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Joo Won 주원- Welcome Back !

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On 5/6/2018 at 4:29 AM, kittyna said:

 

I first started watching 1N2D knowing two members: JW and Uhm Tae Woong (although JW was the one who got me interested), so I didn't watch Season 1, and I never actually got around to watching Season 3. It's not that I don't like the cast of Season 3, though - I think it's just that when I think of "1N2D", it's still the Season 2 stuff that comes up first in my mind.

I still don't watch the season 3 yet. I just still miss the season 2 and whenever I watch the season 3, the cast of season 2 members especially Joo won will come to my mind. It makes me at the end, want to watch the season 2. I've seen just some of the short clip of season 3, and I still prefer the season 2. But, everyone is having different taste, right?

 

 

Hey! By the way, four days ago, I posted something on Instagram. Yeah, you might have seen it. Its the part 2 of joo won's interview. 

 

 

In that interview Joo won said he already done 5-6 haenggun (행군: walking a long distance while carrying a 20 kilograms bag that full of properties) and if there is a troop that get injured while doing haenggun and can't get cured in the first place, he has to carry him and continue walking to the camp. Even the host shocked by this. By the way, he also have his own bag. So he must carry the troop, his bag, and the other bag. I've read that Joo won have to carry a 15 kg bag and the troops bag is 20 kg. But he already done that 5-6 times! Impressive! 

 

Anyway, I love all quotes that Joo won always said in every interview. He always make another quote in every interview he done. It shows his hardwork and his thoughts. I love all his answer and quotes. 

 

Now pics!!!

 

Another masterpiece from fisof. I love all her work. It also makes me want to rewatch Ojakgyo brothers. 

 

 

And I also want to share video. This video is Joo won's first interview in entertainment weekly. We can hear joo won sing too. His voice is powerful.

https://youtu.be/_DR7PYSbt5s

 

 

Joo won in glasses. So good!

 

 

 

In this video, Joo won was just practicing for the reall performance. The real performance is in the evening. Even though I already said this but His voice is reaaalllyyy powerful. And the power is not joking. But what makes me smile and proud is he didn't take all claps and all admiration he got and go straight off the stage. He knew that he is a soldier now and not a celebrity. This is the link :

 

and this

 

 

 

 

Great drawing.

 

 

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6 hours ago, moonstrike said:

In that interview Joo won said he already done 5-6 haenggun (행군: walking a long distance while carrying a 20 kilograms bag that full of properties) and if there is a troop that get injured while doing haenggun and can't get cured in the first place, he has to carry him and continue walking to the camp. Even the host shocked by this. By the way, he also have his own bag. So he must carry the troop, his bag, and the other bag. I've read that Joo won have to carry a 15 kg bag and the troops bag is 20 kg. But he already done that 5-6 times! Impressive! 

 

That's really impressive - I'm just trying to imagine what that would look like, in all honesty, because that would entail two packs full of gear plus a person...yeah, I'm not sure how one would go about carrying all of that alone :crazy:

 

6 hours ago, moonstrike said:

Great drawing.

 

You're right; that drawing is really, really nice :) Thanks for sharing!

 

And since I've got some time, here are the next five quotes from that birthday countdown:

 

Spoiler

1. lol - The fan's response is cracking me up here! Actually, though, in regards to JW's looks...I see them as being more striking than handsome. Like...how should I put it? It's not that I don't think he's good-looking, because, generally speaking, he is. But that's not what draws my eye about his appearance. Rather, there's something about it that just draws your eye or your attention when you see him, regardless of whether you think he's handsome or not.

 

 

2. If I recall correctly, didn't he say this when he was asked whether he should consider acting out (e.g. going out clubbing or drinking or just being the rebel) at some point for the sake of gaining life experience as an actor? If so...smart move B)

 

 

3. I really do hope he ends up getting to this point in his career. :) 

 

 

4. My conclusion from this? That JW's not necessarily masculine or manly in the conventional sense, but he is a gentleman. Besides, wouldn't it be awesome to have a son, a brother, a boyfriend, a husband, or a father who actually helps out around the house? His present - and future - family are so lucky!

 

 

5. Yes, we've noticed that - without having to say anything out loud, either.... <_<

 

 

 

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Just popping by with a couple of goodies for everyone.

 

First of all, the next five "birthday countdown" quotes:

 

Spoiler

1. lol - I don't think there's anyone who doesn't want to be liked or loved :wink: But I do like that this is one of the factors that drives JW towards trying to become a better person. :) 

 

 

2. Well, he's not getting much rest now! :tongue: But, yes, in future, I do hope he gets that break, if for no other reason than for the sake of his own health.

 

 

3. I love the last part of this statement here :) It's so true. Even if you disagree with someone else, there's no need to actually have the last word or to win an argument - or even to start an argument in the first place.

 

 

4. And don't we all know it? Seeing a comment like this, though, puts some of JW's more controversial roles in a different perspective - Qu Wei Ran, for instance, comes to mind as one of those. He is going to be an actor who continues to push his own boundaries by taking on roles that are outside of the box, and he also doesn't shy away from playing characters who are bad people or who make bad choices.

 

 

5. This is, for me, another classic JW quote: one that made him feel so relatable to me.

 

 

 

As for the second goody, it's the final preview - Preview #4 - of the fic that I'm working on!

 

Spoiler

It had rained this morning, and will most likely rain again later this afternoon. But now, at midday, there is a brief respite as the sunlight breaks through the clouds, so it is little wonder that Nae Il chooses to spend a moment here before we are set to begin.

 

Stepping up to take the spot beside her, I cannot resist taking in a deep breath; this morning’s rain had left a clean crispness in the air in its wake and I want to just drink it in. That’s one thing I will definitely miss about Salzburg once we return to Seoul for the summer: the fresh air blowing down from the mountains, not entirely unsullied by industry and pollution, but still better than the smog and yellow dust back home.

 

“You look beautiful,” I say to her as I look her over, so quietly that even if we were not alone, no-one else would have been able to overhear.

 

It’s true.

 

In keeping with the fact that Salzburg’s Whitsun Festival is held in the spring, all of us ensemble members who are performing at today’s concert have decided to stick to a garden party concept for our costume: the girls in pastel-coloured dresses, and the guys in simple white shirts and dark trousers. Nae Il, on her part, has rented out a light pink sleeveless dress that goes almost all the way down to her ankles, covered with an overlay of white lace to create a subtle floral pattern. Right now, as a shield from the cool post-rain breeze, she has draped the white silk scarf I have loaned her around her shoulders as a shawl; and around her neck, as usual, is our pendant necklace.

 

“Komawoyo,” she answers. She reaches up to smooth the fabric of my shirt, straightening the collar and then, in a sudden impish move, undoing the top button once again.

 

“Ya, Seollebal,” I laugh in surprise, “what are you doing?”

 

“I’d told you, Orabang,” she chides me, “you look hotter like that.”

 

I roll my eyes and shake my head with a bewildered smile, then turn away from her to lean forward against the stone parapet border. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Nae Il doing the same. Together, we peer down at the manicured garden laid out beneath us: towering trees lining a pathway that leads to a grand stone fountain, its water sparkling in the distance.

 

“Are you excited for today’s performance?” I ask, after a moment’s such companionable silence.

 

“Ne. I thought I would be nervous, but I’m actually not.”

 

“Maybe it’s because you’ve already grown; having already had a debut recital will do that to you.”

 

“I know that, but there’s also one more thing: this place. I never could have thought that, one day, I would end up performing here.”

 

One of her hands is resting idly on the railing; I reach out and place one of mine overtop of it. I know where she is right now: in some sort of fairy tale world in her own imagination.

 

“Ara, Nae Il-ah.”

 

She glances up at me. “I know you must think I’m being very silly right now, Orabang, but I can’t help it. Even though I know it was all just make-believe – that although this place was only used as a film set and was not really where the Von Trapp family lived, and although their real story was not nearly as nice or as idyllic as what I saw in the movie – it just somehow feels like we’re all in the same place. Like, somehow, Maria, the Captain, the little children…they’re all here right now.”

 

[...]

 

I always enjoy the playing aspect of a performance: when I am up on stage making beautiful music, either alone or with others.

 

I even enjoy the part that comes immediately afterwards: the applause, the audience rapt with appreciation and bursting with excitement as we set aside our instruments and come together at the front of the stage to take our bows.

 

But the part that comes after that? I not only dislike it; I outright despise it.

 

Mingling. Networking. Making small talk, beverage in hand.

 

Perhaps my own past and upbringing are to blame. I have learned at a very young age the difference between compliments that are genuinely meant and those that only exist in a general code of politeness: those people in the audience who truly love classical music for what it is, and those who are only there because it makes them look cultured or sophisticated.

 

And, sooner or later, at any such post-performance reception or social gathering, it happens. Less often here than it did in Seoul, but still almost inevitable. A question posed to me, sometimes punctuated with a knowing smile or nod or wink:

 

“Cha Yoo Jin? No relation to the pianist Cha Dong Woo, I presume?”

 

I never know how to respond to name-drops like that.

 

So what? So what if I’m his son? What difference should that make?

 

What are these people trying to prove by bringing up Abeoji’s name? That they are somehow in the know, somehow a part of the insular circle that is the classical music scene, where everyone knows everyone else?

 

Celebrity that is earned, that is gained by one’s own merit and talent and hard work, that, at least, I can understand.

 

But the celebrity that has been thrust upon me since birth – that knowing smile, that gush of enthusiastic praises once someone finds out the truth?

 

To hell with that!

 

Fortunately, Nae Il is my saving grace. Her hand resting in the crook of my arm as we make our way around the room, she stays at my side over the course of this reception, smiling and chattering with those in the audience who have decided to stay behind. She fills in the gaps when I find myself caught up in an awkward silence, gives me a discreet reassuring pat or squeeze when she feels me tense up in exasperation, whispers quiet words of encouragement in the fleeting moments when we are alone, even gives me a pinch if she senses that my smile is coming out too false.

 

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Just adding on to the "birthday countdown" quotes:

 

Spoiler

1. JW's own opinion on his "Prince of Ratings" title 

 

 

2. I do like that JW, in terms of background, is so ordinary - not rich but not poor, just a typical family with his parents and his hyung. However, sometimes I wonder if that has, at least in part, contributed to his innocence and naivety.

 

 

3. Veteran actor or character actor - I'd like to see JW becoming something like that in the long run. And, yes, acting is one of those things that can really only get better with time: as he comes to experience some of the emotions his characters might be feeling for himself.

 

 

4. Personally, I think JW learned the hard way that it's impossible to please everybody, and that trying to do so leads to a lot of pressure. I would prefer that he stick to his principles, to be honest, even if that means turning some people down or not being the person they'd expect him to be. I will, however, commend him for that first bit: good people don't notice their own goodness because it comes so naturally to them that they don't even think about it :) 

 

 

5. It looks like a number of this fan's favourite JW quotes stem from that same debate: fame/celebrity vs. art. I don't think those two things are mutually exclusive (i.e. that you can only have one or the other), but it is worth noting what JW prioritizes. (Okay, mind you, I highly doubt anyone would outright say that they prioritize the fame over the acting - that's just total social suicide right there - but you get my point. If he's meaning this genuinely...kudos!)

 

 

 

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Just going to quickly do the next phase of the "birthday countdown" quotes, because later today...I'm posting the new fic!

 

(Okay, it's not entirely done yet, but it will be soon enough that I think I can call it now.)

 

So, first pics, and then fic :wink:

 

This time, all the quotes are pretty self-explanatory, and I don't have much more to say save that I agree :) 

 

Spoiler

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4. 

 

5. 

 

 

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So here we go with the new fic!

 

Spoiler

Title: From Darkness into Light

Drama: "Nae Il's Cantabile"

Characters: Cha Yoo Jin, Seol Nae Il

Premise: Spring in Salzburg is a time to celebrate new life and new beginnings - and possibly some romance as well. However, for students like Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il, it is also a time for endings, farewells, and change. But together, they can face anything, especially with music by their side.

Warnings: Some passing discussion of Islamophobia (because, let's be honest: this is a big problem in Europe right now)

 

Note: this story is part of the set of sequel stories I've written for "Nae Il's Cantabile", which I am calling "Seolleim in Salzburg". Thus, in order to fully understand this story, I strongly advise you to read its predecessors first:

 

"The Sound of Christmas"

"Angel of Music, Come Down from Above"

"In Mozart's Name"

"Seollal, Seollebal, Seolleim"

"A Little Baroque, A Little Romantic"

"Rhapsody in Red"

 

Note on language: The way I see it, and the way I have done it in other stories in this series, is like this: when it's just Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il speaking with each other, it's in Korean; when they're speaking with anyone else, it's in German.

 

I had also mentioned once before that there are several dialects of German: "official" versions of German that are spoken in Germany and Austria, respectively, as well as a bunch of local dialects. Most of what I use here would apply to both dialects, with one exception, which I will mark out for you. So here is a glossary of the words/phrases I've used:

 

Spargel - Asparagus (Usually, when on its own, the term is referring to white asparagus, like in this fic)

Nein - No

Danke - Thank-you

Was? - What?

Servus! - Hello! (Austrian German; Informal)

Ja - Yes

Baum steht! - The tree stands! (A traditional way of announcing that a maypole has been successfully erected)

 

And now that that's said and done, on with the story!

 

Once again, please do not re-post any content from this story on any other website without my permission. You are welcome to share this story, but only by sharing the URL. Thanks!

 

Spoiler

From Darkness into Light

 

It really shouldn’t be this damned cold, considering that it’s already the last Thursday in April.

 

But then again, I’m not usually up this early either.

 

I do actually come here to the Schrannenmarkt – the weekly local farmer’s market just outside of St. Andrew’s church and across the street from the Schloss Mirabell – every Thursday that I can. It isn’t always possible, since the market only runs in the morning and is done by early afternoon, but this is still the best place for fresh produce and groceries in the neighbourhood; aside from when I am actually looking for Asian ingredients, the supermarkets in the area just cannot compare.

 

Usually, though, I’m not there at five in the morning, before the sun has even risen and when the last of the nighttime wind blowing down from the mountains is still icy cold, a chill cutting through my wool coat all the way down to my bones.

 

I know, in the grand scheme of things, that I shouldn’t complain. Winter and early spring in Salzburg are already far milder than they are in Seoul. And, in my head at least, I know that even this chill won’t last: even though the temperature still dips down to freezing at night, it will warm up soon with the light of day.

 

But more so than any of that, the one thing that’s telling me that this trip will be worth it is what I have come here for.

 

Fortunately, it isn’t hard to find.

 

Just a few weeks ago, the last time I had had a chance to come to the Schrannenmarkt, it was nowhere to be seen. But now that the harvest has finally begun, it seems that every single produce stand here has Spargel: white asparagus.

 

It was Eomma, actually, who had reminded me to keep my eyes open for white asparagus, the favourite springtime vegetable throughout both Austria and Germany, when she had flown over last week to attend Nae Il’s debut concert. And she was the one who had told me to always try to get my hands on it as early as possible:

 

“Trust me on this one, Yoo Jin-ah,” she’d said. “Every time a new batch comes in to the market, you’ve got to be quick – the best ones go fast! Why, when you were little, I used to slip out at the crack of dawn, even; you probably won’t remember, since I was always back home by the time I needed to wake you up for school, but that’s what I did.”

 

And that’s exactly what I’m doing now. Funny how the patterns of life work out that way: year after year, parent to child, the way we take comfort in how these ordinary events take place in one continuous loop.

 

Although there are a number of specialty asparagus stands at the Schrannenmarkt at this time of year, I don’t head for any of those. Instead, I weave my way through the aisles until I come to the stand where I usually go for produce whenever I come to this market. Still, even though this stall does not stock just the white asparagus, there is just enough for there to already be a short queue by the time I get there: others who, like me, have tried to get there just in time for when the market opens for business.

 

Peering over the shoulders of those in front of me, I glance over the selection that is available: stalks of asparagus standing proudly in three plastic crates, into which they have been divided based on quality. To be fair, as far as taste is concerned, there probably won’t be much difference; I know that this stall’s owner – a rather motherly-looking middle-aged woman who already knows me for one of her regulars – takes great pride in her wares and won’t rip us off by selling anything sub-par. Where the difference comes in, though, is in appearance: the thicker, whiter and straighter the stalks are, the higher grade – and price – they get.

 

By the time it is my turn, I know exactly what I want: one kilogram each of the medium and least expensive varieties.

 

“You’re not going to splurge on the good stuff?” the stall owner asks as she weighs out and bags my purchase for me. She gives me a pointed look, one eyebrow quirking up knowingly. “Not even for your girlfriend?”

 

I shake my head slightly and give her a small apologetic smile. “Nein, danke,” I answer as I hand her the money.

 

After all, I have already done the math in my head: both the most expensive and medium-priced types of white asparagus are good for serving as-is, but one kilogram would still only be enough for both Nae Il and I for one such dish; the cheaper version, though, is usually used to make soups and other such dishes, and I could easily get several meals from the same amount.

 

“Well, you know where to find me if you change your mind,” the woman replies, passing me the filled plastic bag. “Honestly, though, you should consider it – and I’m not just saying that just because I’d get a better profit from them. After all,” she throws in with a wink, “you know what they say about Spargel, right?”

