Fiction

Princess Bari by Hwang Sok-yong
SIX I stripped off my shell of a body more than once during those long days of darkness and followed Chilsung down the white path to see my grandmother. Once, after coming to briefly and taking a look around, I realized that the world of the dead was no different from the place I was in. I travelled in the ship through the different layers of the otherworld. I lay with my eyes closed and my back pressed to the bottom of the ship as it rose and fell with the waves, the din of machinery constant, and let my...
The Castle of the Baron de Curval by Choi Jae-hoon
Chapter One: The Castle of the Baron de Curval 9 June 1993. K University, Seoul, Korea. Paek Ch ŏ ngin, Lecturer. Course Title: Women in Cinema. Okay, let’s get going. By the way, where is everyone? We have so many empty seats. It must be the gigs for extras. Well, I’ll let them be for today. You weren’t half bad in the acting lab. Let’s close the window over there. It’s rather loud outside. It’s not too hot, is it? …Why on earth are you putting on a jacket? And you go on about the heat. Today, we’re going to...
“Manual Generation” by Kim Junghyuk
I still hadn’t written the first sentence yet. I was already stuck in “Precautions.” If this was an ordinary product, writing the “Precautions” would be a piece of cake. Just recycle the old ones, with some rewording and rearrangement. For instance, replace ‘it could be dangerous’ with ‘it is dangerous’ and ‘disassembling could cause a severe shock’ with ‘do not disassemble.’ But this was no ordinary product; it had features I had never seen before. No wonder I was stuck, even though the product developer had explained them to me many times. I needed to think hard to figure out...
Kong’s Garden by Hwang Jungeun
It was at the bookstore where I saw the girl. It was spring, a season that always seemed to drive us crazy with its beginning-of-the-semester frenzy. I was just standing around absentmindedly before the store closed and after I had sent away most of the customers who had rushed in at the same time. We sold cigarettes then. We displayed the cigarettes on locked shelves behind little glass doors by the counter. There were rules about selling cigarettes, and I always followed them. Since students frequented the bookstore, we only sold cigarettes to customers who presented their IDs, except for...
The Bird by Oh Junghee
1 Grandma was shocked when she caught me drawing all over U-il’s sleeping face with red and blue markers, and she smacked me on the head. ‘You horrible girl! Don’t you know that a person’s soul floats out of their body when they’re sleeping? If you draw on someone’s face when they’re asleep, the soul won’t recognize its own body when it comes back and it has to wander around, lost forever.’ ‘Is that what happened to Mummy? Did she go to find her soul?’ ‘Our dreams are all the roads and the world that a wandering soul travels,’ Grandma...
The Moving Fortress by Hwang Sun-Won
Chunt’ae proposed to Kwŏn that they divide the potatoes the next day. The other two asked for a share. Sure, no problem. Chunt’ae’s eyes felt like they were popping out of their sockets. All he wanted was to lie down. He felt languid, and his head was spinning. The lady innkeeper brought water and he took his medicine. For want of an appetite he had skipped lunch, and taking the medicine on an empty stomach nauseated him. He felt uneasy not drinking with the others, but the more important consideration was eating, which he needed to do to restore his...
Death by Fiction by Kim Takhwan
Chapter 3 The White Tower Fellowship Learning archery and swordsmanship from Baek Dongsu, a master of equestrian combat, was the greatest boon of my life. I had once tried to call him teacher, but he had refused the honor, proposing instead to become sworn brothers. “I don’t believe in having students. That sort of nonsense is for stuffy scholars. If the difference in age is less than ten years, two people of like mind should become friends. If the difference is greater, and yet you can drink all night in each other’s company, you should declare yourselves brothers! Let’s dispense...
Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah
“We have this!” I shuddered in horror. “I hate chicken. Besides, that’s for you.” “Says who?” “I have to go to the bathroom.” “It’s over there.” Cheolsu pointed to the soldiers’ latrines at the end of the parade ground. I went inside and squatted down awkwardly, trying to keep my body from touching the latrine door, and peed for a long time. My thighs and bottom were ice cold. When I came out, Cheolsu was pouring a can of Coke into two paper cups. He was sitting on a bench beneath a tree overlooking the snowy parade ground. Cheolsu’s friends...
Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan
Excerpt from Part Three: The Factory The driver brought his truck around a week later. With every passing day, Chunhee’s hope had grown. She had gone on baking more bricks with a buoyant heart. As soon as he got out of the truck, he took out a wad of bills from his shirt pocket with a beaming smile. —See? Didn’t I tell you I could get you good money for them? Chunhee was still disappointed that more people had not come. The driver went on chattering away and put the cash in her hands. —Take it. You’re going to be...
“The Fault Lies with God as Well” by Cho Se-Hui
But at Ŭt ngang I couldn’t just “do my job.” My brother, sister, and I worked ourselves to the bone in the factories, but after we paid our room rent and ate our food, nothing was left—as always, all the money we sweated to earn went for subsistence expenses. And we weren’t the only ones. All the workers of Ŭj ngang lived the same way. We ate poor food, wore poor clothing, and lived in poor health in a dirty home in a dirty neighborhood in a polluted environment. The neighborhood children dressed in dirty clothes and played in dirty...

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