Paek Kŭm-ae’s earliest known ancestor arrived in Korea during the Goryeo dynasty, a Vietnamese trader forced to flee his homeland due to unwholesome trade dealings with the hated Tcho-tcho people of the mountain hinterlands. His progeny became a line of hereditary shamans, but were known widely as yomo, or wicked shamans, and forced to move regularly to avoid persecution by first the Buddhist high priests of the Goryeo and later the dour Confucian scholars of the Joseon dynasty. The legacy of Tcho-tcho rituals, as well as twisted variations of Korean traditional magic, was passed down from generation to generation, until it reached its apogee in young Paek Kŭm-ae. She achieved absolute knowledge when she sacrificed her father and mother to arrest and execution by Joseon police while escaping to the distant region of north Hamgyeong province.
Having secluded herself in a forested region, she created a personal sanctum for herself protected by magic and dark interpretations of pungsu, or Korean feng shui. The local village knew her as a malevolent and irresistible power that would prey upon foolish wandering souls in the forest, but also that she could sometimes be persuaded to perform certain rituals in exchange for appropriate tribute: fresh vegetables, rice wine, and unwanted infants (often young girls, who were undesirable in the chauvinistic society of old Korea). In her place of power, Paek projected her spirit throughout space and time, exploring the Library of Celaeno and the green-litten ultra-telluric skyscapes of Xoth, cavorting with fire vampires over Fomalhaut, and finally signing her name in the book of Azathoth.
She preferred to live a life of solitude, exploring the universe and only deigning to return to Earth to receive fealty, perform sacrifices and occasionally deal with unwanted interlopers on her private domain. This lifestyle continued unabated until she was engaged in a sacrificial offering when she became possessed by Nyarlathotep, who told her that she would be receiving some visitors soon, and she was not to simply destroy them but instead follow them and eventually become a powerful shaman-witch for the State. Within a few days, several agents of Office 44 arrived at her wooded sanctum, having learned of a notorious witch in the area, and she was taken in a black van to Pyongyang.
Her arrival changed the operation of Office #44 entirely. While Office #44 researchers had spent years in a fruitless search of old Taoist and Buddhist manuscripts and interrogating hapless rural shamans, Paek’s knowledge gained from her voyages in time and space allowed the organization to better streamline and develop its research agenda. She knew of the truly valuable texts, such as the Necronomicon and the Cryptical Books of Hsan, and possessed genuine magical knowledge and abilities. Under her direction, Office #44 research showed increasing progress, and expanded to encompass occult traditions from all over the world. Her abilities and knowledge eventually saw her admittance into the Korean Worker’s Party and installation as Director of Office #44, following the mysterious and violent death of her predecessor. Her contempt for the ideology of the Democratic People’s Republic is absolute and poorly hidden, but she is considered both too useful and too dangerous to condemn. Representatives from the Party who have been overly offended by her profane attitude have had a tendency to suffer sudden descents into madness.
Today, she has exchanged her forest retreat for a modern office in the Office #44 building in downtown Pyongyang, where portraits of the Great Leader and Dear Leader stare down on stacks of Mythos documents and artifacts. Her life has changed dramatically, as she is ultimately in charge of all Office #44 research, procurement and experimentation. And while her access to political prisoners and social discontents for sacrifice have pleased her, and access to Korean People’s Army labor to built stone circles in the countryside has opened up new possibilities, she remains discontented. She would like nothing more than to go back to her retreat in the forest and set her mind soaring once again, to send it through the cracks in the dimensions and dance in ecstasy at the Court of Azathoth.
Shaman-Witch and Director of Office #44, age 164
Nationality: North Korean
STR 5 CON 10 SIZ 10 INT 14 POW 18
DEX 12 EDU 23 HP 9 App 9 SAN 0
Magic Pts: 18
Damage Bonus: none
Education: Decades of study in the halls of Celaeno and other begotten worlds.
Occupation: Director of Office #44
Skills: Anthropology 20%, Astronomy 90%, Biology 20%, Chemistry 20%, Cthulhu Mythos 53%, History 50%, Library Use 70%, Occult (Oriental) 80%, Occult (Occidental) 50%, Physics 90%, Psychology 15%
Languages: Korean 99%, Russian 35%, Chinese 50%, Japanese 45%, Aklo 30%, Secret Tongue of Nyarlathotep 60%
Spells: (To Be Expanded)
Appearance: She is a short but heavy-set woman, and despite her supernaturally advanced age appears to be around her mid forties. When she was young she was notorious for dressing in a base imitation of the male clothing of the noble yangban class, including a wide-rimmed horsehair hat, but had long ago given up on such base concerns as hygiene and dress in her life in the forest. With her new station she has altered her image to reflect her position. She dresses almost exclusively in the Korean traditional dress known as choson-ot (known as hanbok in South Korea), though the design is idiosyncratic and anachronistic by modern standards and features ornaments and hair pins that are no longer generally acceptable in North Korean society. She refuses to wear a pin bearing the face of Kim Il-sung, usually a political crime but acceptable due to her status as an official state shaman. Her skin is slightly darker than usual for Koreans, but she has no interest in the generally popular make-up or whitening creams. Her most noticeable feature is a goiter about the size of a golf ball on the right side of her neck, though few dare to mention it.