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You’ve been writing fiction for a long time, and recently, Minumsa publishers re-issued your first collection of stories, Then What Shall We Sing? How do you feel you’ve changed since publishing your first collection, and what have you been focusing on in your recent works compared to the past? I’ve only been writing for a little over ten years now, so I wouldn’t necessarily call that “a long time.” Early this year, I became conscious of how I’ve been feeling a little lighter, of how I’ve been moving in a way that was different from how I moved in the past. It was a very liberating feeling. I felt I could accomplish many different things. I came to the realization that it’s meaningless to distinguish between what I’m supposed to be doing versus what I shouldn’t do because it would be unlike me to do so. I’m not quite sure what kind of bearing this realization will have on my fiction, but earlier this year, I definitely felt caught in a particularly strong moment. The feelings from that moment have mostly faded away, but I would still like to hold on to that moment somehow. I find it difficult to focus when I’m asked questions about my earlier works or when I’m put in a situation where I have to think about my past works. The old me and my old works are still contained within me, and I can summon them if I have to; but I simply don’t feel compelled to do so when asked (as I’m being asked now). Besides, my earlier works and my current works are ultimately similar to one another; I feel any distinctions between them are largely meaningless. Since early on in your career, you have consistently confronted macro and historical issues, such as the May 18 Gwangju Uprising, nuclear power plants, and most recently in Future Walking Rehearsals, the arson attack on the American Cultural Service building in Busan, while at the same time managing to maintain your own perspectives and pace instead of becoming overwhelmed by the weight of such issues. What are some of the things you consider when approaching historic events in your fiction? One of the things that came to my mind while writing some of my novels is that there is no one who isn’t related to particular historic events. But if I were to assume that there are some people with little to no connection to an event in history, how would that person be swayed by that history? I don’t know if “swayed” would be the right expression here. Perhaps “influenced” would be the better word. This might sound like a strange assumption, but the deeper belief that underlies this assumption is that there isn’t anyone who isn’t affected by historic events. With that in mind, I start focusing on how someone, who may not be directly connected to a historic event, is nevertheless brought into its sphere of influence and made to interact with the repercussions of the event. But again, this is different from stating that everyone somehow has a relationship to history and that we all impact history as it impacts us. The title, Future Walking Rehearsals, seems to represent the key themes that you explore in your fiction—the future, the act of walking, and rehearsing. What comes to your mind when you hear these three words? Walking makes the future and rehearsal possible. Simply by sitting in your seat and thinking about going for a walk can carry you to new inspirations. When we think of your fiction, one of the first things that comes to mind is food and the activity of eating. Many of your characters seem to approach their contexts and even the strangers in their lives through the medium of food. For instance, in “On My Way to Eat Meat,” you list various chicken recipes, the names of which sound endearing, but there was also a slight tension in those descriptions. Can you tell us more about this tension that seems to come with the act of eating? It’s interesting to hear that you felt a sense of tension. I happen to love to eat, so I try to create food-related moments that are sweet and as you say, endearing. I find joy in sharing a meal with others. But the act of eating can also be ruthless; for instance, when I’m starving for something to eat, I reach out and grab anything that I can shove down my throat. It’s perhaps that merciless aspect of eating that gives rise to the tension that you’ve felt. ©Ozak Since we’re on the topic, I have to ask, do you watch any of the mukbang [eating show] content that’s on YouTube? I did in the past, but I have trouble concentrating on long YouTube videos. These days I typically watch shorter videos of cats eating random stuff. Along with eating, another charming aspect in your novels is the attention given to sleep and the act of sleeping. Recently, you began releasing a series of works under the theme “hibernation series.” Traditionally, literature has paid much attention to dreams. But in your fiction, you seem to be less interested in dreams than you are in the physical act of sleeping. For some reason, when you write about sleep in your fiction, it seems irrelevant to dreams, whereas when your characters are wide awake and moving about in their realities, it seems as if they are living in a dreamworld. Is there a difference in your approach to dreams and sleep, as represented in your fiction? I’m not sure. I love to eat and I love to sleep, which is why I visit them often in my writing. This might sound repetitive, but I feel that when a character in a story falls asleep, then another, similar character is somewhere doing something else, in a slightly different yet very similar context. So if a person A is sleeping in a place B, then A’ would be working at a place called B’. Sleep is our way of getting rest, but it also represents a small gap in our lives and a moment that allows other moments to pass by. ©Ozak Reading your recent “The Extremely High-Spec Machine That Only Works in This Room,” I got the impression it contains moments of very direct, very immediate connections although the characters couldn’t physically meet or see each other in person. What are your thoughts on the concept of “directness”? I find this to be an interesting question, since I’ve never given it any thought. At the same time, I feel that your description accurately captures the essence of the story. Whenever I’m writing fiction, even if it’s not this particular story that you mentioned, I have the sense that I’m chasing something that exists far away and only vaguely. At the same time, though, the existences feel very clear and real to me. Ideally, I would like to capture both sensations and write about them persuasively enough in my works. I’m struggling to provide a clear definition of “directness” but it might have something to do with my attempt not to lose any tension when I’m writing fiction. Your works have a characteristic aura of fantasy surrounding them. But this aura is peculiar in that the fantasy is not presented as something that is completely separate from reality, but rather as an element that is situated inside (or perhaps placed on top of) a very real and ordinary—and simultaneously historic—space. For instance, in “With the Twelve, Already-Dead Women,” you incorporate ghost stories, yet they don’t necessarily seem to have a worldview that is different from our own realities. What are your thoughts on the relationship between reality and fantasy? That’s is a difficult question. I’m afraid I don’t know. When I’m writing, I try to concentrate on where I’ve been, where I want to be, the places I’ve seen, and the places I want to see. Sometimes, the world I write about can be similar to our world now, but strictly speaking, it can also be a place we’ve never seen before. You mentioned in another interview that you’d like to try your hand at writing detective fiction or mystery novels. You also told the story of the detective cat Chami in Silence Animal. Do you still want to write mystery fiction, and if so, what is it about mysteries that appeal to you most? I do like mystery fiction, but I’m drawn to a