Since their importation into Japan in the nineteenth century, mystery and melodramatic fiction have been used by writers to critique various aspects of modernity. In fact, their very use has often served as justification for posing such questions in the first place. Scholarship has highlighted the issues raised by the appropriation of the two, which have included everything from subjugation to the West to the dissolution of the traditional family. Scant attention has been paid, however, to how mystery and melodrama were used by writers throughout the empire, specifically those writing in Japanese. Korean writers in particular have been given short shrift in Japanese scholarship, while on the Korean side the focus has generally been on their works written in Korean. Bridging the two sides, my presentation considers the two debut works of the founder of mystery fiction in Korea, Kim Nae-Sŏng. Published in Japanese in 1935, “The Oval Mirror” (Daenkei no kagami) and “Murder of a Mystery Writer” (Tantei shōsetsuka no satsujin) progress through a tenuous dialectic, in which the mystery aspect is ostensibly solved through a chance encounter with a melodramatic text (Ozaki Kōyō’s Gold Demon in the former, Bizet’s Carmen in the latter). The result of these encounters, however, is not a dialectical synthesis but an unresolved alterity, and as navel-gazing questions of modernity are ignored in favor of those of contingency Kim’s interrogation into the claims of mystery and melodrama to represent modernity widens to include a critique of the ontology of the colonial system itself.