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“A Coat” by Song Sokz

#Books on Demand l 2020-09-01

Books on Demand

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The coat, in the synthetic wood closet with twisted, hard-to-open doors, was kept with his summer grey suit, shirt and sky-blue necktie that he was wearing when checking into the hospital. 

The dark brown coat looked heavy. But it was thin and short like a coat for spring and fall, rather than a winter coat. 

아버지의 외투를 발견한 건 

아버지가 죽고 난 뒤 병실을 정리하면서였다.

문이 비틀어져 잘 열리지 않는 합성목 옷장 속에

병원에 입원했을 때 입고 온

회색 여름 양복과 와이셔츠, 하늘빛 실크 넥타이와 함께 들어 있었다.

외투는 짙은 갈색이었고 무거워보였다.

보이기만 그랬을 뿐 옷감이 얇고 길이가 짧아

오버코트라기보다는 봄가을에 입는 톱코트에 가까웠다.

Following the funeral, the short autumn quickly passed and it got chilly in the morning and evening.

When I was returning to my room, I noticed the coat hanging at the front of the rack. The threads came out again. They stuck out along the re-stitched seam. There were so many threads that they looked like a tangle of fibrous roots growing from a wood.

The coat looked bigger and newer. I felt offended. It looked like a coat suitable for a middle-aged womanizer. Other clothes on the rack looked untidy and crumpled, like a farmer who was beaten down or looted by occupying forces.

방으로 발길을 돌리려다보니

행거 맨 앞자리에 걸린 외투가 눈에 띄었다.

실밥이 다시 튀어나와 있었다.

실로 꿰맨 자리를 따라 줄지어 비어져 나왔는데

나무의 실뿌리를 연상시킬 정도로 많았다.

외투는 전보다 더 커지고 새옷 같은 느낌을 주었다.

기분이 나빠졌다.

뻔뻔스럽고 혈기 넘치는 장년의 바람둥이에게 

잘 어울릴 옷처럼 보였다.

외투곁에 있던 옷들은 왠지 후즐근하고 구겨진 것이

원정군 병사에게 흠씬 두들겨 맞거나 약탈을 당한 시골 농부 같았다. 

# Interview by Literature critic Jeon So-young 

Everyone may have such items, which have been possessed and cherished for long and look as if they resemble their owners. In the story, the coat was that kind of item for the father. According to the protagonist, his father rarely took off the coat. So he felt as if the worn-out coat carried his father’s genes. The protagonist was described in the story as a brusque, inexpressive man. That is why it felt more touching when he tried on his father’s coat. Although he was reluctant to admit it, he liked his father. Despite his affection, he could not understand his father. But he wanted to get closer to his late father and his life. So he put on the coat that is filled with his father’s old days. 

Song Sokze (Born on Jul. 5, 1960, Sangju, Gyeongsangbuk-do Prov.) 

: Debuted in 1986 with poem “Window Washer” in Munhak-sasang

Won the 30th Hankook Ilbon Literature Award with short story “Wandering”

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