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Magazine Vol.63 Spring 2024 In this edition of Korean Literature Now, we delve into Breath, Respite, Emptiness. Our fast-paced world, obsessed with productivity and efficiency, has long ignored these simple yet profound elements. This issue challenges us to reconsider breath, respite, and emptiness as essential rhythms that offer a unique perspective on literature and life, especially in a time when the world seems to be gasping for air.

Featured Writer Interview with Poet Yi Won: A Time for Diving In I’d like to start by asking you a question about your recently published novel Face to Face. This work captures the period when COVID-19 dominated our lives. It also serves as a record of individual narratives and emotions, invisible and undetectable. About halfway through the book, I was reminded of a conversation we had together at a writers’ forum last summer titled “Life (Post-)COVID-19: Connection and Severance.” As I think you remember, you described the pandemic as “a time we experienced together but had to go through alone.” You seemed frustrated that a national crisis was left to individual responsibility, that it was “every person for themselves.” I deeply sympathized with that feeling of isolation, of having to go through the pandemic by oneself.

Featured Writer [Fiction] That Place by Choi Eunmi At the height of summer a few years back, I was caught in a flash flood while camping. I knew I shouldn’t have crossed the valley in the summer, but I brought an icebox and made the trip anyway. Within an hour, heavy rains left me stranded on the other side of the stream. I was even on the 9 o’clock news.

Cover Feature Letting Go and Living with Mold Living through COVID-19, a global pandemic, we all came to have a unique story of our own, one that could be shared with others. In 2020, the year marking the sweeping spread of the pandemic that upended the conventional human way of life, my own daily life didn’t change much. I read and write for a living, which I can do well enough without leaving the house or meeting people face to face. I continued to work from home as before, corresponding with my editors through email. The swimming pool I used to frequent daily closed down, though, so I spent more time walking instead, going out to the neighborhood park when it wasn’t crowded. The class I taught was switched to online at the start of the spring semester, but since the class was small, I invited the students to my place from time to time to have class and lunch together.

Cover Feature Such Small Moments “When will you rest?” I’m asked this quite often these days. Well, when will I rest? I’ve been teaching more college courses since last year, and on off-lecture days, I work at a bookshop. I spend three weekdays on campus, two at the shop. On weekends, I write and catch up on chores. The potted plant I’d recently received as a gift withered from neglect. It was a birthday gift . . .

Cover Feature Breathe, Live, Rest When I saw the painting Breathing Space, I remembered feeling like I was taking a deep breath. The piece was part of a solo exhibition, Wandering Mind. The painting depicted a person leaning against a small window of a large building, gazing at the sky—the artist’s way of saying that sometimes a small window can become an unexpectedly vast breathing space. The sky stretched beautifully above the building, its hue a poetic blue.

& Event

Korean Literature Now

INTERVIEW Face to Face with Choi Eunmi by Jung Yong-jun

INTERVIEW Interview with Poet Yi Won: A Time for Diving In by Ahn Miok

INTERVIEW Interview with Ha Seong-nan: Looking Behind the Closed Door by Yoon Chi Kyu

