In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Excerpt from The Statement
  • Haïlji (bio)
    Translated by Minsoo Kang (bio) and Susanna Lim (bio)


Arrested and dragged before the police-never in a million years could I have imagined something like this happening to me. I've lived a quiet life, no big quarrels with anyone. I've never been through an ordeal like this, even during the military dictatorship when so many intellectuals and university students were imprisoned and tortured.

Don't get me wrong. There was a time in my youth when I took part in student demonstrations, and I tasted my share of pepper gas. I also submitted several articles on political and social issues to journals. But I've never experienced horrific persecution like many others did. I was lucky-but then again, nothing I ever did or wrote was that radical.

Don't get excited? How am I supposed to be calm in this situation? You charge me with murder out of the blue and tell me not to get excited? By the way, where the hell am I? Why did you bring me here instead of a police station? Are you even allowed to interrogate me in a place like this? Is this legal?

Does my family know I'm here? [End Page 9]

That's that then. Nobody knows where I am or what's happening to me. Though I don't have anybody except for my wife . . . .

In any case, could you please take these handcuffs off? As you know, I'm a professor. I teach philosophy at a university. A national university, no less. You think someone with such a respectable position needs to be restrained because he might, what, run away? I wouldn't run even if I could. If I ran, that would be an acknowledgment of guilt. So rest assured, and please take these things off.

Of course this feels awful, handcuffed for the first time in my life. But I'm not asking you to take them off because they are uncomfortable or because I'm embarrassed to have them on. I can deal with that. I just don't want my wife to see me like this. She's very sensitive, you know, and she might faint from the sight. Besides, she's pregnant.

Yes, I came with my wife. She's probably sleeping like a baby right now, unaware that I've been arrested. Not because she doesn't care. How can she possibly imagine this happening to me? And she must be exhausted. She's on the frail side, you see, and she's worn out from these few days of traveling. She was so excited the night before we left. She could hardly sleep, like a schoolgirl before her first field trip. She'd waited so long for this. So she must be sleeping soundly now.

But in the morning, she'll wake up and find me gone. At first, she'll just think I've gone out for a walk. But then, as time goes by, she'll start to worry.

Finally, she'll timidly go downstairs to the hotel lobby, and the manager will tell her what happened. That when I came down to get some fresh air, I was arrested. She'll be shocked and dazed, but eventually she'll calm herself down and run over to see me, and I don't want her to see me in these cuffs. She might faint from seeing [End Page 10] me like this. So please take them off. Please. Not for my sake, but for my wife's.

I am begging you but you are not batting an eye. You people have no heart.

What? I may try to kill myself if you take the cuffs off? Ha ha ha! Now that's the craziest thing I've ever heard. Do I look like the kind of weakling who'd kill himself for no good reason? I have a pregnant wife, for God's sake. . . . So you've put these cuffs on to protect me from myself. How grateful I am to know that.

There's nothing I can do. If you really have to do things this...