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“Paegangraeng” by Lee Tae-jun

#Books on Demand l 2023-09-05

Books on Demand

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The Daedonggang River is too cold. What appears to be glass, not water, is visible even from Bubyeongnu gazebo. It seemed green water plants swaying in the water and even a single loach lying hidden between the pebbles could be seen. The water flowed but no sound was heard. 
The silky water ran under the bridge and meandered around Chongnyu Cliff before vanishing into a field of wild roses where the sky and the water were colored with the evening glow. 
Hyeon threw away a lighted cigarette and buttoned up his jacket. Maple leaves just began turning color, but the weather was already cold enough to bite the fingers. 
‘Why is it that Joseon’s nature looks so mournful?’ 

오면서 자동차에서 시가도 가끔 내다보았다. 
전에 본 기억이 없는 새 빌딩들이 꽤 많이 늘어섰다. 
그 중에 한 가지 인상이 깊은 것은 
어느 큰 거리 한 뿌다귀에 벽돌 공장도 아닐 테요 감옥도 아닐 터인데 
시뻘건 벽돌만으로, 무슨 큰 분묘(墳墓)와 같이 된 건축이 웅크리고 있는 것이다. 
현은 운전사에게 물어 보니, 경찰서라고 했다. 
또 한 가지 이상하다 생각한 것은, 그림자도 찾을 수 없는 여자들의 머릿수건이다. 
He looked out of the car window toward the city streets. There were quite a lot of new buildings he hadn’t seen before. One thing that made an impression on him was not a brick factory located on a wide avenue, nor a prison, but a red brick structure resembling a big burial mound. Hyeon asked the cab driver, who answered that it was a police station. Another curious thing was women’s head scarves that seemed to have vanished completely. 

“거, 잘 없어졌죠. 인전 평양두 서울과 별루 지지 않습니다.”
“Good thing they all disappeared. Pyongyang is now no different from Seoul.” 
운전사는 없어진 이유는 말하지 않고 매우 자긍하는 말투였다. 
The driver seemed to be proud of it although he didn’t say why. 

# Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeong
Pyongyang is turning into a desolate ruin. Through such vanishing characteristics as white head scarves, this story shows how Pyongyang is losing its unique identity under the Japanese colonial government. On the surface, the story seems to be talking about how people long for the past, but underneath it is scathing criticism about the colonizer wiping out the local language and culture.

현은 평양 여자들의 머릿수건이 보기 좋았었다. 
단순하면서도 흰 호접과 같이 살아 보였고, 
장미처럼 자연스런 무게로 한 송이 얹힌 댕기는, 
그들의 악센트 명랑한 사투리와 함께 
‘평양 여인’들만이 가질 수 있는 독특한 아름다움이었다. 
Hyeon liked the head scarves of Pyongyang women. They seemed simple yet alive, like white butterflies. The hair ribbon perched lightly like a rose, together with their cheerful local dialect, was the unique beauty belonging only to the women of Pyongyang.

그런 아름다움을 그 고장에 와서도 구경하지 못하는 것은, 
평양은 또 한 가지 의미에서 폐허라는 서글픔을 주는 것이었다. 
Not being able to see such beauty even in Pyongyang made it even sadder for him to see that the city was ruined. 

Lee Tae-jun (Born in Cheorwon, Gangwon-do Prov., Nov. 4, 1907~ ?)
Debuted with short story “Omongnyeo” in 1925

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