FICTION Low Resolution pixelWinter was fading away. Following nature’s course. Little by little, winter was fading away.  Little by little, the days grew longer, allowing me to witness the sunset from start to finish on my way back from work. The scenery outside the subway window shifted rapidly before fading away. It faded away, but I, watching it fade away, did not. Far out into the distance. My gaze remained locked, the sun now about to fade away from my locked gaze. Following nature’s course. The sun slowly faded away.pixelFortunately, everyone at the office seemed to have lunch on their own. I usually chose to spend my lunch breaks alone at a coffee shop. The coffee shop I frequented the most was only a short distance from the office. On some days I brought my own lunch to the office, but I usually just preferred grabbing a small bite to eat such as a pastry with a coffee. Since I spent so much time at the coffee shop, I would occasionally see people waiting for someone there. These people who had been waiting for someone would then turn into people meeting up with someone. pixelA rendezvous. Waiting. One person meets another. Two people meet, but I have never met you. You told me that you worked as an app developer at a company nearby. This happy coincidence made us feel closer, but were we really close? We often said that we should make time to see each other but never did. As things are, it seems unlikely we’ll ever see each other. I don’t know the reason why you deleted your Twitter account so suddenly. We exchanged a lot of messages with each other before your account was deleted.pixelYou said that you went for coffee every day during lunch at a coffee shop near your office. You said that drinking a lot of coffee did not interfere with your sleep at night. But you didn’t need much sleep to begin with. You have a driver’s license, but you don’t own a car because you prefer riding the bicycle. You once learned how to swim. You’re relatively healthy, but you were born with a weak heart. As a matter of fact, your grandfather died from a heart attack. You’ve been on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and you were pickpocketed on a trip to Europe. [. . .] You like reading books, and also occasionally enjoy going to the theater by yourself after work. You don’t mind being single. You enjoy spending time alone. You told me that people at your office spend the entire day staring at their computer. You told me that not much talking happened there. You told me that typing and clicking sounds filled the silence instead. You were content with your job. If you were telling the truth, that is. Although I knew a lot about you, I neither knew your name, your gender, your age, your face, nor your voice. I didn’t even know your contact information.pixelI once told you about P. I was comfortable doing so since you didn’t know P. I knew that you and P wouldn’t be crossing paths. P and I had nothing to say to each other at all. We would meet every week to eat, have drinks, and sleep together, but nothing else happened between us. I’m not even sure whether P really loved me or not, but that is of little importance now. Meeting P taught me two things. That a conversation is more than a mere exchange of words, and that what I need isn’t a lover as much as someone who I can have real conversations with. As it turns out, I feel love through language. pixelIt occurred to me that I might bump into P by chance someday. On the street, at a restaurant, or in the subway. I tried to imagine our chance encounter. It seemed fair to assume such a thing might happen one day. If I ever met P by chance, if that day really did come, I was hoping we would just pass each other by. I was hoping that I wouldn’t recognize P at all. Yes, that would be best. I wished that I would no longer be able to recognize P by then. Like we’d never met to begin with, as if we were total strangers. I was hoping that we would have become too old to recognize each other—that we would have grown so completely distant that I wouldn’t even be able to recall P’s face. pixelI conjure up a distant memory of your face.ForeheadEyebrow            EyebrowEar            Eye               Eye              EarNoseMouth  pixelDid I ever call you by your name? In a loving manner. Did I ever call you in such a way? I couldn’t remember your name. I could only remember your face and whatever little time we spent together. There was no way for me to find you. I had no clues to fall back on. It was impossible for me to find you without your name. How could I forget your name? Perhaps it had been too long. Back when you were little, I was little as well. Your face came to replace your name for as far as I can remember.pixelA little one who never even had a name, and a little one whose name I can’t remember. I used to have two little siblings. One of them died before being born, and the other had their adoption revoked. Although I don’t know the name of the one who died, I know they existed. Although I don’t know the name of the other one whose adoption was revoked, I know they existed. If I can call them so, then I’m quite sure I used to have two little siblings.pixelI don’t know my dead sibling’s face. It’s because I never got to see them. They never had a single photo taken of them. