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“To Cuckoo, My Pet Rice Cooker” by Park Ji-young


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He came to watch programs about animals since he started living with his demented father. What can he say. They are much more useful than documentaries about Alzheimer’s. He didn’t tell his other siblings. If Kang Jin-young found out, she would probably say he thought of their father like a pet. 

No way. Kang Seon-dong never thought of Kang Man-seok as a dog or a cat. He isn’t even potty trained, unlike those cute, smart animals. He’s much more like a rice cooker. 

The average lifespan of a rice cooker is between five and seven years. The 10-cup rice cooker at Kang Man-seok’s house is seven years old. That means it’s time to get a new rice cooker. Kang Man-seok was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s seven years ago. 

어쩌면 너무 괜찮은 척 한 게 문제였다.

강만석이 자신을 얼마나 힘들게 하는 지 사람들이 알아야했다.

강만석에게 변비약 두 통을 섞은 죽을 먹였다.

Perhaps the problem was that Seon-dong appeared too normal. He needed people to know how Kang Man-seok was making his life miserable. So, he fed his father porridge mixed with two bottles of laxative. 

그 날 밤  강만석이 끙끙거리는 소리가 들렸다.

잠시 후 강만석이 바지를 반쯤 내린 채 엉거주춤한 자세로 방문을 열고 나오며

마치 선물을 건네듯 조심스레 손바닥을 내밀었다.

손바닥위에 있는 건 똥이었다.

That night, Kang Man-seok moaned with pain. A few moments later, he walked out of the room, his pants pulled halfway down and stooping slightly, and slowly stretched out his palm as if handing him a gift. Sitting on his palm was dung. 

강선동은 말없이 강만석의 모습을 실시간으로 찍어 내보냈다.

Seon-dong wordlessly livestreamed this entire incident. 

채팅장은 욕설로 뒤덮였다.

곧이어 노란 경고장이 떴고, 라이브방송은 강제로 종료됐다.

The chat window flooded with expletives. A yellow warning popped up and the livestream was cut short. 

# Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeong

No matter how sweet the recorded voice from a rice cooker sound, it is still an object without emotions or personalities. That means that Kang Seon-dong treats his father not as a human being but as an object. His father is just a means to making a living. This story sheds light onto some important issues of modern society such as aging, senility, and elderly care. 

면회를 갔다가 병원 입구에서 돌아서서 집으로 오는 과정까지 찍은 영상을 

강선동은 유튜브 채널에 올렸다.


납작 엎드려야 한다.

잘못을 인정하고 착한 어른들의 다정과 배려가 필요한 소외된 약자임을 드러내야 한다.

다시 유튜버가 되어 좋아요를 받고 구독자 수를 늘리기 위해서는 그 방법뿐이었다.

Seon-dong uploaded the video of him visiting the nursing hospital and coming back home. Three months had passed since his last video. He needed to grovel. He needed to admit his mistakes and make himself out to be an alienated underdog who required affection and consideration from kind adults. That was the only way to get likes and increase the number of subscribers.

나쁜 어른의 기억은 지우고 착한 아이의 기억만 남겨두는 것,

강선동의 치매는 그런 식으로 진행되었다.

착한 아이 강선동은 자신을 연민하고 사랑하려고 애쓰는 마음을,

더 많은 포도알을 수확하고 타인에게 인정받고 싶은 마음을 멈출 수 없었다. 

Erase the memories of a bad adult and leave only the memories of a good child. Seon-dong’s dementia progressed that way. Seon-dong the good child could not stop feeling sorry for and loving himself, could not stop wanting to harvest more grapes and be recognized by others.

Park Ji-young (Born in Seoul, 1974~ )

Debuted with short story “How to Save the World with a Vacuum Cleaner” in 2010

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