 

Addled as my mind is right now from both a lack of sleep and the fact that I haven’t had any coffee yet, it takes me a moment to understand what she is implying. Once it does hit me, though, for the first time this morning, a rush of heat replaces the chill inside of me.

 

“M- Madam….”

 

Noting my flushed cheeks, she lets out a soft chuckle. “Don’t take it too seriously, young man; I’m just saying that your girl’s lucky to have you.”

 

“Was?”

 

“I’ve got a son about your age, and what I wouldn’t give for him to be as responsible as you. Taking on a share of the chores so your girlfriend could focus on school and being careful with the budget as well?” She lets out a scoff. “I’m lucky if mine even makes it home from the club at night!”

 

What do I say to something like that? Nae Il and I have been living like this since even before we moved in together, and never once has it crossed my mind that there might be something unusual about it.

 

Contrary to what people might think, I’m not doing this to impress her. I’m just doing it because I think it’s right.

 

So, in the end, I don’t say much more than a simple word of thanks, bobbing my head in a slight bow as I turn to leave.

 

Making my way back the way I had come through the market, I could see it slowly coming to life, almost in time with the lightening sky. Stall owners are setting out their wares, some – like the one I had just come from – already starting to serve other early morning customers. Those selling fresh produce, meat and fish are the first to get going, followed by those offering ready-made items like freshly baked bread, cheese and deli meats. Last to open will be the street food stands, although already, those, too, are bustling as workers start preparing ingredients for the day’s business.

 

I would stay and watch if I could, but I have to get going. I want to be able to get home before Nae Il wakes up; I don’t want her to worry about where I’ve gone.

 

As, finally, I unlock the door of our apartment and slip inside, I feel a flood of relief rushing through me. The front foyer is still dark, the only light being what little makes it here from the kitchen and living room windows. Slowly, keeping my movements as silent as possible, I take off my shoes and head straight for the kitchen. There, turning on the faucet just a little bit so the water doesn’t splash and make a noise, I wet a tea towel. Another bit of Eomma’s advice: white asparagus dries out fast, so it must be wrapped in a damp cloth before going into the fridge….

 

“Orabang….”

 

Startled, I stiffen in surprise for a moment before quickly turning off the faucet and whirling around. Nae Il is standing in the doorway of the kitchen, one hand rubbing her eyes, the other clutching one of her stuffed rabbit dolls – the female one this time.

 

“Mianhae, Nae Il-ah – did I disturb you?”

 

She shakes her head. “Aniyo. I was just about to get up anyway.”

 

I peer closely at her. “Liar. I know you: you don’t usually wake up until seven, and it’s not even six yet.”

 

As though to prove my point, her face cracks into a yawn: one that she tries to hide by covering her mouth, but that I manage to catch nonetheless.

 

“Go back to sleep,” I tell her, turning back around to finish my task, holding down a yawn of my own. “I can take care of things here.”

 

But instead of leaving, I hear her stepping closer until she wraps her arms around my waist.

 

“I’m not going anywhere if you’re not.” Her voice is muffled, her face buried into my back. “Don’t try to hide it from me; I heard you when you slipped outside. You’ve been up way longer than me, so if anyone needs the extra sleep right now, it’s you, Orabang.”

 

“Komawo,” I reply, giving Nae Il a fond smile even though she can’t see it. But I don’t make any move to obey otherwise.

 

“Let me guess,” she blurts out after a moment’s pause, “you don’t want to, either.”

 

“Mm.”

 

After all, what’s the point, if we’re both already up by now?

 

“I thought so,” Nae Il murmurs as she lets go and steps back away from me. Setting down her doll onto the counter out of the way, she heads over to the upper cabinet where we keep our cups and glasses. Then, opening the door, she stands up on tiptoe and retrieves our mugs.

 

“Looks like it’ll just have to be extra-strong coffee for both of us, then.” She turns to glance at me over her shoulder. “I’ll make yours a double.”

 

One corner of my mouth twitches up into a smile.

 

“Komawo.”

 

~~~~~

 

A pinging sound rings out from my phone just as I am packing up my things from my last class this Friday morning. The professor shoots me a hard look from his place at the lectern in the front of the classroom, but rather than being chastised, I return it with a rather devilish smirk of my own.

 

We students, after all, have already been released. What happens afterwards is our own business.

 

Still, I do know to at least wait until I have stepped out of the classroom into the hallway before taking out my phone to actually read the message. As I open it up, I feel a smile spread over my face at what I see written there:

 

Change of plans, Orabang – come meet me at the gate to the Gardens instead.

 

“Babo,” I can’t help murmuring to myself as I step out onto the second-floor landing on the Mozarteum’s main stairway and turn to head down towards the main floor.

 

As if I didn’t know that she preferred the Gardens all along.

 

It’s a habit that started when Nae Il and I were still at Haneum: whenever we could manage it in our schedules, we would meet up somewhere on campus for lunch. There’s nothing really romantic about it. It’s just the two of us sitting together, each of us with a sandwich or a doshirak or something of the sort, taking a moment to catch up or to work on our individual assignments in companionable silence.

 

This past winter, when it was too cold to sit outside, we would find a spot in the main foyer or one of the common areas; there have even been some occasions when we would meet clandestinely in some empty practice room. But now that spring is here and it is finally warm enough, I know that Nae Il has been looking forward to going outside once again.

 

Our plan, when we had parted ways this morning, had been to meet up on the Mozarteum’s rooftop terrace. Up on the third floor in the back of the wing next to the Solitär, it offers a gorgeous view of both the small courtyard below and the Mirabell Gardens beyond. However, the only way to get onto that terrace is by cutting through one of the several classrooms that open up onto it; and if those are taken, then we’re out of luck.

 

It’s that courtyard on the ground floor that I head for now: a long narrow space with the main campus building on one side, and a high white wall on the other. This dividing wall is what separates the Mozarteum from the Mirabell Gardens, but it is not meant to close us off.

 

Why else, after all, would there be a gate connecting the two spaces together? And why else would that gate usually be left open?

 

Nae Il is already there when I step out into the courtyard. Waving eagerly at me, bouncing on her heels in excitement, she turns and dashes out through the gate into the Gardens.

 

Shaking my head in amusement at the sight, I follow.

 

Spring is a slow time of year as far as tourism in Salzburg is concerned; most people prefer to come either during the summer or the winter. So although the Mirabell Gardens are certainly not empty – they almost never are – there is still something very calm and peaceful about them at this time of year. In the past few weeks, the gardeners have finally arrived to plant the spring flowers, so for the first time in months, the Gardens are filled with colour: purple, red and yellow on a vast sea of bright green. The fountains have also finally been turned on again, the sound of flowing and splashing water making a gentle accompaniment to the chirping of birds in flight.

 

This is one of Nae Il’s favourite places in all of Salzburg, and it has been far too long since we have seen it in its full glory.

 

It appears that we are not the only ones who have come out to enjoy the Gardens, but it’s not hard for us to find a place to sit. Rather than heading out to the central area around the fountains, the two of us make our way instead towards one of several benches tucked away at regular intervals along the dividing wall through which we have just emerged. Unlike the side facing the Mozarteum, here the wall is green with an overgrowth of dense ivy and other climbing plants. As we sit ourselves down onto the bench, it is as though they form an awning overhead or a frame around us.

 

At first, neither of us talks much, choosing instead to focus on the sandwiches Nae Il had packed for us both this morning. But eventually, sooner or later, one of us will say something.

 

This time, though, I surprise myself by going first.

 

“Nae Il-ah.”

 

She turns her head, peering curiously at me. “Hm?”

 

“Do you have your headphones with you?”

 

“Of course I do,” she replies brightly, reaching for her canvas tote to retrieve them. “You know me, Orabang: I always carry these with me.”

 

Once she has them out of her bag, I hold out a hand. “Let me borrow them for a moment.”

 

Nae Il does as she’s told, but I can tell that she’s confused. “Wae?” she asks as, reaching for my phone, I plug the headphones into the audio jack.

 

“Just listen,” I reply, handing the headphones back to her. Then, once I see that she is wearing them, I open the music player on my phone and scroll through for the piece I’m looking for.

 

In an instant, Nae Il’s expression changes from one of confusion to one of delighted surprise. Her head bobs along to the music that I know is now ringing in her ears: a strident chord from an orchestra, a bunch more hurtling downwards as a piano takes over, the two meeting up at the bottom into a fanfare.

 

As the music changes into its first theme – a slow lyrical melody played first by the winds, then, once again, by the piano – Nae Il looks up at me for the first time, her hands pressed over her ears to keep the headphones in place as she moves.

 

“Orabang,” she begins, her voice hushed in wonder, “is this a concerto?”

 

I answer with a nod. “Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A-Minor – the only one he ever composed.”

 

“Schumann….” Understanding begins to light up in her eyes. “You mean Robert Schumann, right?”

 

I nod again.

 

“And did his wife – I mean, did Clara Schumann play this piece, too?”

 

“Geu rae. She was the soloist he wrote it for, and so she was the one to premiere it.”

 

Reaching out, I take hold of her hands and bring them down from her ears into her lap. I look earnestly into her eyes.

 

“Would you like to play this concerto with me, Nae Il-ah, at the Rising Star reunion concert this summer?” After a moment’s pause, I add, “I know, when I had first proposed this to you back in Seoul – the two of us working together, I mean – we were speaking of the Rachmaninoff. But since that’s already been performed by Sohn Su Ji…I want to use something else instead: something that’s just going to be yours.”

 

Furrowing my brow at what I had just said, I shake my head.

 

“Ani. Not yours. Ours.”

 

It’s a good thing that we are sitting in a shaded and relatively secluded spot, because instead of saying anything, the first thing Nae Il does in response is to free one of her hands from my grip and place it softly against my cheek.

 

“Of course, Orabang – do you even need to ask?”

 

She pauses a moment in thought before she makes her next move. But that’s the only reason why I am able to intercept her, putting my finger to her lips to stop her before she could kiss me.

 

In an instant, Nae Il’s eyes, which had closed in anticipation for the kiss, fly open. Her face contorts into an annoyed grimace as she reels back from me.

 

“Seriously, Orabang? Is that how you’re going to react right now?”

 

My lips press together into a thin line. “Ya, Seollebal – you know the rule.”

 

She glances around us. “But no-one’s looking!”

 

“We’re still in public, though.”

 

Realizing that she’s not about to change my mind, Nae Il concedes with a huff. Fortunately, the music still playing in her head is enough to distract her, and she wiggles slightly in her seat until she settles into a comfortable spot.

 

“All right, then. Have it your way, Orabang,” she mutters. Then, turning her head to look back at me with one last petulant glare, she adds, “But you owe me when we get home.”

 

I know that. And it’s a price I’m more than willing to pay – once we are in total privacy.

 

~~~~~

 

Glancing down at the weather forecast that I have just looked up on my phone, I unlock the sliding door in the living room that leads out onto the small balcony of our apartment. As soon as I open the door and step outside, I feel a refreshing brush of cool air in my face.

 

I glance upwards. The light from the morning sun is making me squint right now, and the sky is just a clear sea of blue. And while there are a few clouds scattered here and there, they are of the fluffy white variety, and won’t be bringing rain anytime soon.

 

Perfect. This is the sort of weather we’d been hoping for today. It looks like skipping the official May Day festivities last week due to the rain in favour of this celebration has been a good idea, after all.

 

I had better tell Nae Il.

 

Quickly retreating back into the living room, I close and lock the sliding door before briskly making my way out through the foyer and then down the corridor to Nae Il’s room. Once I am there, I reach out and knock softly on the door.

 

“Ne?”

 

I can’t help smiling when I hear the eagerness in the voice that echoes through the door. “I checked the forecast, Nae Il-ah. It’s going to be nice out today.” Still, after a moment’s thought, I add, “But just in case it gets cooler later, make sure you bring something you could layer on top: a light jacket or a cardigan or something.”

 

“Aw, Orabang! Do I have to?”

 

“Ne.”

 

“But you’d said it was nice out!”

 

“And I’d also said, ‘Just in case’ it gets cold later on – what part of that don’t you understand, Seollebal?”

 

“But if I don’t bring something and then I get cold, I could just snuggle up next to you.”

 

Finally, I let out the laugh I had been holding in at her antics. And although I know she can’t see me, I can’t help rolling my eyes as well.

 

This girl is just incorrigible.

 

“Seollebal….”

 

“All right, all right – I’ll do it.” Then after a pause, she adds, “Just give me a few more minutes.”

 

Something about the way she says that makes me place one hand on the doorknob.

 

“Are you sure you’re fine in there?”

 

“Ne, gwenchanayo,” she calls back. Through the door, I hear her mutter something to herself, but I can’t make out the words. Then, a moment later, she adds, “You know what I’d told you before – about the dirndl, Orabang. It’s supposed to be tight or it won’t fit properly.”

 

She’s referring to the pet sewing project she had been working steadily on all winter: her own version of the traditional Austrian dress that, here in Salzburg, is still commonly worn on special or festive occasions. After noticing all the local girls in their brightly coloured dresses last summer and fall, Nae Il had decided that she’d wanted one of her own. But rather than simply buying one from a shop – or paying an exorbitant amount of money to get one custom-made – she had tracked down a pattern and some fabric she liked to make it.

 

Of course, I had had to set a ground rule: no sewing in the two weeks leading up to a performance of any sort lest she prick herself and lose sensitivity in the injured finger as it’s healing. But fortunately, Nae Il had managed to finish during our last long break in February, so this had not interfered with her preparations for her debut recital in any way.

 

Today, our planned excursion to the May Day celebration at the Stiegl-Brauwelt, is the first time she will be wearing the dirndl in public – and also my first time seeing the ensemble she has put together in its entirety.

 

Anticipation, though, is making me impatient. When, after yet another long pause, she has still not emerged, I knock once again.

 

“Are you sure you don’t need any help, Nae Il-ah?”

 

“I’m sure, Orabang,” she quips back. “Besides, even if I did need your help getting into this dress, would you actually come in and do it?”

 

In an instant, the mental image of Seol Nae Il in some state of undress flashes up in my mind, so clear that my jaw drops involuntarily in response. Suddenly finding myself unable to breathe, I reach up at my collar with one hand, undoing the top button with desperately clawing fingers to relieve the pressure at my throat. Then, clenching that same hand into a fist and bringing it down by my side, I force myself to take several deep steadying breaths.

 

Don’t think about it. Not here. Not now.

 

Slowly, far too slowly by my liking, I feel my heart stop racing and return to its normal rhythm as the vision fades away. Finally, it disappears entirely and I let out a sigh of relief.

 

There. That’s better. No matter how much I want Nae Il, how much I desire her, I cannot let myself lose control.

 

So far, I haven’t said anything, but it seems that my silence has already told Nae Il enough.

 

“I thought so.” I catch a hint of smug satisfaction in her voice. “Don’t offer something that you’re not going to follow through on, Orabang – it doesn’t suit you.

 

“But if it makes you feel any better,” she adds with a laugh, “I’m ready now.”

 

That gives me just enough advance notice to step back in time for her bedroom door to swing open with a click.

 

The sight of her is well worth the wait – ten times more beautiful than what I could have possibly imagined.

 

At its core, the dirndl is a very straightforward costume: a sleeveless dress with a fitted bodice and slightly flaring skirt paired with a short cropped blouse worn underneath. For her dress, Nae Il has chosen a deep emerald green fabric – a colour she seldom wears, but one that, looking at how it complements her fair complexion, she really should use more often – covered with a subtle printed pattern of small roundels in a slightly lighter shade of green, each one with a tiny pink flower inside.  The dress comes down just a few inches below her knees, the skirt moving with Nae Il as she turns slightly from side to side in anticipation.

 

After glancing over her once from top to bottom, my eye travels back up to the point where, traditionally, the dirndl’s fitted cut and deep neckline – in both the dress and the blouse – would push up its wearer’s bust and leave it partially exposed. But Nae Il, like many other Korean girls I know, has always been shy about showing that part of her body, and she has hidden it now: although the dress still follows the traditional deep square-shaped neckline, she has bought a blouse that fills in the space between that and her neck with delicate white lace, echoed on the cuffs of its short sleeves.

 

And resting right there, in the centre of that white space, is the pendant I had given her: a treble and bass clef intertwined into a heart.

 

Just then, I notice that if I am staring at Nae Il, she is doing the same thing right back at me, her mouth open slightly in surprised awe.

 

Brow furrowing in curiosity, I glance down at where her eyes are looking: the base of my throat, left exposed when I had undone the top button of my shirt earlier.

 

Aish.

 

Quickly, I reach up and grasp that spot with one hand, fumbling to do it back up again. But I don’t get very far before Nae Il suddenly holds up her hand to stop me. Then, taking a step closer, she reaches up and places her hand over top of mine, getting in there with her fingers to force me to let go.

 

“Andwaeyo, Orabang. Just leave it – you look good like that,” she says, lightly patting that spot for good measure before finally stepping back.

 

Once more, I find myself looking her over.

 

“Where’s your apron?”

 

“Oh, right – about that….” Nae Il’s voice trails off as she looks over her shoulder back into her room. It’s only at this point that I notice what she has done with her hair: pulling it back into two twin braids that end just at the nape of her neck.

