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“A Wandering Sailor” by Yoo Yeon-hee

#Books on Demand l 2023-07-18

Books on Demand

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As shipping companies refrained from hiring old sailors since the Sewol ferry accident, the labor market at Jungang-dong was overflowing with sailors who wanted to board even the dingiest boat. 

An old sailor named Kang was one of those people who would be grateful to get on a junk boat. The more sea experience he gained, the more he seemed to get tough and nasty. If he died, he would bleed poison. How else would you describe searching desperately for a lighthouse if not poisonous to the liver? 

But the horseshoe crab poison is a valued commodity. The rare blue blood of the horseshoe crab was said to be the key substance for an antidote. The horseshoe crab’s enduring power, which helped the species last for some 400 million years, was highly valued, but poison from an old sailor’s body is nothing but waste. 

저도 일개 개인으로 거대 원전 세력과 맞서고 있습니다.
그 원동력은 아버지에게 배웠습니다.
내가 재수할 때 아버지는 투구게 얘기를 들려주셨지요.
I wanted to fight against the giant force of nuclear power as an individual. My motivation came from my father. When I was applying to college, my father told me about the horseshoe crab. 

투구게는 4억 3900만 년 전부터 지금까지 살고 있다.
지구에서 가장 오래된 생존자 중 하나라고 하셨지요.
가장 위대한 생존자는 긴 시간을 견디는 DNA이다.
재수나 삼수에 연연하지 마라,
투구게에 비하면 얼마나 짧은 시간인가, 길게 보라고 하셨습니다.
The horseshoe crab has been around since 439 million years ago. It was one of the longest surviving species on earth. The greatest survivor is the DNA that has endured a long time. Don’t get obsessed over the years spent preparing for college. Think how short that time is compared to that of the horseshoe crab. He told me to look far ahead into the future.

투구게처럼 단순하게 밀고 나가는 건 아버지에게 배웠습니다.
새벽도 깊은 밤도 없는 바다를 아버지는 항해중이십니다.
이 못난 아들 때문에요.
I learned from my father how to push ahead like the horseshoe crab. Father is sailing the sea even in the early morning hours or late into the night for the sake of a foolish son like me. 

# Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeong
In the last scene, Kang realizes from his son’s email that the young man was trying to protect the sea and Kang’s way of life. Kang believed that his values and actions differed from those of his son, but they were simply trying to defend their lives in their own way. So, the father and son end up reconciling with each other. Kang and his ship are expected to get out of the fog and reach land. Just as the horseshoe crabs had survived eons, Kang and his son will patiently move through the fog and survive it just like the horseshoe crabs.

강은 조타수가 손짓하는 하늘을 본다.
농담이 고르지 않은 창공에 무언가 움직이는 것도 같다.
청회색 하늘에 비닐봉지 같은 것이 떨어질 듯하더니 도로 비상한다.
Kang looked at the sky the helmsman was pointing at. Something seemed to be moving in the blotchy sky. What appeared to be a plastic bag was falling and then soaring back up in the grayish blue sky. 

“갈매기예요, 괭이 갈매기
가까이 등대가 있나봐요. ” 
“It’s a seagull, a black-tailed gull. A lighthouse must be nearby.”

강은 그에게 쌍안경을 받아 허공을 살핀다.
히끗한 대기 중에 뭔가 움직이기는 한다.
하지만 아니다.
요동하는 것은 물체가 아니라 들썩이는 기류, 움직이는 대기이다.
Kang took the binoculars from him and searched through the skies. Something seemed to be moving in the whitish air. No, it wasn’t a seagull. What was moving was not an object, but air currents quivering. 

뱃고동이 대기를 흔들며 뱃사람의 길을 헤집는다.
The foghorn shook the air and carved out a sailor’s path. 

Yoo Yeon-hee (Born in Busan, Gyeongsangbuk-do Prov., 1956~ )
Debuted with short story “Lense” in 2000

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