Your Republic is Calling You
By Young-Ha Kim
Translated by Chi-Young Kim
A North Korean spy has been living in South Korea for over 20 years; suddenly, after years of silence from headquarters, he is called back, and has 24 hours to report.
What will he tell his unknowing wife and daughter? Would they reassign him? Kill him? Has he been caught by the South Korean government? These questions are the running theme of the book as it follows a day in the life of our spy, and his family, hour by hour, as he figures out how to make his next move.
What I found most interesting was the play by play for each family member as they go to work, school, socialize, etc in Seoul, and conduct apparently very separate lives.
It was also engaging to go through the spy’s thought process as he internally replays his early days as a spy acclimating to South Korea and getting entrained in the revolutionary movement, in order to figure out what the callback could actually mean. It paints a really illuminating picture of what the student protests in the 80’s might have actually been like on the ground.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read for the good balance of cultural nuances with the thriller-esque narrative. It was an entertaining read and had a good balance of characters. The ending was super interesting too! No spoilers here!