“The Physics of Love” by Kim In-yook

Ever since I first watched the Korean drama 쓸쓸하고 찬란하神 – 도깨비, known in English as Guardian: The Great and Lonely God or simply Goblin, I have been obsessed with the poem the male lead (Kim Shin, an immortal goblin) reads from an anthology the female lead (Ji Eun-tak, his prophesized bride) carries around with her. That anthology became a bestseller in 2016 after audiences fell in love with the piece. Poet Kim In-yook then re-released the original collection of his that contained it, under the new title The Physics of Love, the name of the poem the goblin reads.

The subtitles contain a decent translation, but I thought I would try my hand at something slightly more poetic.

The Physics of Love

Mass is not proportional to volume.

That girl as small as a violet,
that girl who floats like a petal
pulls me toward her with a force
greater than the Earth’s mass.

In an instant,
like Newton’s apple,
I dropped with a thump
and rolled to her
without stopping.

Thump.
Thump.
My dizzy heart kept swinging
between Heaven and Earth—
it was my first love.

—translated by David Bowles
September 23, 2021

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Original Korean

사랑의 물리학

질량의 크기는 부피와 비례하지 않는다

제비꽃같이 조그마한 그 계집애가
꽃잎같이 하늘거리는 그 계집애가
지구보다 더 큰 질량으로 나를 끌어당긴다.
순간, 나는
뉴턴의 사과처럼
사정없이 그녀에게로 굴러 떨어졌다
쿵 소리를 내며, 쿵쿵 소리를 내며

심장이
하늘에서땅까지
아찔한 진자운동을 계속하였다
첫사랑이었다.

One Comment

  1. I love these Korean poems! I hope you will keep posting them! Thank you so much

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