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“Jab!” by Kim Un-soo

#Books on Demand l 2022-09-06

Books on Demand

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“Whether inside the ring or out in the world, there is not a safe place. Tap, tap, you’re safe only in the space you create for yourself with jabs. That’s where the fight begins. Your opponent is worked up because you’re in his space. He is fired up, but you remain cool because you’re just taking cherry tomatoes out of the refrigerator. You have to remain calm enough to take the cherry tomatoes even when the opponent’s face gets all bloody. Fighting is that ruthless. So, what do you think? Do you think you can be a man who throws endless jabs?” 


“What if I can’t throw endless jabs?” 


“There is a great technique called holding. You hold onto the opponent no matter what. If you keep a hold on him, he can’t hit you no matter how much he hates you. You can’t hit him, and he can’t hit you. Nobody can do anything.”



“그나저나 그 녀석을 KO시켰나?”

“So, did you knock out that guy?” 


“KO까지는 못 시켰지만 , 뭐 판정승 정도는 거두었다고 생각해요.”

“I couldn’t knock him out, but I’d say that I won on points.” 


“에이 싸움에 판정승이 어디 있어.

싸움은 KO 시키거나 KO 당하거나 둘 중 하나밖에 없는 거지.”

“There is no such thing as winning on points in fights. You either KO someone or get KO’d yourself.” 


나는 천장을 향해 고개를 들고

내 주먹을 맞고 바닥에 쓰러진 사람이 누구인지 잠시 생각했다.

I looked up at the ceiling to figure who got knocked out by my blows.



# Interview with SNU Korean literature professor Bang Min-ho

In this story, boxing is like life. We have a great enemy we have to face in our lives. In this story, there is a force that threatens the boy’s freedom. He has to face the institution of school represented by the founder’s statue or a teacher like Silica Gel. The boy is learning from boxing how to deal with such great forces, how to survive through jabs and holds, and ensure one’s space, find the reason to live, and how to wait patiently and remain guarded until the very end when he is ready to defeat the opposing forces with one last blow. 



나는 요즘 활어 트럭 운전을 하고 있다.

보수도 시원치 않고 주로 밤에 고속도로를 달리는 일이라

그리 좋은 직업이라고는 말할 수 없다.

그렇다고 그렇게 나쁜 직업도 아니다.

일은 좀 고되지만 다른 직업처럼 상사에게 간섭도 받지 않고

또 차를 운전하면서 음악도 들을 수 있다.

These days I drive a truck delivering live fish. I can’t say it’s a great job because the pay isn’t good, and I have to drive on the highways mostly at night. But then it’s not a terrible job either. The work is hard but unlike in most jobs, I don’t have a boss who nags me, and I can listen to music while driving. 


서른쯤 되면 자잘한 일들로 너무나 바빠져 버려서 

다이너마이트를 한 트럭 가져다줘도

세상을 폭파시키는 일 따위에는 관심 없게 되는 것이다.

By the time I turned thirty, I was so preoccupied by trivial things that even if I came across a truckload of dynamites, I couldn’t be bothered to blow up the world. 


그러니 잽 같은 건 날릴 생각도 못한다.

매일매일 누군가에게 흠씬 두들겨 맞고 있는 것 같은데 

막상 뒤를 돌아보면 아무도 주먹을 내밀지 않고 있는 고요한 세상이어서

도대체 어디가 잽을 날려야 할지 모르겠기 때문이다.

So, throwing jabs couldn’t be farther from my mind. I felt like I was being beaten up by someone every day but when I look back, it was a quiet world where nobody was throwing any punches, leaving me to wonder where I should be landing jabs at. 




Kim Un-soo (Born in Busan, 1972~ )

Debuted by winning the Dong-A Ilbo Spring Writing Contest with “I Broke Up with Friday”

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