from A World History of Second Sons

Translated by: 
Jae Won Chung


Listen. Here’s a story from the era of General Chun Doo-hwan – one of the more preposterous dictators to have ruled our land.

Thirty-odd years have passed since these events transpired. Yet as the fate of our protagonist-hero demonstrably shows, sometimes it makes no dif­ference at all that whole decades have gone by. Today he’s still a wanted man, just as he was then. His name: Na Bogmahn. Na was twenty-nine when the order came down for his arrest. If he’s alive somewhere, he’s got to be over sixty by now. He was chased through his thirties. He spent his forties trying to shake his foes. In his fifties, he always had to watch his back. This is how the years passed him by, with his shoulders hunched forward, as if preparing to confront a violent gust of wind in an alleyway. Later, even when he’s seventy or eighty, he’ll be living out his years as a wanted man. Now that I think about it, maybe the real protagonist of this story isn’t Na Bogmahn, but what it means to be ‘a wanted man’. What I mean is, if these unfortunate incidents that befell Na Bogmahn had happened to you or me over so many decades (you, me, or any one of us really), we would’ve had no choice but to become another Na Bogmahn. Even if it had happened to General Chun himself. . . . Thirty years later I can tell you that much still hasn’t changed.

That’s the story I’m here to tell.

Now listen with a slow, leisurely heart.

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