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“The Greatest Show on Earth” by Kim Hee-sun

#Books on Demand l 2022-09-20

Books on Demand

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When I opened the heavy steel doors of the shelter, flower petals of all colors were fluttering down amid the bright light. I looked up to see a huge flying saucer floating above the city. I realized that what I thought were flower petals were actually confetti raining down from the sky. 


“W City is a military strategic point where the ROK Army’s field command and support command are located. It’s not coincidence that a UFO chose this city. We must not be deceived by their peaceful gesture.” 


People had different opinions about why a UFO chose to appear above a small Gangwon-do city in Korea of all places. 



몇 년 전부터 그 아마추어 사학자는 오래 전 비행접시를 목격했던

각계각층의 시민들을 대상으로 인터뷰를 진행해 오고 있었다.

그러나 어쩌면 그의 작업은 불필요하고도 무의미한 일일지도 몰랐다.

최근 들어 점점 많은 학자들이 당시 일어났던 W시의 비행접시 사건이

그저 하나의 허구에 불과할지도 모른다는 연구 결과를

속속 발표하고 있기 때문이다.

For several years now, that amateur historian has been interviewing citizens from all walks of life who had witnessed the flying saucer. But his work might have been unnecessary and meaningless. Because an increasing number of scholars have been publishing their studies arguing that the flying saucer incident in W City might have been a fake. 



# Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeong

This story leaves a question about our lives and history. Is written history comprised only of facts? The events that took place in W City were an undeniable fact to the city residents. Interviews by several witnesses attest to the truth of the event. But with time, the event is recorded in history as group hypnotization. A fact has turned into a fake. Such a conclusion makes us wonder if history and any document that claims to be true might not be completely true. An event could produce both real and fake news and give rise to groups of people who document or interpret the event to their advantage. The story tries to tell us that mankind should work harder to get close to the truth. 



물론 이미 학계에선, 주민 전체가 집단 최면 상태에 빠져들었던

비극적이고도 희극적인 역사적 사건의 증례 목록에

W라는 도시의 이름을 추가한 상태였다.

The academic circle has already added W City on the list of tragic and farcical historical events, claiming that city residents were collectively hypnotized. 


하지만 그럼에도 불구하고, 무명의 사학자가 남긴 기록물 속에서

그 모든 일은 여전히 실재했던 사건이자 생생한 진실처럼 보인다.

Nonetheless, judging from the records left by a nameless historian, all those events appeared to have really taken place. 


어쨌든 그는 인터뷰 자료들에 대한 대충의 정리를 끝내고

맨 마지막 장에 아래와 같은 코멘트를 적은 다음 파일을 덮었다.

Anyway, the historian finished his interviews and closed the file after writing a comment at the very end of the last chapter. 


‘만약 그 때 W시 상공에 나타난 비행접시가 공격을 감행했다면,

그래서 우주전쟁 비슷한 사태라도 벌어졌다면,

사건은 다른 식으로 기억됐을지도 모른다.

그러나 불행인지 다행인지 비행접시는 조용히 사라졌고,

그저 평온한 일상이 한 없이 계속됐을 뿐이다.

모든 평범함이 그렇듯 과거는 잊혀갔고,

사람들이 겪은 일들은 허구가 되었다.

상황은 종료됐으며, 결국 아무 일도 일어나지 않았던 것이다.’

‘If the flying saucer that appeared above W City had launched an attack and if something like a space war had occurred, this incident could have been remembered as something entirely different. Fortunately or perhaps unfortunately, the flying saucer disappeared quietly, and the city’s peaceful existence returned. Like all things ordinary, the past was forgotten, and people’s experience became fake. The situation ended and nothing had happened.’ 




Kim Hee-sun (Born in Chuncheon, Gangwon-do Prov., 1972~ )

Debuted with short story “The Birth of Education” in 2011

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