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"Scallion Flower" by Lee Hyun-soo


ⓒ Getty Images Bank

Everyone has an intense moment in his or her life that would leave a bright red mark. 

Some people may realize later that they had unknowingly wasted such a moment. Only then will they be flail around as if they fell into a bog and begrudgingly accept that fact just when the mud is about to suffocate them.  

Everyone must remember the moment when the flood came quietly and swallowed the sleeping village in an instant as the blood red moment.   

누구에게나 일생에 한 번쯤은 

쥐어짜면 붉은 물이 뚝뚝 흐를 것만 같은

강렬한 순간들이 존재할 것이다.

간혹 어떤 사람들은 

지나치게 선명하고 짙어서 두 눈이 뽑힐 것 같은 그런 시간이

자기도 모르게 지나갔다는 걸 뒤늦게 깨닫기도 할 것이다.

그러면 수렁에 발을 빠뜨린 것처럼 허둥대다가

진흙이 목까지 차올라 숨이 턱턱 막히게 될 즈음에야 어렵사리 수긍하겠다.

홍수가 잠든 마을을 삼키듯이 소리도 없이 왔다가

눈 깜짝할 사이에 뒤통수를 치고 가버려서

다들 그 순간을 선연한 핏빛으로 기억하는지도 모르겠다.

Published in 2002, “Scallion Flower” centers around an electrician and Myeong-hye, a girl from a rich family.

“Scallion flowers have bloomed.” 

“Those are not flowers. How could they be called flowers?” 

“What do you mean? Scallions have flowers too.” 

“Only the flowers in the garden are considered real flowers, not the ones in a vegetable garden. Scallions and eggplants and squashes all bear flowers, but they’re regarded only as vegetables, not flowers.” 

“I think scallion flowers are pretty. They are more useful than plants that bear only fancy flowers. I think they’re amazing.”    

“Is that so? Can we count them as flowers even though they smell like onions?” 

“파꽃이 피었네요” 

“저게 무슨 꽃이에요. 어디 꽃이랄 수가 있나요?” 

“왜요? 파꽃은 꽃이 아닌가요” 

“꽃밭에 핀 꽃만 꽃이지 텃밭에 핀 걸 누가 꽃으로 봐주기나 하나요.

 말이야 파꽃이니 가지꽃이니 호박꽃이니 좋게들 하지만

 그냥 파나 가지나 호박으로 보지 누가 저걸 꽃으로 봐요” 

“파꽃이 어때서요.

 꽃만 화려하게 피우는 꽃나무보단 쓰임새도 많잖아요.

 보면 볼수록 대견하기만 한 걸요.”

“그럴까요.... 향기는 고사하고 파냄새나 풍기는 저것들도... 꽃축에 들긴 할까요?”

# Interview by SNU Korean literature professor Bang Min-ho 

Scallion flowers are considered insignificant because they grow out on the field. The scallion flowers are a metaphor for those who were born into low social class and live unremarkable lives. The electrician must have likened himself to the scallion blossoms. But when Myeong-hye said those flowers were amazing, he must have taken her word to heart. He must have believed that his feelings were love, which was why he could not forget that conversation.

Lee Hyun-soo (Born in 1959, Yeongdong, Chungcheongbuk-do Prov.)

: Debuted by winning Chungcheong Ilbo’s annual spring literary contest in 1991

Won the 2nd Kim Yu-jeong Literary Award in 1996 with “Spider Web”

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