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"Reason to Live" by Kim Chong-gwan

#Books on Demand l 2019-10-15

Books on Demand

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Kim Chong-gwang’s “Reason to Live,” released in 2019, starts with the year-end general assembly of the Baekho-ri Seniors Association. 

I’d like to thank you for surviving another year. Some of you were quite ill and some died suddenly, but those of you who are here still remain healthy and managed to live through another year. I propose a toast to wish you another year of health and happiness. Let’s stay healthy into the coming year!

 다들 올해도 무사히 살아주셔서 감사드립니다.

 크게 편찮았던 분도 계시고

 급하게 돌아가신 분도 계셨습니다만,

 우리는 건강하게 살아서 또 이렇게 한해를 보내고 있습니다.

 내년에도 무사하자는 기원으로다 

 건배 제의하겠습니다.

 “내년에도 건강하자” 

Chairman Kim’s wife ended up with the job. But she soon faced an unexpected development. Having had only an elementary school education, Mrs. Kim cringed at the idea of going to classes. 

‘What if they test us after class? Would I be fired if I don’t pass the test?’

Mrs. Kim, burdened with a thousand worries, was let down when the program actually started. 

The first class was “A Correct Understanding of the Jobs-for-Seniors Project.” The more she listened, the less she understood. She dozed on and off through the whole class. 

The second session was “Preventive Management of Dementia and Safety Precautions.” The instructor, a woman who claimed to be the secretary-general of the regional seniors association, barely touched the subject of dementia before launching into a tirade about sexual harassment.

“Hey, young lady. Why would anyone sexually harass seventy-something women? You’re worrying needlessly.” 

“Are you implying that all men harass women? That’s crazy. One bad apple in the barrel is making our lives hell.”

Silly talks and complaints came from all sides and the instructor became too flustered to quiet down the audience.

시험 못보면 탈락하는 건가,

오만가지 걱정을 했던 오지랖은 허탈해졌다.

첫 번째 시간은 ‘노인 일자리 사업의 올바른 이해’였다.

들을수록 더 이해가 되지 않았다.

오지랖은 졸다 깨다를 반복했다.

두 번째 시간은 ‘치매예방관리와 건강등 안전예방’이었다.

노인회 사무국장이라는 여성은 치매 얘기는 잠깐하고

미투 얘기만 잔뜩했다.

“아따, 젋은 양반. 칠십 여편네들이 미투하고 당할 일이 어딨어.

 걱정할 걸 걱정해야지“

“남자는 무조건 미투한다는규? 환장허겄네.

 어물전 망신은 꼴뚜기가 시킨다더니 꼴뚜기 같은 놈들 때문에

 남자로 사는게 넘 힘들어“ 

잡소리가 판소리 메들리처럼 이어졌고,

사무국장은 좌중을 통제하지 못하고 갈팡질팡했다.

Kim Chong-gwang (Born in Boryeong, Chungcheongnam-do Prov., 1972)

: Debuted by publishing short story “Goodbye, Police Station” in 1998

Won Special Award at the 3rd Lee Ho-cheol Literary Prize for Peace in 2019

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