Year Three in the Crisis Era: The Wall Facers Plan – The Dark Forest, Remembrance of Earth, Book 2, Part 1

Now we return to the second book in the Remembrance of Earth Chinese science fiction series by Cixin Liu, which was translated into English as The Dark Forest (刘慈欣的”地球往事:黑暗森林). Of course, the whole series was translated into English and won Hugo awards, but we’re reading it in Chinese.  Either language edition can be purchased here, although the English edition can be found more easily on Amazon:

http://www.chinasprout.com/shop/BYC022

Dark Forest Chinese Edition Cover

The book is split into four parts with no subchapters, so it will be challenging reading. Sometimes it helps to have smaller chapters just to psychologically cope with the foreign language text a bit more comfortably instead of seeing this big wall of text to tackle.  The book’s four parts include a preface and three sections titled “Wall Facers,” “Incantation,” and “Dark Forest.” I’m going to do a much more brief discussion of the text since it is available in English translation and provide some study guide style information to help student readers of the Chinese edition.

The preface only has two scenes and is rather long. The first scene shows a creature named Heyi (褐蚁, meaning brown ant) who is typically referred to as it (它) until it shapeshifts into something recognizably human when it is referred to as he (他).  It’s dusk, and the stars are coming out on Heyi’s old, forgotten homeworld, which is earth.  This section refers briefly to ant clans who are now establishing a new empire on the sun, but Heyi, who must be from these ant clans, goes back to their old homeland to a lonely summit to look for food.

Heyi seems to have a number of different forms he can take, some that he likes and some that are frightening, but he at one point looks like a messenger from heaven, like a marble statue with eyes that have no pupils. These aliens are described here as cosmic conquerors who are not peaceful but who bring terror even as they are cautious.  Heyi meets Lao Ye, that is Ye Wenjie from volume 1, and they talk about alien civilizations and what she knows about his culture.  She calls him Xiao Luo (his formal name here is Luoji 罗辑 as far as she understands and doesn’t know his other name), and she knows him as her late daughter Yang Dong’s student from senior high school. He is an astronomer. They say their goodbyes at the end of the section.

The second scene shows Mike Evans (麦克‧伊文斯), the American member of the Three Bodies Movement we saw at the end of volume 1, and this is a transcript of a conversation between him and someone named Zimu (字幕, literally caption) late at night.  This is Mike Evans’ 22nd dialogue with the alien, and he calls the alien “lord” or “my lord.” They discuss humanity and civilizations.  Among the many things Zimu says, he asserts that  humans hold an inferior biological position next to the aliens and that humans have defects in their “communication organs,” which the aliens don’t have.  Mike Evans objects that Zimu is mistaken about this inferiority and points out in the interview how the aliens need humans to understand things. Zimu says the aliens are afraid of humans. This section really sets up the story and shows how far things have advanced since volume 1.

Part 1 runs 166 pages and is titled “Wall Facers,” which also has connotations of enlightenment and contemplation, though I’m not sure yet how the phrase is meant here.  This part starts with a subtitle stating “The Crisis Era Year 3, Three Bodies Warship Fleet, 4.21 Light Years from the Solar System,” and this is the only heading of its kind in the whole of part 1. Part 1 is split into 40 sections only set off by a double space, so you have to really pay attention to where the story goes from section to section. A lot of characters appear in this part, so I’ll give some basic information and the Chinese version of the names to help students who want to tackle the original text rather than the translation. The whole section seems to stay in this time frame of crisis year 3. Part 1 has a number of storylines that are intertwined throughout it, and I’m going to group the basic outline of each together instead of following the constantly shifting storyline from section to section.

In the first storyline in this part of the book, we are introduced to a huge warship called the Tang in an ocean, which appears to be under construction, and we meet warship commander Wu Yue (吴岳) and political commissar Zhang Beihai (章北海).  Beihai’s father is ill but has stabilized, and they are given orders by a general to attend the 5th division’s exercises.

It turns out the Tang ship is related to a Chinese astronaut program.  Zhang Beihai and General Chang Weisi (常伟思) talk about space and their sea warship fleets in another segment. Zhang Beihai then goes to visit his father on his sick bed and tells him about the astronaut program he’s involved with.  The program plans on building an astronaut fleet based on the navy to fight a galactic war.

Wu Yue and Zhang Beihai discuss building the Tang ship and their understanding of a space war in a later segment , and late one night, the astronauts have a meeting where they contemplate the most dangerous ideas for an astronaut, defeatism (失败主义).  Zhang Beihai, General Chang Weisi, and Wu Yue all participate in this meeting. The astronauts face interference from the Wall Facers in their work later in Part 1.

Another significant if fairly brief storyline that appears early on in part 1 shifts to Colorado Springs’ Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station with main characters General Fei Ziluo (斐兹罗) and Lei De’er (雷德尔).  Four organizations are mentioned here: NASA, ETO (The Earth Three Bodies Organization), PDC (The Planetary Defense Council), and NMD (The North American National Strategic Guided Missile Defense System).  This section discusses whether there is an obligation to protect humanity from enemies beyond earth and whether earth needs defending by the ETO and PDC.

At the end of part 1, General Fei Ziluo orders Dr. Albert Ringer to immediately examine the Three Bodies world somewhere out in space, an order which Ringer balks at since he’s not military but works for NASA.  They are in the same telescope control room we saw near the beginning of part 1, and they discuss the sort of photographs the telescope takes.  They also talk about three fixed stars and Jupiter. The general wants him to take a certain type of photo, and they look at the Three Bodies planet and see a Three Bodies warship fleet.  Of course, humanity is living through the Three Bodies Crisis, and they’re under the illusion that the Three Bodies invaders’ true plan is to exterminate humanity.  They conclude at the end of part 1 that a huge change is coming to the world in five years.

A third, much more prominent storyline features Zhang Yuanchao (张援朝) and his neighbor Yang Jinwen (杨晋文), or Lao Yang. Zhang Yuanchao has been a chemical plant worker for more than 40 years, and Lao Yang is a retired middle school teacher.  The men talk about retirement and the world’s problems. When discussing the state of humanity, Lao Yang surmises humanity won’t exist in 400 years. They listen to snippets of the news on TV about the NMD and PDC as well as a segment about an illness in a hospital that features an interview with Ding Yi, a character from volume 1. Lao Yang declares that the “cruel day” will come.

Later in another related segment, Miao Fuquan (苗福全) goes to see Zhang Yuanchao and Yang Jinwen, and they listen to another long TV news report about the Planetary Defense Committee while they drink and have a meal together. They discuss something about the war economy, rich people and the banks. One topic that comes up in this section is a major question in this part of the novel, 逃亡主义,or some sort of fugitive ideology. The news report discusses how humanity can avoid complete extinction by fleeing to the stars.

The next segment where we return to this storyline, Zhang Yuanchao has a new gabbing partner in a later segment named Shi Xiaoming (史晓明) where they talk about someone’s grandson flying in a ship in a century, space ships and space travel. As is typical in this storyline, Zhang Yuanchao and Yang Jinwen chat and watch more news reports.  This time, an announcer talks about the fugitive ideology, and the men discuss the meaning of the report.  These characters recede into the background in the second half of part 1.

