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"Captain Lee" by Jeon Kwang-yong

#Books on Demand l 2018-08-14

Books on Demand

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Dr. Lee In-gook’s hospital has two long-established characteristics. One is that the hospital is spotlessly clean and the other is that doctor’s fees are twice as high as other hospitals. 

That’s why most of his patients during the Japanese occupation were Japanese nationals, and now, those who have power or money. 

이인국 박사의 병원은 두 가지의 전통적인 특징을 가지고 있다.

병원 안이 먼지 하나도 없이 정결하다는 것과

치료비가 여느 병원의 갑절이나 비싸다는 점이다.

그러기에 그의 고객은 왜정시대는 주로 일본인이었고

현재는 권력층이 아니면 재벌의 셈속에 드는 축들이어야만 했다.

The main character of “Captain Lee” is a surgeon named Lee In-gook. He came down to South Korea during the Korean War with nothing but a bag carrying his stethoscope, but soon opened a general hospital and took office as its director. 

The word kapitan or captain came to mean the head or the best. Jeon Kwang-yong titled the short story “Captain Lee” to indicate that Dr. Lee In-gook is an opportunist blindly chasing fame and wealth and an elite in Korean society. 


#Interview by literary critic jeon So-yeong

The author called Dr. Lee “Captain Lee” to satirize the doctor who voluntarily gave up his own identity and changed his stances with the times, from pro-Japanese to pro-Soviet to finally pro-American. Over the tumultuous history of Korea, from the Japanese colonial period to the Korean War, some people tried to fight injustice while some people made compromises with reality and tried to fulfill their own desires through whatever means possible. 

“I survived among the mantis-like Japanese and clingy Russians. Why would Yankees be any different? If a revolution happens, it happens. If a government changes, it changes. Lee In-gook is not dead yet. There were lots more guys who were worse than me.”

‘흥, 그 사마귀 같은 일본놈들 틈에서도 살았고,

 닥싸귀 같은 로스케 속에서도 살아났는데,

 양키라고 다를까....

 혁명이 일겠으면 일고,

 나라가 바뀌겠으면 바뀌고,

 아직 이 이인국이 살 구멍은 막히지 않았다.

 나보다 얼마든지 날뛰던 놈들도 있는데,

 나 쯤이야....

Jeon Kwang-yong (Mar. 1, 1919~Jun. 21, 1988, Born in Bukcheong, Hamgyeongnam-do Prov.)

Writing career began by winning the Chosun Ilbo Spring Literature Contest in 1955.

Published “Captain Lee” in literary magazine Sasanggye in 1962.

Won the 7th Dongin Literature Award with “Captain Lee.”

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