"Seol Ja-eun Returns to Geumseong"
By Chung Serang
Chung Serang, the author behind "School Nurse Ahn Eun-young," which was the base for the Netflix series "The School Nurse Files," ventures into the realm of historical mystery adventure with her latest novel, "Seol Ja-eun Returns to Geumseong."
The novel marks a shift toward the historical and detective genres for the star writer who previously explored speculative fiction and science fiction.
With a background in history education, the author had long harbored the ambition to craft novels set in bygone eras. In 2016, she embarked on a seven-year-long research journey to Gyeongju, the then-capital of the Silla Kingdom.
The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of Unified Silla in the seventh century, following the spirited heroine Ja-eun, who was raised as a boy and makes a living disguising herself as her deceased brother.
Returning from the Tang Empire after her studies, Ja-eun comes back to the capital city, Geumseong (an alternative name for Gyeongju).
Ja-eun becomes embroiled in the assassination of a high-ranking general on a ship returning home. She meets Mok In-gon, who introduces himself as a skilled artisan from the fallen Baekje Kingdom. The duo tackles a series of challenging mysteries and murders sweeping the country.
The story introduces engaging characters, including the endearing yet tragic figure of Mok In-gon, a man haunted by the misfortunes of Baekje; San-ah, who was Ja-eun's brother's lover; and the capable younger sister, Do-eun.
At least three volumes are planned for the series, with the second installment tentatively titled "Chasing Flames" and the third, "Riding on Tigers' Back," scheduled for subsequent releases.