Traffic crossing inspired tale of assassins

The Plotters by Kim Un-su is the latest in a recent wave of Korean crime fiction to go international

Kim Un-su began writing at the age of 16 when a friend lent him a fountain pen and he decided he liked the sounds its tip made on paper.
Kim Un-su (above) began writing at the age of 16 when a friend lent him a fountain pen and he decided he liked the sounds its tip made on paper.PHOTO: PAIK DA-HUIM

When news broke that South Korean novelist Kim Un-su had scored an English translation book deal with major publishing houses, he was among the last to hear. This was because he was in the Pacific on an eight-month-long deep-sea fishing trip.

The trip was research for his next novel, Big Eye, about Korean fishermen in the late 1950s after the Korean War. To support their families, he says, many of these men braved the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans in absurdly small boats without any skill or experience. More than 1,000 fishermen lost their lives at sea.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2019, with the headline 'Traffic crossing inspired tale of assassins'. Print Edition | Subscribe