Part 1 also has a number of fairly brief storylines only having a handful of sections dedicated to them.  One of these brief storylines continues themes from the preface with another transcript of a conversation that Zimu has with someone called Wall Facer #2.  Zimu talks some about the ETO’s implementation of some order, while Wall Facer #2 mentions the snake of the Bible who helps mankind get wisdom and emerge from a dangerous labyrinth.  This section ends ominously with Wall Facer #2 promising Zimu that he and Mike Evans will get him proof of their loyalty.  I’m not sure if he means their personal loyalty or humanity’s, but both sides seem to be very suspicious of one another.

The next time these characters come up, we have another segment with Wall Facer #2 and Zimu’s transcript. This time Wall Facer #2 says more about this snake and tells Zimu to trust him that none of humanity will escape some trap they have planned. This is the last time this storyline shows up in this part.

Another very brief storyline only appears in three very brief sections flash back to Zhou Wenwang from the Three Bodies videogame in volume 1.  He only shows up three times in this part of the book, and in this section, he is mainly yelling, “Is anybody out there?” In the other sections, he has a brief dialogue with Niu Dun and another recurring character who were also in volume 1, but I felt nothing particularly significant came out of these sections.

The most significant storyline of part 1 also picks up the character introduced in the preface, whose real name is Heyi since he is not human but one of the aliens. Known by his human name in this storyline, Luoji wakes up to the sun shining and a woman in his home whose name he can’t remember.  They have an extended conversation on alien civilizations, cosmic society, and he mentions the fact that he is a scholar of aliens. They go to a restaurant for breakfast and then part ways, figuring they won’t ever meet again.  He realizes at the end of the section he still can’t remember her name.

In a later segment, Luoji meets police officer Shi Qiang, whom we first met in volume 1. They go to a small room deep underground via an elevator.  Shi Qiang sits on a bed and smokes with Luoji, introducing himself as a police officer.  Luoji asks if he’s under suspicion for some reason.  Shi Qiang makes reference to the woman Luoji had been talking with earlier, but Luoji answers that he only knew the woman a week and doesn’t know her name.  She is apparently now dead;  Shi Qiang says they don’t believe he’s responsible.

Shi Qiang asks Luoji to put on a bulletproof vest, but Luoji wonders who would try to kill him.  They walk to the elevator and take it to the 1st floor where it looks like they are in an underground parking garage.  Apparently boarding an airplane at this location, Luoji and Shi Qiang fly over the seacoast. After flying a while and eating dinner, Luoji decides to sleep some after Shi Qiang tries once again to get more information out of him about this dead woman. However, Luoji just doesn’t know anything about her. Shi Qiang asks that Luoji not call him Officer Shi but Da Shi, or Big Shi, which is much more informal.  Afterward, Luoji goes to one of the actual bedrooms on the plane and falls asleep.

In one of the longest segments of part 1, Luoji thinks or dreams about a woman named Bai Rong, a YA novelist. Luoji’s association with her was long-standing, and they even considered getting married at one point.  This segment is a flashback to some of their time together, even a meeting at a library and enduring a snowstorm. When he wakes up, Shi Qiang gives him some medicine, and Luoji goes back to sleep.

Later, Shi Qiang comes to wake him up and urges him to get ready.  He eats breakfast as the plane starts to descend.  He is then prepped to go into a United Nations General Assembly meeting, where the secretary general is a woman named Sa Yi.  She talks about how the Planetary Defense Council has chosen the participants in their “wall facer” plan, and the names of the Wall Facers will now be announced.  She identifies four people designated as “wall facers”: first is Frederick Taylor; second is Manuer Leidiyazi, a name which looks like it’s probably an ethnicity not commonly found in Chinese to English dictionaries that I’m sure the English translation of the novel has turned into something more familiar; and third is Bill Haynes. At the end of this section, Sa Yi declares that Luoji is the fourth wall facer.

The “wall facer” plan is essentially to have war strategists come up with ideas which the Wall Facers will carry out in the outside world, presenting a deception to it as a form of camouflage and as a psy op.  Many of the other segments in Part 1 introduce more details about the other three Wall Facers, such as Bill Haynes Japanese wife Keiko Yamasugi, as they come together to prepare.

That’s more than enough information to get readers started. I’ll pick up part 2 next time.

Part 1 of 3.

 

 

 

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Announcing the 13th Annual Silk Screen Asian Film Festival Events

As the Silk Screen Asian Film Festival is only around the corner in a few weeks, some related events have tickets available for purchase now.  One event which is only coming up in a few days on September 5th is the Silk Screen Preview Party, which will be held this year at the Millvale Grist House Craft Brewery.  The party will feature the Mac and Gold food truck and craft beer available at the cash bar as the festival shows off some of the trailers for the upcoming films that will be shown during the festival.  Cost is $25 per person, and the event runs from 5 to 8 PM. Tickets are available here:

https://www.showclix.com/event/silk-screen-preview-party

After last year’s highly acclaimed Red Carpet Gala at the Fairmont Hotel, people who missed it can get tickets to this year’s gala, which will be held on September 21st from 6 to 10PM.  Tickets are $85.00 and include ethnic food, a cultural performance showcasing music and dance from the Silk Road region the festival covers, and a silent auction.  Ethnic dress is encouraged, and you can get your tickets here to hobnob before the films kick off with opening night the next day.

https://www.showclix.com/event/red-carpet-gala6914474BS4WzZ6

Details on the festival films are here:

http://www.silkscreenfestival.org/2018-films/

Two of the films I did screen in committee and can personally recommend are “Toys and Pets,” which is a “Toy Story” style Chinese film that went by a different name “Tea Pets” before, and “Mori: The Artist’s Habitat,” which is a very strange film. You can catch the trailers here:

and

A couple of honorable mentions that you should check out even though we didn’t get them for the festival is “Anarchist from the Colony,” a film about Koreans living in Japan during the colonial period, and the film adaptation of popular Filipino play “Ang Larawan.”

and

If you can find somewhere to watch those, be sure not to miss them!

 

 

 

 

 

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Rescuing Soonshin On the Dangerous Road to North Port – The Joseon Zombie Annals, Part 4

Returning to our intermission selection, The Joseon Zombie Annals webcomic by Gonma (조선좀비실록- 곤마), in chapter 31, the scene continues between khuntosang and Kaneseki. Here is where the story picks up.

https://comic.naver.com/webtoon/detail.nhn?titleId=509094&no=31

Kaneseki has been beating a tied up and unconscious Soonshin when khuntosang arrives to tell him that Soonshin is someone very special to them. When Kaneseki asks why, we see a flashback of khuntosang hitting Soonshin in the head with the butcher knife and noticing that the blade doused in garlic juice doesn’t affect him like it does the other zombies.

The scene shifts immediately back to the three protagonists and the female archer Gildong in the forest in the middle of the night.  Gildong asks who the man wearing the yellow clothes was, meaning Soonshin, because she feels his swordsmanship was unusual. They explain that Soonshin has zombie abilities, too. Yoon says Soonshin acquired his zombie powers in a different way than Gildong did and that they need to rescue him.

The scenes alternate between the protagonists discussing Soonshin and khuntosang and Kaneseki talking about him until the end of the chapter. Kaneseki is less than convinced by khuntosang‘s arguments, however, so he picks up one of the butcher knives Soonshin likes to use to fight and experiments on him with it. He threatens to burn him in a fire when he’s done using the knife on him.