 

“I was wondering, Orabang, if you could help me with that.”

 

Giving her a nod in assent, I wave for her to go inside first, following just steps behind.

 

The first thing I notice instead, however, is Nae Il’s pajamas, crumpled up and strewn haphazardly on the floor where she had taken them off.

 

I give her a pointed look. “Ya, Seollebal….”

 

She flashes me a sheepish smile. “Mianhaeyo, Orabang,” she murmurs as she crouches down to gather them up into her arms. “Let me fix that.”

 

As she busies herself folding up her pajamas and putting them away, I direct my attention to the two aprons she has laid out on her bed. Like most of the local Austrian girls, Nae Il has decided to buy multiple aprons: doing this is an easy way to get more wear out of a single dress, as it allows the wearer to change the look of an ensemble without much work or money. In her case, picking up on the pattern of the fabric she had chosen for her dress, Nae Il has gotten two pink aprons: one lighter with a delicate floral pattern, the other one darker but with decoration only on its ribbon ties.

 

I glance skeptically at her. “You’re not expecting me to pick one for you, are you?”

 

Nae Il, having just put her pajamas into her chest of drawers, now sidles up beside me. “Aniyo – I’ve already decided that,” she answers, reaching past me and snatching up the darker apron with one hand. Shaking it out, she secures it to the front of her dress and starts wrapping its long ribbon ties around her waist.

 

From what she’s doing so far, it seems that Nae Il is already doing fine on her own. “So what did you want help with?” I ask, raising an eyebrow at her for good measure.

 

She shoots me a pointed look, her hands coming to a stop. “You know what they say about how the bow should be tied, right?”

 

I answer with a nod. “On the left if you’re single, on the right if you’re taken.”

 

And that’s when I notice just where Nae Il has stopped: holding the apron in place with one hand, with the ribbons’ ends dangling on her right side.

 

“Ya, Seol Nae Il,” I begin drily, “that’s not how this tradition works.”

 

“I know, Orabang.” She glances down at her apron, then back up at me. “I’m not saying that this is how you’re supposed to do it; I’m saying that that’s how I want you to do it.” Her voice is noticeably thicker than before – a little bit husky, even. And I catch a flirtatious twinkle in her eye when she adds, “Besides, if I’m saying to the world that I’m already taken, why not let the man who has taken me seal the deal himself?”

 

For a moment, I just stare at her, my mouth dropping open a little bit in surprise, but also in anticipation. Seol Nae Il being who she is, she can be quite brazen and forward when she wants to be, and this is clearly one of those times.

 

“Arasseo.” I get down on one knee in front of Nae Il, and when she finally hands off the ribbons to me, I can’t resist giving them a sharp impish tug, sending her stumbling a step forward towards me. A devilishly satisfied smirk tugs at the corner of my mouth when I hear her giggle coquettishly in response.

 

“If this is how you want to do it, Nae Il-ah, then that’s how I’ll do it,” I say, noting in the back of my mind how my own voice has deepened as I tie the ribbons into a neat bow. Then, once I’m finished, I smooth the fabric of her apron and also what’s left exposed of her skirt on either side with my hands.

 

“There. Now you’re ready.”

 

That would have been the end of it, but just then, I feel Nae Il’s own hand come down lightly on top of my head. She strokes it back, running her fingers through my hair, before coming back around to cup my cheek in a gentle caress.

 

“Komawoyo, Orabang.”

 

Somewhere deep inside of me, the dam breaks.

 

I can no longer resist – nor do I want to.

 

Taking both of Nae Il’s hands in mine, I grasp tightly onto them as I stand myself back up. Then, letting go just long enough to place my hands on either side of her head instead, I tilt her face up towards me and swoop down in a kiss.

 

Clearly, she was waiting for this.

 

I feel her lips part just a little bit as she gasps in contentment, and that’s all the invitation I need to pull her in deeper, holding her against me so forcefully that she staggers back a step in surprise, yanking me along with her.

 

Then, just when I’ve finished and have started to pull back, she attacks in turn: snaking her hands inside the open collar of my shirt and resting them on the back of my neck so that I feel a shudder travelling down my spine as she pulls me into a kiss of her own.

 

Finally, after a short moment that feels like forever, we drift apart, both of us flushed and gasping for breath. As Nae Il takes a step back from me, I note the way her chest rises and falls heavily, perfectly accentuated by the dirndl’s tight corset-like fit. She, her hand placed just over her heart, must have noticed in turn the way that, involuntarily, I lick my bottom lip at the sight.

 

But that is just a moment, a fleeting distraction. As we watch each other calm, our hearts slowing back down and our breaths becoming even and easy once again, I find that I still have the presence of mind to note the time.

 

“Come on, Nae Il-ah, we have to go.” I finally manage to gasp out as I turn to leave. “I know we weren’t planning on getting to the festival in time for the beginning, but I do want you to be able to see as much of it as possible.”

 

After taking a step towards the hallway outside, I stop and glance back over my shoulder at her. Just as I’d expected, she is still frozen in place.

 

“Ara, ara – I know that you don’t mind, that you’d be happy to spend the whole day at home doing what we just did. But I’ve already put my mark on you, and you’re the one who wanted to show that off – so let’s not let our efforts go to waste.”

 

~~~~~

 

After feeling myself and Nae Il almost being yanked apart for what must be the third time by now, I tighten my hold on her hand and pull her back towards me.

 

“Ya, Seollebal,” I hiss into her ear as, finally, I manage to come up beside her, “don’t rush on ahead like that! You know I almost lost you again just now?”

 

She shoots me a sheepish look. “Mianhaeyo, Orabang,” she answers, using that meek tone of voice that she does whenever she really means it. But then, once more, she starts pulling on ahead, albeit slowly enough that I could actually keep up as we weave our way through the crowd. “I just want to get us a good spot, and I don’t know how many places are left!”

 

That’s the thing about the May Day celebration at the Stiegl-Brauwelt: because this brewery holds its festivities not on the actual holiday itself, but on the first Sunday afterwards, there is no scheduling conflict with any other of the public celebrations scattered throughout Salzburg at this time of year. Already, in various parks and squares throughout the city, maypoles – the tall, wooden stakes decorated with ribbons and wreaths – stand proudly as a sign that spring has finally arrived.

 

But the Stiegl-Brauwelt is only putting theirs up now – and, because of that, this is probably the biggest May Day celebration of them all. The brewery complex is huge as it is, but the large open field in front of the main factory, normally a broad expanse of green, is completely filled: long tables and benches where visitors could sit and eat; various food and beverage stands, including the brewery’s signature beer; a large play area for children; a raucously loud band led by one of the most animated conductors I have ever seen; a sea of people milling about, both locals and tourists alike.

 

And in the centre of all that is the open space where, already, a large team of young men is slowly working at raising the maypole by propping it up with a number of smaller wooden poles – a task that, although it is now already noon, will likely take them a few hours longer still, frequent beer breaks included.

 

So I don’t blame Nae Il for worrying that there won’t be any more space in the seating area, but I am equally worried that we would be separated.

 

Just then, though, a solution comes to my mind. Giving Nae Il’s hand a firm squeeze, prompting her to stop once again, I take a step forward to stand beside her and place one hand at her waist, holding her close.

 

As I expected, she responds right away to my touch, leaning closer into my side as I point towards the tables in the distance.

 

“Let’s go, Nae Il-ah – together.”

 

In the end, it turns out that Nae Il hadn’t needed to fret after all. Not everyone is interested in sitting down just yet – many people seem to prefer standing about, beer mugs in hand, instead – and so it isn’t long before we find a spot at the end of one of the tables, those already there shifting over a bit to make room for us to sit across from each other.

 

Once we are seated, Nae Il glances over the others – strangers, all of them – then looks back at me. She raises an eyebrow inquisitively at me, and I respond with a small smile and a shake of the head.

 

I know what she’s thinking about: that I usually hate social situations like this, especially when others might expect us to make small talk. But I knew coming here what to expect, and so the crowds this time shouldn’t bother me. For now.

 

“I love your dirndl – where’d you get it from?”

 

Nae Il, whom I have yet to see nervous around anyone she doesn’t know, turns and flashes an appreciative smile at the woman sitting next to her. “Danke,” she answers, reaching out to smooth her skirt with one hand. “I made it myself.”

 

The woman’s eyes widen as she looks Nae Il over again as though for the very first time. “All of it?”

 

Nae Il shakes her head. “Nein. Just the dress; I bought the rest.”

 

“Well, that’s the part that counts; you did a great job there.”

 

Nae Il thanks her once again, this time dipping her head in a slight bow.

 

The man in the next spot over – the woman’s husband or boyfriend, perhaps? – now leans back in his seat to look at her directly.

 

“And which one is it, young lady?” he asks, his eyes flickering downwards for just a split second towards her waist.

 

Before Nae Il could get up to show him where her apron is tied, I reach across the table and snatch up her hand in mine, holding it up in such a way so that everyone could see the ring she is wearing on her finger.

 

“Does this answer your question?”

 

Something about my tone or my expression, I’m not sure what, must have come across as rather comical, because the woman then starts laughing, clapping her hands gleefully before elbowing her partner in the side. “Hey! When are you going to start doing that to me?” She then turns back towards us, her eyes resting on the ring. “Young love….Congratulations to you two, by the way.”

 

After answering with a quick word of thanks, we all turn back our separate ways. Nae Il casts one last look at the other couple, then back at me. “See, Orabang?” she murmurs so only I could hear her, “that wasn’t so bad, was it?”

 

Shuddering, I shake my head in response. “You do it from now on, Seol Nae Il; this still isn’t my thing.”

 

“Ne, arasseyo,” she answers with a shrug.

 

Then, after turning her head this way and that, scanning over the crowd around us, she leans forward in her seat and props her elbows on the table, inviting me to return the gesture so that we meet in the middle.

 

Nodding to indicate several of the other guys around us, she whispers, “Look at them – they’re all wearing lederhosen, and they look just fine.”

 

I let out a short scoffing laugh. “Ya, Seollebal, are you honestly going to go back to that again?”

 

It’s been one of those things that we have been jokingly bickering on and off about for months, ever since Nae Il started working on her dirndl. If the dirndl is the traditional Austrian dress for women and girls, then the lederhosen – brown leather shorts that came down to the knees or just a bit above – are the male equivalent. They’re not the sort of thing that we could make for ourselves, so Nae Il has been nagging at me about buying a pair for myself, and I have been just as adamant in my refusal.

 

“What’s wrong with what I’ve got on right now?” Today, I’ve opted to keep things simple: a plain white shirt and my usual dark trousers.

 

“Nothing, Orabang. I actually think you look totally hot right now,” Nae Il responds, punctuating her last statement with a wink. “I’m just saying that when everybody’s doing it, the lederhosen don’t look nearly as silly as you’d said they did.”

 

“I’m not saying that they look ridiculous in general – I’m saying that I’d look ridiculous in them, or any shorts for that matter.”

 

“Jinjja?” She quirks an eyebrow at me. “You didn’t seem to have any problem with that before, going by those old photos from your uncle’s place.”

 

“Well, that’s because I was a little kid then and we were, in a word, posh. Not ‘posh’ in the rich sense, but in the ‘we’re in the Classical music scene here in Europe, so we should try to look upper-class’ sense. Shorts being something that’s worn only by young boys were a part of that; but you would almost never see a man wearing them – not in the circles my parents frequented, anyway.”

 

“Not even lederhosen?”

 

“That would be the one exception, but –”

 

Just then, a thought comes to my mind: one that makes me actually stop mid-sentence, an amused smile tugging at my lips.

 

“What?” Nae Il peers up at me in curiosity. “What is it?”

 

“I just remembered: Abeoji hated the idea of wearing lederhosen, too.”

 

I don’t know what sort of thought or mental image that conjured up in Nae Il’s mind. But what I do see is that after staring at me in wide-eyed astonishment for a second, she suddenly bursts out laughing, doubling over in her seat in amusement.

 

Seeing that I have made my point, I choose this moment to stand up; Nae Il must have noted my sudden movement, because her laughter slows down to a quiet giggle as she sits up straight to peer up at me.

 

“Is something wrong, Orabang?”

 

I shake my head. “I just think now’s a good time to go get something to eat.” Glancing over my shoulder towards the food stands, I then turn back to look at her. “Did you want anything in particular?”

 

She answers me with a shrug. “You decide.”

 

“Arasseo.”

 

As I turn to leave, I glance back just long enough to spot Nae Il swinging her canvas tote over the table to the spot where I had vacated, plopping it down on the bench there to hold my place. She looks up just in time to catch the fond smile I send her way in thanks, returning it with her signature bright grin and a thumbs-up.

 

~~~~~

 

It takes me two trips to get everything we need: after all, I only have two hands, and I don’t want to risk spilling or dropping anything as I make my way through the crowd.

 

The first run was to get food. Knowing that Nae Il would want to try as many different things as possible, I order two plates from different stations: half a roast chicken with fries on one, and roast beef with bread and coleslaw on the other. Then, after delivering them back to the table – and giving Nae Il a stern warning not to start without me, no matter how hungry she is – I’m off once again to get drinks: this time, naturally, a mug each of the Stiegl-Brauwelt’s beer. I also add a bottle of the brewery’s popular grapefruit radler – a popular drink combining beer with grapefruit juice – tucking it in the crook of my arm so that I could focus on carrying the two mugs, which the bartender has filled almost to the brim.

 

Once I return to our spot, I gesture for Nae Il to take the bottle, which she puts off to one side for us to enjoy later at home, before carefully setting down the two mugs on the table.

 

I only manage to let go of one of them when, suddenly, I feel a shove as someone squeezes by past me. Startled, I lurch forward with a jerk – and although I manage to keep my balance, I can’t say as much for the one drink that I am still holding, some of its contents sloshing out over my hand at the sudden movement. Shaking the spilled beer off of my hand with a muttered curse even as Nae Il passes me a paper napkin with which to clean up the mess, I glare over my shoulder at the culprit, but he or she is already gone, probably oblivious to what had just happened.

 

“Gwenchanayo, Orabang,” Nae Il says as, still frowning, I return her bag to her and resume my seat. “That sort of thing just happens sometimes.” Then, wordlessly, she claims the mug that had been spilled and pulls it over to her side of the table, pushing the full one towards me with her free hand.

 

We take the first sip together, and then I shift my attention to the food, cutting the meat up into smaller portions so we could share. The beef comes apart easily enough, but I am struggling to carve the half of a chicken with the flimsy plastic fork and knife when, just on the edge of my vision, I catch Nae Il looking up and to the side, a bright smile on her face.

 

“Muhammed, servus!”

 

Quickly, I stop what I’m doing and glance up as well at Muhammed: the concertmaster of the baroque ensemble Nae Il and I have been working with this past school year, but also – more importantly – a good friend of ours.

 

Smiling at us in turn, he greets Nae Il with a wave, then reaches down to clap a hand on my shoulder. “I thought I saw the two of you earlier, but I wasn’t sure.” He looks back and forth between us. “You guys having fun?”

 

Nae Il answers for both of us as I get up from my seat and move over to her side of the table. Seeing my intent, she scoots closer to the end where Muhammed is standing, making just enough space for me to sit down in the gap between her and the people sitting next to us.

 

“Would you like to join us?” I ask Muhammed, gesturing towards my vacated spot.

 

“In a bit.” He gestures towards the food stands. “Just let me get something first; I doubt you were ordering for three people over there.”

 

As he leaves, I take a quick glance at him, and then turn towards Nae Il with a smirk.

 

“And what do you know, Seol Nae Il? He’s wearing jeans – so that makes two of us.”

 

“Only two of you.”

 

“At least.”

 

She elbows me in the ribs for that; then, while I’m still recovering, she grabs a fork and starts to eat with gusto, pointedly ignoring the scolding look I send her.

 

Moments later, Muhammed returns with a plate of his own: some more of the fries and a pretzel. Nae Il peers curiously at it as he sits down.

 

“That’s it?  That’s all you’re gonna get?”

 

He gives us a resigned shrug. “Hey, when even the salad has got bacon in it, what else can I do?”

 

Both Nae Il and I nod in understanding. We don’t know all the details, but we have pieced together enough over the past several months to know that for Muhammed, who is Muslim, eating out in Austria is easier said than done: anything involving pork is an immediate write-off, and other meats have to be what he’s termed as “halal”, meaning that it was prepared in accordance to Islamic law and customs. So rather than risk making a nuisance of himself by asking too many questions or making any special requests, he prefers to just choose vegetarian options when he’s in public – and it seems like those are quite limited here at the Stiegl-Brauwelt.

 

“What about drinks, though?” I ask as, wordlessly, Nae Il pushes some of the fries from our plate onto his.

 

Muhammed answers with his characteristic grin before reaching into his backpack and retrieving a water bottle. “I always come prepared,” he quips with a mock-serious expression that makes Nae Il giggle.

 

“But seriously, though,” I begin after the three of us have been eating together for a few minutes, “what are you doing here?” I give Muhammed a pointed look when he glances up questioningly at me. “You don’t drink, you can’t eat half the stuff that’s here, you’re certainly not here to flirt with the girls – at least, I hope not – so why would something like this interest you?”

