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"A Pale Corridor" by Lee Chae-won

#Books on Demand l 2021-03-16

Books on Demand

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Yeong-sik stared at a bundle of cash. He was proudly thinking that the bundle represented the past 30 years of his company life. But he soon became bitter because he knew that the feeling wouldn’t last long. There was only one place where such a big amount of money could be used. 

영식은 다발로 묶어놓은 현금 뭉치를 한참 바라보았다.

그 뭉치가 지난 30년을 보낸 

직장생활의 결과라는 생각으로 잠깐 뿌듯했다.

그러나 그 기분이 잠깐으로 끝나리라는 생각으로

영식은 씁쓸해졌다.

평생 처음 생긴 목돈이 쓰일 곳은 그 곳, 

한 군데뿐인 것이다.

The truth is that Yeong-sik and Mi-yeon had been paying back Yeong-seon’s debt for the past 30 years. The cash gifts they got for their son’s wedding was the first large sum of money they saw in a long, long time. 

They knew the money had to be used to pay off the debt, but Mi-yeon held on to the cash bundle for a few days and smelled it to get high.

“I took the money and paid off all the debt.” 

“What? What made you do that without telling me?”

“I told you we were going to pay off the debt. Using that money to pay off the debt hurt me dreadfully as if being skinned alive. To hand over that money like that.” 

“You said you would set aside some for savings. Why give all of it away?” 

“We had to pay it back anyway. It hurts now, but let’s forget about it.”

“Let’s tell her that we paid off the debt.” 

“Okay. I was thinking the same thing.” 

She wanted her sister-in-law to know that they had paid off her debt and wanted to hear an apology and a thank you from her.

“축의금 다 가지고 가서 빚 갚고 왔어” 

“뭐! 왜 말도 없이 갑자기” 

“빚 갚을 거라고 말했잖아.  

축의금 가져다가 그렇게 그 빚 다 갚자니 

나도 생살을 베이는 것처럼 아팠어.

그걸 그렇게 통째로 넘겨 버리다니” 

“예금에도 나누어 넣겠다더니 왜 그랬어.  그걸 다 아깝게...” 

“어차피 당신이 갚아야 할 빚이잖아.

마음 아프지만 우리 그냥 잊어버립시다” 

“곧 그 사람 만나서 빚 다 갚았다는 거 알립시다” 

“그래.  나도 이번엔 그렇게 할 생각이야” 

미연은 빚을 만든 장본인에게

미안하다, 고맙다는 말 한마디라도 듣고 싶었습니다.

Lee Chae-won (Born in 1958, Hongseong, Chungcheongnam-do Prov.)

: Debuted with “My Beautiful Marathon” in 2010

Won grand prize in the youth literature category of the 1st Hanuri Literary Award in 2011

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