할아버지와의 한때: 글쓰기에 대한 담소
From One Generation to Another: A Conversation Between Our Editor-in-Chief
and her Grandfather
(Left to right, front) Chun Moon Gal, D.K. Lee, poet Dong Kyu Hwang, Jin Kwon Kim, Sam Yang, poet Jong Ki Ma, Choon Hyun Baik. (Left to right, back) Hyo Sik Gang, Dong Young Kim, Kwang Eoun Kim.
할아버지는 언제 부터 책읽고 글쓰기를 좋아하게 되셨나요?
초등학교때 부터 글쓰고 책 읽는걸 좋아 했지.
중학교에 진학해서 영화 감상문을 썼는데 작문 선생님이 잘 썼다고 칭찬하셔서 크게 고무 되었지. 그래서 문예반장도 했지.
고교시절, 소설과 시인의 자제 분들과 함께 서울고등학교 문예 반 활동을 하신게 글 쓰기에 얼마나 큰 영향을 미쳤나요?
고등학교 3학년때 신문 문예반에 참여해서 서울고 교지 만드는데 일조를 했지. 당시 많은 소설가 시인이 친구 아버지란 걸 자랑스럽게 생각했고, 다소 영향을 줬겠지만 크게 의식하진 않고 지냈지.
문학가를 아버지로 둔 친구들분과 할아버지는 어떻게, 어떤 점이 다르다고 느끼셨나요?
그 당시에는 글을 쓰는 일에 특별한 재능이 필요하다고는 생각하지 못 했고 그 친구들과 내가 특별히 다르다고 느끼지는 않았던 것 같아.
그렇게 글쓰는걸 좋아하셨고 기자 생활도 하셨는데, 왜 사업을 하게되셨나요?
글쓰기를 좋아했었지만, 학교 생활을 할 수록 점점 글 쓰는 재능에 대해서는 회의감을 느꼈어. 또 한살 한살 나이가 들어가면서 생각하게 된 것은 사업을 통해 성공을 해서 국가와 사회에 공헌할 수 있다면 사업 역시도 훌륭한 길, 나에게 맞는 길이라고 생각했어.
연세춘추편집장이셨을때 정부에 반대하는 기사를 쓰셨던 일에 대해서 자세히 설명해주세요. 무섭지 않으셨나요?
내가 연세춘추 편집장을 했던 시기는 독재에 맞서 시민들이 항거했던 4.19 혁명이 일어난 직후였어 집권당인 민주당 정권이 약체 정권이라 정부정책의 일관성이 없어 사회질서가 확립되지 못했기 때문에 그런일이 일어났지. 덕분에 정부를 비판할 수 있는 자유가 어느 정도는 보장이 되었기 때문에 크게 두렵지 않았고, 대중적인 인기를 무기 삼아 비판적인 기사를 쓸 수 있었지.
만용을 많이 부렸지. (지금 생각하면 잘한 일도 많지만 부끄러운 일도 있었던것 같아.)
글쓰기에 있어서 가장 중요한 것은 무엇이라고 생각하세요? 신문기사와 창작문학은 어떻게 달라야 된다고 생각하시나요?
글쓰기의 가장 기본이 되면서도 중요한 것은 글을 읽는 사람들에게 거부감을 주지 말아야 한다는 점이야. 신문 기사는 간결하고 읽기 쉬운 글이어야 할것 같아. 창작문학, 특히 소설은 “가공된 진실”이란걸 알아야 한다. 다시 말하면 작가는 냉철하면서도 착하고 사회각계각층 특히, 약자에 대한 진실 추구에도 게을르지 말아야 한다는 것이다.
할아버지의 제일 싫어하는, 그리고 제일 존경하는 문학인 특성은 무엇인가요?
제일 좋아 하는 문인의 기질은 진실하고, 솔직하고 시대정신을 발휘하는점 싫어하는 문인의 기질은 흔히들 감성을 극복 못하는 점이랄까.
만약 책을 쓰신다면, 어떤 내용으로 쓰시고 싶나요?
내가 태어났을때 보다 조금 더 좋은 세상을 만드는데 보탬이 되는 글을 써야 되지 않을까.
할아버지는 손녀가 한국 문학과 번역에 관심이 많은걸 보시고 어떻게 느끼시나요? 제게 주실 조언은?
많은 친구 문인들이 말하기를 좋은 글을 쓰고, 번역 하려면, 좋은 문구, 문장을 많이 외우라고 하더라. 시를 많이 외워라.
글쓰는 젊은이들에게 해주고싶으신 조언이 있나요?