 

“You’re right, Yoo Jin. Usually, this sort of thing wouldn’t interest me. But this time, it’s different.”

 

He leans forward in his seat, prompting Nae Il and I to huddle closer as well.

 

“This time,” he says quietly, “I’m here to prove a point.”

 

“Point? What point?” Nae Il asks.

 

But whereas she is confused, I’m beginning to have a suspicion as to what’s going on.

 

“Is this about what happened last week, Muhammed?” I add drily.

 

“Ja.”

 

“Why? What happened last week?”

 

Muhammed looks first at Nae Il, then back at me. “You didn’t tell her?”

 

“Why should I have?” I retort, leaning back just enough to cross my arms in front of my chest. “It was a stupid idea to begin with.”

 

“Well, if that’s the case…basically, Nae Il,” he begins, “last Saturday night – so, the night of April 30 – a bunch of us guys from the Mozarteum decided to get together to try to steal a maypole.”

 

Her jaw drops. “Was?”

 

“It’s a classic prank here in Austria,” I explain. “The night before May Day, some of the young guys will try to steal a maypole from wherever it’s being stored and hold it for ransom. Usually, it’s part of a larger rivalry between villages or neighbourhoods, but sometimes – like with our guys – they just do it for fun.”

 

I shoot Muhammed a look. “I still can’t believe you guys actually tried to do it, though.”

 

“Well, if it’s any consolation to you, Yoo Jin, we failed. Miserably.”

 

I nod, a smug expression on my face. “I know. You came back and told me.”

 

“Ah, but I didn’t tell you the full story – just that we were driven back by the boys guarding the pole.”

 

That gives me pause. My eyes narrow in suspicion. “Why? Did something else happen?”

 

“Well, let’s just say that things got rather…heated while we were there.”

 

I feel myself tensing up in dread. “How bad was it?”

 

“By the end of it, Johannes had given one of them a black eye.”

 

“Was?” Nae Il gasps, her eyes wide in astonishment. “Johannes – as in our Johannes?” When Muhammed nods at her in answer, her mouth opens and closes several times before she finally manages to gasp, “But our Johannes wouldn’t hurt anyone!”

 

It’s true. Johannes, a fellow Austrian and the cellist in our ensemble, is somewhat of a paradox. My match in height and a good deal broader than me as well, he towers over the rest of us, and looks like the sort of guy who could easily beat any one of us in a fight. But for those of us who know him well, we know just how much of that is just a matter of appearance: Johannes is as strong as he looks, and is a great help in setting up our performances because of that, but he is reserved and passive by nature.

 

“Well, in his defence,” Muhammed retorts, “that guy deserved it.”

 

“What happened?” I ask, my voice hardening into the stern tone I use when scolding any of the members in my capacity as the conductor.

 

For a moment, Muhammed glances around at the people around us, looking like he’s checking that no-one else is listening. Then, he gestures for us to huddle once more.

 

“As I’m sure you could guess,” he whispers, “it was full night when we got there, so it took us all a while to make out faces in the darkness. And as soon as that guy – who was also a bit drunk, by the way – saw me…let’s just say it was nasty, the stuff he said.”

 

“What did he say?” Nae Il asks.

 

Sensing where this conversation is going, I shoot her a sideways glance. “Are you sure you want to know, Seol Nae Il?”

 

When she nods her assent, Muhammed goes on. “Stuff like my not belonging there, that I should go back where I came from – never mind that that would just be Germany, but I know he meant someplace else – stuff like how it’s people like me who are trying to crowd out traditions like the May Day celebration in the first place.”

 

I can tell from his tone of voice that he’s trying to make light of it, but even he can’t help his voice developing an angry edge when he comes to the end:

 

“That son-of-a-you-know-what even asked me if I had a bomb strapped onto me right then and there.”

 

In an instant, Nae Il recoils, eyes wide and jaw dropping in appalled horror. “How could he?!” she cries out. “That’s awful!”

 

Quickly, I place one hand over her mouth to shush her. “Ya, Seollebal,” I hiss into her ear. “Keep it down; that’s not helping.”

 

She reaches up and rips my hand away. “And why should I care if other people hear me?” she asks, rounding on me, eyes burning in righteous anger. “Maybe they should hear – no-one should talk like that to someone else, ever!”

 

“True,” I concede, although I’m unable to hold back a wince when several other people turn to glance curiously at us. “But you’d end up putting Muhammed on the spot, and we don’t want that, do we?”

 

Finally seeing my point, Nae Il gives me a grudging nod in defeat, but that doesn’t stop her from showing her frustration elsewhere: pouting, kicking the grass at her feet under the table, grabbing her mug of beer and downing a large gulp.

 

“Don’t worry, Nae Il,” Muhammed says finally. “I appreciate your concern, but to be honest, I’m used to it by now.” He gives us a self-deprecating shrug. “When you’ve heard that sort of thing all your life, you learn to just ignore it.

 

“But, to come all the way back to your original question, Yoo Jin, that’s why I’m here: to show people like that guy that I have just as much a right to be here as anyone else.”

 

Trying to ease the tension, I move to change the subject then, shifting the conversation to a discussion of our upcoming performance at Salzburg’s Whitsun Festival this coming weekend. Although not part of the festival’s official programme, we are planning on a concert at the Schloss Frohnburg for this Saturday afternoon, most likely our final one for this school year. Rehearsals have been going steadily since the beginning of March, although it has only been about two weeks since we have reincorporated Nae Il’s solo performance into it; up to that point, she had been practicing her piece on her own, as preparations for her debut recital had conflicted with our own rehearsals.

 

By this point, it is getting close to two in the afternoon, and from our vantage point, we could see that the maypole, festooned with hanging ribbons, wreaths and garlands, is almost ready: the workers and volunteers have been slowly but steadily propping it up for hours, and it is now standing at a steep angle, just barely within reach of the long wooden staves they have been using to push it upright.

 

Noting the maypole’s progress, Nae Il scrambles out of her seat, grabbing onto my hand to pull me along as well. After a questioning glance back at Muhammed, who simply smiles and gestures for us to go ahead – a wordless promise that he would watch her bag – we are off, dashing towards the open space in the centre of the field.

 

Hand in hand, we look on as, with one last burst of effort, the large team of men tip the maypole into the hole that has been dug into the ground, leaving it standing upright at last. Quickly, they work to fill in the hole with wooden wedges, reinforcing the base before, finally, they remove the supporting poles and step back.

 

“Baum steht!”

 

The cry comes from the emcee overseeing the proceedings, one that is loudly echoed by the crowd as it bursts into applause. A large keg of beer is brought out and ceremoniously opened as a reward for the workers, and that is the signal for the party to really begin. A loud cheer bursts out from the onlookers, and the band, which had been playing steadily all morning into the afternoon, now breaks out into a lively dance tune.

 

I have never known Nae Il to be able to resist the call of music, and she succumbs to it now. Letting go of my hand in her excitement, she prances forward in an improvised dance, bouncing and skipping in time with the melody echoing out from the bandstand. She knows not to ask me to join her; she knows that I would decline if she did. But she does reward me with a wide grin and eyes sparkling with warmth and mirth when I clap along.

 

Suddenly, she comes to a stop, so abruptly that her skirt continues twirling around her for a split second.

 

“Look, Orabang – up there!”

 

I follow her pointing finger and make out the figure of a young man, probably close to my age, high up above us on the maypole. Stripped down to just his lederhosen, strapped to the safety harness hanging down from the top of the pole, he is steadily climbing his way up.

 

“What’s he doing up there, do you think?” Nae Il asks, sidling up beside me.

 

I point up towards the top of the maypole. “You see all the things hanging from there?” When she nods, not once taking her eyes off the man’s constant ascent, I add, “Those are prizes: ribbons, pretzels, sausages…you get the idea. He’s trying to grab one, as proof of his strength and courage in getting up so high.”

 

Sure enough, just then, the man seems to have come to his target: a thick sausage, wrapped up in plastic to protect it from the elements. Wrenching it free from the maypole, he holds it up high in the air, and all around us, people burst into applause. Nae Il, too, breaks into a loud cheer, jumping up into the air in excitement. As for me, my gaze shifts down to look at her, a warm smile coming to my face at how much she is enjoying herself.

 

~~~~~

 

“Where’s Nae Il?”

 

“She’s busy right now,” I answer curtly, shooting a warning look at the image of Lee Yoon Hoo on my computer screen. “We’ve got a performance coming up in a few days, and she needs to practice. Besides, why should it matter to you? We’re here to discuss the programme for this summer’s concert – I don’t see how whether Nae Il is here or not is relevant to that.”

 

It is Wednesday afternoon – Wednesday night in Seoul – and I am currently sitting in one of the private study rooms at the Mozarteum, just after Nae Il and I have parted ways after having lunch together. And while it would be a lie to say that I have scheduled this video chat deliberately to fall at a time when she couldn’t be around, I also cannot deny that I am rather enjoying the way Yoon Hoo deflates just a bit as he realizes that we are alone.

 

“Right,” he eventually says with a nod. “So what are you planning to do for your half?”

 

That’s what we’ve decided from the start: since it wouldn’t make sense for two conductors to be working with the Rising Star Orchestra at any one time, we will be splitting the concert into two halves, each of us in charge of one, with an intermission in between.

 

“You go first,” I offer, “since you’ll be going first in the actual thing anyway.”

 

“Arasseo. I was thinking of beginning with the first of the Bizet-Giraud Carmen Suites.”

 

“Just the one?” I ask, raising an eyebrow at him.

 

“The orchestra knows both, but we’ll only have time to perform one if we want to fit the concerto in as well,” Yoon Hoo retorts firmly. “The members and I put it to a vote, and it seems the first one works better as an introduction.”

 

“Geu rae,” I answer with a slow nod of my own. “I can see why.” Then, after a pause, I add, “What about the concerto? You’re working with Jung Si Won, right?”

 

“No thanks to you. You know I wanted to work with Nae Il – just once.”

 

“Well, too bad: because I already promised her I would do this first.”

 

“That’s not fair. You’ve got the advantage here.”

 

I give him a penetrating look. “If you don’t believe me, ask her yourself.”

 

He shakes his head. “Of course I believe you. You wouldn’t lie about something like that.

 

“But, in answer to your earlier question, we’re planning on using Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E-Minor.”

 

I can’t help letting out a smile when the image comes to mind: Jung Si Won playing the famous and highly virtuosic solo part to that piece, Yoo Il Rak proudly looking on from the concertmaster’s seat.

 

“You like that, don’t you?”

 

I nod at Yoon Hoo in response, and just for a moment, we share a rare genuine smile. There are things we don’t get along about, and we both have a tendency to unintentionally bring out the worst in each other, but when it comes to music, neither of us is the type to mess around or let our differences get in the way of that. Perhaps this is why Professor Stresemann wanted us to collaborate in the first place.

 

“All right, then, Cha Yoo Jin: it’s your turn,” Yoon Hoo says, leaning back slightly in his seat. “What’ve you got?”

 

I rear back as well, tenting my fingers just in front of my lips as I gather my thoughts together.

 

“For the full orchestral piece, I plan to use Die Moldau by Smetana.”

 

Yoon Hoo quirks an eyebrow at me. “‘Die Moldau’? Don’t you mean ‘Vltava’?” he asks, referring to the piece by its Czech name.

 

“Geu rae – that one.”

 

The expression he gives me then – a slight twitch of the lips that suggests he is holding back a laugh – makes me bristle once again in annoyance.

 

“Wae? What’s it to you?”

 

“Nothing,” he replies with a shrug, although his eyes are still twinkling in good humour. “It’s just a bit ironic, though, don’t you think?”

 

“Mwo?”

 

“The fact that an Austrian like you is planning on conducting a piece composed by a Czech composer specifically as an expression of nationalist pride against the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And that you’re referring to the piece by its German name, no less.”

 

That, at least, is a point I have to concede. So I do.

 

“True. But you’ll find that I’m nothing if not ironic,” I quip in response, punctuating the last statement with a slight smirk of my own, one that is rewarded with Yoon Hoo’s signature bright grin. It’s rare that I’m on the receiving end of that smile, so I relish it while I can.

 

“Besides,” I continue, “I have my reasons for choosing this piece: reasons that I don’t want to elaborate upon until I’m actually there.

 

“As for the concerto with Nae Il, we’ve decided on Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A-Minor.”

 

To his credit, Yoon Hoo immediately understands what I am implying. “Ah…so Nae Il is your Clara now.”

 

“Exactly.”

 

“So what does that make me? Brahms?”

 

Brahms. A piano prodigy who became Robert Schumann’s protégé towards the end of the older composer’s life. The young man who had become Clara Schumann’s close confidant during Robert's final madness – and presumably fallen in love with her as well.

 

Of course. Trust Lee Yoon Hoo to say something like that.

 

He may have meant it in jest, but against my better judgment, my eyes narrow and my voice takes on a hard edge anyway.

 

We do bring out the worst in each other, after all.

 

“Well, if that’s where you see yourself in this masquerade, Lee Yoon Hoo, then you should learn to do what Brahms did and leave Nae Il the hell alone.”

 

His jaw drops and he lets out a scandalized scoff. “Ya, Cha Yoo Jin! I was just joking – can’t you at least try to be civil for once?”

 

“I am trying to be civil,” I growl in response. “You’re the one that keeps trying to pull Nae Il into this.”

 

I can tell he wants to say something, make some sort of cutting remark to defend himself. But then, I see him turn his face away, shaking his head slightly.

 

Good. He needs to do that, or we’ll both be drawn into a fight again.

 

“Right. Moving on,” he finally says, letting out a deep breath in his attempts to stay calm. “So it’s set, then: our programme, that is.”

 

“Ne.”

 

“All right, then,” he says, bracing his hands on his knees as though preparing to stand up and bring this conversation to an end. “I’ll see what I can do about getting the sheet music together for the members; it’ll be good if they’ve had time to work on your pieces on their own before you fly over.”

 

“Arasseo,” I answer, mirroring his posture in turn. “But I do have one condition.”

 

“Eh?”

 

“Get the sheet music printed in advance if you like, but that’s all the input I’ll allow.”

 

“Is that a threat?”

 

“Not a threat – a truce.”

 

“Ah….” He throws his head back as he nods at me, understanding lighting up on his face. “Let’s make it official, then: neither of us is allowed to interfere with the other’s rehearsals or performance. With my pieces, what I say goes; and vice-versa for yours.” He raises a questioning eyebrow at me. “Agreed?”

 

“Agreed.”

 

~~~~~

 

A warm smile coming to my face, I push on the glass French doors leading out to the back balcony of the Schloss Frohnburg and step outside. It had rained this morning, and will most likely rain again later this afternoon. But now, at midday, there is a brief respite as the sunlight breaks through the clouds, so it is little wonder that Nae Il chooses to spend a moment here before we are set to begin.

 

“I thought I’d find you here, Nae Il-ah.”

 

Hearing the sound of my voice, she turns around from her spot at the railing to face me, the ends of the pink ribbon she has used to tie back her hair moving along with her.

 

The bright smile she greets me with says more than words ever will.

 

Stepping up to take the spot beside her, I cannot resist taking in a deep breath; this morning’s rain had left a clean crispness in the air in its wake and I want to just drink it in. That’s one thing I will definitely miss about Salzburg once we return to Seoul for the summer: the fresh air blowing down from the mountains, not entirely unsullied by industry and pollution, but still better than the smog and yellow dust back home.

 

“You look beautiful,” I say to her as I look her over, so quietly that even if we were not alone, no-one else would have been able to overhear.

 

It’s true.

 

In keeping with the fact that Salzburg’s Whitsun Festival is held in the spring, all of us ensemble members who are performing at today’s concert have decided to stick to a garden party concept for our costume: the girls in pastel-coloured dresses, and the guys in simple white shirts and dark trousers. Nae Il, on her part, has rented out a light pink sleeveless dress that goes almost all the way down to her ankles, covered with an overlay of white lace to create a subtle floral pattern. Right now, as a shield from the cool post-rain breeze, she has draped the white silk scarf I have loaned her around her shoulders as a shawl; and around her neck, as usual, is our pendant necklace.

 

“Komawoyo,” she answers. She reaches up to smooth the fabric of my shirt, straightening the collar and then, in a sudden impish move, undoing the top button once again.

 

“Ya, Seollebal,” I laugh in surprise, “what are you doing?”

 

“I’d told you, Orabang,” she chides me, “you look hotter like that.”

 

I roll my eyes and shake my head with a bewildered smile, then turn away from her to lean forward against the stone parapet border. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Nae Il doing the same. Together, we peer down at the manicured garden laid out beneath us: towering trees lining a pathway that leads to a grand stone fountain, its water sparkling in the distance.

 

“Are you excited for today’s performance?” I ask, after a moment’s such companionable silence.

 

“Ne. I thought I would be nervous, but I’m actually not.”

 

“Maybe it’s because you’ve already grown; having already had a debut recital will do that to you.”

 

“I know that, but there’s also one more thing: this place. I never could have thought that, one day, I would end up performing here.”

 

One of her hands is resting idly on the railing; I reach out and place one of mine overtop of it. I know where she is right now: in some sort of fairy tale world in her own imagination.