Jin tells the group she wants to rescue Soonshin, but their plan is to get to T’amra as fast as possible to perform a memorial service or some sort of sacrifice that will end the zombie plague, so she’s torn. She thinks they should leave Soonshin to fend for himself, but Yoon is upset by her comment and wants to find him. They discuss continuing on their journey and what they should do. Gildong suggests going to the North Port since she has traveled extensively and knows a lot of shortcuts to get around the country. In the end, Yoon plans to go alone to confront khuntosang while sending everyone else to rescue Soonshin.

In chapter 32, Yoon returns alone to the road that goes along the outer edge of the mountain to confront khuntosang and encounters him quickly. Khuntosang is surprised to see he has come alone, but the fight starts after only a short exchange.

The scene then changes to show a group of peasants chopping down a large tree with a huge trunk in the forest. They are under the direction of an official who turns out to be Sato, the man who was mentioned in earlier chapters, and he pushes for them to hurry.

Meanwhile, Gildong and Jin are watching them from their hiding place among the trees nearby, discussing what Sato knows about Soonshin. Gildong suspects he does know about Soonshin and shoots an arrow through Sato’s hat, alerting him to her presence. He angrily turns toward where she is standing in the trees openly watching him. He recognizes her, and she clearly knows him, too.

The scene shifts back to Heo Jun who has left Jin and Gildong to backtrack and find Yoon, worried about the task he has taken on alone. Then we see the fight between Yoon and khuntosang, which flashes Yoon back to a fight he had in the palace with Muhyeok vying to be Joseon’s best swordsman. Regarding khuntosang, he figures the man is stronger than he is and is far beyond Muhyeok’s ability was back then. In chapter 33, we see khuntosang stab Yoon through his shoulder, and Yoon flashes back to more of Muhyeok’s sword lessons in the palace before stabbing khuntosang in the head. Surprisingly, the touch of Yoon’s sword sends khuntosang’s body into a zombie-like disintegration, which also seems to surprise khuntosang.

Joseon Zombie Annals 13

Next, we return briefly back to the meeting between Gildong and Sato, where she has him tied up while Jin questions him about Soonshin’s location. The scene quickly shifts back to Yoon, who pulls the sword from his shoulder, then collapses.

Joseon Zombie Annals 14

We return to a shot of the cabin where Soonshin is being held out in the woods and see Kanesegi still toying with the unconscious Soonshin. He figures he can get away with torturing Soonshin since he is unresponsive, but Kanesegi is interrupted by Gildong, who has an arrow aimed at him as she walks into the room! She orders him to drop the butcher knife unless he wants to die.

The scene then switches back to Heo Jun. He is walking along the winding cliff side path where he finds the injured, unconscious Yoon. Rushing to his side, he can’t find Yoon’s pulse. The scene continues in chapter 34 as Heo Jun strips Yoon and tends to his wounds, trying to revive him since he determines no pressure point has been hit. He succeeds right before the scene returns to Gildong and Jin breaking in on Kanesegi, who escapes when Gildong is distracted by a mouse, which Jin has to capture and get rid of.

Joseon Zombie Annals 15

When the scene returns to Heo Jun and Yoon, we see Yoon bandaged and awakening from a nap. Heo Jun is overjoyed to see him recovering. Then the story returns to Jin and Gildong tending Soonshin’s wounds. The groups reunite after Yoon and Heo Jun run into the still bound Sato to determine where the girls went. Yoon also questions Sato for allying with the enemy along with other Joseon citizens, and the question of Joseon becoming a Japanese colony comes up and puzzles Yoon. Remember, Yoon is the Crown Prince of Joseon. When Yoon gets angry about this news, Sato explains this is just a rumor he heard. Heo Jun also gets angry, but by then Yoon tells him to calm down as they continue to discuss the matter.

Gildong runs up to them in the middle of this conversation, and when she sees his bloody clothes where he was wounded, she inadvertently calls him “Your Majesty,” which Sato notices. Yoon is concerned when he hears Soonshin hasn’t awakened yet.

Meanwhile, back at the cottage, Jin is tending to the still unconscious Soonshin and talks to herself as she watches over him, but Kanesegi returns through the window, attacking and threatening her as Soonshin sits unmoving with his eyes closed. Kanesegi strips Jin in chapter 36 and notes that she has been strapping down her chest so she could pass as a man. Soonshin wakes up, his eyes blazing blue showing the zombie power has taken over, just in time to punch Kanesegi and get him away from Jin, beginning an intense fight sequence.

Joseon Zombie Annals 16

Once he knocks out Kanesegi, Jin explains to him that the rest of the group has gone to find Yoon, and they quickly go to join them. In the forest when they meet up with Yoon and the others, they catch up on what happened before the scene shifts dramatically to an island in the middle of a sea where a man is riding on a boat.

The man on the boat gets off at a wooden dock and follows a wooden walkway up around the side of the mountain. He finds his way blocked by a yangban dressed in white wearing a horsehair hat. The yangban recognizes him, calls him Chi Seonghyeong and notes they haven’t seen each other in ten years. As they’re talking, Seonghyeong notes the yangban’s one eye is blue and wonders why. In the drawing, his irises are also very small and creepy looking compared to the rest of the characters, so it’s kind of hard to see this fact. Seonghyeong quickly slices the back of the yangban’s neck to behead him, but the wound immediately heals.

Joseon Zombie Annals 17

The yangban drops a folded note of some sort on the ground, taunting Seonghyeong with it a little. In chapter 37, we see Seonghyeong sitting before a burial mount on a grassy cliff overlooking the sea. He talks to himself a bit about the dead man before standing and saying he’ll see the dead man in the afterlife. He also tells the dead man not to worry about Soonshin, who has grown up healthy. I don’t recall if this is the guy Soonshin was working for in the butcher shop at the beginning of the story, but perhaps it is.

The scene shifts to the Japanese samurai and his girlfriend who are standing at night on a high rock overlooking the forest with a man whose face is nearly entirely bandaged. They are talking a character named Yi Hwanyong, who has come up here and there in this section of chapters a little, and a new character named Dong Chiseong. I assume eventually we’ll run into these characters, but for now, I’m skipping most of the discussion about them and their plans. Eventually, the creepy yangban that Seonghyeong confronted appears behind them. When the yangban asks about the bandaged man, the samurai says it isn’t his concern. He shocks the yangban by revealing that Dong Chiseong had one disciple.

Next, we see the protagonists in the forest at night, and Yoon sends Gildong ahead of them alone to check out the situation while they wait there. In chapter 38, the scene continues, and while the protagonists are resting in the forest that night, a group of ninjas are watching them from up in the trees, signaling each other about the girl, Jin, who has caught their eye and not fooled them with her masculine clothes. I suspect since Kanesegi wasn’t killed in the last fight, he warned his allies that she was traveling incognito as a man. They plan on kidnapping her if the chance arises.

Meanwhile, Gildong returns to tell the group that there is a problem with the crossroad leading to North Port after doing reconnaissance. Soonshin goes off on his own to take a look and sees a large number of zombies in the vicinity, then returns to warn the others, too. The ninjas continue to watch them and signal to one another.

