Quantcast
Jump to content
airplanegirl

Joo Won 주원- Welcome Back !

Recommended Posts

Just felt like offering Preview #2 for my current "Good Doctor" fic!

 

A quick FYI, though: this segment does contain Korean profanity. I'm not going to translate it, since that would all be censored, but the word in question should be pretty recognizable as a rather common swear in K-dramas. And, if nothing else,  I know it shows up quite liberally in shows like "Gaksital" or "Yong Pal" ;) 

 

Spoiler

“Seonsaengnim.”

 

Something about his tone makes me glance up at him in curiosity. “Eh?”

 

“I really, really do not like the patient’s mother-in-law.”

 

I shoot him a sympathetic look. “None of us do.”

 

“I mean it, Seonsaengnim,” Si On says, his voice growing in urgency. “Family members should always care for each other.”

 

I suck in a sharp breath through my teeth, my eyes darting nervously. “Well, actually, when it comes to in-laws…”

 

“Even though Lee Soo Jin-ssi is not that woman’s daughter,” he barks out over me, “Lee Soo Jin-ssi is still her son’s wife. That woman should still love the person her son loves. She should want her son’s wife to be happy, because she should want her son to be happy. And that baby is still her grandchild. A grandmother should love her grandchild, even if it is not born yet.

 

“This mother-in-law is not a real mother! She – she is like an evil stepmother. Like the one in Snow White. She is just being mean for no reason!”

 

The sudden vehemence in his tone makes me stop in my tracks. Si On goes on ahead of me for a little bit, but then he stops, too, when he sees I have not followed him.

 

“Ya…” I gasp, impressed. “Look at you: you’re getting really aggressive these days.” Realizing that he might take that as criticism, I quickly add, “It’s a good thing. You need to be more assertive and just tell people what you want.”

 

“Seonsaengnim,” Si On says at length, “I think I know – know why people curse now.”

 

Well, this is unexpected.

 

I sidle over beside him. “But didn’t you say that you don’t like to curse? And that you don’t like it when other people do?”

 

He shakes his head, lips pressing into a stubborn thin line. “Animida. I do not like to curse. But I do know how.”

 

That’s…not exactly what I was asking. But I’ll go with it.

 

“Jinjja?”

 

He looks me straight in the eye, then gives me a firm nod.

 

Park Si On…actually knowing how to curse? Well, this is something I’ve got to see!

 

Glancing around us to make sure no-one – especially no kids! – is listening, I give him a nudge in the side. “Show me.” When he doesn’t respond, I resort to grabbing him by the elbow. “Come on, Si On-ah. Just do it. Do it, do it, do it!”

 

I know how immature I’m sounding right now, but I don’t care. It’s been a long day, and thinking about Soo Jin’s mother-in-law makes me want to hit something. So if this is a more harmless way to vent, I’m taking it.

 

For a long moment, Park Si On doesn’t say anything. But I can see him taking in a deep breath, trying to build up the courage to do it.

 

“I hope you –”

 

He loses his nerve, his words trailing off. So, I try to help him along. “I hope you….”

 

Then, without warning, it all gushes out:

 

“I hope you stub your toe on the door, get foil in your mouth when you eat kimbap, and pop a pimple when scratching your head!”

 

Wait…what?

 

I shoot him a pointed look. “That’s it?”

 

“Ne.”

 

My eyes narrow incredulously. “That’s what you call a curse?”

 

Si On nods, looking down glumly at the floor as though his own words have gotten to him.

 

“Ya – a curse isn’t supposed to sound funny. If it ends up making the other person laugh, then that doesn’t count.”

 

“Seonsaengnim was not offended?” he asks. “That did not sound harsh?”

 

I burst out laughing, no longer able to stop myself. “Not a bit!”

 

[...]

 

“Cha-saeng, Park-saeng – what are you two doing here?”

 

I glance over my shoulder at Na In Hae, who is now standing in the doorway, even as Si On gives her a small bobbing nod. My mouth opens with what I hope would be a good answer, but he beats me to it.

 

“Seonsaengnim is trying to teach me how to curse. Seonsaengnim says that I need to talk more aggressively, or I would be a pushover.”

 

I whirl around to face him, eyes wide. “Ya, Park Si On!” I hiss. “Not in front of the kids!”

 

But then, to my surprise, In Hae claps her hands in glee.

 

“Jinjja?” she blurts out, now scurrying over towards us. Si On and I both scoot over to give her some space to sit down beside me. “I second that, Park-saeng,” she adds, shooting him a pointed look before redirecting her attention towards me. “So…what have you covered so far, Cha-saeng?”

 

Quickly, still unable to believe this is happening, I fill In Hae in on the details. Once I am done, she stares at Si On, her eyes growing wider and wider in interest.

 

“I can do one better, Park-saeng. Do you know ‘gae saekkie’?”

 

Si On nods. “Ne. I know that one.”

 

Now it’s In Hae’s turn to cross her arms in front of her chest. “Do you think you can say it?”

 

He mulls over it for a moment, then shakes his head. “Andwaemida. But I do not mind when other people say it.”

 

“Jeongmal?” I blurt out, my eyes widening in astonishment. “But didn’t you say that you don’t like it when others curse?”

 

“Ne.” Si On gives me a firm nod. “I do not like to curse. And I do not like to hear other people curse. But even if I do not like to hear other people curse, I can still prefer some words over others.”

 

In Hae’s eyes sparkle in mischief. “And ‘gae sakkie’ is one of them?”

 

“Ne. Because ‘gae saekkie,’ literally, means ‘dog’s offspring.’ So when somebody else calls me that, I can pretend that they mean something nice.”

 

With that single comment, any and all humour that I had been feeling thus far is sucked away, and it is like a cloud has fallen over the three of us. “Mwo?”

 

“When someone calls me ‘gae saekkie,’” Si On explains, “it hurts for a little while. But then I tell myself that they are saying I am like a puppy, and everything is okay.”

 

Well...that's one way to make yourself feel better when someone cusses you out.... *shrugs*

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And here I am with today's pics!

 

Spoiler

Sweet moments from miscellaneous dramas:

 

 

 

(This...pretty much just sums up Yoo Jin and Nae Il's entire home life in a single shot, doesn't it? B))

 

 

(You'll have to click through the slideshow for the cutesy couple stuff)

 

 

Recording studio pic?

 

 

JW's airport fashion (or lack thereof, depending on what you expect from celebrities at the airport :P)

 

 

Such a cute reaction face from 1N2D

 

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/4/2018 at 2:44 AM, kittyna said:

Cute Chibi Fanart!!!

Excellent artwork by the wonderful fans joowon.art :thumbsup:

Those expressive eyes described cute Yongpal in 3 different modes: rogue, white knight, romeo.

 

On 9/4/2018 at 2:44 AM, kittyna said:

These shots from "Yong Pal" turned out really nicely

 

Again JW is playing magic that the more I stare into his pictures, the more I immerse into Taehyun's grief and hardship.  Like this one, without too much nuances and emphasis - just by looking at Shi-On's back makes me feel pity for his life.  :bawling:

 

 

On 9/2/2018 at 3:37 PM, green_cardigan said:
On 9/2/2018 at 4:12 AM, kittyna said:

 

(lol - you get the idea. I'm surprised we haven't yet heard news about the 2018 Ground Forces Festival, actually. Is there one happening at all? Is JW going to be making an appearance there? I mean, he did it last year, so maybe the ROKA wants to give the emcee spot to someone else, but with a number of celebrity soldiers, including Ji Chang Wook and Kang Ha Neul, signing on to the military musical recently, I think JW would have a decent chance at emceeing again, right? Right???)

 

Thanks for sharing this! I think many ROKA divisions are having holidays at this time, but it’s totally possible they met because they’re preparing for an event... can’t wait!

 

Bingo! your guess is all correct! The caption speaks for us! 

JW's hairstyle is so refreshing.  Pretty surprises he can be so versatile in styling even in military :love:

 

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, soomoi said:

Bingo! your guess is all correct! The caption speaks for us! 

 

lol - I was just coming online to share that poster, and you beat me to it.

 

I'm so happy for JW right now. He's been doing all of these ROKA-run events and it's just awesome!

 

Personally, I think the part I'm looking forward to the most is the chance to see JW collaborating with Go Kyung Pyo again. What can I say? Save for having been a listener to BoA's stuff for years now, I'm not much of a K-pop person (most of the Korean stuff I listen to is Drama OSTs). So BigBang...really isn't registering for me right now. Like, I'm sure that's awesome for their fans - and I know there are many - but that's not what I'm most excited about right now.

 

But JW with GKP...that's a relationship I do feel something for: mostly because I thought the friendship between their characters in "Nae Il's Cantabile" was just adorable, but also because...aren't they also friends in real life? I seem to recall something like that, where GKP mentioned that if he were ever to guest on "Running Man", he'd like to have JW along as part of his team, but I don't know how close they are in actuality.

 

Anyways - either way, this is going to be a ton of fun once October rolls around :D Can't wait to see the pics that come out of this one.

 

And speaking of pics....

 

Spoiler

I love it when guys can look good in really basic and simple things like a plain white T-shirt. And JW just owns it!

 

 

lol - So cute! A bit childish, yes, but mostly just cute. :P 

 

 

 

JW meeting with fans

 

 

Sleepy JW...

 

 

 

Really liking this close-up shot

 

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here I am with today's pics! And, once again, it's Throwback Thursday!

 

Spoiler

Cute behind-the-scenes photos from "Good Doctor" (Thanks to Moon Chae Won's fans on Pinterest for this :))

 

"Good Doctor" Behind the Scenes

 

Promo still from "Level 7 Civil Servant"

 

 

Some cute expressions and moments from 1N2D

 

 

Loving this shot of Hwang Tae Hee

 

 

"Gaksital" Behind the Scenes - The look is Lee Kang To; but that face is totally Moon Jun Won :D 

 

 

 

A nice black and white collage

 

145bad4f58f88737d14aae8910c9e735.jpg

 

The moment that started it all for me: JW's appearance on the 2010 Chuseok Special on KBS for "King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu". And I do mean "the moment" literally. It was when JW, in comparison to Kang Dong Won and TOP (note the label of "Kang Dong TOP" here), said that he was "more innocent" that I just fell for this guy - not just as an actor, but as a person.

 

Damn...I watched this show in January 2016, and look where I am now!

 

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another poster! I’m so in love with Joowon’s hairstyle :wub:

 

 

On 9/5/2018 at 8:26 PM, kittyna said:

Personally, I think the part I'm looking forward to the most is the chance to see JW collaborating with Go Kyung Pyo again.