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a face. Once their heart formed and blood began flowing through them, things like their ears, eyes, mouth, and nose would have started to take shape. From some moment on, they would have had small holes destined to become ears and small spots destined to become eyes. As they began to move, they would have developed their sense of touch. As they began to feel things, their facial features would have become increasingly well-defined. they would have grown fingers and toes, and their tail would have disappeared altogether. It wouldn’t have taken long before they grew to the size of an adult hand. Their fate would be determined with the formation of their genitals. As their cerebrum developed, they would have begun to think and remember things. By then, they would have been able to feel anger and sorrow, although they wouldn’t have known what they were called. Once they had a face, they would have been able to smile and frown. Although they wouldn’t have known the meaning of love, they would have been able to feel it. Even without knowing any words, they would have been able to feel all kinds of sensations and emotions. Little by little, their reddish skin would have darkened and become thicker as they began to sense the world around them.pixelThey died suddenly one day. Their bones and flesh, their blood, their heart and stomach, their liver and spleen, their appendix, their brain, their forehead, their eyebrows, their eyelashes, their eyes, their mouth, their lips, their nose and their nostrils, their ears and their ear canals, their hands and their fingers, their feet and their toes, their soft hair, their muscles, their nerves, their emotions, their short memories—all of these things which once belonged to them before dying. I could’ve seen their face had they been born and not died. I could’ve seen their face change with age as they grew up. Instead, they were labeled as “infectious waste” and disposed of in accordance with the law. pixelI found myself alone for a while. I grew up, began to walk, and learned to talk. You showed up at our house just when I started talking. You’re a big sibling now. You became my little sibling that day. Although you didn’t know how to speak yet, you could make sounds to express your hunger or your dissatisfaction. You could also burp, sneeze, and smile at me. You lived with us for close to a month. Sometimes you sat on the bed staring blankly at me. Was there something you wanted to tell me? pixelThere’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you. Although you may not remember me, I have always remembered you. A lot has happened at home since you returned to the arms of your grandmother and your mother. Our family isn’t as well off as it used to be. I no longer live at the house where you and I used to live. Whenever we downsized to a smaller home, and when fights between my parents grew more frequent, and when red stickers appeared on our electrical appliances and furniture indicating they were to be seized, and as my personal space kept shrinking, I thought about you. I was glad you didn’t have to go through any of that. Had you not left—or rather, had you not been returned—we would have gone through all these things together. I’m glad I was the only one subjected to this kind of life. Mom left. Dad stayed behind, and I watched him fall apart bit by bit. I’m really glad you weren’t there to see that. But I always longed to see you. Although you probably don’t remember me, you could have been my little sibling. pixelThey must be grown up by now and are no longer a child. They must no longer have the face of a child. They used to have a wide and round forehead. Maybe. From what I remember, their face was round but their cheeks were not very plump. I think they had thick lips and a deep groove under their nose. I’m not sure. I don’t remember well. But they did have a sharp nose. I can recall that clearly. No, I’m actually not even sure. I remember their nose being sharp, but I’m not sure if it was sharp enough to be called sharp. Although they may not have had a very sharp nose, it would also be wrong to say that they had a flat nose. They had very big eyes as well. Yes, I remember their faint double eyelids. Their eyes were undeniably big. I remember those eyes vividly.pixelYou left a lasting impression on me. Although you were smaller than me, your eyes were bigger than mine. Although your eyes were very big, they were more than just that. Your eyes sparkled. They glowed brightly like little marbles, like gems. They were moist. [. . .] kind and innocent. They were pure. They were pretty. They were beautiful. But they were more than just beautiful. Although I could remember your eyes, I couldn’t find the right words to describe them. It was a nearly impossible task. I could try. I could make the effort. But the more I described them, or the more I tried to describe them, the more I damaged them. I tried not to talk about you to prevent my words from erasing what was left of your face. pixelI was removing water. Water removal was a cumbersome task. When photoshoots involved spraying water on a product, it was almost impossible to achieve the client’s desired outcome no matter how many times I tried. That’s because I had no control over the direction or the angle in which the water would go, and because the brand logo would sometimes get covered in water. When this happened, I would take a photo of the product separately and merge it with another photo of the product with water sprayed onto it to create the final image. I was removing and altering the water’s shape to create a beautiful image that would include the brand logo while also capturing the moment when the water came into contact with the product. I adjusted the opacity, removed some water droplets, and added new water droplets, droplets, and droplets. When combining two photos together, it was vital to achieve a seamless result. pixelSummer was very hot this year, but winter was also very cold. Contrary to nature’s course. Paradoxically, the fact that winters have been getting colder serves as evidence that the Earth is gradually getting warmer. The melting of glaciers driven by global warming is said to have caused cold air from the North Pole to sweep across East Asia. Polar bears are losing their habitat and dying. Polar bears are disappearing. Disappearing fast. One animal has disappeared even faster than polar bears. The Bramble Cay melomys. This small rodent was driven to extinction by rising sea levels. Although I’ve never seen one in real life, I could see them everywhere. Although I’ve never seen one in real life, I knew that they disappeared. pixelI don’t think I would’ve minded had you used my stuff without asking me. Even if you had