49 pages • 1 hour readHa Jin
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Mr. Chiu, a male professor in his 30s, is the protagonist of “Saboteur.” At the beginning of the story, and for much of its middle, Mr. Chiu is a sort of victim. While eating lunch with his bride near the Muji Train Station, a railroad officer first harasses him and then takes him to jail for speaking out against the harassment. While in jail, he demands an apology for the abuses he suffered, and at first refuses to sign a document admitting guilt for his crime. This shows that Mr. Chiu has dignity and moral integrity. At this stage in the story, Mr. Chiu is a representative or stand-in for the average citizen, standing up for his rights in predictable, reasonable ways.
Around halfway through the story, Mr. Chiu witnesses the abuse of Fenjin, a former student of his, at the hands of the police. In order stop Fenjin’s abuse and free both of them from prison, Mr. Chiu ultimately signs the document which states that he is guilty of the crime of sabotage. This demonstrates that though Mr. Chiu is willing to stand up for his rights, he has his limits, and is unwilling to risk the safety of others in order to make a point.
By Ha Jin