페이지 정보작성자 지만원 작성일17-12-30 21:32 조회1,994회 댓글0건
중앙선 철로를 따라 경기도가 끝나고 강원도가 시작되는 접경지대, 양평역과 원주역 중간쯤 되는 지점에 구둔역이 있다. 기차에서 내려 둑으로 형성된 언덕길을 따라 내려가면 개울도 있고, 들녘도 있고, 초등학교도 있고, 느티나무들도 있는 분지 형의 마을이 전개돼 있다. 전국이 현대화의 물결을 타고 있는 지금도 이 마을만큼은 개발의 손톱자국이 나지 않은 70년 전의 그대로다. 그래서 이 마을은 2006년 “대한민국 근대유형문화재”로 등록됐고, 2008년에는 경기도로부터 ‘영화체험마을’로 지정돼 있다.
마을의 동쪽, 산세를 따라 반달 같이 굽어간 높은 언덕에는 중앙선 철도가 남북으로 길게 뻗어 있었다. 칙 칙 퍽 퍽. . . 칙칙퍽퍽 . . . . . 북쪽 굴에서 나온 검은 기차는 남쪽 굴로 사라질 때까지, 내리막길에서는 흰 연기를, 오르막길에서는 검은 연기를 힘겹게 뿜어냈다. 서쪽 고래산 기슭에는 해맑은 냇물이 흰 속살을 내보이며 남북으로 흘렀다. 내가 살던 집은 서쪽산 밑자락에 지어진 외딴집으로, 마을에서 가장 높은 곳에 자리하고 있었다. 내가 가장 좋아하는 곳은 냇물이었다. 높은 집에서 바라보는 냇물은 언제나 깨끗하고 아름다워 보였다. 내를 따라 늘어선 미루나무, 버들나무, 찔레꽃 그리고 숲 사이로 간간이 모습을 드러낸 하얀 조약돌 밭, 이렇게 조화된 풍경은 어린 나에게 한없는 아늑함과 꿈을 뿜어내 주는 고향의 젖무덤 같은 것이었다. 특히 장마철, 굵은 빗줄기가 사정없이 내리 꽂힐 때가 가장 좋았다. 굵은 빗줄기가 세찬 바람에 이리 저리 흘러 다니면서 자아내는 희뿌연 기운과 내리 꽂히는 빗줄기에서 나는 알 수 없는 쾌감을 느끼곤 했다. 화로 불에 묻어둔 감자 한 개에 설렘을 간직한 채, 처마 밑에서 강하게 부서지는 물방울들을 물끄러미 바라보다가 스르르 잠이 들 때가 많았다.
동네의 어디를 가나 개울은 명경지수, 두 손을 짚고 엎드려 입을 물위에 대고 쭉쭉 빨아들이는 것이 바로 당시의 물먹는 모습들이었다. 투명한 물을 봇둑으로 가둬놓은 깊은 물, 귀족형의 피라미와 불거지들이 아름다운 비늘을 반짝이면서 떼를 지어 다녔다. 나는 한없이 고개를 달아매고 쪼그려 앉아 그 아름다움에 매료되곤 했다. 단 한 마리라도 어항에 길러봤으면! 얼마나 동경했는지 모른다.
분지의 한 가운데에는 어린이 키 정도로 깊은 작은 보가 하나 있었다. Y자 형의 분지를 따라 두 개의 계곡에서 흘러 온 물이 이 보에서 합쳐지면서 수량이 2배로 늘어났다. 더운 여름이면 이 보는 몇 안 되는 동네 꼬마들의 유일한 놀이터가 되었다. 신작로 가장자리에서 옷을 벗어 책보와 함께 겨드랑이에 끼고 보를 향해 냅다 질주하면서 책보와 옷을 도톰한 백사장에 내던지고 물속으로 수평 다이빙을 했다. 물속으로 들어간 나는 눈을 뜨고 거북이 몸짓을 하면서 바닥에 코를 스칠 정도로 밀착한 채, 한동안 하얀 모래 위를 질주했다.