문학인이 되기전에 먼저 좋은 시민이 되라.
When did your love for reading and writing begin, Grandpa?
I suppose I enjoyed reading and writing starting from elementary school.
Upon entering middle school, I wrote a film report that was praised by my writing composition teacher, and this greatly encouraged me. I even served as the president of the literary club at one point.
How much did being an active member of your high school literary club alongside the children of novelists and poets influence your writing?
In my third year of high school, I helped work on Seoul High School’s newspaper while I was in the literary club. I was proud that many of the novelists and poets at the time were my friends’ fathers; it may have had some influence on me, but I don’t think I was overly conscious of it.
Did you sense that there were any differences between you and your friends whose fathers were literary figures, Grandpa?
Back then, I didn't think that one needed to be especially gifted in writing, and I don’t think I felt we were especially different.
Despite your passion for writing and even having worked as a journalist, why did you end up pursuing business?
I liked writing, but the longer I was in school, the more I doubted my talent for writing. Year by year, as I got older, I came to think that finding success by starting a business—contributing to the nation and to society in this way—could be a commendable path, the right path for me.
Could you tell us about the article you wrote in opposition to the government when you were editor-in-chief of The Yonsei Chunchu? Weren’t you scared?
I was editor-in-chief of The Yonsei Chunchu right after the April Revolution, when the people protested against Korea’s dictatorship. At the time, the ruling party, the Democratic Party ('Minjudang'), was weak, so government policies lacked consistency and there was no public order. So I wasn’t that afraid, since there was more freedom to criticize the government with some semblance of security, and I could weaponize popular opinion to write a critical article.
I was very reckless back then. (Looking back, there are many things I'm proud of, but just as many that I'm embarrassed of.)
What do you think is most important when it comes to writing? How do you think reporting and creative writing should be different?
The most fundamental and important part of writing is that you must not alienate your readers. News articles ought to be concise and easy to read. Creative writing, novels in particular, must understand what “manufactured truths” are. In other words, a writer must be objective yet kind-hearted, and they must be devoted to the pursuit of truths about the different classes in society, especially that of the socially marginalized.
How would you characterize the literary figures you dislike and the literary figures you respect?
The literary figures I like best have a truthful and frank disposition and convey the spirit of the times. I suppose the literary figures I don’t like are often unable to let go of sentimentality.
If you were to write a book, what would you write about?
Perhaps I would write something that would help make the world a better place than the one I was born into.
How do you feel seeing your granddaughter be interested in Korean literature and translation, Grandpa? Do you have any advice for me?
Many of my literary friends say that to write and translate well, you should memorize many good sentences and good passages. Memorize many poems.
Do you have any advice for young writers?
Become a better citizen before becoming a writer.
"Power struggles between Rhee and his opponents intensified after the Korean War (1950-53) because Rhee and his [Liberal] party (Chayudang) apparently were determined to stay in power at all costs...The Rhee regime stood precariously on a contradictory basis of democratic principles that honored freedom of the press and the electoral system as the basis of legitimacy, on one hand, and repressive authoritarian practices on the other. Most of the press was free to criticize and report irregularities in politics; occasionally, however, the government imposed censorship and even closed newspapers, only to ignite greater dissent and more criticism against the regime... A protest movement developed from the visible gap between what the students' texts described as principles of democracy and what the political authorities practiced under the guise of democracy."
"On 19 April the following day, approximately 50,000 students (in a city of 2.5 million persons) fought their way through the police lines and met in front of the principal government buildings in the center of Seoul. These youths were from 30 colleges and high schools, representing almost all of the major universities in Seoul, including Seoul National University. The government officials were stunned and overwhelmed by the massive upheaval. In the afternoon, police opened fire on the demonstrators in front of the president's office, killing more than 20 persons and injuring many more. This act transformed the protest movement into a major violent rebellion on the day that many people remember as the turning point of the entire episode...The event is called by various names: the April Revolution (K. Lee 1984), the 4-19 Righteous Uprising, the 4-19 Revolt (Q. Kim 1983), or simply the Sa-Il- Gu ("April 19th"). It gave rise to a potent legend of righteous students fighting political corruption as a touchstone of revolutionary movements, and inspired subsequent student radicals to repeat that extraordinary success. The 4-19 Revolt was revolutionary in that it changed in a sudden and violent way the rules, procedures, norms, and principles of the regime."
Kim, Quee-Young. “From Protest to Change of Regime: The 4-19 Revolt and the Fall of the Rhee Regime in South Korea.” Social Forces, vol. 74, no. 4, 1996, pp. 1179–208. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/2580348.
Translated by Jay Kim