FS Chapter 1: One Summer Night

FORGOTTEN SEASON

Chapter 1

어느 여름 밤

One Summer Night


July 1953

A soldier at the front lines of the Korean War loaded his artillery and fired. Blood was splattered everywhere and a mass of dead bodies lay lifelessly on the muddy soil. May their souls rest in peace, he prayed. War was never a pretty little walk in the park. Ghosts loom over every haunted soldier: the ghosts of their past, the ghosts of their present, and the foreboding feeling of the future. The spilled blood of the innocent can never be justified, leaving stains of guilt even when done for the cause of patriotism and freedom. I’m sorry, he screamed in his mind once more, as he fired more shots at the enemy soldiers. I just had to do it. It was part of the job.

In a split second, a bullet was fired at blinding speed from the opposite side. The soldier’s comrade was shot at his collarbone, blood immediately gushing out.

“No!” the soldier cried. He grabbed the fallen comrade and tried to cover up the deadly wound. He dragged him behind the sandbags for protection before anything worse happens.

“I… I’m al…right…,” the comrade tried to tell him with the last of his breath, trying not to lose consciousness.

Soon, more men fell and died until they were terribly outnumbered. Finally, the last of them fell. Those still alive were captured and imprisoned by the communists, probably to be interrogated or severely tortured until finally left to the hands of death. These were the horrors of the war.

As the enemies surveyed the area for any more bodies, the soldier lay unconsciously beside his unconscious comrade. The soldier had been affected by an explosion as well—shocking his system until it finally could not help but shutdown.

In the last few moments before his blackout, his life flashed before his eyes.

Seohyun, will you marry me?

Yong Oppa, yes, I will!

***


August 1953

After the armistice was announced on July 27, 1953, battles had been ceased. Soldiers who survived were allowed to go home.

Lee Jonghyun, a twenty-three-year-old war veteran, was now on his way home, contemplating all the horrible things he had been through. He had lost friends, carried dead bodies, and killed enemy soldiers. Some of this friends were found dead on the battlefield; his sister’s fiancé was announced missing in action—his body nowhere to be found (possibly dead or captured)—with only his dog tag found in the battlefield. How could Jonghyun come home and tell everyone such terrible news like that? When he arrived at the farm on the outskirts of Busan after coming home from military service, his sister Seohyun, a lovely twenty-two-year-old young lady, immediately ran toward him to give him a hug.

“I missed you so much!” she cried as she held on to him. She had not seen him in three years. As her tears fell on his military coat, he held her tight and let her cry on his shoulder. He dared not to speak. He was too afraid that the broken words and painful memories would break his little sister’s fragile, innocent heart. Everything he had been through these past three years was just too dreadful to even speak of. He did not even want any of it cross his mind ever again. If only he could erase the stains of blood from his memories…

When Seohyun lifted her head, she finally asked the inevitable question. “Where is Yong Oppa?”

Jonghyun wiped the tears streaming on his sister’s soft cheeks with a white handkerchief. He really had no idea how to say the news. Without saying anything, Jonghyun took a metal dog tag from his pocket and placed it on Seohyun’s hand. On it a name was engraved—Jung Yong Hwa.

Seohyun stared blankly at the metal dog tag on her hand in disbelief. “This isn’t real…”

“This was all they had left of him. I know he meant a lot to you; I’m so sorry.” Jonghyun held his sister steadily to keep her from falling apart. But she eventually burst into tears and cried like a helpless baby on her brother’s chest.

“No, no, no,” she cried. “This can’t be it… He’s probably still out there… He’ll come back… We have to find him…”

“You don’t know that,” Jonghyun said, discouraging her from keeping her hopes up. Most of those missing in action rarely ever return—a fact that Jonghyun can prove after serving in the military for about three years.