Soonshin goes out and yells to get the zombies’ attention and provoke them to chase him so the others can use the pass. His plan works until the ninjas add to the confusion. One of the ninjas, seeing what is happening and keeping his eye on Jin, cuts his finger and lets the drops of blood fall on Heo Jun where he is hiding behind the bushes, drawing his attention to what is going on in the trees. Yoon and Gildong rush into the crowd of zombies trying to get Soonshin’s attention while the ninjas drop behind Heo Jun as he tries to talk with Jin.

Joseon Zombie Annals 18

In chapter 39, the group continues to fight the horde of zombies that appears.

Joseon Zombie Annals 19

While they are fighting the zombies, the ninja take off with Jin. The others are alarmed.  Soonshin runs after the ninjas around the cliff road but loses them at a fork in the road.

Poor Jin is always the damsel in distress! Be sure to go back and look at all of the chapters I covered, because there’s much more of Gonma’s dynamic artwork to enjoy, especially the fight scenes.

Part four of a six part series.

 

 

 

 

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2018 Fall-Winter Speaking and Publishing Schedule

I have a lot of new projects in the works, though they are getting me slightly off schedule with my main production schedule, and many events to announce.

First up is the Beaver County BookFest on September 8, 2018.

https://beavercountybookfest.com/

This event will feature more than 50 writers as well as artists and vendors.  See site for details.

The Silk Screen Asian Film Festival that I have been a volunteer for since 2007 will hold its 13th annual festival from September 21st through September 30th. It kicks off with the Red Carpet Gala on September 21st.

http://www.silkscreenfestival.org/

In October, I will be speaking at the Monroeville Library on the 16th at 7PM on “East Asian Astronomy.” This presentation will feature the region’s traditional ideas about the sky and interpretation of the stars and time from its ancient literary sources.  Details on the library can be found here:

http://www.monroevillelibrary.org/

The Sangawa Project, an 18+ anime conference, will be held this year from November 30th-December 2nd, 2018. More details will be forthcoming when I hear back from programming.

Then, I will round out the year with the December show at Steel City Con, December 7th through 9th, 2018.

I’ve also been working on some new novels.  I pulled out an old novella I wrote in 2003 that fit the scope of the film festival’s region, Magic Hair, and got that out in paperback very quickly:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1723567299

Magic Hair Print Cover

A conquerer. A thief. A ghost. Three figures’ lives intertwine as magic alters their destinies.

When invaders destroy nobleman Ambrosius Devictus’ hometown of Tredentium, his family is reduced to poverty, and he is jailed by the city’s tyrannical leader for stealing a loaf of bread. Locked away in the notorious Blactus Prison, Devictus is visited by a mysterious woman whose succor leads him into a dangerous confrontation with his jailers.

It actually does have an Asian twist to it in spite of the fake Roman feel to the names mentioned on the cover blurb and is a more old-fashioned sort of ghost story.

Since I have had so many requests for the second volume in my Lucky Cat series, I am working hard on getting that ready.  It may be out as early as the December Steel City Con show. So far, I’m about halfway through the first draft, and this one is turning into a dystopian horror blend. I don’t have the cover blurb quite the way I want it to be yet, but the title will be Lucky Cat and the Snow Maiden’s Vengeance.  Here is the cover I’m considering using:

SMV Preliminary Print Cover

Otherwise, I’ll be continuing to post easy Korean segments of my novel Sohyeon After Midnight here:

https://enlightenedrabbit.wordpress.com/category/sohyeon-korean-graded-reader-project/

I will be producing my second volume of my new newsletter, The Scholar’s Circle, later this winter, and it will be a tea culture edition.  Anyone who wants to sign up for the free newsletter can do so here at the button:

https://enlightenedrabbit.wordpress.com/

Just put “Free Newsletter” in the space for what class you want to sign up for. I’ll get back to rolling out new class modules later this year, though it has been slow going since Sohyeon got me sidetracked on this bilingual project, but it’s all good.  I will be posting my normally scheduled read-along posts shortly.

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Detection and the Root of the Crime – Land, Vol.2, Part 6

Today we will finish up volume two of the first story arc of Kyeongni Park’s monumental novel Land (박경리의《토지》). The story kicks off in the next chapter with Wife Yoon and more details on how her son Choi Chisu was the last male in the Choi line and how the Choi household had been Pyeongsari’s richest for 100 years. Many people came to Choi Chisu’s funeral, but his young daughter Seohui is alone at the funeral. Kim Pyeongsan is surrounded by people at it, too, and he talks awhile with Kim Hunjang while scanning the crowd for any sign of Guinyeo.

The village women start to talk about who they think the father of Guinyeo’s baby may be, even speculating that it was the yangban at the Choi Champan house, meaning Choi Chisu. Chilseong appears late in the chapter to add his two cents to this conversation, not revealing the truth.

People in the village don’t really believe Ttochulneo killed Choi Chisu and felt the matter hasn’t been settled. Yong talks with Chilseong, then Bongsunneo suggests to a  weeping Wife Yoon that she should investigate Guinyeo’s situation. Confronting Guinyeo, she demands to know the identity of the baby’s father.  Guinyeo starts to cry as well and responds “Please kill me” repeatedly. (I should note here for people unfamiliar with East Asian historical dramas that such over-the-top self abasement is pretty standard for lower class characters to say to upper class characters.)

Wife Yoon also suspects there is a connection between Guinyeo’s baby and Chisu’s death, and Guinyeo tells her that the baby’s father is dead, giving the impression the baby could be Chisu’s. Angry, Wife Yoon tells her to get out. Guinyeo screams not to touch her, but two men grab her legs and drag her through the garden to a storeroom. Guinyeo goes wild as they shut her in the storeroom and lock it, keeping her in there three days and nights without water before Wife Yoon goes looking for her again.

This time during their confrontation, Wife Yoon blames Guinyeo for killing her son, and Guinyeo just smiles a little. Again, Wife Yoon demands to know who the baby’s father is and taunts her with the promise of letting her drink some water if she will answer the question. Guinyeo breaks down and finally admits reluctantly that the baby’s father is Chilseong. Wife Yoon leaves the storeroom and goes to get Chilseong, who confesses everything.

The narrative shifts from Guinyeo’s ordeal to the house of Kim Pyeongsan. His garden has a dead apricot tree with a body hanging in it, and his son Keobok is calling for his brother and mother. Pyeongsan’s wife Hamantaek has hanged herself there, and Makttalneo hears the boy’s cry and is the first to come out to see what is the matter.  The men run out behind her. Hamantaek’s dead body is hanging from the tree and is soaked in the rain. Everyone is rushing around, and the crows, smelling death, cry from the rooftop. A couple of the men take down the softening rope and the body while everyone mourns her.

Imineo in particular is thrown into confusion at her death. She is crying, striking her chest, and pulling at her hair. There is some doubt among them about Hamantaek’s husband Pyeongsan. Did he murder her? It seems that the revelations about Pyeongsan’s scheme with the “water demon”, that “wench” Guinyeo played a role in Hamantaek’s suicide. Imineo falls to the ground in a faint in the middle of this conversation about Pyeongsan and Guinyeo. The chapter closes with Pyeongsan’s sons Keobok and Hanbok preparing their mother’s grave under the pine trees in the mountains and Yong talking with them about it. The boys, who may be as young as Seohui, go down the road unaccompanied by any adults. By the time they come down from the mountain and reach the village, it is sunset.

