- onJune 18, 2018
- Vol.40 Summer 2018
- bySunwoo Hwi
- The Legend of Clovervale
Tr. Charles La Shure 2000456pp.
He was on a vast, empty plain. Hyeon was distressed, desperately trying to find the gun he had lost. His leg was stuck in the ground and would not move. Friendly and enemy forces were intermingled, crying out in chaos. In that chaos he saw Aoyagi and Professor Hidaka as well. Chinese forces, Japanese forces . . . they all looked like enemies. A shell exploded. My gun, my gun is gone! My gun! I had a gun. Ah, now I have no bayonet and no ammunition. The surging enemy forces, the booming of cannons, augh, augh!
Hyeon woke up. He heard a boom. The day had not yet dawned.
All day long the cannonade could be heard, and then a transport carrying the wounded raced frantically past P Station on its way south.
Another sleepless night, and the next morning the people’s army was filing past the village with the rumble of tracked vehicles. Bodies stretched out, a demonstration with red flags.
What on earth are they doing? But if they want to do this, let them do as they wish. Whatever the case, I know nothing about it, and it has no relation to me in the slightest. You all live your own lives and I’ll live mine.
Doubt, endless loathing.
The sky, the mountains, and the fields, everything that met his eye—even the flowers looked gray. A few days later, his old friend Yeonho, who was said to have gone off to the North, returned to P Town with long hair and came to see Hyeon as soon as he arrived.
“So, things have been pretty rough, eh?”
“No, not particularly.”
“There must have been a lot of suffering. But those bandit bastards have now gone . . .”
“. . .”
“But, say, what are you doing here?”
“What do you mean?”
“Shouldn’t you be rushing forward to do your part in the work?”
“Really, now! Haven’t you endured until now because you were waiting for just such a moment as this?
“Waiting for a moment?” Hyeon stared at him with a look of bewilderment on his face.
“Of course, this was all so unexpected! But there’s no need to be puzzled.”
“Well, it’s true that I was shocked, but I’m no more than a mundane man.”
“So, you plan to just go on like this?”
“This is good enough for me.”
“What? You mean you’re just going to watch the performance and have a snack?”
“The snack can come later, but I have no interest in watching the performance.”
“What’s wrong with you?” Yeonho looked surprised.
“What do you mean? This is the kind of guy I’ve always been. Please, just leave me alone.”
“Leave you alone? Aren’t you, more than anyone else, the one who should work enthusiastically?”
“There will be plenty of people to do the work. There’s no need for me to join in. Everything seems to be such a bother. Before you entered the village, I saw the body of a young soldier lying by the road on my way out to the fields. His eyelashes were long, and his black hair framed a youthful face. He was a young boy who looked to be at least ten years younger than me. Only a few days ago, he might have sent his family a letter, or been longing for a young maiden from his neighborhood. When I think of that, I wonder why he had to lose his life by the road like this. A human being who should have lived was killed by the hands of man. For what? Whose fault was it?”
“Of course it’s unpleasant that people die. But can we expect to achieve the revolution without paying the price of blood?”
“Whose blood? Who has to shed this blood?”
“The blood of the foes who stand in the way of the revolution, and the noble blood of the people’s warriors that is offered up to the revolution. But the blood of even more foes is demanded.”
“Have you ever thought about what it means for a person to die? About the death of human beings who are struggling just to survive? About suffering and fear? About the fact that, to a dying human being, in that moment of death everything that is him—no, everything in the entire world—is lost?”
“But the new hope, the proletariat, must advance over his body.”