Game Market 1983 - Chapter 61
When I was young, I used these very Delmont glass cups as a standard to determine if my friends were well-off or not.
As a child, I remember these glasses being heavy when I was drinking juices from them. Every now and then, Nuri’s mom would give us a box of Delmont glasses that she saved up so we could run to the supermarket and exchange them for treats.
After seeing the nostalgic scene of Nuri chugging the juice down with his hands clamped around the glass, I knew this trip would be worthwhile.
“Hey mom, can I have some Derong-Derong?”
I almost spewed the juice in my mouth after Nuri’s random outburst. A Derong-Derong on top of a Delmont orange juice… These memories were like a one-two punch combo…
A Derong-Derong was a type of fruit sherbet ice cream and one of my most favorite treats when I was a child. It had a cute design where I could detach the plastic leaf from the fruit-shaped container and use it as a spoon. Although there were times when the ice cream was frozen too much and the plastic leaves would break off and fall into the ice cream, making it very sticky…
“You just drank that juice Nuri, and you’ll get a cold if you eat cold things in the winter.”
“But I still want one. Derong-Derong~ Derong-Derong~”
Umm… I would like some Derong-Derong as well, Nuri’s mom…
“Thank you so much for your hospitality.”
“This is your first time visiting Korea in a while, and today was a student protest…. How unlucky for the miss.”
Seeing Nuri’s mom who was looking at us with a regretful face, I opened my wallet and took several paper bills out.
“Excuse me… I feel bad for leaving a mess at your place. Here, this isn’t much, but you can buy Nuri some snacks with these.”
“No no~ I’m fine, you don’t have to…”
“Please take it.”
After struggling back and forth with Nuri’s mom a few time, I was finally able to grasp the money into her hands and quickly stepped outside. Following that, she must’ve given up on refusing to take the money as she waved in resignation at us.
We waved back at her after we were a distance away (So she couldn’t give the money back to us) and moved our feet again.
“She was really nice, and Nuri was so cute too…”
I wiped the dust off of Yuki’s eyes and offered her my hand. Although that experience was a little scary, thanks to Nuri’s mom, Yuki must’ve felt reassured as she happily took my hand.
“What was the Derong-Derong that Nuri was talking about earlier?”
“Ah… it’s an ice cream that I loved when I was a kid… I’ll buy one for you on our way back to the hotel.”
“Really? I can’t wait to try it.”
“This is your first time being out of Japan, you must’ve been scared back there.”
“I’m fine. I got to meet Nuri’s mom thanks to it. All in all, it was a really unique experience.”
“Thanks for coming with me.”
“You took the words right out of my mouth, I should be thanking you instead.”
My childhood home wasn’t far from Nuri’s house. It was around a 15 minute walk.
In reality, I hadn’t met Nuri yet during this period. I would meet him in second grade, so it would be two years from now before my childhood self would meet him.
This time slip allowed me to meet a 7 year old Nuri as an adult; this was truly an incredible experience.
The student protests should be over soon, but we couldn’t let our guard down. Was that the reason why? The streets were deadly silent even though the sun hadn’t set yet.
How long did we walk like this? The various shops and supermarkets were slowly becoming familiar to me; we were almost there. After we turn in that corner…
As we neared by childhood home, my heart began to involuntarily pulsate rapidly.
“Mr. Junhyuk? Your hand…”
I had been unconsciously squeezing on Yuki’s hand. As sweat began to gather in my palms, I took out a handkerchief.
“Are you okay?”
“We’re almost there. We just have to turn around that corner.”
“So I’ll finally get to see your old home. Let’s go~!!”
I haven’t mentally prepared myself.
In the end, I was pulled along by Yuki around the corner and was greeted with the sight of a blue gate surrounded by white-walls.
“Is this your house? It’s really big.”
“This is our landlord’s house… We were just renting a room here, and we had to enter through the back door…”
I turned my head and heard several kids singing in the alleyway.
Inside the fog~ A calamity~
A dark star
A dark star
A dark star
Defeated and captured, before fleeing away~
The chasing shadow
Justice will prevail. Go Barbeck~
I looked at my wristwatch to see the small hand pointing at five.
Was it a elementary school trip? A faint memory arose from the singing children; I brushed it off and walked over to the small black door installed on the white walls.
This was our house. I would be greeted with our small kitchen as soon as I opened that door. And through the second door in the kitchen was the small one room that my parents and I had slept together in.
“Someone seems to be living here?”
