#북한 개성공단 조성에 투입된 덤프트럭과 포크레인 등 남한의 중장비들이 굉음을 울리고 있다. 공사장 뒤편으로 멀리 송악산이 시야에 들어온다.



 그를 처음 만나기 전까지 나는 그의 존재를 잘 몰랐다. 아무런 설레임도 없었다. TV를 통해 수없이 그의 모습을 확인했으므로 그가 새로운 존재로 느껴지지  않았던 탓인지도 모른다.


솔직히 북한이란 '그'를 만나러 떠나는 날, 나의 감정은 솔직히 그 이상도, 그 이하도 아니었다. 새벽 잠을 설치며 아침 일찍 일어나야 하는 번거러움만 컸을 뿐이었다. 사실,전날 밤 늦도록 먹은 술독이 그 때까지 오장육부를 쥐어짜고 있었으니 그럴 법도 했다.

12월 7일 아침 나는 그렇게 고려의 도읍지, 개성으로 향했다. 우리은행의 개성공단지점 개점식 참석을 위해 동료 기자, 은행 임직원,기업가 등 150여명과 함께 버스를 타고 북으로 떠났다. 남쪽 CIQ(경의선도로 출입시설)를 통과해 군사분계선을 넘어 북쪽 CIQ에 이르자 깡마른 북한 병사가 버스에 올랐다. 그는 버스 안을 두리번거리며 살피더니 승객들의 이름을 하나씩 불렀다.

"OOO선생, OOO선생..."


곧이어 우리 일행을 실은 4대의 버스는 일제히 '부릉,부릉' 소리를 내며 달리기 시작했다. 개성의 남단에 자리한 공단까지는 불과 5km 남짓한 거리였다. 조촐한 은행개점식을 마친 일행은 점심식사 장소인 자남산 여관으로 향했다. 남쪽의 호텔 격인 자남산 여관은 개성시내에 위치해 있었으므로 버스로 이동하는 동안 개성 시가지의 생생한 모습들을 볼 수 있었다.

소달구지를 끌고가는 아저씨, 우물가에서 물동이를 짊어지고 가는 아이, 개울가에서 빨래하는 아낙네. 간혹 땔깜을 이고가는 아주머니도 눈의 띄었다. 한결같이 60,70년대 남녘의 시골에서 봄직한 그런 광경이었다.


하지만 그들의 얼굴에는 웃음이 없었다. 핏기 없는 거무스름한 얼굴에 아무 표정을 읽을 수 없었다. 바깥을 향해 손을 흔들자 몇몇 주민들은 답례로 손을 흔들기도 했다.

하얀색의 아파트 건물과 빌딩들이 길 옆으로 도열해 있었으나 하나같이 낡고 초라한 몰골이었다. 상가나 간판은 거의 보이지 않았다. 눈에 띄는 것이라곤 '리발관' '물고기(생선가게 인듯)'  그런 부류가 대부분이었다.  길거리에서 상가 간판보다 더 많은 것이 바로 선전문구가 적힌 간판이었다.

'미제를 타도하자'

'위대한 김일성 동지는 우리와 영원히 함께 하신다'

'위대한 장군님만 계시면 우리는 이긴다'

'21세기의 태양, 김정일 장군님 만세'


놀라운 일은 개성 시가지에서 차량을 볼 수 없었다는 점이다. 두 세시간 동안 본 것이라곤 길옆에 세워진 낡은 미니버스 한대가 고작이었다. 그 버스에는 승객도, 운전사도 없었다. 그런 까닭에 시내 도로엔 횡단보도나 차선이 없었다. 평양~개성을 연결하는 고속도로 역시 통행하는 차량이 전혀 눈에 띄지 않았다.

"마치 거대한 영화촬영 세트장 같아요. 사람들이 길을 왔다갔다 하고 있지만 그들의 눈에는 초점이 없어요. 그저 감독이 저리로 가라고 하니까 목적없이 걸어다니는 무표정한 얼굴을 보는 것 같지 않아요?"

우리 일행중 한 사람은 개성의 첫 소감을 이렇게 그렸다. 저녁 해가 서산으로 뉘엇뉘엇 넘어갈 무렵, 나는 '그'를 남겨두고 남녘으로 향하는 버스에 다시 몸을 실었다. 전력과 땔감이 부족해 불빛과 방안의 온기마저 식어버린 북녘이 저만치 멀어져갔다. 7시간 동안의 짧은 체류가 끝나는 순간이었다. 남쪽 CIQ를 거쳐 버스가 속도를 내자 파주와 일산시가지의 휘황찬란한 불빛이 동공으로 한꺼번에 쏟아져 들어왔다.


이윽고 버스가 서울시내로 들어서자 퇴근길 길바닥에 꽉 들어찬 차들이 마치 나를 반기는 듯했다. 사람의 체취와도 같은 정겨움이 몸에 전해졌다. 일행과 헤어져 집으로 향하는 전철에서는 문화적 이질감에서 오는 혼돈과 서글픔이 가슴 깊숙한 곳까지 스며들었다.

노랑머리에 리시버로 음악을 듣는 20대 청년, 핸드폰으로 연신 재잘되는 아가씨들. 윤기있는 얼굴에 하나같이 밝은 표정이었다. 불과 한 두시간전에 봤던  그들과는 전혀 다른 별천지에 온 것 같았다.

  마치 금새 꿈을 꾸고난 것처럼...

트랙백 주소 : http://blog.segye.com/tb.php?blogid=bykoog&id=2511
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