I was taking a nap after writing for a while one drowsy afternoon when I heard the phone ring.
“Hello, is this writer Kang Su-ha’s residence?”
“Yes, it is.”
“May I speak with him?”
“Mr. Kang, didn’t you teach at Sanri Elementary School many years back?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Do you remember a girl called Hong-yeon?”
I became perplexed at an unexpected phone call and my heart raced.
어느 날 오후.
글을 쓰다가 졸음이 와서 낮잠을 자고 있는데, 전화벨이 울렸다.
“저... 거기가 소설가 강수하선생님 댁입니까?”
“강 선생님 계세요?”
“선생님, 옛날에 산리초등학교에서 교편을 잡으셨지요?”
나는 너무 뜻밖의 전화를 받아 좀 멍멍하고 가슴이 두근거릴 지경이었다.
Ha Geun-chan’s “Female Student” starts with a phone call from Hong-yeon, a student of the story’s narrator Kang Su-ha had taught some 30 years ago. Hong-yeon had a huge crush on Su-ha back then.
‘Today Mr. Kang pinched my arm. My face burned up like a carrot in embarrassment at the unexpected incident. As I was coming back home from school, I kept having strange thoughts. Why did he pinch my arm? What did that mean? I couldn’t fall asleep as I kept asking myself those questions.’
오늘 선생님이 내 팔을 살짝 꼬집었다.
나는 너무나 뜻밖의 일에 얼굴이 홍당무처럼 붉어졌고,
부끄러워서 어쩔 줄을 몰랐다.
학교에서 집에 돌아오면서
나는 기분이 이상하고 또 이상했다.
선생님이 왜 내 팔을 꼬집었을까.
그게 무슨 뜻일까.
나는 지금도 그 생각을 하며 잠을 이루지 못하고 있다‘
Interview by Korean literature professor Bang Min-ho
First love usually comes during puberty. It’s hard for the young Hong-yeon to understand how exciting and overwhelming that feeling is since she had never experienced such emotions before. Although Su-ha is a teacher, he was just 19, fresh out of teachers’ school, and Hong-yeon was not much younger at 15 or 16. The age gap between them was much less than they realized. It was their relationship as a teacher and a student that confused Hong-yeon so much. She had no way of knowing how he actually felt. When in love, a slight in change in one’s expression either brightens or darkens the other person’s entire day. Such emotional ups and downs were well portrayed in this story.
Ha Geun-chan (Born in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsanbuk-do Prov., Oct. 21, 1931~Nov. 25, 2007)
: Debuted in 1957 with “Suffering of Two Generations” on Hankook Ilbo
Won an Order of Cultural Merit (Grade 3) in 1998