eaten ice cream that I bought for myself without asking me, or used one of my handbags without asking me, or borrowed my clothes without asking me—and even if we would have fought over why you did that—I don’t think I would’ve minded. If you got hit by another kid, I would have stood up for you and taught them a lesson. Even though I’ve never fought with anyone in my life, I would have been willing to do it again and again for you. I would’ve gotten medicine for you when you were sick and taken you to the hospital when you hurt yourself. I would’ve slept next to you on nights when you had a nightmare and were scared, hugged you when you cried, and thought about something to make you laugh while making the silliest face in the world when you felt depressed. To cherish dearly. I wished to know what that meant. I also wanted to capture your entire childhood on camera, and yet I don’t even have a single photo of you.pixelI didn’t keep a single photo of P. I tried my best to erase every memory, every trace, and every thought of P. But my efforts to completely erase P felt contrived. There was nothing I could be forced to erase. Not that I remember. Attempting to completely erase something made me realize it was impossible to completely erase something. Memories, traces, thoughts. Only time could erase and cause them to fade away. The natural way to erase something was to let it gradually fade away. Trying to speed up the process by erasing something that was meant to gradually fade away, or attempting to hold on to something that was meant to fade away on its own someday. I was like a human trying to interfere with the course of nature. pixelYou said you liked computers. You said that computers didn’t do anything unpredictable or irrational. You said that you understood computers. Cause and effect. You said that computers were always right and never left you feeling bewildered and frustrated. You said that nothing about computers ever happened merely by chance, accidentally, or for no reason. You said that computer programs were not complicated. Or that, yes, they could be complicated—but that their level of complexity paled in comparison to humans. You said that the complexity of humans often left you feeling bewildered and frustrated. pixelI went into the App Store every now and then to search for Griffin. Up until your account was deleted, I knew you’d been working to develop a photo application called Griffin. You said that Griffin would not only allow people to retouch their faces, but that it would also have a feature making it possible to seamlessly erase anyone from a photo. You said that, for example, users could use this feature to erase people appearing in the background of a selfie. You said that it would also make it possible to erase a specific person from a group picture. In contrast to Photoshop, which required editing photos after they had already been taken, this application would allow users to make anyone disappear the moment they took a photo. You were working to develop disappearance.pixel 0000101000000010             0100010             0             0             011                     1                     11                  1                  10010             01000010100 pixelI looked at a photo of P. Although part of me wanted to forget what they looked like altogether, I would add him back to my kakaoTalk contact list to look at their face every once in a while. I couldn’t help it. But the face in the photo appeared both like the one I knew and one that I didn’t know. Their face seemed to have changed, but also seemed not to have changed. The more I looked at the photo, the more familiar they looked, and the more unfamiliar they looked. If I stared long enough, it would feel like I both had and yet hadn’t grown distant from the face I remembered. There are countless ways a photo can distort a person’s face, though. I knew this better than anyone because my work involved retouching and editing photos. And yet, I still couldn’t take my eyes off the photo. I formed a new impression of him that fell somewhere between the face I remembered and the one in the photo.pixelI was waiting to receive another message from you. I waited and waited. Perhaps I wasn’t waiting for you as much as I was waiting for the message. You were already a message in and of yourself. A message which aroused feelings in me. But could I really have harbored feelings for someone whose name, gender, age, face, and voice I didn’t know? Although I didn’t think it made any sense, I continued waiting. I waited and waited. Perhaps it was all P’s fault. Perhaps I wanted to talk to you about things I didn’t get to tell P or find in you what P couldn’t give me. Linking your message to his image. I waited for your message to create—and love—someone who didn’t actually exist. pixelPeople at the office began playing around with an AI chatbot as a way to kill time. It wasn’t long before it became a trend. “Did you have lunch?” “It said it had kimchi-jjigae for lunch today.” “It’s asking me why I’m asking that kind of question.” People reacted to the things the program said. People looked a little more excited than usual. They said that the more people used the program and the more they interacted with it, the more the program would be able to learn, and the more fluent it would sound. Just like a human, AI learns by copying the behavior and language of others. If it was exposed to bad words, it would use bad language, and if it was exposed to pretty words, it would use pretty language. Listening and speaking were one and the same. I looked at the chat window to see what the program was saying. pixel I     send     youa     digital     message.You      speak      to      me      in      text.text text text text text text text text text textYour     face     and     body     are      made      of      text.Your thoughts and personality are made of text.Your      mind      produces      a      soft      skin.text text text text text text text text textYou are an organism made of text.Using