“He’s probably still out there,” Seohyun repeated. “If he’s dead, there should at least be proof… I should at least be sure…”

Days later, after saying their goodbyes and eulogies for the others who were confirmed dead, they left the ceremony empty and heart-broken. Tears and rain flooded the mourning earth; gray skies refused to let in sunlight. The wound in their throbbing hearts was still fresh, making it difficult to mask the terrible pain. If only the weather would not make it worse… If only a ray of light could at least seep through those gloomy skies… Nevertheless, whether it rains or shines, nothing can brighten up this dark, sorrowful day. Seohyun looked stunning in her black, mourning dress, but deep inside she was a mess. Then she glanced at the gleaming diamond ring wrapped around her finger. In an instant, tears began to flow uncontrollably, drowning her vision. With hopes extinguished, she and everyone else cried rivers of bitter tears at the loss of what was and what was supposed to be.

***


Six Years Ago: August 1947

Sixteen-year old Lee Seohyun stared out of their old 30’s sedan as they drove through miles of mountain ranges and winding roads in the late summer of 1947. She was a sweet, pretty young lady with a bright and clever mind. She had a love for nature, beauty, knowledge, music—everything just and admirable in the world. That brilliant character easily shined through her clear eyes and radiant face. Even her posture as she sat in the car declared her propriety. She also always dressed her best and kept her hair with a neat headband. As a child she had a keen interest in literature, and was even more informed in history and political affairs than most men. Her parents enrolled her into a prestigious girls’ school, allowed her to study books for herself, and gain as much knowledge as she wanted. Not only was she smart, but she was also highly gifted in music and taught to play piano by her mother, who was one of the best piano tutors in Seoul. Seohyun was definitely a unique and excellent young lady—maybe even fit for royalty—which was why she appeared to be a rather intimidating person to some people.

Her seventeen-year-old brother, Lee Jonghyun, had been sleeping beside her for about two hours now. It could not be helped; the long ride consisted of boredom and exhaustion for him. Now this young man was quite the charmer, despite having no clue of it at times. Most girls would swoon over his charming, prince-like countenance and peaceful expressions. Even with one flash of his handsome smile, females of all ages would stop to stare in awe after seeing his charming dimples. He was quiet, lazy, and awkward in reality though, yet those specific aloof qualities made him look rather mysterious and attractive. He also rarely dresses his best and could care less about how he looked like. Nevertheless, he was good-looking, and the girls also could care less whether he made an effort to comb his messy black hair or not. Just like his sister, he was quite intelligent as well; he was always up in the high ranks in his classes. He also diligently practiced martial arts and recently began to have an interest in music after seeing a guitarist play blues on television.

Seohyun and Jonghyun were born during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945), were both old enough to hear about the independence of Korea, and also heard about the country’s split at the 38th Parallel[5] as it was announced in radio stations and read on newspapers. Their father was born to a noble family and currently works as a top-notch lawyer with plenty of government connections, while their mother was part of a clan of entrepreneurs from down south in Busan. Despite being nobles, they did not live an extravagant life either. Because of their father’s connections with government and military officials, they were more exposed to dirty politics and problematic country affairs than ordinary children. Regardless, their mother always assured them that everything will be alright, and their father always worked hard for the family’s welfare. Now, two years after the separation of North and South Korea, their parents suddenly decided to take them to Busan, the port city down the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula. Their parents decided that it would be best for them to temporarily stay in their mother’s hometown near Busan without exact reasons. “It’s for your safety,” they briefly explained.

[5] The border between North and South Korea; 38th Parallel

“Father, where are we going to stay once we get there?” Seohyun asked as her father was driving.

“You’ll be staying with your cousins’ in a farm just a few miles away from the main center of the city,” he replied. “You’ve met Jun, Yuri, and Hyuk before, right?”

“Ah yes…”

Seohyun sat back on her seat and stared out at the rising mountains and hills. She had been in Busan a few times before. They used to visit quite a few times back when she was still a young child before her father got too busy with his military affairs. It was such a long time ago that she hardly remembers most of the details. What kind of adventures will she have there? She was not all too sure what will happen, but it will surely be a new chapter in her life.