 

On 9/5/2018 at 8:26 PM, kittyna said:

JW with GKP...that's a relationship I do feel something for: mostly because I thought the friendship between their characters in "Nae Il's Cantabile" was just adorable, but also because...aren't they also friends in real life? I seem to recall something like that, where GKP mentioned that if he were ever to guest on "Running Man", he'd like to have JW along as part of his team, but I don't know how close they are in actuality.

 

Me too! I can’t wait to see their interactions :D @kittyna Do you know if they broadcast or live stream these festivals?

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, green_cardigan said:

Me too! I can’t wait to see their interactions :D @kittyna Do you know if they broadcast or live stream these festivals?

 

I'm not entirely sure. I wouldn't be surprised if it's broadcast on Korean television, but internationally...I mostly just rely on fan-taken photos and videos that crop up on Instagram or Pinterest :P 

 

3 hours ago, green_cardigan said:

Another poster! I’m so in love with Joowon’s hairstyle :wub:

 

lol - I saw people commenting on JW's hairstyle in the earlier poster, too. I wonder what's going on, though - the White Skull Division is usually really stringent about maintaining uniform, and that includes a distinctive hairstyle that's different from the rest of the ROKA. 

 

(Quoting from this allkpop article that was posted for G-Dragon's enlistment, also in White Skulls)

 

Quote

Known as the 'skull cut', military officials emphasize a unique haircut starting from 9mm at the top to 1mm on the side. If soldiers were to break this rule, they must stylize their hair again, even if they are days away from being discharged.

 

Basically, about as close to a full-on buzz-cut as you're ever going to get without actually doing it. It makes White Skulls soldiers like G-Dragon, JW and Ji Chang Wook instantly recognizable, even from other Korean soldiers. Yes, most soldiers do have it longer on top and nearly buzzed on the sides, too, but the actual portion left longer on top appears to be smaller compared to everyone else, and the overall contrast between short/long is more apparent.

 

So my question is: since when was JW allowed to change his style, and why? Any ideas? Because I actually have no clue whatsoever.

 

Anyway, time to get on to today's pics!

 

Spoiler

Speaking of the White Skulls' distinctive hairstyle, this slideshow offers a couple of good looks at it.

 

 

Love these black and white shots

 

 

 

 

Dreaming of Salzburg....

 

(LOVE this fan-edit for "Nae Il's Cantabile"!!!)

 

 

"My Sassy Girl" - Both in costume and not

 

 

What do you do when the prince you're babysitting starts crying???

 

 

I absolutely love how hands - especially the contact between them - says and does so much in "Nae Il's Cantabile". Holding hands does for Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il what hugs and kisses do for everyone else, and it's adorable.

 

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just throwing this out there really quickly, because I don't know when the final answer will be revealed (and what's the fun in playing then?).

 

Quick! Where do you think JW is in this pic???

 

 

Going by things like height and build, the consensus on Instagram is that JW should be one of the taller guys: so either the one on the far left, or second from the right (the other one then being Go Kyung Pyo).

 

But again: WHICH ONE???

 

I'd love it if people who usually read my posts actually try their hand at this game. So...people like @green_cardigan or @soomoi or @valinor500 - please, don't be shy!

 

(I've got my guess, too, but I'm holding off on sharing it so I can see what you guys think first)

  • Like 2
  • LOL 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, kittyna said:

Quick! Where do you think JW is in this pic???

 

3 hours ago, kittyna said:

Going by things like height and build, the consensus on Instagram is that JW should be one of the taller guys: so either the one on the far left, or second from the right (the other one then being Go Kyung Pyo).

 

But again: WHICH ONE???

 

Haha this is fun! :lol: My guess is that Joowon is the one on the far left. Because of that lean build and body language looking so familiar. I can be wrong though!

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, green_cardigan said:

Haha this is fun! :lol: My guess is that Joowon is the one on the far left. Because of that lean build and body language looking so familiar. I can be wrong though!

The left one because of the shape of the head :skull:

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, green_cardigan said:

Haha this is fun! :lol: My guess is that Joowon is the one on the far left. Because of that lean build and body language looking so familiar. I can be wrong though!

 

11 hours ago, soomoi said:

The left one because of the shape of the head :skull:

 

lol - My guess is the left, too, for the same reason that @soomoi said. Compared to Go Kyung Pyo (and a lot of other male Hallyu stars, to be honest), JW has this really distinctive heart-shaped face, in my opinion, where there's a really noticeable difference in the width of his face at the cheekbones and at the jawline.

 

Right now, the silhouette on the left has this feature, whereas the one closer to the right doesn't. So my guess is that JW's on the left. :) 

 

And now for other pics!

 

Spoiler

Another cute piece of chibi fanart

 

 

These behind-the-scenes shots from "Yong Pal" are so cute!

 

 

Two completely different lighting styles in these two pics, but both look gorgeous.

 

 

 

Happy to meet the fans

 

 

Some behind-the-scenes shots from "Love Express". I always think it's hilarious that Korean actors wear these massively long and puffy coats when not on camera. I know it's for warmth (since "winter fashion" on film is never true to real life temperatures :P), but no matter how tall the actor is, those coats are still disproportionately large.

 

 

 

  • Like 2
  • LOL 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just popping by with today's pics!

 

Spoiler

A behind-the-scenes moment from "Good Doctor" I haven't seen before. I'm not sure, but it looks like JW's holding a camera - since I do know he likes to take behind-the-scenes photos of himself and his co-stars - and Moon Chae Won's looking at whatever picture he took. 

 

(Thanks to Moon Chae Won's fans for sharing this on Pinterest)

 

d1b3a3f16049948259363812b4942351.jpg

 

And another adorable one from "Yong Pal"

 

5659583458ec6e1c0a4c79aff76c2b88.jpg

 

007 JW

 

 

So JW's a hamster now???

 

 

A simple but heartfelt thumbs-up

 

 

The (almost-)always serious Cha Yoo Jin

 

 

I wonder who he's making this face at, and why

 

 

Gu Ma Jun and a rather awesome-looking vintage phone

 

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Kittyna many hugs to you! 

I write here only sometimes because my english is meh (i'm Italian), but i love to read all your post, you're an angel! :wub:

I love Joo Won and all my Soompi friends in this tread! ^_^

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, valinor500 said:

@Kittyna many hugs to you! 

I write here only sometimes because my english is meh (i'm Italian), but i love to read all your post, you're an angel! :wub:

I love Joo Won and all my Soompi friends in this tread! ^_^

 

Thanks for the kind words!

 

You do what's comfortable for you, but just know that you're always welcome to share here if you want. I'm sure most people in this forum speak/write English as a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) language, and will generally be forgiving of any efforts, "meh" or otherwise. Growing up in and living in Canada as a native English speaker makes me the odd one out here, I think ;) 

 

And by the way, my knowledge of Italian is pretty much non-existent: maybe some food-related or music-related terms, but that's about it. So you've got one up on me in that respect. So, I'll just say it in advance: if I end up having to use Italian in my "Seolleim in Salzburg" series, and it'll likely happen sooner or later since I want to make a nod to opera/vocal music in the near future, please forgive me for any mistakes then.

 

Anyway, I'm doing the pics a bit earlier than usual today, because the fic that I've been working on is now more-or-less ready, and I want to have a chance to post that later today. :D So stay tuned for that!

 

Spoiler

A collage of kiss scenes, plus one almost-kiss (Don't worry, Nae Il-ah - in my fics, you get your kiss eventually!)

 

 

Such adorable "Good Doctor" fanart!

 

732b14d69ee38bcc36f5907ff39aae4c.jpg

 

I know that Choi Ro Woon wasn't JW's "mini-me" in "My Sassy Girl", but it's adorable that they still have matching smiles.

 

 

Autumn's hit with a vengeance where I am, where things just got a lot colder and rainier almost overnight. So I'm in a mood for looking at fall fashion now.

 

 

What's cuter than JW making finger hearts? JW making finger hearts shyly.

 

 

I'm liking this screenshot from "Nae Il's Cantabile"

 

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And now it's time for the new fic!

 

Spoiler

Title: Life Lessons

Drama: "Good Doctor"

Characters: Park Si On, Cha Yoon Seo

Premise: Ever since they first met, Cha Yoon Seo has taken it upon herself to try to teach Park Si On the skills that she thinks are necessary to get around in society. However, every single time she does, she ends up learning something new from Si On as well.

Warnings: Some Korean profanity, a passing mention of past child abuse

 

Note: This fic jumps through different points in the drama, most notably Episodes 7, 10/11, and 16. So for those who haven't watched, there will be some spoilers here.

 

Note on Language: Although the characters speak Korean, and I can reasonably expect some knowledge of common words and phrases from you guys (given we are in a Hallyu fandom forum), I do want to say a few things about how the language works in this story in particular.

 

In short: Park Si On's super-formal way of speaking means that I am using forms of common words and phrases that may be unfamiliar for some people. Most of us know the general distinction between jeondaemal (formal/polite language) and banmal (informal/casual language) in Korean. We tend to associate jeondaemal with the "-yo" suffix, and the banmal with the absence of a suffix; so, for instance, "gwenchanayo" (jeondaemal) vs. "gwenchana" (banmal); "aniyo" (jeondaemal) vs. "ani" (banmal), etc.

 

But the reality in Korean is a bit more complicated than that: there is at least one level that is even more formal than that, and that is the one that Park Si On uses for the most part. Instead of the "-yo" suffix, it's "-imnida" - which, yes, turns all of these words into quite the mouthful.

 

Transferring that same degree of formality into English, though, was a bit harder. While English does have a distinction between formal and informal language, it's definitely nowhere near as clear-cut as it is in Korean! So, for the purposes of these stories, I'm doing it by resorting to a trick other authors have used to make characters sound more "polite" or "proper": not using any contractions at all (e.g. saying "I do not want that" instead of "I don't want that"). It probably ends up sounding even more stilted than Park Si On's formal speech would in Korean, but it's the best that I can do.

 

Also, I do want to point out very quickly that I do not translate any Korean profanity that shows up in this fic. This is because Soompi censors out swearwords automatically (and rightly so, as far as I'm concerned), so it's not going to show up right in the text if I did. Most should be fairly straightforward based off of context, but if you're at all confused...Google is your best friend ;)

 

Finally, since I do label each of the "life lessons" with a number...please don't read too much into it. I just chose those numbers randomly, only remembering to keep them in ascending order.

 

Once again, please do not upload parts of this fic to any other website without my permission. If you want to share, just post a link to this page. Thanks! 

 

Spoiler

Life Lessons

 

Lesson No. 15: How to Drink

 

Today…has just been crap. Total, complete crap.

 

It started off well enough, I suppose. Just like any other day at the hospital. But then there had been that whole fiasco with Eun Ok, and the door that should have been locked but wasn’t, and Park Si On getting in trouble for that, and –

 

Aish.