Meanwhile, Kim Pyeongsan is thrown into a hellishly cruel jail where he is tortured every day and given only one meal. He tries to defend himself before the district magistrate, but he is dragged out and tied to the rack. The magistrate also questions Guinyeo and Chilseong about the matter, and Pyeongsan and Chilseong are later executed then left to be eaten by wild animals. Guinyeo’s execution is postponed until her baby is born, however. Kang Posu goes to visit her in jail, they talk awhile. He gives her his hand through the grate as they talk about her regrets. When she has her baby, he takes it away and disappears. In the character sheet in the back of the book, we learn she had a boy named Kang Tume.

Land 2 p.117

The next chapter follows Tumanneo and her family with some interaction with Kim Pyeongsan’s sons, but since I haven’t been following that storyline, I’m going to skip this part.

Then we pick up with Seohui three years after Choi Chisu’s death. Seohui will later become a major figure tying the novel’s story arcs together, but for now I’m not going to get into her storyline too much just yet. Gilsang also makes an appearance in this chapter, and he is now 16 years old. Toward the end of the chapter, Yong encounters Imineo as he is doing some errand, and she is carrying a child on her back while two other children walk ahead of her. Although the family trees in the back of the book only have her down as having two children, one with Chilseong, she actually had three with Chilseong.  I guess they weren’t included there since they aren’t named like her oldest child.

Later in the chapter, we discover that Yong has tried to make things work with his wife Kang Cheongtaek after Wolseon left, but his effort didn’t amount to anything. The story then shifts to Yong, Imineo and the village women for a few chapters before there is a break in the narrative that jumps back to the Choi Champan household for the next few chapters.

Land 2 p. 148

I’m not sure who this is supposed to be, but it came up during Yong’ storyline

In the final chapter of the volume, Imineo and her family are starving in the village as winter arrives. Since Imineo’s husband Chilseong was a murderer, the villagers are ill-disposed toward her. Kang Cheongtaek comes to berate her all of the time now although Imineo is sweet and good-natured. She threatens to bite Imineo to death. When Imineo’s daughter Imi asks Kang Cheongtaek why she is attacking her mother,  Kang Cheongtaek turns her wrath onto the girl. She accuses Imineo of stealing her husband Yong, and so Imi calls for Yong to intervene. He helps Imineo up off the floor where she has collapsed and tells Kang Cheongtaek that Imineo is pregnant with his child! This statement understandably stuns Kang Cheongtaek, and she faints.

The village elders are dumbfounded by all of this. Yong spends some time thinking back to when his mother was alive, and the volume ends with him going to the market to look for the missing Wolseon, where he hears rumors of her return.

There’s one more volume in this story arc, which I plan to get to in December, but let me mention again that the entire 12 volume series really hinges on the character of Choi Seohui. This first story arc that we’re reading now goes from 1897 to 1908, the second story arc runs from 1910 to around 1918, story arc three from 1919 to 1929, and the final two story arcs we’ll read together go from 1930 to 1945. So we have a lot more soap opera style drama to dig into. For now, though, we’re still in the early years.

Part six of a nine part series.

Next time: We return to China with volume two of the Remembrance of Earth series!

 

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At the Crossroads of Life and Death – Land, Vol.2, Part 5

The section and chapter titles of the second volume of Kyeongni Park’s Land (박경리의《토지》) are pretty provocative, and it seems we’re in for quite a dramatic twist to the plot at this point in the series. The brief, three chapter Part II’s title is “Pursuit and Conspiracy,” and Part III, which makes up the bulk of the book, has “The Crossroads of Life and Death” for its title. Glancing down the list of chapter titles, I can see the story arc takes us into very interesting territory.

Part II has only three chapters, and the opening paragraph of volume 2 literally starts off with a bang and foreshadows ominous things to come:

나무 사이로 무엇인가 움직이는 것이 보였다. 그것을 향해 총이 겨누어졌다.
“구천아!”
(p.12)

He saw something moving between the trees and pointed a gun at it.
“Kucheon!”
(My translation)

Kang Posu and Choi Chisu are walking through the forest in the mountains with their servant Sudong, searching for Kucheon and Byeoldangasshi a year after they ran off together. They think they see Kucheon, and after shooting the gun, the sound ricocheting off the trees, Choi Chisu yells for one of the men to grab him. Kang Posu says Kucheon has vanished before they could capture him, and the men chase after him.

After wandering over the mountain a good while, they discover a small thatched hut that shows traces that someone was recently there but which is already empty. A woman’s hemp shoes lay on the ground, and Chisu is certain this is proof that the couple was there, so he heads toward the hut, firing his gun.

Land v.2.1.jpg

Chisu knows Sudong probably intentionally let Kucheon get away because of Sudong’s bond with the servant, and after searching for a number of days for the wayward couple, he considers shooting Sudong. However, he decides he can forgive Sudong’s actions and thinks Sudong would also feel a sense of guilt due to loyalty to Choi Chisu. Since the chuseok holiday is near again, Choi Chisu comes down from the mountain to prepare, but he is no longer full of life, only full of melancholy.

Meanwhile, Wife Yoon gets a letter from Monk Wugwan. Of course, she had a son Hwan with Wugwan’s younger brother Kim Kaeju, and the brief letter is about the boy. Choi Chisu returns and sinks into a deep silence for a few days before talking about going back out hunting. Wife Yoon reflects on her relationship with both of her sons, Chisu and Hwan.

When Chisu takes a nap, Bongsunneo comes in to remind Wife Yoon that she has been neglecting Seohui for months, and they talk about Wolseonneo and her daughter- businesswoman Wolseon. Wife Yoon remembers her now dead friend Wolseonneo vividly, dancing with a trident in one hand and a bell and fan in the other, and considers her a genuine shaman in a neighborhood full of shaman. The chapter closes noting that Seohui is out playing with Bongsun at the lotus pond .

In the next chapter, Bongsun and Seohui are talking at the beginning, but Bongsun has a fit of anger, and the scene shifts to Bongsunneo doing her needlework. Bongsun asks her mother about their plans for the New Year celebration, explaining that she wants to see the mask dance in town like they did last year. Her mother doesn’t answer her request, so Bongsun goes on about also visiting Wolseon. Bongsunneo scolds her to stop fretting about it. Bongsun also praises Wolseon’s rice cake soup, which she considers tastier than their family’s own version.

Bongsun continues to admire the mask dance performers, who are all beautiful like the fugitive wife of Choi Chisu, Byeoldangasshi. She also talks about singing and is dumbfounded by her mother’s negative comments. Bongun is so impressed with the women who dance and sing, who look beautiful and wear silk like Bongsun wishes to, but her mother knows these women all sell their bodies. She doesn’t want her daughter to become a performer. It turns out that Bongsun’s grandfather and father were both performers, and her father even performed Korean classical opera.

Bongsun goes outside and meets Gilsang. Since he was raised in a Buddhist temple, he heard a lot about hell, and he talks to Bongsun about sinners being punished in an iron mortar and pestle; being eaten by lions, tigers, and eagles; being put on an iron skewer to roast on a fire. All of this scares Bongsun.