그 동네 한 가운데에 당시 ‘일신국민학교’가 있었고, 나보다 일곱 살 더 많은 넷째 형은 형제들 중에서 막내만은 학교에 보내야 한다며 어리광이 질질 흐르는 나를 업고 개울을 건너 학교에 입학 시켰다. 그리고 나는 그 학교를 졸업했다. 나는 경기도 양평군의 면사무소 소재지인 지평에 있는 지제중학교로 진학을 했고, 여름에는 걸어서, 겨울에는 기차를 타고 학교를 다녔다. 당시에는 서울로 통근하는 사람들을 위해 통근열차가 원주로부터 청량리까지 운행되었고, 이 통근열차가 구둔역을 통과하는 시각은 새벽 5시였다. 시계도 없는 새벽, 첫닭이 울면 나보다 47세 많으신 환갑의 어머니는 나를 깨워 새로 지은 밥에 계란을 넣어 비벼주셨다. “에구 딱한 것, 추워서 어떻게 하나!”
새벽 5시 20분 정도에 지평역에 내리면 학업이 시작되는 8시까지 추운 겨울 시간을 어디에서든 보내야 했다. 역무원 사무실에는 무연탄을 때는 난로가 있었지만 늘 신세를 지는 것도 눈치가 보였다. 아마도 지제중학교 1학년 중에서 선생님들로부터 가장 예쁨을 받는 학생은 나였을 것이다. 그 중에서 나에게 가장 큰 도움을 준 선생님은 음악과 영어를 동시에 가르치시는 미남선생님으로 평양에서 피난 나오신 남자 선생님이었다. 선생님은 나의 등을 두드려 주면서 새벽에 기차에서 내리면 곧장 선생님 집으로 오라고 했다. 눈 내린 겨울 새벽에 길을 뚫으며 선생님 셋방에 도착하면 문밖에도 문 안에도 어둠이 짙게 깔려 있었다. 추위를 못 이겨 달려오긴 했지만 막상 문 앞에 다다르니 어찌 할 바를 모르고 한동안 서성거렸다. “서, 선생님, 주 무 세 요?” “그래, 어서 들어오라, 어서” 문을 열고 들어서면 선생님은 두꺼운 이불을 제치고 등잔에 불을 붙이셨다. 돌도 지나지 않은 어린 아이를 가운데 눕히고 사모님과 주무시다가 일어나시는 것이었다.
그리고는 책상에서 여러 가지 영어책을 내주셨다. 2학년, 3학년 책도 있었다. “이거 출판사들에서 교과서로 골라달라고 선생님한테 온 거야, 이거 다 가지고 공부해” 나는 교실에 가기 전까지 이렇게 신혼 중인 선생님 셋방에 가서 영어책을 읽고 외웠다. 학업이 끝나면 교실에서 시간을 기다리다가 밤 9시 정도에 지평역을 통과하는 통근열차를 탔다. 군인들과 교복 입은 형들이 필자를 무릎에 앉혀 주면서 영어책을 읽고 해석하라 시켜도 보고 자기가 공부하던 수학책들도 주었다. 밑줄이 한없이 많이 그어져 있었고, 책들의 여백에는 형의 이해하는 방법들이 빼곡하게 쓰여 있었다.
그러던 어느 날 나는 이렇게 얻은 풍부한 영어책들과 수학책들을 싸들고 청량중학교에 다니는 동네 형들을 따라 넓은 서울로 올라왔다. 지금의 장안평에서 독방을 얻어 노동일을 하는 큰 형 집에 머무르며 신문도 배달하고, 철판을 두드려 시발 자동차를 만드는 이른바 서비스공장도 다니고, 건설현장에 가서 여러 가지 일을 거들면서 일당도 받았다. 서비스 공장은 지금의 종로 5가에서 대학로로 향하는 길목에 철조망이 둘러져 있는 노천부지였고 지금의 지프차 형으로 만들어진 시발택시의 차체를 아세치렌 가스불로 달구어가지고 망치로 때려 만드는 곳이었다. 긴긴 여름날에도 점심을 굶었고 얼굴은 검은 흙과 땀으로 얼룩져 있었다. 그리고 나를 가장 비참하게 만드는 것은 철조망 밖 인도에 책가방을 들고 다니는 여학생들의 모습들이었다.
