Fiction

Danny by Yun I-Hyeong
The baby was beautiful. Pretty, lovely, and brilliant. How could this beautiful thing have sprouted from the last branch of my bloodline? I was unbelievably grateful and deeply moved. The baby was like a fluttering cherry blossom, like the year’s first snow piled up overnight. Like a precious, gem-studded bowl with each gem carefully, individually chosen. Drinking up the hot black herbal tea that filled that shining bowl everyday was my job. One day, when I said I bought kimchi at the church bazaar in front of my house, my daughter immediately asked: Mom, how heavy is that kimchi? Ten...
I’m a Joke by Kim Junghyuk
Mission Control, do you copy? All I want is to die. I should’ve brought the suicide pill with me. I’m not kidding this time. Open a door and a simple death awaits me. Flip a switch and I can die easily. This might sound like a joke , but given a choice, I’d rather hang myself. I want to die as I feel gravity pulling on me. I don’t want to meet my end in the empty confines of space. I thought my claustrophobia had gotten better, but a faint fear pierces my skin and rises again. What is the...
Homecoming by Cheon Myeong-kwan
A man was waiting in line, holding a child tightly by the hand. He was trying to stay close to the person before him so as not to lose his spot. The office of the Employment Corporation was as large as a playing field and was packed with thousands of jobless people, coordinators called adjusters, and touts distributing flyers as they nimbly threaded in and out of the lines of people. It was as clamorous as the black market early in the morning. Some flyers were for recruiting mercenaries to be dispatched to the Middle East, which had been attacked...
Dictionary of the Mind by Kim So Yeon
Loneliness The word “lonely” is not an adjective. It is an action verb that moves energetically. People seek the words “I’m lonely” when they can no longer bear how empty they feel, and then release the words. Already within loneliness is a stirring energy unable to cope with itself. That energy transforms the state of loneliness into an action verb. Melancholy Compared to the word loneliness, “melancholy” reacts more to the environment outside the self than to the inner self. More precisely, it is a reaction to the relationship between the mind and the environment outside the self. If loneliness...
Legato by Kwon Yeo-sun
1 “Welcome!” As soon as he stepped onto the estate, the two pairs of women who flanked the entrance greeted him in a single voice. He frowned, startled by the abrupt chorus. Although they hadn’t meant to shout, when their high-pitched tones trained for years in customer service came together, the effect was harsh. He could even pick out a voice that was thick, murky, and unpleasant. Together the women bowed deeply from the waist and then straightened, arranging their features into pretty expressions that looked like question marks, as though waiting for him to give them their cues. He...
Altar of the Moon by Sim Yunkyung
Our family fortunes had been at their greatest around the time Wonchan, my twelfth great-grandfather and a man of great learning, finished his service as a department minister and returned to our hometown to build Hyogye Hall. After him, no one in our family served in any office higher than what could be gained by passing the civil service exam until my eighth great-grandfather Junmong. But the wealth Wonchan had amassed was so great that my ancestors were able to keep up appearances as a yangban family even without holding any official positions. After that, however, my family’s prestige declined...
Panmunjom by Lee Ho-cheol
The foreigners were quite at ease on the bus. But their sense of assurance seemed to collapse when they arrived at Panmunjom. They appeared rather out of place, wandering around with confused looks on their faces. Then they started taking pictures of everything that came in sight. The guy who had been going on mindlessly about Okinawa pointed his camera at a North Korean MP, who gave him a fierce look and turned abruptly on his heel. An uneasy smirk came over the reporter’s face; he turned away and walked over to one of his colleagues. “That guy’s not happy,”...
28 by Jeong You Jeong
He spent a week sleeping, his chin glued to the ground. In that time the man didn’t appear once. Nobody came by to give them water or food. Horrible things started happening to the dogs in the shed. At first it was just one or two, and then many. They began coughing and dripping foul-smelling snot before squirting diarrhea and collapsing, their chins and legs trembling. Two mornings ago, the man appeared. He cursed, looking at each of the dogs, and began to put healthy ones inside cages. He grabbed Ringo by the scruff of his neck and shoved him...
Ashes and Red by Pyun Hye Young
“May I take these?” the man asked. He had no idea what he was going to do with bug spray and rat poison. The rat poison might have been useful for analyzing existing products on the market when he started working at the head office, but surely someone there had already done that. As for bug spray, there was always a use for that. His apartment was probably crawling with insects from all the uncollected trash piled up outside. The pharmacist eyed him suspiciously and said, “That stuff won’t help your cold. You know that, right? As long as you...
Zombies by Kim Junghyuk
At that time, I was living out of my car. I went around with all my belongings packed in the backseat and the cargo space of the van that the company gave me for work. “All my belongings” consisted of two boxes of clothes and three boxes of sundry items. After loading the fifty vinyl records in the car, I felt like I had suddenly become wealthier. The backseat became more crowded and one of the boxes had to be placed in the passenger seat. It felt somewhat idiotic to carry around records that I couldn’t even listen to, but...

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