Thursday, December 8, 2016

Recommended: "Oppa Came Back"

Recommended read: "Oppa Came Back," a story by Kim Young-ha and translated excellently by Steven Capener who won a Commendation for his work. It featured in the Korea Times this month for their 47th Korea Times Translation Awards 2016.

This story was a roller-coaster from beginning to end, and Mr. Capener did an excellent job in making it incredibly compelling, honest, and entertaining. You really get a strong sense of the author's voice coming through here. I meant to just skim it but ended up reading the entire thing. Here's a taste:

While the girl stared, mouth open in surprise, I stuck out my tongue and then darted into my room. In a fight, it's always a good idea to get in the first blow. Just because she had gotten a taste of sex early on and she was always panting after my brother doesn't give her the right to stick her nose in our family's business or try to act like my eonni. For what it's worth, I guess because of the girl oppa is a lot calmer these days. The fact that he and my dad have something of a truce going is probably because the girl satisfies my brother's sexual demands. When men don't get these needs met they go crazy, either getting fall-down drunk or fighting like animals.

Until oppa turned sixteen, my father regularly beat him half to death. That's why it's a miracle that they can live together now. If beating the hell out of my brother wasn't enough to ease my father's rage, he would make him strip and kick him out of the house. Then, dad, completely shitfaced from drinking straight soju, would pass out, totally oblivious that my brother was still outside. When I would take oppa his clothes, he would be shivering with cold and cursing the blue blazes out of my father.

"Son of a bitch. Just wait you cock-sucking-motherfucker."

When he turned sixteen, oppa made good on this threat. When father drunkenly charged at him, oppa knocked him down with one punch, tied him up hand and foot with a jump rope, and left the house for good.

 Korea Times | Oppa Came Back

There's a whole set of stories like this of these great translations at The Korea Times: Translation Awards

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