Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.
This story is doing a superb job of looking at dysfunctional relationships and how people find themselves trapped in cycles of abuse even while it is making the reader’s skin crawl and has us cringing at the thought of what is about to come next. Early in this chapter very little happens but we gain some real insight from Yoon Bum about his current existence and how he sees Sangwoo.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t doing anything. He was waiting for me to make a mistake.
The fear this idea conjures as we see Yoon Bum watching Sangwoo watch him, the inevitable minor mistake and then the violence that follows is pretty confronting. Unlike the sensationalized murder and leg breaking from earlier in the story, these events clearly fall into the realm of stock standard domestic abuse tactics and the reality of the situation being portrayed (even if how we got here was not in an everyday manner) makes it all the more cutting.
Throughout this chapter Yoon Bum has three moments where we see him contemplating ways to free himself from the current situation.
Firstly, when Sangwoo leaves him on the chair and goes downstairs. Yoon Bum thinks about making a break for the door but finds himself trapped by the door frame. While he might get the chair over it, Sangwoo would most definitely hear which would leave him almost no time to get away. Ultimately Yoon Bum abandons this plan without any attempt but there’s a good drawn out moment of tension as you wonder whether he will or won’t try, and you just keep hoping he won’t because you just know this would be doomed to failure and would end in disaster.
Secondly, Yoon Bum gives in to a minor day dream about stabbing Sangwoo in the eye with the kitchen knife. This is as graphic as this chapter gets as we see the fantasy play out but even before we’re told it is fairly clear that he hasn’t actually acted. His trembling hands after this sequence speak volumes but the situation hasn’t changed.
Lastly, we have a situation that I can only assume Sangwoo has entirely orchestrated for his own amusement given Yoon Bum hasn’t taken any direct action and this kind of tells us more about Sangwoo’s skills as a brilliant manipulator.
Unable to tempt Yoon Bum into direct action against him even though he continues to deliberately give him opportunities, Sangwoo tries a more underhanded approach of having Yoon Bum clean a cupboard where he conveniently finds rat poison. It’s interesting that Sangwoo realises that Yoon Bum is a coward and while he might want to escape he just can’t bring himself to violence. Poison however…
Still, this meal is going to be interesting and Yoon Bum’s desperate thought is just kind of floating there.
Ah, I guess I’m going to die soon…
All and all, this has been my favourite chapter so far because it isn’t resorting to violence or gore and almost all the plays are psychological. The events hit hard and definitely unnerve. Really wanting to know what happens with this meal they are about to eat but I guess I’ll find out when I get to the next chapter.
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