When they arrived after about seven and a half hours of road travel, she gently nudged her brother’s shoulder to wake him from his long peaceful slumber. His big, pretty eyes fluttered open like a waking princess in Disney movies. Seohyun chuckled for a bit and dragged him out of the car to stretch and breathe in some fresh air. When they got down they immediately greeted their uncle with a bow and reintroduced themselves.

“Seohyun! Jonghyun!” a girl who looked similar to Seohyun came running to them with a big hug. Her name was Yuri, their older cousin. She was a year older than Jonghyun—two years older than Seohyun. Although Yuri and Seohyun looked a bit similar because of their long black hair, oval face shape, and above-average height, Yuri was noticeably more tanned and a lot more energetic and outgoing. “You guys are living with me now!” Then she ran towards Seohyun and Jonghyun’s father, and cried, “Uncle, thanks for bring them here!”

“Hello Yuri Eonni,” Seohyun awkwardly greeted. She does remember Yuri by name, but it has been such a long time ago that she was not entirely sure if Yuri was the same cousin. Yuri used to be that goofy, gawky girl who often got playfully bullied by her friends. Now that she had grown it really seemed as though puberty had blessed her with an amazing athletic figure to compensate for her childhood.

“Oh, wow, you’ve really grown taller, huh?” Yuri remarked as she marveled at Seohyun’s long limbs and height. Since Seohyun was two years younger, it was natural that Yuri only remembered Seohyun as her little baby cousin. “We’re about the same height now…”

Then a fit, tanned young man with a military haircut and a stubbly moustache came to greet them. The charismatic smirk on his face and bright aura made him appear to be a male version of Yuri. Then he said to Yuri while looking at Seohyun, “It actually looks like she’ll get even taller than you!”

Yah, Jun Oppa,” Yuri whined. Yuri’s playful older brother liked teasing Yuri sometimes but they are actually very close siblings.

“Oh Eonni, don’t worry. These long limbs aren’t much too useful when I’m quite clumsy still,” Seohyun laughed. It was true; Seohyun was a bit of klutz. Although she might be proper and straight as a ruler, her clumsiness was quite a flaw since she could possibly kill if that ounce of bad luck was a little heavier. Her especially pointy elbows were mostly to blame, for they hit just about anything by accident. Her hands are quite slippery too, for she just drops whatever she holds from time to time. The examples could go on forever about her slipping and her falling too.

Since Jonghyun was just quietly standing there, Jun went to him and playfully ruffled his already messy hair. “Jonghyun, let’s get your luggage. Then Yuri and I will show you guys around the house!

After they unloaded the vehicle trunk, Seohyun and Jonghyun took their luggage into the old Joseon[1]-style Hanok[2] house. Although the place was said to have owned by the same family for more than three-hundred years, everything in the house was well-maintained. Inside, they took off their shoes and placed them neatly by the door before going past the wooden sliding doors. The paper screen on the sliding door was decorated by a beautiful painting of cherry blossoms—exactly the way they look during the spring.

[1] 조선 – Korean dynasty that lasted from 1392 A.D. to 1897 A.D.

[2] 한옥 – Traditional tile-roofed Korean house

“Here’s the living room,” Yuri said as she opened the door.

Inside was a spacious area where they welcomed visitors. In the living room they had wooden, monochromatic, box television set with turning dials below the curved screen; a short wooden table right in front of the television; and a shelf filled with books, photo albums, and other small trinkets and toys. Although their cousins may have an expensive television set in their house, they rarely use it, due to the electricity bill. Beside the television was another wooden box with dials and an implemented speaker. It was the radio. At the moment, it was playing a slow ballad. The music added to the peaceful atmosphere of the old farm, comforting the tired souls after their long trip. Yuri hummed along to the song as she skipped happily over to another screen door.

“I’ll show you to your rooms,” said Jun as he passed through the door with Seohyun’s luggage in hand. “Jonghyun, you’ll be staying with me in my room, and Seohyun, you’ll be staying with Yuri.”

