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"The Moonlit Night" by Lee Tae-jun

#Books on Demand l 2019-01-01

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It might have been five or six days after we moved to Seongbuk-dong. 

That night I pushed away the newspaper I was reading and lied down to say abruptly that this place is really provincial. It wasn’t because I saw that it had grown dark outside for the first time or heard the sounds of a brook and rustling winds for the first time, but because I had met a man named Hwang Su-geon for the first time that evening.


성북동으로 이사 나와서 한 대엿새 되었을까.


그 날 밤 나는 보던 신문을 머리맡에 밀어던지고 누워 

새삼스럽게 “여기도 정말 시골이로군!” 하였다.


무어 바깥이 컴컴한 걸 처음 보고

시냇물 소리와 쏴 하는 솔바람 소리를 처음 들어서가 아니라

황수건이라는 사람을 이날 저녁에 처음 보았기 때문이다.



This novella is about the events that take place after the protagonist, a recent addition from central Seoul to the modest Seongbuk-dong neighborhood, encountered a man named Hwang Su-geon. 



Interview by literary critic Jeon So-yeong

Hwang is depicted as a dull-witted and inept man. But he was typical of the poor people who were left behind in the industrialization process during the Japanese colonial period. He was pushed out from the downtown area to the Seongbuk-dong neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. In an effort to show those who were forced to disappear into the neglected and invisible part of the city, author Lee Tae-jun used the spatial component of Seongbuk-dong at the city’s edge and the temporal setting of a The Moonlit Night. 



One day I asked him what his lifelong dream was. 


He said it was a piece of cake to answer a question like that and said that his dream was to become a main newspaper delivery man.


Because the work was too much for him, the main delivery man was giving Hwang about 20 papers to deliver and paid roughly three won per month. So what Hwang envied most was the main delivery man who got paid 20 won per month and walked around in the newspaper company uniform wearing a bell.  


He said once he gets the bell, he would run around and deliver the papers faster, not to mention not fearing the big dog at the bank employee’s house. 


하루는 나는 ‘평생소원이 무엇이냐’고 그에게 물어보았다.


그는 “그까짓 것쯤 얼른 대답하기는 누워서 떡 먹기”라고 하면서

평생소원은 자기도 원배달이 한 번 되었으면 좋겠다는 것이었다.

남이 혼자 배달하기 힘들어서 

한 이십 부 떼어주는 것을 배달하고 

월급이라고 원배달에게서 한 삼원 받는 터이라,

월급을 이십여 원을 받고,

신문사 옷을 입고 방울을 차고 다니는 원배달이 제일 부럽노라 하였다.


그리고 방울만 차면 자기도 뛰어다니며

빨리 돌릴 뿐 아니라 

그 은행소에 다니는 집 개도 조금도 무서울 것이 없겠노라 하였다.




Lee Tae-jun (Born in 1904 in Cheorwon, Gangwon-do Prov., date of death unknown)

: 1925 Debuted with “Omongnyeo” published on Joseon Mundan

1933 Published “The Moonlit Night” on JoongAng Monthly

1941 Won the 2nd Chosun Arts Award

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