Bio: Kim Dal-Young
Born in Seoul, Korea in 1969, Ph.D. in Physics. He is currently a professor at Seoul National University of Science and Technology. Started SF creative activities by winning the 2019 SF Short Story Contest.
I have just no idea how I become to command such an operation. Even a few years ago, the situation on the Korean Peninsula was not so bad. Though the complete unification described in many futuristic novels in 20th century was not realized, a friendly atmosphere had been formed between South and North. Amid steady exchanges between the two Koreas, peaceful unification through communication and compromise seemed just not a dream. When I applied for the military academy, the thawing mood reached a climax. So just becoming a fine military officer was in my plan, not leading the suicide commando after only several years since I’d been commissioned.
Expectedly, it was the foreign power that broke the peaceful cooperation. Conflicts between the US and China had become more intensive and eventually both took military action. As North Korea took China side and South Korea took the US, in just a century, this land became a proxy battlefield for the powers of the world.
The aspects of war went in a completely different direction with our expectation. When the war was impending, the people around me were mistaken that allies would win and the Korean Peninsula would be unified, as we were more dominant in both economic scale and military power than the other party.
Contrary to most expectations, as the war broke out, the war was unilaterally progressing to allies’ disadvantage. The capital fell in just a few days, and even the General Headquarter got pushed to the edge of the Korean Peninsula in just three weeks. Was it because of armchair generals who don’t grasp a piece of reality? or Was it because they were just in a hurry to focus on regime stability by yelling outwardly, even they were aware of the reality? … Damn it.
As a company grade officer, I’d also cheated death several times, among the retreating troops. Maybe that’s why I haven’t so frustrated even when I received the operation order with 0% of surviving chance, because it seemed I would be killed in battle at any rate.
We’ve kept walking through mountains and passing across the middle of the Korean Peninsula for several days at night. The details of this operation order is to make special forces of 12 squad size armed with a nuclear backpack for each men, to infiltrate the rear of enemy. Hence it was absolutely forbidden to move during the day or across flatlands. There would be nothing but death to all if such a small element like us got detected in the middle of enemy occupied area. So flying beneath the radar of enemy is our top priority. It’s just like 99% of mission complete as long as we successfully get to the target area.
During the day, we buried individual surviving units in the ground, so-called ‘cocoon’, and took some rest inside of it. The cocoon was devised to make soldiers breath even if they’re sealed under the ground by activating the aerating system, and also it could flow out their excretion. During the night, we walked as swiftly as possible along the mountain path. The elastic combat boots, which increase walking speed and provide reaction force on uphill path, gave us greater mobility than normal infantry. And due to the combat uniform made of heating fiber, we were able to endure the freezing cold of January. A GPS device was equipped on my bullet-proof helmet, made of reinforced ceramics, which was supplied to commanders. Well, our defeat seemed quite certain but, the quality of combat equipment supplied to those who were going to die was not that bad.
The mission was all same for spread 12 squads. No matter what cost, fly beneath the radar of enemy to the target area and burn their capital and the general headquarter to the ground. This would not enough to seize the chance to victory, but if their commanding system is destroyed, their warfare will won’t last long. Then probably the ceasefire negotiation will begin.
After passing another mountain peak, GPS showed that we eventually reached to the target area. Perhaps my squad made it first, or all other squads got failed.
This place is where I’m going to die, and now, the dawn of January 21th in 2068 is the time to face my death.
Though I’m just about to meet death, I have no thought of running away. It would be worth to devote my life for my country as a man. Wouldn’t it be an honor as a soldier if my country, my homeland, my comrades could turn the tide of the war, at the sacrifice of myself. Even if I could save my life today by running away from this battlefield, I have no idea how many days I could survive, as an officer of the troops just about to lose.
I just did let my men take a last rest, who all had passed through the half of the Peninsula, then another military officer and I prepared to execute our last mission. We took out the nuclear bomb from the backpack and assembled a detonator. I thought I was ready to die but my hands couldn’t stop trembling.
When all the preparation had done, we both officers telepathically took out and smoked cigarettes. A long drag on the last cigarette… which is allowed even for the prisoner on death row.
Exploding the bomb at a crucial moment was not my mission, but for the other officer. After smoking the last cigarette, the other military officer, who was equipped with thorough party character and political ideas rather than me, resolutely raised and activated the detonator by shouting loudly.
“LONG LIVE the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea!”
In a tiny moment of several seconds for nuclear chain reaction, what I saw was the heart of enemy, the light of the Blue House (the South Korean presidential residence).