Un-su Kim

The Plotters

Kim Un-su, the author of The Cabinet, has returned. In 2006, he was unanimously chosen for the 12th Munhakdongne Novel Prize. Literary critic Ryu Bo-seon called him a “monster,” and novelist Jeon Gyeong-rin called him “a new omen.” Hailed for his penetrating insight into the world and his unwavering commitment to love and sincerity toward mankind, Kim Un-su has returned to us with his first novel in four years, The Plotters. Winner of the prestigious Mumhakdongne Prize and Grand Prix de LiteraturePolicière. Sold to Penny Hueston, TEXT Publishers, WEL, L’Auge Noir/France.

Behind assassinations that change the course of history, there are always the plotters. Plotters are highly intelligent masterminds with the powerful watching their backs. Their plots are handed over to the assassins who then carry them out. Since the Japanese Colonization of Korea, Library of Dogs has been the most powerful organization of assassins. The library has a massive collection of 200,000 books, but no one reads there; the place is where plots are hatched, hence the name Library of Dogs. Raesang is an orphan and an adopted son of Old Raccoon, the director of the library. There has never been a second option for Raesang other than being an assassin.

With the advent of Korea’s democratization, Library of Dogs is pushed out to the margins of the plotting world by a new force headed by Hanja, who has succeeded in turning his organization into a corporate security company. A former Library member, Hanja is a foreign-educated businessman. When Raesang changes the assassination plot of a former general, things become tense between Hanja and the Library, and the conflict spirals out of control. Raesang had already lost two people to Hanja, the Trainer, a father figure to Raesang, and Chu, an assassin who was put on the blacklist for letting his target go.

When his best friend Jeong-an is also taken out by Hanja and his henchman, the Barber, Raesang dissociates himself from the Library and becomes a free agent.

Mito, the female protagonist, is a prodigy who has lost her father to a plot. After a long period of preparation, she becomes a plotter’s assistant. When Mito approaches Raesang with her own scheme to overturn the plotting world, all hell breaks loose.

“Jealousy was my reaction to The Cabinet; awe is my reaction to The Plotters. The novel thrills me like a wolf feels when it has smelled blood.” Kwon Yeo-seon, novelist

“Like a veteran killer, he’s terse. Quickly, coolly, and without hesitation, he commands sentences and stories that stab the reader between the ribs. We’ve been waiting for this storyteller and his story.” Park Min-gyu, novelist

The Cabinet

The Cabinet is a story about the documents that record these symptomers and the man who manages the documents in Cabinet 13. This seemingly ordinary, old cabinet is filled with stories that are peculiar, strange, eye-pop- ping, disgusting, enraging, and touching. However, the fast changing world is also full of all sorts of unbelievable things. Perhaps symptomers exist not only in the novel but also in the real world. Perhaps some of us do not accept our past and instead, erase our memories and create new ones. Some of us might want to become a wooden doll or a cat rather than live in pain as a human. And if you look around, you can find those who can love no one but themselves or their alter egos.

The narrator is an office worker in his 30s, as ordinary as the cabinet. But he once spent 178 days drinking nothing but cans of beer. And his colleague Son Jeong-eun is a quiet, chubby girl who draws nobody’s attention. But she also has a strange habit of devouring more than 100 pieces of sushi at once. In this novel, the cabinet is a container that holds all the truths of the world. Kim Un-su puts truth into the cabinet “as it is” and keeps it fresh under prop- er temperature and moisture, utilizing his precise prose and rich style. Each episode, preposterous and weird, is intricately interwoven with the narrator’s story are like Lego blocks that form a perfectly assembled structure. Unfolding peculiar and heart-freezing episodes, the author tells us that this is an ‘ordinary’ story and at the same time, the truth “as it is,” as natural as the wind blowing, flowers blossoming and snow falling. The moment you turn the last page of the book, you will come to think about which strange stories are inside your own cabinet. And you will be also curious about what story the author will pull out of his cabinet next time.

Kim Un-su made his debut as a writer in 2002 through the Jinju News Fall Literary Contest with short stories, “Easy Breezy Writing Class” and “Dan Valjean Street” and the 2003 DongA Ilbo Spring Literary Contest with his mid-length novel “Farewell, Friday.” His first full-length novel The Cabinet received the 12th Munhakdongne Novel Award.