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“A Calf” by Hwang Sun-won

#Books on Demand l 2022-05-17

Books on Demand

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It was a sorry-looking calf. Its big round eyes were rheumy, and its bony rumps were covered with dried bits of dung. 


“What a pathetic calf.” 


Dol-i was disappointed and annoyed that the calf his father bought with the money he had saved over the years was so pitiful. 


But it did begin to take the shape of a decent calf after they fed it bean hulls and fodder made with chopped grass and peas. 



군대가 한 차례 밀려 내려왔다가 밀려 올라갔다.

그 동안에 동네에서는 한 집이 비행기 폭격을 맞아

홀랑 날아가는 바람에 일가가 몰살을 당하고,

동네 사람 하나는 포탄 파편에 맞아 다리 하나를 못 쓰게 됐다.

The enemy troops came down in a wave and then retreated. In that time, a house in the village was air bombed, killing the entire family, and one villager became lame after being struck with a shrapnel.


그리고 군대들이 동네에 들를 적마다 곡식을 모아가고,

닭과 개와 돼지를 잡아가고, 소를 끌어 갔다.

And the soldiers took all the grains, chickens, dogs and pigs, and even the cows, whenever they stopped by the village. 


돌이네 집에 와서 송아지를 끌어 가려 했다.

돌이가 송아지 목을 그러안고 놔 주지 않았다.

송아지와 함께 얼마를 질질 끌려갔다.

군인이 총부리를 들이댔다.

그래도 돌이는 송아지의 목을 꼭 안은 채 떨어져 나가지를 않았다.

지독한 놈이라고 하면서 군인이 그냥 가 버렸다.

They came to Dol-i’s house to take away the calf. Dol-i held onto the calf’s neck and didn’t let go. He was dragged along with the calf for some distance. A soldier held a rifle up to the boy, but he still held on fast to the calf’s neck. The soldier called him a punk before just walking away.



# Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeong            

They fall victim to the deadly war started out by grownups. It was hard for anyone to keep his life intact, much less the life of a mere animal. But it is sad yet heartening to see Dol-i trying to keep his friend alive even during the war. One of the key subjects of Hwang Sun-won’s stories has to do with respecting life, not only the lives of human beings, but of all creatures on this Earth. He believed that if we respected and cared for all lifeforms, this society of humans would surely benefit as well. This firm conviction of the author was planted in his mind as he lived through the Korean War and was incorporated in the boy’s brave act.    



송아지는 쏜살같이 언덕빼기를 내려 이리 달려오는 것이었다.

방죽을 지나 얼음판에 들어섰다.

요행 흙과 재를 깔아 놓은 데로 달려오긴 하지만

저러다 미끄러져 넘어지기라도 하면 어쩌나.

돌이는 송아지가 달려오는 쪽으로 마주 걸어 나갔다.

The calf was racing down the hill. It ran past the embankment and stepped on the ice. Luckily, it ran over the part of the ice covered with sand and ashes, but Dol-i was worried that it might slip and fall. He walked toward the calf.


뒤에서 아버지와 어머니의 돌이야, 돌이야 하는 째진 소리가 연달아 들렸다.

그러나 그 소리가 귀에 들어오지 않는 듯,

그냥 마주 걸어 나가는 돌이의 얼굴은 환히 웃고 있었다.

이제 조금만 더, 이제 조금만 더.

송아지와 돌이가 서로 만났는가 하는 순간이었다.  

He heard his parents shouting his name. But as if he couldn’t hear them at all, Dol-i kept smiling as he kept walking toward his calf.

Just a little more, a little more.

The calf and Dol-i were about to meet. 


우저적 얼음장이 꺼져 들어갔다.

한동안 송아지는 허우적거리며 헤엄을 치려고 안간힘을 썼으나

얼음물 속에서 사지가 말을 안 듣는 듯

그대로 얼음장 밑으로 가라앉기 시작했다.

The ice broke. The calf struggled to swim and keep afloat for a while but started to sink under the ice as if his limbs wouldn’t move in the icy water. 


그러한 송아지의 목을 돌이가 그러안고 있었다.

With Dol-i holding onto the neck of the sinking calf. 




Hwang Sun-won (Born in Daedong, Pyeongannam-do Prov., Mar. 26, 1915~Sep. 14, 2000)

Debuted with “My Dream” in 1931

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