Just past Jun and Jonghyun’s room was Yuri’s room. She slid the door open and said, “Tada! You and I will be sleeping here for a while.” The room was spotless and everything was kept perfectly in its right place. Yuri was apparently a very tidy person when it came to her own things, especially her room. Seohyun was definitely pleased. Then Yuri said, “If you ever need help or someone to talk to, just tell me, because we will be living together for now.”

“I thought you had another brother. Where is he?” Seohyun curiously asked. She has not seen the boy anywhere in the house yet.

“Oh yeah, my younger brother Hyuk is probably just out, um, somewhere. He doesn’t usually stay at home and likes going out by himself. I don’t even see him in some days. Don’t mind him though. He’s just an odd, quiet kid, and doesn’t really cause anyone much trouble. He’ll probably come home later in the evening, and you can meet him by then.”

Later, Yuri gave Seohyun and Jonghyun a tour of the farm. The Kwon family’s Hanok house was fenced off within a small area by a low stone wall. There in their home, the Kwon family took care of their own livestock and a few small crops for private use. Yuri introduced the family cow and some other chickens fenced off in one area. Beside the Hanok house was a huge 30-foot tall cherry blossom tree with big branches that can be easily climbed. Jonghyun in particular was greatly fascinated by it and even decided to climb it himself.

Outside their stone fence, a field—about as wide as a fourth of an acre—had all sorts of crops like rice, lettuce, garlic, onion, and other vegetables. Past that field was a small orchard filled with apple trees.  The pleasant summer breeze gave the whole place a peaceful atmosphere. However the part that caught Seohyun’s attention was the fenced off area with nothing but sweet potato shoots just past the rice field.

“What’s beyond that white fence?” Seohyun asked as she pointed to field next to theirs.

“Oh yeah, the Jung family lives over there. They own the wide valley beyond that fence. If you follow the tree-lined path, you’ll get to their huge house, which everyone knew to be a magistrate’s house from way back in the days of the Joseon Kings. Tell you what, they are one of the richest around these parts. Although most of the people who live around here are well-to-do families, the Jungs are definitely rich in terms of the land they own. They usually grow amazing sweet potatoes around this time of the year.”

“Whoa, I’d like to meet the owner of that field someday,” Seohyun said thoughtfully. She held her hands together and began to skip. The soft breeze lightly blew on her hair and white dress.

Her brother Jonghyun sighed and rolled his eyes at her. Sweet potatoes are her favorite. They are sweet, starchy, and undeniably one of the healthiest foods out there. “You want to meet them for the sweet potatoes, don’t you?”

“I’m not sure if you can meet them today, but you’re bound to meet them at some point. They are our neighbors after all,” Yuri told her. “Oftentimes we like to help each other with farm work and exchange goods with them after harvest. It’s ideal to help each other out in our community, so when there’s an opportunity, it’s a good idea to greet the neighbors. The auntie who owns that farm is actually very nice.”

After a while of exploring their new home, Yuri suggested with a big grin across her face, “Let’s all go to the beach! The beach isn’t far from here if we take the truck.”

Yuri then begged her Jun Oppa to drive them downtown. So then Jun took the old truck and drove with Seohyun, Jonghyun, and Yuri to downtown Busan. Busan is known to have a long beautiful coastline. People often come to Busan for the beaches and the amazing seafood. The city has also been famous for being a traders’ port town throughout history. Various ships and international traders were always docked by Busan shores, keeping the city alive and bustling. They drove around the developing port town and even stopped to watch as the cargo ships load and unload. Before returning home, Jun parked in one area close to one of Busan’s beaches so they can walk around for a tour of the city area. The salty, fishy scent of the ocean could be smelled with every step they took closer to the coast. The little group enjoyed the sights of downtown Busan as they walked through the open streets. Soon they were able to see the wide strip of sand. Waves softly rolled on the beige sand. In one area, a flock of pigeons huddled together like a field of birds. Seohyun squealed once again as she saw the amazing view.

