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  • A Journal from the Alpha-Omega Kosiwon
  • Park Min-gyu (bio)
    Translated by Kyung Hyun Kim (bio) and Sue Heun Kim1 (bio)

I have no idea if that kosiwon—bar exam prep boot camp—with a very unique name is still there

Like everything else in this world, it might be or might not be. It doesn't really matter. Supposing it disappeared. No one's to blame. Ten years have passed. For better or for worse, just as people might have died, the kosiwon might have died.

If you were to go on living, that is. …

It was while I was watching a news report titled "The Rat Growing a Human Ear on Its Body" that my memory of that secret room in the kosiwon—I could care less whether it still exists or not—came back. I don't know why. I was just watching "The Rat Growing a Human Ear on Its Body" and everything about that kosiwon came sprouting back all at once. Just like the human ear growing on a rat. Bizarrely. Sprouting. [End Page 121]

I momentarily immersed myself in quiet nostalgia as if I were a snail inside the snail-shaped cochlea. Yes. Like that snail inside the snail-shaped cochlea, which is inside the human ear sprouting on the body of a rat, there was a time when I used to live at the end of a kosiwon corridor. It was a long time ago, but it's also just a plain fact. If you have never lived in a kosiwon like that, then please refrain from leaving a comment mocking me, such as "there actually is no snail living in a snail-shaped cochlea." You just can't possibly know everything that goes on in this world.

If you look around closely. …

If a human was living at the end of the corridor at the kosiwon, a snail could be living inside the snail-shaped cochlea. They are no different. So, this would be the story of a human living at the end of a kosiwon corridor that looks like a cochlea in the inner ear. Even though this event took place over ten years ago, the DNA from the kosiwon must be implanted in my body. It's possible that a large "ear of a kosiwon" is already sprouting on my back. Supposing that were true, I tend to think no one's to blame, even for that. Just as the ear was in the midst of sprouting, there are dead people, dead rats, and dead snails. Hence,

if you were to go on living, that is. …

In the spring of 1991, many things were happening. …

If you were to go on living, you might encounter all forms of springs, but heck, that spring was a first. The winter before, my father's business went bankrupt. Notices of property seizure were plastered everywhere inside the house and all these loan sharks barged in. The very person responsible for swindling my father at this terrible time, when he had already been forced to file for bankruptcy, was none other than his own younger brother. Of [End Page 122] course, that means it was my uncle who completely destroyed my family, but of course I can't possibly call that kind of human being my uncle. The house was sold and my family scattered. My parents were forced to move to the countryside, my older brother to the construction pit, and, as for me, I had to couch surf from friend's house to friend's house. It all happened at once.

And then spring came

So when spring came, my free couch-surfing also came to an end. One day, when I was trying to eat breakfast with my friend's family, I was the only one missing a fried egg. "Look, no egg for him!" my friend pointed out. To which his mother replied, "You know, it just so happens that we ran out of eggs." I continued eating without a second thought, said thank you, and as I was getting up, caught a glimpse of two entire trays of eggs on top of the refrigerator. Behind me I...


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pp. 121-146
Launched on MUSE
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