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“The Day George Michael Died” by Ko Yohan

2023-09-12

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“My first job was at a record shop in Myeongdong. I worked at the store without a day off for seven years. What I couldn’t stand was Christmas. I felt so alone as I watched people streaming into the Myeongdong Cathedral for the Mass. That was when I heard ‘Last Christmas.’ His voice embraced me warmly. I spent Christmas with George Michael, playing his song more than a hundred times. I took his poster off the store wall and hung it up in my room. I accepted him as my family that night.” 


“근데 왜 우리가 가족 사진을 찍어야 하지?” 
“Why should I take a family photo with you?” 

“우린 가족이니까. 한집에 살고 같이 밥을 먹고, 같이 잠을 자고, 후지까지 있잖아” 
“Because we’re a family. We live in the same house, eat together, sleep together, and we even have Huji between us.” 

“한집에 산다고 가족이야?” 
“Living in the same house makes us a family?”

“이렇게 생각해 봐.
외롭고 쓸쓸할 때 너와 같이 있어준 조지 마이클이 네 가족이라며.
마찬가지야.  내가 외로울 때 네가 나타나 줬고, 힘들 때도 네가 내 옆에 있어 줬어.
버려진 후지를 입양해 우리가 옆에 있어 줬고.
그러니까 우린 가족이지”
“Look at it this way. You said George Michael is your family because he was there for you when you were lonely and sad. The same goes for me too. You were there when I was alone and stayed by my side when I was having a hard time. We adopted Huji when he was abandoned and stayed with him. That’s what makes us a family.”

“조지 마이클이 내 가족인 걸 인정하는 거야?” 
“So, you admit that George Michael is my family?”

“어? 그, 그래. 이젠 나도 조지 마이클을 가족으로 받아들일게.
그러니까 너도 우리가 가족이란 걸 인정해야지.” 
“What? Oh, yeah. I will accept George Michael as part of my family, so you’ll have to accept us as your family too.” 

            
# Interview with SNU Korean literature professor Bang Min-ho
The theme of this story is ‘becoming a family.’ Both Hae-mi and the main character believe that family is those who are with them when they are feeling lonely. This type of family is not related by blood. The writer wrote this story to show that today’s young people are afraid to form a family but at the same time long to have one, which is why even George Michael is considered a part of their family.  


사진사는 후지의 영정사진을 찍고 컴퓨터 앞으로 나를 불렀다.
사진을 본 순간 해미의 가족은 내가 아니라 조지 마이클이란 걸 깨달았다.
사진 속에는 내가 없었다.
해미와 두 명의 조지 마이클이 있을 뿐이었다.
After taking Huji’s funeral picture, the photographer called me to his computer. The moment I saw the photo, I realized that George Michael, not I, was Hae-mi’s family. There was no me in the photo. Instead, there was only Hae-mi and two George Michaels. 

안경을 벗어 주머니에 넣고 창밖으로 시선을 돌렸다.
빨간 우산을 쓴 채 버스를 기다리는 노부부가 보였다.
한 세월 동안 틀어진 목도리를 바로잡아 주고 
영정 사진까지 찍어야 가족이 완성되는 것일까.
그 때 사진사가 조지 마이클의 라스크 크리스마스를 틀고는 내게 엄지척을 했다.
I took off the glasses and shoved them in the pocket before turning my eyes toward the window. I saw the old couple sharing a red umbrella and waiting for the bus. Is a family completed only when they adjust the scarf and take funeral photos together? That was when the photographer turned on George Michael’s ‘Last Christmas’ and gave me a thumbs-up.

오늘이 우리에게도 마지막 크리스마스가 될 것 같은 예감이 들었다.
I had this feeling that today would be the last Christmas for us as well.



Ko Yohan (Born in Jinan, Jeollabuk-do Prov., 1969~ )
Debuted by winning New Writer’s Awards sponsored by literary magazines “Literature Ideology” and “Writers’ World” in 2016

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