당시 숭인동 근방 청계천의 둑 밑에는 고흥중고등학교가 있었다, 지금은 어엿한 동대문 상고가 됐지만 당시에는 3류 학교였다. 나는 학비를 마련해 가지고 그 학교의 교무실로 찾아갔다. 땅땅하고 얼굴이 잘 생긴 선생님이 교무실 입구에 서서 우물쭈물하는 나를 불렀다. “너 누구야, 이리 와 바”, “너 여기에 왜 왔어” “학교를 다니고 싶어서요” “야, 이놈아 무작정 무슨 학교야” “저는 양평군 지제중학교를 다니다 왔는데요, 2학년으로 입학하고 싶어서요” “전학 증명서 가지고 왔어?” “없는 데요” “야, 이 맹랑한 놈 봐라, 너 눈이 참 예쁘구나. 이리 와 바” 그는 영어책을 꺼냈다. “너 임마 여기를 크게 읽고 해석해봐” 필자는 크게 읽고 해석을 했다. “야 이놈 봐라, 시골뜨기 치고는 제법인걸, 수학선생님, 여기 이놈에게 2학년 수학문제 좀 풀어보라 하세요” 수학선생님은 인수분해, 2차 연립방정식, 응용문제 들을 풀라고 했고, 나는 매우 빠른 속도로 풀었다. “어 이놈 봐라, 영어 선생님, 이 애 수학도 잘 하네요” “그래요?”
담임선생님이 나타나시더니 “너 이리와” 하고는 나의 손목을 잡고 2학년 반에 데려다 앉혀주었다. “네 자리 여기야, 알았어?” 고흥중학교는 이렇게 해서 들어갔다. 담임은 이인수 선생님, 키가 큰 미남선생님이었다. 어쩌다 시골에 가면 과수원에서 과일을 싸들고 담임선생님 집으로 찾아가 새벽잠을 깨우곤 했다. 이렇게 들어간 학교를 나는 가끔씩 한동안 나가지 못하곤 했다. 돈이 벌리면 나가고 돈이 떨어지면 슬며시 그만 두었다. 그만 둘 때는 슬며시 사라졌고, 다시 나가고 싶을 때는 이인수 선생님을 찾아갔다. “오, 너 왔니? 안 보여서 걱정했잖아. 그래 학교에 다시 나오려고?” “예, 학비를 좀 마련했거든요” 그는 나를 고1 야간반으로 데리고 가서 앉혀주었다. “네 반 친구들 다 여기에 있지?” 나쁜 곳으로 빠지지 않고 공부를 하겠다며 다시 찾아온 것만으로 고마워하신 것이다.
2학년 조금, 3학년 조금 다니다 보니 졸업장도 없었다. 중학교 졸업장 없이 고1이 된 것이다. 이렇게 가끔씩 나갔지만 시험을 치면 꼭 2등을 했다. 1등은 똘똘이 김영조라는 학생이 했다. 고1도 몇 달 다니지 못하고 한동안 돈을 벌었다. 나이에 맞춰 학교에 다시 가려하니 고2로 가야 했다. 그런데 용두동 미나리 밭 한 가운데 검은 판자로 지어진 야간학교가 하나 있었다. 한영고등학교였다. 거기에서도 졸업장 없고, 전학증명서 없는 나를 받아주었다. 어느 날, 한영고등학교 3학년 담임 이종선 선생님이 이렇게 말씀 하셨다. “야 지만원, 너 기록을 보니까 중학교 졸업장이 없더라, 내가 한영중학교 졸업장 하나 만들어 줄께”
이렇게 해서 나는 한영중학교 졸업장과 한영고등학교 졸업장을 쥐게 되었다. 요사이 내가 이런 이야기를 주위에 들려주었더니 마치 이상한 나라에서나 있을 수 있는 것처럼 매우 신기해했다. 하지만 이는 사실이다. 지금의 시대에서는 상상조차 할 수 없는 목가적인 옛날사회, 이러한 낭만이 있었기에 나는 오늘에까지 성장할 수 있었던 것이다.