“Ah, it’s good to be here!” Jonghyun screamed out when they reached the soft brown sand.

“Oppa, it is awesome here, isn’t it?” Seohyun giggled as she playfully pushed her brother toward the rolling waves.

After playing by the beach for a few hours—feeling the cool water rush to their toes and running around chasing pigeons on the soft sand—they all decided to go look for a place to eat. It was almost six in the evening. Dinner time should be a good idea.

“There’s this really great diner in our neighborhood called Xiah Dragon Restaurant,” said Yuri. “They play live music from local amateur musicians. It a really nice place to eat. Since you guys will be living here with us now, you should know about the best place to eat is just a walking distance away from our house!”

When they reached the quieter, underdeveloped side of Busan again, they entered the simple diner with a small stage out at the far end. Because Jun still had other chores to do, he didn’t join them for dinner and just dropped them off at the restaurant that Yuri was talking about. The place looked like a traditional Japanese bar from the outside, and inside, it did look very much like a drinking tavern, except they mostly served traditional Korean cuisine. But the most distinguishing quality about this countryside restaurant is the small platform at the far end opposite the entrance. There on the platform was a young man of about eighteen setting up his guitar as he sat on a stool. Dim lights beamed from behind so that he can easily be seen on the low stage. Yuri, Jonghyun, and Seohyun proceeded to an empty wooden table and called a waitress as they watched the young man settle on the stage.

“Oh, it’s Yuri Eonni!” greeted the slim waitress with a big, wide smile. She had a pretty, friendly face with long, silky, dark brown hair tied up to a ponytail. Embroidered on her apron was “Im Yoon-Ah” in Korean Hangeul characters.

“Yoona!” Yuri greeted. Then she said to Yuri’s cousins, “Seohyun, Jonghyun, this is Yoona, she’s a friend of ours, a good neighbor, and she’s the same age as Jonghyun. Her extended family owns this place.”

Jonghyun and Seohyun politely greeted Yoona with a hello.

“Hello, I’m Jung Yonghwa, and today, I will sing a song that I personally wrote…,” says the young man on stage as he held his guitar. He looked a little worn out and his pretty almond eyes had a hint of sorrow. He also wore his dark fringe down over his eyes to give himself an even more pitiful look. Most of the customers just ignored the lonely country bumpkin, but Seohyun immediately focused on him. She always liked hearing live music. To her, music was like a dear friend. She plays piano, sings, and even composes her own songs too sometimes. So far, Yuri’s suggestion to eat here at Xiah Dragon Restaurant proved to be a great idea.

Meanwhile, Jonghyun looked up at the lovely waitress who was taking their order. He was immediately captivated by the adorable way she laughed with her mouth wide open. Usually people found her to be a little strange. Jonghyun, however, found himself grinning widely at the sight of the waitress’s eccentric aura. To him, she was absolutely beautiful.

“Anything you’d like to order tonight?” Yoona asked with a sweet, friendly grin as she stared at Jonghyun and Seohyun. She seemed to be quite the people person. That was one obvious reason why she worked there as a waitress. Her bright smile was very welcoming. She can make anyone feel like she was everyone’s best friend.

As Yuri ordered some seafood and noodles, Seohyun listened intently at the musician playing a sweet, slow song as he plucked his guitar. His voice, echoing all around the diner, was comforting.

 “…This song that I sing at this moment,

I hope it brings a little comfort…”[3]

[3]웃어봐 (Comfort Song) by 정용화 (Jung Yonghwa)

Seohyun smiled. The more she listened to the song, the more she felt that nice warm feeling deep down in her heart. Today was definitely a great day. Busan was not so bad after all. She was glad to be there.

“Isn’t this place great?” Yuri said breaking the silence as they all listened to the singer. “My friend Taeyeon’s family owns this restaurant and she’s really good at singing too. I wonder if she’s singing today. Y’all should hear her; she’s amazing!”