A barely-visible light was emanating from the windows over the wall. What I was curious about was whether the people who lived here were my parents…
At that moment, a voice that I’ve been missing for a long time rang out.
“Junhyuk is not back in the house in time for dinner again. I told him to come home before the sunset…”
This was definitely my mom’s voice. At that instant, the last conversation I had with her surfaced in my mind.
...Have a safe trip… Junhyuk…
Listening to my mom’s voice again after such a long time brought tears to my eyes. I took a moment and stood in front of the instance to observe her through the window.
While she was in the process of cooking the savory bean-paste stew, the aroma must have gotten too strong as she opened the door and came outside.
“Where could he… oh? Who are you people?”
Due to the sudden turn of events, Yuki and I froze on the spot.
“Ah… I… mistook this house for another building. I’m so sorry.”
After excusing myself to my mom, I grabbed Yuki’s hands and walked back to the alleyway. Yuki also seemed to be surprised as she was heaving her chest while she spoke.
“Oh, I didn’t know you would rush out like that.”
“...Mr. Junhyuk, are you crying right now?”
“No, I’m not.”
“Your eyes are red.”
“It’s just some dust.”
At that moment, I heard the voice of my mom calling me from the inside of the alley. It seemed like the young me was out playing somewhere.
“Junhyuk~ Junhyuk Kang~ ”
I almost ran to her while shouting ‘I’m here mom!’ in response to my mother’s frantic call. Yuki who was beside me opened her mouth with a curious expression.
“Huh? Isn’t she calling your name?”
“Her son probably has the same name as me…”
“The same name~!! Wow~ That’s so interesting. How could someone have the same name as you in the house you used to live in?”
“That’s what I’m saying… haha.”
I tried to pass it off by laughing and turned my back to my mother’s calls.
As I loved to play outside when I was a kid, I wasn’t the most obedient kid to my parents. After mindlessly running outside with my friends for hours on end, the sun would eventually set; And I would finally return home to find my mom waiting with a broomstick in her hands…
The young me would also be receiving a punishment… But seeing my mother’s face for even a brief moment like this, I felt a sense of communion.
… Where did I hang around at this age anyway? I stopped walking and asked Yuki.
“I have a few places to stop by. Is that okay?”
There were actually two reasons why I visited Korea.
The first reason was to confirm the fact that my family was still alive and well living in my childhood home, and if I did encounter a younger me, I would give him a mobile console that I brought from Japan.
The second reason was to meet a certain someone that I would meet up with tomorrow afternoon.
“I’m fine with that. You haven’t visited your hometown in awhile so I know you want to visit places.”
Yuki had agreed to my proposal without any hesitation once again. She must be dying to go sightseeing in a new country. I felt so much gratitude towards her for following my schedule without any complaints.
‘I should be able to find him soon. There weren’t many places that I could be…’
The very first location I visited was a food stand near the subway station.
One could fill their entire stomach here by bringing just 300 Wons (30 cents) to eat an enormous serving of spicy rice cakes. Due to the stand lady’s generosity, I would often eat an entire meal’s worth of food with relatively little money. This tiny food stand would grow to a full-fledged restaurant in the future.
But I couldn’t see my young-self here.
‘Is it the popeyes shop then?’
I headed over to a small shop near the food stand. Even though my family didn’t have enough money to buy toys for me, I frequented this store to look at all the toys on display.
Was it my 3rd year of middle school? There was a nationwide mini car toy boom that occurred after the animation ‘Run, Boomerang’ aired on TV. I remember desperately wanting a mini car so much that I stared intently at a mini car on the display for several consecutive days. I thought my old self would be at places like these but…
“He’s not here either…”
If he hadn’t gone home by now, I knew what the fate of my younger self would be; a horrendous pounding by my mother. He wouldn’t be playing in the playground with his friends as the sun had already begun setting, and I visited everywhere that he might be in. Could he be at his friend's house?
At that moment, a conversation of a boy who looked to be in middle school and his friend caught my ears.
“Have you tried playing Twin Dragon yet? It came in at the MyungRang arcade not too long ago, and it’s really fun.”
‘The… MyungRang arcade?’
That arcade was a distance away from my current location, but thinking of the MyungRang arcade that I frequently sneaked off to without my parents knowing, I rubbed my forehead and let out a long sigh. Yuki reacted by asking me a question.
“I think I know where that bastard is…”
“What? Who do you mean by “that bastard”...”
“Nothing… let’s go and find out.”
‘If he’s really there, I think I would be disappointed at myself.