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The Plotters

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  2,568 ratings  ·  523 reviews
From the novelist dubbed "the Korean Henning Mankell" (The Guardian) comes a fantastical crime novel set in an alternate Seoul where assassination guilds compete for market dominance. Perfect for fans of Han Kang and Patrick deWitt.

Behind every assassination, there is an anonymous mastermind--a plotter--working in the shadows. Plotters quietly dictate the moves of the city
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by Doubleday Books (first published August 20th 2010)
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Joey This is Kim's first novel translated to English, but some of his earlier novels may be translated in the future.

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This is a beautifully translated addition to the emergent genre of Korean Noir, it is offbeat, full of wit, irony and black humour, gritty and brutal but never less than engaging and gripping, set in Seoul. In this story of a quagmire of plotters, we have our anti-hero an assassin, Reseng, inescapably destined to become an exceptional hitman after being raised by Old Raccoon. You cannot help but be drawn into his life and character despite the brutality of his occupation. Contract killings are m ...more
The Plotters is the first book I read in 2019 and one of my top ten books of the year.

It takes place in an alternative contemporary Seoul – one in which an elite cabal of politicians and corporate executives arrange for and order hits. Their selected targets might be their enemies or the simply and suddenly inconvenient. Our main character, 32-year old Reseng, is a well-read hit man. He never had much of a chance for another career path. He was discarded in a garbage can outside of a convent, r
Andrew Smith
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Reseng was delivered early into the killing game. Having been abandoned as a baby he was adopted from an orphanage by Old Raccoon, a contractor for those who are prepared to pay for a life to be taken. Old Raccoon runs his business out of a library, known locally as the Doghouse, in Seoul and in time Reseng grows naturally into his role as a hired assassin. The people who seek out his services are known as Plotters and are perhaps mainly shady government types – though in truth Reseng really doe ...more
Ova - Excuse My Reading
I won't lie, I found this book a bit baffling in the start but then when the events picked up, and I got what was going on it became so anti-climatic and interesting.

Would it be awkward if I define it as "Tarantino meets David Lynch"? The whole story, characters, events are bizarre and different, but not in a bad way. There is violence, sadness, a well-painted atmosphere, solid characters. If you're into cat/mouse game type of crime novels and fancy a quirk don't give this a miss. Second Korean
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: korea, 2019-read
I love how Un-su Kim takes the tropes of the hardboiled crime novel, plays around with them, has some professional killers question them within the text and tops it all of with a critique of South Korean society - it's clever, inventive and entertaining. Our protagonist Reseng has been left in a garbage bin as a baby and then brought up by a librarian who runs a professional assassination business (Ryū Murakami will probably love this novel). We meet 32-year-old Reseng, now a successful assassin ...more
David Yoon
Would make one hell of a TV script with Reseng, our protagonist torn between the old world of trained career assassins, the back-alley, anything for a buck world of the Meat Market and the slick, MBA having, Stanford educated Hanja and his corporate supermarket of death. The host of eclectic characters from the soft-hearted but bear-sized owner of the pet crematorium, the cross-eyed, knitting librarian, the non-stop talking convenience store owner and her wheelchair bound sister. The action is d ...more
I don't have any strong feelings regarding this book. My thoughts were not provoked, my emotions were not engaged, I was not sad that the story ended. But that doesn't mean it was a bad read, it wasn't.
It's the story of Reseng, an assassin, the lowest position on the ladder but he's at the top of his game, one of the best. He works out of Old Raccoon's library where he was raised after being found by nuns in a dumpster 30+ years ago. Old Raccoon works with Plotters who have been hired to kill pe
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Plotters is the first novel by prize-winning Korean author, Un-su Kim, in English. Reseng has been an assassin for fifteen years. His facilitator is Old Raccoon, who operates out of the library he calls The Doghouse. His instructions come from the Plotters who take orders from the Contractor. An assignment will often see Reseng presenting a body to his friend, Bear who runs a pet crematorium but will, for a fee, cremate a human body with due reverence and ceremony.

