Study Guide

The Orphan Master's Son Part 1, Pages 34-62

By Adam Johnson

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.