 

“Ara, Nae Il-ah.”

 

She glances up at me. “I know you must think I’m being very silly right now, Orabang, but I can’t help it. Even though I know it was all just make-believe – that although this place was only used as a film set and was not really where the Von Trapp family lived, and although their real story was not nearly as nice or as idyllic as what I saw in the movie – it just somehow feels like we’re all in the same place. Like, somehow, Maria, the Captain, the little children…they’re all here right now.”

 

Sighing and shaking my head just a bit, I take hold of Nae Il’s shoulders, gently turning her around so that we are facing each other.

 

“Gwenchana. We all gain strength from different things, so who am I to question that? Besides,” I add with a chuckle, “although I haven’t watched all of The Sound of Music, as you’d know, I’ve seen enough to see you in there.”

 

“Jeongmal?”

 

“Jeongmal,” I answer with a nod. “Innocent and cheerful and headstrong: just like Maria herself.”

 

“Sorry – am I interrupting something?”

 

Immediately, I let go of Nae Il and take a step back away from her, turning to glance at Muhammed, who is now peering out at us from behind the door.

 

“Nein,” I stammer, shaking my head, making my way towards him. “Is something the matter?”

 

“Not really. Just….” He glances past me at Nae Il. “Lana’s looking for you inside.”

 

At the mention of her friend’s name, Nae Il’s smile brightens. “Oh, she’s ready now? I’ve gotta see this!” Noting the way my brow furrows in confusion, she gives a quick explanation: “You missed it earlier, Orabang – Lana was trying out a new hairstyle: a flower made out of braids. She said she’d let me know when it was finished, so I think that’s my cue now!”

 

Leaving me still gaping in surprise – these two girls' enthusiasm for things like hair and makeup still tends to go over my head – she then turns and dashes back inside, ducking past Muhammed as he, in turn, takes a step out onto the balcony.

 

Both of us guys turn to glance after her as she leaves, matching bemused expressions on our faces.

 

“Well, someone’s excited,” he eventually says, shaking his head in amusement.

 

“That’s Seol Nae Il for you,” I answer with a nod. “But this time, it’s understandable – who knows when the girls will run into each other again?”

 

“True.”

 

Lana, our flautist, is finishing her studies at the Mozarteum now, after all. From what I’ve heard, she will most likely go back home to her native Russia to find work there, so it’s likely we will not be seeing her in person for a good long while – if ever – once this semester wraps up in June.

 

“And what about you, Yoo Jin? How are you holding up?”

 

My brow furrows in confusion. “Pardon?”

 

“This will be your farewell from our ensemble as well, right? So I’m asking you if you have any thoughts about that.”

 

I give him a casual shrug, then turn to face out into the garden once again. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Muhammed coming up to join me, his posture mirroring mine as I rest my arms on the parapet.

 

For a long moment, neither of us says anything. Finding it uncomfortable to look at him for long, I instead tilt my head back and glance up at the sky.

 

“I…I suppose I’m used to it now,” I finally admit. “This isn’t the first ensemble I’ve joined, so it’s also not the first one I’ve left.”

 

There is, in fact, a lot more that I could say. That I want to say. Things like how it never gets easy; how after working with a group of fellow musicians for weeks or months on end, parting ways is never done without pain or longing; how in spite of everything, part of me still misses the Rising Star Orchestra terribly; and how now, I know, I will come to miss this group as well.

 

But I don’t say any of that. What would the point in doing so after all?

 

So, instead, I simply add, “But that’s the way it is with conducting. Conductors come and go: sometimes we stay with an ensemble for a long time – months or even years – but other times, we might simply be there for just the one concert and that’ll be it.”

 

I turn to look him in the eye. “Which is why, in an ensemble, the concertmaster matters so much: the constant, steadying force that gives the other members a sense of familiarity.”

 

Muhammed, though, seems to understand more than what I am saying aloud, as he suddenly reaches out and clasps onto my elbow with one hand. Smiling, I return the gesture in kind: a warriors’ embrace.

 

~~~~~

 

I can see Nae Il as she takes her seat in front of the harpsichord, but I know that she can’t see me. Nor, to be honest, can the audience, seated as they are in rows of wooden chairs stretching back away from the harpsichord at the front of the main performance chamber in the Schloss Frohnburg.

 

I am, after all, standing just out of view in the open doorway that connects the room Nae Il is in to the one next door, which our ensemble has claimed as our backstage area.

 

Nor, as it turns out, am I the only one.

 

Lana, who has, rather aptly, pointed out that she is shorter than me, even in her high-heeled shoes, is standing in front of me, taking the space right in the doorway. I am actually behind her, positioned in such a way that I could look out at Nae Il over her shoulder.

 

We don’t dare to say anything; even if we whispered, our voices might carry into the room beyond, and neither of us wants to risk that. But from her straight posture, a slight hint of tension in her shoulders, I could see that Lana, Nae Il’s closest friend out of all the girls in our ensemble, is feeling the same thing that I am: tense, breathless anticipation at what is to come.

 

Finally, after just the briefest moment of hesitation, Nae Il places her hands on the keyboard and plays the opening chords of her selection: Bach’s Partita No. 2 in C-Minor: a jangling sound, metallic but not unpleasant, that echoes throughout the chamber.

 

The Partita is a collection of six shorter pieces, performed without pause, each with its own distinct colour. Combined, they show all the possibilities that the harpsichord offers as an instrument, as well as the virtuosity and versatility of the person who plays it.

 

This first piece, then, the Sinfonia, begins with a slow, majestic fanfare; Nae Il takes her time in playing the chords, at times pushing so firmly down onto the keys that I catch a subtle echo ringing out when she releases her hold and allows the instrument to return to its state of rest. The music then gives way to a second theme at a moderate tempo, the bass forming a steady beat for the treble’s ambling dance. Then, just when it seems the Sinfonia will end this way, it suddenly switches to a quicker tempo, the melodies and countermelodies echoing, overlapping, building upon each other in ever-growing and deepening layers. In fact, so rich is this harmony that had I not seen the score for this part for myself, I would not have believed that, still, there are only two voices here: the treble and the bass.

 

Such is the genius of Bach as a composer: turning two to many, a duet into a choir.

 

The next three pieces in the set – the Allemande, the Courante, and the Sarabande – were all dances during Bach’s time; yet none of them would have been dances that Nae Il would have recognized. So it is no wonder to me that, in playing them now, she treats them more as purely musical pieces.

 

The Allemande is slow and stately, almost a bit ponderous in its solemn tone. The Courante, by contrast, is at a much quicker tempo, and stretches the limits of Nae Il’s technical range with its integration of four separate layered voices: even when one voice is at rest, another one is rushing on ahead, leaving little room for her to pause as she works to juggle them all. As for the Sarabande, I sense in Nae Il’s delivery her core Romantic playing style. She leans down, hovering just inches over the keyboard, fingers stretched out almost completely straight and flat, as her hands slide from one note to the next in this slowest movement by far. As with the beginning of the Sinfonia, she takes her time on every single sound, drawing it out so that each note sounds like a pause, a breath, a sigh of longing.

 

As she straightens back up in preparation for the next segment, the Rondeau, I see Nae Il pull out a small knob – the lute stop – in the centre of the harpsichord, just beneath the music rack. In my head, I could visualize what this action has done: inside the instrument, a strip of leather has come down upon the strings, muting the sound slightly while emphasizing its haunting echo. This lighter sound partners well with the frolicking bouncing melody of the Rondeau, emphasizing its playful tone.

 

Finally, after releasing the lute stop and returning the harpsichord to its original form, Nae Il plays her finale: the Capriccio. Quick-tempered and highly virtuosic, it is a triumphant ending to the Partita, and a perfect way to round off her performance.

 

From my vantage point off to the side, out of sight yet definitely not out of mind, I see that Nae Il is satisfied with her rendition of the Partita. Smiling brightly, her eyes sparkling and her cheeks flushed with a mixture of exertion and excitement, she dips into a deep curtsey at the audience’s applause before making her way off the stage towards me.

 

We don’t have time to talk: her leaving is my cue to go out with the others and take her place. But still, rather than stepping out right away, I linger for just a moment at the threshold, reaching out to grab hold of her hand as she passes: a sudden movement that makes her pause.

 

Together, our fingers intertwined, I press against her palm as she does the same; we say to each other through our touch what cannot be spoken aloud.

 

~~~~~

 

“You know, Yoo Jin: I can’t think of all that many keyboardists who take the conducting part of the job as seriously as you do. I’ve worked with other keyboardists before who’ve complained to me that the continuo is dry or boring; but you…you’ve never done that.”

 

That’s what Muhammed said to me earlier today, when we were alone on the balcony, after I had acknowledged the role he’s played as the concertmaster. And now, as we wrap up the second major segment of today’s concert – Bach’s Violin Concerto in E-Major – those words are coming back to me.

 

In an ensemble like this one, there is no visible conductor; no one person standing in front at a podium for everyone to see. Instead, when there is a part for a keyboard instrument like a harpsichord, a fortepiano or an organ, that’s where the conductor will be: quiet, unobserved, oftentimes fading into the background as the soloist – in this case, Muhammed with his violin – takes centre stage. I, at the harpsichord, have been only just barely noticeable: playing a subtle basal harmony – the continuo – alongside the other instrumentalists to accompany his melody.

 

But things are about to change, and all of us know it.

 

Lana, looking poised and elegant in a soft green dress, now emerges from the side room, here to join the rest of us as one of the soloists in our final number: Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. I stand up from the harpsichord bench and step over to formally greet her with a handshake; moments after I let go, Muhammed comes forward to do the same.

 

As we resume our places, Lana now moving to a second music stand that has been set up beside Muhammed’s, I take one fleeting glance back at the doorway through which she had emerged. Just as I’d expected, Nae Il is standing there, arms crossed in front of her chest. Then, knowing that no-one in the audience could see her from where she is, she lifts up a clenched fist and silently mouths, “Fighting!”

 

“Komawo,” I mouth back.

 

I return to my seat to the sound of polite applause from the audience. Then, once I am properly settled, I turn to give Muhammed a nod over my shoulder. Giving me a wink in response, he raises his bow, and that prompts everyone else to take up their starting positions.

 

The two of us – concertmaster and conductor – take in a simultaneous breath and then, finally, I break eye contact and turn back around to face forward, moving at the exact moment that the music starts.

 

Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 is what is called a concerto grosso: a concerto that features multiple soloists instead of just one. In this case, it is primarily the violin and the flute, Muhammed and Lana in a continual exchange: one starting, the other finishing, then changing places with the next phrase. Although I am not looking directly at them, I have seen enough from our rehearsals to know that they have turned just slightly towards each other, maintaining eye contact, maintaining communication, always aware of what the other is doing and how best to respond.

 

As I continue to play my basal accompaniment alongside the other ensemble members, I feel myself starting to wonder: what must it have been like for Bach to be in the same position that I am in now? A virtuoso keyboardist in his own right, excelling at both the harpsichord and the organ – did Bach ever feel frustrated by the role that tradition demanded of him as an accompanist? Did he ever want to step beyond those boundaries, spread his wings and fly?

 

I do not know if that was what he had thought, but it does explain why the harpsichord’s part is the way it is: filled with elaborate chords, runs and figures, it is not a simple accompaniment, but a voice in its own right. And nowhere is that clearer than when we approach the halfway point of the concerto’s first movement: my part turning into a series of scales running up and down, first long then in ever shorter, quicker bursts, building up tension like a spring.

 

Then, suddenly, I’m off.

 

Everyone, even the other two soloists, falls behind as the harpsichord charges on ahead into an elaborate cadenza, quite possibly the very first of its kind. Although I am sure that our audience today must have already known it was coming, what a surprise this solo must have been for the audience attending the concerto’s premiere, for those who were only expecting the harpsichord to be a supportive voice in the background. Long, elaborate, far more technically complex than any of the solo violin or flute passages before it, this was Bach’s statement to the world: soloist and accompanist need not be separate; this is not a matter of either-or, but of both, condensed into a single person.

 

Not a keyboardist, nor a conductor, but a person who could simultaneously be both.

 

And I know that although I cannot see her, somewhere behind me, nestled in the doorway leading to the side room, Nae Il is standing there: watching me, listening to me, fully understanding what I am trying to say with this piece.

 

The harpsichord is on equal footing with the other two soloists – the violin and the flute – for the remaining two movements of the concerto, now having fully come into its own as one of the soloists: not two, but three.

 

It is fitting then that the second movement of the concerto is so scaled back; the other accompanying instruments don’t appear at all, as the three soloists – Lana, Muhammed and I – have a private conversation. Smooth and slow, imitating the sounds not of a lively conversation but an intimate heart-to-heart, the three of us take turns calling and responding to each other. Sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, sometimes all three at once.

 

But if there is any one voice that stands out here, it is the flute; in the quiet and the stillness of this second movement, its warm and clear tone rings out above all else, filling the entire performance chamber with its song. Lana gives in to this music entirely, swaying slowly with the music, drawing out and rounding off the sound as I had encouraged her to do during our rehearsals. In this moment, she – not I – is the star, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

The three of us start the third movement alone, playing the opening of a lively dance. But soon, with an inviting nod from me, the rest of the ensemble joins in, as the music grows ever more joyful and boisterous: a celebration of everything we have done and achieved together since our collaboration started in the fall.

 

We start as a group and we end as a group – there is no better way to conclude this concerto than this.

 

~~~~~

 

I always enjoy the playing aspect of a performance: when I am up on stage making beautiful music, either alone or with others.

 

I even enjoy the part that comes immediately afterwards: the applause, the audience rapt with appreciation and bursting with excitement as we set aside our instruments and come together at the front of the stage to take our bows.

 

But the part that comes after that? I not only dislike it; I outright despise it.

 

Mingling. Networking. Making small talk, beverage in hand.

 

Perhaps my own past and upbringing are to blame. I have learned at a very young age the difference between compliments that are genuinely meant and those that only exist in a general code of politeness: those people in the audience who truly love classical music for what it is, and those who are only there because it makes them look cultured or sophisticated.

 

And, sooner or later, at any such post-performance reception or social gathering, it happens. Less often here than it did in Seoul, but still almost inevitable. A question posed to me, sometimes punctuated with a knowing smile or nod or wink:

 

“Cha Yoo Jin? No relation to the pianist Cha Dong Woo, I presume?”

 

I never know how to respond to name-drops like that.

 

So what? So what if I’m his son? What difference should that make?

 

What are these people trying to prove by bringing up Abeoji’s name? That they are somehow in the know, somehow a part of the insular circle that is the classical music scene, where everyone knows everyone else?

 

Celebrity that is earned, that is gained by one’s own merit and talent and hard work, that, at least, I can understand.

 

But the celebrity that has been thrust upon me since birth – that knowing smile, that gush of enthusiastic praises once someone finds out who I am?

 

To hell with that!

 

Fortunately, Nae Il is my saving grace. Her hand resting in the crook of my arm as we make our way around the foyer on the main floor of the Schloss Frohnburg, she stays at my side over the course of this reception, smiling and chattering with those in the audience who have decided to stay behind. She fills in the gaps when I find myself caught up in an awkward silence, gives me a discreet reassuring pat or squeeze when she feels me tense up in exasperation, whispers quiet words of encouragement in the fleeting moments when we are alone, even gives me a pinch if she senses that my smile is coming out too false.

 

Finally, the reception comes to an end, and we ensemble members are the only ones left behind. As several people from among the Frohnburg’s staff appear to tidy things up – clearing away the glasses, stacking up the chairs – Muhammed calls for all of us to join him back upstairs in our break room.

 

“All right, Muhammed,” I begin sarcastically as, having been the last person to come in, I push the door shut behind me. “What sort of brilliant idea do you have this time?”

 

“Nothing much,” he answers with a shrug. “Just….”

 

To my surprise, instead of saying anything directly, he beckons Johannes, our cellist, towards him. Then, after a quick whispered exchange, Johannes hurries off to one corner of the room, returning with two gift bags, which he then passes to Muhammed.

 

Lana reacts faster than I do.

 

“Oh, you guys,” she laughs, blushing slightly in embarrassment, “you really shouldn’t have!”

 

“What do you mean? Of course we should,” Muhammed declares proudly as he holds out one bag to each of us. “You guys have been with us for a while, so now that you’re both moving on to greater and better things….” He gestures behind him to the others, who all nod in agreement. “It just made sense for us to show our appreciation.”

 

As Lana reaches into her bag and pulls out her gift – a sheer scarf that I recognize to be from a store she likes – Nae Il stares back and forth between Muhammed and me.

 

“Wait – what about me?”

 

We all burst out laughing, I just barely managing to cover my mouth with one hand.

 

“Ya, Seollebal!” I gasp out, “Is that seriously all you’re thinking of?”

 

Muhammed, for his part, waves a hand dismissively at the gift bag in my hand.

 

“Don’t worry, Nae Il; we wouldn’t leave you out. This is actually a joint gift for both of you.”

 

That’s all the warning I get.

 

Eyes widening in excitement, Nae Il rushes towards me, snatching one handle of the bag from me as she rummages inside, emerging seconds later with a plush teddy bear dressed to look like Mozart in a long red coat and ruffled lace shirt. Jaw dropping in sheer delight, she pulls it all the way out of the bag and hugs it firmly to her chest with an enthusiastic word of thanks.

 

But that can’t be it. There has to be something she missed.

 

Peering inside the bag, I find what looks to be an envelope lying at the bottom of it. I imagine that, originally, the others had placed it so that it was held in the teddy bear’s arms, but it must have gotten shaken loose at some point. Taking it out and setting the bag off to one side, I lift open the flap and peek inside.

 

I glance over at Nae Il, a warm smile growing on my face. “I think you’re going to like this one, too.”

 

