Invaders to Korea have come and gone over the centuries but they always seem to bypass the village where the teenage Mansik lives. This all changes when the UN Army, and in particular it's American contingent, arrive to set up base on Cucumber Island, just a short boat crossing from Mansik's home.
The story is largely told from a child-like viewpoint and the translation reflects this with a simple vocabulary. At first the village 'gang' do all the pointless things that local teenage boys indulge in, like searching for the cave that houses the mythical General and his Silver Stallion. Yet barely a few days after the soldier's arrival Mansik's world is brutally changed and we watch as he learns to 'hate' the world around him and especially the 'bengkos'.
At many points, it felt like this could be used as a school text but, in truth, it contains several graphic sexual scenes or references and should be classed as an adult read. Mansik's hatred spreads to all around him, as he realises the mythical General will not become the nation's saviour and, instead, another kind of General brings turmoil to his life.
It is short and powerful. To suggest it is MASH from the civilian perspective is too simplistic, there is no humour here.