“The Martyred” is the novel written by Richard Kim about the Korean War and its consequences on the religious life. The first eleventh chapters of the story introduce the main character, Captain Lee, and describe his relations with his friend, Park, the ways of how they achieve the current military positions, and the tasks they have to complete during the war.
The author uses the narration and a number of dialogues to describe the war’s reasons, methods, and outcomes. The idea to mix up religious and military ideas in “The Martyred” seems to be powerful indeed; still, it requires much attention from the author to every single detail like family relations, personal ambitions, and the desire to get to the truth.
The novel retells a story of how Captain Lee gets a task from Colonel Chang to find out the truth about the deaths of the twelve Christian ministers, who are later called as the martyred, and the circumstances under which two other ministers, Mr. Shin and Mr. Hann, get to survive. In chapters from 1 to 11, it is not clear if Mr. Shin and Mr. Hann did something wrong or unethical to save their lives.
Still, there is another character, Chaplain Koh, who could shed the light on the events of the night, when the twelve ministers were killed. He, as well as one of the survived ministers, Mr. Shin, makes the narrator thinking about the concept of truth and its effects on human relations.
At the beginning of the story, Lee knows that he has some duties and orders to be followed. With time, he comprehends that “truth cannot be bribed” (Kim 50) and it is high time for him to decide which side he wants to belong to and whether it is correct to use religion as the only weapon to win the war and make more people believing in the threat of Communism to the society.
Questions about the Reading
How were the family relations between Park and his father predetermined by military and religion services?
The evaluation of this question helps to comprehend that Kim’s novel is a good example of how a story about one war may encourage a person to think about family, the way of how the relations should be developed, and the situation when the mistakes of relatives can or cannot be forgiven. The novel is not a military story only, and this question helps to improve the reading understanding from a new unexpected perspective.
Was it fair to use religion to justify some military actions on the example of the task given by Colonel Chang to Captain Lee?
The question of religion is usual for the novel. It seems to be interesting to think over the possible combinations between the war and religion. However, it is necessary to use the story facts and prove if it is correct for people far from religion use it as a means to achieve certain military goals.
What did Captain Lee mean when he told that “truth cannot be bribed”?
The necessity to find out the truth is one of the most important in the story. In spite of the fact that Captain Lee had to use different methods to achieve his goal, he truly believed in the power of truth and its effects on the way people lived. The search of the answer to this question helps to comprehend the essence of the novel and the role of truth in the war, religion, and relations between different people.
Kim, Richard, E. The Martyred. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2011. Print.