A foreign film importer, Gi-yeong is a family man with a wife and daughter. An aficionado of Heineken, soccer, and sushi, he is also a North Korean spy who has been living among his enemies for twenty-one years.
Suddenly he receives a mysterious email, a directive seemingly from the home office. He has one day to return to headquarters. He hasn’t heard from anyone in over ten years. Why is he being called back now? Is this message really from Pyongyang? Is he returning to receive new orders or to be executed for a lack of diligence? Has someone in the South discovered his secret identity? Is this a trap?
Spanning the course of one day, Your Republic Is Calling You is an emotionally taut, psychologically astute, haunting novel that reveals the depth of one particularly gripping family secret and the way in which we sometimes never really know the people we love. Confronting moral questions on small and large scales, it mines the political and cultural transformations that have transformed South Korea since the 1980s. A lament for the fate of a certain kind of man and a certain kind of manhood, it is ultimately a searing study of the long and insidious effects of dividing a nation in two.
Spanning a single day, this tense spy novel from Kim (I Have the Right to Destroy Myself), marred only by some stilted prose, is also a deeply compelling study of the self and varying themes of trust. Kim Ki-yong, a North Korean spy who's lived undercover for 21 years, has fully adapted to life in Seoul, South Korea, where he runs a successful foreign-film importing business, owns a home, and has a wife and teenage daughter, neither of whom is aware of his past or actual identity. As Ki-yong ponders returning to the austere and sterile militaristic regime of the North after receiving a coded message from his handler ("Liquidate everything and return immediately"), his wife, Ma-ri, struggles with infidelity and his daughter, Hyon-mi, maneuvers the tumultuous and tricky landscape of adolescence. Kim offers a riveting tale of espionage along with keen observations of human behavior. (Sept.)