 

You know what? It was just crap.

 

And the worst part of it is – the most stupid part of it is – that I hadn’t said anything when I’d still had the chance.

 

Park Si On had asked me about it, of course. He’d asked me right to my face: “Does Seonsaengnim think I am lying, too? Does Seonsaengnim not believe me, too?”

 

And I, idiot that I was, had only told him to go back to our common room and wait.

 

What sort of an answer is that? Granted, I didn’t know that things would turn out that bad: that the parents would file a complaint and that Park Si On would be asked to leave. But still. What does that matter? Point is: I had believed him, but I hadn’t said anything.

 

And now he’s not answering my calls, even though there’s nothing I want more than to apologize right now.

 

Serves me right. If he ignores me for the rest of my life, it’s probably no more than I deserve.

 

So right now, at this moment, I just want to call it a night. Go home, get into bed, and just pretend that nothing happened.

 

But even so, I can’t get that last image of Park Si On out of my mind: the way he had just walked away from the hospital – from me – without even a single backward glance. Other people might think he’s either oblivious or stuck-up, but I know better. I’ve seen him at this before. I know that when he does that, it’s because he’s withdrawn into himself: choosing to focus on the single task at hand – in this case, getting home – without any interference from external stimuli.

 

So now, as I finally manage to drag myself back to our building, I can’t help glancing over at his unit on the first floor.

 

Wait.

 

That’s strange.

 

The lights are off, and the curtains are already drawn.

 

Has he gone to bed already? Or worse – has he just up and left?

 

I need to know for sure, but I still end up hesitating once I am right outside of the door, one finger hovering over the doorbell.

 

Should I do it?

 

I don’t mind the possibility of waking Si On up if he’s already asleep. But I am worried that he’d just ignore me like he did all afternoon.

 

Well, then, it looks like there’s only one way left.

 

Quickly, before I could lose my nerve, I punch in my old passcode, knowing that Si On’s never bothered to change it. Then, as soon as I hear the chime that signals that the door is unlocked, I turn the latch and step inside.

 

The light in the foyer, which is motion-activated, turns on immediately, but I still flick on the light switch for the apartment’s main room with one hand as I take off my shoes and step up onto the landing.

 

And that’s how I spot Si On almost right away. He’s sitting slumped over on the floor beside his bed; and right now, most likely because of the light and the noise that I’ve been making, he’s turned his head to look up at me, blinking slowly in curiosity.

 

Si On scrambles to his feet as I step closer to him, but he doesn’t say anything. Instead, his hands folded together in front of his lap, he glances down at the floor, still blinking in that way he does when he’s lost for words.

 

Looks like I’ll have to start, then.

 

“Are you wondering why I came in without ringing the doorbell first?”

 

His eyes flicker up to meet mine for a split second before he looks down at the floor again. And although I can’t actually see him doing it, I can almost feel him giving me a slight nod.

 

“You weren’t answering my calls,” I explain, my voice coming out so curt and petty that I cringe inwardly at the sound of it. “So I figured you wouldn’t open the door even if I rang.”

 

Si On still doesn’t say anything, but the dejected look on his face gives me an idea.

 

I was hoping for a chance to talk things over with him. And if both of us are feeling crappy right now anyway….

 

I give him a firm look as I turn to leave. “Come with me.”

 

“Wh- where are we going, Seonsaengnim?”

 

Hearing Si On’s voice behind me, I let out a sigh of relief. Finally, he’s actually responding to me.

 

I turn back around to face him. “To the Library.”

 

His eyes narrow and he gives me a nearly undetectable shake of the head. “I do not want to study right now.”

 

“Ara, ara,” I say, closing the gap between us and holding out one hand towards him. “Of course you don’t need to study anymore; you’ve probably read more books and journals already than I ever will in my lifetime.” I give him what I hope is a reassuring smile. “But seriously: just trust me, arasseo? This Library is different.”

 

“Seonsaengnim, what kind of a library –”

 

But I am already turning and heading for the door at this point, so Si On doesn’t bother to finish his sentence. Instead, I simply hear the soft echo of stockinged feet on hardwood as he scrambles to follow me out of the apartment.

 

Several minutes later, we have come to the Library: the bar close to the hospital that is a favourite hangout for all of us staff. I can see, as Si On and I make our way inside, that this is his first time here. Shuffling along a few steps behind me, he turns his head this way and that, craning his neck in his efforts to try to take in the entire bar at once.

 

As we make our way towards the counter and I nod a greeting to the man standing behind it, Si On finally can’t contain his curiosity any longer. “This – this is a library? But I do not see a single book.”

 

Beside us, the bartender lets out a bark of laughter, and even I have to turn my face away to hide mine.

 

“A new face, I see,” he drawls at me, his hands still occupied with wiping the glasses. “Who’s your friend?”

 

I turn towards Si On. “Go on – introduce yourself,” I prompt him. Waving one arm towards the other man, I add, “This guy here’s the owner; he’s known us residents and medical students for so long, he’s practically our uncle by now.”

 

“Ah.” Understanding flashes in his eyes as he turns and gives the bartender a formal bow. “Annyeonghasimnikka. My name is Park Si On.”

 

Recognition lights up on the other man’s face as well. He shoots me a surreptitious sideways glance. “He’s ‘that’ friend, isn’t he?”

 

I answer with a smile and a slight nod, gesturing with one hand for him not to say anything more.

 

“So, um….” The bartender, clearly unsure where to go on from here, stops, clears his throat, and tries again. “What will you two have, then?”

 

Scanning over the room, noting out of the corner of my eye that Si On is copying the gesture, I light upon an empty table in the centre. Jerking my head towards it, I answer, “Just a bottle of soju and your pick of the bar snacks for now. I’ll let you know if we want anything else.”

 

As we take our seats, I see once again that Si On is still peering curiously around us, trying to take everything in. And I don’t blame him. Maybe it’s because it’s so close to the hospital and most of the patrons are doctors like ourselves, but the Library is filled with bizarre and vaguely medicine-related paraphernalia: art prints showing X-ray skeletons eating and drinking on the walls; microscopes and plastic anatomical models on the shelves; even some fake IV-drips that are actually meant for serving cocktails.

 

“So what do you think?” I ask after a moment’s pause.

 

Si On gives me the closest thing to a level look that he can manage. “It looks very, very interesting, Seonsaengnim. But I still do not see how this could be a library.” He glances towards one of the decorations. “I think Seonsaengnim means that this is a medical library, but –” he pauses and shakes his head at one of the prints on the wall “– but if that is the case, then this library is not a very good one. See? That picture over there is not even accurate.” His lips press into a thin line. “When someone is receiving a skeletal X-ray, even though the doctor does not ask for him to go into a full fast beforehand, he should still not be eating or drinking during the procedure. Especially alcohol.”

 

I can’t help it. The earnest seriousness on Si On’s face makes me burst out laughing, clapping my hands in amusement.

 

Startled, he glances back up at me. “Did – did I say something wrong, Seonsaengnim?”

 

“Ani,” I answer, waving my hand to reassure him. “It’s just…it’s just….” Forcing myself to calm down, I try again. “Ya, Park Si On. Two things,” I say, holding up the same number of fingers for emphasis. “One: those pictures are just art, not actual medical images, so don’t take them too seriously.” After making sure that he’s nodded at me and understands what I’m saying, I add, “And two: you see that neon sign over there?” Si On turns his head to follow my pointing finger with his gaze. “‘The Library’ is this bar’s name. So when I said that I was going to ‘The Library’, that’s what I meant. Not a literal library, but this place.”

 

“Ah.” He gives me yet another nod, just in time for the bartender to show up beside our table with our order: a bottle of soju accompanied with two chilled glasses and a pitcher of water, and two plates of assorted salty bar snacks. Si On then watches in wide-eyed blinking curiosity as I snatch up the soju and shake it vigorously before upending it and smacking it several times on the bottom.

 

The bottle opens with a satisfying crack. There’s some sort of catchy funky song playing in the background, and I start humming along with it as – etiquette be damned – I pour myself my first shot. Si On’s eyes follow my hands as I weave them together in my lap. “By the way – are you able to drink?”

 

I don’t know if there’s anything that forbids people with autism from drinking, hence why I haven’t offered Si On a shot yet. But something tells me that he’d know, even if just from reading up on the subject.

 

He shakes his head. “I never drank before.”

 

That makes me lean forward in curiosity. “Not even in university? Wouldn’t your sunbaes have offered you some?”

 

Maybe things are different for someone like him, but if no-one had even invited him along on a night out…that would just suck.

 

“They did offer.”

 

Thank goodness for that!

 

“But I did not drink it.” Pausing for a moment, as though trying to find the right words, he adds, “It is not that I cannot drink. I just really, really do not like the smell.”

 

Challenge accepted. Rearing back slightly, I tilt my head up so that I am now glancing down at him. “Well, if I were to offer you a drink…” I begin, my voice trailing off in what I hope is a suggestive manner, “would you accept?”

 

Si On mulls over it, and then nods. “If Seonsaengnim offers, then I will drink it.”

 

Well, that’s it, then. Nodding to myself in satisfaction, I pick up the bottle. Si On holds out his glass to me, carefully pinched between all his fingers on both hands, as I pour out a shot. Then, setting the bottle back down on the table, I take up my shot glass.

 

“Geonbae!”

 

I wait until Si On has cautiously clinked his glass against mine, then throw my head back to down the entire shot in one go. It goes down easily, with just enough of a burn to keep things interesting; I close my eyes and make a contented guttural sound deep in my throat.

 

Soon, though, curiosity comes over me once again. Has Si On managed to follow suit?

 

I crack my eyes open for a second, peering at him across the table. Then, at the sight of him, they fly open as a laugh bursts out from me.

 

“Ya!” I bark out as, making a disgusted face, he chases the shot down with an entire glass of water. “What’s all this? Did you just drink poison or something?”

 

From his perspective, he might just have, given the way that he’s still got that tight grimace on his face as, slowly, he lets himself swallow. It makes me wonder: does alcohol smell or taste differently to someone like him? Maybe it comes on stronger, or harsher? With sharpened senses like his, maybe that would be the case, but there’s no way I’d know for sure.

 

So instead of asking about that, I change the subject.

 

“I know you’ve just been fired, but don’t go back home just yet.”

 

Si On peers up at me and, just for a second, our eyes meet.

 

“Just stick around for this weekend, and then go.” I give him a nod for emphasis. “We can go out and eat something together first.”

 

Usually, Si On would answer me right away with either a nod or a shake of the head. But this time, he just peers down at the floor without saying anything.

 

“Are you still upset at me?” I ask after a moment’s awkward silence.