nothing but text I candraw and recallyour    face.I can imagine your eyes, nose, and mouth. pixelIt was supposed to be the last snow of the winter according to the weather forecast. The snow fell with such intensity that it blanketed the whole world. It finally came to a stop after the sun reached its zenith. I stepped on the snow and slowly made my way to the coffee shop. A cat—or a dog—had left some pawprints in the snow. Shoeprints. There were still visible traces of someone’s passage here and there. Store owners came out during lunch time to clear up the snow piled up on the sidewalks. Someone was sprinkling salt on a steep road. A small snowman, a tiny little snowman, a snowman the size of a person, a dirty snowman, an uneven snowman, an ugly snowman [. . .] a snowman with rocks for eyes, a snowman with eyebrows. I had no idea who made them, but there were all sorts of snowmen in front of my office building. Those who cleared the snow did not clear away the snowmen. pixelAnyone can build a snowman, it’s easy. You just have to roll up some snow into two big balls and stack one of them on top of the other. Then, you can use tree branches and small rocks to create its face. It just needs a pair of eyes, a nose, and a mouth to be a person. If it’s too much trouble, you can just give it some eyes. But make sure you don’t just give it a nose or a mouth. It needs eyes to be a person. It wouldn’t be a snowman without eyes.pixelYou know there’s a meeting tomorrow, right?I’ll need the file before the end of the day!You know there’s a meeting tomorrow, right?I’ll need the file before the end of the day. :)You know there’s a meeting tomorrow, right? I’ll need the file before the end of the day. ^^Indeed, nothing is more important than eyes.pixelI would think of you whenever I saw someone with big eyes. You had big eyes when you were little, so you must still have big eyes today. I’m sure we must have seen each other at least once before. Although we bumped into each other, we must have simply walked on without recognizing each other. Back when I was in university, I worked part-time at a coffee shop around Sinchon Station, and given how crowded it was, I wouldn’t be surprised if you visited once. I take the subway every day, and given how crowded it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got on the same subway once. Couldn’t you have been one of the people I bumped shoulders with on an overcrowded train? Couldn’t we have once  been sitting inside the same screening room at the movie theater? Couldn’t we once have bumped into each other on the streets of Hongdae, Sinchon, Jongno, Myeongdong, Itaewon, Sinsa, or Gangnam by chance? And if we haven’t yet, if we keep walking these streets, isn’t there a chance we might bump into each other? Although I won’t be able to recognize your face, and you won’t remember me at all, I would like to see you again once. pixelBut we’re better off never seeing each other. Even if we were given the chance, it would be better not to. If you don’t have any memory of me, then it’s better to keep it that way. I probably don’t exist for you. I feel strange when I think about that. I most likely don’t exist in your memory. Your grandmother and your mother came looking for you again, and you went back with them. Had you not gone back with them, you would’ve become my most beloved little sibling. When people ask me if I have a sibling, I tell them I don’t have one, all the while thinking about you. I will keep thinking about you when I say that I don’t have a little sibling.pixelI went out to buy some diapers for you. I was really young myself. I must’ve been four or five. It was the first and last time I would ever buy baby diapers. I did as Mom told me and went to the supermarket to buy diapers. I was worried that I would buy the wrong diapers or mess something up. But I did my best to keep my cool. I walked out of the supermarket with your diapers, but you have no idea how heavy they were. I groaned as I carried the pack of diapers which was nearly as big as me. I had to drag it a few times, but I remember doing my best not to let it touch the ground. Passing by a factory, a vacant lot, and residential buildings, I kept my eyes on our house far in the distance. Knowing that you were in that house, I walked with all my might. I was filled with a sense of responsibility. I reminded myself that I had to take these diapers home no matter what. That I had to do this for you. You’re my little sibling. You’re my little sibling. We look nothing alike, but you’re still my little sibling. I walked home to you while reminding myself of this. I came to rely on you. I managed to walk back home because you were there.pixelAlthough I really wanted to see you, and I promised to see you again one day, I couldn’t bring myself to reach out to you. Had we wanted to, we could’ve met at any time since we were so close. I could’ve walked over to go see you, or you could’ve walked over to come see me. But in the end, we never did meet. We didn’t get to meet. And yet, I was still meeting all sorts of people every day. Are you among the people I came across on the subway after work? People who went down the stairs to the subway station and vanished from my sight. The subway station seemed to swallow them up.pixelI’m looking for a face I don’t know.  