|MH| Solace: Chapter 3



Chapter 1: Sunset

Chapter 2: Moon & Stars

Chapter 3: Dawning of A New Day

MAY 3, 1998, Sunday

      As the sweet melodies of the early birds whistled through the air, Jinwon stirred in his sleep and woke up. He felt a chill as the spring breeze blew to his direction. He tried to reach for a blanket only to realize that he had slept outside and not back home.

      He scratched his eyes and stretched like there was no tomorrow, groaning like a tired old man after a day’s harvest. On usual mornings, he would wake up and fall back asleep again feeling like he hadn’t gotten enough sleep. Today was different. He felt refreshed, new, and happy. His head was above the clouds as if he had gotten slightly high on something. Waking up was like the greatest thing he had felt in a long time.

      It must be a brand new day,” he smiled.

      He turned to his left and found the 17 year old girl still sleeping soundly. It made him giggle finding his dongsaeng adorable with her eyes closed and her features gently painting the happiness deep inside her.

      He brushed off the grass from his coat and covered Yoon-hee with it as a blanket. The dawn was still slightly cold even though it was already spring turning summer. He didn’t want Yoon-hee to stir because of that.

      He pursed his lips to a pout and took a deep breath. I hope she doesn’t continue hurting because of last night…” He sighed and caressed her hair softly. When she stirred a bit, TaeYeon immediately withdrew his hand and giggled. Probably shouldn’t have done that…”

      “Oppa?” Yoon-hee’s eyes slowly opened.

      “Good morning, Yoongie,” Jinwon giggled.

      “Yoongie?” Yoon-hee chuckled. “Where did you get that name?”

      “I don’t know. It sounds cute,” Jinwon shrugged. “Don’t you like it?”

      “It’s alright,” Yoon-hee laughed. She scratched her eyes and stretched her arms to wake herself up. Then she asked, “What time is it?”

      “Early,” Jinwon said as he looked back to see if the sun could be seen. “The sun hasn’t even risen yet.”

      Gruugh gruurgh~~

      “What was that?”  Jinwon laughed.

      “Oops, sorry. That was my stomach,” Yoon-hee sheepishly chuckled. “Every time I wake up, it automatically tells me it’s hungry…”

      “Should we go home now, then?”

      Yoon-hee sulked and sighed. The thought of seeing her father almost lost her appetite. She argued with him when she wasn’t supposed to last night. She loved her father very much, but facing him after seeing her mother, she didn’t know if she could do it.

      “Let’s go eat somewhere else,” Yoon-hee said.


      “I know a place,” Yoon-hee smiled.


      “So what is this place?” Jinwon asked as they entered a homey, red-and-yellow diner having an American feel to it. Comfy red seats were attached to every corner of the place and on the walls were photos of mouth-watering burgers and other dishes. Some of the dishes had a mixture of Korean dishes, too.

      “It’s MAX, just a small restaurant set up a few years ago. They have really good chicken and burgers. The best thing about this place is that it’s fast and cheap!”

      “I’m impressed,” Jinwon nodded. “They’re open at such an early hour.”

      “They close really early, though. They’re really more of a morning kind of restaurant.”

      “Oh, Yoon-hee!” a tall slim man with a captivating smile spotted the two from the open backroom of the restaurant and went out to greet them.

      “Changsu Oppa,” Yoon-hee smiled back as she held up a hand which Changsu gladly high-fived. “Good morning!”

      Changsu then turned to Jinwon and greeted him, “Hello there. I believe we haven’t met before.” Jinwon just slightly bowed his head and awkwardly said hi back.

      “This is Jinwon Oppa. He’s my cousin.” Yoon-hee then turned to Jinwon, “Jinwon Oppa, this is Changsu Oppa. I believe he is a Hyung older than you, right?”

      “20 years old, that’s right,” Changsu nodded.

      “Nice to meet you,” Jinwon flashed a friendly smile.

      “You too,” Changsu patted his back roughly, shaking Jinwon off guard. He’d never met such a friendly guy before. People here in Jeonju are really nice folks, Jinwon thought.

      “So, what brings you both here so early?” Changsu asked. “Here for a breakfast special?”