1. Poverty and romance
- Kudun village: A ‘modern tangible cultural asset of Korea’
Kudun, located in Kyōnggi-do/ Province between Yangpyōng and Wōnju, used to be the last stop of Chung’ang-sōn/ railway line before entering Kang’won-do. From the railway station, there was a sloping road along an embankment passing streams, fields, and a primary school, which led to this basin village where lots of elm trees embedded in every angle. Although all the areas throughout the country are being modernised, Kudun is still intact as it was when I was growing up there. Although I was born in HoengsŌng, in Kang’won-do/ Province, Kudun is my spiritual hometown where my real life began. In 2006, Kudun was designated as ‘Modern tangible cultural asset of Nation’ by Korea Cultural Heritage Administration and as ‘Movie adventure village’ by Kyōnggi-do in 2008.
East of the village, the Chung’ang-sōn lay from north to south on the high hills that were half moon shaped. “Choo…choo… puff…puff, choo choo puff puff”, a black locomotive came out of the north tunnel spewing out white smoke until it into the south tunnel. The locomotive usually emitted white smoke on the way down but weak black smoke on the slope. A brook ran through from the south to the north, exposing the clarity of the water at the foot of Korae-san/ mountain situated in the west. My old house was in the highest spot of the village, standing alone at the bottom of Korae-san and the brook was my favourite part of the area. Looking down from my old house, the brook was always so clean and beautiful. At the brookside, there were poplars, willows and wild rosebushes standing proudly along the stream and white pebbles were peeking out through gaps in the bushes. This well blended landscape of the village was the cradle of my abundant young dream and comfort. I loved the rainy season when the heavy raindrops poured down like sticks. By looking at the thick raindrops that plunged down and scattered here and there by the wind, creating such misty power, I felt immense pleasure which was mysterious. I often fell asleep while looking at those scattering raindrops under the eaves and having the comfort of a potato that was being roasted in the furnace. The stream was the main attraction as it was so clean and clear that it could calm anyone down as a source of one’s body energy. When people got thirsty, without any concern for the quality of the water, they got down on their hands and knees and put their mouths in the water and drank it. There usually, a school of small fries and glowing minnows swam around displaying their beautiful scales. I often squatted myself by the water and got hooked on watching these beautiful fish. How I wanted to have them in a fishbowl!
In the middle of the basin, there was a creek that was as deep as a child’s height. Two brooks ran across the village in a Y shape and met at the creek. In the summer, it became the unique centre of children’s entertainment. After school, we boys entered the road and took off our clothes putting them under the armpit with the school bag. We rushed to the creek, threw our belongings on the dune of white sands, and dived horizontally into the water. I used to do a turtle play touching my nose at the white sandy bottom of the creek moving my limbs like a turtle and crawling around.
There was Ilsin Primary school in the middle of the village. My fourth older brother who was seven years older than me insisted that I, amongst my siblings, had to be educated by all means. On the first day of my schooling, he, in fact was a kid himself, took me to the school carrying me on his back. Luckily, my education did not stop after leaving primary school. The next step was Chije middle school in Chipyōng, Yangpyōng-gun. In the summer, the weather was kind enough and I went to school on foot but had to rely on the train otherwise. At that time, Chung’ang-sōn ran between Seoul and Wonj skipping small stations but stopping at certain times of the day. It was 5:00am at Kudun-yōk station when the train stopped to take the commuters away. As we didn’t have a clock, when the first cock crowed, my mother, who was then over sixty, woke me up and served me with freshly cooked rice with an egg, usually saying, “You poor thing, it’s so cold out there!’
