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"The Heaviest Dentures in the World" by Park Wan-suh

#Books on Demand l 2020-03-17

Books on Demand

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March Special “Women in Literature”

Episode 3 “The Heaviest Dentures in the World”



“There is no way he would turn himself in. Would he listen to his mother? I wish he would rather…” 


My mother couldn’t bring herself to finish her sentence, but I knew what she meant to say, because I was thinking exactly the same thing. I was thinking that he’d be captured or shot dead while crossing the border.


Fearing the repercussions from having the brother who turned into a North Korean spy come home, cherishing the peace we’ve become so accustomed of in this small house, mother and I became more heartless than the witches. 


“말이 자수지. 

 그 놈이 이 에미 말을 들을까? 차라리 넘어오다....” 


어머니는 말끝을 흐리고 눈물을 닦았다.

그러나 나는 다음 말을 알고 있다.

나도 방금 그런 생각을 하고 있었으니까.

넘어오다 차라리 잡히거나 총에 맞아 죽었으면 하고....


간첩이 된 오빠와의 만남이 몰고 올 사건이 두려운 나머지

18평 작은 집의 평화로움이 너무 소중한 나머지

어머니와 나는 마녀보다도 더 잔인해졌다.



The suffering that pressed heavy on the heart of Yeon-I’s mother was her brother who had defected to North Korea and her husband’s attitude change brought on by her brother. 



The unbearable pressure and pain of the jawbone remained the same. Because there were no longer any dentures to take out, the pain was more despondent. 


I just realized how I have been deceiving myself for so long. My pain was never from the dentures. 



I came to face my pain honestly at last. But I would never moan under the pain. 


The light and delicately crafted dentures were in my hand, but I was left immobile under the weight of another heaviest dentures in the world. 


이미 입속엔 빼버릴 틀니도 없는데.

빼버릴 틀니가 없기에 그 고통은 절망적이다.


나는 비로소 깨닫는다.

여태껏 얼마나 교묘하게 스스로를 이중, 삼중으로 속이고 있었나를.


내 아픔은 결코 틀니에서 비롯된 아픔이 아니었던 것이다.


비로소 나는 내 아픔을 정직하게 받아들였다.

그러나 나는 결코 내 아픔을 정직하게 신음하지는 않을 것이다.


정교하고 가벼운 틀니는 지금 손바닥에 있건만

아직도 나는 이 세상에서 제일 무거운 또하나의 틀니의 중압감 밑에

옴짝달싹 못하고 놓여있다.




Park Wan-suh (Oct. 20, 1931~Jan. 22, 2011)

: Debuted by publishing “The Naked Tree” in 1970

Won the Order of Cultural Merit in 2011, the 16th Ho-am Prize in Arts in 2006, etc. 

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