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“The Opposite Side” by Kim Ae-ran

#Books on Demand l 2022-01-18

Books on Demand

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Do-hwa stared at Isu’s bare feet poking out from under the comforter. There were days when she often planted a kiss on the top of his feet before she left the house. She would also hold his feet in one hand and caress his hairy toes before tucking them back in. 

Do-hwa stared at her boyfriend’s feet, the feet that went many places with her, but turned away without doing anything. 

이수는 무엇보다도 도화가 혼자 어른이 돼가는 과정을

지켜보는 일이 힘들었다.

도화의 말투와 표정, 화제가 점점 변하는 걸,

도화의 세계가 커지는 걸,

그 확장의 힘이 자신을 밀어내는 걸 견디기 어려웠다.

It was hard for Isu to watch Do-hwa become a grownup without him. He couldn’t bear to watch her words, facial expressions and interests slowly change, to realize that her world grew larger and push him out. 

더구나 도화는 국가가 인증한 시민,

국가가 보증하는 국민이었다.

반면 이수는 학생도, 직장인도 아닌 애매한 국민이었다.

Moreover, Do-hwa was a citizen certified and guaranteed by the state. In contrast, Isu was neither a student nor an office worker, just an obscure individual. 

# Interview by literary critic Bang Min-ho

Ordinary people like us pursue our own desires or hopes or conveniences while holding onto some sympathy and regrets simultaneously. So Do-hwa in this story is just an ordinary woman. She wants to break up with the unemployed Isu but feels sorry for him at the same time. She is, therefore, a very believable, understandable women. 

잔을 쥔 이수의 손이 가늘게 떨렸다.

식당 안으론 시간이 지날수록 꾸역꾸역 사람이 더 모여들었다.

수백 명이 왕왕거리는 어느 횟집에서,

모두가 소리 높여 떠드는 가운데 

아무 말도 하지 않는 사람은 이수와 도화, 둘 뿐이었다.

Isu’s hand holding the glass shook lightly. The crowd inside the restaurant grew bigger with time. 

In the restaurant bustling with hundreds of diners who were all trying to talk above the din, Isu and Do-hwa were the only two who were not saying anything. 

도화는 어제 저녁 집주인을 만난 뒤

자신이 느낀 게 배신감이 아니라 안도감이었다는 걸 깨달았다.

마치 오래전부터 이수 쪽에서 먼저

큰 잘못을 저질러주길 간절히 바라오기라도 한 사람처럼.

That was when Do-hwa realized that what she had felt after meeting with her landlord the previous evening was relief, not betrayal. As if she had long hoped that Isu would make a big mistake. 

그런데 이수는 이제 어디로 갈까?

But where would he go now?

도화가 목울대에 걸린 지난 시절을 간신히 누르며

마른 침을 삼켰다.   

Do-hwa barely suppressed the past days caught in her throat before swallowing them down.

Kim Ae-ran (Born in Incheon, Aug. 15, 1980)

Debuted with short story “The House Where One Does Not Knock” in 2002

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