The Forgotten and the Unforgettable

The Forgotten and the Unforgettable


At every moment we traverse and tremble 

between forgetfulness and remembrance.

Sometimes, we feel it will be all right if we forget,

but then it seems we cannot forget,

but when we think we cannot forget, 

suddenly we find we have forgotten.

Life is an effort not to forget something

but on the other hand it is a time full of the pain of trying to forget it.


History is recorded, love is remembered.

Until we move into the plaza’s records and the locked room’s memory

we need to play without end on unstable swings

between the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Moving without pause round and round between the two, we have to ride the swings.

This world where day and night intersect, where remembrance and loss

stand back to back, is indeed our playground.


One who has just finished loving has much to forget.

One who has just begun to love has many things that cannot be forgotten.

One who has just lain down in the tomb has many things it's all right to forget.

One who has just been laid in the cradle has many things it would be wrong to forget.

Even if a person's heart has been lost, 

that does not mean that its warmth has been forgotten.


I remember life is not the total number of years a person has lived

but the things remembered here and now and

that how we tell someone’s life depends on how we remember it,

From the stars shining on wintery highlands

to a single blade of grass on spring plains,

from people moaning under the giant wheel of history

to the individual being split between clockwork saw blades

the forgotten and the unforgotten ,

overlap and overlapping pass by and miss each other.


A writer is the most sensitive connoisseur of what remains and what has vanished,

who experiments with combination and decomposition, chooses between restoration and loss, 

I hope that in this meaningful festival of writers,

the high space of the pagoda we built and the long river of time we set rolling

will meet, cross, be amplified and integrated

in the most natural voice with no ornamentation. 


Hae Yisoo (Novelist)

2016 Seoul International Writers' Festival Board Member 


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