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“A Day in the Life of Writer Na” by Bang Hyun-hee


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Writer Na, that’s me. I’m inclined to listen to other people talk as well as talk about other people. Writers are a breed of people who like telling others what to do, so I don’t feel especially guilty about it. 

I woke up this morning feeling someone’s voice penetrating deep into my ears. The words that voice rammed into my ears were “How ridiculous.” 

휠체어의 발 받침대가 누군가의 발목을 쳤나 보다.

The wheelchair’s footplate must have bumped into someone’s ankle.

내가 얼른 앞으로 가서 그 사람의 등에 한 손을 올리고

다리께로 손을 내밀었다.

죄송합니다. 많이 다치셨습니까?

그 사람이 고개를 옆으로 돌렸다.


I quickly stepped in front of the wheelchair, placing one hand on the man’s back and stretching the other toward his leg. 

“I’m sorry. Are you hurt?” 

The man turned to look at me. It was M.

우리는 서로 어? 어? 여기 웬일? 하고 천천히 몸을 일으켰다.

We stared at each other, wondering what each of us was doing there, and slowly stood up.

“어, 안녕하세요?” 

“Oh, hello, sir.”

주인님을 본 M이 인사를 했다.

M greeted my employer. 

“음, 자네였군, 잘 지내나?

 일은 잘 되어가고?  장편 쓴다고 했지?” 

“It’s you. How have you been? How’s work? Did you say you were writing a long fiction?” 

“예, 예, 잘 지내고 있습니다. 건강은 괜찮으신지요?” (M)

“Yes, I’ve been well. How’s your health?” 

M의 목소리는 기어들어가다시피 했다.

내게는 들리지 않기를 바라는 것 같았다.

M과 나는 서로 눈을 맞추지 않았다.

M’s voice grew inaudible. I don’t think he wanted me to hear him. M and I didn’t look each other in the eye. 

# Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeong

The story’s conclusion is quite depressing. The story asks this question: If a writer doesn’t have anybody to lean on in this world, scarce of those who truly understand the value of creative activities, should the writer go on creating new stories when he can’t even get adequate compensation for his efforts? Fortunately, Mr. Na has a view of literature different from that of M. Mr. Na, at least, is likely to go on writing stories that are not hypocritical, and I believe that the story’s author, Bang Hyun-hee, also writes with such resolve. 

나는 주인님을 모시고 집으로 돌아가 

늙은 몸을 내 몸에 기대게 한 뒤

웃을 벗기고 새 옷을 갈아입힐 것이다.

I will now take my employer back to his house and have his aged body lean against me before changing him into new clothes. 

죽은 권력이든, 늙은 권력이든 내게 돈을 주는 한

나는 그의 시중을 들어야겠지.

Whether his authority is dead or broken, I have to tend to him as long as he pays me. 

M은 집으로 돌아가 순교자적인 글을 쓰겠지.

나는 집으로 돌아가 푸른 어둠 속에서 조롱이 가득한 글을 쓰겠지.

그리고 모니터를 끄고 이부자리에 들어 

누구를 통해서 내 앞에서 닫힌 문을 두드려봐야 하나, 생각하다가 잠이 들겠지.

M probably went back to his house to write a martyr-like story. I will go back to my house to write a story filled with mockery. And then I will turn off the monitor and slip under the comforter before falling asleep while thinking who I should use to knock on the closed door before me.

Bang Hyun-hee (Born in Iksan, Jeollabuk-do Prov., 1964~ )

Debuted with short story “Eurasian Hobby” in 2001

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