particular type of detective stories. I wrote a review of Ryo Hara’s Sore made no ashita in the magazine Littor (Issue 30), and I’d like to quote from the text: “I remember reading somewhere, although I forget where, that people find themselves fascinated by the profession of detectives because they feel that detectives exist somewhere in a halfway zone, in a no man’s land. Detectives prowl darkly lit, dangerous alleyways, yet they aren’t criminals. They solve problems and help their clients, but they aren’t members of law enforcement. Each time, they do things that neither the police nor criminals can do.” One other thing that appeals to me about detective fiction is that the stories are almost always set in the context of big cities. These stories inevitably offer up a close reveal of the cities. If we move past the genre of fiction and look at writing as a whole, what are some of the strengths and appealing elements of writing that you can’t find elsewhere in other media, say in videos or music? Well, I may not write or think about fiction every single day, but to me, writing is so much a part of my life now that it’s difficult to provide a straight answer regarding its strengths and power, especially when compared against something else. Rather than comparing writing to other media, I would say that anything—whether it be music or videos or writing—that can help me enter a whole new world is what brings me joy. Are there any books you would like to read or any interests you would like to research for your next book or maybe even a personal project? I would like to devote more time to studying modern and contemporary Korean history. I would also like to learn more about some of the detailed footnotes in our history, for instance, how religion was first accepted in Korea and how movie theaters and hospitals were built and then demolished. I would also like to find out more about the film industry. I’m curious to know more about the people who worked in the theaters, who perhaps had as much of a contribution to filmmaking as the film directors and actors, and I would also like to know more about the theater industry. I’d also like to ask you about translation. You like to play around with the register in your narrative structures and make liberal use of suffixes and other word endings in a rather unique way. Have you given any thought as to the implications your narrative structure might have on the translations of your works? I often hear that my works would not be easy to translate, for the same reasons you gave. When I think about translation though, I still hold out vague hope that somehow the translations will magically fall into place and work themselves out. But of course, I say that from the perspective of the author of the original work. From the reader’s perspective, it’s a great thing to be able to have access to many more translated versions than before. For translators, however, I feel that their working environment and their treatment are still far below what they are entitled to. I would like to end the interview on a light note. The illustration on the front cover of The Dog I Love is that of a dog, while the cover of Silence Animal features an illustration of a cat. Are you a dog person or a cat person? I recently saw the film The Tsugua Diaries at the Busan International Film Festival. There are about four dogs that appear in the movie, and when I saw them on the screen, I felt my heart leap with joy. But then I thought that if the movie had featured cats instead of dogs, then maybe the theater would have erupted in cheers. (In reality, the audience was very quiet.) I can’t choose which I like better, and so I want them both, but I don’t have either a cat or a dog, yet I still want them both, but then . . . I guess . . . a cat? Interviewed by Bo-Won Kang Translated by Amber Hyun Jung Kim Bo-Won Kang writes poetry and literary criticism. His poetry collections include The Perfect Set of Poems to Congratulate a New Business and the co-authored work, Gathering of over Three Persons.
It was 8 p.m. on a Thursday, at a café with wide tables near UC-Berkley. I remember the night air feeling crisp and dry. The language exchange meeting was going more or less according to schedule. The format was for the day’s speaker to present on her choice of topic and explain Korean terms in English and English terms in Korean. It was Haena’s turn. Haena had a Korean mother and American father. Her mother had died ten years ago, and her father was now married to woman from Seattle. “So, are you living with your parents now?” “No. My dad and his wife are in LA. I’m here in Berkley on my own.” She began telling me this and that even though she hadn’t met me before. “My grandparents came to America, and my mother . . .,” she continued. I didn’t know what to say. I just listened to her talk and nodded and expressed interest. After she was done, she turned to the others smiling, and said last week’s presentation was on such-and-such, and this happened. It was to fill me in. The others agreed. Yes, that’s right. That was funny. Haena had stapled some handouts together which she brought out of her bag and passed around. She said they were about “May 18,” and I was surprised by the obvious. In Korean, we said “5.18.” I said, “Oh? I’m from where that happened.” Haena said, “Really?” and looked at me. I wondered why it was so surprising, why her eyes had grown big in astonishment. “Yes, I was born there,” I added. Come to think of it, it was May when I was vacationing in San Francisco that year. I hadn’t expected the subject to come up in a Berkley area café. For that to be where I’d hear about an event that had happened about thirty years earlier, in the place where I was born. I’d expected other, lighter conversation. Do Koreans really believe in fan death? Like, that you’ll die from a lack of oxygen if you sleep with a fan on? That kind of thing. But here I was, listening to people talking about the events of May 18 as if they were indisputable facts, like the suppression of the people on Bloody Sunday in Ireland, or Pinochet terrorizing Chile. It was as if the English language itself lent objectivity to the incident. Haena’s handout included English information from the May 18 Memorial Foundation and an article printed in the New York Times. ©Yeji Yun After the copies were passed out, we were ready to read. We took turns reading aloud, one paragraph each. We covered three or four large pages of closely spaced print in what seemed like no time. The barista called to say our drinks were ready, and some of us rose to collect them. The long-haired girl sitting across from me had ordered a milkshake, and I a cappuccino. My squat cup stood across from her tall glass. We all took a sip of our drinks and looked at Haena. When everyone was reseated, Haena started her talk by giving some background information about Korea at that time. There was nothing incorrect about what she said, but there were some differences hearing the information in Korean and in English. The differences weren’t there for Haena, just for me. I took a sip of my coffee and glanced at the handout again. The pages dense with print included a few photos—one of a man whose face was mangled, another of young men with bandanas around their foreheads or necks riding on a truck, and another of soldiers looking down at people kneeling. I took another drink. Then someone asked where Gwangju was and so Haena drew a map of Korea. Actually, it was more of an outline. She pointed to Gwangju’s position on it. She knew exactly where it was. “Here, south of Seoul and west of Busan.” Some of the group members nodded, Oh. A Korean exchange student studying in San Francisco asked what “massacre” meant. “What does this mean? It keeps coming up and I don’t know it.” Someone broke it down in simple terms: killing a lot of people by brutal means. “What is it in Korean?” “Haksalhada.” The student underlined the word and wrote the definition below, as if inserting a