Choi Sun-dok, Filled with the Holy Spirit

  • onDecember 21, 2017
  • Vol.38 Winter 2017
  • byLee Kiho
Choi Sun-dok, Filled with the Holy Spirit (Collection of Short Stories)

4 And it came to pass one day that Sun-dok had finished her part-time job at the fast-food restaurant and was walking along a deserted alley with a fellow maiden

2 when suddenly a man blocked their path. This man was dressed curiously.       

3 A gray alpine cap was pressed down on his head and a gray mask covered his mouth, leaving his face and features completely unrecognizable.

4 And he wore an old trench coat that came below his knees, and since it was hot summer, the vicinity of his armpits was dark with sweat.

5 On closer look, bare skin showed below his trench coat, and immediately below that were his shoes. Wisps of hair stood on his calves.

6 Because the man had blocked their path, Sun-dok and the fellow maiden stopped short. There was no one but them in that alley, and only a dog’s raucous barking could be heard in the distance.

7 The man opened his coat unto them, like a bat spreading its wings, and lo, he did not have a stitch on underneath.

8 At this, Sun-dok froze like a pillar of salt, and the fellow maiden screamed and sank to the ground. Sun-dok had never seen a man completely naked before.

9 She stared, open-mouthed, at the man’s naked body: gaunt chest with protruding ribs, navel completely sunken, dark bush from where a thimble-shaped member peeked out, and scrotum that hung low like a bull’s.

10 When Sun-dok just stood there blinking, mouth agape, and seemingly unflustered, the man dithered for a moment and then opened his coat even wider. At this, the fellow maiden, who had sunk to the ground and was screaming, rose hastily and, linking her arm with Sun-dok’s, hurried them back the way they had come.

11 Only then did the man close his coat and, after snickering for some time, disappeared into the alley on the other side.

12 Sun-dok and the maiden ran for a stretch and stopped at a street where many people were coming and going. Both were out of breath, so they could not speak for a while.

13 With one hand on her bosom, Sun-dok caught her breath and said unto her fellow maiden, “Who was that man who showed us his naked self? Do you know him? Why did we have to run?”

14 At this, the fellow maiden stared at Sun-dok and said, “Do you really not know him? Was that the first time you saw such a man?” Sun-dok nodded mutely.

15 The fellow maiden spat audibly on the ground and said unto her, “Such men are called ‘perverts.’ He’s the offspring of a snake, a devil of a man. Woe are we to have come across him. When you see his kind, ’tis best to run away without a second glance.

16 “Lest some misfortune befall you.”

17 She added, “Men like him are depraved and are always in the pursuit of pleasure. They are enemies of womankind, enemies of humanity. They are the devil’s reinforcements.

18 “So if you come across Adams like him, never show them kindness.”

19 Sun-dok was startled to hear this and said, “Adam! Do you mean to say his name is Adam?”

20 Her fellow maiden said unto to her, “Yes. Men who strip off their clothes like that are called Adam.” Sun-dok was silent for a while.

21 While they walked to the subway station in silence, Sun-dok looked as though she were thinking about something intently, and so the fellow maiden thought she was in great shock.

22 She patted Sun-dok on the back and said, “Don’t fret yourself over it. The world is full of trash like him. The world has turned into Sodom and Gomorrah because of such wicked people. ’Tis best to close your eyes to it all.”

23 Sun-dok did not say anything and instead suddenly dashed off back to where they had come. The fellow maiden was startled and called out to her, but Sun-dok did not answer.

24 For how could the maiden have known what was going through Sun-dok’s mind? How could she have guessed that Sun-dok had hit upon the solution she had been looking for all this time? Only God Almighty knew.

25 That day, Sun-dok had witnessed the truth she had been wandering in search for. This was the reason God had sent her to this world.

26 I will preach to Adam and turn him to the path of righteousness. This is why I am here. This is my only chance of entering heaven. Sun-dok walked with a firm conviction. 

pp. 242-245


Translated by Agnel Joseph
From the short story collection Choi Sun-dok, Filled with the Holy Spirit,
Moonji Publications, 2004, 334 pp.


Author's Profile

Lee Kiho (b. 1972) is the author of two novels, At Least We Can Apologize (2009) and A World History of Second Sons (2014), and six short story collections, including Choi Sun-duk: Filled with the Holy Spirit (2004) and Who’s Doctor Kim? (2013). At Least We Can Apologize was published in English by Dalkey Archive Press in 2013 and in Romanian by Editura Univers in 2017. Lee teaches creative writing at Gwangju University.