The Imo Incident (or, The Incident of the Imo Year, or maybe just Eight Days, or Eight Days in the Imo Year)


Well, I’ve just about finished the finishing touches on a story I’ve been on-and-off working for a long time, my Sado Seja story…. which wasn’t originally a ghost story. Actually, I have heard a few people claim that there were ghostly happenings at Changdeokgung, and even Lady Hyegyong mentions palace ghosts — some poor woman who was executed for necromancy against the queen a generation or two back, for example, was thought to have left an evil spiritual residue behind — but strictly speaking, I’ve never encountered the story of Sado Seja as a “ghost story.”

And yet Sado’s madness was, after all, focused on a thunder spirit that he claimed was out to get him; he was just as haunted as any living character in a ghost story. He was living in a palace haunted by history, by ghosts of his own childhood, and those eight days he spent suffocating in a rice chest by royal decree were, I’m sure, deeply haunting for everyone in the palace. So I think, in a very interesting way, I’m actually doing what was called for in this call for submissions.

(I’ve also read and found it implied that, technically, there is a broader sense to the term 귀신 that encompasses the spirits of the dead, but also beings that seem more like what we Westerners would consider demoniacal, or demigod-like, and which may or may not have been souls of dead human beings at some point. I’m guessing these are among the hordes of beings that got integrated in the 만신’s (a.k.a. 무당’s or shaman’s) repertoire of supernatural beings to deal with.)

Well, let me tell you, even with flashbacks, it’s not easy to tell a story where the main character spends most of the time suffocating and thirsting to death in a rice chest out in the summer heat, and I’m relatively proud of what I managed to pull off. So I don’t know how the story will fare against the competition, but anyway, I’m gonna give it a shot. Tomorrow, a quick proofread, and then it’s off. I’ll keep working on my Wonmi Mountain ghosts, but the’re just not going to go out on this call for submissions. I may end up with a book’s worth of Korean ghost stories, though, if I keep at it like I’m going these days.

As for blogging, well… once I can get the story sent out — maybe as “The Imo Incident,” or “The Incident of the Imo Year,” or perhaps just as “Eight Days,” depending on what I think tomorrow after a proofread — I’ll get back to researching Korean SF, specifically looking at movies. I’ll be working up a post on 괴물 (The Host) sometime in the next couple of days, followed by something on taxonomies of gendered archetype in Korean pop culture — which is technically in a different series, but relates to The Host and other films I’ll be discussing. So there’s plenty of stuff coming in the next couple of weeks.

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