footnote. Haksalhada. Haena and I exchanged email addresses. And that was the end of the meeting. We must have talked some more, too, but I can’t remember anything from our conversation. Maybe we said: Whose turn is it next? Oh, I’ve something going on that day. Oh, really? I’ll go, then. Where are we meeting? You choose the venue and send me an email to let me know. Okay. Our conversation would have gone something like that. When we left to go home, Haena gave me a few more sheets of paper. “I wanted to share this, but I couldn’t.” I took the papers back to my accommodations. I had to pass through Chinatown to get to my room. The sky was blue that night, and the slender road stretched below it. The traffic signal changed, and as I was slowly crossing the street, I met eyes with a middle-aged white man. He asked if I was Chinese or Taiwanese or Japanese and suggested going for a drink. I was ready to nod, thinking I should acknowledge the right nationality if it came up. An inner voice was urging me to follow this man and drink with him and do as he asked, whatever it was. But even as I waited with this mindset, the chance to nod never came. I missed my moment to respond. Nothing happened, and I crossed without answering. I passed the man, who just stood there on the street, and returned to my room. I lay down on my bed and unfolded the papers. The poem was “Massacre, Part II” by Kim Nam-ju. Typed out in Korean and English, it was like something written by a foreigner. Someone who’d been watching with bated breath as military troops stormed Mexican or Chilean universities in the late 1960s. Someone who’d been there to see people disappearing from the streets. Like a text about Guernica, or Taipei in 1947. A poem in which someone is beaten in an alley at night. A poem in which someone is beating someone. Someone is beating someone and someone is being beaten; someone is killing, and someone is dying. And many people are crying. That kind of a poem. Next there was a copy of something written forcefully by hand which turned out to be a manifesto. I noticed some words: “Guardians of Democracy.” Above it, Haena had written an explanatory note. Year XXXX on the Dangun calendar had been changed to 19XX on the Gregorian calendar. I met Haena three years later, and in that time, I’d been to Kyoto on vacation. I am mentioning this for two reasons. First, because it was the only travelling I did in this time, and second, because someone there brought up the subject of Gwangju as well. I met him at a bar in the Shijo Kawaramachi neighborhood. So, where was it more unexpected to suddenly hear about an incident that took place in the city where I was born—in a café near Berkley or in a bar near Shijo Station? Of course, I don’t remember the name of the man at the bar, but he had a sturdy build and looked to be in his early sixties. He wore glasses and a dark blue shirt. I remember some of his facial expressions, together with the lines around his eyes. Perhaps he didn’t tell me his name, or even if he did, I can’t remember it because I never called him by it. He owned the bar, and I was the only patron, the only patron for some time. I had draft beer and he drank sake warmed in a large pot. I kept looking back and forth from the simmering pot to the man’s reddening face. After a while, I felt as if the alcohol was boiling down to its essence. My beer was cold, but the warmed sake was blazing hot, and the face of the person drinking it looked hot somehow as well. “Where are you from?” “Korea.” “Where in Korea?” “You won’t know it even if I tell you.” “Where?” “Gwangju. It’s south of Seoul and west of Busan.” “Oh.” He took a sip of water and picked up a piece of radish that was boiling by the sake. It had been boiling in sauce with an egg. It was dark brown because it had been boiled in the sauce with the egg for a long time. In fact, it was so brown that I should have described it another way. “It was left so long to boil in the sauce,” or “it must have been boiled for a long time” or “only by being boiled so long could it be so brown.” This would better convey the dark color. The man put the radish on a saucer and gave it to me and placed one before himself as well. “I know that place.” “Really?” “My friend wrote the song ‘Koshu City.’ Isn’t this it?” He took a pen and wrote “光州 City” on a thin napkin sitting on the table. I nodded. I asked about the song, and he said it was about soldiers entering the city and killing many people at the time. Oh. I acknowledged what he said and went back to drinking my beer. “Didn’t many people die in Koshu City? And on Jeju Island as well?” He said it like you would say something in passing. While drinking his beverage. He swallowed a sip of beer and talked about many people dying. He came from behind the counter and rummaged through some books that were stacked under a back table. He brought out a photo book that had been stuck in a corner. There was a street café in Kyoto. A young man wearing sunglasses was sitting in a chair reading a newspaper. On the page he was reading, there was a large photo of a man bleeding, being dragged away by a soldier. The man being dragged away was wearing a suit; he looked like an office worker. I stared at the page for a long time and then someone opened the door to the bar and came in. I met Haena again the following spring. After our first meeting in San Francisco, I sometimes exchanged emails with her. We wrote occasionally in English, but mostly in Korean. 안녕, 잘 지내니? [Hi. How are you doing?] Even these words sometimes felt awkward. It wasn’t that Haena’s Korean was that unnatural, but as I was reading along, chunks of Korean got clumped together, and the screen came to look as if it were covered in splotches. This was quite the effect, and it made me think of the email sender as an unusual child. Of course, it was a little petty of me. Haena said she was taking Korean at a university language institute in Seoul. I’m going to Gwangju next week. If you’re there, let’s get together. I wrote back to tell her I was in Seoul, but that I had a reason to go down the following week. Then shall we meet? Call me. 안녕. [Bye.] My reply also looked like trembling clumps of Korean characters somehow. Like compounds made by tearing letters from somewhere and pasting them on the computer screen. It had little clumps in it that didn’t come together. Haena and I were going to hear the Gwangju Orchestra perform Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony, Symphony no. 2, Fifth Movement in front of the South Jeolla Province government building. That year marked thirty years since May 1980. The outdoor concert would commemorate this important anniversary. Haena said she’d come to Gwangju a day early to visit the May 18 National Cemetery. We arranged to meet at the Post Office in Chungjang-ro. People all met there before going to other places. I hadn’t seen her in some time. Her hair was shorter, and she looked calm, maybe because she was dressed in black. We greeted each other and hugged briefly. Haena said the concert we were going to see was cancelled on account of rain. I was disappointed. Now I had the question of what I’d do with Haena, whom I’d only met once some years before. What should we do? When I asked, the answer came back, “Well, how about let’s eat?” Although it was threatening to rain, the night air was fresh and not too humid. We went to a local Chinese restaurant, had japchaebap and came out and walked for a while. It was quiet in Gwangju, and not notably different from other days. In particular, no one was saying anything out loud. It was unusual, but no one around there spoke much. Some days, they talked loudly about things, and other days, they kept their mouths shut and said nothing. Usually they said nothing. We walked towards the provincial building and little by little we started to feel the raindrops falling. “Oh, rain. It’s raining,” we said softly, and stretched our hands up into the empty air. The rain landed on our palms. I shook mine dry as I walked along. The rain soon quit. We walked around the old provincial building that was specially opened to the public only for this period. On the first floor there was a showing of video footage taken that May. Two men in their twenties were standing side by side watching the video. Two men watching it calmly, their hands at their sides. Two men in two white shirts standing side by side. Behind them was a Japanese man who looked to be in his fifties speaking in Japanese with a twenty-something man. The younger one seemed to be a Korean who was interpreting. We left them behind and walked up to the second floor. Nobody was there except Haena and me. We were in an empty hallway. A dark hallway. A gray, heavy gray hallway, and around us were only the smells of the cement building and the peeling paint. Few people can talk about what really happened in that gray hallway. And those who really know what happened there might tell you a different story. I mean, a different story than what you’ve heard so far. Then that will become yet another story. We looked outside. It might rain again. With that thought, we left the building. Translated by Kari Schenk
