우리 정상에서 만나요

 

2009년 동대문구 휘경동의 재개발 예정지에는 사람들이
버리고 간 정서의 덩어리들이 널부러져 있었고, 동시에
그것들을 완전히 지우고 새로 쌓아올리기 위한 도시개발용
건설자재 더미들이 쌓여가고 있었다. 아이들의 앨범, 결혼 사진,
가구들이 산을 이루고, 그 옆에는 모래와 시멘트와 철근이 산을
이루었다.


휘경동에는 집집마다 산의 이미지가 많았다. 이발소의
그림에도, 대문의 조각에도, 액자 가게의 사진에도 산이 있었고,
특히 백두산이 많았다. 동네 술국집에서 떠들어대는 백두산은
비록 대부분이 ‘남’의 땅에 속하지만 여전히 민족의 영산이고,
고조선의 기원인 동시에, 동북공정을 막기 위해 지켜내야 하는
그런 곳이다.


그 모든 것들을 쓸어내고 아파트를 짓는 곳에 시멘트 더미가
산을 이루었다. 꼭대기엔 시멘트를 개기 위한 물웅덩이가
제법 그럴듯한 분화구가 되었다. 빗물이 더해지면 더
얄궂게 닮은 천지가 만들어졌다. 그렇게 날마다 쓸려나가던
사람들의 허황된 민족주의적 꿈은 백두산을 되찾았다. 그곳에
살던 사람들의 정서의 형태와 유일하게 닮은 것이 시멘트
백두산이었다. 당연히 그것도 곧 사라졌다.

 

1.
The “Northeast Project”
(2002-2007) was a fiveyear
research project funded
by the Chinese Academy of
Social Science (CASS) that
examined the history of the
frontiers of Northeast China
and specifically characterized
the kingdoms of Gojoseon,
Goguryeo and Balhae as part
of ancient Chinese history.
The project generated
controversy in South
Korea due to allegations of
historical revisionism and
political expansionism by
China. (Ed.)

  We Will See at the Top

 

In 2009, in the prospective redevelopment area of
Hwigyeong-dong Dongdaemun-gu, chunks of affections
that people had discarded were scattered everywhere.
At the same time, heaps of construction materials for
urban development—an attempt to erase these affections
altogether and build up again from scratch—were piling
up. Photo albums of children, wedding portraits, and
furniture formed a mountain alongside mountains of sand,
cement, and steel bars.


Images of mountains were ubiquitous in Hwigyeongdong.
There were mountains in a painting hanging in the
barbershop, in the sculpture carved into a front gate, and
in a photo from the picture-frame store. Among these,
Baekdusan Mountain was predominant. Baekdusan
Mountain, a place that comes up in conversations about
patriotism at the neighborhood sulguk [“hangover soup”]
diner, is a place that is largely “someone else’s” land, and
yet it is still the sacred mountain of the Korean people and
the origin of Gojoseon, the first kingdom in Korean history.
And at the same time, it is a place that we need to defend
in order to counter China’s “Northeast Project”1 and a place
that we are supposed to climb at least once during our
lifetimes.


After all of this was swept away by urban development, the
heap of cement formed a mountain where an apartment
building was under construction. At its top, the puddle
for mixing cement with water made a believable volcano
crater. With some rain water, it became something that
ironically resembled Choenji [Baekdusan’s caldera] even
more. The people’s hollow nationalist dreams were swept
away on a daily basis and replaced by the soaring myth of
development. The only thing that resembled the forms of
the past residents’ affections was the cement Baekdusan
Mountain. Of course, that disappeared in short order, too.