Andy Choi

4/6/20202 min read

How To Spell "Liberation" in Korean

ㄱ as in kim il-sung, revolutionary, dictator, anti-imperialist guerilla, tyrant; he is the sun over mt. paektu,
the moon over pyongyang, a long shadow over the hills of seoul
ㄴ as in no gun ri, yeong-deong county, north chuncheong province, west of the nakdong river, the blood
of hundreds draining from under the bridge, eyeballs hanging out of sockets, bodies used as shields, these
dirty zipperhead gooks better learn how to behave
ㄷ as in dmz, 160 miles, 250 kilometers, 663 ri delineating the peninsula, a ghost shackled to the ground
by barbed wire
ㄹ as in “let my people go,” said 모세((moses)), and so the locusts arose, the land mines uprooted themselves, the
sea parted, and so did the gates of panmunjom
ㅁ as in 민주화, democratization, the taste of young flesh and the bayonet, of funeral gowns and stones
clutched in the fist, of tear gas and of struggle
ㅂ as in 빨갱이, the commie, the red, the organizer, the peasant, the worker, the child, the grandmother,
the intellectual, all facing the barrel of the chinilpa ’s ((korean collaborators with imperialist japanese rule)) gun in the
ㅅ as in 사건들, incidents, their bodies shoved under caves/mass graves/drowned in the sea/the outskirts
of the village/forgotten/forgotten/forced to forget/forgotten
ㅇ as in 양키, yankee, as in go home
ㅈ as in 점령, military occupation, and 주체, self-reliance, antonyms of the same consonant, two
destinies of the korean people
ㅊ as in “gi-be me cho-co-let,” camera pans down, takes footage of little chink children with expired
chocolate in their hands, “denk u” they say and the GI laughs, stares into the camera, this is the
D-E-M-O-C-R-A-C-Y america’s boys are bringing to the uncivilized world (cut to fireworks)
ㅋ as in camp humphreys, just over 4,162,192 pyeong along the anseong river, “the largest power
projection platform in the pacific,” “our little piece of america,” rice farms suffocated by concrete and
razor wire and occupation
ㅌ as in 통일, reunification, as the day the motherland becomes the 태극, the yin-yang, two parts to a
ㅍ as in 피, blood, spilled and squeezed from the wrinkled folds of the peninsula as if it was a soaked
ㅎ as in 해방, that bittersweet dream of liberation, of one 한반도, one korea


a map of the alien motherland drawn on every flag
strips of calcified land between rivers of blood 50 stars, 500 years of conquest
i saw in my sleep that it was 1950, the
bombing of pyongyang had not yet started
and all i could see was
the rat faces of 100 senators one solitary bald eagle, suffocated under the
packed under one dome weight of olive branches and aircraft bombers
location: washington, district of columbia
district: the territory in jurisdiction columbus: colonizer with a hard r, white is the
of a feudal lord, from the latin color of mourning, whiteness the reason
distringere (draw apart) to mourn
in 1945, u.s. forces invaded korea and
established a military government, effectively
dividing the peninsula. by 1953, 5 million people
had died in the korean war.

Andy Choi is a high school student in the Creative Writing program at the Orange County School of the Arts. His work has been published in 'Imagine Magazine,' 'Inkblot,' and 'The Margins.' He also writes for the Los Angeles Times High School Insider, and his zine 'Postmodern Citizenship' is carried by LibroMobile, a literary project in Santa Ana, CA.

Andy can be reached through email at andychwe@gmail.com . His Twitter is @joseonfag.

1 Moses
2 korean collaborators with imperialist japanese rule