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“Samsugapsan” by Bang Min-ho


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<산골로 가는 것은 세상한테 지는 것이 아니다.
 세상 같은 건 더러워 버리는 것이다.>
“Going into the backwoods is not being defeated by the world. It’s abandoning the world because it’s dirty.”

석은 아주 오래 전에 이렇게 쓴 적이 있다.
한 번 들어가면 돌아오지 못할 것 같은 삼수 하고도 관평리,
평양을 떠나 먼먼 길을 돌아 이곳으로 들어오면서 석은 생각하고 또 생각했다.
산골로 가는 것은 세상에 지는 것이 아니라고.
세상 같은 건 더러워서 버리는 것이라고..
Thus wrote Seok a long time ago.
Seok thought over and over as he left Pyongyang and traveled a long way around. Going into the backwoods is not losing to the world but throwing the world away because it’s so dirty. 

# Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeong
Baek Seok’s nickname was the most beloved poet of poets. He was born in Jeongju, Pyongan-do Province in North Korea and published his first collection of poems in 1936 in the midst of the Japanese colonial era. He incorporated Korea’s rustic culture and folksy dialect in his poems, leaving behind a multitude of beautiful and exotic works. Later in his career, he included various literary inspirations obtained from the plains of Manchuria in his poems. “Samsugapsan” is a story about the latter years of the poet’s life. He remained in his hometown in North Korea even after the country was liberated but suffered greatly before disappearing from public in 1962. He reportedly lived in a farm in Samsu-gun County until he died in 1996.

마침내 그네가 그녀를 싣고 공중 높이 올라갔다.
허공에서 그녀는 와인잔 가득한 쟁반을 칼 끝에 얹은 채로 
그네의 발판 위로 부드럽게 올라섰다.
그러고는 몸을 어떻게 움직였는지 모르게, 발끝으로 발판에 거꾸로 매달렸다.
The swing carried her high into the air. She effortlessly stood up on the swing with the tray carrying wine glasses still placed on the knife blade.  
Then, amazingly, she was hanging upside down before anyone realized how she had done it. 

석은 그녀의 연기가 관중들로 인해 흐트러질까 조마조마했다.
정작 허공의 그녀는 아무렇지도 않은 듯했다.
그네 위로 올라가 너무나 편안한 듯 드높은 허공을 유영해 나갔다.
Seok was afraid that her act might be disrupted by the spectators. But she seemed unfazed. Back upright on the swing, she glided through the air in complete ease. 

칼 끝에 온 정신을 모으고 있는 이 순간 만큼은 
누구도 저 여자의 세계를 침범치 못하리라.
저 놀라운 연기의 순간만큼은 수령이나 체제가 아니라
그 어떤 위압적인 힘도 여자의 마음 속을 헤집어 놓을 수 없다. 
누구도, 그 무엇도 한 인간을 완전히, 끝까지 구속할 수는 없다.
그렇게 살아야 한다. 
No one could breach her world when all her focus was on the knife tip. When she was in the middle of that amazing act, no overbearing force could perturb her mind. Neither a person nor a thing can restrain a human being completely to the end. 
Man should live like that. 

Bang Min-ho (Born in Yesan, Chungcheongnam-do Prov., Jun. 10, 1965~ )
Debuted by winning quarterly Changbi’s 1st New Critic Award in 1994

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