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“Love and Cash” by Choi Ji-ae


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If I hadn’t met H last night. If H hadn’t asked me what was going on with him, whether he was still seeing her. If H hadn’t jabbed at my soft spot by asking, ‘That jerk still hasn’t paid you back, has he?’ If H hadn’t done all that, I wouldn’t have visited his Instagram today. 

H에게 말해 주고 싶었다.
모두가 쳇바퀴 돌 듯 살고 있다고.
사는 게 애처롭기는 다들 매한가지라고.
그렇게 뻔하디 뻔한 상투적인 위로라도 건네고 싶었다.
너랑 연애는 도저히 안 되겠다.  완전 불감증인데?
나는 하고 싶은 많은 말을 안으로 삼키고 대충 농담으로 얼버무렸다.
어쩌면 H가 이미 너무도 잘 알고 있을 거란 생각이 들었다.
그걸 알아도 실은 균형 잡기가 어려운 게 인생이니까.      
I wanted to tell H that we all live our lives like running on a treadmill and everyone’s life was pathetic. I wanted to comfort him with such obvious, banal words. 
I don’t see us dating. I don’t feel a thing.
I swallowed what I really wanted to say and joked to avoid telling the harsh truth. Perhaps he already knew too much about me. Life is hard enough as it is even with that knowledge. 

자리에 앉아 그의 SNS에 접속했다.
비밀번호는 도대체 뭘까?
끝내 알 수 없었다.
그의 비밀번호를 알아내 견고하다 믿고 있는 그들의 세계를 공중분해하고 싶었다.
나는 별 수 없이 나의 인스타로 로그인 해 들어갔다.
그곳에는 지난 이 년 동안 그들이 공유한 시간이 있었고,
그 이전에 나와 그가 공유한 시간이 존재했다.
한 순간 모든 걸 지워버리고 싶었다.
오랜 망설임 끝에 계정 삭제 버튼을 눌렀다. 
I accessed my ex’s SNS. What is his password? I was never able to find out.  
I wanted to find out his password and break apart the world they believed to be solid. I was forced to log into my Instagram account to gain access to his. The time they shared together for two years was there for people to see as well as the time we had shared before that. I wanted to erase all that at once. After a long hesitation, I pressed the delete button. 

# Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeong
The story is titled “Love and Cash,” which implies that love and money are regarded as equals and that love can be paid for. The main character’s family broke apart because of money. Ironically, however, she works at a private lending company and helped her boyfriend with the money she made there, but their relationship ended over money. Her life was practically ruined because of money. In the process, she also found out that many people live the lives they hated because of money. She deleted her social media account because she no longer had any expectations for love.

단숨에 끝나 버릴 그 일을 왜 오래도록 하지 못했을까.
얼마나 더 한 일들이 남아 있을까.
하지만 아프지 않은 삶은 없었다.
아니, 아프지 않았다면 그것은 그 누구의 삶도 될 수 없었다.
Why couldn’t I do this before, something that could be over in an instant? What else is left that is more difficult? But no life is without pain. No, it wouldn’t be life if it was painless. 

행복하다고 믿었던 모든 것들의 그림자가 길게 느껴졌다.
여태 그래 왔듯 앞으로도 이월 되거나 체납된 사랑을 
갚지 못하고 파산하거나 도산하는 사람들을 나는 많이 목격할 것이다.
I felt the long shadow of everything that I believed was happy. As I have done all along, I will witness many people going into debt or going bankrupt because they can’t pay back the love in arrears. 

원금을 갚아야 할 날은 서서히 다가올 테지만
그들은 원금은커녕, 불어 가는 이자조차 탕감할 방법을 알지 못할 터였다.
사랑의 부채를 떠안고 사람들은 쉽게 파산 신고를 하고,
그럼에도 사랑의 빈곤함을 해결하기 위해 이곳을 찾을 것이다.
The payment due date will approach slowly, but they wouldn’t know how to pay the interest, let alone the principal. Burdened with the debt of love, they will file for bankruptcy but, in spite of all that, come here to resolve the poverty of love. Or perhaps to maintain their impoverished love. 

혹은 빈곤한 사랑을 유지하기 위해서라도,
아직도, 여전히 그리고 언제나 
사랑은 높은 이자율과 원금 상환 불가능을 무릅쓰고 지속되곤 했다.
이 또한 불행인지 다행인지 모르겠지만..
Love still and always continues to exist despite its high interest rate and impossible principal payments. I can’t tell whether this is unfortunate or not. 

Choi Ji-ae (Born in Seoul, 1980~ )
Debuted with short story “Sweet Fiction” in 2014

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