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"Jjajangmyeon Is Correct" by Bang Min-ho


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When he left home today, Seung-pil was braced for the possibility that he may not return home at the end of the day. Just thinking about it made him break out in a sweat. What if the intelligence agency caught me? What if they searched my room?

As he left home late this morning, Seung-pil deleted all the files related to jjajangmyeon from his computer. He never skipped this hassle not even for a day, because he was very concerned about security. 

승필은 오늘도 단단히 각오하고 집을 나섰다.

자칫 잘못하면 돌아오지 못할 수도 있다.

이 생각만 하면 식은 땀이 났다.

만약 정보당국에 붙잡히기라도 하면,

그들이 이 방을 뒤지기라도 하면.

아침 느지막이 집을 나서면서 

승필은 자신의 컴퓨터에 저장된 짜장면 관련 파일들을 모두 지웠다.

승필은 매일 이 귀찮은 일을 빠뜨리지 않았다.

보안을 염려했기 때문이었다.

Seung-pil’s pet theory about jjajangmyeon was that it should have the right appearance. A waxy sauce from using too much oil results in a greasy taste. A dark and muddy color signals a bitter jjajangmyeon.

A great jjajangmyeon sauce should be black and glossy and the color should have some depth. And it shouldn’t be too sweet. It was a mistake to think that people these days like sweetness and put lots of sugar and seasoning to make jjajangmyeon sweet. That should be called jajangmyeon. 

“It’s so good that I’m gonna cry.” 

“I want to fix the restaurant’s sign. Not being able to call a jjajangmyeon jjajangmyeon is just as sad as Hong Gil-dong not allowed to call his father and brother as father and brother.” 

“The day will surely come when we can order jjajangmyeon openly.” 

Seung-pil held Su-hyoen’s hand still holding chopsticks tightly. He had always wanted to hold onto her heart.


짜장면은, 승필의 지론에 따르면 무엇보다 빛깔이 좋아야 했다.

짜장면은 까맣고 윤기가 흐르면서도 

그 빛깔에 어딘지 모르게 깊이가 느껴져야 했다.

또한 짜장면은 단맛에 치우쳐서도 안 되었다.

조미료를 잔뜩 쳐서 달달한 맛을 낸 짜장면은

차라리 자장면이라 해야 했다.

“눈물이 나, 너무 맛있어서” 

“이 집 간판을 고쳐주고 싶어.

 짜장면을 짜장면이라 부르지 못하는 건 

 아비를 아비라 부르지 못하고, 형을 형이라 부르지 못하는 홍길동처럼 슬퍼” 

“꼭 올거야, 그런 날. 짜장면을 짜장면이라 부르며 주문할 수 있는 날” 

승필은 젓가락을 든 수현의 손을 꼭 쥐었다.

승필은 어느 때나 수현의 마음을 붙들고 싶어했다.

Interview by SNU Korean literature professor Bang Min-ho

This story is a metaphorical tale. For a long time, “jajangmyeon” instead of “jjajangmyeon” was considered right, according to the standard language rules. I didn’t like that. Everybody was saying “jjajangmyeon,” except in the dictionary. Inspired by this phenomenon, I wrote this allegorical story about the oppressive social atmosphere, the environment that purports to be democratic yet threatens democracy itself. I experienced my rights of expression and free speech violated, so I wanted to criticize that with this story. 

Bang Min-ho (Born on June 10, 1965, Seoul)

: Won the 18th Kim Dal-jin Literary Award in 2007, etc.

Served as director of the Learned Society of Korean Modern Literature

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