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"Eunbiryeong" by Lee Soon-won

#Books on Demand l 2019-11-26

Books on Demand

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It was my friend and I who named that uphill sideroad “Eunbiryeong.” After his death, the only people who knew that sideroad as “Eunbiryeon” were me and his wife. 


It was first called “Eunjaryeong,” the land of hermits. But later we changed it to “Eunbiryeong” to mean the hidden, mysterious land. 


그 샛길을 은비령(隱秘嶺)이라고 이름 붙인 건 나와 그였다.

그가 죽은 다음인 지금도 

그 샛길의 이름을 은비령으로 알고 있는 사람은

나와 여자밖에 없었다.


처음엔 은자령(隱者嶺)이라고 불렀다.

은자가 사는 땅.

그러다 그보다 더 신비롭게 깊이 감춰진 땅이라는 이름으로

은비령이라고 불렀다. 



That was how the small hill below Hangyeryeong came to have the name “Eunbiryeong.” The rugged hill originally didn’t have an official name but came to be called by its fictitious moniker once Lee Soon-won’s “Eunbiryeong” was published. 



She promised to come back to me in 25 million years, like a star. I made her the same promise.


It seems a pretty long time, yet it didn’t seem that long at Eunbiryeong. Perhaps, the world outside of Eunbiryoneg stood still in the dark and I might have stayed there for a lot longer than 25 million years.


But only five months have passed since then. Can we still keep that promise 25 million years later? 


별처럼 여자는 2천 5백만년 후 

다시 내게로 오겠다고 했다.

나도 같은 약속을 여자에게 했다.


벗어나면 아득해도 은비령에서 그것은 긴 시간이 아니었다.

어쩌면 그 때 은비령 너머의 세상은

깜깜하게 멈추어 서고,

나는 2천 5백만 년보다 더 긴 시간을

그곳에 있었던 것인지도 모른다.


아니, 그보다 이제 겨우 다섯 달이 지난

2천 5백만 년 후 우리는 그 약속을 지킬 수 있을까



Interview by literature critic Jeon So-yeong

The narrator and Seon-hye’s time at Eunbiryeong was a chance to be honest with each other and be reassured of their love. But they decide to leave their feelings at Eunbiryeong and wait for their next chance 25 million years later. Their beautiful parting shows that feelings of mourning or love or longing should last for a long time, that those feelings should remain as strong as ever even after 25 million years.      




Lee Soon-won (Born on May 2, 1957, in Gangneung, Gangwon-do Prov.)

: Debuted by publishing on Munhak Sasang in 1988

Works include “There Is No Exit in Apgujeong-dong,” “To the Unmarried,” etc.

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