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"Goodbye, Harley" by Bae Sang-min

#Books on Demand l 2020-02-18

Books on Demand

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The day I bought a Harley-Davidson I went to work wearing a bandana with a Marlboro sticking out from my mouth. I decided to simply call it Harley. 

Seeing me in my outfit, Director S of my department was left speechless and just gawked at me. 

I took out a letter of resignation and threw it on his desk. And I put out my cigarette on top of that letter. I thought that was what a Harley rider should do. 

할리 데이비슨을 사던 날.

나는 두건을 쓰고 말보로 담배를 꼬나문 채 출근을 했다.

나는 녀석을 그냥 할리라고 부르기로 했다.

내가 있던 부서의 S부장은 나의 출근 복장에 충격을 받았는지

아무 말도 하지 못하고 두 눈만 끔벅거렸다.

나는 사직서를 꺼내 그의 책상 맡에 던졌다.

그리고 담배를 굳이 사직서 위에 비벼 껐다.

할리를 타는 사람은 왠지 그래야만 할 것 같았다.

Mothers living in the main character’s apartment complex generally want their children to go to top universities and get jobs in big corporations. 

Around that time, the main character got a dog. Its name was Palpari, meaning eighty-eight. It was a popular name as the whole country was excited over hosting the 1988 Olympic Games.    

My pornographic tape, shattered to pieces, ended up in a dumpster. Around the same time, my mother, unable to tolerate Palpari’s howling any longer, took him to a veterinary clinic and had him neutered. I gave him a warm hug for the first time. 

I thought the dog that had to live the rest of its life with a non-functioning genital was much like myself who now had to please myself with only my imagination, without the help of an X-rated tape.

내 포르노 테이프가 산산조각이 나서 

아파트 쓰레기통에 버려지던 무렵,

팔팔이의 울음소리를 견디지 못했던 엄마는

팔팔이를 동네 동물병원으로 데려가 중성화 수술을 시켰다.

나는 그 때 처음으로 팔팔이를 따뜻하게 안아주었다.

평생 텅빈 성기를 갖고 살아야 하는 녀석과

포르노 테이프 없이 명상을 하면서

자위를 해야 하는 내 처지가 너무 닮았다고 생각했다.

Interview by literature critic Jeon So-yeong

Korea is known for its high educational standards. More accurately, its educational fervor for teaching children how to become successful. The main character, following the wishes of his parents, went to good college and got a good job. He lived his life following the path and regulations set by the world. But one day he decides to find freedom. The main character’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle symbolizes his quest for freedom and his desire to deviate from the norm.

Bae Sang-min (Born in 1976, Jinhae, Gyeongsangnam-do Prov.)

: Debuted by winning the New Writer’s Award in 2009

Works include short story “Scooter on a Cold Day” in 2012, etc.

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