Tae-sik first met Si-on in winter three years ago, when he had just finished university and moved in temporarily with his older brother, Tae-in, in Seoul. Eight years Tae-sik’s senior, Tae-in had steadily saved up his earnings and bought the old condo unit at a relatively young age and lived there alone for several years. Or maybe not always alone. The possibility never occurred to Tae-sik (not because he assumed it never happened, but because he had little interest in his brother) until Si-on entered the passcode to the door and walked in like it was the most normal thing in the world. He was shocked that a stranger knew the code and had let herself in but when he saw her face and the way she carried herself, part of him understood. She didn’t seem the type to hang out with him so much as the type Tae-in probably had a weakness for. Before moving in, Tae-sik had lived apart from Tae-in for a long time and their age difference also meant that when he was in elementary school, Tae-in was in high school, so it wasn’t mutual dislike so much as disinterest. But one look at Si-on told Tae-sik that she was someone his brother loved and also someone he was weak against. In any event, Tae-sik was not alone in facing an unexpected situation but whereas his shock was mild, the nature of Si-on’s response was and still is hard to discern. Was she also mildly surprised or scared or nervous that she might be seen as a creep? He didn’t know, but Tae-sik’s memory told him it was probably the latter. She looked around anxiously and once she was convinced that she had not walked into the wrong unit she took a deep breath and explained herself. There was little in the way of resemblance between they ways Tae-sik and Tae-in carried themselves so most people never recognized that they were brothers but Tae-in must have told Si-on at some point that he had a brother nearly a decade his junior. Then she asked: – By any chance, are you . . . his brother? – That’s right. But who are you? – My name is Kim Si-on. – So you’re . . . Silently imploring for Tae-sik to understand, she added that she was Tae-in’s friend. She brought her clasped hands up to her chest and then released her fingers as though saying friend didn’t really mean friend. She claimed that in any case she was a friend of Tae-sik’s brother, that they were close, and that she had to see him again. The oatmeal-colored curtain behind Si-on who stood by the table caught Tae-sik’s eye like a backdrop that reminded him of his first impression of this unit and how everything was so appropriate and un-excessive as though selected with care and thought. – Actually, he’s off traveling right now. – When did he leave? – Monday. – When will he be back? – Soon. Uh . . . next week. Si-on gave an understanding nod and pointed at Tae-in’s room with a look saying she needed to pick up something and wanted permission and then allowed herself in. Tae-sik seated himself at the table and focused on the sounds from Tae-in’s room. Si-on must be lying on the bed. He heard the frumpling of blankets and something weighty shifting on the mattress. She did not come outside, so Tae-sik began to count the minutes. Twenty minutes later, she was still inside. Lying in a familiar bed with nothing but one door between herself and a stranger, were her eyes open or closed? She couldn’t have fallen asleep. Not actually looking for anything, just lying in another person’s bed with a stranger outside the door. Tae-sik didn’t even feel like drinking tea but he found himself putting the kettle on and placing bags of black tea in a pair of mugs and pouring the hot water into the mugs. The shuffling must have roused Si-on who finally left the room and took the mug Tae-sik held out for her. – Anyway, I know this sounds crazy. Tae-sik didn’t know what she was trying to say but when he gazed into her face, he somehow understood at that moment. That, just like his brother, he would have a weakness for her too. Si-on explained that she would leave for Canada at the end of winter. That she had to see Tae-in because she would live there for some time. She said she would come visit again next week but when she stood, she froze briefly in thought and sat right back down. – It’s not that I have to see him. But I want to. – Sure. That’s fine. At the time Tae-sik should have told her that Tae-in was going to go into cold sleep straight after the trip, and even when he caught Si-on’s pleading gaze asking when exactly he was coming back next week, he did not give her a specific date and looked away. Probably at his phone or the tabletop as he gave vague responses, until he picked up their mugs and put them in the sink. Si-on said little but her thoughts were written in her eyes and on her face so even when she was silent it was like she wasn’t silent but very clear about the things she wanted. He would remember this for a long time, Tae-sik knew: her pensive face as she sat at the table, her head almost imperceptibly bowed and lips pursed in defiance, her face as she suddenly looked up, exhaled, and gave him a clear, demanding look that said she could not accept this situation. He saw her back and shoulders as she left the door. They were wide and erect, with no hint of a slouch. Tae-sik went back to the kitchen and looked cautiously at the seat she left vacant as though she were still sitting there—sitting there and watching him. He would look back into her face. Refusing to turn away from the steepled hands and unflinching gaze, he met her eyes. The day Tae-sik met Kim Si-on was not the first time it occurred to him that he had no idea what kind of life his brother led or what he thought about. In late summer of the same year Tae-in had asked him to be his cold sleep guide. When Tae-sik asked why, Tae-in had replied that it was because he wanted to stay asleep for a long time. He said no more. It had been about two months since Tae-sik had gotten his license. Tae-sik had never been serious about the job and the license was just a fallback for a part-time job he might have to do at some point so the proposal surprised him but at the same time he noticed the exhaustion on his brother’s profiled face. Everything he knew about cold sleep came rushing back and automatically applied themselves to the circumstances of his own brother. But Tae-sik didn’t know how similar or different—or both—his brother was to other people who chose cold sleep. A significant number of people had cold sleep experience by now, with last year’s statistics showing that the number of participants who treated it like a sort of Christmas vacation had increased significantly, now accounting for 5 percent of all participants. Researchers claimed that the majority of this group was composed of people subject to extreme stress at work, such as corporate executives or lawyers, and that regular cold sleep was a way for