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"Soul of Darkness" by Kim Won-il

#Books on Demand l 2019-04-09

Books on Demand

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The news of my father’s capture spread around the town’s marketplace. Father was arrested by a plain-clothed officer at the Susan-ri village market yesterday. So he was bound and transported to Jinyeong police station late last night. Everyone who was at the marketplace whispered that father would be executed by firing squad before the day was over. 

아버지가 드디어 잡혔다는 소문이

읍내 장터 마당 주위에 퍼졌다.

아버지는 어제 수산리 장날 장거리에서

사복입은 순경에게 붙잡혔다고 했다.

그래서 어젯밤 늦게 진영 지서로 묶여 왔다는 것이다.

장터 마당 주변 사람들은 모두 오늘 안으로

아버지가 총살당할 것이라고 쑤군거렸다.

Kim Won-il’s “Soul of Darkness” was published in literature magazine Monthly Literature in 1973. The story is set in 1949, one year before the start of the Korean War. The events in the story take place in the span of just one day, from the arrest of Gap-hae’s leftist-leaning father to his execution witnessed by his 13-year-old son. 

When I was little, my father and I would talk about many things while walking along the river embankment. 

“You shouldn’t stop growing just like this river doesn’t stop flowing.” 

I then realized that my father was indeed dead. That realization caused my heart to shiver and cringe in pain. I suddenly started shaking all over. 

My father, who disappeared like smoke at age 37. My father whom I can no longer see until I am dead myself. Unexplained fear made me tremble like a poplar tree as I looked back on the life of my father, who had died, leaving me with a problem too difficult for a child to solve. 

But at the same time, I experienced an epiphany. I couldn’t explain exactly what that sensation was like, but I realized that I needed to be brave to survive and that I must overcome whatever difficulty or sorrow thrown in my way.

As the head of this family, I needed to be strong for them.

This strong resolve stoked fire in my heart. That feeling was comforting the hot tears I was shedding. 

어릴 적 아버지와 나는 강둑을 거닐며 많은 이야기를 했다.

“쉬지 않고 흐르는 이 강처럼 너도 쉬지 않고 자라야 한다...” 

그러자 아버지가 죽었다는 실감이 

나의 가슴에 소름을 일으키며 아프게 파고든다.

나는 갑자기 오들오들 떨기 시작한다.

서른 일곱의 나이에 연기처럼 사라져 버린 아버지.

나는 알 수 없는 두려움에 사시나무 떨듯 한다.

그와 더불어 나는 무엇인가 깨달은 느낌을 가지게 되었다.

그 느낌을 꼬집어 설명할 수는 없었으나,

이를테면 살아가는 데 용기를 가져야 하고,

어떤 어려움도 슬픔도 이겨내야 한다는 그런 것이었다.

나는 이제 집안을 떠맡은 기둥으로서 

힘차게 버티어 나가지 않으면 안된다.

이런 굳은 결심이 내 가슴을 뜨겁게 적신다.

뜨거운 눈물을 그 느낌이 달래고 있다.

Kim Won-il (Born on Mar. 15, 1942, in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do Prov.)

: Debuted in 1967 Published “The Festival of Darkness” in Modern Literature

Won Contemporary Literature Award in 1974, Korean Creative Writers’ Award in 197, etc.

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