 

I see his head dip just the faintest bit downward. Was that a nod?

 

“Because you think I didn’t believe you?”

 

He looks back up at me, and his tone is strangely curt when he replies. “It is okay when people dislike me. But it is not okay…when people say that I am a liar.”

 

People like me?

 

I lean forward in my seat, folding my arms on the table between us. “I believe you,” I say firmly, hoping that he registers the earnest tone in my voice. “Mianhae – I should have said it earlier. But you’ve got to understand: sometimes life’s like that. You can’t please everyone; even if you’re honest, you’re never going to be able to earn everyone’s trust.”

 

Si On’s face sets into a stubborn frown. “That is too hard. I do not know anything about that.”

 

His reaction makes me think back to what Director Choi told me earlier today: that no matter how hard he tried, Si On could not make sense of anything that did not fit his black-and-white moral view of the world. Any sort of grey area…was simply too illogical for him.

 

And as of right now, I know that that’s made him the subject of abuse. The kids are better: they were scared of Si On at first, but I can see that they’ve started to warm up to him and some even ask for him in particular when I make my rounds. But it’s the parents that I’m worried about. The parents and Director Choi’s rivals in the hospital, for whom Si On is an easy scapegoat because of his autism.

 

Maybe Kim Do Han is right. Maybe it would be best for Si On to just…leave.

 

I know that he won’t like hearing this, but I’ve got to try anyway. Still, I can’t actually bring himself to look him in the eye when I start.

 

“Si On-ah.”

 

I don’t see when his eyes flicker up at me, but I can sense them all the same.

 

“When you go back home,” I continue, finally working up the nerve to look straight at him, “or start to look for a placement at a different hospital…maybe you should consider a different field. Something other than surgery.” Getting only a silent stare in response, I try to explain. “I know there are a lot of research positions out there. Lab work would be perfect for someone with talents like yours. Or there’s diagnostics, or radiology, or….”

 

Point is: something that won’t end up with him interacting with people in a way in which he could get hurt.

 

Si On shakes his head. “Animida. I have to become a surgeon.”

 

“If this is about saving lives,” I add, noting all the times he’s mentioned that very point, “you know you don’t have to be on the front lines to do it. Even behind the scenes, you can still help these kids –”

 

“Animida.”

 

I blink at him in surprise. It’s not often that Si On actually cuts me off.

 

“I want to see the children smiling. I want to be able to treat them with my own two hands.”

 

Why isn’t he getting it? Why can’t he see that I’m trying to help?

 

“Look,” I plead with him, my voice growing increasingly desperate, “if you go on like this – if you keep on insisting on training as a surgeon like this – you might lose any chance of becoming a doctor at all!”

 

Because for me, right now, it’s not even about whether or not he makes mistakes anymore. It’s about the fact that even when he doesn’t, people will say he will. And if Si On ends up offending someone rich enough or powerful enough to take things up to court, he could lose his license altogether.

 

I don’t know if he really doesn’t understand, though, or if he’s just being stubborn. Because he only gives me a firm shake of the head. “I will still do it. I will keep on trying. No matter what.”

 

Well, I can see that clearly enough. So, as much as I hate myself for doing it, I concede with a sigh. “Ne. Arata.”

 

The tension in the air is so thick that I could almost cut it with a knife, and both Si On and I end up staring at random objects on the table for a long moment. If it were up to him, we’d probably both stay that way all night, but I’m not like that. Sooner or later, the silence ends up grating on my nerves, and I just have to say something.

 

“Still,” I say, bouncing back upright in my seat, trying to put a more chipper tone in my voice than what I’m actually feeling, “there’s no reason not to celebrate. You’ve hit a milestone, after all: your first time drinking with a friend. So, you know what?” I sweep one arm to vaguely gesture to the entire bar around us. “You can drink everything that’s in here!”

 

Startled, Si On jerks his head up to look at me, eyes hilariously wide in terror. Turning his head to look at the wall behind the main counter with all of its bottles of booze, he looks back at me. “What? Everything?”

 

“All right, maybe not literally everything…” I concede, kicking myself internally for using the expression. “But seriously: you should learn to drink. Who knows? It’ll probably be good for your social skills.”

 

From the look that Si On gives me at that last bit, I know that he’s interested. That classic temptation of wanting to fit in with everyone else: somewhere deep inside, he’s got to feel it, maybe even more strongly than the average person.

 

Still, instead of agreeing right away, he glances hesitantly back down at the floor, so I move to reassure him. “Don’t worry. It’ll be fine.” I wave one hand dismissively in the air. “Drink all you want!” Patting myself on the chest with that same hand, I add, “I promise: I’ll get you home safely.”

 

It takes him a moment, but eventually, he answers me with a nod as he holds out his glass to me. Giving him my most disarming smile, I pour out a shot for him, then guide him through the steps of returning the favour. He holds the bottle cautiously, swallowing nervously as though afraid that he’d end up dropping it and splattering soju everywhere, but manages to pull it off without a hitch. Then, after we’ve clinked our glasses together in a toast, we down both shots simultaneously.

 

And that’s how it starts.

 

It doesn’t take me long to lose track of exactly how much time has passed, but I do know that we spend a good long while drinking and chatting together like old friends. Si On asks me about the kids. He lets out a huge sigh of relief and even manages to eke out a tiny smile when I tell him that they seem to genuinely miss him, with one little girl in particular having been overheard loudly and vehemently defending him to anyone – kids, parents, and doctors alike – who would listen. And that actually gets him to accidentally blab to me about how he had met up with Na In Hae earlier this afternoon, only realizing his mistake when I burst out laughing at how she had feigned illness to trick him into talking to her. Immediately, he cuts himself off, smacking himself on the head with his knuckles and moaning to himself about being “a big dummy”, before making me swear to secrecy: an offer I readily accept since, well, if Si On hadn’t had a problem with In Hae being outside of the hospital for a while, then why should I?

 

And while I am starting to get the impression that no, Park Si On does not know, in fact, whether alcohol has specific effects on those with autism, as we keep pouring ourselves one shot after another, I definitely notice a pattern. Si On, who relies on repetition to help him cope with any unfamiliar situation or environment, soon develops his own little ritual: downing his shot, chasing it with water, eating one of everything from the snacks set out for us, and then – finally! – holding out his glass for me to top up. As for me…I am far sloppier than he is: more than I’d care to admit. I just go for whatever it is I feel like – soju, water, food – with no particular logic behind it.

 

Maybe that’s why it happens, then. As Si On and I make our way through first one bottle, then two…I start to lose track of more than just the time. And at one point, after God-knows-how-many drinks, I feel myself opening my eyes – when had I even closed them before? – to find Si On crouching down on the ground beside my chair.

 

“Si On-ah…” I mutter down at him, staring at him with bleary eyes. “What’re you doing?”

 

“Get on, Seonsaengnim,” he says, his words surprisingly not slurred. “It is late. We have already drunk lots and lots. We – animida, Seonsaengnim – still has work tomorrow. So Seonsaengnim needs to go home now.”

 

I blink at him several times in confusion. The image of him in front of me sways and bobs; sometimes, it even breaks apart, turning into two overlapping Si Ons before fusing back again into one. “Mwo?”

 

Si On turns his head back towards me. Normally, he ends up blinking and then diverting his gaze elsewhere, but this time, he manages to stare right at me. “Bbali, Seonsaengnim,” he barks out, making me blink in surprise at the authority in his voice. “Bbali, bbali.”

 

Finally, it dawns on me just what he wants me to do. So, slowly, reaching out with one hand to steady myself on the table when I feel myself stumbling forwards as I stand up, I get out of my chair and lower myself down behind him.

 

Strange. I thought Park Si On didn’t like physical contact. Besides, I’m pretty damned sure that he hasn’t piggybacked anyone other than an incapacitated patient before.

 

Sure enough, our first attempt ends in disaster. Still not used to my weight on his back – and probably more than a bit tipsy himself – Si On stumbles the first time he tries to get up, making us both crash down onto the floor. As I burst out laughing, he rounds on me, eyes wide.

 

“Joesonghamnida! Gwenchansumnida, Seonsaengnim?”

 

Still laughing, I wave one hand dismissively in the air. “Gwenchana, Si On-ah. Let’s….” Reaching up and grabbing onto my chair for balance, I pull myself back upright. “Let’s just try that again.”

 

Our second attempt turns out better, and soon, I find myself higher up off the ground than I have been in a very, very long time. With the way that he tends to slouch over, as though trying to make himself as small as possible, Park Si On looks shorter than he actually is. But from up here, I imagine that were he to stand up completely straight, he’d honestly give Han Jin Wook a run for his money. The sudden jolt of being lifted up so high makes me head spin, and my hold around Si On’s neck instinctively tightens for a moment until I get used to it enough to loosen up again.

 

All the way from the bar to my apartment, Si On’s hold on me never wavers. Never mind that the vibe he tends to give off is like that of a gigantic soft and cuddly teddy bear; he’s actually far stronger than he looks: his shoulders are sturdy and his back surprisingly solid and warm. And although he jolts, startled, when I, acting on impulse, get into a shouting match with an ahjussi and his dog in a building close to ours, he does not let go, and even manages to run home when the man threatens to come down and chase us off his property.

 

So I really, really don’t want to let go when we finally get back to my apartment, the gentle rolling motion of the piggyback ride having lulled me to sleep. But too bad: Si On dumps me unceremoniously down on my bed anyway, and the next thing I know, I feel him gently draping a blanket over me.

 

Turning over to a more comfortable position on my side, I snuggle under the covers.

 

Is he going to wish me goodnight?

 

Ani. Barely, just barely, I hear Si On start to get up and walk away, probably thinking that I’m still asleep.

 

“Si On-ah….”

 

I know that he’s heard me this time.

 

“Even if you cause trouble…” I murmur, “I wish you could stay. Kajima, Si On-ah; we still need you here. The kids need you…and I need you, too.”

 

I don’t remember much after that. I don’t know if Park Si On tries to say anything to me. But what I do remember is the lightest feathery touch on my head: his hand, so soft and gentle and warm, stroking my hair.

 

Is that a promise…or an apology?

