Diary of a Murderer by Kim Young-ha

I killed people regularly for thirty years. I was really diligent back then. Now the statute of limitations has passed for them all and I can even go on about them anywhere. If this was America I could probably publish a memoir. People would attack me. Let them, if they want. It’s not like I have many days left. If I think about it, I’m a pretty tough one. After all those killings, I stopped cold. I felt like, well, like a boatman who’d just sold his boat or a mercenary who’d just retired. I can’t say for sure, but there must have been guys in the Korean War or the Vietnam War who killed more people than me. Do you think they’re all losing sleep over it? I don’t think so. Guilt is fundamentally a weak emotion. Fear, anger, or jealousy is much stronger. In the grips of fear or anger, you won’t fall asleep. When I watch a movie or TV show with someone unable to sleep because of guilt, I laugh. What are these writers who don’t know a thing about life trying to say?

 

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One of my walls is covered with notes. They are notes of various colors that stay on the wall when you stick them on, and though I don’t know where they came from, they’re all over the house. Eunhui might have bought them to help me remember. These notes have a special name, but I can’t remember what that is right now. After the north wall was covered with these notes, now the wall facing west is plastered with them, but they’re no good. They’re notes I don’t understand, notes I don’t remember why I stuck there in the first place. Like the one saying “You must tell Eunhui.” What was I supposed to tell her? Each of the notes are like distant stars in the universe to me. Nothing seems to connect them to each other. There, ...

The English editions of Kim Young-ha’s I Have the Right to Destroy Myself, Your Republic Is Calling You, and Black Flower were published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who will also publish his latest book in 2017. Kim was a resident writer at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program in 2003, and a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times from 2013 to 2014. His books have appeared in more than twelve languages.