in his own blood—about the Dear Leader's love for his people. This is supposed to encourage Sun Moon.
    • The Americans try to shake Ga off the wing of the plane with barrel rolls and the like, but it doesn't work. He clings hard.
    • Then, after singing verses of a patriotic song together, Sun Moon points out an American aircraft carrier in the ocean below. Can you guess what happens next?
    • That's right: Ga jumps off the wing, making a man-sized missile of his body.
    • The voice on the loudspeaker tells them not to mourn Commander Ga. He achieved the highest good that any citizen could hope for: heroic martyrdom.
    • Now Ga is in the bosom of the Great Leader—and his bronze bust is already joining the company of heroes in the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery.
    • Now, Ga will provide a name for orphans in the years to come.