them to take a brief but restful break. Cold sleep was not a mechanism for escape or an antisocial phenomenon. But admittedly it was not easy to think of an action or choice that was entirely without the purpose of escape or antisocial intent, perhaps with the exception of greeting the server at a restaurant before being greeted, but in any case, Tae-sik was taught that cold sleep was an acceptable way for people to spend their spare time, like travel and exercise, and the steadily-increasing amount of data concerning the procedure supported this perspective, betraying the pessimistic predictions from the past. In spite of this, Tae-sik still thought of it more as a treatment for people who had experienced trauma or suffered from severe fatigue. The 5 percent, he thought, were people who experienced trauma or were fatigued because their work was considered socially important and especially burdensome. It wasn’t possible for heavy workloads to not exhaust someone. In fact, they were precisely the cause of exhaustion. What then did Tae-sik think of the 95 percent? The people who enjoyed novelty, the people who took their friends’ suggestions, and the people who, like the 5 percent, were just as tired and weary? – I have a license, sure, but I’ve never actually done it before. – I have. – What? When? Tae-in didn’t go into the details and instead explained that he had an especially long vacation coming up to celebrate ten years of working at his company and that he would go on a trip and then go into cold sleep afterwards. – So you’ve done it before, but how does that help me? You’re going to be asleep the whole time. – What I mean is that I know I won’t have any side effects, so you don’t have to worry too much. I’m a veteran, and all you have to do is follow the procedures. I’m helping by eliminating variables. Glancing sidelong at Tae-in’s face, Tae-sik decided he did not want to look at his brother’s sleeping face every day. It was an act of such intense closeness that just thinking about it made him want to run. The fact that they were family, the fact that each was someone’s child and sibling and some were even parents on top of that was like a metal spoon with a hefty chunk of overpowering food being shoved between his lips. But in the end he chose to accept Tae-in’s request. Tae-sik didn’t remember clearly how he felt when he agreed, but it might have been because, since his teens, they had been so disinterested in each other and he had known so little about him so he thought he might be up for the task after all. But he knew he should not consider this further because the more he considered it he would find himself thinking it didn’t have to be that way, and that it didn’t not have to be that way, either. That he’d convince himself his first instinct that he’d never want to be a cold sleep guide for family wasn’t so strong an opinion as he’d thought and he would end up taking what seemed like the path of least resistance at the time. And the fact was, Tae-in was right when he said Tae-sik needed the money. Tae-sik had thought in response that he wanted to make money. And in that moment, he ended up considering again. Tae-in went into cold sleep three days after returning from his trip. He said he’d come back from Hawaii but the souvenir he brought could have been from any old airport or even a local department store because it was a box of macadamia chocolates that you didn’t have to have gone to Hawaii for, but Tae-sik quickly told himself he didn’t need to think about that. He told himself to not think. He tidied up Tae-in’s room to dedicate it fully to the cold sleep and moved his own things which he’d left there temporarily into the smaller room. Tae-sik had always slept in the small room but decided to sleep in the living room during the cold sleep so he would hear immediately if something went wrong. At night he laid out a mat and a futon by the table. The day before the procedure Tae-in went to a local cold sleep clinic to register his plans and got another health exam. His company health exam had only been two months ago and it had detected no serious issues but Tae-in chose to get the unnecessary examination anyway since he was there. The thorough exam revealed that he still had no serious health issues or problems that might prevent him from going safely into cold sleep. Tae-sik looked at the chair across the table where Si-on had sat. In the next seat over sat Tae-in. For some reason he hadn’t wanted to say that Si-on had come to visit but he didn’t even want to consider the fact that he didn’t want to say so. Tae-sik wanted to think of her in a different way. – Friend of yours dropped by the other day. She knew the passcode and let herself in. – Yeah? Guess it’s time to change it. As Tae-in got up to change the passcode, Tae-sik stared at his back. Tae-sik was the one who worked out regularly but Tae-in was taller and although he did work out in his own way Tae-in’s work had nothing to do with exercise and he didn’t do it regularly. They were similar in that neither were talkative and if they happened to sit down together, they would either watch TV in silence or do their own things. Tae-in disappeared into his room. It was almost the end of the week Tae-sik had told Si-on about. Tae-sik explained the cold sleep procedure to Tae-in yet again and Tae-in listened with the indifferent nods of a veteran. Tae-sik thought Tae-in might complain that he knew all this but Tae-in listened to the end and took the medication as Tae-sik directed and performed a few final diagnosis tests before he went to sleep exactly on schedule. Tae-sik went over the procedure once more in his head and made a list of things to confirm at the next scheduled check. This was the first time he was putting his license to use. He looked down at his brother’s sleeping face and thought that the face was all too familiar but not from the front, even though they lived in the same house. But the more he stared, the more it seemed like the face of a stranger, the face of some man in his mid- to late-thirties with wrinkles growing on his face, and by the time he found himself saying, But this guy is actually . . . he’s actually . . ., Tae-sik recognized him again as someone he knew intimately. He stood with gaze locked there for a long time before he went back to the living room to set his alarm to go off every hour. It was the first day and that came with risks so he wanted to check in often. Although Tae-sik was worried he might sleep through the alarm, he found himself falling asleep and waking up on time with mechanical ease. It wasn’t until nine in the morning that he finished his checks and let himself have a normal schedule. No more alarms to turn off. Just waking up and living life. He changed and ran for half an hour and went to a nearby hilltop. He warmed up again and ran to the top. Maybe because it was around lunchtime, it was surprisingly deserted. He would keep doing this. Make this climb at the same time each day, then come home for lunch and do work and watch TV in the afternoon and then check in on Tae-in occasionally and have dinner and do another lap around the neighborhood, then wash up and go to bed. For the first little while, he would get up once an hour to check on Tae-in, and in the following week he would check once every two hours. He remembered Tae-in calling himself a cold sleep veteran and considered the word. Veteran. On the way home, Tae-sik picked up eggs, cereal, milk, and meat. Each time he remembered that he was a cold sleep guide, a wave of anxiety crashed over his back. He picked up his groceries a little faster than usual and rushed home and showered and checked on his brother. When he sat down for lunch, he thought of Si-on again, but found that her face was now a blur. But the look of demanding something and her short stature against her unusually wide and angular shoulders seemed to flash with terrifying clarity before his eyes. The second time he met Si-on was a week into Tae-in’s cold