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"Beautiful Face" by Song Ki-won

#Books on Demand l 2020-02-11

Books on Demand

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In my old photo album, there aren’t many photographs from the years between my birth and my middle school graduation. The scratch marks from the razor blade stand in place of my face.


Even now, more than 30 years later, when I look at those pictures, I feel the razor blade nicking my face. That feeling eventually leads to the memory of a teenage boy who is tearing up all the photographs showing his face under a dim 30-watt bulb. 


내 낡은 사진첩에서

태어나면서부터 중학교를 졸업할 무렵까지의 사진이라고는 거의 없다.

면도날 자국이 내 얼굴인 셈이다.


삼십년이 훨씬 지나버린 지금까지도 예의 사진을 대하면

나는 얼핏 자신의 얼굴을 스쳐 지나가는 면도날을 느낀다.

그러면 어쩔 수 없이 흐린 삼십 촉짜리 전등 아래서

자신의 얼굴이 들어있는 모든 사진을 찢고 있는

사춘기 무렵의 소년을 떠올린다.



Interview by literature critic Jeon So-yeong

The face is not only a part of the body, but also a vessel that shows a person’s identity. The main character of the story had a very difficult childhood and, once a teenager, tried to hide his painful background. It was tantamount to denying his life and identity. This is why he cut out his faces from photographs. “Beautiful Face” is known as Song Ki-won’s autobiographical story. He wrote about his pains and shameful memories experienced during the Korean War and Korea’s industrialization without much exaggeration or white washing. The story feels like listening to him talking about his past as we look at his old photo albums together. 



Once upon a time, there was a womanizer. But whenever he was in a romantic relationship, he would humiliate and hurt his lover. He would fall in love with her only after the woman became bloody from all the wounds he afflicted. That rake loved the hurt he had caused rather than the woman. When this womanizer was too young to understand love, he would cut his face in photographs with a razor blade.


If I had anything that was even remotely beautiful, it isn’t something that belongs to me. It’s something that belongs to everyone I hurt.


옛날에 한 바람둥이가 있었지.

그런데 이 바람둥이는 연애를 할 때마다 

우선 상대가 된 여자에게 치욕적인 상처를 주는 거야.

그래서 여자가 피투성이가 되면 그 때야 비로소 여자를 사랑하는 거지.

이 바람둥이는 여자보다 바로 자신이 만든 상처를 사랑했던 거지.

이 바람둥이가 아직 어려서 여자를 몰랐을 무렵에는 

사진에 있는 자신의 얼굴에 면도날로 상처를 입히는 식이었어.


만약에 나한테 조금이라도 아름다운게 있다면

그건 내께 아니야.

그건 내가 상처입힌 모든 이들 것이지.




Song Ki-won (Born on Dec. 8, 1947, Boseong, Jeollanam-do Prov.)

: Debuted with poem “The Song of Recovery” in 1974

Won the 24th Dong-in Literary Award in 1993, the 9th Oh Young-soo Literary Award in 2001, etc.

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