Game Market 1983 - Chapter 60
“Woah~ It’s a tiger mascot. Cute~!!”
Yuki who was looking around at the airport shifted her attention to the 88 Olympics tiger mascot and started clicking her shutters.
Ah… I remember this mascot.
When I was little, I bought this tiger mascot-shaped ice cream from street vendors a few times; I didn’t know any better and thought the design was psychopathic, forcing me to destroy the cute tiger head to access the ice cream inside.
After thinking back on this memory, I wanted to see just who was the designer of that icecream…
“Let’s go to the hotel to drop our luggage off first.”
Yuki followed behind me closely, afraid to get lost in her first international trip. We stepped out of the airport and called a taxi over, and the kind middle-aged taxi driver had loaded Yuki’s luggage to the trunk for her.
“I’m fine with the bus. Won’t taking the taxi be expensive?”
“It’s fine. Unlike Japan, Korean taxis tend to be on the cheaper side with a starting rate of 600 Wons.”
“600 Wons? Not Yens?”
In conclusion, the cost of transportation wouldn’t exceed 5,000 Wons ($5) for a ride to Myungdong. In any case, it’s really been a long time since I’ve stepped foot on my home country again. I was finally visiting Korea 5 years after the time slip.
I wanted to visit earlier; But even though I could picture my childhood home and neighborhood, I couldn’t quite remember the exact location up until now..
Who would be living there now. Would I have to meet face-to-face with my younger parents?
“Your complexion doesn’t look so good. Are you okay?”
“No, there’s been some burdens on my mind lately.”
“Is it because of me? Should I not have followed you…”
“Don’t misunderstand Yuki, it’s not because of you. As a matter of fact, I feel better because you’re with me.”
That was the truth. Being with Yuki gave me a huge boost to my morale and was a comforting presence in many ways.
Yuki was alternating between looking out of the window at the unfamiliar scenery of Seoul city with wonder and smiling towards me from time to time.
As it didn’t take long to arrive at our hotel, we were able to quickly unpack our luggage in our reserved room.
The view of the Namsan tower from our suite terrace was spectacular. Even now, Yuki had gripped her camera with her small hands and was snapping pictures.
“I have to go somewhere now Yuki. Do you want to stay and rest here?”
“No, I’ll go with you.”
After putting on a thick-gray coat and strapping a camera in one arm, Yuki left the hotel with me. I wanted to give her a tour around Seoul but the priority was to visit my hometown.
“Sorry, I’ll try to finish up as soon as possible and give you a tour of Seoul in the afternoon.”
Yuki smiled and shook her head in response.
“Mmm~ You don’t have to worry about me. I’m more interested in seeing your hometown Mr. Junhyuk.”
“I’m… glad to hear that.”
I patted her head and stepped on to the taxi on standby in front of the hotel.
“West-Namga Myungshin district please.”
“Yes… Is there a problem?”
“No… That… Today is a friday so I don’t think I can go through the university entrance. I’ll see how far I can go.”
Hmm? What does Friday and a university entrance have to do with each other?
After leaving the Myungdong district, we headed towards Hwagwan.
“You guys can turn left at the intersection. The car won’t be be able to go any further than this, so I’ll drop you off here.”
“Ah… Thank you.”
After paying the fare, Yuki and I got off the taxi to find out just what the taxi driver meant by not being able to go through the university. Oh my… So friday was an assembly day for college students…
“Mr. Junhyuk, why are there so many police here?”
‘Even in the howling winds, In a perilous situation, We gather together.…
A night in which fleshes rip, a night in which we suffer. Facing the freeze of dawn, we stand together.
We stand together with love… With love…
We will strive for our dreams as long as we stand on this Earth.
We will win…’
A group of students who were linked together by a red string emerged into the streets and started singing the song ‘We stand together’. The timing couldn’t be more perfect…
“Mr. Junhyuk, what in the world is happening”
“Shh, it’ll be a headache if we get stuck in that. Let’s try to pass as quietly as possible. Grab my hand just in case…”
Amidst this unusual situation, Yuki reached for my hand with her trembling hands. Moments later, we began navigating ourselves through the streets without trying to catch the attention of the university students.
‘Just a little more until we make it out of here. Please don’t cause a scene…’
But my hope was shattered into pieces when one student threw a smoke bomb.
“Son of a b*tch!! Capture them all!!!”
Pang!! Clock!! Crash~!! Tear!!
As if we were in a movie scene, I held on to Yuki’s hands and sprinted across the sidewalk amidst the chaos. Following the initial smoke bomb, more objects were thrown including flour bombs, filling the air with a white smoke.
“Mr. Junhyuk, cough cough. My eyes and throat are burning.”
“Just wait a little longer Yuki! Here, let’s go into this alleyway.”
