Napkin fiction: Honor Killing
By Young-Ha Kim
Translated from Korean by Chi-Young Kim
She was twenty-one, with fair, beautiful skin. Even when bare, her face glowed, always radiant and dewy. This was precisely why the dermatologist’s office hired her as the receptionist. Her job was simple. All she had to do was write down the patients’ names, tell them in a friendly voice, “please take a seat until we call your name,” find their charts, and hand them over to the nurses. Her glowing, translucent skin created high expectations, encouraging the patients to pour their trust in the office, which bustled with a sudden increase in patients.
But one day, her face started to break out. The problem began with the appearance of a small pimple, growing worse and worse until it spread across her entire face. Nobody could figure out why. At first, the young doctor, who had only managed to start business with the help of bank loans, treated her lightheartedly, but later zeroed in on her with desperation. And the more he focused on her, the more her condition worsened. Red spots covered her face, making her look like a splotchy pizza from far away. The despondent doctor pulled out his hair and the nurses hated her. One spring day, she left behind a note — “I apologize to everyone. I’m sorry” — and committed suicide. The office hired a new receptionist. Her skin was so luminous that everyone’s eyes squeezed shut.