Oh Yeong-sun’s “Seaside Village” starts with this description of a small seaside village called H. The protagonist of the story is a 23-year-old widow named Hae-sun.
With the faraway sound of a train running toward the west carried on the wind, you arrive at a small seaside village called H, where the waves from the East Sea lap against the stone walls.
The walls are built with round rocks covered here and there in layers of oyster shells. There is a cluster of maybe twenty thatched roof houses resembling old bamboo hats.
Not much different from other seaside villages, their wives dig for clams and gather sea plants when the tide ebbs out and work the vegetable patches when the tide comes in.
But one thing that makes this village different from others is that there is an unusually large number of widows.
서(西)로 멀리 기차 소리를 바람결에 들으며,
어쩌면 동해 파도가 돌각담 밑을 찰싹대는
H라는 조그만 갯마을이 있다.
더께더께 굴딱지가 붙은 모 없는 돌로 담을 쌓고,
낡은 삿갓 모양 옹기종기 엎딘 초가가 스무 집 될까 말까?
고기잡이 아낙네들은 썰물이면
조개나 해조를 캐고,
밀물이면 채마밭이나 매는 것으로
여느 갯마을이나 별다름 없다.
다르다고 하면 이 마을에는 유독 과부가 많은 것이라고나 할까?
One summer night, the village becomes abuzz with excitement as a gong rings out loudly. The sound was coming from the anchovy fishing net, signaling the arrival of a school of anchovies.
Hae-sun and Sugi’s mother ran over the sandy dunes near the shore to the fishing net.
As people toss such direction at one another, the ropes become taut and the net is slowly pulled up.
The closer the net is dragged in, the faster the cheering grows.
About then, the anchovies are already jumping and twisting on the sandy bank.
Suddenly, a rough hand came out to grab over Hae-sun’s hand. She wasn’t strong enough to shake off the hand that had grabbed her with the rope.
The anchovies are jumping on the sand, baring their white underbellies. Women are busy scooping up the hopping anchovies.
해순이와 숙이 엄마는 물기슭 모래톱으로 해서
-데에야 데야. 이켠과 저켠에서 이렇게 서로 주고 받으면
로프는 팽팽해지면서 지그시 당겨온다.
그물이 가까워올수록 데해라 데야는 박자가 빨라진다.
이때쯤은 벌써 멸치가 모래톱에 헤뜩헤뜩 뛰어오른다.
이 때 해순이 손등을 덮어 쥐는 억센 손이 있었다.
줄과 함께 검잡힌 손은 해순이 힘으로는 어쩔 수 없었다.
멸치가 모래 위에 하얗게 뛴다.
아낙네들은 뛰어오른 멸치들을 주워담기에 바쁘다.
Oh Yeong-su (Born in Ulju, Gyeongsangnam-do Prov., 1911~May 15, 1979)
: 1953 Published “Seaside Village“ in the December edition of literary magazine Literature
1955 Won the 1st Korea Writers’ Association Award
1960 Won the Asia Freedom Literature Award