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"Midnight Fiction" by Park Hyoung-su

#Books on Demand l 2019-07-09

Books on Demand

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This story took place on the fifth floor of a rental apartment in the city just before midnight. The man is an instructor at a private academy who deals with children for twelve hours on a daily basis and the woman works at a supermarket all day long. Both want something quick and easy to eat before they go to bed, but then discover that anchovies for stock are gone. Park Hyoung-su’s “Midnight Fiction” is about this couple using their imagination to make up stories about where the anchovies had gone. 



Seong Beom-su: I can no longer bear it. So, now I stand here to proclaim my plan to my nine remaining fellow anchovies. 


Anchovies: What is it?/ Okay, go on.


Seong: Humans either stir-fry, deep-fry, or cook with soy sauce anchovies and finish every last one of them, whereas they use our kind of anchovies only once for broth and throw us away after they’re done. If this isn’t an insult to us, what can it be? It doesn’t end there. Before making broth, they pick out our heads and intestines. What are the heads and intestines? They are the vessels of intellect and soul. Those sacred parts are treated worse than our flesh and spines. We no longer have to endure such poor treatment. 


Hwang Ki-taek: But boiling the heads and intestines together would make the broth cloudy. 


Seong: The freezer is too dark to see your face, but judging from the sickly nasal tone, you must be Hwang Ki-taek that used to live near Gijang기장 but was caught in the fishing net. My point is that we should work together to return home to the South Sea rather than suffer such injustice and resort ourselves to resignation and meditation. 


Anchovies: What?// To the South Sea?// Is that even possible?


성범수 - 나는 더 이상 참을 수가 없다.  그러므로 이제 아홉 마리밖에 남지 않은

우리 멸치 여러분들께 내 뜻을 밝히고자 한다.

나머지 여덟 마리의 멸치들 -  (추워 이를 딱딱 부딪치며)그래, 한번 얘기해봐

성범수 - 인간들은 다른 멸치의 경우, 

볶거나 튀기거나 졸여서 한 점도 남김없이 먹는데 반해

우리들 죽방멸치는 오로지 국물만 우려낸 뒤 음식물 쓰레기로 버린다.

이게 모욕이 아니면 도대체 무엇이 모욕이겠는가~

그 뿐 아니다.

국물을 내기 전에 저들은 우리의 머리와 내장을 떼어낸다.

머리와 내장은 무엇인가~ 지성과 영혼이 담긴 그릇이다.

그 신성한 부위가 살점과 척추만도 못한 취급을 당하고 있다.

우리는 더 이상 이러한 푸대접을 참아서는 안된다.

황기택 - 하지만 머리와 내장을 함께 넣으면 육수가 탁해지잖아.

성범수 - 이곳 냉동실이 어두워 얼굴은 보이지 않는다만 찐득한 비음을 듣자하니

넌 기장 부근에서 살다가 우성호 그물에 걸려 비명횡사한 황기택이로구나.

내 말의 요지는, 여기서 우리가 그런 부당한 대우를 받으며

체념과 묵상으로 도망칠 바에야

어떻게든 힘을 합쳐 고향 남해로 돌아가자는 것이다.!

그 놀라운 선언에 여덟 마리의 멸치들이 놀라 눈이 휘둥그렇게 떴다.



Interview by SNU Korean literature professor Bang Min-ho

The author believes that certain conditions must be satisfied for humans to continue living. But humans all lack something. What can fill that void? Stories, imaginative stories that make us happy, that gives us hope that we can be free. Such stories give us strength to live on. The author is telling us that fantastic stories are what makes us endure our lives.




Park Hyoung-su (Born on Aug. 1, 1972, Chuncheon, Gangwon-do Prov.)

: Debuted in 2002 with “Things You Must Know Before Raising Rabbits” on Hyundai Munhak (Modern Literature)

Won the Today’s Young Artist Award in 2012, etc.

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