Reseng is careful to mainta
The Captain
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy there me mateys! This tale be described by Goodreads as “a fantastical crime novel set in an alternate Seoul where assassination guilds compete for market dominance. Perfect for fans of Han Kang.” I love Han Kang. I love assassins. I love translated works. I love the cover. I loved Fiction Fan’s awesome review which led me to this fun read. She said:

I’m not sure if I’ve made this sound as appealing as it deserves. I found it compulsively readable and, despite the apparent bleakness of the s
Liz Barnsley
Considering this was a novel about the hierarchy of assassins, it had a beautifully rolling, gentle prose - even in it's more violent moments, plus it was hugely compelling and absorbing.

The Plotters sit at the top of the hired killer food chain, hidden from view but pulling all the strings. We rock along with one "lowly" assassin as he changes the plans and comes under fire.

This is only my second Korean thriller and I'm hoping more come my way soon- different and quirky, both in the realistic
Paul Fulcher
"‘Reading books will doom you to a life of fear and shame. Now, do you still feel like reading?’"

The Guardian newspaper recently heralded Korean thriller writers as starting a new wave of translated popular fiction to succeed Scandinavian noir - - and the book on which they centered their article was this: 설계자들 by 김언수 (Kim Un-su). A more literal translation of the original title would be designers or architects, but the publisher and translator have gone w
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I needed something to break me out of my reading rut and this certainly was outside my normal reading. This is part thriller, part comedy, part psychological study. Set in an alternative South Korea where gangs of assassins governed by mysterious leaders control society, this had a dark humor in its preposterous characters and it was stunningly insightful in its exploration of human motivations. The writing was crisp, a delight to read. I am not sure I would want to have a steady literary diet o ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, koreas
Plotters are just pawns like us. A request comes in, and they draw up the plans. There's always someone above them who tells them what to do. And above that person is another plotter telling them what to do. You know what's there if you keep going all the way to the top? Nothing. Just an empty chair.

Un-Su Kim's The Plotters is said to be set in “an alternate Seoul”; a seat of power in which those who pull the strings have access to a thriving assassination industry to enforce their whims and
Donna Davis
The author of this surreal, expertly crafted tale has been called “the Korean Henning Mankell,” but I say he is the Korean Kurt Vonnegut. Enter a world in which the most ignorant and uncurious survive, one in which “Reading books will doom you to a life of fear and shame.” My thanks go to Doubleday and Net Galley for the advance review copy, which I received free in exchange for this honest review. This novel will be available in the U.S. February 12, 2019.

Our protagonist is Reseng. Orphaned at
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, thriller, crime
Strangely satisfying...

In modern, democratic South Korea, governments can no longer get rid of political enemies as easily as they did under the military dictatorship, but fortunately there’s a whole hierarchy of assassins willing to do it for them, for a price. Not to be left out, the world of big business finds this a convenient way to rid itself of competitors too. So, up until recently, there’s been plenty of work for our lead assassin, Reseng, and his employer, Old Raccoon. But now there ar
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let me start off by saying that I never read a book like this before.
What happens when an assassin has outlived their usefulness? It's obvious you send more assassins to kill him.
This book is clever, funny and packed with action. It is beautifully written and the translation is top notch. Once I started this book I was hooked, there is a lot of violence and be warned it is graphic. This is a book that I will read again and again and I do not do this very often. I will definitely be looking out
Text Publishing
‘The Plotters is a constantly surprising book full [of] fascinating stories and unforgettable characters…A savage, beautifully observed, often poetic novel.’

‘Laugh-out-loud funny.’
Radio NZ

‘The Plotters is what would happen if you took the best South Korean crime cinema and distilled it into words. A smart but lightning fast thriller that keeps the pressure on to the very last page.’
Brian Evenson, author of Last Days and A Collapse of Horses

‘Imagine a mash-up of Tarantino and Camus se
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Reseng is an assassin. Assassin's follow instructions made by plotters, who decide who will die, when and how, and who will kill them.

