“When I was young, I met a lot of so-called gangsters. It turned out that many of the people I met while playing Go-Stop* or Poker were gangsters. We think of those people as purely bad, but once you get to know them, they’re all human beings just like us. If anything, they were orphans or their family circumstances were so bad that they grew up with inner scars. Deep down, a lot of them are weak like that. There are gangsters who carry weapons with them or have tattoos, right? Those people are the ones who are especially weak inside. They don’t have any self-assurance, so they try to make others very uncomfortable. I used to run a motorcycle shop, and one time, I was patching up and storing a bike that had been in an accident. But suddenly gangsters came rolling in and told me to hand over the bike. But the owner was in the hospital, so I told them that I couldn’t give it to them. So, they started taking off their jackets and showing me their tattoos to threaten me. If I hadn’t had experience with gangsters before, I’m not sure what would’ve happened, but I knew what to do. I said, “Look here, you bastards. Are you doing this because you’re trying to scare me? I know you’re weak-hearted punks. Are you really using methods from the 70s when it’s 2000?” I said this while calling the police. And when I said, “Is this the police station? Violent crimes unit, right? Come quickly, please,” they ran away before I even ended the call. You see, those kids are like that. They’re pretty cute.”
*Go-stop is a Korean card game also known as Godori or Hwatu. The game originated from Japan in late Chosun dynasty has changed over time. Go-stop is a popular gambling game, although it is often played as a leisure with a low bid.
“내가 젊었을 때 소위 말하는 깡패들을 많이 만났어. 가끔 고스톱이나 포커를 치면서 알게 된 사람들이 알고보니 깡패인 경우가 많았지. 그 사람들을 나쁘게만 생각하는데 알고보면 다 같은 사람이야. 오히려 고아거나 집안 형편이 너무 어려워서 마음에 상처를 가지고 살아왔기 때문에 마음이 약한 사람들이 많지. 몸에 무기를 지니고 다니거나 문신을 한 깡패들 있지? 그 사람들은 특히 더 마음이 약한 사람들이야. 자신이 없으니까 그렇게라도 위화감을 주려는 거지. 내가 오토바이 상회를 운영했었는데 한 번은 사고난 오토바이를 수습해서 보관하고 있었어. 그런데 깡패들이 막 우르르 찾아 온 거야. 그 오토바이 내놓으라고. 그런데 주인은 병원에 있었거든. 못 준다니까 막 웃통을 벗으면서 문신을 막 보여주면서 위협하는거야. 내가 그걸 안 겪어봤으면 모르겠는데 난 알잖아. 그래서 ‘야 이 새끼야. 나한테 겁주려고 그러냐? 너 마음 약한 놈인거 다 알아. 2000년도에 70년대 먹히던 수법을 쓰냐’ 하면서 경찰에 전화를 걸었지. ‘경찰서죠? 강력반이죠? 빨리 오세요.’ 하니까 도망가버리더라고, 전화도 끊기 전에 말야. 그런 애들이라니까? 참 귀엽지.”