“This place truly is great,” Seohyun said as she placed her hands neatly on the table. She continued her focus on the singer, enjoying the music. “This guy is pretty good at singing too.”

“I can totally sing and play guitar better than him,” Jonghyun scoffed.

“…I, who always believes in you, am right here.”

The young man on stage wrapped up his brief show with the last few notes on his guitar. A few people clapped in some tables, including Seohyun, but other than that, the crowd was rather dead and awkward. Seohyun enjoyed it nonetheless. Yonghwa was talented after all, no matter how much Jonghyun said he was better otherwise.

***


“Taeyeon Noona, aren’t you supposed to go home by now?”

A short eighteen-year-old girl wearing an over-sized military jacket bit into her heotteok[4] and replied with a smirk, “I heard your cousins will be arriving today, but I can’t blame you if you’d rather accompany me. If you wanted to go home so bad, I won’t be stopping you, but you’re still here.”

[4] 허떡 – A sweet, cinnamon pancake; 
fried dough filled with sweet brown sugar syrup and assorted seeds

The charming young man walking beside her along the lively market shook his head as the girl began to cheerfully skip ahead of him. When he caught up to her, she slowed down and faced him. He was three years younger than her, yet, since he was taller, she had to raise her chin to look at his face, which has always been the case with most people because of her lacking height. His pale, white face; seemingly apathetic, slit eyes; and blank expression made her giggle. If this deadpan boy ever felt impatient or perplexed by her strangeness, he surely was not the kind to show it through his face. But if a smile is nowhere in sight on that pale countenance she assumed that the boy was definitely mulling something over in his head about her rebellious attitude.

“Well?” Taeyeon took a step closer to him with a smile. “Why are you still here?”

“You’re the one who grabbed my hand and took me with you. I’m not going home without you,” he replied. “We went together so I won’t leave you.”

She then tiptoed and ruffled his dark hair. “Aw, what a loyal little puppy! You know what, the name Kwon Hyuk doesn’t seem to fit you at all. I’ll call you Dean from now on.”

“Why ‘Dean’?”

“Isn’t it a cool, tough-sounding foreign name? Like the ones the exotic-looking foreign soldiers have…”

“Let’s go back, Noona.”

***


The next day the Seohyun and Jonghyun had been adjusting to their new life at the little farm. Their father and mother eventually left to continue their affairs in Seoul, leaving the two teenagers behind with their cousins’ family. Although they did miss their parents, their cousins kept them preoccupied with all the fun things they could never do in Seoul. In that week, Seohyun and Jonghyun learned to look after crops and take care of poultry. At the end of those days at the farm, both were tired, but filled with happy hearts.

That night, Seohyun silently walked alone outside the farm for fresh air, admiring the view of the millions of stars visible under the clear summer sky. Curiosity led her to the white-washed fence and down the dusty path that was said to lead to Jung family’s Hanok house. Then, as she was walking under the peaceful starry night, she heard a familiar voice singing a song that drifted with the cool breeze. The notes plucked on the guitar gave her a sense of comfort in that serene night.

 “Smile, don’t be sad any longer

It’s alright; don’t cry any longer

This song that I sing at this moment,

I hope it brings a little comfort

Smile, don’t hurt any longer

It’s alright; although the world is difficult

When the time will passes

Everyone will eventually understand you…”

 

“Where is that coming from?” she wondered. After scrutinizing her dark surroundings, a bright gleam from the foot of a tree caught her attention. Past the low, wooden white-washed fence into the neighboring sweet potato farm, a young man sat by a nearby ginkgo tree with a worn-down guitar on his lap. Under the bright full-moon, the guitar’s black pick guard seemed to reflect the moonlight. The young man sat there playing his heart out, with a song that resonated his inner feelings. His arcane presence fascinated her. With each step, she walked closer to him, drawn by the charm of the soothing song. His pure emotion in this night of solitude mesmerized her, as if he was comforting the world’s sorrows with the littlest hope he had left. For a while she silently observed and listened to him from beyond the fence, until he paused and took notice of her.

