There was a mute servant named Samryong at that house. He wasn’t tall, so he looked rather dumpy, and his neck wasn’t long, as if his head was attached directly to the torso.
He used to have something like a ponytail, which he had cut off at the order of his master, but his hair puffed up at all times much like chestnut burs.
그 집에는 삼룡(三龍)이라는 벙어리 하인 하나가 있으니
키가 본시 크지 못하여 땅딸보로 되었고,
고개가 빼지 못하여 몸뚱이에 대강이를 갖다가 붙인 것 같다.
머리는 전에 새고랑지 같은 것을
주인의 명령으로 깎기는 깎았으나
불밤송이 모양으로 언제든지 푸하고 일어섰다.
#Interview by literary critic Jeon So-yeong
Na Do-hyang, who had shown romanticist tendencies when he first published his stories, turned his creative orientation to realism in later years. “Samryong the Mute” was a story situated right in between the two. It had detailed descriptions of reality and a romantic love story added on top of it.
The young mistress abused by her new husband. Samryong just couldn’t understand. How could the young master be so cruel to such a lovely, angelic wife! The sympathy and concern for the new mistress that sprouted in Samryong’s heart soon turned into an inexplicable feeling.
That’s when he spotted the mistress lying under a cover, determined to die in the fire. He grabbed the mistress. But there was nowhere to go. Left with no other option, he went up to the roof.
He felt in his heart a joyful pleasure that he had never experienced before. As he embraced the mistress closely, he felt alive for the first time.
그는 새아씨가 타 죽으려고 이불을 쓰고 누워 있는 것을 보았다.
그는 새아씨를 안았다. 그러나 나갈 곳이 없었다.
그는 하는 수 없이 지붕으로 올라갔다.
그는 자기가 여태까지 맛보지 못한 즐거운 쾌감을
자기의 가슴에 느끼는 것을 알았다.
새아씨를 자기 가슴에 안았을 때 그는 이제 처음으로 살아난 듯하였다.
#Interview by Seoul Nat’l University’s Korean Literature Prof. Bang Min-ho
I think Samryong saved his mistress and then died of over-exertion. That’s what completes the tragically beautiful story. Sacrificing one’s life for another is, in a way, saving the world. If I could sacrifice myself for the person I love very much, I could happily give my life.
Na Do-hyang (1902~1926): Born in Cheongpa-dong, Seoul. Started writing professionally by launching in 1922 a literary magazine named Baekjo with fellow writers Park Jong-hwa, Hong Sa-yong, Lee Sang-hwa, and Hyun Jin-geon. “Samryong the Mute,” published in literary magazine Yeomyeong in 1925, is counted among Na’s most famous works, along with “The Waterwheel” and “Mulberry.”