~~~~~

 

This is not the first time I have taken Nae Il to see a production at Salzburg’s famous Marionette Theatre; that had been shortly after we first moved here, when I had bought tickets for a production of The Sound of Music as a special treat for her.

 

But this is the first time that we will be sitting in the more expensive front section, courtesy of our friends in the baroque ensemble. And it is also our first time watching the theatre’s longest-running production: an adaptation of Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute.

 

As we take our seats in one of the front rows, Nae Il is unable to resist turning her head this way and that, trying to take in the entire auditorium around us. At one point, she even leans back in her seat, resting her neck on the back of her chair and tilting her head up to look straight up at the ceiling above us.

 

Laughing softly at her antics, I reach over and give her a tap on the shoulder.

 

“Ya, Seollebal, what are you doing? It’s not like this is your first time here.”

 

“I know, Orabang,” she replies, still looking up rather than at me directly. “It’s just that decorations like this never get old. Every single time I see them, I feel like I’m in a palace.”

 

“Geu rae,” I concede, now leaning back in my own seat to join her. “Europe does do that to you.”

 

Neck still tilted back, Nae Il turns her head to glance over at me.

 

“Is that why, Orabang?”

 

“Why what?”

 

“Why you wanted so much to come back here.”

 

It takes me a moment to come up with an answer to that question.

 

“Ani.”

 

Noting the way Nae Il shoots forward in surprise, now sitting properly straight as she rounds on me, I move to explain.

 

“See, for you, places like this are something special – completely beyond your imagination. So this past year, you’ve been feeling like you’re living in a fairy tale – is that right?”

 

“Ne.”

 

Straightening up in my seat, I swivel around, resting one arm on the seatback behind her, and give her a pointed look.

 

“That’s not the case for me. Salzburg, for me, is simply home. Not because of grand surroundings like these, but because of the music. Wherever there is music, wherever there are people who love music, that’s where I belong.”

 

Smiling warmly, Nae Il leans in closer, holding onto my arm with both hands as she rests her head against my shoulder.

 

And that’s where she still is when, finally, the lights in the theatre dim and the curtain rises for the show to begin.

 

This production of The Magic Flute is unlike any other I have come across; rather than singers and an orchestra, the music is a recording, but that does not detract at all from what is actually happening on stage. The full opera is performed by wooden marionettes, and the puppeteers hidden behind the stage are so skilled at their craft that despite the lack of moving mouths or facial features, all the characters’ minute emotions are expressed through motion.

 

Puppetry, then, is like playing a musical instrument: a person giving life and soul to an inanimate object, taking abstract sounds and turning them into something heartfelt and meaningful.

 

Although the opera is sung in German, and Nae Il has developed a strong command of the language over the past year, I know from experience that the words will be hard to understand, even for native speakers like myself. Opera, after all, is music: beauty oftentimes trumps over practicality. So, in advance, the two of us have read a synopsis of the story, and neither of us has any trouble understanding what we are seeing:

 

The Magic Flute is a fairy tale of Mozart’s own imagining: the story of the young prince Tamino. He is tasked by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter, the princess Pamina, from the sorcerer, Sarastro. Given a magic flute and a companion, the bird-catcher Papageno, to aid him on his quest, Tamino sets off for Sarastro’s stronghold, only to discover that he has been duped: the true evil in the land is, in fact, the Queen, who seeks to plunge the world into eternal darkness. The new quest set before him and Papageno, then, is to pass through a series of ordeals and trials in order to gain admittance to Sarastro’s Temple of Light and win Pamina’s hand in marriage.

 

Although Nae Il is resting against me when the opera begins, within the first few minutes, she has already left me: shifting to sit facing the stage, just barely able to resist the temptation to lean forward in her seat, she watches with wide-eyed fascination. Every now and then, she pokes me in the arm with one finger and then, keeping her gestures small so as not to disturb anyone around us, subtly points out some small detail that has caught her eye: Papageno’s brightly feathered costume; the way that Tamino’s magic flute has a string of its own so that he could smoothly raise it to his lips in time with the music. She giggles with delight when Tamino, playing the flute, enchants the animals in Sarastro’s menagerie, and once again when Papageno, playing his bells, makes Sarastro’s slaves hop and spin in a lively bouncing dance.

 

By the time we get to the intermission, Nae Il looks to be in a trance herself. Humming the opera’s beginning overture to herself, she sways in time with the music as we get up to walk about in the theatre’s lobby. The area isn’t all that large, especially with so many people from the audience milling about, and I cling desperately to her hand, lest we be separated, as she weaves her way through the crowd towards a corridor filled with display cases, each one featuring marionettes from past productions. Only once we are inside do I release her, giving her free rein as she dashes from case to case.

 

“Aren’t they amazing, Orabang?” she asks, her face just inches from the glass as she peers into the display.

 

“Mm,” I hum in response, adding a noncommittal nod.

 

To be honest, I find some of the marionettes, especially those with more grotesque features, rather unnerving to look at. It’s fortunate, then, that the ones used in this production of The Magic Flute have been an exception: with long heart-shaped faces – high cheekbones tapering down to pointed chins – aristocratic features and narrow slanted eyes, the marionettes we have been watching in this show have a certain ethereal fox-like beauty to them.

 

“What,” Nae Il quips back as soon as I tell her this, “like you?”

 

My jaw drops and I stare at her, incredulous.

 

“Mwo?”

 

But I don’t get a chance to demand an explanation from her, because, just then, the bell rings signalling that the intermission has come to an end and it is time for us to return to our seats.

 

The romance between Tamino and Pamina really gets underway in the second half of The Magic Flute – and, perhaps, that is why Nae Il’s mood shifts once the music starts. Whereas in the first half, she had been watching in childlike fascination, she is now once again snuggled up close to me, leaning her head against my arm.

 

In this position, we are actually able to whisper back and forth, our lips barely moving as we keep our voices down as much as possible.

 

“How…how does the singer do that?” Nae Il asks as we listen to the Queen of the Night’s famous aria, her furious vow to disown her own daughter coming through clearly in the melody’s extremely high ringing notes.

 

“That’s an example of a dramatic coloratura soprano,” I explain. “Not many people can do that.”

 

She pulls back away from me, shooting me a sideways glance. “Can Chae Do Kyung do that?”

 

“Ya, Seollebal – what are you bringing her up for?”

 

“Answer the question.”

 

“Ani. She can’t. While Chae Do Kyung is a soprano, she’s of a different sort.”

 

Seemingly satisfied with my response, Nae Il settles back down by my side, her lips twitching up into a smug smile.

 

Soon, that conversation is forgotten as, once again, she is drawn into the budding romance between the story’s hero and heroine. As with all good love stories, as Nae Il had put it once, this one is not without its struggles. Tamino must complete several challenges in his quest to win Pamina’s heart, and the one that pushes them almost to the breaking point is one that the two of us, Nae Il and I, know all too well.

 

“Poor Tamino,” she says with a sigh. “Pamina thinks he doesn’t love her – but he’s only staying silent because he has to in order to pass Sarastro’s challenge.”

 

Then, a moment’s pause later, she suddenly turns and peers up at me.

 

“Is that what it was like for you with the S Orchestra, Orabang?” she gasps. “When you had to act like you didn’t care about us when you were actually trying to save us from that Chairwoman?” Letting out a small plaintive whine, she grabs onto my arm. “That must have been awful – and to think I doubted you then the same way Pamina is now.”

 

There’s little I could do to reassure Nae Il then, but she eventually calms on her own as we watch the lovers’ reconciliation unfold on the stage before us. Now inseparable in their love for each other, Tamino and Pamina vow to face the final challenge together: passing through chambers filled with fire and water to test their courage.

 

I am able to watch indifferently as the two marionettes walk through the fire – really a section of the stage backlit in red – but as they approach the second chamber, that of water, I feel myself tense up involuntarily.

 

I know I’m being irrational. I know that the water isn’t real – that it’s just silvery metallic ribbons shimmering and fluttering about.

 

My reaction is also not as bad as it could have been. I did, after all, know this was coming, so it’s not like I am being caught off guard.

 

But still, despite all that, I also can’t help the way that, just for a moment, I feel as though I am somewhere in there, trapped underneath that torrential waterfall. Something seizes up inside my chest; my breath stops somewhere inside my throat, unable to go down into my lungs, pushed back by water that, although I know is only in my imagination, is no less real because of it.

 

The feeling of Nae Il’s hand snaking its way into mine jolts me back into reality. Her fingers interlace with mine, and she pushes down into my palm with a firm steadying pressure.

 

Desperate, I hold on fast to her, as tight as I can, only loosening my grip when I hear her let out an involuntary gasp in pain – one that she quickly schools into a reassuring smile when I apologize.

 

“Gwenchanayo, Orabang,” she whispers. “I don’t mind. Just do whatever it is you need to do.”

 

Up on the stage, Tamino, playing his flute all the while, slowly guides Pamina through the waterfall until they finally step out unscathed on the other side.

 

Down in the audience, we are doing the same. But for us, our roles are reversed: I am the one grasping onto Nae Il’s hand as she guides me, holding me up above the water so that I may live.

