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"And Do You Also Rent out Umbrellas?" by Hwang Hyun-jin

#Books on Demand l 2021-04-13

Books on Demand

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They took her to a small office and showed her the CCTV footage time and time again. She couldn’t deny that the woman in the black-and-white monitor was her and that she did take the clothes without paying. She was seen looking around furtively and casually walking out of the busy store. 

‘Must pay 20 times the price when caught stealing.’

A male employee expertly worked the calculator and added up the prices of the supposedly stolen clothes. 


그들은 그녀를 좁은 사무실로 데려가

CCTV영상만을 반복 재생해서 보여주었다.

흑백 화면 속 그녀는 영락없는 도둑이었다.

엄마와 통화중인 그녀의 모습은

주변 사람들의 눈치를 불안하게 살피는 것처럼 보였다.

‘훔치다 적발시 20배 보상’

남자직원은 능숙한 손놀림으로 계산기를 두드리며

그녀가 훔친 옷들의 값을 더했다.

Interview by literary critic Jeon So-yeong

She lives by herself in Seoul but her life isn’t easy. She has to look through a pile of clothes in the basement price section of the store and in the confusion of getting hounded by her mother on the phone, she is accused of being a shoplifter. And her credit card limit is revealed in the process of paying a fine. The author could have explained the financial strain the young woman is under but decides to show her situation with just that one scene in the clothing shop. 

The large window was filled with the dark gray sky. She had a splitting headache. 

‘My head is not hurting, but just getting stupider. That explains why I signed the agreement and the handed over my credit card.’ 

She didn’t recognize the number. The caller kept asking her to identify herself. That was when she realized that the caller was that male employee who had threatened and questioned her at the clothing shop yesterday.

“Didn’t I tell you that you have to take care of this by today?” 

Numerous thoughts popped up in her head but she couldn’t say them out loud since her mother was probably listening to her from the other side of the door. The store employee had some harsh words for her.

She hung up without hearing him out. Then she flushed the toilet. 

커다란 유리창에 거무튀튀한 하늘이 가득 비쳤다.

머리가 깨질 듯 아팠다.

“아픈게 아니라 나빠지고 있는 거야. 그러니 각서에 서명을 하고 순순히 신용카드를 내어준 거지”

모르는 번호로 전화벨이 울렸다. 

상대가 그녀의 이름을 물으며 본인이 맞는지 거듭 물었다.

어제 의류매장에서 그녀를 협박하고 추궁하던 직원이었다.

“분명히 오늘 중으로 해결해야 한다고 말했을텐데요”

많은 말들이 머릿속을 스쳐 지나갔지만

문밖에서 귀를 세우고 있을 엄마 때문에 아무말도 할 수 없었다.

수화기 너머 직원은 그녀를 나무라면서

비난하는 말을 줄줄 이어갔다.

그녀는 더 듣지 않고 전화를 끊고 변기의 레버를 눌러 물을 내렸다.

Hwang Hyun-jin (Born in Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do Prov., 1979)

Debuted by winning the Munhak Dongne Writer’s Award in 2011 with “Not So Painful Enough to Die”

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