The Korea Herald


[New in Korean] Making of 65-year-old female assassin in 'The Old Woman with the Knife' prequel

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : March 31, 2023 - 09:00

    • Link copied

“Shatter” by Gu Byeong-mo (Wisdom House) “Shatter” by Gu Byeong-mo (Wisdom House)


By Gu Byeong-mo

Wisdom House

In Gu Byeong-mo’s bestseller “The Old Woman with the Knife,” a 65-year-old female assassin named Hornclaw struggles to accept that she is past her prime -- she remains a ruthless and efficient killer. But everyone must have a beginning.

In this short story, “Shatter,” a prequel to the thriller-action, readers get a glimpse of Hornclaw’s past and how she was trained in her teens by an unnamed man to become the cold-blooded killer she is today. The cover features the phrase, “Once you’ve made up your mind and picked up the knife, don’t hesitate,” which is one of the lessons Hornclaw is taught by the mysterious mentor.

Following the story feels as though you are experiencing Hornclaw's missions alongside her, thanks to the vivid descriptions. At the same time, you can follow the author’s psychological portrayal of a teenage girl’s clumsy emotions, arrogance, pride and youth.

“Considering everything, the story is probably set between 1963-1965 when (she) was in her teens,” says Gu in the author's note.

Korean edition (left) and English edition of Korean edition (left) and English edition of "The Old Woman with the Knife” (Wisdom House, Hanover Square Press)

“I like (Hornclaw) because she is not perfect. She is someone who can have unhealthy thoughts and noxious emotions. I believe much of the reason for her popularity with readers lies in her incompleteness and undesirableness.”

Gu’s “Shatter” is the first book in the WEFIC series, a collection of 50 short stories to be published by Wisdom House between March until February next year.