Patriotism, a sexually insatiable geisha and the dreaded Kempeitai drive a displaced Korean across vast continents shaken by Hitler, Mao's Long March and Japan unleashed.
When his father dies of a mysterious disease, young Eddie becomes the head of an aristocratic (yangban) family consisting of himself, his mother and hundreds of tenant farmers in Choson (North Korea) at the beginning of the twentieth century. He needs to grow up quickly to meet the demands of restive tenants seeking leadership as Japanese colonizers ravage the countryside. Guided by his mother's firm hand, he rids himself of his cumbersome landholdings and an arranged marriage to a woman almost twice his age, and embarks on a trek inspired by his hero Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho, the great Korean patriot in American self-exile.
He crosses the border into Manchuria where he experiences a sexual awakening in the arms of a Japanese general's geisha. She concocts a scheme passing Eddie off as a bright second-generation Japanese in need of the general's support through medical school in Tokyo. Eddie gets his scholarship but after graduation four years later, refuses a commission with the Japanese Kwantung Army requiring him to conduct medical experiments on Korean prisoners in Manchuria. He flees, his masquerade over, the Kempeitai hot on his heels, the geisha paying dearly for her folly. He expects a final reckoning in blood.