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"Time of Distrust" by Park Kyong-ni

#Books on Demand l 2021-05-04

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On the eve of the September 28th recapture, Jin-young’s husband was blown to pieces. Before his death, he described how a North Korean soldier had died on Gyeongin Avenue and mentioned that he was still a young boy. 


The boy was calling for his mother like in a dream even as he was pleading for a sip of water.


As if he was predicting his own death, Jin-young’s husband was killed in an explosion just a few hours after he had told that story.


9.28 수복 전야.

진영의 남편은 폭사했다.

남편은 죽기 전에 경인도로에서 본 인민군의 임종 이야기를 했다.

아직도 나이 어린 소년이었더라는 것이다.


소년병은 물 한 모금만 달라고 애걸을 하면서도

꿈결처럼 어머니를 부르더라는 것이다.


남편은 마치 자신의 죽음의 예고처럼

그런 이야기를 한 수시간 후에 폭사하고 만 것이다.



There was a cluster of children in the shade under a tree. Next to it was a middle-aged man who was selling crosses and copies of Bible spread on the ground. Jin-young was watching the whole scene as if she was a stranger from a faraway region. Chilly winds were sweeping through her heart unmoved by the atmosphere. 


The Mass was almost over when Jin-young saw a collection basket hung on a long pole approach her. Once her relative hurriedly tossed in a few coins, the offering basket slowly moved onto the back row. 


Jin-young was reminded of a street musician’s tattered hat that was passed among the crowd. That image prompted her to leave the church. 


나무 그늘 아래 아이들이 모여 있었다.

그 옆에는 중년남자 한 사람이 

십자가, 성경책 같은 것을 

노점처럼 벌여놓고 팔고 있었다.

진영은 어느 유역의 이방인인 양 그런 광경을 넘겨다보았다.

분위기에 싸이지 않는 마음 속에는 쌀쌀한 바람이 일고 있었다.


미사가 거의 끝날 무렵이었다.

진영은 긴 작대기에 헌금주머니를 매단 잠자리채 같은 것이

가슴 앞으로 오는 것을 보았다.

아주머니가 성급하게 돈을 몇 닢 던졌을 때

잠자리채 같은 헌금주머니는 슬그머니 뒷줄로 옮겨가는 것이었다.


진영은 구경꾼 앞으로 돌아가는 풍각쟁이의 낡은 모자를 생각했다.

그런 생각을 계기로 하여 진영은 밖으로 나와버렸다.



Interview by SNU Korean literature professor Bang Min-ho

Jin-young represents all those unfortunate women living tragic lives following the Korean War. It is believed that Jin-young is the persona of this story’s author Park Kyong-ni. Park’s husband was imprisoned during the Korean War before going missing. To make matters worse, Park’s own son dies, making her life unbearably painful. Jin-young’s life in this story summarizes Park’s own sufferings and getting ill herself while trying to survive in extreme poverty. The author’s tragic experiences and distrust toward the coldhearted world are incorporated into Jin-young’s life. 




Park Kyong-ni (Born in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do Prov., Oct. 28, 1926~May 5, 2008)

- Debuted with short story “Calculation” in 1955

- Won various awards including the Gold Crown Order of Cultural Merit in 2008

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