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"A Black Pot in the Snowman" by Kim So-jin

#Books on Demand l 2020-04-07

Books on Demand

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Min-hong got up early in the morning to pee, but couldn’t find the chamber pot. So, he had to put on his father’s oversized shoes to walk past the kitchen and cross the front yard to reach the outhouse. 

I pulled up my pants as I walked past the big kimchi pots buried in the ground. That was when one of my feet stepped on something bulky under the snow-covered straw mat. 

That long object propped up against the wall, completely covered in snow with its foot tucked underneath the straw mat, appeared to look up before plopping down to its side. 

The thing that revealed itself from under the snow was a big claw hammer used at construction sites. But when that hammer fell, it fell on a small pot that was not buried in the ground but was just left outside. The lid was broken in two and a big crack appeared in the body. 

Oh, god, what had just happened? 

바지춤을 추스르며 김장독을 가지런히 묻어둔 곁을 어정어정 걸어나오다가

발끝으로 눈 덮인 가마니때기 밑에서 뭔가 묵직한 것을 밟았다.

가마니때기 속에 발을 담근 채 

눈을 푹 뒤집어쓰고 벽에 기대 있던 그 기다란 물체는

고개를 발딱 젖히는가 싶더니 옆으로 풀썩 쓰러졌다.

눈이 털려나간 그 물체는 공사판에서 쓰는 빠루라는 연장이었다.

빠루가 넘어지면서 하필이면 땅속에 묻지 않고 그냥 바깥에 놔둔

조그만 짠지 단지를 스치자 뚜껑은 두 동강이 나 떨어졌고 

몸통에는 왕금이 좌악 그어졌다.

오오, 하느님 지금 무슨 일이 벌어진 것입니까!

Interview Korean Literature Professor Bang Min-ho

He was living the life of a typical boy, following the rules and living within the set boundaries. He didn’t do anything that was forbidden or didn’t cross any lines. But then one winter day his peaceful life was shattered when he accidentally broke that pot. It must have been a huge psychological shock to him. He thought that his life was ruined forever, that he could not be saved no matter what. So, this part describing the boy’s radical departure from his former self represents his hopelessness and abandonment of his old life. 

I crammed my butt into the tight pot smeared with yellow, dried soybean paste stains and undid my belt as I precariously stood on some bricks and broken earthenware pieces. 

I pushed so hard that my ears grew red and I burst into coughing. When the coughing stopped, I realized that my lips started quivering like a child about to cry. 

Why did I suddenly feel like crying when I was pooping into a stinking broken pot?

나는 누렇게 마른 소금기 자국이 얼비치는 옹색한 항아리 안으로

엉덩이를 비집고 들어가 

벽돌과 깨진 장독 쪼가리를 디디고 서서 허리띠를 풀었다.

귀밑이 달아오르도록 용을 쓰느라 기침이 터졌다. 

기침이 끝나자 나는 서러운 아이처럼 

입꼬리가 비죽비죽 치켜져 올라가는 걸 알았다.

그런데 나는 왜 구린내가 진동하는 깨진 항아리 속에서

똥을 누는데 울고 싶어졌을까.

Kim So-jin (Born in Cheorwon, Gangwon-do Prov., Dec. 3, 1963~Apr. 22, 1997)

: Debuted by winning the Kyunghyang SHinmun Literary Contest with “Catching Mice” in 1991

Noted works include “Bicycle Thief (1996),” etc.

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