In the end, we gave up on walking through the main road and came into an alleyway. Yuki’s red eyes were pouring big streams of tears from the gas bomb.
Minutes later, those students had scattered to various directions to escape capture by the police, and a few ended up running through the alley we were in. If a policeman were to show up right now, we could be accused of being with them.
After immediately checking my surroundings, I stepped inside a slightly opened gate and hid myself behind a pot. We did nothing wrong, yet we were getting caught up in this seemingly movie-like situation.
As the footsteps of the policemen grew more and more distant, we came out of hiding and I washed Yuki’s face with the fountain installed in the yard. This was the first time Yuki had ever experienced a gas on her face; her face was a mess.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes… Is it okay to go into another person’s home like this though?”
The courtyard seems familiar… At that moment, one middle-aged lady poked her head out from the balcony.
“Are you guys alright over there?”
After wiping the moisture off of my face, I quickly turned my head to apologize to the lady.
“Oh? Ah… We’re completely fine. Sorry for intruding like this, we were in a hurry to wash our face.”
Her voice… I was sure I heard it before. Oh my god!? She was the mother of one my childhood friend, Noori!!! After all, this courtyard seem familiar… I looked around the house to confirm that it was indeed my friend Noori’s home.
When I was playing tag in my childhood years, I would often come inside to have a quick drink of water before running back out. But to think I’d find my way back like this again…
Thereafter, Yuki who was right besides me also apologized to the lady with her broken Korean while rubbing her eyes.
“I...I am sorry,”
“Oh no… young miss, you shouldn’t be rubbing your eyes like that. The fountain water must be cold, here come inside for a moment.”
“What? Oh… No… I just…”
From what I remembered, Noori’s mother was an extremely kind person who would always help others in need. Inviting two strangers who had come into her yard without permission… This was a special moment where I felt the warmth of a truly kind spirit.
“What did the lady say?”
“She told you to come inside.”
“What!? We intruded into her house… Are you sure she said that? Do you know her by any chance?”
Should… I say I do know her or I don’t know her… As I awkwardly smiled and stepped inside the entrance way, Noori’s mom called out from inside.
“Please stay there for a moment~ Noori!! Can you bring me a towel?”
Subsequently, a cute little boy who was wearing cargo pants appeared from one of the rooms and bowed to us in a 90 degree angle. Yo… Noori!! It’s really been a long time.
“Hello, My name is Kim Noori.”
What a cute little boy. He’s acting out what he learned from his preschool. Holding a toy in one hand, Noori hopped over to us, forgetting about his mother’s request.
“Wow. You’re a pretty lady!!”
“Kim Noori~!! I asked you to bring a towel over!!”
Noori was shocked into action and sprinted to the bathroom after his mom shouted at him. Seeing this, Yuki stifled in laughter. Moments later, Noori’s mom had soaked the towel that Noori brought and handed it to Yuki.
“Press the towel onto your eyes instead of rubbing it.”
“Arigato Gozaimasu. Thank you very much.”
“You’re a Japanese? And you as well?”
“No, I’m a Korean. This is my girlfriend Yuki. Thank you very much for your help.”
(Translation Note: I don’t know what the author meant by the word “girlfriend”. In Korean, it could either mean a girl friend or a girl who is your friend. I guess we’ll find out what it means in the coming chapters ;P By the way, I’m going to be busy with exams for the next two weeks so this infrequent schedule will continue until then, I apologize in advance.)
Yuki also thanked Noori’s mom with an accented Korean. At that moment, Nuri who had been looking at Yuki spoke up.
“Pretty lady speaks funny~ Say it again.”
In response, his mom gave him a light knuckle on his head and apologized to us.
“I’m so sorry, he’s still learning his manners.”
“We’re totally fine. He’s really cute.”
“You guys must be thirsty after getting hit with that gas bomb; I’ll bring some juice over in just a minute.”
“No no no, we can’t…”
“If you go out right now, you might get hit with the gas again so please stay for a while.”
There were still some clamors outside, so it was probably in our best interest to listen to Noori’s mom.
“Then, we’ll have to excuse ourselves until the gas clears up. Thank you so much for your hospitality.”
“Our living room floor is cold. Let’s move to the other room.”
She gestured us over to one of the rooms and headed over to the kitchen to get us some drinks.
“Wow… The floor is warm, Mr. Kang.”
To the Japanese who spent their winters armed only with a thick blanket and a fireplace, heated floors were a novelty to them. Yuki placed her hands on the floor and exclaimed in surprise.
Moments later, Noori’s mom brought two glasses of juice in a platter into the room. And as soon as I saw the glass cups, one childhood memory surfaced again.
‘The symbol of rich households… It’s the Delmont glass cup.’