Joo Yo-seop’s “Madame Anemone” was published in literature magazine Jogwang, which translates to Morning Light, in 1936. The story begins with the scene in which the tearoom’s madam, Yeong-sook, appears with a pair of earrings for the first time.
The day Yeong-sook, the madam at tearoom Anemone, appeared behind the counter wearing her earrings, the regulars of Anemone admired the beauty of the violet earrings that danced whenever she moved her head.
Today Yeong-sook’s heart felt tight and throbbed nervously like that of a child who was caught stealing a candy. She frequently darted into the restroom to check her face, no, her earrings to be exact, reflected on the round mirror of her compact powder.
티룸 아네모네에 마담으로 있는 영숙이가
귀고리를 두 귀에 끼고 카운터 뒤에 나타난 날,
영숙이가 머리를 움직일 때마다
한들한들 춤을 추는
그 자주빛 귀고리의 아름다움을 탄복하였다.
오늘 영숙이 가슴은 사탕 도적질해 먹다가 들킨
어린아이 가슴처럼, 죄고 불안스러웠다.
그는 몇 번이나 변소로 들어가서
콤팩트를 꺼내 그 똥그란 면경에 비치는 얼굴,
아니 그 보다는 그 귀고리를 보고 또 보았다
Interview by literature critic Jeon So-yeong
Joo Yo-seop is known as a writer who very accurately depicted the psychological and emotional states of women oppressed by the patriarchal society. Although Yeong-sook was a modern woman who runs a tearoom, she still hid her true feelings and couldn’t say out loud what she really thought. Her earrings spoke for her bottled-up emotions. For instance, when she felt the earrings were cold, she was feeling so embarrassed that her face became hot, and when she said her earrings were prickly, that represented her disappointment at realizing that she wasn’t the object of the young man’s affection. The last act of taking off the earrings symbolized her unrequited love and heartbreaking resignation.
Yeong-sook held the “Unfinished Symphony” record in her hands while waiting for the jazz record to finish. For some reason, tonight the young man was already lying prone on the table with his head buried in his arms.
Yeong-sook turned to look at the young man. The earrings slapped against her cheeks. She thought they were quite sleek.
영숙이는 자기가 골라 든 <미완성 교향악> 소리판을 들고
뱅글뱅글 돌고 있는 재즈가 끝나기를 기다리었다.
그 학생은 왠일인지 오늘 밤에는 벌써부터
상위에 올려놓은 두 팔 속에 머리를 파묻고 엎디어 있는 것이었다.
영숙은 고개를 돌려 그 학생을 바라보았다.
귀고리가 찰싹찰싹 그의 뺨을 스치었다.
‘귀고리가 매끄럽기도 매끄럽다’고 그녀는 생각하였다
Joo Yo-seop (Born in Pyongyang, Nov. 24, 1902~Nov. 14, 1972)
: Debuted by publishing “A Broken Urn” on Maeil Sinbo in 1921
Awarded an Order of Merit for National Foundation in 2004, etc.