Study Guide

The Orphan Master's Son Prologue

By Adam Johnson

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."