Fiction

“Rivers Must Flow, Mudflats Must Be Bountiful” by Choi Sung Kak
That’s your development. “What’s with this talk of ocean cities?” “I know, right? This is a form of expansionism too. The new powers that be are driveling on about us becoming a key country in Northeast Asia... It’s just the fantasy of a self-styled celebrated architect.” “How does building an ocean city help in saving mudflats? They’ve no idea what they’re talking about. If they want to save mudflats they’ve no choice but to open the seawall. Isn’t saving life the only way to prevent the destruction of life?” I didn’t find anything strange or awkward in hearing him speak...
“God Has No Grandchildren” by Kim Kyung-uk
The man took the girl to a restaurant where pork was cooked on charcoal grills set into the tables. He couldn’t remember the last time he had been to a restaurant. He ate nothing and just drank soju, while the girl just ate meat. The man took a handful of cold charcoal and put it in a plastic bag. He slipped the empty soju bottles into his backpack. Then he took the girl home and went off by himself to reconnoiter the area. To avoid attracting attention, he left his scooter at home. This was the first time that he...
Ashes and Red by Pyun Hye Young
They had just stepped into the shadow of the trees when the guide, who had told them he would wait for them in the van, called them back. “It’s scary in there. Tons of monkeys. You understand?” “I can’t do this,” his wife said. “Let’s just go.” His wife gave him a look that said she meant it. But he avoided her eyes and said, “You don’t really think you’re going to be killed by a monkey, do you?” He walked back into the forest. Whether resigned or simply too angry to argue with him, his wife followed right behind...
"The Road to Sampo" by Hwang Sok-yong
"Well, I must be on my way.” The man didn’t even look back as he walked away towards the bank of the stream. He climbed onto the bank, changed his sack to the other shoulder and started down the other side. He disappeared over the bank, first the lower part of his body and eventually the tip of his dog-fur hat. Y ŏ n g-dal stood at a loss for a while, unable to decide upon a particular direction or road to take. What he needed was a fellow traveller. It would be better, even if the company lasted just...
I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Kim Young-ha
Part 1 The Death of Marat I’m looking at Jacques Louis David’s 1793 oil painting, The Death of Marat , printed in an art book. The Jacobin revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat lies murdered in his bath. His head is wrapped in a towel, like a turban, and his hand, draped alongside the tub, holds a pen. Marat has expired — bloodied — nestled between the colors of white and green. The work exudes calm and quiet. You can almost hear a requiem. The fatal knife lies abandoned at the bottom of the canvas. I’ve already tried to make a copy of...
"The Goat Herding Woman" by Jon Kyongnin
Though the tap in the kitchen was dripping, there was not a single speck of water on the gleaming sink, and not even a cup left out to dry. It felt like the kitchen of someone who was away on a long trip. “It sure is quiet in the afternoon. What do you usually do? After you’ve done all the clearing up like this...” “Not much … I don’t do anything at all. There’s nothing I can do.” Jeongyeon said, and heaved a deep sigh like a wilted vegetable. “Even the baby is sound asleep, so when I’m sitting here...
Modern Family by Cheon Myeong-kwan
▲▲▲ Half-asleep, I heard the sound of someone laughing and talking. When I opened my eyes, the television in the living room was on, and a giant of a man was scooping chicken stew from the pot while watching a comedy. It was quite chilly, but he was wearing a shortsleeved shirt, and his pot belly hung out from below. His fleshy mid-section sloshed about every time he burst into laughter. Man, what a sight. Watching him lap away at the pot of stew, I found myself growing distraught. This oversized man was the firstborn son in my family, otherwise...
"Looking for the Elephant" by Jo Kyung Ran
The Polaroid camera I have is a Spectra. It uses film about 1.5 times larger than an ordinary Polaroid, and it’s more expensive. He bought it for my birthday a few years ago. I remember how happy I was when I unwrapped the present and saw it was the camera I had wanted so much. He took the first picture. I’m looking down a little, my head slightly bowed. The lipstick smudge on my wineglass is still plainly visible. I must have asked him, Should I take one of you? He shook his head. With one pack of film you...
Wonderboy by Kim Yeonsu
Chapter 1 1984: When All of the Stars in the Universe Stopped in Their Tracks The year I turned fifteen, I learned that time can stand still. If I had told people what I meant by that, they would have thought I was crazy. Wisely enough, I didn’t breathe a word of it to anyone. When time started moving again and I finally opened my eyes, the first words out of my mouth were, “The spoon broke.” The nurse in charge of the intensive care unit told the reporters camped outside of my hospital room, and the next day those...
The Youngest Parents with the Oldest Child by Kim Ae-ran
Prologue My mother and father were seventeen when they had me. I turned seventeen this year. I have no idea if I will live to see eighteen or nineteen. That isn’t something I can decide. All I can be sure of is: there isn’t a lot of time. Children grow bigger and bigger. And I grow older and older. An hour in someone else’s life is like a day in mine. And a month in someone else’s life is like a year in mine. Now I’m older than my father. My father sees his future eighty-year-old face in mine. I...

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