Study Guide

The Orphan Master's Son Part 1, Pages 105-123

By Adam Johnson

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.