2007
06.02

The Road to Seoul

by Kim Chi Ha

I am going.
Do not cry;
I am going.
Over the white hills, the black, and the parched hills,
down the long and dusty road to Seoul
I am going to sell my body.

Without a sad promise to return,
to return some time blooming with a lovely smile,
to unbind my hair,
I am going.

Do not cry;
I am going.
Who can forget the four o’clocks, or the scent
of wheat? Even in this wretched, wretched life, the deeply unforgettable things…
and in countless dreams I return,
drench with tears, following the moonlight…

I am going.
Do not cry;
I am going.
Over these parched hills that anguish
even the skies, down the long and dusty road to Seoul
I am going to sell my body.

From here.
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The poem refers to sweat-shop conditions that poor young Korean girls would work in during the 70s (mostly textile). The poet (also spelled Kim Chiha) was arrested by the government of South Korea and accused of being a communist. Sentenced to death (!) in 1974, he was only released in 1980, after the president Park was assassinated.

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