The third chapter in this section follows Lee Yong and Kang Cheongtaek. Lee Yong is staying close to home where he is isolated, though his heart is still far from his friends and his wife. These days, Kang Cheongtaek is blazing with jealousy toward Imineo and fantasizes about shredding Imineo with her teeth. Lee Yong often goes to the mountains or to the ferry to see Wolseon.

After a bit of gossip in the women’s quarters where the topic of Kang Cheongtaek’s childlessness comes up, Kang Cheongtaek goes to her mother-in-law’s grave at midnight to sit alone, where she mutters to herself about her difficult marital situation. Lee Yong’s mother’s memorial service is approaching, and Kang Cheongtaek needs to buy a few things to prepare for it, so Lee Yong goes to town and stops by Wolseon’s inn, where he stands transfixed. A peddler of fancy goods passes by and talks with him, mentioning that Wolseon is out. Lee Yong was supposed to meet her at the market, which is now rather slow due to winter approaching. It will now be deserted until the Lunar New Year festival.

When he gets home, he has a fight with Kang Cheongtaek, who thinks he went to meet Imineo. Her voice is low and gloomy, as if it were coming from deep in the earth. He laughs at her and tells her to go in the house. The next day, they bathe and conduct the memorial service for his mother, then they make the rounds at a few houses with food.

In part 3, “At the Crossroads of Life and Death,” the first chapter is titled “A Minor Incident,” but the situation is quite dramatic. The scene begins at Tumanneo’s house where she is making clothes out of silk and talking with Hamantaek about someone’s marriage meeting. This discussion is interrupted by someone, I think Seohui, yelling outside for Tummaneo, who opens the door and looks outside. Hamantaek’s son with Kim Pyeongsan, Kim Keobok, is up to no good. Hamantaek goes pale, and Seohui is stuttering about how serious the situation is, explaining that Keobok hit Bongsun, and she’s bleeding. She declares that Bongsun is dead at the well where they were drawing water. The group rushes out, and someone is yelling for Keobok.

Tumanneo becomes bloodstained from handling Bongsun’s “dead body,” but they manage to revive her with water and see that she is still alive after all. She just has a bloody nose. Tumanneo hugs Bongsun and takes her back to the Choi household with  Seohui and another character named Seon. They explain the true situation to Hamantaek, who starts to cry, relieved. That night, however, Keobok doesn’t return home, and the next few pages portray a family scene with Hamantaek and her two sons.

The second chapter in this section now returns to Guinyeo, Kim Hunjang, and Kim Pyeongsan. Kim Hunjang is walking down the village road from the ferry, and he meets Kim Pyeongsan’s son Keobok. Then the story briefly reflects on Pyeongsan’s family. When Hunjang returns home, his daughter serves him a lunch of rice in bean paste soup and kimchi.

That night after dark, Pyeongsan secretly meets the pregnant Guinyeo at the bottom of the mountain. She emphasizes she must give birth to a son, and he tries to convince her she will have to bear the child regardless of whether it’s a son or daughter. Their discussion is interrupted by Ttochulneo.

The third chapter is ominously titled, “Murder.” While we got the fake out last time with Bongsun’s apparent death, we’re going to get the real thing this time. Everyone at the Choi household is busy, especially in the kitchen, and Guinyeo, Wife Yoon and Choi Chisu are shopping with Seohui in the market. It’s quite a list of items they put in their bamboo basket on this trip: dried persimmons, jujubes, chestnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, gingko nuts, sesame seeds and ginger.

Meanwhile, the village women are preparing for the New Year’s festival since it’s now the last day of December. The text notes that Seohui misses her mother. Bongsun’s scarred but beautiful face is mentioned in passing, though I must have missed the significance of the scars. Guinyeo takes a table full of food and stands before the men’s quarters, calling out to Choi Chisu that she has brought his lunch. When he calls her to come in, he stares at her waistline silently as she sets  his food down, then she returns to the kitchen where the other village women are talking.

Later when Guinyeo goes back to get the meal tray, Chisu demands that she hand over documentation of her marriage with Kang Posu since she is pregnant. He assumes Kang Posu is responsible for her condition. She is shocked and pretends not to know what he’s talking about. She actually declares to him that she hates Kang Posu, which angers Chisu. After she leaves with the meal tray, Choi Chisu tells Wife Yoon Guinyeo is married to Kang Posu.

Later, Guinyeo meets with Pyeongsan. She tells Pyeongsan she will ruin “that man,” meaning Chisu. They make plans to meet later that night at the same hall where Guinyeo went through the special ceremony with Chilseong when they conceived the baby. When Pyeongsan arrives at their arranged meeting spot, he reflects on how he’s afraid of Guinyeo. When she arrives, they talk about where Chisu was staying, drinking a bit of liquor. She is ranting a bit but doesn’t discuss the specific method she has in mind for murdering Choi Chisu.

In the next scene, Pyeongsan approaches a thatched hut and quietly opens the door. This part of the text is very detailed in its description of the moment and is quite intense as a result. Pyeongsan can hear breathing. Someone asks, “Who’s there?” A fire is lit in the small room, but he approaches the large room. It turns out that Hamantaek, his wife, is waiting there, so it’s not actually the scene of murder the reader would perhaps expect next. She thinks he was having a dream, but he ends up punching her for some reason. Pyeongsan seems to me so far to be an all around unsavory sort of guy.

Suddenly, elsewhere in the village someone yells “Fire,” and people stream out of the Choi household. Kim Seobang goes into a thatched house yelling for Choi Chisu. He finds Choi Chisu dead there, pulls him out of the house, and tells someone to seize Ttochulneo. However, the pavilion collapsed, and Ttochulneo apparently has burned to death. It notes that Choi Chisu was the last of the male line of the Choi household.

Next post, I’ll finish up volume 2 of this story arc.

Part five of a nine part series.

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The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak Earns Another Accolade

This week I was informed that my gothic ghost story, The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak, earned the seal of approval from the kid-oriented Story Monsters Approved program in the category of Tween Novels. This seal is really special since novels are judged by two panels, one adult and one of children in the selected age range category. My novel passed both panels of judges.

2018 Story Monsters Approved HIPP Certificate.Ribbon
So in addition to winning the 2016 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for Young Adult Fiction E-book Bronze Level, now The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak has two accolades, and I’ll be featuring it in the dealer room at Confluence coming up next weekend.

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Sweeping Reforms Hit Korea at the End of Ninteenth Century – Land, Vol. 2, Part 4

As we start the second volume of Kyeongni Park’s Land (박경리의《토지》), the first story arc, I want to go back to the appendices again and take a look at appendix two where they have the family trees and try to untangle some of that now that we have some grounding in the actual story and have some idea of who everyone is. This will clarify their relationships. I made this translation of the family trees listed in the second appendix:

Kyeongni Park's Land - Story Arc 1 Family Trees Pg 1

Page 2 of the family trees

Kyeongni Park's Land - Story Arc 1 Family Trees Pg 2

I will also post these in pdf form on my study guide page for the Literati Corner. Note that the squares are for male characters, ovals/circles for female, and the hexagons for characters I don’t know the sex of.

From the last appendix, which covers historical points in the book at this stage, we have six main points to discuss:

동학 농민 운동 (Donghak nongmin undong) The Donghak Peasant Movement of 1894, which was an armed peasant rebellion led by the followers of the Donghak faith, which was a syncretistic belief system using elements of Christianity and Korean shamanism. I already covered this in the first post of this series.

