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"Divorce" by Kim Soom

#Books on Demand l 2018-12-04

Books on Demand


She had a dream a long time ago that she was getting a divorce. That was when she was still in high school. It was during the exams week and she dreamt it while she snoozed on her desk. 

In the dream she was a high school student with bobbed hair, dressed in a gray school uniform. 

The man who had left her after divorcing her was middle-aged and wearing a blue striped tie. 


오래 전 그녀는 이혼하는 꿈을 꾸었다.

그녀가 아직 고등학생일 때였다.

시험 기간이었고,

책상에 엎드려 깜박 잠든 사이에 꾼 꿈이었다.


꿈에서도 그녀는 단발에 회색 교복차림인 고등학생이었다.

그녀와 이혼하고 훌훌 돌아서던 남자는 남색 줄무늬 넥타이를 맨 중년 남자였다.



He was not by Min-jeong’s side at almost all the critical moments of her life – when she had a miscarriage, when she had to call a repairman to fix the boiler, when their lease was about to expire and she had to hunt for a new house, when she made an appointment with her gynecologist for infertility, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Cheol-sik supposedly empathized with the sufferings of the social underdogs, but was unfeeling about his wife’s pain. 



He ignored her demand for divorce every time. One night, he came back home punch drunk and finally asked her in a reproachful tone. 


“Why do you write your poems?”

“What do you mean?”

“Weren’t you writing poems to save people’s souls?” 

“Souls? I just want a divorce from you.”

“So, you want to dump me, right?”

“Dump you? What are you talking about?”

“You dumping me!”

“I’m not talking about dumping you. I’m telling you I want to divorce you.”

“Aren’t those the same thing? You dumping me is like dumping the soul of a human being. So, all the poems you write from now on are all fake, all trash.” 


이혼을 원한다는 그녀의 요구를 그는 번번이 묵살했다.

혀가 꼬이도록 술을 마시고 들어온 날 밤,

마침내 따지듯 그녀에게 물었다.

“당신 무엇을 위해 시를 쓰지?” 

“무슨 말이야?” 

“인간의 영혼을 구원하기 위해 시를 쓰는 것 아니었어?” 

“영혼....? 나는 당신과 이혼하고 싶은 것 뿐이야” 

“그러니까 날 버리겠다는 거 아니야?” 

“나는 지금 당신을 버리겠다는 이야기를 하고 있는게 아니야.

당신과 이혼하고 싶다는 이야기를 하고 있는 거지”

“그게 그거 아닌가. 네가 날 버리는 건 한 인간의 영혼을 버리는 것이나 마찬가지야.

 그러므로 앞으로 네가 쓰는 시는 거짓이고, 쓰레기야”



Interview by literary critic Jeon So-yeong

The author uses Min-jeong, who’s about to divorce, as a kaleidoscope through which we see how marriage was actually a yoke for Korean women. She shows various social prejudices against divorce and a range of emotions associated with divorce. Because the author wanted to show various life aspects associated with this theme, she uses a lot of images and descriptions for a fiction. The writing seems quite simple at first, but after several readings, readers realize that many of the sentences are full of meaning. Ever since her debut, Kim Soom tried to write about inconspicuous beings, crossing over history and reality, and describe familiar things in different ways. 




Kim Soom (Born in Ulsan, 1974)

: 1997 Debuted with “About Slowness” published in Daejeon Ilbo

2017 Won the Dongni-Mogwol Literature Award

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