Fiction

A Good Family by Seo Hajin
Before Noon When the woman was ready to leave and came out, her son was still “playing games.” “It’s been more than thirty minutes.” The boy stopped her hand as it reached out to a palm-size machine. “But I’m ‘studying’ now.” Following the machine’s instructions, the boy spelled and pronounced the English words. Do you understand what I mean? The screen changed and the next word popped up. “What? Only twenty points?” the boy complained, moving the plastic button and clicking through to the next screen. A white puppy appeared on one side of the screen, its tongue darting out...
Anna by Jeong Yi Hyun
Kyung bumped into Anna again eight years later in the auditorium of an English-language kindergarten. Kyung and her son had prepared for a year to get him admitted here. She had a Korean American tutor visit their home three times a week to coach him for the reading and writing exam. A few days before the exam, her son got a runny nose. His snot turned yellow and his fever wouldn’t break. Kyung decided against medicating him. The antihistamine in cold medicine was known to inhibit the brain’s waking function and cause drowsiness. She could always take him to a...
Waning Crescent, or the Way You Remember the World by Chang Kang-myoung
Patterns Beginnings Plagiarism “Do it, he told me,” the man said. Do it. What’s the matter? I dare you . Kids gathered around like fruit flies swarming around a filthy summer pond. What a retard . From behind, someone kicked the boy holding the knife. Little shit . Screwing around like one fucking knife makes him all that . The boy swung the knife. First he slashed, then he thrust. When the onlookers realized what was happening and rushed in to kick him, he swung the little balled hand holding the knife sideways. The flies scattered. The boy he stabbed...
The Plotters by Kim Un-su
The old man must have been in high spirits, because he filled Reseng’s cup with whiskey until it was nearly overflowing then filled his own and raised a toast. They downed their cups in one gulp. The old man picked up the skewer and fished a couple of potatoes from the hot ashes. After taking a bite of one, he pronounced it delicious and gave the other to Reseng. Reseng brushed off the ashes and took a bite. “That is delicious,” he said. “There’s nothing better than a roasted potato on a cold, winter’s day.” “Potatoes always remind me of...
Lady Sa’s Journey to the South by Kim Manjung
Translator’s Note A Romance in the Late Joseon Period Believed to have been written specifically for the purpose of consoling his mother during the author’s exile, Kim Manjung’s (1637-1692) Lady Sa’s Journey to the South (hereafter Lady Sa ), is a remarkable work of classical Korean fiction written in seventeenth-century Joseon and set in Ming dynasty China. Generally interpreted by Korean scholars as a fictional work intended primarily for women readership, it also contains many elements designed to meet the demands of popular entertainment. Unlike most works of vernacular fiction of unknown authorship, Lady Sa has been attributed to a...
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...

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