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"A Dandelion on the Rooftop" by Park Wan-suh


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An old woman fell to her death from the seventh floor of our apartment building. It wasn’t an accident, done on purpose, so her death was suicide. This is already the second time such incident happened.

우리 아파트 칠층 베란다에서 

할머니가 떨어져서 돌아가셨습니다.

실수로 떨어지신 게 아니라 일부터 떨어지셨다니까

할머니는 자살을 하신 것입니다.

이런 일이 벌써 두 번째입니다.  

Published in 1979, Park Wan-suh wrote “A Dandelion on the Rooftop” as a children’s tale for grownups. The story begins with the suicides of two old women. 

Interview by literary critic Jeon So-yeong

The narrator is the only person in the story who understand the elderly ladies because he had once felt the same sense of isolation from his family. That experience left a traumatic scar on the boy, which led him to think about suicide. That was when he discovered a dandelion that took root in a spoonful of soil. This discovery is described in a beautiful way. That sturdy dandelion managed to survive on the hard concrete and demonstrated to the boy its resilient life force. The boy learns from the dandelion the importance of life.

Just like I was sure that dandelions, not steel bars, were the only things that could erase the thought of taking one’s own life by jumping off the terrace, I knew that not being able to turn back time was not the reason the old ladies didn’t want to live anymore. 

I was certain of it because I experienced it myself, not because I imagined it or heard it from someone else. 

I was long way off from being an adult, but I wanted at one time to die. Really. 

I couldn’t hold back from speaking about it. I managed to escape my mother’s arms holding me fast like steel chains. 


나는 베란다에서 떨어져 목숨을 끊고 싶은 생각을

맨 마지막으로 막아줄 수 있는 게

쇠창살이 아니라 민들레꽃이라는 걸 

알고 있는 것과 마찬가지로,

할머니가 살고 싶지 않아진 게

세월을 거꾸로 흐르게 할 수 없었기 때문이 아니란 걸 알고 있습니다.

둘 다 상상이나 남에게 들어서 알고 있는게 아니라

스스로 겪어서 알고 있는 거기 때문에 확실합니다.

나는 어른이 되려면 아직아직 먼 어린 사람인데도

살고 싶지 않았던 적이 있습니다. 정말입니다.

나는 그것을 말하고 싶은 걸 참을 수 없어

쇠사슬처럼 단단하게 나를 껴안은 엄마의 팔에서 드디어 벗어났습니다.

Park Wan-suh (Born in Gaepung, Gyeonggi-do Prov., Oct. 20, 1931~Jan. 22, 2011)

: Debuted with novel “Namok (The Naked Tree)” in 1970

Noted works include “Triangle (1970),” “Warm Was the Winter That Year (1983),” and “Who Ate Up All the Shinga? (1992)” etc.

Awarded the Order of Cultural Merit in 2011, etc.

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