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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.





About Lady Xiansa

Lady Xiansa is a writer, linguist, artist, and dancer. She has been a core volunteer for the Silk Screen Asian Arts Organization from 2007 to 2018 and has provided content for Pitt JCS anime events since 2011. She has taught both ESL and Beginning Korean. Her gothic horror novel, The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak, won the Bronze Award for Young Adult Fiction E-book in the 2016 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards and earned the 2018 Story Monsters Approved Seal in the Tween Category.
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