      “Yes, please!” Yoon-hee’s eyes sparkled… she drooled comically, too.

      “Then your order will be placed!” Changsu snapped his fingers. “Go and choose a table. Your breakfast will be served!”


      “MAXsh ish tochally the besth!” Yoon-hee exclaimed with a mouthful as she savored every bite of her breakfast.

      “Slow down there, kid. Food just arrived like two minutes ago and it’s like you’ve already devoured half of it,” Jinwon laughed.

      “Sorry,” Yoon-hee cutely chuckled. “I’m just really, really huuungry… walking all the way from the hill to town was tiring.”

      “I’m really impressed that you never gain weight by gulping down food with that alligator mouth of yours. Like seriously, you eat like this every day—like it’s a feast before you!”

      “I just really have nice genes,” Yoon-hee chuckled. “I mean look at this beautiful face. It’s to kill for, isn’t it?” she joked, fluttering her eyes cutely for Jinwon.

      “Aigoo… Tch,” Jinwon laughed, “whatever, you cute alligator.”

The chimes echoed through the empty restaurant indicating that someone went in. The two teenagers were too engulfed in their own little world of laughter that they didn’t notice who just entered.

      “Changsu-yah,” a woman huffed and demanded, “Serve me some bulgogi!”

      “Oh? We don’t serve bulgogi here…”

      “I don’t care. My brother makes the best bulgogi around here and you are his son. You should respect me and what I want. Go and make me bulgogi. Go.” She shooed him off like a fly causing Changsu to frown.

      “You should go before I call Dad. You know he doesn’t want to see you around.” Though he tried his best to sound stern, his gentle nature just gave him away. He pitied his aunt very much, and as much as he wanted to scold her, he couldn’t because she was still older than him.

      “Well aren’t you a good boy at heart, Changsu-yah? You know how messed up I am so why don’t you stop pushing me away and just serve me some food? Then I’ll never come back. Believe me; I don’t want to see this place ever again anyway. Tch… like I even wanted to be here,” she scoffed. “Already got kicked out of three inns and some kids ran away from me late last night. I must’ve looked horrible.”

      “Just keep it down then and don’t make a ruckus. I’ll see what I can make for you and after that, please never come back here. If you do comeback, I’ll call dad and the police.” Changsu sighed with full frustration evident in his voice. He didn’t want to argue with her but he didn’t want to be too kind either.

      As the woman waited, her eyes wondered around the small restaurant and spotted Yoon-hee. “Oh? It’s you, that girl who ran away!”

      Yoon-hee and Jinwon’s attention turned to her. They were baffled for a moment, but then Yoon-hee’s mood instantly dropped. She laid down her chopsticks, dropped money on the table and nudged Jinwon to get up. She wanted to leave now and she didn’t care if Jinwon wouldn’t understand the situation. She can’t take seeing her mother right now. It’s either she’ll blow up angry or just burst into tears because of all the mixed emotions.

      “Hey, where are you going? You running away again?” the woman scoffed. Yoon-hee tried ignoring it.

      “Who is she?” Jinwon whispered to Yoon-hee as he was being dragged out the restaurant. Yoon-hee didn’t want to answer.

      “Yoon-hee,” Jinwon gripped her wrist and stopped her from taking another step. “What’s going on? You never leave your food like that…”

      “Yoon… hee?” the woman uttered in shock. She was dazed and confused for a moment, trying to process who the girl was. Then she realized…

      “Kim Yoon-hee?” with tears in her eyes, she looked at her, but Yoon-hee refused to look back. Jinwon, on the other hand had his eyes going back and forth to the two. He couldn’t quite connect the dots just yet.

      “Let’s go, Oppa,” Yoon-hee raggedly breathed out. She stomped out but Jinwon just stood there, staring at the woman in pity, wondering who she might be.

      “Who are you?” Jinwon asked. “To Yoon-hee, I mean…”

      The woman sulked and buried her face in her hands. She started sobbing, making Jinwon feel awkward and uncomfortable.

      “Are you her mother?” he asked. It was quite inappropriate, he knew. Meddling with their family issues was none of his business but he got himself involved now. The woman continued to cry and Jinwon took that as a yes, because he figured, if it was a no, then the woman would’ve immediately denied it.

