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Who Dun It: Korean Style - The Best of Korean Mysteries & Thrillers: 10 Short Stories by Choi Hyuck-gon et al.

  • onOctober 20, 2014
  • Vol.3 Spring 2009
  • byLee Hak-young
The Best of Korean Mysteries & Thrillers: 10 Short Stories
2008
470pp.

Korean mysteries and thrillers have a hundred-year-old history that has produced a few prominent authors and some successful books. However, it is hard to say that these genres have enjoyed a huge following or have passed down a lasting tradition. And so, this collection of thrillers from ten young mystery authors is a collection of narrow tributary streams running over barren soil rather than a single serene, overflowing stream. Just like all mysteries and thrillers, each story in this book raises tension by carefully constructing a murder or by delaying a character’s death.

Both “Ali Baba’s Alibi and the Mysterious Starfish” and “Hello, My Star” offer mysteries in which the murderer disappears in a locked room, and the victim uses a piece of fruit to leave a dying message. “Assassination” and “Lethal Fire” are both historical mysteries. The former is set during the 1948 Jeju-do (island) assassination, while the latter uses an act of arson in the year 558 in Hanseong, ancient Seoul, to set the stage. Even though the murderer is revealed at the beginning of this next story, the plot twist in “The Seventh Bus Stop” centers around the way the victim dies. In this case, the victim ironically hires a killer to kill him in order to take revenge on an old man who used to stalk him. “Sinkhole” and “Blood May Appear from the Earth” have different backgrounds and motives for why their heroes are on the run, but both are tension- filled thrillers that follow fugitives as they escape their fast-approaching antagonists. A transgendered person in “Lies” is killed and discarded near the sea by a man who had once saved her life. In “The Life of Foucault,” we follow a contract killer through the tense process of setting up a murder. But in the end, in an unexpected plot twist, we find out the contract was a trap set up by a middleman. “The Treasure of Istanbul” is a spy thriller set in Turkey where a secret agent’s moral skepticism unfolds amidst bloody fights over diamonds.