Murder and affection
Photo Shop Murder
By Kim Young-ha
(Jimoondang, 5,000 won)
Kim Young-ha, one of the leading contemporary literary voices of Korea, has been capturing both the absurd and the mundane in our society.
One of his short stories, “Photo Shop Murder,” portrays modern individuals who are desperate for affection while completely losing their morals and values.
The nameless protagonist, who works as a detective, lives with his wife who once cheated on him.
He confronted his wife’s secret lover, gun in hand, at the time. Frightened, the man wet himself out of fear, begged for mercy, and ran away.
Ever since, his wife has become a totally different person. She chose to be deeply religious and started to praise Jesus Christ, whom she called “the one who loves and accepts everyone,” fanatically.
One Sunday, the protagonist is assigned to investigate a murder case. The victim is an owner of a photo shop, and the only person he can investigate is his wife, Ji Gyeong-hee.
Gyeong-hee seems indifferent about her husband’s death, showing no apparent emotions. Soon, the detective finds out that Gyeong-hee might have been romantically involved with a businessman named Jeong Myeong-sik.
Gyeong-hee openly tells him that Myeong-sik might have liked her. But when the detective calls Myeong-sik in for an investigation, he denies he ever considered Gyeong-hee anything more than a woman who works at the shop.
The detective finds many similarities between Gyeong-hee and his own wife, as both of them have been in search for affection and attention outside of their worn-out marriages.
He soon discovers Gyeong-hee hopes it is Myeong-sik who killed her husband, proving he loves her so much as to commit such a horrific crime.
Regardless of who the murderer is, the story delves into the dark side of human longing and vulnerability, and the need to be accepted and loved.
Author Kim previously taught at the Drama School of Korean National University of Arts and hosted book-themed radio podcasts. He resigned from his jobs in 2008 to devote himself to writing.
He currently lives in New York City as a visiting scholar at Columbia University of New York.
“Photo Shop Murder” has been made into a TV drama and a film.