It is an orphanage where Chun-sik춘식 grew up. Having lost both his parents and his home during the Korean War, Chun-sik passed through several orphanages, from Jejudo Island to Busan, and then to this place near Seoul.
At first, he had no choice but to stay in the orphanage, but later he was forced to stay there after being caught begging and stealing stuff.
But he liked this orphanage because there was something different about this place from the ones he had lived.
It didn’t matter to Chun-sik that they fed and clothed you well, although they did do that, unlike other orphanages.
흠 아저씨는 도화지와 그림 그리는 굵은 연필을 춘식이에게 선물했다.
처음엔 어려운 그림만 그리던 흠 아저씨가
요즈음은 춘식이의 그림을 닮아 가는지
무척 쉽고 또 어린애 같은 그림만 그렸다.
Mr. Hmm gave Chun-sik a sketchbook and a sketching pencil. Mr. Hmm, who used to paint only complicated pictures, started painting very easy and childish pictures, as if he was mimicking Chun-sik’s works.
”아저씨, 제 그림 흉내만 내지 말고 그림 그리는 법 좀 가르쳐 주세요“
“Mr. Hmm, teach me how to paint instead of just copying my drawings.”
”흠, 내가 네게 그림을 가르쳐 줘?
어림도 없는 소리지, 흠, 그렇고말고,
그림이란 누가 가르쳐 주어서 되는 것이 아니야.
제멋대로 그려 봐야 해.
그리는 동안에 자기도 모르게 솜씨가 느는 법이야“
“Hmm, me teach you how to paint? That’s preposterous. Of course, it is. Painting is not something that can be taught. You should follow your own feelings. That way, you can improve as you paint.”
# Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeon
Kang So-chun is a popular children’s author in Korea. He left about five hundred stories, poems and even songs for children. The reason his works are so important in children’s literature is that his stories comforted young children and adolescents in the years following the tragic Korean War. He was born in North Korea but risked his life to flee to South Korea. So, he knows very well about the pains of war. Because of his sufferings, he wrote many hopeful stories for children. In this story, Chun-sik is orphaned and suffers from anxiety attacks since losing his parents, which prevents him from settling down. Chun-sik reminds the author of his own self who had lost his family and normal life because of the war. Mr. Hmm, who cares for Chun-sik, represents the author who tried to comfort children through his works.
어느 날, 춘식이와 흠 아저씨는 소나무 하나를 그리기로 했다.
그 소나무는 한쪽으로 쓰러질 것 같이 줄기가 뻗다가
위로 갈수록 모양이 잡힌 소나무였다.
흠 아저씨는 춘식이 그림에 더 마음이 쏠려 자신은 별로 그리지 않았다.
이 날 따라 춘식이는 그림에 무척 열중하였다.
그건 옆에서 계속 ‘흠, 흠’ 해 대는 흠 아저씨의 힘인지도 모른다.
One day, Chun-sik and Mr. Hmm decided to paint a pine tree. Its branches grew only in one direction, precariously slanted, but it did look more like a pine tree toward the top. Mr. Hmm didn’t work on his own painting, fascinated more by that of Chun-sik. The boy was particularly focused on his work that day. Perhaps, he was encouraged by Mr. Hmm and his continuous “Hmm, hmm.”
흠 아저씨 같은 아버지나 형이 있었으면 얼마나 좋을까?
흠 아저씨는 나를 꼭 껴안아 주셨다.
아버지 어머니를 다시 만난 것 같았다.
How great it would be to have a father or an older brother like Mr. Hmm. He hugged me tight. I felt like I was reunited with my parents.
Kang So-chun (Born in Gowon, Hamgyeongbuk-do Prov., Sep. 16, 1915~May 6, 1963)
Debuted with children’s story “Rock”