The "detective novel" is about the occurrence of a crime and the main character's deductive process in solving that crime. From here, the general subject matter, plots, and writing techniques begin to emerge. These mostly had to do with the motives for the crime, conflict between the criminal and person solving the case, the pursuit, and the techniques used in conducting the investigation.

The appearance of what is now known as "detective novels" in Korea goes back to the early 1900s. At that time, the words "detective" and "spy" were used interchangeably. In other words, both of those terms were used to refer to the person carrying out a secret investigation of an incident. Starting in the early 1910s, a great deal of translations and adaptations of Western detective novels were introduced to Korea as "spy novels," and this flow continued until the 1930s.

While the detective novels widely read during this period were similar to the exemplar detective novels introduced from the West, they also carried their own distinctive themes and aesthetic. It is clear that these detective novels were very "modern" novels from the fact that the characters made full use the latest technology of the time. At the same time, by constantly exploring uncharted territories such as the cracks in legal system and the problems of human nature that not even the most sophisticated instruments could decipher, these detective novels provided and continue to provide readers with the opportunity to contemplate the realities of the time.