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"The Mountain" by Lee Hyo-seok

#Books on Demand l 2019-08-13

Books on Demand

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Morning hours in the mountain appear infinite like a beast but they’re also subtle like baby breaths. The curvy mountain ridge is the back of a lying bull and the white poplar leaves that flutter endlessly even on a windless day are the breath of the mountain. 

The birch trees, quite conspicuous with their white makeup, are the mountain’s beauty, for no human skin can get that white no matter what. 

The mountain forest is a beautiful world that is silent but masculine. Refreshing energy and scent of fruits, the tree’s fragrance, smell of the earth and the sky, all these are the scents that cannot be found in the village. 

산속의 아침나절은 졸고 있는 짐승같이 막막은 하나

숨결은 은근하다.

휘엿한 산등은 누워있는 황소의 등어리요,

바람결도 없는데 쉽 새 없이 파르르 나부끼는 

사시나무 잎새는 산의 숨소리다.

첫눈에 띄는 하얗게 분장한 자작나무는 산속의 일색,

아무리 단장한대야 사람의 살결이 그렇게 흴 수 있을까.

산속은 고요하나 웅성한 아름다운 세상이다.

과실같이 싱싱한 기운과 향기,

나무 향기 흙냄새, 하늘 향기.

마을에서는 찾아볼 수 없는 향기다.

The detailed description of the mountain and Jung-sil, who becomes one with his surroundings, fills the first few pages of Lee Hyo-seok’s “Mountain” like a lyrical poem. 

Interview by literature critic Jeon So-yeong

Lee Hyo-seok was very unhappy about his life under the Japanese colonial regime. So, he created an ideal world that is totally different from the real world to accentuate how miserable the real life was. He found hope in nature when he could find none in this reality. Trees and plants are universal symbols of peace and non-violence. Lee Hyo-seok filled his ideal world with these peace symbols. 

The stars in the sky came nearer and then receded, as if they were falling toward his face. 

“One star, two stars, three stars…”

He was unwittingly counting the stars. When he lost his count as his eyelids grew heavy and his lips loosened, he started counting again from the beginning.

“One star, two stars, three stars, four stars…”

Jung-sil felt his body turning into a star while counting. 

하늘의 별이 와르르 얼굴 위에 쏟아질 듯 싶게

가까웠다 멀어졌다 한다.

“별 하나 나 하나, 별 둘 나 둘, 별 셋 나 셋~” 

어느 곁엔지 별을 세고 있었다.

눈이 아물아물하고 입이 뒤바뀌어 수효가 틀려지면 

다시 목소리를 높여 처음부터 고쳐 세곤 하였다.

“별 하나 나 하나, 별 둘 나 둘, 별 셋 나 셋~” 

세는 동안에 중실은 제 몸이 스스로 별이 됨을 느꼈다.

Lee Hyo-seok (Born in Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do Prov., Feb. 23, 1907~May 25, 1942)

: Debuted with short story “City and Ghost” in 1928

Noted works include “When Buckwheat Blossoms Bloom,” “City and Ghost” etc.

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