 

~~~~~

 

Lesson No. 23: How to Swear

 

“Soo Jin-ssi, fighting!”

 

The sound of Park Si On’s voice ringing out of the patient’s room into the hallway makes me smile despite myself. It’s about time someone around here was optimistic.

 

Si On himself emerges just moments later. “Ah, Seonsaengnim,” he says, greeting me with a small bow.

 

“So, how’d it go?” I peer past him into the room. “How is she?” When he opens his mouth to answer, I cut him off. “Not physically, I mean. I spoke with her ob-gyn already. I mean…how is she feeling right now?”

 

I know that questions like this are harder for Si On to answer than ones pertaining to a patient’s actual physical health. But I’ve always been one to believe that knowing a patient’s mental or emotional state is just as important; so now that he is officially a full-time resident with us, I’ve been trying to train Si On in this.

 

Still, it takes him a moment to gather his thoughts together. “Lee Soo Jin-ssi looks to be alright. She is more worried about her baby than she is about herself.”

 

His answer makes me smile. “She’d make a good mother, then.”

 

He gives me a nod. “Ne, Seonsaengnim.”

 

Si On now follows a step behind as I make my way through the ward, listening carefully as I explain all the tests that we have had done on the patient since she fainted on our doorstep, as well as the ob-gyn’s final diagnosis.

 

“Seonsaengnim.”

 

Something about his tone makes me glance up at him in curiosity. “Eh?”

 

“I really, really do not like the patient’s mother-in-law.”

 

I shoot him a sympathetic look. “None of us do.”

 

“I mean it, Seonsaengnim,” Si On says, his voice growing in urgency. “Family members should always care for each other.”

 

I suck in a sharp breath through my teeth, my eyes darting nervously around us. Softly, I let you a tsk. “Well, actually, when it comes to in-laws…”

 

“Even though Lee Soo Jin-ssi is not that woman’s daughter,” he barks out over me, “Lee Soo Jin-ssi is still her son’s wife. That woman should still love the person her son loves. She should want her son’s wife to be happy, because she should want her son to be happy. And that baby is still her grandchild. A grandmother should love her grandchild, even if it is not born yet.

 

“This mother-in-law is not a real mother! She – she is like an evil stepmother. Like the one in Snow White. She is just being mean for no reason!”

 

The sudden vehemence in his tone makes me stop in my tracks. Si On goes on ahead of me for a little bit, but then he stops, too, when he sees I have not followed him.

 

“Ya…” I gasp, impressed. “Look at you: you’re getting really aggressive these days.” Realizing that he might take that as criticism, I quickly add, “It’s a good thing. You need to be more assertive and just tell people what you want.”

 

“Seonsaengnim,” Si On says at length, “I think I know – know why people curse now.”

 

Well, this is unexpected.

 

I sidle over beside him. “But didn’t you say that you don’t like to curse? And that you don’t like it when other people do?”

 

He shakes his head, lips pressing into a stubborn thin line. “Animida. I do not like to curse. But I do know how.”

 

That’s…not exactly what I was asking. But I’ll go with it.

 

“Jinjja?”

 

He looks me straight in the eye, then gives me a firm nod.

 

Park Si On…actually knowing how to curse? Well, this is something I’ve got to see!

 

Glancing around us to make sure no-one – especially no kids! – is listening, I give him a nudge in the side. “Show me.” When he doesn’t respond, I resort to grabbing him by the elbow. “Come on, Si On-ah. Just do it. Do it, do it, do it!”

 

I know how immature I’m sounding right now, but I don’t care. It’s been a long day, and thinking about Soo Jin’s mother-in-law makes me want to hit something. So if this is a more harmless way to vent, I’m taking it.

 

For a long moment, Park Si On doesn’t say anything. But I can see him taking in a deep breath, trying to build up the courage to do it.

 

“I hope you –”

 

He loses his nerve, his words trailing off. So, I try to help him along.

 

“I hope you….”

 

Then, without warning, it all gushes out:

 

“I hope you stub your toe on the door, get foil in your mouth when you eat kimbap, and pop a pimple when scratching your head!”

 

Wait…what?

 

I shoot him a pointed look. “That’s it?”

 

“Ne.”

 

My eyes narrow incredulously. “That’s what you call a curse?”

 

Si On nods, looking down glumly at the floor as though his own words have gotten to him.

 

“Ya – a curse isn’t supposed to sound funny. If it ends up making the other person laugh, then that doesn’t count.”

 

“Seonsaengnim was not offended?” he asks. “That did not sound harsh?”

 

I burst out laughing, no longer able to stop myself. “Not a bit!”

 

We don’t get a chance to go on further then, as Kyu Wan’s mother interrupts just then with amazing news: after discussing it with her husband, she is willing to adopt Eun Ok as well so that the poor girl need not go into the orphanage system. And then, after that, there had been the remainder of our rounds, including the bunch of us doctors and nurses all getting together to set up a donated camping tent in the children’s playroom.

 

Afterwards, though, as Park Si On makes to leave, I call out after him, gesturing for him to follow me all the way to the break room where we usually talk one-on-one.

 

“What is the matter, Seonsaengnim?” he asks me as he sits down next to me on the bench. “Is something wrong?”

 

I shake my head. “Ani. It’s just….” Shooting him a mischievous smirk, I reach out and lightly smack him on the arm. “Ya, Park Si On! Don’t be such a pushover.”

 

Rubbing the spot where I had hit him with one hand, Si On gives me a grimace.

 

“You have to be more assertive,” I explain. “More aggressive. Saying things like ‘animida’ or ‘andwaemida’ works sometimes, but not always.”

 

Si On blinks at me in confusion, and even idly scratches his head. “But Seonsaengnim, Director Choi says –”

 

“Ara, ara,” I blurt out, tossing my head in a facsimile of a nod. “You told me: he said to always speak as politely as you could. Well, sometimes – just sometimes, mind you – and with some people, you have to be harsher than that. And right now –” I raise one hand to gesture for him to stay quiet “– those schoolyard insults of yours won’t work.

 

“So, let me ask you again,” I say at last, “do you know any actual swear words?”

 

Si On nods. “Ne, Seonsaengnim. People use them all the time, so I learned some.”

 

I lean forward in my seat, propping my elbows on my knees and my chin in my hands. “Well, then – let’s hear them. For real this time.”

 

And honestly, I think part of him does want to, if for no other reason than because I asked. So, just like earlier, Si On takes in a deep breath, and opens his mouth to begin….

 

“Andwaemida.”

 

My jaw drops. “Eh?”

 

“Joesonghamnida, Seonsaengnim,” Si On says, shaking his head. “I cannot do it. It is too difficult.”

 

No surprise there. Most people struggle their first time; I know I did.

 

“Well, then, how about this?” I turn slightly towards him and gesture for him to do the same. In this way, we are facing each other a little bit, which gives Si On a chance to observe everything I’m doing. “Just watch – and then copy what I do. Gwenchana; I’ll start with the simple stuff, and then we can work our way up.”

 

He gives me a nod. “Ne.”

 

Crossing my arms in front of my chest, I toss my head with a huff, rolling my eyes for good measure. “Aish….”

 

Shooting me a pout, Si On does it right back to me; but the way he has of using his neck to move his entire head makes me crack up despite myself.

 

“Did – did I do something wrong, Seonsaengnim?”

 

“Ani,” I manage to get out through my giggles. “You’re doing fine. I guess you just can’t not look cute when you get mad. But still, good try.” Raising my eyebrows at him in invitation, I add, “Ready for another one?”

 

He hesitates for a moment, but then nods. “Ne.”

 

This time, my word of choice comes out like a curt bark: “Ah, ssibal!”

 

Si On’s jaw drops in a loud gasp. “Seon- Seonsaengnim!”

 

“What?” I give him what I hope is a mischievous look. “You can’t do it?”

 

“Ne. I cannot do that.” He scrunches up in his seat, his crossed arms tightening in front of his chest as he shoots me a glare. “Seonsaengnim is going way, way too fast. Seonsaengnim is asking too much.”

 

“All right, then,” I concede, slapping my hands on my thighs. “How about this one? ‘Saekkie-ya.’”

 

It seems that we’re back in more familiar territory, because this time, although he still needs a moment to work up the nerve and it still comes out oddly forced, Si On copies me. And I’m just about to congratulate him when I hear the door clicking open behind me.

 

“Cha-saeng, Park-saeng – what are you two doing here?”

 

I glance over my shoulder at Na In Hae, who is now standing in the doorway, even as Si On gives her a small bobbing nod. My mouth opens with what I hope would be a good answer, but he beats me to it.

 

“Seonsaengnim is trying to teach me how to curse. Seonsaengnim says that I need to talk more aggressively, or I would be a pushover.”

 

I whirl around to face him, eyes wide. “Ya, Park Si On!” I hiss. “Not in front of the kids!”

 

But then, to my surprise, In Hae claps her hands in glee.

 

“Jinjja?” she blurts out, now scurrying over towards us. Si On and I both scoot over to give her some space to sit down beside me. “I second that, Park-saeng,” she adds, shooting him a pointed look before redirecting her attention towards me. “So…what have you covered so far, Cha-saeng?”

 

Quickly, still unable to believe this is happening, I fill In Hae in on the details. Once I am done, she stares at Si On, her eyes growing wider and wider in interest.

 

“I can do one better, Park-saeng. Do you know ‘gae saekkie’?”

 

Si On nods. “Ne. I know that one.”

 

Now it’s In Hae’s turn to cross her arms in front of her chest. “Do you think you can say it?”

 

He mulls over it for a moment, then shakes his head. “Andwaemida. But I do not mind when other people say it.”

 

“Jeongmal?” I blurt out, my eyes widening in astonishment. “But didn’t you say that you don’t like it when others curse?”

 

“Ne.” Si On gives me a firm nod. “I do not like to curse. And I do not like to hear other people curse. But even if I do not like to hear other people curse, I can still prefer some words over others.”

 

In Hae’s eyes sparkle in mischief. “And ‘gae sakkie’ is one of them?”

 

“Ne. Because ‘gae saekkie,’ literally, means ‘dog’s offspring.’ So when somebody else calls me that, I can pretend that they mean something nice.”

 

With that single comment, any and all humour that I had been feeling thus far is sucked away, and it is like a cloud has fallen over the three of us. “Mwo?”

 

“When someone calls me ‘gae saekkie,’” Si On explains, “it hurts for a little while. But then I tell myself that they are saying I am like a puppy, and everything is okay.”

 

In Hae and I exchange knowing glances. Chances are, both of us are thinking the same thing.

 

“I’m afraid to ask,” I begin at length, “but…what words don’t you like, then?”

 

It looks like we’ve ended up striking a nerve. Si On abruptly breaks eye contact, lowering his head and turning his face away to stare unseeing at a random spot on the floor behind us, one leg bouncing rapidly in time with what I imagine to be his racing pulse.

 

I reach out and place a reassuring hand on that knee. “Park Seonsaeng…gwenchana?” After a moment’s pause, I add, “If my question bothers you, then mianhae. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want.”

 

My touch seems to calm him, as he gradually stops trembling. “Gwenchansumnida, Seonsaengnim,” he says, his words coming out in short bursts. “I am not upset. I – I do want to tell Seonsaengnim and In Hae. Because then Seonsaengnim and In Hae can tell everyone else.”

 

“Ah…” I nod in understanding. “If we know what hurts or upsets you, then we can make sure no-one in this hospital says it?

 

Si On nods emphatically several times. “Ne, Seonsaengnim.”

 

“Arasseo,” I answer. Then, I hold out my hand to him, pinky extended. “I promise I’ll do that, then.”

 

Cracking a smile, Si On returns the gesture, then repeats it again with In Hae. “Kamsahamnida,” he says once we are done, letting out a sigh of relief.

 

“So, Park-Saeng,” In Hae begins when we have settled back in our seats. “What words are you talking about, then? What words – swearwords or not – hurt you the most?”

 

When he answers, Si On does not have the same timidity, the same get-this-the-hell-over-it rushed feeling that he did with his schoolyard insults or his attempts to copy my own profanity. Instead, his eyes still firmly fixed on that spot on the floor, each word comes out deliberately, in a short bitter burst, almost spit out like poison:

 

“Stupid. Retard. Half-wit. Spastic….”

 

One of my hands shoots up in the air. “All right, all right! Stop. We get it.”

 

“Ne, Seonsaengnim,” Si On answers promptly, settling back into his seat and letting out a sigh of relief, glad this ordeal is finally over.

 

Save for an appalled gasp when he started, In Hae has not said anything. But now that the room is quiet again, and she has had time to process it all, she lets out a whole string of muttered curses.

 

Si On’s head darts back up as he peers past me at her, eyes wide. “In- In Hae-yah –”

 

“How – how dare they?!” she bursts out, levelling us with a harsh glare. “How can people say stuff like that to you? What the hell do they know?!”

 

It seems like Park Si On has gotten better at reading emotional cues. Or, at least, he now seems to have a better sense of when someone is angry at him versus when someone is angry for him. Because now, rather than shrinking back with an apology like he used to, he simply shakes his head.

 

“Gwenchansumnida, In Hae-yah. Words like that hurt, but I know that they are not true.”

 

In Hae, however, is not convinced. “So, what?” she blurts out. “You’re just going to take it?”

 

Subtly, I try to give her a warning nudge with my foot. “Ya, Na In Hae….”

 

“No offence, Park-saeng,” she goes on, ignoring my gesture in that bullheaded way teenagers do, “but if someone was to say something like that to me, I’d just tell him, ‘Yeot meogeo!’ and be done with it!”

 

Jaw dropping in astonishment, I round on her. “Na In Hae!” I gasp, appalled. “Does your sister know you know that one?”

 

She answers me with a pout. “Don’t look at me like that, Cha-saeng,” she retorts, crossing her arms in defiance. “You’ve probably done worse.”

 

Well, that’s true enough.

 

“Jeo- jeogiyo,” Si On butts in, raising his hand like a schoolchild with a question. “I do not understand,” he says once In Hae and I are looking back at him. “What is wrong with telling someone to eat yeot? I – I mean….” He trails off, one hand reaching up to rub the back of his head in confusion. “There has to be something wrong, or Seonsaengnim would not be upset. But I really, really do not understand.”

 

“It’s a saying,” I answer, “and not to be taken literally. You’re right; telling someone to eat yeot – literally – is fine. But when said in the tone that In Hae just used, it’s an extremely rude way to tell someone to leave you alone.” I shoot In Hae a dark look out of the corner of my eye, one that, thankfully, makes her shrink back in embarrassment. “So if you don’t like saying something as strong as ‘ssibal,’ Park Seonsaeng, then I suggest you don’t pick up this one either.”

 

“Ah…” Si On throws his head back, giving me a nod in understanding. But then, moments later, his confused expression comes back.

 

“But I still do not understand. Yeot is good. I like yeot. It is sweet and yummy. So why is telling someone to eat it a curse?”

 

“Why is wishing someone would eat kimbap foil a curse?” I mutter sarcastically under my breath.

 

“Mwoyo?” Si On asks. “Joesonghamnida, Seonsaengnim – I did not hear you. What did Seonsaengnim say?”

 

“It’s nothing,” I answer, gesturing vaguely in the air. “It doesn’t matter. But right now, the point is that I don’t know why ‘yeot meogeo’ is used as a curse; I just know that people do it.”

 

Wait. That gives me an idea.

 

“Actually, you know what?” I say, my voice lightening in attempts to lift up the mood. “Why don’t you go and look it up? Not right now!” I hold out one hand, gesturing for Si On to stay put when he nearly gets up right then and there. “I mean when we’re finished for today.”

 

“Geu rae, Park-saeng,” In Hae adds, flashing us an encouraging smile. “That’s a good idea; you’re good at looking things up like that online.” Suddenly breaking into a sheepish grin, she lets out a small chuckle. “What do you know? We started off wanting to teach you something, and now we’re the ones who are learning instead. Who would’ve thought?”

 

I answer with a sympathetic smile of my own. True. That’s how it is being friends with Park Si On.

 

You never know what you’ll learn.

 

