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Kkadaegi: A Life at a Sorting Center A Delivery Box Comes with a Million Different StoriesLee Jong-chul

『Kkadaegi: A Life at a Sorting Center A Delivery Box Comes with a Million Different Stories』

Author : Lee Jong-chul
Publisher : Bori
Publication date : May 13, 2019
Number of pages : 284
Format : 153x225mm
ISBN : 9791163140399

Lee Jong-chul

After majoring in painting from an art college, he relocated to Seoul. He made a living working as a Kkadaegi part-timer, loading and unloading delivery trucks for 6 years. Based on his experiences during this time, he created the comic book Kkadaegi. In addition, he participated in the book project for all three books of the children’s comic book series Marine Boy Chang-dae as an illustrator.

The Long-brewed Kkadaegi Story

 

Kkadaegi is a story based on a real life experience of the author Lee Jong-chul, who worked for 6 years as a part time Kkadaegi, which is a name of a job loading and unloading delivery trucks. The entire story consists of two parts. The 12-episode part one and 11-episode part two are sequenced in chronological order. The entire story, which begins with the first episode titled “Kkadaegi?” and ends with the last episode titled “Kkadaegi”, unfolds with structural cohesion and closure. The main protagonist Lee Ba-da is the primary agent leading the narrative as well as the unifying agent of the entire story. In between stories, several other supporting characters lead their own narratives, adding the element of inclusion to the entire story. Readers meet a diverse cast of characters such as Kkadaegi part-timers, those who make a living doing Kkadaegi work, people doing a variety of jobs related to home deliveries and aspiring artists.

The third episode “Fragile-Handle with Care” showcases the author’s perspective and style. The main character, who is one week into the Kkadaegi work, thinks he is getting the hang of it, but then finds himself late for work one day and starts sprinting. Since the main character stays up late writing stories, he has a hard time waking up for work. After getting an earful from the branch manager, Lee Ba-da starts his day at work and comes across a box labeled “Fragile-Handle with Care.” Come to think of it, the massive wall of boxes has all kinds of labels that say ‘Same-day Delivery’, ‘Express Delivery’, ‘No Loading’, ‘Fragile – Do Not Throw’, ‘Fresh Goods’, ‘Thank you, Mr. Delivery’, etc. In the next page, Ba-da says “Gees, my body will break down first” while holding a big table labeled “Fragile-Handle with Care.” While taking a break, he receives a text message from a friend who has got a job in Seoul. She was his classmate in his old art class. They decide to meet up later that day and coincidentally, a small but heavy box atop a big box falls on his face. His eyes are swollen from the incident, but he is still happy to see her. She tells him she has been working overtime almost every night and that she needs to sleep at the desk for just 10 minutes. She wakes up and returns to her office. After seeing her off, he gets on a bus. As he does, he sees a designated driver for hire getting off the bus to run off in a hurry. The next panel shows the back of the bus and Ba-da, who is running to work the next morning. Across the two frames, he utters his monologue, “Our mind and body are all fragile, handle with care.”

Just as his monologue goes, all the characters in the story are placed in time and space where everyone’s mind and body are so fragile and easily breakable. Most of the Kkadaegi part-timers run away during their first break or after the first day. The same goes for the delivery men. Since the work is too challenging, people don’t hesitate to leave their work for better working conditions. That is why people do not care to know each other’s names and get better acquainted. It is a relationship that shows no matter how long you may work with each other, you don’t bother to get to know one another. This is not something extraordinary. It is not hard to find people who do not bother to know another person’s name, keeping them nameless in their relationships. Day in and day out, we receive all kinds of services from so many different people. I wonder how many of them we know by their names. Be it janitors, guards, cleaning ladies, or restaurant or cafe servers, we don’t bother to get acquainted with them and know them by their names. We are so used to being indifferent to others that this cannot be easily reversed with mere campaigns. The biggest strength of this piece is its composed nature. Had the author used his writing as an outlet to pour out his anger toward the delivery-working environment, the people, and the system, despite it being accurately described (the situation based on his own experience as a Kkadaegi worker), it would have added too many layers of frustration for the readers to digest. Because we all know that this is not an easy issue to deal with. While working as a Kkadaegi for a long time, the author may have relived the experience over and over, hoping to bring it to life someday. The author also shows how small acts of kindness from people can make one’s day amid intensive labor. The simple and clean cut drawing style is consistent with the narrative style. Its composure appeals more to the readers. When it rains, delivery men cover the boxes instead of covering themselves. An old lady offers a warm drink to the delivery man who delivered vegetables from the countryside to her house in soaking wet weather. In the fall, the harvest season, the delivery scene is filled with painful groans over heavy loads of produce to deliver. Lee Ba-da implicitly signals that we should never complain again about delivery delays.

 

By Han Sang-jung
Professor, Dept. of French Language and Literature, Incheon National University



Translated by