It only took twenty minutes to get to Chipyōng-yōk on the train, which meant I had to kill the time in those cold mornings from 5:20am to 8:00am when the school started. I sometimes stayed in the station office where there was a coal stove but was uncomfortable to be a constant nuisance. At school, we had a handsome English teacher who taught us music as well, who apparently had fled from Pyōng’yang, the capital of North Korea during the war. I was probably the favourite pupil of the most teachers in the school. When he learned about my predicament in the morning, one day, he tapped my back and told me to come to his house once I got off the train. On the next morning, it snowed and I arrived at his rented house and when it was still dark. The cold forced me to get there fast but I was hesitant when I arrived at his door. “S…Sir, it’s me Manwon, is it convenient?”. He opened the door and welcomed me, “Come in, come in”. He and his wife were obviously woken up by me but he lit up the lamp. Their infant was still asleep. Then, he took several English books including 2nd and 3rd years for middle school, out of a drawer. “The publishers sent me these books to be selected and they are all yours now”. From that moment, every morning I studied with those books at the teacher’s house before entering the classroom. In the evening, after school, I had to stay in my classroom until 9:00pm when the train was available for Kudun. On the train, there were usually soldiers and older school boys who allowed me to sit on and asked me to read the English books and translate for them. The older boys gave me their maths books of which every page was underlined and packed with extra notes they scribbled in the blank spaces.
When I reached fourteen my brothers encouraged me to work on the land. After some digging, my hands were covered by blisters and that was when I decided to leave home by following the older boys from my village. They were attending Ch’ōngnyang Middle school in Seoul but were then back at home because of their school break. I asked my mother for days to provide me with some pocket money. She said she would get the money even if she had to cut and sell her hair. Then, she began to collect herbs from the mountain for several days and sold them in the local open market that happened every five days.
The money was too precious to spend on a fare so I got on the train without a ticket. The conductor who wore a red arm band was like a grim reaper and he terrified me. Although I evaded being caught, my heart was in my mouth all the way. As we got near Ch’ōngnyangni-yōk, the last station, the boys told me how to get out of the station without a ticket. I first found the massive heaps of coal, hiding myself behind one, and managed to sneak out through a gap in the barbed wire. Once I was out, I looked back for a while to see if the staff would come after me saying “You come back right here”.
- Seoul, the Capital
I joined my eldest brother who was a labourer and had a rented room below the Tolsan/ Stone hill in Chang’anpyōng. First, I had to find a job more than anything. A newspaper delivery came up and then, a go-fer job in a construction site for a daily pay. More suitably, I found a mechanic job in a garage which made parts, by beating out the metal, for Sibal cars. The garage used to be located on the open corner surrounded by barbed wire on the route to the Taehak-ro/ University road in Chongno -5ga. They produced the bodies of the Sibal taxi which had the shape of a modern jeep. The bodies were forged after being heated by acetylene fire. I had no food for lunch even in the long summer days and I was always covered with sweat and black dirt. The worst part of this hard life was spotting school girls in neat uniforms passing outside the wire fence. That beat me the most.
My brother’s rented room was no more than a mud hut and absolutely freezing cold in the winter. Although I was working in the day time I couldn’t neglect my learning and those English books given by my teacher and maths books from the older boys were essential. I studied sometimes the whole night long. It was so cold that I had to put a dirty duvet over my head while holding a book but my fingers were too stiff to turn the page. While I was warming my hands up under the duvet I used my index finger as a pen, writing out the texts on my bare knee. A bowl of rice left in the kitchen was usually frozen, forming tiny icicles. I would put some soy sauce in and rub a spoon around to melt it and put a spoonful in my mouth to warm it up and get it down. Once it was down I usually had stomach cramps that made me roll around with pain.
