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Review: 회색의 벼랑 by KIM Seong-jong 김성종

A view of the sea, with a grey cliff and boats on the horizon.


Title: 회색의 벼랑
Author: KIM Seong-jong 김성종
Read in 한국추리소설걸작선2, compiled by 한국추리작가협회

KIM Seong-jong is known as the greatest author of crime fiction of the 1970s and 1980s. This short story of 35 pages is available in the compilation of the best Korean detective novels edited by the Korean Crime Authors’ Society.

The setting

회색의 벼랑 is a fictional story based on a real abduction. In 1978, the South Korean actress CHOI Eun-hee 최은희 was abducted by North Korea and forced to make films for the state. CHOI Eun-hee was one of the greatest and most admired actresses of her time, but in the late 1970s, her career was declining. Disguised as a Hong Kong businessman, a North Korean agent persuaded her to go to Hong Kong, pretending to help her build a film-making company. In Hong Kong, she was abducted and sent to North Korea where she remained eight years.

In real life, CHOI Eun-hee’s ex-husband, film-maker SHIN Sang-ok 신상옥 was also abducted. KIM Seong-jong’s story focuses only on the actress, and though he creates a fictional actress whose name is CHAE So-hui 채소희, the details surrounding her abduction are very similar to what happened to CHOI Eun-hee.

Why I liked it

In only 35 pages, KIM Seong-jong recreates the events leading to CHOI Eun-hee’s abduction. It is not the story of something that could happen but something that did happen, as incredible as it may seem, and only thinking about it sends shivers down my spine.

KIM Seong-jong also gives a place to other characters whose fate has been tragically attached to this event. I don’t know if these characters are based on real people, but we can easily imagine that they have or could have existed.

It is particularly meaningful to read this story now, given that CHOI Eun-hee has died only last year (April 2018).

Learn more about CHOI Eun-hee’s abduction by North Korea (BBC)

If you want to read this story, you can buy it separately as ebook either on Yes24 or Ridibooks.

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