~~~~~

 

Lesson No. 46: How to Fight

 

“Wh- where are we going, Seonsaengnim?”

 

Stopping in my tracks, I look over my shoulder as Si On stumbles out of his apartment onto the landing, still fumbling to get his shoes on in his haste.

 

“You know that I usually go to the gym on our days off, right?”

 

Si On’s eyes scan me up and down, taking in my tracksuit top, leggings, and running shoes, before nodding earnestly several times. “Ne, Seonsaengnim. I knew that.” He pauses, looks me over again, then asks, “Is Seonsaengnim going there now?”

 

My face cracks into a broad grin as I give him an approving thumbs-up. “Geu rae, Si On-ah. I knew you’d get it!”

 

“But –” Si On’s voice breaks through my thoughts as I turn to leave “– but why does Seonsaengnim want me to follow? What will we be doing at the gym, Seonsaengnim?”

 

“You’ll see.”

 

Si On now sidles up beside me, his features set into a pout. “I do not like it when Seonsaengnim does that,” he says firmly as we start making our way towards the bus stop.

 

“‘When Seonsaengnim does’ what?” I echo.

 

“When Seonsaengnim does not tell me what Seonsaengnim has planned.”

 

I come to a stop once again, this time turning around to face him, my hands resting firmly on my hips.

 

“Fine. The gym that I go to isn’t a normal gym; it’s a boxing gym. And after that intruder incident we just had, I think it’ll do you some good to come along and see what I do – maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two.” Bending forward slightly at the waist, I peer mischievously up at him, my head tilted just a bit to one side. “So, Si On-ah…do you want to come with me?”

 

Si On seems to mull over it for a moment, but then, eventually, he nods. “Ne, Seonsaengnim. If Seonsaengnim has something to teach me, then I will go.”

 

And that’s the end of that discussion.

 

The bus ride to the gym is a quiet one. Although it’s crowded enough that Si On and I can’t sit together, I end up finding a spot across the aisle and a couple of rows back from where he is. It gives me a good chance to watch what he is like when on his own. I know for a fact that while Si On takes the bus to and from work because that is the route and the routine that he knows, in reality, he doesn’t like it. He’d told me once that it was too crowded and too noisy, with people jostling for space and bumping into him or each other.

 

So it’s a good thing, then, that he has found a way to distract himself from the chaos around him: as soon as he sits down, he reaches into his messenger bag and pulls out a sketchbook and a pencil. Park Si On might not like being disturbed by the people around him, but he’s got no problem observing them – or drawing them, for that matter. This time, in the fifteen minutes it takes for us to get to my stop, he just manages to make a quick sketch of a young woman seated at the front of the bus, a small child in her lap, as a man – her husband or brother, since I heard her calling him “Oppa” earlier – looks on fondly at them both.

 

In the end, Si On only stops when I, after ringing the bell to signal for the driver to stop, step over beside him and gently tap him on the shoulder.

 

“That’s really pretty,” I whisper as he hurriedly packs the sketch away. “You know, there’s been talk every now and then of us having a mural done in the ward for the kids; if that actually goes ahead, you should do something for it. You’re probably the best artist out of all of us.”

 

Si On’s head bobs down in a slight bow of thanks as, together, we make our way off of the bus out onto the sidewalk. He shuffles along a few paces behind me, both hands clutching tightly onto the shoulder strap of his bag: a gesture I don’t fail to notice when we finally come to the doorway of one of the many multi-storey office buildings lining the street.

 

“Gwenchana?” I ask him, peering curiously into his eyes. “Are you nervous?”

 

“Animida,” he answers, adding a firm shake of the head. “It is just that…just that…. This place is completely new to me, Seonsaengnim. I have never been here before.”

 

“Do you need a moment?” I ask, sweeping one arm around us to gesture to our surroundings. “You know, just to take it all in?”

 

Once again, he shakes his head. “Gwenchansumnida. As long as Seonsaengnim is here, I will not be scared.”

 

“Ne. Arasseo,” I say finally, reaching out to open the glass door that leads to a long flight of stairs. “The gym’s on the third floor,” I explain as we both start making our way up. “I chose this location because it actually offers a decent view of the street as I’m working out.”

 

I must have been coming to this gym for more than ten years by this point: ever since I moved here to Seoul on my own for university. I know I don’t look it anymore, especially not in comparison to someone like Park Si On, but I’m actually a small town girl. Eomma, proud that I had made it into a good school in the capital, yet also terrified by what that meant for a young single woman like myself, had sent me off with several stern warnings not to go out drinking or spend time hanging out with strange men. She had even, I was to discover later, snuck a rape whistle into my purse, just in case.

 

But me, I had better ideas.

 

I can’t say I’m a good fighter. It’s not like I could jump in, fists flying, and give some attacker a good wallop or two. But learning a boxing work-out routine does mean that at least I won’t be completely clueless if something should ever happen to me. It hasn’t yet, but you never know. And I would rather face any threat head-on than try to hide anyway.

 

Just like that first time I had brought him to the Library, Si On is just as curious about this gym as the people around us are about him. He turns his head this way and that, watching in wide-eyed and blinking fascination at the other patrons who are also here this Sunday morning. He even uses one pointing finger to count all the sandbags, both large and small, hanging from the ceiling, doubled by their reflections in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors lining the wall.

 

Unable to hold back a giggle at his antics, I step over beside him and clap a hand on his shoulder. “Come on, Si On-ah,” I say as I usher him towards the line of sandbags. “I didn’t bring you here just to gawk at them.”

 

He follows along willingly enough as I head for the sandbag I have chosen – one in the back corner of the room where we could work relatively undisturbed – but shies back, nervously clicking his fingernails together, when I hold out a pair of boxing gloves.

 

“Seon- Seonsaengnim….” He glances down at the gloves, and then over at me. “Do I – do I have to?”

 

“Wae?” I ask, still offering them to him. “You don’t want to?”

