Fiction

The Gaze at Broad Daylight
1 “Here, then, is where people come to live; I’d have thought it more a place to die in.” Malte Laurids Brigge begins his notebook with this sentence. This young man—sickly, lonely, impoverished, and hypersensitive to memories of the past— smells the air of anxiety and death in this alien city only three weeks after he arrives. That this city, where people came to die, was none other than Paris is a sentiment that is not easy to understand, even considering the fact that this writing dates back about a hundred years. After all, it is said that Paris is...
Garuda by Yi Mun-yol
Gojuk opened his eyes, feeling as if a powerful beam of light had suddenly swept over him. It seemed only a short while since he had heard the nearby church bell ringing for dawn prayers, yet now it was morning. The sun was shining directly onto the white paper covering the eastward-facing lattice door, and the wooden frame looked exceptionally black this morning. He turned his head to look about him and perhaps that little gesture stirred the air in the room, for a faint fragrance of ink crept into his nostrils. Was it Old Plum Orchard? No, it was...
Our Twisted Hero by Yi Mun-yol
When I came home from school that day, I began again to examine carefully this new order and environment. A certain mental paralysis, the result of being thrown suddenly into a very strange school environment, and a feeling of being threatened by the rigidity of this new order, which now suddenly was weighing down on me, filled my head with a kind of fog; everything was so fuzzy that I couldn’t think. Although at twelve it’s still easy enough to treat everything with the innocence of a child, I had the feeling I wouldn’t be able to transfer into this...
"My Sister’s Menopause" by Kim Hoon
* A short story excerpt from The 5th Hwang Sun-won Literary Award Anthology , JoongAng Ilbo, 2005. On the days she visited my apartment, my older sister would pass the evening seated at the table in front of the balcony window. Around dusk she would grow more chatty. Well, not exactly chatty. She was just barely managing to get her mouth open. I read in a special issue of a women’s magazine that menopausal women get anxious for no reason around dusk. Maybe my sister’s chattiness had something to do with that. The things she talked about in the evenings...
"Bodies" by Pyun Hye-Young
* A short story from AOI Garden , Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd., 2005. The phone call came about a month after his wife had gone missing. A body part appearing to belong to a woman had been discovered in a ravine. It was the same ravine where his wife was presumed to have drowned. He told the officer he would leave first thing in the morning and hung up. It was a five-hour drive to U City, not counting the time it would take to stop at a rest area for a bowl of udon noodles. Even if he left...
"The Walk of Light" by Youn Dae-Nyeong
* Youn Dae-Nyeong, from Many Stars Drifted to One Place, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp., 2010 The Walk of Light I was 11 back then, so the house must have been built in 1972. That makes it all of 25 years old. A small, slate-roofed house: floor area 30 pyeong on a 50 pyeong plot. The ground plan looks something like this: At first I wanted to draw it like one of those sketches of an excavation of Gaya or Balhae dwellings, but I thought people might miss my point. I had to convey the overall balance, even if there were slight...
"A Trip to Mujin" by Kim Seungok
The Bus to Mujin As the bus curved around the mountain slope I saw a signpost that read “Mujin 10 km.” There it was sticking out of the weeds by the road, just as it used to. The people conversing in the seats behind me started up again. “So, just another 10 kilometers.” “Yes, we should arrive in about thirty minutes.” They seemed to be agricultural inspectors of some sort. Or perhaps not. In any case they were wearing short color-patterned shirts and polyester trousers, and making observations about the passing villages and fields and hills that only agricultural specialists...
Black Flower by Kim Young-ha
“ What sort of land is Mexico?” This was at the Seoul Young Men’s Christian Associa­tion. An American missionary spoke, his black beard covering his neck. “Mexico is far. Very far.” The boy narrowed his eyes. “Then where is it close to?” The missionary laughed. “It’s right below America. And it’s very hot. But why are you asking about Mexico?” The boy showed him the advertisement in the Capi­tal Gazette . But the missionary, who did not know Chinese characters, could not read the advertise­ment. Instead, another young Korean explained the contents of the advertisement in English. Only then did...
The Long Road by Kim Insuk
The first time Han-Yeong heard Kang Meong-U’s name was in a curious rumor circulating at the Korean Compatriots’ Journal . Supposedly, a Korean had managed to swing permanent residence in the refugee category. Han-Yeong had understood that it was almost impossible for a South Korean to get a refugee visa. It was hard enough for real refugees from Vietnam or Cambodia. For a South Korean to declare himself a refugee was just not possible unless there was some extraordinary circumstance. Of course, it wasn’t especially difficult to explain that South Korea had suffered under a dictatorship. The turmoil of Gwangju...
Rina by Kang Young-sook
Winter brought unrelenting blizzards that turned the ashen landscape into a dream-like winter wonderland. When the snow was particularly heavy, they couldn’t even leave their houses, the front doors having vanished. The people with pulmonary problems had the worst of these winters. Mornings were spent shoveling snow and clearing roads. If they stopped to rest for even a moment, the snow would catch up with them. The world became lighter and brighter and the people became crazier. “I love the industrial complex forever. I’ll bury my bones here!” they would yell as they floundered in the snow. There was so...

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