 

~~~~~

 

“You know, Orabang, I’ve been thinking.”

 

Arm in arm, the two of us are strolling leisurely through the Mirabell Gardens – on our way back home from the Marionette Theatre, yet also reluctant to call it a night just yet. The weather, after all, is gorgeous: not too warm and not too cold, a clear twilight sky and a gentle breeze. It is, perhaps, too dark for us to see the flowerbeds, but the sculptures and fountains scattered throughout are brightly illuminated: beacons of light in the encroaching darkness.

 

“About what?”

 

“About that scene from the opera: the water scene.”

 

My steps slow and then come to a halt.

 

“Ya, Seol Nae Il….”

 

“Listen to me, Orabang. It’s not what you think.”

 

I give her a skeptical look. “And do you know what I am thinking right now?”

 

She pauses for a moment, gathering her thoughts together, before she answers:

 

“You’re scared.”

 

“And that’s where you’d be wrong.” I pull myself free from Nae Il and start to walk briskly on ahead. “Why the hell would I be scared now?”

 

“I don’t mean it like that.”

 

Something about her voice, the tone that she uses as she calls out after me, makes me stop in my tracks once again. From the darkness behind me, I hear her continue:

 

“You’re not scared of that scene, or even the water itself. We both know that that’s not real. But you are scared that you can’t do the same thing for me that Tamino did for Pamina. You’re afraid that a day might come when you’re so busy fighting off your own demons that you can’t be there for me when I need you.”

 

Everyone must have those moments: those times when you don’t even know what you’re thinking or feeling until someone else puts it into words.

 

This is one of those times.

 

Slowly, I turn back around to face Nae Il: a small figure standing in the distance, one side of her face lit up by the lights surrounding the large fountain beside us, the other half obscured in shadow.

 

“Nae Il-ah….”

 

Smiling warmly at me, she comes closer, reaching out to take both of my hands in hers. Slowly, she takes several steps back, pulling me along gently until we both come to a stop, right by the fountain’s edge. The sound of the water, gushing and sputtering, rings loud in my ears, making me want to turn and walk away, but Nae Il, her eyes locked onto mine, tightens her grip, refusing to let go.

 

“Did you seriously think, Orabang, that Tamino wasn’t scared as well?”

 

“Mwo?”

 

“Why else do you think Sarastro challenged him to do it: to pass through fire and water?”

 

To be honest, the thought had never even crossed my mind before.

 

“And why do you think Pamina went with him?” Nae Il gives me a pointed look. “She didn’t have to, you know; the challenge was for Tamino alone.

 

“Babo – she joined him because she wanted to be there for him. And what was it that got them through it? The magic flute. Music. Music is what helped them both survive, just as it has helped both of us.”

 

Finally, what Nae Il is saying clicks together in my mind. So, this time, when I pull once more on her, I am not trying to break free; rather, when she lets go and stumbles forward in surprise, I catch her before she falls, my arms encircling her waist as I pull her towards me.

 

Sighing contently, she relaxes into my embrace, returning it as she rests her head against my chest. Emboldened by the way we are hidden from onlookers by the darkness, ever more pronounced by the glare of the lights surrounding the fountain beside us, I lower my head to rest on top of hers.

 

“Promise me, Nae Il-ah; promise me that, when the time comes, you will never let go.”

 

Our first trial is coming soon; a month from now, we will have to get on an airplane and fly back to Seoul. But I know that that will not be all. Fate will have other trials in store for us: some that we can predict, but others that will come completely without warning.

 

But with Seol Nae Il by my side, and with music forever linking us together, I know that I am not alone.

 

We will pass through life’s darkness into light.

 

Together.

 

Author's Note (in "Hidden Contents" Because of Spoilers)

 

Spoiler

I know that there were points when this story has a certain sense of finality to it. But don't worry - this isn't the end for Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il just yet! Nor, in fact, is my "Seolleim in Salzubrg" series anywhere near finished.

 

What has ended, though, is a major chapter in their lives together in Salzburg: the fics to come will have a whole new set of adventures and challenges in store for them, so stay tuned!

 

So here's the behind-the-scens look at this fic!

 

1. Springtime in Salzburg

 

This is one of the major running themes throughout this fic: things that happen every spring in Salzburg. In particular, there are two common traditions that I focused on here:

 

White Asparagus Season

 

For those who thought the first scene in this fic was a bit weird, I'm seriously not making this up. The white asparagus season, which lasts from mid-April to mid-June, is a huge deal in Germany and Austria (some other European countries, too, but mainly these two).

 

So why is white asparagus such a big deal? Because it is actually really hard to cultivate and harvest. White asparagus is actually the exact same plant as the more common green asparagus; the main difference is that is is grown in complete darkness: farmers cover the plants with either soil or plastic tarps to shield them from the sun, and they require constant monitoring to make sure they don't poke up too far and end up turning green.

 

Also, there is the fact that white asparagus is one of the first vegetables to come into season after the long winter season, so its appearance in markets like the Schrannenmarkt is a sign that spring and warm weather are finally here. For an example, here's a picture of a specialty asparagus stand from that same market: https://plus.google.com/photos/photo/107235371704777620307/6440194132615541394

 

And, for completeness' sake, here are some images of the Schrannenmarkt more generally, so you get a sense of what those stalls might look like:

 

17a6b687500e0b9c289a057cc99050c5.jpg

 

schranne_003388021.jpg

 

By the way, the bit that the stall owner tells Yoo Jin is also true: asparagus is commonly thought to be an aphrodisiac :wink: 

 

May Day Celebrations

 

Before it was a day used internationally for labour protests, May Day was a traditional celebration of spring in many parts of Europe. Many countries have their own version of the maypole celebration - the time when people gather together to raise a maypole and party - but the focus here, of course, is going to be on some Austrian traditions I found out about.

 

First of all, a quick disclaimer: while Austria and Germany are culturally distinct, in reality, there is also a good deal of overlap. More specifically, a lot of the things I'm associating with Austrian culture can also be found in the region of Bavaria in southern Germany - and, for some reason that I don't know, most of the stereotypes we have about German culture come from Bavaria specifically. So if any of these things come across to you as looking German instead, that may be why :wink: 

 

Most of the information about these traditions - like climbing and stealing (!) maypoles - come from this article here: https://www.salzburg.info/en/magazin/art-culture/of-maypole-climbers-maypole-thieves_a_282454 It might be easier for you all to read that than for me to repeat it all here.

 

As for the specific celebration at the Stiegl-Brauwelt, I've got something even better for you all: a video summarizing the festivities from the May Day celebration in 2011. Apologies in advance for the lack of English subtitles, but if it's any consolation to you, I can't understand the German either :tongue: So just go by what you see.

 

 

2. Nae Il's Dirndl

 

This is one instance where, in my virtual costume shopping, I couldn't find any one ensemble that just clicked for me as "the one". Instead, I took bits and pieces from a number of different dirndls, so here's a quick run-down of all of that.

 

The Dress (more specifically, the fabric, but also the length and general style)

 

Dirndl Theresa (GröÃe 40)

 

The Blouse (i.e. just the white part)

 

 

The Apron (FYI: I chose a pic where the bow would be tied on the same side as Nae Il's)

 

Barbarino Dirndl, Making Art from Traditional Costume "is the motto of Barbarino. - TRUST. Today, quality has a tradition in Salzburg

 

A quick word about dirndl aprons more generally: "On the left if you'Re single; on the right if you're taken" is only part of the traditional code for how the bows are tied. This graphic explains the whole thing (note: by "virgin", what's actually meant is that the wearer is a child or otherwise not yet of marriageable age - a girl who's a virgin but looking to flirt would still wear her bow on the left)

 

http://www.raredirndl.com where to tie your apron ties

 

The Hairstyle

 

Double Dutch Pigtails for Short Hair â A Beautiful Mess

 

3. The Whitsun Concert - Location and Costumes

 

Splitting this into two parts to make it easier to navigate. So, first of all, location: the concert in this fic is held in the Schloss Frohnburg, which was once an aristocrat's estate, but now actually belongs to the Mozarteum University and can be rented as a performance and event venue. It was also, as hinted in this fic, one of the filming locations for The Sound of Music: parts of the main building were used for the outside of the Von Trapp family's mansion.

 

The back façade (including the balcony on the second floor)

 

c05672300c969ac84feac63b7bded6e2.jpg

 

The performance room

 

Frohnburg_5_komprimiert.JPG

 

The main floor foyer

 

i_frohnburg_innen.jpg

 

And, again, for those who just need to have a visual....

 

Nae Il's Dress

 

Buy LYRA Sleeveless A-Line Midi Lace Cocktail Dress | YesStyle

 

Nae Il's Hairstyle

 

Korean hairstyle

 

Lana's Dress

 

Deep green tulle V neck short beaded belt party dress, short bridesmaid dress #prom #dress #promdress #promdresses

 

Lana's Hairstyle

 

The Half Up Lace Rose Hairstyle Pictures, Photos, and Images for Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter

 

4. The Whitsun Concert - The Music

 

Three main pieces were featured here, and a good deal of what I wanted to say about them is already in the fic. But here are some videos/audio files for your listening:

 

Partita No. 2 in C-Minor by Bach

 

Just a quick FYI: there is no requirement to use the "lute stop" in the "Rondeau" section (from about 16:00 to 17:30 in this video) of the Partita. I only had Nae Il do that in the fic because the harpsichordist here does that, and you can hear a noticeable difference in that one segment.

 

 

 

Violin Concerto in E-Major by Bach

 

Not much to say here, since I really don't feature this much in the fic - so just listen:

 

 

 

Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 by Bach

 

This piece is really fascinating for me, because it is, according to some music historians, the very first keyboard concerto (i.e. the first time that a keyboard instrument gets a major solo part in a concerto). The really long cadenza, which begins at around 6:20 in this video, was hugely innovative for Bach's time, and some think that he played it himself at the premiere in a virtuosic display of his own capabilities on the instrument (apparently, in most ensemble performances, he would play the viola, but not here!).

 

I do want to say, though, that I think Yoo Jin would have played the cadenza differently from the harpsichordist here: the player here slows down the tempo from time to time, most notably in the very beginning of the cadenza, but Yoo Jin, given his personality, I think would have just attacked it: launching into the cadenza at the same tempo that he had already been using, and really emphasizing the complicated technical fluorishes throughout.

 

 

 

5. The Salzburg Marionette Theatre and The Magic Flute

 

Just a quick shot of the inside of the auditorium in the marionette theatre before I launch into discussing the opera:

 

salzburg_theatre_IMG_7377-2.jpg

 

The Magic Flute and its narrative is something that I already discuss in the fic, so I won't go into more detail here. However, what I do want to do is share a few videos that may be able to help you visualize or hear some of what's going on.

 

First of all, a video featuring some miscellaneous excerpts from the Marionette Theatre's production (most of the scenes I discuss in more detail are visible here):

 

 

And, as a quick bonus, some videos of two of the most well-known numbers from this opera. Seriously, I mean it: chances are, even if you haven't heard these pieces in full before, or didn't know where they were from, some melodies would probably be almost immediately recognizable.

 

1. The Overture (i.e. the introductory music played before the action begins)

 

 

2. The Queen of the Night's aria (sung rather amazingly by German soprano Diana Damrau - and, yes, this is famously one of the most difficult and most impressive opera numbers out there. You can turn on Captions for a translation or just listen.) 

 

 

 

 

So, once again, if you've made it this far - thanks for reading!

 

If anyone wants to access a master list of all my fanfics and other Hallyu-related writings, you can find that by going to the "About Me" tab on my profile page. Enjoy reading!

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Okay - just four more of those "birthday countdown" quotes to go, so here they are!

 

Spoiler

1. Some things just come with time and experience - I'm sure JW will be able to deliver when he gets that dream romantic melo script he's always been wanting :wink: 

 

 

2. So, apparently, there's something going on in Instagram right now, so this particular quote is making a bit of a comeback...? I don't know what's going on, but it sounds like it's got something to do with an anti-fan and JW's own Instagram account or...well, if someone knows, please fill me in.

 

In the meantime, I've always loved how there's just a little bit of sass in this comment, especially the ending ("Who are these people? I'd like to meet them"). :tongue: 

 

 

3. Speaking of negative comments...this is one life lesson that fans had a chance to actually witness JW learning over the course of his career. Kudos, Oppa, for coming so far from the self-debasement that we saw on 1N2D to the strong and confident young man that we see today :) 

 

 

4. lol - Can I just say that I love how this quote condenses down to, "Being fake is too much work, so I'll just be lazy and be myself"? :tongue: Like, seriously - that's awesome!

 

 

 

So that's it for this particular fan's collection of favourite JW quotes! :)

 

It's been a lot of fun reading, reflecting on and then sharing these with you. And I hope maybe some of the things that have been said here have brightened your days.

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Hello! I comeback! Sorry for the long absence. Fyi, I'm writing this in the afternoon. Usually I reply at midnight but now I don't have time because I will take a test. So for you that asking about that one person in Joo won's Instagram account, I will answer it. 

 

There is one person that think Joo won and Yoo ah in hack her account. So she is spamming their account with random crazy comments. I understand what she was saying in Joo won's Instagram account. She said that Joo won hacked her account but everytime people ask for proof, she keeps silent and not giving any proof at all. Actually, I think that she is not in her right mind. She also spamming and bashing Yoo ah in in his Instagram account. The reason is same. She said that Yoo ah in is hacking her. You can see her comments in yoo ah in's Instagram.

 

I don't believe her because first, she never give any proof. Second, logically, Joo won is a busy person that never get enough sleep and eat regularly. Why he want to waste his time for stranger that he doesn't know. Btw, she is an Indonesian and as we know that Joo won just communicate with people with same language as him like korean. Third, why famous celebrities like Joo won and Yoo ah in want to hack "a not so important" person like her. There are many more reason why I don't believe her. Believe in Joo won. I think she is hallucinating.

 

 

If she was right, just give the proof that it will be clear. But she keeps bothering Joo won and yoo ah in in their Instagram. I think she is seeking for attention. Her english is not even right. It doesn't have grammar. Her subject is always changing and she always play the conversation. 

 

If see is the victim, just give the proof and it will be end. But she is not stopping and just keeps spamming random crazy thoughts in her mind. She even humiliated my friend that asking for the proof. She said my friend is a prostitute and all people is hacking her. SHE SAID EVERYONE KNOWS HOW TO HACK A PERSON. But now, I just laughing what she writes in Joo won's and Yoo ah in's Instagram. Her comments is so random that it become very funny. Sometimes, she tag random person and talking nonsense. Just don't take her comments very serious. She already like that for a long time. :lol::lol:

 

By the way, I know her for a long time. I mean knowing her is I just know her account. I don't know her personally. So I little bit know what is her motive. 

 

Sometimes, I want to reply her comments. But who wants to waste their time just for a rock? She is not moving at all. I've been watching and reading all conversations that my friends and that person from the first to the end. But she still not give any proof. She even offend and bullying my friend. It gave me a lesson, don't waste your precious time for something that don't give you benefits. Just leave her alone with her "wonderful delusional" world. But I reported her for spamming and bullying. 

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Thanks for the explanation, @moonstrike - I don't regularly check JW's own Instagram page, so that's probably why I didn't know about this until now.

 

To be honest, from what I see, that's just classic trolling and/or extreme fan behaviour - and relatively harmless at that. There are some accusations that I would be more worried about, but hacking...unless some direct harm came out of said hack, it's not really something that would, say, cause a scandal or whatnot. So I personally doubt this is someone who's trying to besmirch JW's reputation or anything like that, because, if that was her goal...there are more effective and hurtful ways to do it.

 

But what I do find concerning here is how some people so idolize a celebrity that they desire any sort of direct contact, even if it means having to fabricate it. Like, this is the sort of fan who might, say, take a singer's "you" lyrics in a love song and think it's speaking directly to them. Um, no, it's not. But that sort of thing does happen a lot.

 

What I'm actually here for right now, though, is to share today's goodies. :) The same fan who did the "birthday countdown" quotes also made some really fun fan videos that I want to show you, where clips from JW's dramas are edited to make fake trailers for Hollywood films.

 

So I've found two of those, and I want to share them here - because I think they're really fun and creative. Each video is spread out over two Instagram posts because of length, so make sure you watch everything :wink: 

 

Spoiler

1. "Inception" Trailer - Using clips from "Yong Pal"

 

What "Inception" is about (from IMDB):

Quote

Dom Cobb is a thief with the rare ability to enter people's dreams and steal their secrets from their subconscious. His skill has made him a hot commodity in the world of corporate espionage but has also cost him everything he loves. Cobb gets a chance at redemption when he is offered a seemingly impossible task: Plant an idea in someone's mind. If he succeeds, it will be the perfect crime, but a dangerous enemy anticipates Cobb's every move.

 

 

2. "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" Trailer - Using clips from "Gaksital"

 

What "Mr. ad Mrs. Smith" is about (from IMDB):

Quote

John and Jane Smith are a normal married couple, living a normal life in a normal suburb and working normal jobs, too. However, in reality, John and Jane are both skilled assassins working for different firms, both the best in their field, each concealing their true profession from the other. When both are assigned to kill a man named Benjamin Danz, nicknamed "The Tank", they encounter each other on the job and discover the truth. Both employers task one Smith to eliminate the other, and each must choose between their personal and professional lives.

 

 

 

And...that's it for today.

 

Just one more quick announcement before I go: I won't have a chance to post anything new for the next few days (until either Saturday or Sunday, depending on my schedule). So if you don't see me coming online for hours or days, don't worry: I'm not dead, just busy :wink: 

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And...I'm back. A bit surprised to find that nothing's happened over the course of my absence, but I guess it's a busy time for people? (I don't know what school/work schedules are like across the world, but my guess is that it's bound to be exams for someone out there...?)

 

Anyway, here I am with today's miscellaneous pics.

 

Spoiler

Behind the scenes on "Sweet Sixteen"

 

 

Really liking how these shots from Mountia turned out

 

 

A couple of mask pics

 

 

 

These next few shots are just cute :) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just stopping by with some pics for today, since things are still quiet here.

 

Spoiler

The plaid blazer is something that can get really loud, but he pulls it off well here.

 

 

I'm really liking the candid quality of this shot

 

 

A few behind-the-scenes shots from "Yong Pal"

 

 

 

 

Add "My Sassy Girl" for a bonus here

 

 

Some of Han Gil Ro's many rather cute and funny expressions on "Level 7 Civil Servant"

 

 

Dashing and dapper 

 

 

 

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Okay, usually, I'd leave @moonstrike to make these announcements, since she already does so on Instagram, and whatever I get is from her account anyway. :tongue: But since she's been busy lately and I'm holding the fort on my own for the time being...please forgive me for stepping in just this once:

 

In short: JW has another performance lined up, this time on Thursday, May 24! (Announcement is in the caption; the poster's the second pic in the slideshow)

 

 

And now for pics!

 

Spoiler

Saw some people chatting about wanting to watch JW acting with Moon Chae Won again on Instagram, so here are some cute pics for you all :) 

 

10029b6a247af3499576ae13186a8a85.jpg

 

bc6b86872e4b4744eba0ca91c39d6176.jpg

 

97e0c88007b1f6f4844017ea79687c90.jpg

 

And, because there was some talk about JW and Kim Tae Hee as well...

 

0d3b6f350994d8b455e2f6f0f7bf7928.jpg

 

Interesting observation in the caption here - I honestly wouldn't have noticed if this fan hadn't commented on it first :wink: 

 

 

 

Finally, before I sign off for today, just a quick fic-related update. 

 

I have started work on my next fic! It's something that I had originally wanted to do for Mother's Day (May 13), but the idea was not coming together fast enough for that (and I've learned from experience not to force the muse unless I absolutely have a deadline to meet :wink: - makes for bad writing if I do). So, even though the holiday's already over, I've bee keeping this one on the back burner and, finally, something's starting to actually come of it.

 

Which drama will it be for? Take a guess!

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Just popping by with some pics for today:

 

Spoiler

Some pictures of his red carpet look - I love how it's not all that snazzy or out-there: just a simple black tux done right :) 

 

 

 

I think we'll be getting some new pics really soon, but here are some from an earlier performance with the military

 

 

I'm really liking how this magazine spread turned out

 

 

I remember there was this one throwaway line in "Nae Il's Cantabile" where Seol Nae Il said that Cha Yoo Jin looked hot while he was drinking. And, well, about that....

 

 

(Like, seriously, shots of JW drinking water seem to be an actual thing???)

 

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Okay, so based on what I've heard, the aforementioned military event/performance that JW was supposed to be in today has been postponed. Don't ask me why or until when, because I don't know - sorry!

 

But that being said, we do have a new pic, which I daresay is at least some consolation.

 

 

And I'm also here with this week's Throwback Thursday pics!

 

Spoiler

Cute shot from JW's birthday celebration from 2013 on the set of "Good Doctor"

 

 

I'm not entirely sure when these pictures were from, but they're too cute not to share :wink: 

 

 

 

A shot of JW as Lee Ho Tae in "Catch Me"

 

 