On the positive side I did like the characters, this is obviously a strong point for the author. There were definitely interesting personalities in the book, some craziness and individuality which I liked. There were a couple of scenes in the book I enjoyed, probably most of all the very beginning of the book where Reseng meets and old man and his dog. I loved the
Kasa Cotugno
Lyrical, but that may be the contribution of the translator, this unusual quirky thriller from Korea defies description. I've tagged it as both dystopian and noir, so it is a highly original mashup of the two. Thirty-two year old Renseng is an assassin, discovered in a garbage pail and raised by the shadowy figure who discovered him. He starts questioning the powers that drive his assignments, and that is what propels the plot. Interestingly, some of the other reviews identified the location as ...more
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
South Korean crime novel about assasins-for-hire. Complex characters, some dark humor thrown in, and great writing. The translation is excellent, too.
Nancy Oakes

Like a 3.8 rounded up. first and foremost: If anyone in the US wants my once-read, hardcover copy, it is yours for the asking and I'll pay the postage. It needs a good home and I am out of shelf space.

Expect the unexpected in this book, which is anything but your standard gun-for-hire novel. In fact, if you've considered reading it, read the blurb, and were put off by thinking that this book is just another killer-becomes-prey sort of thing, don't even go
Tom Mooney
I absolutely loved this excellent Korean thriller. It is utterly gripping and I could hardly bring myself to put it down over the past day or so.

It follows Reseng, at 32 years old a veteran of the assassination industry and fatigued by a life of killing, still scarred from the loss of his one chance at a normal life ten years earlier. After being dragged into a plot to take down the kingpins of Seoul's death agencies, he finds himself questioning life, death and his role in this brutal underworl
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
There are two novels here. The one that is promised at the beginning of The Plotters, when Reseng has a conversation with a target, a conversation which is thrilling and keeps you guessing about the conclusion, and then another novel that just peters out. Some nice noir moments, like Reseng discovering a bomb in his toilet, end up feeling like puzzle pieces that don't quite align.

Read more:
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lena by: Goldsboro Book of the Month
“Will this book make the world a happier place? Hard to say, but I doubt it.”

Enter the (hopefully) factionalized dystopia of South Korea; a land of plotters, trackers, assassins, and victims in an ever revolving wheel.

A character driven story of destruction.

“The idea that you could kill someone for something you believe in suddenly filled him with fear. When he thought about it, that might’ve been what made plotters tick.”

“You know the story. The sad story of the hero who hunts down a mon
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-review

A novel where "assassination guilds compete for market dominance" and which feels like an almost surreal combination of Tarantino and Murakami's narratives; the way the characters express themselves, their logic and reactions, are emphatically Asian, which means "not Western", whilst the plot is a classic thriller, full of eerily ironic discussions of assassination, of death, of body disposal, of corruption, of honour.

The copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley.
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
Like the surreal mash-up of a Quentin Tarantino film and a Haruki Murakami novel.
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z3-2019-read-in
4.5 stars rounded down. I will be reading more thrillers by this author.
The translator, Sora-Kim Russell, also did a superb job.
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plot itself becomes the problem with The Plotters – there’s plenty of explanation of its mechanics and not enough story in its telling. For all its literary ambition, the strength of this book lies in its visual sense. Kim conjures a gloriously dreamlike alternative Korea, with vibrant settings, heightened reality and choreographed ultra-violence. One feels more like a viewer than a reader, observing this world rather being absorbed within it. It isn't a lie when I say the plot is filled with ho ...more
A very good thriller about an assassin company operating in Seoul, a few good fight scenes with Henckle's as the weapon of choice, some long dialogue and might make a good movie with the right director. A Highly recommended read.

"Villains are already in hell. Living every moment in darkness, without so much as a single ray of light in your heart, that’s hell. Shivering in terror, wondering when you’ll become a target, when the assassins will appear. True hell is living in a constant state of fea
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Play Book Tag: The Plotters (Horizons) 5 stars 10 26 Apr 01, 2019 01:04PM  
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Un-su Kim was born in 1972 in Busan and is the author of several highly praised novels. He has won the Munhakdongne Novel Prize, Korea’s most prestigious literary prize, and was nominated for the 2016 Grand Prix de la Littéraire Policière. He lives in Jinhae-gu, South Korea.

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