He left the restaurant and chased after Yoon-hee.


      “Oh, hey, we’ve been waiting for you guys,” HaYeon said as Yoon-hee stomped in stubbornly into the house with Jinwon following behind. “Breakfast is in the fridge if you’re hungry.”

      Yoon-hee ignored her and rudely slammed open the door to her father’s room. Jinwon and HaYeon backed away a little realizing they couldn’t really stop her.

      “What happened?” HaYeon asked Jinwon. “She never turns down breakfast.”

      “She saw her mother,” he simply replied.

      “Oh…,” HaYeon awkwardly pouted.

      Yoon-hee stood there with tears brimming on her eyes, about to scream at her father.


      “What happened between the both of you?” Yoon-hee breathed heavily. Her father stayed silent, making her even more frustrated.

      “Dad, please!” she cried. “I have to know!”

      His father slouched in his seat and hesitated to say the truth to her daughter. He hated arguing with his seemingly, always happy, little girl. Seeing her as a frustrated, angry, and sad daughter hurt him. If he says the truth now, who knows when she’ll smile again?

      “C’mon, Dad,” she sat in front of him and held his hand. “I’ll listen… just please…”

      “Alright,” her father sighed.


      “So what happened to her parents?” Jinwon asked HaYeon. “Did they divorce or something?”

      “Yeah, grandma told me it was like that… just not in a very nice term.”

      “That must’ve been devastating… losing someone whom you thought you’d never lose at such a young age,” Jinwon said, earning a look from HyoYeon. When Jinwon tried to meet his sister’s eyes, she looked away, as if she didn’t give him a glance at all.

      “Oh… I’m sorry,” Jinwon softly said.

      “For?” HaYeon’s eyebrow rose.

      “Losing my memories… that must’ve been so stressful for you.”

      “It was,” HaYeon nodded, “but it was never your fault. It was no one’s fault and you should remember that.”

      “But it was my fault that I’ve treated you so coldly when I woke up. I’m sorry.”

      Feeling slightly awkward that feelings were being expressed, HaYeon patted his back and got up. “Remember, my heart is kind of made of steal. You don’t have to say those kinds of things. I’ve already forgiven you, Oppa. And lighten up. I will always love you no matter what you do. You’re my brother.”

      “Thanks…,” Jinwon chuckled, slightly feeling all bubbly inside. “You play things off so well. How do you do that?”

      “Because I’m an awesome sister,” HaYeon winked.


      Yoon-hee sat on her bed with her legs curled up. She had been crying since her father broke things to her. Even now, she couldn’t believe what she just heard. It was all too much to take in.

      “What are you doing?” her father whispered angrily to her mother one night when she was only 5 years old.

      “I’m leaving. I can’t take this anymore,” Yoon-hee’s mother huffed with tears in her eyes.

      “Where are you going to go? You’re just going to leave all of this—all of us?”

      “Look, I was never meant to be married to you!” she said. “I was never meant to have her either! This whole marriage thing ruined my life!”

      Yoon-hee’s parents met through an arranged marriage by Grandpa Kim. Yoon-hee’s mother Jung-hee didn’t really like the idea, but because her father was close to Grandpa Kim, she pretended to like Yoon-hee’s father Young-jin and went along with it. She only planned on stealing the Kim’s money but things got way out of hand and she conceived Yoon-hee. She considered going for abortion, but Yoon-hee’s father objected and wished to continue the marriage. And so they got married but she was not satisfied with her life.

      She wanted to get rid of her daughter but her husband would object to her wish. Young-jin loved Yoon-hee too much to abandon her. One argument lead to another night after night until finally, she left to pursue her greed for fame and beauty. She left because she thought of Yoon-hee as a flaw in her life.

      But Yoon-hee just couldn’t wrap her head around it. Her mother loved her. She could remember her mother reading her stories for bed time, tucking her in, kissing her on the forehead… were all those just fake love? Would a mother really just pretend to love her daughter? Was the past just a lie?

      “Hey,” HaYeon awkwardly sat on her bed. HaYeon wanted to comfort her in a way but she doesn’t really know how. Still, she wanted to try.

      “Unnie…” Yoon-hee sniffed. “Am I really a burden? Am I a burden to you?”