공사노비제폐지 (Kongsa nobije pyeoji) The Universal Abolition of Slavery by the Kabo Reforms of 1894, issued in response to the Donghak Peasant Movement. It abolished both public and private slaves and abolished the social classes defined by lineage.

갑오개혁 (Kabo kaehyeok) The Kabo Reforms themselves, which included far more than just reform of the slavery system. This reform is considered the Korean equivalent of the Meiji Restoration in Japan, which is much better known in the West. It progressed in three phases under heavy Japanese influence, and other reforms included revamping the currency and taxation system, moving to the Western solar calendar, the creation of a postal system and a school system, the reorganization of geographical administrative districts, the reorganization of the military and courts, the abolition of the social classes, and a resolution to discard traditional dress including the topknot (cutting the hair and wearing Western clothes).  They also raised the age for marriage and finally allowed widows to remarry.

Part of the purpose of Land is to take the reader through these reforms along with the generations of families the author presents. This story arc focuses on the early days of these social reforms.

을미사변 (乙未事變Eulmi sabyeon) The Eulmi (Year of the Wooden Goat on the sexagenary cycle) Incident. This event occurred in 1895 (also knowns as Gojong 32, according to the reign year reckoning), and it refers to Japanese Minister Miura Goro’s murder of Empress Myeongseong, also known as Queen Min, which strengthened Japanese influence over Korea with a coup d’etat.

1902년의 콜레라유행 The 1902 Cholera Epidemic occurred in mid-July that year and was believed to be brought by boat, so the Joseon government imposed a quarantine on boats in 1899. Gojong employed doctors from other countries to enact this national program for epidemic prevention, which included help from Japan, England, the US, and Germany.

을사보호조약 (乙巳勒約Eulsa boho joyak) The Eulsa (Year of the Wooden Serpent on the sexagenary cycle) Japan-Korea Protectorate Treaty. This treaty made Korea a protectorate of Japan so it was no longer independent, and it was the spoils of Japan winning the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. Korea came under Japanese occupation once this treaty was implemented, though the actual annexation of Korea took place in 1910.

Since we have some sexagenary cycle year names here, which are common in Korean historical works and fiction, I prepared a handout for reference of some select tables I found on Wikipedia since they are good for understanding the characters/words that form these names to decipher what phase/animal year they represent. I’ll also post this on my Literati Corner Study Guide page in pdf form.

The first part of the year name is the phase:

Heavenly Stems Table - Four Languages

The second part of the year name is the animal:

Earthly Branches Table - Four Languages

One of the things I like about this table that I also want to do more of with my language teaching is synchronize this type of information across the three languages. Right now all of them are treated as separate fields, reinventing the wheel for each. Vietnamese is included here since it also fell under strong Chinese cultural influence in its history, so it’s great to see it all in one place, and with Wikipedia, you never know when it might disappear or be altered, so I froze it like this since it’s a good resource.

Next time we’ll start our look at this volume of the story.

Part four of a nine part series.

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Picking Up a Princess’ Bodyguard as an Ally, Soonshin is Captured – The Joseon Zombie Annals, Part 3

Continuing our look at the Joseon Zombie Annals webcomic by Gonma (조선좀비실록- 곤마), in chapter 20, Soonshin talks with Heo Jun about his dangerous situation.

http://comic.naver.com/webtoon/detail.nhn?titleId=509094&no=20

He invites Heo Jun to join them on their journey to Tamra, while the Crown Prince says he, too, would appreciate having a doctor along with them. Heo Jun makes some comments about how Soonshin’s body is unstable, which aggravates Soonshin. Jin, meanwhile, is changing clothes, and Soonshin wonders why she’s taking so long. When she comes out, she is wearing male traveling clothes. When they ask why she’s dressed like a man, she explains skirts are inconvenient, and the Crown Prince agrees. Soonshin tells her she looks cute.

Joseon Zombie Annals 8

The scene changes to show three peasant men out on a rock in the forest where one is hammering something and the other two men are talking. One of the men talking wears an eye patch and a tunic and trousers that are half white and half black. This man, called khuntosang which is probably a title rather than a name, startles them when he stabs a squirrel. After khuntosang leaves, the man whom he was talking with, Kaneseki, calls him an “obnoxious upstart” before yelling to the workers on the rock above him.

In the last scene of this chapter, we see our four protagonists walking through the woods up a steep incline. Soonshin is concerned the walk is too strenuous for Jin, but she assures him it isn’t too hard. As they reach the top of the incline where the path levels out, they are surprised to find a peasant man carrying a second peasant who is a zombie over his shoulder. As the scene continues through the start of chapter 21, Soonshin wonders what the man is doing with a zombie, who seems too docile, but Heo Jun notes that the zombie is quiet because they’re in the sunlight. It’s then possible to capture and study them during the day. The man holding the zombie looks a bit surprised or alarmed at encountering them in response.

Soonshin starts to question the man carrying the zombie, asking why he captured it alive, but the man doesn’t answer, which makes Soonshin suspicious. While they’re talking, a third man bringing him mushrooms from the forest for them to eat calls the man holding the zombie “Matsumoto,” which leads the Crown Prince to conclude that they are Japanese. Soonshin asks him more questions, and the man carrying the zombie throws him to the ground as the third Japanese man joins him. They make some slurs against the Joseon people and pull out their swords. Soonshin quickly cuts the one across the face, and the other man flees into the forest, leaving their zombie comrade on the ground.

The scene shifts back to the mountain rocks where the peasants are hammering. Kanaseki speaks with some of the workers and slices and stabs them as they talk. In the middle of all of this, the Japanese man who ran from Soonshin appears and gives Kaneseki a report on the fight his men had with Soonshin and the fact his compatriot Matsumoto was murdered in the fight. The interesting thing here is that in this conversation about “madmen,” that term now seems to be referring to the zombie the man had been carrying. So they don’t really understand that the man was a zombie? But then Kaneseki sees Soonshin appear on the rock behind them. Kaneseki confirms with the messenger that this is Matsumoto’s killer while we see Soonshin kill the workers on the rock.

In chapters 22 and 23, the men talk a little then fight. Heo Jun and the others arrive, wondering what the men were hammering into the rock, but Kaneseki fights Soonshin and appears to be dead, but in the last block, he opens his eyes with a smile, apparently tricking them that he was dead, and runs off. Heo Jun finds one of the other workers who is still alive, alerts Soonshin, and they talk with him a little before he dies. They determine all of the dead are Japanese. When they notice some of the corpses are disappearing, the Crown Prince suggests they all have zombie abilities. Soonshin disagrees, noting none of them had blue eyes. The story then turns to Kaneseki running away through the forest, ranting about the horrible Korean who injured him, Soonshin.

The third scene in this chapter turns to a tent pitched on a high rock and a corner of a forest where peasants are chopping down trees. Here we meet the man we met earlier wearing the eyepatch and black and white clothing, khuntosang. A royal guard is speaking with him about disposing of some unnamed woman.

Joseon Zombie Annals 9

The fourth scene in this chapter has our group of protagonists traveling along the side of a mountain when the Crown Prince comes across a closed gate barring their way. While he confers with Soonshin about the gate, someone shoots an arrow down on them, and woman dressed like a man appears above them.