There was Kohūng Middle/ High school (evening class) below Ch’ōnggye-chōn/ stream embankment near Sung’in-dong. This is now Tongdaemun-sanggo/ Commercial High School. When I saved up some money, I visited the school office. A very good and fit looking teacher saw me hesitating at the office door. “Hey, who are you? Why are you here?”. I answered, “I’d like to enrol in your school, sir”. He said, “You can’t just walk in and enrol”. I added, “I attended Chije middle school in Yangpyōng and hope to continue my second year study”. “Have you got a certificate for school transfer?”, he carried on. “No, sir”, I replied to his question. “What a boy! You’ve got guts, haven’t you? You’ve got pretty eyes though”. He looked more relaxed then and took out an English book. “Read this part and translate”, he tested me. So, I did read it loudly and translated. He was rather surprised. “Well done! You are not just a country boy, are you?” Then he spoke to the maths teacher. “Would you test this boy for year two?” The maths teacher gave me some problems from factorisation, quadratic equation and some applied questions. I worked them out fast. The maths teacher was impressed. “Wow, this boy is really good at maths as well”. Then a tall and handsome teacher appeared whose name was Yi, In-su. “I’m going to be your class teacher. You come with me”. Then he took me by my wrist and led to the second year classroom. “This is where you sit from now on”, he showed my seat. Occasionally I visited my country home and brought some fruit and took it to my class teacher. My school attendance was very irregular indeed because it completely depended on my earnings. When I got enough money for the school fee, I went back to see him first.
That was how my middle school education restarted though the trip to school was another bind I had to fight with. Once I left my home for the school there was a huge open field to cross, after passing Tapsim-ri and along the long Chōnggye-chōn embankment to the school. It was tiring enough to walk that long distance after a day’s work but nothing compared to the fear I had to face at night coming back after school. I was easily afraid especially of the dark. People used to tease me about that saying my big eyes showed it.
There was a cemetery between Chang’an-pyōng Tolsan and Tapsim-ri with no houses around. Walking back to my place alone after the class, and passing by the cemetery at night was sheer torture. When I reached there I usually waited for a while for someone to walk by. Especially in late autumn, the dry grass and fallen leaves made lots of stirring noises by small animals. When I was already frightened hearing even one noise was like having a stab in my heart that led to heart poundings and goosebumps. When it rained and was so dark, I had to walk one step at a time like a blindman and was bound to tumble down at times under the bank, which made me cry involuntarily. This was when I was aged between fourteen and sixteen. Long distance walking in cold, rainy or snowy weather was exhausting but bearable, though the fear of darkness was the worst enemy.
This on and off school education went on for a couple of years. One day when I went back to school, teacher Yi was very pleased to greet me. “I haven’t seen you for a while and was worried”. My usual answer was “I’ve now got my school fee”. That time, he took me to the first year class of High School. He was even concerned about my personal circumstances saying, “You should be OK. Your old classmates are all there. I am really glad you were able to come back”.
I didn’t have my middle school certificate because of my poor attendance. Although I got a place in the first year of a high school after a long gap of attendance, I usually came second in academic tests. It was Kim, Yōng-jo whose nick name was Ttolttori/ brainy who always came first. My first year of my HS wasn’t much different attendance wise and I was a year older when I found another school. It was Hanyōng High School (evening class) which was built of black planks in the middle of a water parsley field in Yongdu-dong. They accepted me, despite the fact I had no certificates. One day, in my last year, my class teacher said. “On the record, you haven’t got your middle school certificate. I need to make one for you.” Voila, I managed to get two certificates from Hanyōng Middle & High School. I’ve recently told some people this and they were just amazed as if my story had come from another planet. It was, of course, a totally different society when the country was going through a transitional period between old and new identities of Korea and the scars of the Korean war were not quite healed yet. Then, the society had plenty of flexibility which gave certain people like me an opportunity.
2017.12.30. Jee, Man Wonhttp://www.systemclub.co.kr
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