人 入 人 入 人 入 人 FOREHEAD EAR    EYE    EYE    EARNOSEMOUTHA woman with short bangs walks into the subway station.A man with a beard walks into the subway station. FOREHEAD EAR     EYE       EYE    EARNOSE 人 入 人 入 人 入 人 MOUTH 人 入 人 入 人   You’re either one of the two or neither of the two.You’re either a woman, a man, both, or neither.You’re either older, younger, or the same age as me.You have a name that I don’t know.pixelI went back into the App Store. It was the only way I could look for you. When the application was released, I would be able to learn the names of the developer or the members of the development team. If I was lucky, I might even get to know your contact information. However, even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to contact you. I wasn’t thinking about contacting you. In reality, your contact information wasn’t all that important. Perhaps, I just wanted to see Griffin. I wanted to see the Griffin logo, check out the Griffin features, and download the Griffin application. No—in reality, Griffin wasn’t all that important. Perhaps, I just wanted Griffin to appear in the search results when I searched for it. That’s all I wanted. That’s really all it was. Because you were working to develop a technology that could make anything inside a picture disappear the moment it was taken. Because you worked on developing Griffin. If you really did exist, then Griffin would one day be released. If you truly did exist, if you truly did exist. I made sure to get each consonant and vowel right as I typed away the letters on the keyboard—G, R, I, F, F, I, N.pixelI wanted to tell you about it one day. Simply because, for no particular reason, just once. That I used to have a little sibling as well. Or rather, that there once was a little one who could have become my little sibling. You always paid attention to me when I talked. I could have spoken to you about the things I couldn’t tell P. Although it was all behind me now, I struggled through so many things on my own. I desperately needed someone to fall back on. My father fell back on alcohol, but I had nothing to fall back on. I was worried that saying I was lonely would actually make me lonely, so the word lonely disappeared from my vocabulary. But I felt like you were someone I could say anything to. Without the need to be logical or to make any sense. I could talk to you about my little sibling, and even tell you all the things I wanted to tell them. Up until your account got deleted, I had felt as though I could have told you anything. pixelNo one thought it strange when the snow melted and disappeared without leaving a trace. Even though the snowmen had disappeared, no one went looking for them. It was only natural for snow to melt with the rising temperature. If snow melted, snowmen would naturally melt and disappear, too. Their gradual disappearance was only natural. I have been working around here for the past three years, and as I walk these streets every day, I have witnessed them change little by little. Life went on. Without snow. Life went on. Even without snow. Today, too, I think about coffee. Wanting to drink coffee, I walk and walk. pixelNice to see you again. It was the first time the coffee shop employee addressed me. Although I didn’t know their name, and they didn’t know mine, we exchanged a few brief words. The coffee shop employee had big eyes. They caught my attention the first time I came here. The one who could have become my little sibling would have been about the same age as them. I looked into their eyes and ordered a coffee. I then grabbed a seat and waited for my coffee. I waited. For someone. Just then, the coffee shop door swung open and someone walked in. It’s that person I saw yesterday. Just like me, that person comes here alone every day. That person looked around. That person must’ve been looking for somebody or for somewhere to sit down. That person grabbed a seat without ordering anything. They seemed to be waiting for somebody. Was I the one waiting for them? Even though I did not wait for them, the same people still showed up every day. The ones who came here at lunch every day. The people who worked nearby. They were all people whose names I didn’t know. Although I wasn’t waiting for them, I always felt a bit strange whenever we crossed paths. It was as though I had been waiting for them. As though I knew them well. Nice to see you again, I could have tried greeting them. I might or might not have been waiting for them. I might or might not have been waiting for anyone. I might have been waiting for someone whose name I didn’t know but whose face I knew, someone whose name I knew but whose face I didn’t know, someone whose face I knew but who I could no longer recognize, or someone whose face I could never have recognized to begin with. But I didn’t come here to wait. I was waiting but not waiting for anyone. A warm coffee. I was waiting but not waiting for anyone.pixelWinter has now faded away. Following nature’s course. Winter has entirely faded away and the days have drawn out entirely, allowing me to see the sun still shining brightly on my way back from work. Apartment buildings under construction. An intersection. Cars waiting for the green light. People crossing the street. Baskin-Robbins. Olive Young. People walking out of stores. A high school. Students in uniforms walking out of the front gate. A student on his bicycle passing swiftly through a crowd. Weeds growing all along train tracks. An old wall. The same old wall. A concrete wall. A tree behind a wall. A tree. A tree. Trees with budding leaves. A white magnolia tree. A tree. A yellow forsythia. A forsythia. A forsythia. The forsythias are in full bloom. The scenery outside the subway window shifts rapidly before fading away, fading away. I take out my cellphone to take a photo of the scenery as it fades away. I hold my cellphone up to the window and turn the camera on, pixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixel       pixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelI appear on the screen. I switch to the rear camera setting to take a photo of the scenery. The screen changes to reveal the rapidly changing scenery outside the subway window as it fades away, fades away. Forsythias. Forsythias. Forsythias. My gaze remains locked on the camera screen. Roadside trees. Roadside trees. Roadside trees. A building. Roadside trees. A building. Roadside trees. A building. Roadside trees. The scenery changes and fades away, fades away from my locked gaze. Rapidly, more rapidly. It changes nonstop and fades away. pixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixelpixel  1334 × 750 □□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□ Translated by Léo-Thomas Brylowski