sleep. He was on his way back from working out and she stood at the bus stop by the condo, facing his direction. In that moment, Tae-sik felt like something he’d expected and waited for was really happening. With looks of recognition that didn’t need spoken greetings, they walked together to the condo. Tae-sik stopped partway through asking her to wait because he realized it would take him half an hour to wash and change and check on Tae-sik. He almost asked her to come into the unit until he remembered Tae-in changing the passcode as soon as he told him about her. Si-on turned and pointed towards the bus stop and told him she would be at the café across the alley. – It might take a while. I’d like some coffee. – Right. Sure thing. Si-on seemed like a different person outside than when she was inside. In the shower, Tae-sik thought about the strange sense of relief and uncanny tension he felt when he saw her. He hadn’t consciously waited for that meeting, but he did have the thought that what he’d expected had really come true. He went to check on Tae-in before heading to the café. Tae-sik ordered coffee and took a seat across from Si-on and wondered if the things they would talk about could really ever be properly explained, but quickly stopped that line of thought. – I don’t think you’ll be able to see him right now. – He did come back from his trip, right? – Yes. – Is he home? – No. No, he isn’t. Technically, he wasn’t not home, but he also was and Tae-sik wondered who his brother would be all right knowing about his cold sleep. In principle, going into cold sleep was a private matter unless there was an emergency, but Tae-sik just didn’t know enough about Tae-in. Tae-in had claimed he’d told everyone who was supposed to know, but Tae-sik couldn’t even begin to be sure that Tae-in ever talked to anybody and didn’t know if he would ever be able to bring himself to ask. The demanding look from before was gone from Si-on’s face and she looked a little sad but also resigned. Or maybe that was what Tae-sik needed in order to feel better. At the same time, he didn’t want to feel better. He wanted to be uncomfortable and ill at ease. Maybe he even wanted Si-on to interrogate him and berate him. So Tae-sik kept finding himself coming up with reasons for Si-on to enter and scenarios where they went into the room together. Si-on rose, saying she wanted to get some air and Tae-sik finished his coffee and followed her out. They walked down the alley and found a bench at the entrance to the trail up the hill. Sitting there, Si-on silently focused on the condo buildings beyond the trees ahead. – Sometimes I feel so sleepy or exhausted. It’s just like that. – Oh. Even now? – It’s a lot better than before, now. It wasn’t cold yet but the walk up the steep path must have left Si-on breathless because each time she spoke, her breath rose into the air like midwinter. – Do you sleep all right? – Yes, on the whole. On the whole I sleep well. – Me too, but I don’t think Tae-in did. – He did say you were really different, come to think of it. Have you ever gone into cold sleep? Si-on explained that she’d been Tae-in’s cold sleep guide this time last year, and the year before that. Their workplaces were near and someone had introduced them when Tae-in had to go into cold sleep and then they had gotten close and met on occasion even afterwards, she explained. Si-on explained that she had been his guide at the condo where Tae-sik lived now. As though explaining how she allowed herself in without hesitation the other day. That was not good enough of a reason to bring her back to the unit and Tae-sik knew that as well. He knew other things well, too. Strange things and strange feelings. The desire to be interrogated by Si-on and the desire to exchange uncomfortable questions. He was certain he felt the desire for Si-on to make him uncomfortable and outright anxious, and it was like walking a narrow line suspended high up in the air. With the hill and the trees behind them, Si-on and Tae-sik slowly made their way down the slope. He’d already told her he was Tae-in’s guide so Tae-sik said that she couldn’t see Tae-in. The autumn leaves clutching desperately to the trees were beautiful and their feet crunched over the newly-fallen leaves as they reached the condo. At the door Tae-sik said once more that he couldn’t let her into Tae-in’s room. – Can’t I at least see his face? – No, I’m sorry. – Please tell me why. Or just tell me about the past. If you really don’t have a choice. Si-on took a seat in the same chair that Tae-sik saw her in on the day they first met, and for some reason it was only in this house that she wore the face of demanding something from him, her face changing into that look. Tae-sik boiled water and poured it into the mugs with the bags of black tea already inside. Their bare hands were red with cold so they wrapped them around their mugs for warmth. Tae-sik got up to check on Tae-in again and Tae-in was all right so he walked out and shut the door behind him and told Si-on that he was doing fine the night before and the night before that as well. – He’ll probably always be all right. And later—even later—please tell me more. Tell me anything. About what he saw, or if he says he saw anything. – What would he see? You mean, when he’s in cold sleep? – He just might. Tae-sik had heard about it. Past cases came up in the materials he read while studying for his license. People believing they experienced something they didn’t or gaining new memories of places they hadn’t been to. Tae-in hadn’t shown any unusual symptoms or side effects according to Si-on. But it’s common. A lot of people have mixed-up dreams or see things. Tae-in said he saw me living my life. Si-on said that these things weren’t premonitions. They’re just daily life, the way I stand and sit and want things and think, that kind of thing. She said she wanted to think and hear about these things. She wanted to hear from someone who saw her, the story of someone who saw her when she was out of sight. A look of calm serenity came over her face when she talked about this and Tae-sik thought that if his brother could see anything in his sleep, this would be the moment. Tae-sik washed his hands and changed into home wear and went to his brother’s room. If he saw something in the past, there was no reason he wouldn’t see something now, he thought, and laid himself down on the floor parallel to Tae-in. If I look at his face, he looks back at mine. He lay in the room whose only purpose was sleep and maybe it was for that reason he briefly felt as though he would fall asleep so he forced himself back up. He looked down at his brother’s face again and the fact that they had no choice but to look each other in the eye and the anxiety and the pressure of now being unable to look away wasn’t so bad. Responsibly shouldering the burdens they had to bear and not looking away. Tae-sik had no idea what his brother actually saw in cold sleep and he had no way of knowing if Tae-in even saw anything at all but when he looked at him, Tae-sik thought, Maybe he could see something. He leaned in close, scrutinizing his brother’s slow breathing. Finally, he broke off the stare and left the room. Si-on was no longer at the table but leaning back on the sofa. She explained that she’d usually slept there when she was a guide. Tae-sik joined her and pointed at the mat on the floor. A few days ago he’d learned that sleeping on the floor made the fridge sound louder than sleeping in bed. All the low sounds of the room seemed to sink with weight slowly sliding down towards the floor. When he lay on the floor in the dark of night he heard the sounds humble themselves towards the ground. – So what are you going to do in Canada? – My older sister lives there. I’m going to stay with her, get used to living there, learn some English, and then go to school. As though talking about a local neighborhood, she talked about one area in Vancouver and the places she’d gone to with her sister and niece. How