It is July 2015 in this alternate world where a second Korean war was fought in 1989 as chronicled in Red Phoenix. That war saw an end where the Chinese brokered a ceasefire and Kim Jong-il was executed by the military. Under the Chinese his son Kim Jong-um was designated the successor. His regency would be under his aunt and uncle until he reached the age of 28. So basically this world is not much different then our own. North Korea is still a basket case of a nation under the pudgy man-child with a bad haircut. There are many factions in North Korea that are always vying for control. An appointment to a head of the Department of the Economy of a powerful individual threatens the balance of power. So a military coup is initiated by a faction in the military. An explosion kills most of Kim Jong-un’s backers at a state dinner but he manages to survive. A bloodbath is in the making as he takes revenge but while addressing the nation from his underground bunker the conspirators succeed in releasing a VX nerve gas on him. So his nation and all the world watches as he dies in a gruesome manner on TV. Now all the factions are vying for power and a bloody civil war breaks out. Add to this the South Koreans entering to unite the country and the Chinese also getting involved under the pretext to find the north’s WMDs. The world stands on the brink of a wider war as the dying regime threatens to strike out with its Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Larry Bond actually wrote a sequel to his enjoyable Korean War novel. Basically the world and situation in Korea is unchanged in spite of this war. It was an excuse to put the characters from the original novel into this book. The three main ones are Tony Christopher the F-16 pilot who is now a brigadier general. Kevin Little the young lieutenant who is now a colonel and Lt.Rhee who is also a colonel in charge of the Ghost Brigade a special forces unit. There are some children of the characters. Chee Ho-jin the son of the North Korean general who was made a scapegoat for the wars failure. His family were all declared traitors and now he works for the Russians as a spy to get back at the regime. Kary Fowler who is the daughter of the national security adviser from the first book. She works as a Christian missionary in the north. The idea of this fictional war surprisingly fits well into the narrative of the story. While it doesn’t really do anything for the story it also doesn’t distract and you can read this book without reading the first one.
So the authors portray a North Korea were the monolithic rule of one man is a facade. That there are actually many factions constantly vying for influence. A country that is rife with corruption as the ordinary people must resort to bribes as a daily routine of life just to survive. Where the elite live in extravagance financed by criminal activity such as drugs to finance their lifestyles. This was a very insightful book in showing the functioning of the North Korean society. It is also a timely one as once again North Korea is in the news. Threatening Guam which was actually attacked with nerve gas missiles in the book. There was a happy ending to this book which we can only hope is the same in the real world.