Murder with a Twist: A Night of Seven Years by Jeong Yu-jeong

  • onOctober 23, 2014
  • Vol.12 Summer 2011
  • byShin Junebong
A Night of Seven Years

Jeong Yu-jeong is a novelist who represents a recent trend in the Korean literary scene. The consensus among novelists, critics, and publishers is that while short stories account for most of Korean literature, writers should publish more full-lengths novels. Consequently, several literary awards, with various amounts of prize money offered, have been established. In some sense, Jeong Yu-jeong is a fortunate recipient of this new phenomenon. Although she had previously written several full-length novels, her Shoot Me in the Heart, which is about two young men’s escape from a mental institution, garnered the attention of the Korean literary establishment. The book came out in 2009 and won a 100,000,000 won literary prize for a full-length work. It has also been turned into a play, and will be made into a film.

The novelist’s sequel is A Night of Seven Years. This book is about how a murderer’s son and his assistant investigate the truth about a grotesque serial murder case that took place in a lakeshore provincial town seven years earlier. The protagonist is a former baseball catcher who one day murders his wife and allegedly, the proprietor of an arboretum by the lake; he then goes on to unlock the floodgate of the nearby dam, thereby killing all the local residents.

The protagonist’s son, who is labeled the offspring of a psychotic murderer, cannot settle in any one place and goes from one city to another. The reason is that a mysterious person shows up and distributes copies of a weekly magazine that reported his father’s crime, hence revealing his identity. It turns out that the person who exposed the murderer’s son is the proprietor of the arboretum, who was ostensibly thought to have been killed by the former baseball catcher. Before the alleged murder takes place, the arboretum proprietor had harbored a grudge against the protagonist for also killing his daughter; therefore, to take revenge, he pursued the protagonist’s son for seven years. The author tells the story by way of an intricate plot with a final twist that is quite gratifying for the reader. There is already talk of turning this book into a movie. 

Author's Profile

Jeong You Jeong’s Seven Years of Darkness sold more than 500,000 copies in South Korea alone, and its German edition ranked ninth on the Zeit and Nordwestradio “Best Crime Fiction of December 2015” list. Her most recent work, The Good Son, climbed to the top of the bestseller list even before it was published, through pre-orders on South Korea’s major online bookstores. It was also voted first by readers on Kyobo Book Centre’s “Best Fiction of 2016” list. The English edition of the book is set to be published in 2018 by Little, Brown in the UK and Penguin Random House in the US. The thriller is also being adapted into a movie and plans are underway to turn it into a webtoon. Jeong’s novel 28, featured in this issue, plays out over twenty-eight days in a city caught up in the turmoil of a zoonotic epidemic that causes people’s eyes to turn red.