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  • Daeheung Chemicals Plastic Factory
  • Kim Ju-Tae
    Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé (bio)

Daeheung Chemicals Plastic Factory

They call it a factory, but it’s just a large shed. Inside, the stench of boiling polyethelene and intense heat. “Daeheung Chemicals” sounds impressive for a place where they turn people into plastic. When I go in to sell my newspapers I see expressionless faces, no thought of buying a paper. They concentrate intently on the plastic machines. I toss down my bundle of papers, listen to the noise, then slink out and run away. A place hot as a sauna, without even a fan. In Daeheung Chemicals factory, people from Muan, in Jeolla, and from Danyang, in Chungcheon, work like silkworms to produce pure plastic, while breathing in the stinking chemicals. They’ve come up to Seoul with their dreams on their backs, where they melt, along with their dreams and loves, and become plastic themselves. Inside Daeheung Chemicals factory you find a plastic universe without human beings. There is only the boss. Once a week, he drops by to carry away the plastic, and is the only one who has not turned into plastic. A slave master, he looks imposing. But he is always nervous, afraid that one day the workers, who are experts at their trade, will turn him and his fat paunch into plastic, too, along with his shiny imported car. Work hard, Daeheung Chemicals factory! [End Page 35]

Brother Anthony of Taizé

Brother Anthony of Taizé has published more than thirty volumes of translations of Korean poetry. Recently, he published ten volumes of work by Ko Un, along with volumes by Lee Si-Young and Kim Soo-bok. Born in Cornwall in 1942, he has lived in Korea since 1980 and was naturalized as a Korean citizen in 1994. Brother Anthony has received the Republic of Korea Literary Award (Translation), the Daesan Award for Translation, the Korea PEN Translation Prize, and the Ok-gwan (Jade Crown) Order of Merit for Culture from the Korean government. He is also emeritus professor of English at Sogang University and Chair of the International Creative Writing Center at Dankook University.



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