The red fruit hanging on the branch falls quivering at the slightest touch of a finger. Jung-il picks up a fruit that fell on its own and rubs it with his calloused fingers before bringing it to his nose to smell it. The paprika is firm and glistening like Su-yeon’s bare skin.
가지에 매달려 있는 붉은 열매는
손끝으로 건드리기만 해도 진저리치며 떨어진다.
중일은 제풀에 떨어진 과실 하나를 집어
굳은살 박인 손가락으로 쓰다듬고 코에 대고 향을 맡아본다.
파프리카는 수연의 속살처럼 탱탱하고 반질반질 윤기가 흐른다
“Paprika” is a story about Su-yeon, a Vietnamese girl who married a Korean paprika farmer, Jung-il. Starting with “Paprika,” writer Seo Seong-ran began writing about the issues concerning foreigners in Korean society.
#Interview by Korean Literature Professor Bang Min-ho of Seoul National University
Paprika is not indigenous to Korea. This short story was written after careful research at a paprika farm. Su-yeon, a woman transplanted from Vietnam, and paprika, a vegetable imported from abroad and grown in greenhouses, are similar and evoke same emotional responses. Also, the issues faced by migrants and foreigners in Korean society are communicated through the medium of paprika.
Jung-il took out a sharp pencil from a pencil case holding a few pencils that she had sharpened and wrote her name neatly on the notebook.
“I made this name for you. Do you like it?”
She bit down on the pencil tip with her lips and stared at Jung-il with her eyes wide open.
“Chu-yen is too hard to pronounce. From now on, your name is Su-yeon.”
중일은 그녀가 깎아놓은 몇 자루의 연필이 든 필통 속에서
연필심이 뾰족한 연필을 꺼내 또박또박 노트에 썼다.
“내가 지은 당신 이름이야. 마음에 들어?”
그녀는 연필심을 입술 끝에 물고 커다란 눈을 동그랗게 뜨고 중일을 바라보았다.
“츄엔은 발음하기 어려워. 이제부터 당신 이름은 수연이야“
Chu-yen was the Vietnamese bride’s real name, but Jung-il changed it to a Korean name, Su-yeon, because it was hard to pronounce. That was his way of loving her and making her life easy.
She stood looking at the just setting sun and took the paprika to her mouth. She bit into the crispy vegetable and slowly chewed it. Sweet and tangy taste slowly spread inside her mouth.
The flavor and aroma of paprika long lingered inside Chu-yen’s mouth.
츄엔은 이제 저물기 시작하는 해를 바라보고 서서
파프리카를 입으로 가져갔다.
와삭 깨물어 입에 물고 천천히 씹는다.
달콤하고 새콤한 향이 입안에서 천천히 퍼진다.
파프리카의 맛과 향은 츄엔의 입안에 오랫동안 남아있다.
Seo Seong-ran: Born in Iksan, Jeollabuk-do Prov. in 1967
Debuted by winning Silcheon Munhak New Writer’s Award in 1996 with “Grandmother’s Peace”
Published “Paprika” in literary magazine Korea Literature in 2007