The year is 1894, Korea’s Tonghak Uprising whose members are primarily poor farmers. In two farming villages, rumors circulate that the Tonghak army is approaching to punish the two local exploitative families. Counselor Kim is distraught over the report that Chang-soe, who left the village several years ago in the wake of a severe flogging by him, has returned as a Tonghak member. Meanwhile, Il-yang, Adviser Pak’ son, falls in love with Mi-yon, the daughter of Kim, his father’s archrival. One night, he is caught by a Tonghak scout and taken to a cave in the mountains where he witnesses a mass trial. When Counselor Kim faces torture, Mi-yon, disguised in men’s clothing, intervenes and begs the commander of the Tonghak force for mercy.
Lee Mu-young is the pen name of Lee Yong-ku. He was born in North Chungchong Province in 1908 and died in 1960. He made his debut in 1926 but established his position on the literary scene in 1939 when he started to write stories based on rural life. He began writing these “rural stories” at a time when leftist literature was popular in Korea. But while some of these early stories were written in sympathy with this trend, Lee is now remembered mostly as a writer who skillfully depicted the life and plight of Korean farmers.