      “Uagh…! No,” HaYeon awkwardly said, thrown off by her dongsaeng’s sudden question. “Why would you be?”

      “Do you think I’m a burden to Jinwon Oppa? Am I bothering him?”

      “Hm? No, I don’t think so.”

      Meanwhile, HaYeon felt extremely sorry for her cousin. She wanted to cheer her up in some way but she felt like her jokes would be inappropriate right now. There was really nothing much she knew she could do but make jokes to lighten up the mood. It’s sometimes frustrates her because she can’t cheer up the ones she truly cares for.

      “Just how did Jinwon Oppa do it back in the day?” HaYeon wondered. Jinwon used to always cheer up his friends which always impressed her. Especially on Stephanie’s depressed days, he was an expert at making her smile again.

Then an idea clicked on her head.

      “Oh, of course!”


      “Oppa,” HaYeon said. “I’m really concerned about Yoon-hee.”

      “So am I,” Jinwon sighed.

      “I want to prepare something for her.”

      “Like what?”

      “I want you to sing a song with me!”

      “Sing?” Jinwon looked at her in confusion. He hasn’t been exactly into music after waking up from his coma and he’d rather stay away from it.

      “I’m not so much of a vocalist myself but your voice is one of the best! Can’t we just try? I know you haven’t been into music lately but just this once. For Yoon-hee.”

      Jinwon sighed and quickly nodded. “What song?”

      “Wait here,” HaYeon smiled and ran to her room to get something. She came back with a tape labeled “Song #4.” She turned on the stereo and inserted the tape. Guitar started playing.

      “What’s this?” Jinwon asked. HaYeon just giggled. “Oh… I kind of know this song! I can’t place it but I’ve… I know it. It’s familiar.”

      “Dad wrote it,” HaYeon said. “But that’s you singing right now.”


      As the sun rose up high in the sky, HaYeon and Jinwon started practicing the song on the front porch. Good thing the original copy of the chords and lyrics were still on HaYeon’s possession. If they didn’t have that, she wouldn’t have been able to figure out how to play it on guitar and neither would Jinwon be able to sing it with that chaotic memory of his.

      “It doesn’t sound a bit right. There’s something wrong with your playing,” Jinwon said. “Shouldn’t you be plucking that thing instead of strumming?

      “It doesn’t matter! I’m using the right chords. If you want the plucking sound, why don’t you play the guitar?”

      “Sorry, sorry,” Jinwon chuckled. “Keep that guitar to yourself. I don’t want to play it.”

      “Why not? You used to really like this guitar.”

      “Someday, I’ll pick it up. Just not now,” Jinwon said as if it was nothing. The truth is he feared that instrument. He feared that if he touches it, he’ll be able to remember so many things—things he doesn’t want to remember. He had this simple paranoia that everything which was once so special to him would make him remember and he’d rather keep his distance from them. “Anyway, let’s just continue on with the song.”

      “Okay,” HaYeon nodded. “In 1… 2…” she started strumming on the guitar as soon as Jinwon started singing.

An hour and a few eruption of laughter later, Yoon-hee suddenly came out of the house, startling the two siblings. They hoped Yoon-hee didn’t hear anything. After all, that song they were practicing was for her.

      “Should I go after her?” Jinwon said to HaYeon.

      “Go ahead. I’ll stay here and practice more.”


Jinwon made sure he kept her distance to Yoon-hee. He wanted to know where she would go after all that trouble. He thought she would go up the hill where they slept last night, but strangely, she took a turn before the slope and entered MAX.

      “Changsu-Oppa,” Yoon-hee sighed. “Where is she?”

      “She left a few minutes after she saw you this morning,” he said.

      “Do you perhaps know where she went? I want to meet her.”

      “Do you think that’s a good idea?”

      “Just tell me where she went,” Yoon-hee said, clearly annoyed and tired.

      “She didn’t say anything. She just got up and left… I think it’s better that way. She should never have come back in the first place.”

      “Why?” Yoon-hee angrily looked at him. Changsu just sighed. Everyone doesn’t seem to be happy about her mother coming back. Everyone seemed to hate her. Yoon-hee just couldn’t understand it. She also couldn’t understand why everyone just can’t be straightforward with the truth. Why are so many things being kept from her? Is it really for the best that she didn’t know anything?