 

“Ne. I – I do not want to. I –” He cuts himself off, stopping for a moment to figure out what he wants to say. “I do not want to fight against Seonsaengnim.”

 

Si On’s earnest expression makes me laugh despite myself. “Ya!” I flash him what I hope is a reassuring smile. “We’re not actually going to be fighting each other here.” I point to the sandbag beside us. “You see that bag over there? That’s all we’re going to be hitting. It’s just a plastic bag with sand inside; it can’t feel anything. So gwenchana: there’s nothing for you to worry about.”

 

I can tell from the look in his eyes that Si On is following what I’m saying. But then, to my surprise, he shakes his head.

“Animida. I still do not want to.” His voice hardens into something resembling bitterness. “It is not because I think the bag will feel pain. Only a child would think that that has life, and I am not a child. But I still do not want to hit it, because….”

 

“Because...?” I ask him invitingly, gesturing for him to go on.

 

“Because…because….” Once again, he stops. Then, after taking a deep breath, he just lets it all come out at once. “Because after I hit the bad guy in Young Seo’s room, Appa said that I hit just like him. And I do not want to hit like Appa. Appa is a very, very bad man. Appa hit Eomma, Hyung, and me!”

 

I wince, hissing in a sharp breath between my teeth in sympathy.

 

That’s right. I should have guessed. Didn’t Department Chief Go tell me about this already: what he had overheard Si On and his father saying to each other earlier this week?

 

But Si On seems to have a different idea as to what I’m thinking right now, because, at the sight of my expression, he shies back away from me.

 

Alarmed, I take a step towards him. “Ya, Park Si On….”

 

“Seonsaengnim sees it too, right?” he asks, dread creeping into his voice. “Seonsaengnim is scared of me, too.”

 

“Ani!” I wave one hand dismissively in the air. “That’s not it.”

 

“But Seonsaengnim is upset.”

 

“Geu rae. But not at you.” Bringing my hand up to my forehead, I let out a frustrated sigh. “Aish, Si On-ah…when are you going to learn the difference? You were getting so much better at this before. I’m not upset at you; I’m upset at your father.

 

“You’re right. Your father abused you and the rest of your family, and that’s just plain wrong. But let me ask you something.” I shift my own body so that I can look him directly in the eye, holding his gaze with mine. “You’d said before that your Hyung used to fight the kids who bullied you, right?”

 

Si On nods. “Ne.”

 

“And you know that Professor Kim Do Han also hit those drunk guys who were pushing you around, right?”

 

“Ne.”

 

“Arasseo.” I give him a firm nod. “Look. If you don’t want to try boxing like this, I won’t force you. And if you think that fighting really isn’t your thing, then that’s fine by me, too.” I point behind him to a stool in the corner next to my sandbag. “But I want you to go over there and think about something for me: how are your Hyung and Professor Kim different from your father? And who do you think you’re more like?”

 

As Si On nods, then retreats to the corner with a small bow in my direction, I start setting up for my own routine: taking off my tracksuit jacket so I am just wearing a sports tank top to give myself more freedom of movement; pulling my hair up into a high ponytail and out of my face; wrapping my hands with tape and putting on the gloves to protect them; doing all the warmup stretches and exercises that my trainer had taught me back when I first started.

 

And then, finally, it’s time to begin.

 

Rushing at the sandbag, I fly into a quick burst of hits: a mixture of jabs, crosses, hooks, cuts, even the occasional kick. Each set of combinations only lasts a couple of minutes, after which I switch gears to some other exercise – squats or push-ups or burpees or jumping jacks – before popping right back up and at it again.

 

Compared to running on a treadmill, which is what I usually do for exercise on weekdays, boxing takes up almost all of my focus. Usually, in the half-hour or so that I spend like this every Sunday, I feel my stress melting away: troubles at work, conference and journal deadlines, confusing results from my lab work…everything.

 

It helps, I’ll admit, that I am literally punching something. Even though the gigantic sandbag, nearly as big as I am, cannot actually feel, I sometimes like to imagine that it is a friend: one that lets me vent out all of my frustration and that literally bounces my ideas and thoughts right back at me, allowing me to see them from a new perspective.

 

Like this incident with Park Si On just now.

 

Honestly, I don’t get it. I thought, after all those times he’d mentioned his Hyung, after Kim Do Han had stepped in to help him, he would actually begin to understand. I know for a fact that I’d told him already: although violence is generally bad, it can become something good in the right context. What about soldiers, or police officers, whose jobs are to use violence to defend innocent people?

 

And – let’s be real – what about surgeons?

 

True, we don’t actually punch or kick our patients – at least, I hope not. But, well, we do one better, don’t we? We’ve actually got knives. That’s what Kim Do Han teaches each of us in his team at some point or other: if you don’t know how to use it, the scalpel that could save a patient’s life turns into a weapon that will kill them.

 

And, at the end of the day, it’s not about the actual skill. Si On already has that; that, at least, none of us deny. But surgery is as much about getting into the right calm and steady mindset as it is about knowing what to do with your hands. And this fear that has welled up in him of any and all forms of violence – I throw an extra-hard punch at the thought of his father’s leering, lecherous, gas-lighting, know-it-all face – has made him nervous even in a simulated operating room.

 

If Park Si On can’t get over that fear on his own – if he can’t realize that we first have to hurt before we can heal – then he will never succeed in becoming a surg–

 

“Ya! What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

 

Quickly, moving faster than I would have ever thought possible, I reach out with both gloved hands, grabbing firmly onto the sandbag to stop it from swinging back and forth. It obeys, coming to a halt just a hand’s breadth away from Si On, who is just standing there with his feet glued to the floor, staring at it with wide eyes.

 

“Joesonghamnida, Seonsaengnim,” he stammers out, bowing several times at the waist in apology. “I – I should not have scared you.”

 

“That – that’s not….” Gasping for breath now that the initial danger has passed, I reach up with one hand, brushing my bangs back from my forehead in exasperation. Once I feel myself starting to breathe more easily, when my pulse is no longer pounding in my ears, I shoot him a glare.

 

“Ya, Park Si On!” I gesture desperately towards the stool. “I’d told you to stay there. What did you come here for? You could have hurt yourself!”

 

“Joe- joesonghamnida. It is just that…just that….” Possibly realizing that there’s no talking his way out of this mess, he simply reaches up with one hand to grasp the back of his head.

 

But that motion makes me notice something.

 

Crossing my arms in front of my chest, I point at my chin towards the sketchbook he is still holding to his body with one arm. “Is that what this is about?” I ask. “Were you drawing again?”

 

That seems to give Si On something to stand on, because relief then washes over his face, and he gives me a vigorous nod.

“Ne, Seonsaengnim.” Lowering his hand from his head, he opens up the sketchbook and flips to a place close to the back cover. He turns it around so that I could see what is on the pages he has chosen, pointing to a series of small sketches.

 

My eyes widen in astonishment, and I take step forward, closing the gap between us. “Ya, Park Si On,” I gasp, my voice soft in wonder. “That…that’s me.”

 

Each of the sketches takes up only a small portion of a page, executed with large and broad pencil strokes in a vivid illustration of movement. And although he had to draw them too quickly to actually depict my features in any sort of detail, I can immediately recognize myself at different points in my routine:

 

Here I am just about to begin, tossing my head – ponytail flicking back and forth – as I roll my shoulders back and get into my fighting stance.

 

Here I am with my right arm extended in a perfect front jab; my face might be vague, but Si On has captured the taut muscles and sinews in my arms, shoulders and back.

 

Here I am in the middle of a high roundhouse kick, standing on one leg as the other strikes the bag.

 

“Did you draw all of these while I was working?”

 

Si On beams, closing the sketchbook and hugging it to his chest with a nod. “Ne, Seonsaengnim.”

 

“And is that why you stepped closer? So you could get a better look?”

 

Another nod. “Ne.”

 

I shoot him a levelling gaze. “Wae?” When he just blinks at me in confusion, I move to explain. “Surely, you could have seen that it’s dangerous to get so close to someone who’s boxing – especially if they don’t know you’re there. That bag could have hit you on the rebound or – worse – I could have hit you by accident.” My voice rises again as a mental image of just that floats up unbidden in my head. “And just how on earth do you think that would have made me feel?!”

 

“Because,” he bursts out, just barely avoiding cutting me off, “I have to get close so that I will not be scared!”

 

Wait, what?

 

“Mwo?” I ask, brow furrowing in confusion. “What did you say?”

 

“If I can get close, then I can draw it.”

 

I give him a long look, my hands coming to rest firmly on my hips. “So?”

 

“That – that is how I learn not to be scared, Seonsaengnim.”

 

“By drawing it?”

 

“Animida.” He shakes his head. “Drawing helps, but what I mean is clinical detachment.”

 

The sudden use of such a sophisticated term in the middle of what is otherwise stilted conversation makes me blink in surprise, but no longer fazes me the way it once had. “Go on.”

 

“If I…if I can…if I can just focus on the anatomy,” he begins, his voice growing firmer along with his conviction, “then I do not have to think of fighting as something that is either good or bad. I can just think of it as a function of the human body: movement made up of the interaction between the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.”

 

“Ah…” Finally, I think I’m starting to get it. “And you’re saying that drawing –” I gesture towards his sketchbook with one hand “– helps with that. Because it lets you focus solely on the form of the human body without having to think about what is going on in that person’s mind or heart.”

 

“Exactly.” Beaming once again in thanks, Si On gives me a thumbs-up with one hand. “Seonsaengnim is very, very smart!”

 

“Fair enough,” I concede with a nod. “But that’s not going to get you far.” Taking off my gloves for the time being, I step past him towards the corner he had vacated, gesturing for him to follow. Once we are both alone there, I pat the stool to invite him to sit down – which he does, as I choose instead to lean back against the wall of mirrors.

 

“Si On-ah.”

 

“Ne, Seonsaengnim?”

 

“Were you just drawing earlier,” I begin, shooting him a pointed schoolteacher-y look, “or did you actually think about what I’d asked you to?”

 

Si On lowers his head, staring down between his knees at the floor. “I…I tried to think about it. Just a little, little bit.”

 

“And?”

 

One knee starts to bounce up and down nervously. “And…and….”

 

I bite back an exasperated sigh. It looks like I’ll have to get it out of him bit by bit again.

 

“Do you acknowledge, at least, that the sort of violence you saw from your Hyung and from Professor Kim is different from what you saw from your father?”

 

Si On gives me a firm nod. “Ne, Seonsaengnim.”

 

“So, what’s different about it?”

 

“Appa…people like Appa…people like that bad man who hurt Young Seo…they are bad people. Not because they hit others, but because they wanted to hurt them. They want to hurt people, because it makes them feel stronger when, really, they are weak on the inside.”

