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"Kwon Sun-chan and Nice People" by Lee Ki-ho

#Books on Demand l 2019-03-05

Books on Demand

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In the following morning, I again ran into that man as I was driving to work. 

Two pine trees stood on the neglected lot there and a blue tarp was hung between the two trees like a ceiling. 

The man was holding up two sheets of hand-written posters glued on a plywood board. The letters on one poster were too small to read, but those on the other one was quite legible. 

Mr. Kim Seok-man at Unit 502 of Building Number 103! Give me back my seven million won!

나는 차를 몰고 출근을 하다가 다시 그 남자를 만났다.

야산이 시작되는 버려진 땅 앞에는 

소나무가 두 그루 있었는데,

그 나무들을 기둥 삼아 파란 천막이 지붕처럼 펼쳐져 있었다.

남자는 대자보 두 장을 합판에 붙여 들고 있었는데,

한 장은 글씨가 너무 작아 잘 보이지 않았지만

나머지 한 장은 똑똑히 읽을 수가 있었다.

103동 502호 김석만씨는 내가 입금한 돈 칠백만 원을 돌려주시오! 

Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeong

 We have been thinking hard about how to get along with our neighbors in this chaotic world where people’s conflicts with other people flare up all too often. Lee Ki-ho has incorporated this serious topic into a tight fictional framework with wit and insight.


Narrator of the story “I” is a writer and university professor. Strangely, he feels angry all the time, even hitting things with his fist when he was by himself. He doesn’t know why he gets upset so much and tries to control his anger by taking deep breaths. 

“Is it because of your mother?”

I asked him with my hands in the parka pocket.

“Is it because you think you are to blame for your mother’s death?”

He looked away from me and dropped his head.

“No, why should she die because of me?” 

Just when he said that, I took my hands out of the pocket and grabbed him by the collar. 

“What do you mean no! That’s exactly why! You think your mother died because you were late with the money.”

Still held by the collar, he stood up awkwardly, knocking over the portable fishing chair he was sitting on.

“No, I only had six million won. I had to work two more months for the rest.” 

Just when he finished saying that, I let go of his collar. I wasn’t listening to what he was saying.

“Leave those innocent people alone! Leave them alone!” 

어머니 때문에 그래요?

나는 점퍼 주머니에 손을 넣은 채 말했다.

남자는 나를 쳐다보던 눈길을 거두고 다시 고개를 숙였다.

“아닌데요....어머니가 왜 나 때문에 죽어....” 

남자가 거기까지 말했을 때, 

나는 점퍼 주머니에서 손을 빼 그의 멱살을 잡았다.

당신이 늦어서 어머니가 그렇게 됐다고 생각하는 거잖아!

“아닌데요...돈이 육백만원 밖에 없어서... 두 달을 더 일해야 돼서...그렇게 된 건데요“ 

나는 남자의 말을 제대로 듣지도 않았다.

애꿎은 사람들 좀 괴롭히지 마요,

애꿎은 사람들 좀 괴롭히지 말라고!

Why do we get angry at innocent people?     

Lee Ki-ho (Born in 1972, in Wonju, Gangwon-do Prov.)

: 1999 Debuted by publishing short story “Bunny“ on literary magazine Modern Literature

2018 Won the 4th Dongin Literature Prize

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