her sister attended a Canadian church and not a Korean one and how she had gone along for service one time and on the way back they had scones and coffee and then, as though this place in Korea was connected to the Vancouver neighborhood, she saw the little church plants and theology study group signs behind the condo and wondered out loud why there were so many of these groups in this area. Tae-sik thought of the places he’d never been to but could always visit in the future as a little map in his head, as though drawing a map of some place in Canada. The many alleyways and stores and the roads where he ran and the countless paths that led towards the hill. The alley and the bench from earlier with Si-on too he slowly added to the picture. He turned and as though tracing a path on a map he drew his finger along the contour of Si-on’s face. He followed her hairline with his finger, slowly. Her brows and cheekbones were neither too sharp nor round. Hand trembling almost imperceptibly with his big and slightly rough finger, he slowly traced her face. Then he rose like he’d remembered something and went past the table and to the sink. He turned on the tap and left it running before filling the kettle again and bringing it to a boil. A moment later, he refilled the emptied mugs with the tea bags still inside and put it on the floor by the sofa. Steam rose from the mugs and Si-on with her eyes still closed brought her hands to her face and traced the lines as though following the lines Tae-sik had drawn. Near her cheekbone she sensed the warmth from the mug and she felt as though she could see the mug spill as though it were already set in stone. When I reached out and touched Tae-sik’s face, but not in the way he followed the contours as though sketching them, but my putting my thumb on his cheek then bringing it to his brow and tracing his jaw with my index finger, Tae-sik did not meet my eyes and could not meet my eyes and looked at the corner by the sofa then closed his eyes so we did not look at each other’s faces but I lifted his face with my hand again and slowly stared into his face. – The way you look at my face reminds me of a dentist. For the first time Tae-sik laughed. That day was the second time I ever saw him. That day we slowly talked about the things we each saw and spent the whole time together. Before I left for Canada I visited the house where Tae-in slept many times, but Tae-sik never allowed me in and I was not allowed to meet him. But I know that Tae-in knows my face. What I knew was Tae-sik’s face and although it has been several years since, I sometimes vividly remember in my fingertips the way the lines of his brows and nose came together and for some reason when my fingers remember, his face comes clearly back into my mind. The way you look at my face reminds me of a dentist. I made Tae-sik sit back against the sofa like it really was the dentist’s chair and with his eyes still shut Tae-sik laughed. Feels like my teeth are all better and the mug of hot tea fell over. I took his hand but our feet were already drenched. Translated by Slin Jung
I saw more than a few people sketching Busan Tower even afterwards, and some taking pictures, too, and a couple shooting videos there. Many people left Busan or left Korea after the Kori Nuclear Power Plant accident, but others had to keep on living in the same place. I don’t know if tall buildings were required to dim their lights on a rotating basis or if they had an agreement in place, but at any rate, the lights were dim, and it felt a little odd. After the accident, when we saw the city lights shining at night, we thought, Oh, it was all for that. Oh, we asked and sighed, was it all for that? and we found it bittersweet and shook our heads. But others said, Yes, that’s exactly what it was for! It was great and nothing else compares. The more brightly the nightscape shone, the more we’d have given for it. It may not be appropriate to call it “doing,” it doesn’t exactly feel right to call it that, but for the night to shine like the day, some things were spilled, stopped, and laughed off, and this was just as viable a way as others were. The man who said this looked exhausted and cold and seemed to be putting his last ounce of energy into what he was saying. His lips were cracked and chapped white. The large companies and department stores had decided to scale back their light displays or light up on a rotating basis, and the news announcement said to dress in layers and conserve indoor heating. The electrical sign broadcasting this announcement would be turned off on Sundays. And whether it was because the tower was shining or the bright lights in the city were going out, or maybe because there was a budget shortfall, the city decided to close Busan Tower for the time being. I heard all of this not on the news but from the people sketching the tower, one of whom told me this wouldn’t be on the news. That is to say, as long as the tower wasn’t being demolished outright, it wasn’t going to make the news. We could only keep busy and exert ourselves. After the accident, Busan Tower’s scope of operations was scaled down and it was closed indefinitely. I don’t know whether to say they appeared, or they came into being, but at any rate, for some reason many people were often out sketching the tower repeatedly, almost drawn to it compulsively. Not being able to draw it myself, I just sat wondering, How does the tower look? I was thinking about how Busan residents would visualize Busan Tower when the sketch artists came to mind again. They’d sit on the steps with a view of the tower, sketchbooks in laps, looking back and forth from the tower to their sketches, drawing lines, erasing them, and re-drawing them. At the top of the stairs, there were two buildings the size of shoe stalls, one that sold coffee or yuja tea in paper cups, and another where pocket editions of Japanese books (mostly used) were sold. A small sign above the coffee shop had a black, coffee cup- shaped sticker on it. I’ve never been on the streets of Europe or seen the Eiffel Tower, but the sketch artists of Busan Tower sat in a line of four or so artists and drew Busan tower repeatedly, like the artists stationed in front of the Eiffel Tower or a cathedral or art gallery drawing and selling their wares. And then they smoked cigarettes and drank coffee in paper cups from a shop the size of a shoe stall. Someone who was taking pictures would take shot after shot, from up close and far away. Some of the people drawn to Busan Tower in this way wanted it to be reopened. Others said, We do it for comfort. Busan Tower is one of the symbols of Busan, and Busan Tower give a little comfort to those who have lost hope. We are soothed and comforted by things that seem not to be of any help at all and are in fact damaging. Some people say that for this very reason we must turn off the lights on Busan Tower and the tall buildings near Haeundae Beach; on the 63 Building and Namsan Tower in Seoul, as well as on many other buildings. In fact, the electrical consumption of Busan Tower and all these buildings together doesn’t have much of an effect. But we shouldn’t forget that we are in a very bad situation. We mustn’t look upon the nightscape,exclaim at its beauty, and turn away from what has happened. We can’t hide the cracks in the glass under our feet. After all, we’re standing on it. Whether the people drawing the tower and drawn to it held either of these opinions, or indeed, none at all, they drew and re-drew the tower just the same. And they drew it again. Maybe it was only that I hadn’t noticed, but no one seemed to be using oils or watercolors so far. With pencils or sharpies, they drew the tower and drew it again. Black and grey towers appeared, big and small, on white paper, lined notebooks, torn receipts, and newspaper corners, and they piled up and were lost. And then they reappeared. Busan Tower—Busan Tower viewed from a distance; a small dot-sized Busan Tower between two large Busan