But long rainstorms and high humidity caused the printing machines to break down one after another and printing company executives no longer trusted his technical expertise. Eventually Kim Myeong-hak was asked to leave for failing to predict the disintegration of printing machines.
As his eyes swept over all the machines, the machines now appeared to resemble glaring monsters, ready to pounce on him any minute.
He felt extremely lonely. His heart felt empty. How could this cold loneliness overwhelm him just because he could no longer see those printing machines again?
How could sensing hostility, scorn, and indifference from the factory itself leave him feeling so empty?
그는 그 인쇄기들이 움직이는 괴물처럼 보였다.
또 자기를 덮칠 것 같이 노려보고 있는 것 같았다.
그는 강한 고독을 느꼈다.
공허한 가슴을 느꼈다.
매일같이 매만지고 바라보던 저 인쇄기들을
다시 대하지 못한다는 것으로 이렇게 차가운 고독이 절박해오는 것일까.
이 공장의 일체가 자기에게 적의를 갖고 자기를 조소하고
자기와는 무관(無關)이라는 것이 이렇게도 자기를 공허하게 하는 것일까.
Interview by literature critic Jeon So-yeong
In the 1950s, modern capitalism was beginning to take root in Korean society and industrialization and automation were underway in cities. If tools of labor had been supporting workers, workers became components of labor around this time. The story of Kim Myeong-hak is about the heartlessness of fate or the sadness of a person who has become a useless being in such a harsh world.
“Was there ever a time when labor wasn’t forced and was done voluntarily? Do you think a time like that will ever come?”
“I don’t know about history or future. What I know is that I have faithfully kept my duty and promise as a technician. But I was kicked out for not discovering a flaw before a breakdown. I’m not a clairvoyant. How can they expect me to be a clairvoyant?”
“That is why a modern man is solitary.”
“Are you comforting me with the concept of solitude? You punk, how could you?”
“So, you want to be free? How can a mechanical engineer seek freedom in front of machines? Freedom is not the ultimate good.”
“노동이 강제적이 아니고, 자발적으로 존재하던 시대는 있었나?
미래에도 있을 수 있을 것으로 아나?”
“나는 역사고 미래고 몰라.
그러나 나는 기사로서 직장의 의무와 약속을 성실하게 지켜왔다.
그런데 나는 쫒겨났어. 사고전에 고장날 것을 발견 못했다구.
나는 귀신이 아니야. 사람에게 귀신이 되라고 강요하는 거야 뭐야, 응”
“그러니까 현대인은 고독하지”
“자네는 고독이란 것을 가지고 위로하나, 고독이 무엇이야 고독이....”
“자네는 그럼 자유인이 되고 싶던가.
기계과를 나온 놈이 기계 앞에서 자유를 부르짖나? 자유는 최고의 선은 아니야”
Kim Gwang-sik (Born in Yongcheon, Pyonganbuk-do Prov., Jan. 18, 1921~Dec. 3, 2002)
: Debuted by publishing short story “Fantasia” in magazine Sasanggye in 1985
Awarded Grade 2 of the Order of Civil Merits in 1986, etc.