 

I can’t help it. I let out a whistle as I reach out to ruffle his hair. “Ya…I’m impressed. Don’t doubt yourself, Park Si On – you’re better at understanding people than you think.

 

“And so, going by that same logic, why did your Hyung or Professor Kim hit someone?”

 

“Because,” Si On replies, this time with a firmer voice due to the boost in confidence my praise has given him, “they were doing it to protect somebody else. They hit bad people in order to protect good people.”

 

“Exactly.” I shoot him a pointed look. “So what about you?”

 

“I still do not like to hit people.” Si On’s features settle into a stubborn frown. “Director Choi said to me that as long as I could solve a problem without using violence, then I should.”

 

“True. That’s some really good advice. But…?”

 

“But,” he echoes me, “if there is no other way, if the bad guy will not listen to reason, and an innocent person can get hurt…”

 

“Then you should not be afraid,” I finish for him. Reaching down and taking one of his hands into mine, I add, “What matters is not what your hands do –” I let go just long enough to rest that same hand on his chest “– but what is in your heart.”

 

The sudden touch seems to startle him, because he jumps just a little bit, even breaking out in hiccups. In an instant, my hand flies back up to my mouth, as I move to suppress a giggle.

 

Once he has calmed, though, Si On affirms my words with a nod. “Ne, Seonsaengnim. Sometimes I still cannot tell the difference, but I will try.”

 

“And that’s all any of us are going to ask from you,” I say with a smile. Then, I glance back over my shoulder at the sandbag, my things still resting on the floor beside it. “Now, I need to get back and finish my workout – do you think you’ll be fine here by yourself?”

 

Si On gives me a nod, throwing in a thumbs-up for good measure. And that’s enough reassurance for me to turn around and head back to what I had been doing.

 

“Seonsaengnim!”

 

His voice behind me makes me pause for a moment. “Ne?”

 

“Seonsaengnim once asked me what I would do if we were surrounded by bad guys.”

 

The memory that comes to my mind makes one corner of my lips twitch up into a slight smile. “Geu rae. I remember. And I’d also told you not to base your answer off of action movies – no bad guy’s really going to stand there politely and wait for you to finish threatening him first.”

 

“And, well, I think that Seonsaengnim does not need my help after all.”

 

What?

 

“Seonsaengnim is already very, very brave. And Seonsaengnim is also very, very strong. Not just on the inside, but on the outside, too. So I think that Seonsaengnim will scare all those bad guys away first!”

 

I burst out laughing at the thought. Maybe, just maybe, Park Si On is right.

 

Author's Notes (in "Hidden Contents" because of Spoilers)

 

Spoiler

There's not a whole ton to say here, save that it was interesting to try a different format for this fic compared to my previous ones. Whereas usually I try to have some sort of narrative arc that takes up the entire story, here, I wrote it to be more like three short vignettes: related, but also able to stand on their own independent from each other.

 

It's...not a form that I'll be using a lot (I usually prefer having a bit more structure to my fics), but it was a fun exercise.

 

And, by the way, "leering, lecherous, gas-lighting, know-it-all" may just be one of the best insults that I've ever written :P It was fun getting into Cha Yoon Seo's head and tapping into her naughty side a little bit.

 

I do, however, want to offer one quick actual behind-the-scenes tidbit, because, once again, I want to give credit where credit's due.

 

The scene where Yoon Seo teaches Si On how to swear is actually inspired by some moments from "Reply 1988". I haven't watched that drama in its entirety, just little snippets on YouTube because I like both Go Kyung Pyo and Park Bo Gum as actors and I wanted more of their shenanigans, but I did see enough to note some similarities between Park Si On and Choi Taek (Park Bo Gum's character in "Reply 1988"). 

 

For those who don't know: Choi Taek is a genius at baduk (which you may know as "go") and excels at various logic-based puzzles and activities, such as solving a Rubik's cube on the fly (yes, just like Si On). He's also a really sweet and childishly innocent soul, and his friends all adore him for it. But Taek is also rather hilariously inept in lots of everyday skills and social interactions, so at numerous points in the drama, his friends try to teach him things that they think will help him - including, as it turns out, how to swear.

 

This shows up twice that I know of from the clips I've seen, and I drew rather liberally off of both to write the "How to Swear" segment in this fic.

 

FYI: the English translation of the profanity is not censored in these clips - so just be forewarned!

 

Inspiration for how Park Si On has to work up the nerve to swear:

 

(Apparently, not only did Choi Taek do that here, but Park Bo Gum also needed to for filming, since he, too, was not used to swearing in real life)

 

 

 

Inspiration or Cha Yoon Seo's "just copy me" tactic:

 

 

 

 

 

And that's it for now! 

 

If anyone wants to access a master list of my fics and other Hallyu-related writings, you can find that under the "About Me" tab on my profile page. Thanks - and enjoy reading!

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Annyeong again... 
I really miss Joo Won...

Someone in Instagram did a good job counting down when he's going to be released from army...

I just miss him so so so much...

I hope he will find a great script for his first drama after the army...

I hope he stays healthy and happy...

I miss his aegyo and dimples...

Ohmo ohmoooooooooooo......... :cold_sweat::bawling:

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:pensive: Its unusually quiet here, hope that everyone is fine.

 

On 9/12/2018 at 4:58 PM, Tasia said:

Annyeong again... 
I really miss Joo Won...

Annyeong dear Tasia!  Please don't be upset as we will see JooWonnie appearing in the army festival in half a month from now.  Comparing to last year's event, this year seems to have less pictures of our celebrities doing the preparation.  Just wondering what they will do to reach out to the public.  I look forward to seeing JW playing a big brother's role in the pack.  :glasses:

While waiting for the event, let's read some funny recalls for last year.

Spoiler

Is it just me thinking that JW is feeding himself very well ... he is chubbier than last year?

First glimpse of last year the event making 

 

 

Hello buddy!

Promotion clip: Twenties, Special Memories

 

Practicing the concerts

Back to high-school stage manager hammering the probs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, soomoi said:

Its unusually quiet here, hope that everyone is fine.

 

I guess we’re all a bit busy at this time of the year, with school and work and everything. Fighting everyone! Remember to take care of yourself when the life gets hectic. I’m currently watching three different dramas and none of them are Joowon’s, so there isn’t much to update from my side. I’m sure that now that his birthday (September 30th) and The Ground Force Festival (October 5th) are nearing, there’ll be more material to write about on this forum as well ^_^

 

5 hours ago, soomoi said:

While waiting for the event, let's read some funny recalls for last year.

 

Thank you for sharing! :star:

 

5 hours ago, soomoi said:

Is it just me thinking that JW is feeding himself very well ... he is chubbier than last year?

 

I think so :D I’m happy he’s eating well, he needs the energy so that he can do well at the military and stay healthy!

 

Loving this video clip; is there any cuter way to wish you a good night? :wub:

 

 

  • Like 1
  • LOL 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Voila! The silhouette photo is finally revealed – Joo Won is on the left :kiss_wink:

 

Spoiler

 

I've never seen the Big Bang idols appearing so cute.  Thanks to the big brothers standing right next to both.

 

 Promotion clip featured Daesung and Taeyang only, but a glimpse of JW was offered in the latter part of the video as the MC of last year’s event. 

So so for the festival.  Still have a week to go. ^_^

 

Following by recent photos I found from ig that is interesting to share here.

 

Spoiler

A shy old-school Joo Won. 

 

100% flower-boy - its the first time I saw it.

A side-by-side comparison of Cha Yoo Jin and Lee Kang To with the bared shoulder.  It's funny that here CYJ had a more fierce look while LKT is melo.

I feel like connected with this photo.  JW is calm and strong, comforting you after a rough day.  Someone you can count on.  Somehow I have a feeling that this will be one of his future drama character.

 

 

 

On 9/20/2018 at 11:41 PM, green_cardigan said:

 I’m currently watching three different dramas and none of them are Joowon’s, so there isn’t much to update from my side.

Its absolutely fine to have our own past-time.  I'm sure when the time comes JW's back to career, fans will get together again happily.  These days I'm watching J-drama, with Good Doctor remake, and a few others.   J-dramas are good past-times as they usually finish in less than 10 episodes.  Speaking of Good Doctor remake, I found it becoming boring in the later episodes.  The story line is unreasonable in some detail, e.g. the sister right after the intestinal transplant operation can roll and lean forward to talk to her little sister.  What a superwoman who can either endure the pain or overpower the effect of anesthetics!  A 17 year old patient suffering from head injury was transferred from neurology specialist to pediatric surgery section.   In the original K-drama this patient was a primary school student and thus treatment in pediatric department was reasonable.   About the main character, besides showing nervousness I do not see the character's evolution towards a better doctor or a better person.  Obviously the drama's emphasis was more on the female lead and the medical cases, with the autistic young doctor as a little icing on the cake.  What's left in my mind after watching the drama was the heaviness and the dim lighting inside the hospital.  Compare to other J-dramas that I watched, this is quite disappointing. :huh:

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/28/2018 at 8:53 PM, soomoi said:

Voila! The silhouette photo is finally revealed – Joo Won is on the left :kiss_wink:

 

Everyone guessed right then! Good job! ^_^

 

On 9/28/2018 at 8:53 PM, soomoi said:

A shy old-school Joo Won

 

I saw these too and found them endearing. Joowon is so serious and sincere even when others are just joking around. But that’s something I like about him.

 

On 9/28/2018 at 8:53 PM, soomoi said:

Its absolutely fine to have our own past-time.  I'm sure when the time comes JW's back to career, fans will get together again happily.  These days I'm watching J-drama, with Good Doctor remake, and a few others.   J-dramas are good past-times as they usually finish in less than 10 episodes.  Speaking of Good Doctor remake, I found it becoming boring in the later episodes. 

 

I’ve seen a couple of J-dramas so far and liked them, but since there are so many dramas and movies on my watch list I don’t actively look for them. I thought about watching Good Doctor remakes but for me Joowon’s is the one and only, so I wouldn’t give them a chance.

 

got very excited when I saw these articles about JW’s soon to be discharge from the military (and possible new drama negotiations):

 

Spoiler

My expectations for his next drama are high, although we still have to wait until the mid/late 2019 so see his new work. 

 

 

 

It’s September 30th and Joowon’s 32th birthday! :w00t: 

 

Happy birthday to this kind, hardworking and talented actor who came into my life not long ago but has already brought so much joy to my life :wub:

 

%C5%A9%B1%E2%BA%AF%C8%AF_06_1520.jpg

 

Spoiler

There are so many birthday wishes to Joowon on Instagram (and all the lovely presents his fans have prepared for him! I’m sure he’ll get a lot of love today)

 

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×