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“Shooting Star” by Kwon Jung-saeng

#Books on Demand l 2022-05-24

Books on Demand

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A yellow butterfly that had alighted on the sunlit wall fluttered up. Apricot flower petals floated down below the stone wall like that butterfly.

Gap-sun gathers the pink apricot flower petals from the ground and strings them together with a thread. Gap-dol scatters a handful of petals he picked onto her skirt. While Gap-dol holds up one end of the cotton thread, Gap-sun quickly strings the petals together. She gathers both ends of the thread and ties a knot. Gap-dol hangs the flower necklace around Gap-sun’s neck.

그날 이후 갑돌이와 갑순이는 일요일이면 항구의 저녁거리를

손잡고 함께 거닐었습니다.

Since that day, Gap-dol and Gap-sun walked the port streets every Sunday, hand in hand. 

바다와 맞닿은 새카만 밤하늘엔 고향에서 보던 별들이

그 때 그 자리에서 가없이 반짝이고 있었습니다.

The stars they had seen back in their home village sparkled up in the black night sky above the sea. 

별똥별이 하나 새빨간 불꽃을 그리며 어두운 바다를 향해 떨어졌습니다.

아니, 별똥별들은 바다에 떨어지지 않고

하늘 중간에서 불빛이 꺼지고 말았습니다.

A shooting star fell toward the dark sea, drawing a flaming red streak across the sky. But the shooting star didn’t fall into the sea. Its light went out in the middle of the sky. 

“돌아, 별똥별이 바다에 떨어지려다 멈추어 버렸어” 

“겁이 나서 떨어지지 않는 거야.  바닷속은 굉장히 깊거든” 

“Dol, the shooting star stopped from falling into the sea.” 

“It was too scared to. The sea is quite deep.” 

갑순이는 옛날, 달맞이산 너머 못물에 빠지던 별똥별이 생각났습니다.

Gap-sun remembered the shooting stars that fell into a pond beyond Dalmaji Mountain. 

“그 못 속에 빠지던 별똥별은 죽지 않았니?” 


“거긴 고향이니까 부러 그렇게 빠져 죽은 거지만, 바닷속은 고향이 없단다”

“Didn’t the shooting stars that fell in the pond die?” 

“Yes, they did. They died in the pond because it was their home, but there is no home in the sea.”

# Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeong

Gap-dol tells Gap-sun that shooting stars are those poor stars that have nowhere to go in the sky, so they fall to the ground. Human beings also die when they have no place to live in this world. It is natural for us humans to want to die at home, a place where we felt comfortable and safe. The orphans who lost their homes and parents are like those shooting stars that have lost their places. The sea isn’t a comfortable place for them, so they just vanish in midair. The conversation between Gap-dol and Gap-sun is filled with the sadness and hardship of war orphans. 


순아, 고향엔 지금쯤 은빛깔의 눈세상일 거야.

그 포근포근 따뜻한 눈나라 고향이 못 견디게 그리워

체면도 없이 너에게 편지를 쓰게 되었구나.

Sun, it’s probably silvery wonderland in our hometown by now. I am shamelessly writing to you because I miss my snowy hometown so much. 

여기는 야자나무 우거진 남쪽나라, 

대포 소리가 커다랗게 울리고 

철모를 쓴 용사들이 가엾게 목숨을 불사르고 있단다.

This is a southern country lush with palm trees. Cannons boom loudly and poor soldiers in helmets go up in flames. 

고향 마을에서 너와 함께 구경하던 밤하늘의 그 별똥별.

Remember the shooting stars in the night sky that we watched together back in our hometown?

순아, 나도 오늘밤쯤 고향 달맞이산 너머 못 속에 빠져드는 별똥별이 될 거야.

그래서 한 마리 새가 되겠어.

고향 마을에 봄이 오면 살구꽃이 피면 

그 살구꽃 눈부신 가지에 앉아 아름답게 우는 새가 될 거야.

Sun, tonight I will probably become that shooting star that fell into the pond beyond the mountain. I will then become a bird. When apricot flowers bloom in our hometown in the spring, I will become a bird that sings a beautiful song from a branch abloom with radiant apricot flowers.


Kwon Jung-saeng (Born in Tokyo, Japan. Sep. 10, 1937~May 17, 2007)

Debuted with children’s story “Doggie Poo” in 1969

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