Yujin and Yujin
The main characters of Yujin and Yujin are two girls named Yujin. The two Yujins, who were sexually molested by the principal at their kindergarten, meet again in their middle school classroom when they become fourteen. In order to distinguish the two different Yujins in the classroom, they are called “Tall Yujin,” and “Short Yujin” based on the difference in their height. The memories of kindergarten flash into outgoing Tall Yujin’s mind as soon as she sees Short Yujin. Short Yujin, however, doesn’t even seem to remember Tall Yujin at all and acts coldly to her.
One day, Tall Yujin tells Short Yujin of the incident that happened when they were kindergarteners. Learning that some part of her childhood memory has been lost, Short Yujin falls into turmoil. The two girls are different because Tall Yujin’s parents embraced their daughter’s trauma with love and kept reminding her that “it was not her fault,” whereas Short Yujin’s parents oppressed their daughter, forcefully sealing up the trauma and pressing her to erase the memory. As Short Yujin slowly recovers her memory, she strays as she wonders about her identity and becomes sad and disappointed with her cold-hearted parents. At one time the top student in her class, Short Yujin strays by smoking and skipping her after school academies to learn dance, all the while keeping it a secret from her parents. At the end of school break, Short Yujin’s parents find out about their daughter’s issues and lock her in her room and pressure her to go study abroad.
However, Short Yujin escapes from her house with the help of Tall Yujin and another classmate named Sora. Together they run away and take a train to the east coast. After enjoying a day of freedom and the
view of the East Sea, the three girls lose their money and call for help from their parents. Their parents come to rescue them and each girl returns to her ordinary life, except for Short Yujin.
Short Yujin and her mother stay by the sea for one more day. During their stay, Short Yujin vents her oppressed sadness and anger to her mother and finds a way to reconcile with her. Gazing upon the dark
blue sea at dawn, she finally perceives her inner self.
Yujin and Yujin’s issue of child molestation grabs the attention of readers. The author Lee Geumyi has stated that she wrote the story because she was inspired and shocked by the “Kim Bunam Incident” that
happened in Korea in 1991. The “Kim Bunam Incident” refers to a murder that occurred when a child molestation victim became an adult at the age of 21 and killed her molester. The tragic life of the victim, a murderer by law, made a remarkable impression in the author’s mind and eventually became a work of fiction for young adults.
The author Lee Geum-yi captures the typical teenager’s daily life by portraying the growth processes and complex psychologies of Tall Yujin and Short Yujin, the victims of child molestation, while also handling
the heavy issue of sexual molestation without taking on an overly depressing or dark tone. An especially interesting and intricate story is established through fictional devices such as the main characters who share the same name, an accidental reunion in their middle school classroom, and the psychology of a main character who fails to remember her friend from the past. Moreover, the alternating narration of the main characters demonstrates the strong contrast between their psychologies, further absorbing the reader into the book. Yujin and Yujin is a work that successfully conveys the author’s intention to “lead readers to experience more than two outcomes by means of different characters in a fictional world that is unlike our reality where we need to choose either-or.”
The writer Lee Geum-yi reminds us with her story Yujin and Yujin that sexual molestation is a treatable trauma, and she carefully warns against the outcomes of negligence or concealment.
나를 모르는 척한다
자꾸만 나를 안다고 한다
내 삶은 단 한 번의 실수로도 추락하는 외줄 타기 같다
꽃이 진 자리에 돋는 파란 새잎은 꽃의 눈물
퍼즐 판 속 아이
집을 나가고 싶어
머리를 부숴 버리고 싶어
무슨 일이 있었던 걸까
그 애에게 무슨 일이 일어나고 있는 걸까
넌 아무 일도 없었어
낯선 곳의 그 애
내 잘못이 아니야
기차가 가는 곳
또 다른 나