      “Do you want anything?” Changsu awkwardly asked.

      “No,” Yoon-hee said. “I’ll just get going.”

      When she came out of MAX, Jinwon stood there waiting for her. Yoon-hee was a bit startled seeing him.

      “Did HaYeon Unnie tell you to stalk me?” she said.

      “No, I just came because I was worried,” Jinwon casually tried to say. Yoon-hee was obviously in a bad mood and he definitely didn’t want to put oil on a sparking fire. “If it’s okay, I’d like to follow you around for a while—wherever you want to go.”

      Yoon-hee sighed and just silently started walking. She didn’t care whether Jinwon followed her or even where they would end up. She just wanted to clear up her mind.

      Not knowing what to do or say, Jinwon just sighed. He’s not exactly the expert in making people talk about their feelings.

      “I wish I could just go to Seoul and forget about all of these,” Yoon-hee pouted. “Just live my life alone… away from everyone.”

      “You want to run away?” Jinwon said. Yoon-hee lazily shrugged. She honestly didn’t know how she felt at the moment. She felt anything she’d say would come out half-heartedly true and false at the same time.

      “Ahh~ If only I could run away, too,” Jinwon sighed as he stretched his arms and casually hung his arms around her shoulder.

      “Run away? From whom?” Yoon-hee asked.

      “Myself, for the most part, I guess…” he nodded.

      “How can you run away from yourself?” Yoon-hee scoffed as she stopped walking. “Is that even possible?”

      “That’s exactly the point I was about to get to,” Jinwon said. “I can’t run away from myself—my identity.”

      Yoon-hee nodded in understanding and continued walking. Jinwon then added, “It sucks, doesn’t it… not being able to be freed from yourself.”

      “Big time,” Yoon-hee agreed.

      “I wish I could start a new life where I’m in control, where I’d be able to pick whom I grow up with, who my parents are, where my life goes… all sorts of things. It’d be a billion times easier… though I guess I’d be doing stupid things if that happened. Guess it’s really for the best that my life is already fixed.”

      “If only God would write a different story about our lives—not the one that we’re living now where it’s so tragic and full of messed up situations,” Yoon-hee pouted.

      “Ugh, tell me about it,” Jinwon chuckled. “Over and over again I keep forgetting all my memories like I’m not meant to remember them. I even lose all those who I start to love…”

      “Now that I think about it, if it wasn’t like that, wouldn’t the story be kind of boring? There must be a reason why we’re all living like this with the people who were purposely placed before us and taken away from us. Our families, our friends… Maybe even today was good for something. I mean, we would never have this discussion if I hadn’t met my mother a while ago. I would have never realized a lot of things if you didn’t come back here to Jeonju. There’s no point now in running away, huh?”

      “Yeah… life’s not so bad if you think about it. I mean why would you run away when you’ve already got me?” Jinwon playfully ruffled her hair and they both laughed.

      “It still hurts though,” Yoon-hee said and sighed. “Why would my mother leave just like that?” Jinwon didn’t really know how to answer that and kept quiet.

      “Why couldn’t we all just have a normal life, a normal family, a normal story?” Yoon-hee said. She started tearing up remembering her mother love her like nothing was wrong with the world when she was only a child. “How would I know if I she really loved me or not?”

      At that sentence, Jinwon remembered Stephanie. How would he know if Stephanie really loved him or not? Even till now, he’s so confused about everything she used to say, things like she can’t let him go but proceeds on sending him off anyway. Why did she stick to him? But why did she also let him go? Why, why, why?

      “Was it really all just my fault or should I just believe that she had a personal reason to do all the things that she did?” Yoon-hee said and Jinwon tried to process her words.

      He used to always think it was his fault that Stephanie did all those things to him, but now, could there have been another personal reason? No, it was definitely his fault, he thought. He’s to blame for everything. He knows he is.

      Yoon-hee suddenly stopped on her tracks and started crying. Jinwon hugged her gently.

      “I-I’m sorry Oppa,” Yoon-hee sniffed. “I don’t know why I’m crying like this.”

