Split Decision, Decades in the Making


I’m half way through the rewrites of SPLIT. The manuscript has two halves. Then and Now.

But there’s a short section in the middle that I’m calling No Man’s Land.

For your consideration:

Carrie’s murder case has been relegated to no man’s land. No resolution. No solution.  The investigation into Jane’s crime is at a stalemate, just like North and South Korea. As long as Jane doesn’t cross a line on American terrain, or travel out of bounds, she can soldier on indefinitely. A DMZ separates Jane and justice.youtube_logo

The Armistice Agreement, signed on July 27, 1953 by the United Nations Command, the North Korean People’s Army, and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army, outlines the terms and rationale for a demilitarized zone between the North and the South.

 “A military demarcation line shall be fixed and both sides shall withdraw two (2) kilometers from this line so as to establish a demilitarized zone between the opposing forces. A demilitarized zone shall be established as a buffer zone to prevent the occurrence of incidents which might lead to a resumption of hostilities.”5286

The limbo in Carrie’s case is eerily parallel: If Jane resumes hostilities, American agencies can finally launch at counter-attack. In other words, the ceasefire ends when Jane kills again. It’s an implausible situation, likewise endured by the Korean Peninsula—waiting endlessly for the other side to make the wrong move, but always hoping they never will.  

Meanwhile Selene, the accomplice who stayed on the front lines in Seoul, was sentenced to 10 years in a Korean prison for concealing evidence and harboring a criminal. But her parents and lawyer successfully argued that there was no “convicted” criminal to harbor.

When Selene was released after six months in solitary confinement, she gave incongruous statements to the press: “While I hated it, while it was awful, while it was dreadful, I can’t fully regret it because it taught me so much.”

Talk about crossing a line! Selene didn’t regret the jail time—which implies that she didn’t regret the crime—because she learned some valuable lessons while confined. Apparently, neither concealing evidence nor harboring a criminal was among them.

 Selene also sent me a postcard, after her release, with these exact words: 

Just a note to say I am alive and finally home. It’s been one hell of a year. Will write more when I know where to write to. Write soon! Where are you? With much love…

The phrase, “I am alive,” seemed incredibly insensitive considering the fact that Carrie wasn’t.  Did Selene really think that I’d write back and we’d be chummy pals again? That I’d just forget that she helped Jane get away with murder? I didn’t want any part of her “much love.” Needless to say, I didn’t write her back with my coordinates. Unknown

But I did have the exact latitude and longitude of the Military Demarcation Line at the Joint Security Area tattooed on my right leg. It’s a marker, a reminder, of life and death below the 38th Parallel. The Armistice Agreement mentions “the belligerents in Korea” and I had been one of them.  I needed to bear witness.

The Forgotten War, as the Korean Conflict came to be known, should be remembered.

And so should Carrie. 



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