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Poetry

Earning My Keep

By Jeong Ho-Seung
Translated from Korean by Brother Anthony of Taizé & Susan Hwang
From one of Korea's best-known poets, a dramatic monologue about going to work in "Hell."

Mother,
I think I’ll go pay a visit to Hell.
No matter how far away,
I’ll set off as if leaving for work in the morning
then come back as if coming off work in the evening.
Don’t skip meals, chew your food well before swallowing,
be sure to turn off the gas when you step out,
and don’t worry too much about me.
Hell too must be a place where people live,
so if I go to Hell to earn my keep
at last I’ll be able to become a human being.


밥값,,from 밥값. © Jeong Ho-seung. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2014 by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Susan Hwang. All rights reserved.

 

English Korean (Original)

Mother,
I think I’ll go pay a visit to Hell.
No matter how far away,
I’ll set off as if leaving for work in the morning
then come back as if coming off work in the evening.
Don’t skip meals, chew your food well before swallowing,
be sure to turn off the gas when you step out,
and don’t worry too much about me.
Hell too must be a place where people live,
so if I go to Hell to earn my keep
at last I’ll be able to become a human being.


밥값,,from 밥값. © Jeong Ho-seung. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2014 by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Susan Hwang. All rights reserved.

 

밥값

어머니

아무래도 제가 지옥에 한번 다녀오겠습니다

아무리 멀어도

아침에 출근하듯이 갔다가

저녁에 퇴근하듯이 다녀오겠습니다

식사 거르지 마시고 꼭꼭 씹어서 잡수시고

외출하실 때는 가스불 꼭 잠그시고

너무 염려하지는 마세요

지옥도 사람 사는 곳이겠지요

지금이라도 밥값을 하러 지옥에 가면

비로소 제가 인간이 될 수 있을 겁니다.

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