When we try to call someone from behind, we use a name. But she was a little unusual. When she calls someone, she doesn’t call by name, like most people do. She uses a nickname she made up or a language known only to her. 

But I think the reason she is so unfortunate lies in the weird way she communicates with others. 

등뒤에서 남에게 말을 걸 때 우리는 이름을 사용한다.

그런데 그녀는 좀 이상하다.

남을 부를 때 모든 사람이 하듯 이름을 부르지 않는다.

제멋대로 제가 지어낸 별명이라든지 저만 아는 언어로 부르는 것이다.

어째든 내가 보기에 그녀에게 늘 불운이 따라다니는 것은

바로 타인을 대하는 그녀의 그 이상한 소통방식이 아닌가 싶다.

The main character “I,” a complete individualist, and the woman, who is disturbingly kind and dependent on others. In “Talking to a Stranger” the leading male character describes the woman’s actions, which are incomprehensible to him. 


“When I first went to ask you to accompany me to the gynecologist, do you know why I chose you?”

“Because you didn’t seem like a kind person. It seemed I wouldn’t get hurt even if you refused.”

“I like you. I like the coldness that doesn’t let me expect anything out of you. I find it very comforting.”

As I was trying to light up a cigarette, I suddenly realized that we were in a hospital room, so I put the cigarette back in the pack. 

“How can you live so cold-heartedly like that? Aren’t you running away because you are actually scared?”

“그 때 산부인과에 따라가달라고 처음 찾아갔을 때,  왜 하필 너였는 줄 알아?“


“네가 친절한 사람 같지 않아서야. 거절당해도 상처받지 않을 것 같았어“


“난 네가 좋아. 아무것도 기대할 수 없게 만드는 그 냉정함 말야.  그게 너무 편해“ 

불을 붙이려던 나는 이곳이 병실 안이라는 것을 문듣 깨닫고

담배를 도로 담뱃갑 안에 집어넣었다.

“어떻게 하면 너처럼 그렇게 냉정하게 살 수 있는 거지?

 사실은 너도 겁이 나서 피해버리는 거 아니야?“ 

#Interview by Seoul National University’s Korean Literature Professor Bang Min-ho

The woman thought that he didn’t refuse her because it was her, but that he would refuse everybody. He doesn’t act like a hypocrite, so she figured that she wouldn’t get hurt that much. This is the writer’s scathing criticism toward the people living in today’s society. 

Eun Hee-kyung: Born in Gochang, Jeollabuk-do Province in 1959. Her short story “Duet” won the Dong-A Ilbo Literature Award in 1995, launching her on a professional writing career. In the same year she won the Munhakdongne Fiction Award for her novel “A Gift from a Bird” and two years later her short story collection “Talking to a Stranger” won the Dongseo Literature Award. .