Excerpt from The Blue House Raid

The bus disgorged its passengers in a square in front of a bar with a sign in English letters. Min-hee knew from her directions that this was the Lucky Club. She put her back to the midday sun and walked north on the chalky main street to where a second wide dirt road ran off to the left, down a slope toward, she knew, the Imjin River. To her right, on top of the tee formed by this intersection, crouched another bar, the Blue Moon Club. Min-hee’s new home was to be a room behind this establishment, but first she wanted to view the famous river and the combat zone on the far side.

The road to the river fell with modest declination. Like the main street, its edges sprouted clubs and working girls. At the river, the ground dropped away in a precipice. A thin bridge of steel and concrete with an American name, Libby Bridge, ran straight and true to the high embankment on the other side. On the near side squatted a guard shack manned by American military police. On the far side, Min-hee could make out sandbagged bunkers with protruding machine guns.

Min-hee walked to the left side of the military police shack and looked down on the broad waters of the Imjin River. At this point, it flowed southwest, taking many twists and turns and a half-loop, she knew, before entering the Han Estuary and the Yellow Sea forty kilometers away. She thought back ten years to lessons of geography and history, before she understood the meaning of being a second daughter where none were wanted.

Min-hee turned away from the embankment, placed her bundle on her head, and walked back up the road. She crossed the main street to the Blue Moon Club and found her papasan out back in an alleyway with veranda and rooms similar to Dongducheon. He slid open the door to the fourth room—linoleum floor, papered walls and ceiling, bed, nightstand, and wardrobe.