      “You don’t have to be sorry,” Jinwon cooed. “Just cry. Sometimes, it’s just good to cry.”


      That afternoon, HaYeon, Jinwon, and Yoon-hee just sat by the porch (with dog Salabat) as they stared at the clouds forming above them. They didn’t really talk much and just listened to HaYeon practice playing the guitar. Jinwon would pretend to improvise humming a tune but in reality, would secretly practice the song they’ve been preparing for Yoon-hee.

      When the two siblings felt they were finally ready, Jinwon suddenly said, “Yoon-hee-ah, we’ve prepared a song for you.”


      “Take a listen, okay?” Jinwon smiled.

(Song: Lean On Me – Standing Egg)

At some point, after a while
We got used to each other
The memories of the beginning that we forgot about
Are now a bit awkward

You seem a bit more serious than before.

Don’t be in too much of a rush
I can feel your heart even if you don’t say it

When I’m having a bad day
I think about your smile
If you’re having a bad day too
Relax and lean on me

On my way home at sunset
I wait for you and suddenly
I think of words I want to say to you
Don’t rush, relax and lean on me

Suddenly, Grandpa Kim turned his attention to his two singing grandchildren. He knew what that song was. It was originally written for him by his son Tae-jin when he was in his twenties. It was a time of war back in the day and that song meant a lot to him. Now one of his grandchildren was singing it just exactly as his son did. After a long time, he finally smiled. Before, he thought Jinwon and HaYeon were really annoying children, but now, hearing them sing made him feel relaxed and at peace.

When I’m having a bad day
I think about your smile
If you’re having a bad day, too
Relax and lean on me

On my way home at sunset
I wait for you and suddenly
I think of words I want to say to you
Don’t rush, relax and lean on me

When I see you having a hard time
I get frustrated too
I hope you believe me (hope you believe me)
All of the loving feelings
Just wait a little more

When I’m having a bad day
I think about your smile
If you’re having a bad day, too
Relax and lean on me

On my way home at sunset
I wait for you and suddenly
I think of words I want to say to you
Don’t rush, relax and lean on me

      “Oppa… Unnie…” Yoon-hee started tearing up and quickly hugged them both. “You guys…”

      “I didn’t know how to cheer you up so I hope this helped at least,” HaYeon said.

      “Oh, it did help, alright!” Yoon-hee laughed. “You guys… agh… you’re so sweet. I feel so much better now.”

      “Yoona, if you feel like crying, just come to Oppa, okay?” Jinwon said.

      “Yoona?” HaYeon and Yoon-hee looked at him in confusion.

      “Oh… hah, is that bad? I constantly have this urge to call you Yoona,” Jinwon scratched his head.

      “Just keep calling me that,” Yoon-hee giggled. “It’s fine.”

      “Anyway, just remember, whenever anyone of us are down, let’s all lean on each other. It’s the three of us against the world,” Jinwon said raising a hand

      “Us against the world,” HaYeon agreed and held his hand.

      “Us against the world!” Yoon-hee laughed and held their hands.

And that’s the first time Jinwon, HaYeon, and Yoon-hee felt so at home and like they’d always be the best of friends—or family for that matter. Even though there will always be loads of problems, they won’t deal with it stressfully by themselves. They’ll lean on each other, depend on each other, comfort each other, and love each other like a real family should.

STORY 4 | Spicy Rice Cakes (떡볶이)

Chapter Theme Song:
When We Come Alive – Switchfoot

The sun goes down like a photograph
You try to stop time in the aftermath
But it’s gone, gone

Yesterday reads like a tragedy
I try not to lose what’s left of me
But it’s gone
Yeah, but we carry on

We are fire
Burning brightly
You and I
We light the sky
When we ignite
When we come alive
When we come alive

It feels like I could get lost today
The winds in my mind get swept away
And I’m gone, gone

And it’s one last time to the wishing well
I throw down the change and I wish them well
But they’re gone
Yeah, but we’ll carry on

‘Cause we are fire
Burning brightly
You and I
We light the sky
When we ignite
When we come alive
When we come alive

We are our souls on fire
We are reaching higher
We are our souls on fire
When we come alive
When we come alive

We are fire
You and I

Strength, heart, soul, mind


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