Study Guide

The Orphan Master's Son Part 1, Pages 156-175

By Adam Johnson

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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.

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