The scene continues in chapter 24 as the Crown Prince steps forward to speak to the woman. She tells him to shut up and shoots another arrow at him specifically this time. When Jin starts to speak, the woman yells again and shoots at her, which sends the rest of their party into action against the archer, especially Soonshin.

Joseon Zombie Annals 10

This woman is dismayed that she can’t scare them off and refers to someone named Sato, which is a name that also came up with the man wearing the eyepatch in the previous scene. Most of these names are all Japanese, and Sato is as well. I guess this Sato figure will become more important to the storyline later, but I can’t figure out who he is at this point. The woman is even more startled to suddenly recognize the Crown Prince in the group. In chapter 25, she thinks back to when she met him before at the palace in his formal court attire, and he tries to convince her he isn’t who she thinks he is, but she gets hysterical and tells him she deserves to die for her disrespect toward him.  He tells her to stop it.

Joseon Zombie Annals 11

Heo Jun is also nonplussed to discover his true identity and follows suit in his protestations and begins crying at the Crown Prince’s feet for his disrespect. The Crown Prince remembers the archer as Princess Taeyeon’s secret bodyguard where she dressed like a man, and the woman admits it was her. She freaks out when Soonshin jumps back down and addresses the Crown Prince by his personal name Yoon, and there is some confusion over whether to call the woman Gildong or Muhyeok and what her gender is, but khuntosang appears silently behind them by the end of the chapter. The scene continues into chapter 26, where he immediately goes after Jin, who is apparently the woman he was talking about disposing earlier. Soonshin steps between them, and Jin runs off as Soonshin faces khuntosang.

They fight, and Soonshin is annoyed when the archer tries to help him since he wants to fight khuntosang alone. Khuntosang runs past Soonshin toward the woman, whom the Crown Prince calls Gildong at this point to warn her, but in her distraction with having the Crown Prince’s attention, khuntosang stabs her in the stomach. In chapter 27, Soonshin tries to fight him again, but khuntosang pushes Gildong down to the ground. Upset to see Gildong roughed up, the Crown Prince pulls out his sword and joins Soonshin in the fight.

Soonshin yells for Jin to get out of there, which generates a lot of conversation in spite of the fact their enemy is waiting to strike and can hear everything. Soonshin also mentions something about zombie powers to the Crown Prince, and I’m not sure, but it looks like in one fleeting block that Gildong’s body disappears. Khuntosang tries to strike Jin with his sword again, but the Crown Prince kicks open the gate, allowing Heo Jun and Jin to run through it, leaving Soonshin alone to fight khuntosang. The two men regard one another before the fight begins anew, and khuntosang asks Soonshin about his choice of weapons, his two holstered butcher knives.

Soonshin cockily twirls one of his butcher knives, but khuntosang removes his eyepatch, revealing one blue eye, the mark of zombie powers. As he attacks and the fight continues, Soonshin’s eyes both turn blue, too, showing his zombie power is also activated, but he drops his butcher knives without warning and seems lethargic about defending himself or fighting.

Meanwhile, chapter 28 shifts to the Crown Prince and the rest of the protagonists who have entered the gate. The path before them is narrow and bounded on both sides by stone walls, but a smaller path with one side open branches off to the left. When the Crown Prince pulls out a map to try to figure out which way they should go, Jin anxiously asks him if it’s better if they wait for Soonshin a bit before continuing. They decide to take the fork in the road, then the scene shifts back to Soonshin facing his enemy.

Soonshin’s coat comes off as khuntosang realizes Soonshin has two blue eyes now. The man picks up one of the butcher knives off the ground and notices it smells of garlic. He raises the butcher knife to strike Soonshin, who is still in his distracted daze.

The scene shifts back to the Crown Prince, Heo Jun and Jin walking through a forest. When the Crown Prince stops them abruptly, they see they are surrounded by three zombies fanned out across their path, and the Crown Prince instructs Jin to douse his sword in garlic.

Joseon Zombie Annals 12

After the Crown Prince dispatches all three zombies, he turns to the other two ready to suggest they wait there for Soonshin since it’s already very late at night and is startled to see khuntosang has caught up with them.

In chapter 29, Jin yells at khuntosang, asking what happened to Soonshin, to which khuntosang responds with more abuse against her since she is his true target. As he lunges for Jin, the Crown Prince and Heo Jun defend her, and they begin to fight. Someone starts to shoot arrows at khuntosang, forcing him to back off. Noticing how oddly the arrows move, he jumps up into the trees and finds the archer Gildong, but he wonders how she survived their fight.

Chapter 30 has some interesting revelations as khuntosang yells to the protagonists that Soonshin is still alive and that he will fight them again sometime before he suddenly disappears. Gildong drops down before them, and the Crown Prince is also amazed she survived, but when he pulls back the bangs that had been hanging over her one eye, concealing it, it turns out she too has one hidden blue eye and one brown eye. He asks how that happened to her.

The scene shifts back to a group of peasants in a clearing near some houses in a village where one of the peasants is addressing the audience. The name Sato comes up again, but I’m still not sure who that person is. A royal guardsman comes to speak with them, but khuntosang, now with his eyepatch on again, slices up the man addressing the crowd. The people are nervous about his return and try to explain what they are doing there. The man asks about the whereabouts of Kaneseki as well as Sato.

The scene shifts back to Gildong with the protagonists in the forest. The Crown Prince insists she explain what happened to her eye, and she haltingly tries to with the help of Heo Jun. She tells them how monsters that she is now told are zombies came to her village where people were turning into them, and the monsters wounded her. Unlike other villagers who were turned into zombies when they were attacked, she merely enhanced her physical abilities with the zombie scratch. However, the Crown Prince connects these zombie powers to the arrival of Japanese in Joseon, and he suggests this character Sato at the village is from Japan, too, which catches Gildong’s attention.

The final scene of the chapter takes place in a cottage in the woods at night where we see Kaneseki beating up a tied up, unconscious Soonshin. Khuntosang arrives and tells him that Soonshin is an important person to them, which surprises Kaneseki.

We’ll pick up the story there in the next installment.

Part three of a six part series.

 

 

 

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2018 Summer Schedule – July and August

My list of speaking engagements and sales events continues with the Furries coming to Pittsburgh. Anthrocon runs from July 5th-8th, 2018. This year’s theme is “Movie Monsters,” and I’ll be speaking on Godzilla as well as participating on a panel giving tips on how to create effective animal characters in the horror genre. I’ll also be in Artist Alley all three days selling my artwork on fans and at least one special paper parasol this year, as well as selling my books featuring magical animals. Details on the event can be found here:

https://www.anthrocon.org/

IMG_1048

Detail of the parasol I’ll be selling at Anthrocon 2018

Then Confluence returns to Pittsburgh July 27th through the 29th. I’ll be in the dealer’s room for the weekend with a few presentations on Saturday. One of those will be my joint book launch with Larry Ivkovich on Saturday at 5PM.

Confluence 2018 Book Launch Announcement

I will also be on a panel discussing modern technology’s affect on drama as well as a solo backlist book reading earlier on Saturday. The event has lots of other things going on:

http://parsec-sff.org/confluence/

In August, I will return to Artist Alley at Steel City Con, August 10-12, 2018.

https://www.steelcitycon.com/

I’m still working on my late summer-early fall schedule, so more details will be forthcoming about that in a few months.

Hope to see you there!

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