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"In Front of the Door" by Lee Dong-ha

#Books on Demand l 2021-03-23

Books on Demand

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The apartment door was closed. The steel door was so firmly shut that it appeared as if it was refusing the return of the homeowner. The door must have been painted over. The new paint looked quite awkward to the man who returned home after a month and five days.

아파트의 문은 잠겨 있었다.

그 철제 현관문은 견고하게 닫아 걸린 채

주인의 귀가를 완강히 거부하고 있는 것처럼 보였다.

그새 페인트 칠을 다시 한 모양이다.

한 달하고도 닷새 만에 돌아온 그의 눈에는

그것이 몹시 낯설게 느껴졌다.

The protagonist is a teacher in his late 40s, whose workplace is in another province, so he comes home only once a month. Today he came home without calling ahead and it seemed nobody was home.

He walked down the stairs, leaving his bag hanging on the doorknob. 

The fact was that there were two more spare keys, one for each family member except for him. He decided to make one for himself even if he comes home only once a month. 

There is nothing that symbolizes ownership more than a key. 

‘My wife has it and my children have them. But I don’t have it. I might have mistakenly thought that this was my home. This is their home.’

Now that he thought about it, Jong-nam had always felt like he was waiting outside the locked door since he left his father’s home until he reached this disheveled age. This insight was quite disheartening and left him speechless for quite a while. 

실인즉 열쇠를 두 개나 더 복제했었다.

그래서 식구들이 죄 하나씩 가지고 다닌다.

단지 자기만 예외인 것이다.

집을 찾는 일이 한 달에 고작 한 번이라고 해도

역시 열쇠는 지니고 있어야겠다고 그는 마음먹었다.

그것처럼 완전한 소유의 징표가 어디 있으랴.

아내는 물론, 내 아이들까지 가지고 다니는 것을

나는 갖고 있지 못하다.

나의 가정이란 생각은 어쩌면 착각인지도 모른다.

그들의 가정이라고 해야 마땅하다.

그러고 보니 자신은 늘 잠긴 문밖에서 서성거리고 있었다는 느낌이 들었다.

아버지의 집을 떠나온 이래

지금 이 후줄근한 나이에 이르도록 말이다....

그 깨달음은 몹시 씁쓸한 것이었기 때문에 

그는 한 동안 말을 잃어버렸다.

Lee Dong-ha (Born in Osaka, Japan, Dec. 1, 1942)

: Debuted with “War and a Squirrel” in 1966

Won the Bogwan Order of Cultural Merit in 2013, etc.

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