Only two characters in The Innocent demand any consideration: the narrator, Major Lee, and Colonel Min. Lee is by temperament and training more of an academic than a military officer, but love of his country impels him to take up a military career after the Korean War ends. Lee met Colonel Min during their teaching days together at a university in Seoul. After the war, a year before the coup, both Lee and Min were in Paris, where Min conceived of the plans for the coup in a sidewalk café. Their relationship thus has a long history.
The idealist Lee is haunted by a story about Min that he is told by a young officer from Min’s village. Min is rumored to have shot and killed a North Korean officer in cold blood in the time immediately following World War II. The true story turns out to have been that Min had been in Manchuria with Korean units fighting with Communist Chinese forces, and that these Korean forces had become the vital cadre of the new North Korean army. Min, however, simply left his unit and went home, only to have a North Korean major come and take him under arrest to a nearby Russian garrison. The North Korean major was an intensely patriotic Communist who wanted Min to come back and work with the Korean Communists.
What happened at the Russian garrison became the basis for the rumor of Min’s brutality. In the presence of the Russian commander, a major, and a Russian lieutenant, the North Korean major had given Min a...
(The entire section is 424 words.)