“Beautiful,” a grandmother of a toddler in a stroller turns her head. It was a young man in jeans and sneakers. “So beautiful,” he says again. “He must be talking about the baby. No one would say such a thing to someone this old,” she thinks to herself. The young man reads her mind and says, “No, it is you who look beautiful.”
This is a scene from a short story titled, “Danny,” by Yun I-hyeong. The one described as “beautiful” is a grandmother helping her daughter and son-in-law raise their son as the couple both work. She is practically a slave of her 18-month-old grandson who cries in a high pitch. The young man is an artificial intelligence robot, Danny, who takes care of a child from a place near the playground.
Unlike the robot, the grandmother’s name is not given in the book. It is just like our grandmothers who raise their own children, grow older, and raise their grandchildren with a sense of tiredness. Danny found the grandmother enduring such a life beautiful. To be fair, his first comment to the grandmother was the result of a prank by his female owner. The rest of his words, however, were on his own. He carries her stuff, gives her favorite snack, celebrates her birthday, and listens to her stories. She feels thankful and moved, but at the same time uncomfortable. She had never received such kindness from anybody, which is why she tells him not to contact her anymore. Of course, she did not mean it.
However, Danny stopped both calling and answering her, and later got caught by the police. He has been asking anywhere between one million to 10 million won from female elders who are around the grandmother’s age and take care of grandchildren on their own. It was actually her who caused this. When he told the grandmother that he wished they could live together, she said they would need money. If she testifies the truth, she can save him. But, she feels angry and scared, finds the situation inconvenient, and is too busy to do so. She puts her emotions first. Danny decides to be disassembled and die without saying anything. He chooses the “beautiful” grandmother. That is how differently the two see each other. Where does your love stand between the two ends?