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"Robbery Training" by Kim Joo-young

#Books on Demand l 2019-02-05

Books on Demand

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Kim Joo-young’s “Robbery Training” was published in 1975. Set against the city’s junkyard, the story is a cutting satire of one impoverished family’s miserable life.

The stepfather would give rice taffy or money for bottles, but he would oftentimes make me stand guard over his cart while he snuck into a house with its gate open. Then he would steal all the washbasins and aluminum pots left by the outdoor faucet. 

If he got caught, he would say, “I came to check the water gauge” or “Where is your circuit breaker?” He got himself out of a jam like this not too seldom. To reduce the risk of getting nabbed, we would agree on signs before he went into a house. 

I would stand next to the cart and when a man approached, I would yell out, “We buy cider bottles,” and when a woman came, I would shout, “We buy an old washbasin.” Then, the stepfather would be alerted and dash outside. It was a damn risky business. 

의붓아버지는 물론, 사이다병이나 콜라병을 받고

엿이나 돈으로 바꿔주기도 하였지만,

그것보다는 걸핏하면 리어카 옆에 나를 세워둔 채,

대문이 열린 집이면 무턱대고 안으로 들어가는 것이었습니다.

그는 그 집 수돗가에 있는 대야나 양은 그릇들을

몽땅 훔쳐들고 밖으로 나오는 것입니다.

나는 밖에 세워둔 리어커를 붙잡고 섰다가 

남자가 나타나면 “사이다병 삽니다아”,

여자가 나타나면 ‘헌 대야 삽니다아’하고 소리쳐주면

의붓아버지가 속 차리고 부리나케 밖으로 쫒아나오곤 하지요.

장사라도 더럽게 똥줄 빠지는 장사지요.

Interview by literary critic Jeon So-yeong

The world is seen through the eyes of a boy in “Robbery Training.” Most stories that show the world through the eyes of a young child use the child’s innocence as a filter to interpret the world. But the boy in this story, Lee Won-soo, is far from innocent. He learned from his stepfather how to steal and blackmail and took those nefarious skills to an art form. Later in the story, Won-soo says that grownups may be big physically, but they are inherently weak, like a weasel that recoils when poked. Won-soo is a boy who can assess the world of grownups, a boy-man who grew up too fast in the rough world. 

Now the wheels on one side of the bus were removed and the minibus began to list to one side with a grinding noise.  

But I wasn’t disappointed. Because I saw my father as a giant, a man who didn’t give up Mother to the wicked Choi even at the risk of having our family home razed. I was deeply moved and proud of the fact that I had a father like that. 

Then I took out the steel skewer from my pocket and threw it far, far away toward the other side of the sky. 

“Hey, you asshole. Come on out here, damn it!”

I yelled out as I ran toward the wretched Choi like a hunting dog. 

이제 한 쪽 바퀴가 완전히 떨어져나가고,

차체가 뻐거덕 소리를 내며 기울기 시작하였습니다.

그러나 나는 실망하지 않았습니다.

우리 세 식구가 기거할 집이 헐리는 것을 감수하면서까지

어머니를 음흉한 최가 놈에게 넘여주지 않았던 아버지가

아무래도 거인으로 보였기 때문입니다.

나는 그런 아버지를 두었다는 사실에 감동하였고, 또한 자랑스러웠지요.

그 때 주머니에 쑤셔넣었던 쇠꼬챙이를 꺼내서 

저 쪽 하늘 멀리 멀리로 던져버렸습니다.

“야 이 새캬, 이리 나오라구, 썅! ” 

나는 이렇게 소리지르며 최가 놈을 향해

사냥개처럼 달려나갔습니다.

Kim Joo-young (Born on Jan. 26, 1939, in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do Prov.)

: 1971    Debuted with fiction “A Period of Dormancy“

2013     Won Grand Prize at the 4th Kim Man-jung Literature Awards

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