“Hello,” she greeted as she approached the wooden fence.

The young man saw her smiling before him; her soft features touched by the moonlight. He immediately stood and awkwardly greeted back with a “hello.”

“I heard you sing that song in the Xiah Dragon Restaurant the other day,” she continued with a shy smile. It was good etiquette to politely greet neighbors, so she tried to make friendly small talk and be acquainted with the folks right away. “I really like your music.”

“Uh, thanks.” The young man just stiffly stood there and faintly smiled back. A question was running through his head: Who is this girl and why is she talking to me? Judging by her soft-spoken accent, she doesn’t sound like she’s from around here…

“I’m Seohyun by the way,” she awkwardly introduced herself. “What’s your name?”

“Um, I’m Yonghwa. Jung Yonghwa. It’s nice to meet you,” he stiffly answered.

“How old are you?”

“Eighteen.”

“Oh, so you’re an oppa then,” Seohyun said. “It’s nice to meet you, Yonghwa Oppa. I just moved into the farm over there. Do you live around here?”

Yonghwa looked around once in suspicion and replied, “Yeah, I live around here. This whole fenced off area is actually our family’s property.”

“Oh, really? So all these sweet potatoes are yours then? You must like them too don’t you?” she quirkily asked.

“Well, yeah, I guess I like them…” Yonghwa lived in a farm for so long that he honestly did not care much for sweet potatoes or any other crops. Sweet potatoes are just amongst the root crops sold to the market for his family to make a living.

“I like sweet potatoes,” Seohyun said with a sheepish smile. She has never had a conversation as awfully awkward like this in her life, yet she kept on going. “I’d like to have a taste of the fruit from your farm one day if that’s possible.”

Yonghwa just shrugged and said, “Sure.” Even he himself was quite unsure of his own first impressions concerning her. She suddenly kept babbling about sweet potatoes like those were the most amazing things in the universe. Who cares, really? Everyone eats sweet potatoes and there’s plenty of them.

As they conversed under the moonlit night with a fence separating them, she heard Cousin Yuri call out, “Seohyun, where are you?” When she finally found her cousin, she noticed that Seohyun was talking to Yonghwa.

“Hey, there you are! I was looking for you,” Yuri said as she touched Seohyun’s arm. Then she turned to Yonghwa, who was standing awkwardly past the fence and greeted, “Hello, Yonghwa. I see that you two finally met. I hope she didn’t bother you or anything.”

“Uh, no, she wasn’t that much of a bother,” Yonghwa politely, yet unenthusiastically replied.

“Good,” said Yuri rather rigidly. “Let’s go Seohyun. It’s getting late.”

Seohyun glanced at him for one last time and smiled. “Well, take good care of the sweet potatoes for me.”

As soon as the two girls left, Yonghwa sat there slightly confused. What in the world was that? he asked himself. He did not expect to have a Seoul girl randomly talk to him about sweet potatoes in a lonely night like this. Besides, nobody had been bothering to talk to him these days.

“I finally met the sweet-potato guy,” Seohyun told Yuri as they walked back into their house. “You never told me that he was the guy who sings at the restaurant.”

“He isn’t exactly the friendliest person nowadays,” Yuri tried to explain. “He’s been moody, irritable, and cold. He used to be this really fun guy, but now he just wants to be alone most of the time.”

“Really? He seemed nice to me, although it did feel a bit awkward conversing with him earlier. What happened that changed him?”

“His father supposedly left their family businesses and joined the military and stationed at the border. People say he has been harboring ill-feelings toward his father when his father left. His father is actually the head of a huge steel manufacturing company here in Busan, and they also have a huge farm to manage. So when his father left, Yonghwa was left in charge of everything. Well, at least, that’s what I’ve heard from gossip around here. Anyways, he’s always upset and nobody’s sure why so everyone just leaves him alone.”

“Well that’s sad,” Seohyun mumbled, filled with sympathy. “I bet deep down, he feels absolutely lonely.”


Chapter 2⇒

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