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“Vacation Instinct” by Lee Seung-eun

#Books on Demand l 2022-12-06

Books on Demand

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Like Da-yeong said, the old woman’s face was moving. One of her droopy eyelids was twitching and the thin skin around her wrinkled mouth was quivering. When the slight flutters around her lips diminished, a thin, wispy sound, like air leaking out of a pipe, came out of her mouth. Startled, Ji-hee cringed. She couldn’t feel any breath coming from the old woman’s mouth and nose pressed against her arm. When the car turned a corner, the woman pitched forward.



“여보...할머니가...” 

“Gyeong-ho, she is...” 


“어머니가 왜요” 

“What about her?” 


남자를 보며 지희는 후회했다.

안전벨트를 풀지 말았어야 했다.

등을 쓸어내려주려고 지희가 여자의 안전벨트 버튼을 눌렀다.

그리고 이후의 일이 벌어졌다.

Ji-hee regretted undoing the woman’s seatbelt. She had unbuckled the seatbelt so that the old woman wouldn’t feel so nauseous. And then all this happened.


“숨을 안 쉬는 것 같아요” 

“I don’t think she’s breathing.” 


“코를 골고 계시잖아요” 

“But she’s snoring.” 


하지만 그르렁거리는 소리는 오른쪽이 아니라 지희의 턱 바로 아래에서 들려왔다.

비염이 심한 이 작은 아이는 코를 골았다.

지희의 팔등에 맞닿은 여자의 코와 입에서는 희미한 호흡도 느껴지지 않았다.

But the snoring didn’t come from Ji-hee’s right side, but from right under her chin, where the little girl, suffering from rhinitis, was making the noise. Ji-hee couldn’t feel anything, not even a wisp of breath, from the old woman’s mouth and nose next to her arm. 


“지금 당장 차를 세워야 해요”

“You have to stop the car now.”



# Interview with SNU Korean literature professor Bang Min-ho

When people live in lockdown for two or three years straight, human nature is bound to clash with forced isolation. In such cases, people tend to follow their instinct. The story is titled “Vacation Instinct,” which is about a family that wants to go on a vacation in spite of the pandemic. They meet a man who is driving his senile mother home. All of them are put in unlikely situations where they react instinctively. This is a story that shows that basic human nature cannot be suppressed even in the face of a pandemic. 



경호는 룸미러로 뒷좌석을 살폈다.

고개가 푹 꺾인 여자의 얼굴은 보이지 않았다.

하지만 차를 세울 수는 없었다.

Gyeong-ho looked at the backseat through the rearview mirror. He couldn’t see the woman’s face, but he couldn’t stop the car either. 


경호는 심한 갈증을 느끼며 액셀을 밟았다.

남자는 양 손바닥으로 얼굴을 문지른 후 다시 안경과 마스크를 썼다.

검은 SUV는 폭우를 뚫고 달렸다.

Gyeong-ho stepped on the accelerator, feeling severe thirst. The man rubbed his face with his hands before putting his glasses and mask back on. The black SUV drove through the pouring rain. 


왼편으로 산을 끼고 달리던 차는 마지막 커브를 지나며 덜컹거렸다.

The car jolted when it turned the last corner.


아스팔트 도로의 움푹 팬 웅덩이에서 솟아오른 물보라가

보닛과 앞 유리를 뒤덮을 때 지희는 두 눈을 감았다.

When a splash of water from a big puddle on the paved road covered the hood and the windshield, Ji-hee closed her eyes.




Lee Seung-eun (Born in Seoul, 1980~ )

Debuted with short story “Sofa” in 2014

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