Towers; Busan Tower from across the sea; tens, hundreds of Busan Tower overlapping, redrawn, disappearing and reappearing. They appeared, overlapped with each other, and even as they were turned over, the process was repeated. Among those drawn to Busan Tower was the tower itself, and I’d become closer to it than to the sketch artists, but I was thinking, How do I address it? When I stopped cold. I’ve stopped thinking about many other things, but none have confounded me as much. I first became acquainted with the tower around the time that people were starting to come out and sketch it. It was around the time the building was closed indefinitely, but really, this didn’t matter, and whatever way you put it, it was a little strange, so let’s just say it was on a winter’s day. Then, as usual, I was lying on the bed thinking various thoughts when the tower occurred to me again, and my cat, who’d been lying asleep next to me, surprised me by getting up, stretching his forelegs high in the air and then ducking back under the comforter, leaving a cat-sized Busan Tower in the air. I’m not saying that the actual building made of cement and whatnot appeared, but something stood in this shape. I lifted the comforter and called my cat’s name, but he kept still, and I ran my fingers along the outline of the Busan Tower in front of me. I started with my fingers at the top, and by the time I’d reached the ground, the shape was gone. After closing my eyes and pulling the comforter up, I thought, What’s this, what’s this? and then, again, gripping my fingers tightly, What was it just now? What was it? and then slowly getting my breath back, I tried to recall the image of the tower I’d traced. It seemed more vivid than before, but after conjuring it up two or three times it was back to being indistinct. Then suddenly the pillow I’d been resting on slipped from under my head to the spot where the cat had stretched out and took the form of a pillow- sized Busan Tower. The cat tower and the pillow tower were the same in that they were the shape rather than the actual thing, but very subtly, almost imperceptibly, the cat tower was more like a cat, and the pillow tower was more like a pillow. Afraid, I put my head under the comforter, and the pillow slipped back to its original place on the bed in the same way it had come, as if its mission were complete. This was repeated a couple of times a week. Although books and dolls or saucepans and kettles also became the tower, most of the time it was the cat, and one day when the cat stretched out and became the tower, I seized his legs and said, “Not yet!” holding his paws braced on either side to stop him. But he pulled free in an instant and came and pushed against my leg, and the tower he’d made began speaking. The tower said a lot about itself but even though I’d watched it and listened to its story, many aspects faded once I lay down and pulled the covers up. Then the cat would stretch out its legs once more and I’d just observe the tower he made. Half the time I’d grab his legs and try to hold them but there was no winning against a kicking, thrashing cat, and so I’d let go. Some scratch marks appeared on my arms and hands. I’d lay down to sleep smelling of ointment. Any time I lay down, the tower slowly faded, and I’d fall asleep trying to resuscitate the image in my mind. When I walked along the streets, which were certainly darker than before the accident, I kind of thought it would be nice if there were something to light the way. The dark streets made people feel small. Sometimes trash cans by the side of the road also became Busan Tower. Busan Tower would change into a cat and slink along like a lion or tiger at the zoo and not a cat at all, and sometimes it would really change into a lion and walk down the alley at an eye level just below mine, and I’d think, What the heck is this? but just walk alongside. And strangely, time differed depending on the starting point, as sometimes the past that I’d been through seemed like the future, and the future yet to come felt like something all too obvious that was dragging on. Thirty or forty years ago, science fiction writers believed that things beyond one’s imagining would happen in years beginning with the numeral 2, and in their novels, marvelous things had already happened. For this reason, the years in the 2000s that had already gone by did not seem like the past, but the future. We could only look at them with dread or surprise, or with our eyes closed in pleasure. The accident had happened in Unit 1 of the Kori Nuclear Power Plant, built in 1977. The plant had already reached the end of its intended lifespan in 2007, and operations were briefly suspended, and this was neither science fiction nor news, but a fact or minor incident. Adapting the perspective of the times, the year 1977 is science. It’s the future. Energy. Growth. Development. It’s Developed Nation status. We are entranced by the bright energy produced, and this past isn’t anything like what we think of as those days. But it’s so dazzling that I can’t stay long. Maybe if I could hold hands with the people next to me and trust my body to the rhythm of the future, I’d burst out laughing in that dazzling place, and be able to live there, in 1977, with the bright future. The future is a little more realistic in 2007, but if they’d stopped operations for good then, I wouldn’t be walking in dark alleys with a lion, would I? Even though walking with a lion is not necessarily bad in itself. The future that lies before me in 2007 is just as it was before the accident. People don’t leave, and no one dies. It looks ordinary and not much different, but the future viewed from 2007 is very vivid and I want to steal it and put it in my pocket. And by the way, the lion was not a male with a mane, but a female, and when it came time for me to enter the house, she was watching from a couple of paces back as I opened the gate to see that I got home safely. When I opened the door to my bedroom, the cat jumped from the bed as if he’d been waiting, and made the tallest tower yet, one for the annals. I guess he didn’t like me holding his paws. I didn’t know why Busan Tower appeared in front of me. Was it because I often wondered how it looked, or was it going to appear anyway and I was just there by coincidence? After it had appeared once, it didn’t fade or go away, but sometimes even multiplied in number. Like the day it became a lioness, it sometimes transformed into something else and slunk along behind me. I wondered whether strange things were gradually emerging because the city was dark, or the darkness allowed things labelled strange to come out, and when I had this thought, I lowered the curtain, turned on the overhead light, and fell asleep. Whatever the case, it didn’t matter. If I walked down a dark alley at night, sure as can be, a lioness appeared and walked with me, and one day a dog ran out barking and waited for us at the end of the street before turning into Busan Tower. A bird I’d never seen before alighted on my shoulder and then flew away. It was a vivid blue, like a bird in a fairy tale. It wasn’t just Busan Tower and these animals that followed me, but also a pipe; a pipe, drum and piano; and a piano and a trumpet. I saw a bear in uniform playing the drum. As soon as the sun rose the following day, I walked the streets to seek out human contact, but I couldn’t see any faces, What, no one? So I walked until I was starving and returned home exhausted. To think, a bear playing a drum! A deep blue bird! Had I fabricated these things that I had seen? For a second, I didn’t know whether to mock my own unconscious or be thankful for it. Upon returning home, Busan Tower was standing tall, as before, and I washed up and went to lie down. “How many are you?” “One, only one.” “How can that be?” “I’m one, like the one standing there.” “One.” “Yes, now I’m a picture. Like a photo.” “Do you appear to other people too?” And with that, it disappeared again. Translator Kari Schenk