Chibi "Gaksital" Fanart - along with the actual behind-the-scenes photo that inspired it

 

 

Some shots from when JW was promoting "Ghost" with IVY

 

 

 

And, of course, if we're talking about "Ghost", we can't forget Park Ji Yeon as well

 

 

Finally, to end it off for today, a collage of behind-the-scenes shots from "Good Doctor"

 

 

 

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Hello! My name is Nita, I’m from Finland and I’m a newbie fan of Joowon. I just revived my old account after finding out this topic was active even him being in the army. It’s so great you guys are here keeping the fandom fed even when JW doesn’t have many activities! I’d love to know more about him, so I hope I can learn new things from the people who know him the best. I’m looking forward to get to know the other fans and later, when Joowon has been discharged, maybe fangirl together..? I have a couple of social media accounts and follow Joowon there, but currently I’m not posting about him except on my private acct, which is like a diary of my embarrassing fangirling haha ^_^

 

My journey with Joowon in short: I only found about him a little over two months ago. That’s right. I don’t have any other excuse than that I never stumbled on any of his dramas before. I’m very picky when it comes to K-dramas and after very boring drama year of 2017, I gave up. I just didn’t want to force myself to watch them anymore. Until this year I decided to give it an another chance. So I read drama reviews from various top drama lists and Good Doctor was mentioned on many of them. I checked it, and I was hooked from the very first episode. I fell in love with the story and the characters, and I was rooting for Park Si-On with all of my heart. At first I didn’t think about the actor behind the character, but after finishing Good Doctor I immediately started watching another drama from him. Yong-Pal, Bridal Mask, Steal My Heart, Naeil’s Cantabile (which is my second favorite after GD btw). I loved most of his work, and after seeing his many interviews I also fell in love with his personality and cuteness :wub:

 

I thought that I need a place to declare my love for Joowon’s work and the man himself, and this forum may be it. I’m not a very good writer, plus I’m only using mobile devices, so my posts may be a little dull. But hopefully I can visit here from time to time and contribute something. Looking forward to meet you all!

 

P.S. I’ve met a few JW fans on Instagram and I have to say this; his intl fandom seems to be very sweet and caring. Thank you for the warm welcome!

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1 hour ago, green_cardigan said:

Hello! My name is Nita, I’m from Finland and I’m a newbie fan of Joowon. I just revived my old account after finding out this topic was active even him being in the army. It’s so great you guys are here keeping the fandom fed even when JW doesn’t have many activities! I’d love to know more about him, so I hope I can learn new things from the people who know him the best. I’m looking forward to get to know the other fans and later, when Joowon has been discharged, maybe fangirl together..?

 

Hello @green_cardigan! Welcome to JW's forum here on Soompi! It's always great having a new face around here :) 

 

And now I'm learning something new - that Hallyu's also made it over to Finland :wink: 

 

 

You'd be right in guessing that things on this forum are quiet. I only joined after his enlistment started, so I don't really know what it was like here prior to that - nor do I know if the situation here is typical for a fan forum during a celebrity's enlistment (since this is the only thread I'm active on). But given that, please, feel free to share or talk about anything.

 

1 hour ago, green_cardigan said:

My journey with Joowon in short: I only found about him a little over two months ago. That’s right. I don’t have any other excuse than that I never stumbled on any of his dramas before. I’m very picky when it comes to K-dramas and after very boring drama year of 2017, I gave up. I just didn’t want to force myself to watch them anymore. Until this year I decided to give it an another chance. So I read drama reviews from various top drama lists and Good Doctor was mentioned on many of them. I checked it, and I was hooked from the very first episode. I fell in love with the story and the characters, and I was rooting for Park Si-On with all of my heart. At first I didn’t think about the actor behind the character, but after finishing Good Doctor I immediately started watching another drama from him. Yong-Pal, Bridal Mask, Steal My Heart, Naeil’s Cantabile (which is my second favorite after GD btw). I loved most of his work, and after seeing his many interviews I also fell in love with his personality and cuteness :wub:

 

Short, long, doesn't matter as far as I'm concerned :) 

 

Just so we're even, I'll give you a little bit of my own story: I only started watching K-dramas in the middle of 2015, and I became a fan of JW's from the beginning of 2016 until now. So, maybe that's a long time compared to two months, but I'm not one of those who's been following him or his work from the start either. If "Good Doctor" was the drama that got you started, then "King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu" was mine - I found Gu Ma Jun really intriguing as a character, but what made me really like JW as a person was watching an interview he did for that drama, where he said that he was "more innocent" than either Kang Dong Won or TOP (in case you hadn't heard: when he first started out, a lot of people said JW resembled both of those guys in terms of appearance). And that really blew my mind, since 1) growing up and living here in the West (I'm Canadian), I seldom hear people talking about innocence or purity as a matter of pride, and 2) I'm someone who really wants to be like that myself, and so I immediately latched onto JW as a potential role model. So far, he hasn't disappointed me yet, so I like to think I made the right choice :wink: 

 

As for my own favourite dramas of JW's....hard to say. But if I had to rank them....I think my favourite JW dramas were "Bridal Mask", "Good Doctor", "Nae Il's Cantabile" and "Yong Pal", in no particular order. And my favourite of the characters JW's played are Park Si On, Cha Yoo Jin, and Kim Tae Hyun.

 

(Sorry if I'm gushing a lot - it's been, as I'd said before, really quiet here lately. So I'm always hoping to be able to chat with someone about this, and, like you, this forum seems to me to be the place to do it.)

 

1 hour ago, green_cardigan said:

I thought that I need a place to declare my love for Joowon’s work and the man himself, and this forum may be it. I’m not a very good writer, plus I’m only using mobile devices, so my posts may be a little dull. But hopefully I can visit here from time to time and contribute something. Looking forward to meet you all!

 

Oh, there's no need to worry about that! Sometimes, we end up chatting about a lot, but other times, it's just one or two of us stopping by whenever we can to share photos we've found via social media. Things ebb and flow a lot around here, so whether you write a little or a lot, it's always going to be welcome.

 

So I personally like sharing some photos each day if I can, but my main gig is fan-fiction (which, if you've backtracked through this forum prior to posting, you may already know). But different people have different talents - some are great with photo-editing or video-editing, but I suck at both of those, so I leave them to that while I just write :tongue: So just go with whatever you're the most comfortable with.

 

My impression is that this is a forum that doesn't have all that many people actively posting, but there are always people reading, so even if you don't get a reply per se...just know that whatever you share is being seen and appreciated :) 

 

And with all that being said, here are the pics I've chosen to share for today :wink: 

 

Spoiler

I love seeing how JW interacts with fans - what must it be like to go to a fan meeting like this?

 

 

A couple of pics of Cha Yoo Jin (since he seems to be a favourite around here - both here on Soompi and on Instagram)

 

 

 

Okay, the caption here is cracking me up :tongue: 

 

 

A collage of JW's drama roles - including "Love Express", even though it has yet to go on air (Seriously, though, can anyone please enlighten us as to why the Chinese dramas always take so long?!?!)

 

 

 

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Thank you @kittyna for welcoming me! And thank you for sharing your story about how you found Joowon and what you like about him. It’s always interesting to read those stories. I haven’t backtracked this forum very far, so most of what I’ve read have been your posts haha. You make the posts so interesting that I have to stop and read everything :D 

 

I still need to learn how this forum works, how to quote and link pictures and such. I was here last time in 2016 and the mobile version was so clumsy to use. During past 1,5 years they haven’t updated anything...

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17 hours ago, kittyna said:

And now I'm learning something new - that Hallyu's also made it over to Finland :wink:

@kittyna Actually, I think there are many Hallyu fans here in Finland. You can’t hear k-pop on the radio but top songs usually chart, and I’ve met many Finnish fans online. Almost my whole family listens to k-pop and j-pop and watch dramas, and when I call to my mom we sometimes talk about music and idols and which dramas we’ve seen and recommend. I’m a 30+ fan but it’s okay since my mom is older haha. Hallyu attracts people of all ages :D

 

17 hours ago, kittyna said:

Just so we're even, I'll give you a little bit of my own story: I only started watching K-dramas in the middle of 2015, and I became a fan of JW's from the beginning of 2016 until now. So, maybe that's a long time compared to two months, but I'm not one of those who's been following him or his work from the start either. If "Good Doctor" was the drama that got you started, then "King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu" was mine - I found Gu Ma Jun really intriguing as a character, but what made me really like JW as a person was watching an interview he did for that drama, where he said that he was "more innocent" than either Kang Dong Won or TOP (in case you hadn't heard: when he first started out, a lot of people said JW resembled both of those guys in terms of appearance). And that really blew my mind, since 1) growing up and living here in the West (I'm Canadian), I seldom hear people talking about innocence or purity as a matter of pride, and 2) I'm someone who really wants to be like that myself, and so I immediately latched onto JW as a potential role model. So far, he hasn't disappointed me yet, so I like to think I made the right choice :wink: 

 

As for my own favourite dramas of JW's....hard to say. But if I had to rank them....I think my favourite JW dramas were "Bridal Mask", "Good Doctor", "Nae Il's Cantabile" and "Yong Pal", in no particular order. And my favourite of the characters JW's played are Park Si On, Cha Yoo Jin, and Kim Tae Hyun.

 

(Sorry if I'm gushing a lot - it's been, as I'd said before, really quiet here lately. So I'm always hoping to be able to chat with someone about this, and, like you, this forum seems to me to be the place to do it.)

 

I haven’t seen King of Baking yet... I think it’ll be next after I finish 7th Grade Civil Servant. You made me curious about Joowon’s character. The drama itself is a little bit too long for me, but after managing to watch total 10 episodes of My Sassy Girl, I can take anything :tongue:

 

I’ve been a fan of Madtown’s Jota (now actor Lee Jonghwa) for a long time. He’s a guy with a lot of talent but has a humble and kind personality. Hardworking, honest, kindhearted, cute but manly Joowon is just my type so no wonder I opened my heart to him as well.

 

Please feel free to gush haha I will be here reading it all. Yeah my timing with JW sucks, but better late than never, right? He will have his comeback in less than a year. He sometimes does IG lives or vlives with fans, doesn’t he? I can’t wait!

 

17 hours ago, kittyna said:

So I personally like sharing some photos each day if I can, but my main gig is fan-fiction (which, if you've backtracked through this forum prior to posting, you may already know). But different people have different talents - some are great with photo-editing or video-editing, but I suck at both of those, so I leave them to that while I just write :tongue: So just go with whatever you're the most comfortable with.

 

My impression is that this is a forum that doesn't have all that many people actively posting, but there are always people reading, so even if you don't get a reply per se...just know that whatever you share is being seen and appreciated :) 

 

Thank you for keeping this forum alive :wub: Yes, there are many who read the posts (especially new fans who want to know everything about their new crush, ahem). I haven’t read fanfics so I’m kinda noob in that, but you definitely have the talent of writing! I’d love to share some Joowon pics here, but apparently I’d need to save them someplace at first e.g. on Instagram..? I’m trying to figure that out later.

 

Something that I’ve been watching over and over:

[ENG] 151012 Healing Camp - Joo Won - Part 1

[ENG] 151012 Healing Camp - Joo Won - Part 2

Edited by green_cardigan
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Hello everyone!  Another Newbie onboard…:D:D

Since Gooddoctor I’ve been lurking around Joowon’s news everywhere.  This forum is the most interesting with @kittyna @moonstrike ’s lovely conversations and fanfics. The older Moat and Garden things are so funny that I couldn’t help laughing hard. I must make sure I’m in my private space before visiting the forum.  This forum is so well established, over so many years and pages, kept up by generations of super fangirls ( I assume you are mostly ladies) just really amazing.  I’m not a creative person, somewhat dull, with very limited contribution but I think I must show some support at least by giving sort of response at quiet days.  Hope that will cheer up our best contributors to continue on their writings.   

My road to JW fandom began with Park Si-on.  Before Gooddoctor, Kdrama was not in my world of entertainment.  Park Si-on was so special that at first I thought the director found a real autistic person (or someone not as reactive as usual) as the actor.  Later on I saw an entertainment news that JW appeared in an airport for fanmeeting.  That surprised me “is that him? You kidding me – so tall, so fresh, so normal”.  Then I started to look for news and video to know more about him.  The more I read, the more I admired his personality.  Just like being attracted by a huge magnet.  Until now, I’ve watched every drama of JW many rounds.  Each time I enjoyed with more findings about the story, the plot and the character through his superb acting.  I love every hero he portrayed, which was so vivid and real that my emotions followed the character’s up and down easily.  Now when I look at a picture of JW, I can tell which character is that or its himself actually behind the scene.  I never recognize any other actor having such a talent.  :rolleyes::rolleyes:

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5 hours ago, green_cardigan said:

Actually, I think there are many Hallyu fans here in Finland. You can’t hear k-pop on the radio but top songs usually chart, and I’ve met many Finnish fans online. Almost my whole family listens to k-pop and j-pop and watch dramas, and when I call to my mom we sometimes talk about music and idols and which dramas we’ve seen and recommend. I’m a 30+ fan but it’s okay since my mom is older haha. Hallyu attracts people of all ages :D

 

Well, I don't want to say exactly how old I am, but I will say that I would actually count many of the current big Hallyu stars as peers rather than really clear-cut "Oppas". I am still younger than JW, though, so he's still "Oppa". :tongue: 

 

I do want to say, though, that I'm definitely more a K-drama fan than a K-pop fan - so I don't really listen to the bands or artists or stuff like that (the main one I do listen to is BoA - and, before anyone asks, my doing so completely predates her relationship with JW, so I like her music on its own terms, and not because of that connection). But K-pop is a big deal here in North America as well, although things get a bit iffy sometimes, with people accusing each other of being "koreaboos", fan wars, and stuff like that. I...try to stay out of it and just leave my fangirling to two main places: this site, and my Pinterest account, where all I do is maintain a huge collection of pics of various Hallyu stars, JW included.

 

5 hours ago, green_cardigan said:

I haven’t seen King of Baking yet... I think it’ll be next after I finish 7th Grade Civil Servant. You made me curious about Joowon’s character. The drama itself is a little bit too long for me, but after managing to watch total 10 episodes of My Sassy Girl, I can take anything :tongue:

 

"King of Baking" is an interesting drama, as far as I'm concerned. It is a bit soap opera-y (i.e. makjang) so you'll have to take a lot of the plot with a grain of salt. But I found Gu Ma Jun (a.k.a. Joo Won) to be a very fascinating character, as far as antagonists go - he's the sort of guy who completely gets on your nerves, but rather than wanting to see him crash and burn like some other villains, you want to see him make a turn-around and redeem himself :wink: 

 

5 hours ago, green_cardigan said:

I’ve been a fan of Madtown’s Jota (now actor Lee Jonghwa) for a long time. He’s a guy with a lot of talent but has a humble and kind personality. Hardworking, honest, kindhearted, cute but manly Joowon is just my type so no wonder I opened my heart to him as well.

 

I'm actually finding that to be a bit of a norm in the Korean entertainment industry so far. Of course, it's not perfect - and I live in constant fear that some big scandal's going to come along that will just crush my hopes (like, I've literally had a "Me Too"-style nightmare about JW once, and it's one of the rare times that I was so agitated that I jolted awake) - but for the most part, stories like the drinking and drugs and sleeping around and things like that that I associate with the entertainment industry back home in North America are relatively few and far between in Korea. At least from what I've seen; I could be wrong, but let's hope I'm not.

 

5 hours ago, green_cardigan said:

He will have his comeback in less than a year. He sometimes does IG lives or vlives with fans, doesn’t he? I can’t wait!

 

He does. If you haven't seen his Instagram or V Live accounts, I highly recommend them.

 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zu.won_moon.jun.won/

 

V Live: http://channels.vlive.tv/FD143/video

 

He's a bit of a dork in both of these social media accounts, but that's what makes them interesting. If you go through his posts, you'll see someone who's more of a shy boy-next-door than a celebrity, and I love that.

 

5 hours ago, green_cardigan said:

I haven’t read fanfics so I’m kinda noob in that, but you definitely have the talent of writing! I’d love to share some Joowon pics here, but apparently I’d need to save them someplace at first e.g. on Instagram..?

 

I'm not sure how to share pictures via the mobile version of Soompi (since I use my computer), but here's hoping you manage to figure it out!

 

As for the fanfics, if you would please forgive the shameless self-promotion for a second, you can find links to all of mine by going to the "About Me" tab on my profile page. Again, I'm not entirely sure how to navigate to that in the mobile version of the site, but feel free to explore around and you should find them :wink: 

 

1 hour ago, soomoi said:

Hello everyone!  Another Newbie onboard…:D:D

Since Gooddoctor I’ve been lurking around Joowon’s news everywhere.  This forum is the most interesting with @kittyna @moonstrike ’s lovely conversations and fanfics. The older Moat and Garden things are so funny that I couldn’t help laughing hard. I must make sure I’m in my private space before visiting the forum.  This forum is so well established, over so many years and pages, kept up by generations of super fangirls ( I assume you are mostly ladies) just really amazing.  I’m not a creative person, somewhat dull, with very limited contribution but I think I must show some support at least by giving sort of response at quiet days.  Hope that will cheer up our best contributors to continue on their writings.   

 

And...yet another new face! Annyeong, @soomoi!

 

 

As I'd said to @green_cardigan the other day, please feel free to share anything: short, long, a little, a lot, it doesn't matter :) 

 

1 hour ago, soomoi said:

My road to JW fandom began with Park Si-on.  Before Gooddoctor, Kdrama was not in my world of entertainment.  Park Si-on was so special that at first I thought the director found a real autistic person (or someone not as reactive as usual) as the actor.  Later on I saw an entertainment news that JW appeared in an airport for fanmeeting.  That surprised me “is that him? You kidding me – so tall, so fresh, so normal”.  Then I started to look for news and video to know more about him.  The more I read, the more I admired his personality.  Just like being attracted by a huge magnet.  Until now, I’ve watched every drama of JW many rounds.  Each time I enjoyed with more findings about the story, the plot and the character through his superb acting.  I love every hero he portrayed, which was so vivid and real that my emotions followed the character’s up and down easily.  Now when I look at a picture of JW, I can tell which character is that or its himself actually behind the scene.  I never recognize any other actor having such a talent.  :rolleyes::rolleyes:

 

That's an awesome story, too; thanks for sharing!

 

There isn't really anything like Park Si On when it comes to JW's acting. I've heard some people say that that's his best performance to date - not necessarily his best drama, since there's more going into that than just his acting, but his own personal best in bringing a character to life. It's like, even from a still, you could tell that Park Si On was a character with autism, and that's because JW finely honed in on all the little details: posture, expression (including the really subtle micro-expressions), the look in his eyes, everything. It wasn't just about the script or how he delivered his lines; it was completely immersive full-body acting. 

 

With JW's other characters, what you'll really see is the contrast between when he's in his role and when he's being himself, because the personalities will be really different. However, JW himself has said that he and Park Si On were alike in personality, and I could see that, too.

 

And speaking of "Good Doctor", this just came out: KBS drama 'Good Doctor' will also be re-made in Japan

 

To be honest, I was really excited for the American re-make at first, and then I watched the first episode - and while so many people were saying how good it was, I was sorely disappointed. I think they did a great job with the main character, and the actor in that case, Freddie Highmore, did win me over in his portrayal. But it was the stuff outside of the original story that they added (like an obligatory sex scene - I call it that, because it feels like no American TV drama can exist without one, even if it's barely relevant to the plot) that made me lose interest in watching it myself really early on. I'd gotten into Korean dramas to get away from that sort of entertainment here in Canada, so I didn't appreciate it all being thrown back into the "Good Doctor" re-make. <_<

 

But I did want to see the American version of "Good Doctor" do well, and I was happy to see it getting good ratings and being nominated for awards.

 

Here's hoping that the Japanese version will also succeed! :)

 

And - finally! - time for pics!

 

Spoiler

This picture is one that I know I've shared before, but I'm sharing it again for the new folks. It's one of my personal favourite shots of JW ever, because I love the really innocently trusting way that he's looking at his fans here.

 

 

I'm liking this collage of pics from the first episode of "Yong Pal"

 

 

Some miscellaneous shots from JW's travels - I know the picture on the upper right is from Thailand in 2016, and the one on the bottom right is from Hong Kong in 2017, but I'm not sure about the one on the left

 

 

Cute moment from "Good Doctor"

 

7ae2b3d09c4a66550b339a5460f135b2.jpg

 

Someone put together these shots of Kim Young Kwang and JW - I love how JW's sitting here; he looks like a bored little kid

 

 

JW with Shim Eun Kyung during promotions for "Nae Il's Cantabile" in Japan - I don't ship them romantically (although I do their characters :wink:), but I think they had a really cute oppa-dongsaeng relationship in the actual brother-sister/friendship sense.

 

 

 

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