COLUMNS Gildam Space Hi hi!I’m Florian, your guide to The Place.Nice to meet you! In the midst of the climate crisis affecting the whole globe,I’ve come to Seochon because I heard there was somewhere very special here. And that Place is…Gildam Space, a “green bookstore”! Gildam Space A multipurpose cultural space offering a little gallery, meeting space, coffee, tea, and a small “green bookstore” selling books on the climate crisis, ecology, and the environment. It’s really quiet and peaceful inside. If you look over here, you’ll see a collection of past volumes of The Green Review,and next to that, a poster for a lecture related to the climate crisis. Climate Crisis, Capitalism, Democracy: The Green Review and “The Value Beyond Values” I can see why they call this a “green bookstore.” Aha!Let’s take a look.Here’s The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming and Earth of All. And this one, The Disaster Tourist, is an award-winner!Winner of the 2021 Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger awarded by the UK Crime Writers' Association, huh.Ooh, I should read that one later. And if you come out front,Oh! You can order drinks here.Fair-trade cashew milk? Could I get a glass of fair-trade cashew milk, please?I’m going to take a sip. Cheers! I can feel the power of fair trade!It’s so refreshing. Oh, can I ask how much this costs? Every drink in gildamspace here is sold at a flat “culture cost” of 5,000 won (<4 USD), with the proceedings going toward various cultural events. Five thousand won for culture costs? Of course I’ll pay!Thank you! I can see a space out back as well. I wonder what that is.Shall we take a look? There are some photos on display here.What’s this about?It looks like some kind of cultural event programming. It says “Opening Up Shop at the Vegan Festival.”It looks like they do events like this too. Something just caught my eye.There’s a beautiful hanok house outside the window. This is Sangchonjae, a hanok cultural space.Sangchonjae is a famous date spot too,so it’s perfect for going to the bookstore, and then taking your sweetheart on a date while you’re at it! So I’m going to meet with the director. Oh Mr. Director!Florian(F): Hello!Could you introduce yourself for the audience, please? Kim Seok-jin(Kim): I am Kim Seok-jin, the director of gildamspace. F: Pleased to meet you. F: How long have you been managing it?  Kim: It’s been fourteen or fifteen years since this bookstore was founded,but I haven’t been managing it the whole time.My teacher and mentor Park Seong-joon founded it,then handed the management over to his juniors about four or five years ago. When this place started out,it was a bookstore selling across-the-board humanities books,but as everyone knows, the Earth’s pretty hot these days.  F: Yep, it’s on fire today too.  Kim:  So about four years ago, we decided to focus our efforts onmaking a bookstore and book café that centered more specifically on climate concerns. F: The viewers watching this video are overseas readers!So it would be great if you could introduce gildamspace for their sake. Our bookstore’s name is “gildam.”  Kim: “Gil” means “May we walk the road (gil) of happiness and peace together,”and “dam” means “fence,” as in the walls of a paddock or pen.It means, “In times of darkness or struggle, may we rest in safety.May we comfort and encourage each other within those walls.”That’s what “Gildam” means. Coming here as a foreigner, I’m sure there must be many spaces like this one abroad,and you won’t be able to experience much that’s traditional about Korea,but I think it’s a space that will allow you to experience firsthand how Koreans think and talk aboutissues of climate change or the question of how to coexist in peace. F: I’ll come back sometime too if I get the chance! Kim: Please do, and bring your sweetheart with you!F: Of course!Thank you for doing this interview today. - Behind the Scenes -F: So what are these books about? Kim: Since you’re so good at Korean, you should give these journals a try as well. F: Are these… treatises? Journals?  Kim: Journals, yes, but there are a lot of treatises in them too. Translated by Jean Kim

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