#Interview by literary critic Jeon So-yeong

Because Son had to bear the scars of war, it was not surprising that he came to dislike humans and wrote stories that criticized the world. He provided detailed, almost microscopic descriptions of people who had lost all hope and a dismal world without future visions. That’s what made Son Chang-sop’s stories the most bizarre and bleak novels in Korean literature history.


On a rainy day like this, Won-gu’s heart became unbearably heavy. That’s because the miserable lives of Dong-wook and his sister were played inside his head like on a projection screen. In Won-gu’s mind, Dong-wook and Dong-ok’s lives were always soaked in rain. 

이렇게 비 내리는 날이면

원구의 마음은 감당할 수 없도록 무거워지는 것이었다.

그것은 동욱 남매의 음산한 생활 풍경이 

그의 뇌리를 영사막처럼 흘러가기 때문이었다.

원구의 머릿속에 떠오르는 동욱과 동옥은

언제나 비에 젖어 있는 인생들이었다.

Won-gu wasn’t making much money off of his street peddling because of the rain. Then, he suddenly got worried about Dong-wook and Dong-ok, so he left home despite the pouring rain. When he got to the sibling’s house, he was stunned to find a new landlord, who told him that he didn’t know where they had gone.


Strangely, Won-gu was stunned to hear him say that such a pretty girl wouldn’t die of starvation for she could sell herself. He felt rage welling up inside of him, furious enough to almost accuse the landlord of selling off Dong-ok. But he couldn’t bear the weight of his body, pressing down on him like thousand pounds, so he just turned away without saying a word. 

He felt a chill at the delusion that the sound of furor, “You thug, you sold off Dong-ok,” was flying toward him from far, far away. Won-gu wobbled along the road covered with pumpkin vines like a man who had just recovered from an illness. 

얼굴이 고만큼 밴밴하고서야 어디 가 몸을 판들 굶어 죽기야 하겠냐는 말에

이상하게 원구는 정신이 펄쩍 들어,

이 놈 네가 동옥을 팔아먹었구나 하고 대들 듯한 격분을 마음 속 한 구석에 의식하면서도,

천근의 무게로 내리누르는듯한 육체의 중량을 감당할 수 없어

그는 말없이 발길을 돌이켰다.

이놈, 네가 동옥을 팔아먹었구나 하는 흥분의 소리가

까마득히 먼 곳에서 자기를 향하고 날아오는 것 같은 착각에 오한을 느끼며

원구는 호박 덩굴 우거진 밭두둑 길을 앓고 난 사람모양 허전거리는 다리로 걸어나가는 것이었다.

Won-gu probably realized that his rage was directed not at the landlord, but at himself. That is why the thought of his friends depressed him on rainy days.

Son Chang-sop (1922~2010, Born in Pyongyang, N. Korea)

Debuted when his short story “Holiday” was published in 1952 and “Sayeongi” in 1953.

Received Hyundai Literature New Writer’s Award in 1955 with short story “Blood Letter”

Published “Rainy Days” in literary magazine Literature in 1953